My 3 x great grandmother, Eliza Card, was born in Westbury, Somerset and baptised in the parish church there in 1818. Her parents were John Card and Hester / Esther , and according to family stories, John was a wealthy landowner and disowned his daughter when she married a divorced man. Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, I’ve found no evidence to suggest that this is true!
According to Eliza’s baptism, the 1841 census and Eliza’s marriage certificate, John was a tailor, so he was probably a respectable tradesman in the small village, which even now has only about 800 inhabitants.
Eliza had two siblings: Jesse, her brother, was baptised in 1813 and her sister Ann was baptised in 1816 .
By the time the 1841 census was taken, it seems that Eliza and her sister Ann were living in London, at Laurence Pountney Hill in the City of London. Both are listed as “Milliners” aged 20.
The 1851 census shows Eliza living on her own in Southampton Street, Clerkenwell. Aged 32, she is now a dressmaker. Five years later, in 1856, she married George Blackburn, a painter of 152 Drury Lane. Eliza’s address is given as 16 York Place, Pentonville. At the moment I haven’t found George on the 1841 or 1851 censuses so I have no idea where he originated.
Sadly, their marriage was extremely short, as little more than 3 months later, George died. Eliza gave birth to my great great grandmother, Esther Annie Blackburn, on 26th March 1857 at 152 Drury Lane. In 1859, she had another daughter, Jane Matilda Blackburn. Jane obviously could not have been George’s daughter so I need to check to find her birth or baptism record. In 1861 Eliza and her two daughters were living at 4 Royal Arcade, St Giles. Eliza is now described as a “window blind maker”.
Eliza died in March 1869 of bronchitis and pneumonia. She was 49 years old. I was surprised to find a probate record for her but I think she must have made the will to ensure that her two daughters were looked after following her death. In the 1871 census her daughters, Esther Annie and Jane Matilda, were living with their aunt, Ann Card, who was by now a lodging house keeper of 22 Princes Street, Marylebone.
Eliza’s life in London seems to have been fairly difficult. Most of the areas in which she lived were poorer, less respectable places where crime was rife and conditions often squalid. Whatever her motive for leaving Somerset and moving to London, she must have struggled to cope with becoming a widow so soon after her marriage, and having 2 small girls to bring up.