Charles John & Elizabeth Hill Brown

Life stories retold by Di Rayburn

Charlotte Reeves and Alfred Elderfield

My paternal g.g. grandparents Charlotte Reeves and Alfred Elderfield are also in the paupers’ section. They lived in Coley for many years. He did various jobs at the brick works, the brewery, and at Huntley and Palmers. She was a washerwoman.  She was at least fifteen years older than him but they died within a short time of each other in the Workhouse in Oxford Rd. in 1900. On her death certificate it states Charlotte died of old age and exhaustion. They had a son, Henry [is that correct?].  

Ann Pearson (nee Elderfield)

The lady on the front cover of the original Talking Coley book is my great grandmother Ann Pearson/Elderfield and her husband Henry. I found her grave. She is buried in section 74 with Henry and her son – a Pearson – from a previous marriage. I had lost the original photograph and scan, but recently found the scan.

Henry and Ann Wickens/Elderfield

Ellen and George Gaines

If there is a burial of Ellen Gaines 1860 – 1920 w/o George 1861 – 1951.  They are my maternal g.grandparents.  

They lived in Union court in Coley where my grandfather, also George, was born in 1889. They had a large family and later moved to Garnet Street. They blamed my gran Lizzie for the pregnancy and when George and Lizzie separated In 1929, would have nothing to do with her or my mum although they only lived around the corner from us.  My g.grandfather George went to live with one of his daughters in Brook St, and I can remember when word got to my mum that he was very ill. We went around to see him but they said he was too ill to see anyone. In later years I asked my mum if I’d ever seen him, and she said he used to regularly walk along Wolseley St. when I was in the front garden playing and he’d never even look my way.

It was hurtful because gran and granddad, although they’d separated so many years ago stayed in touch and granddad used to give gran money to buy mum any clothes she might need. He also made a monthly allowance for gran, which he carried on paying until his death in around 1964/5. She would knit him socks because his old-fashioned wooden leg and foot used to quickly wear out the heel of shop-bought ones. He’d send her little notes [I still have some] saying could she run him up some more.

When her mother died my gran found it hard to cope with family responsibilities from what mum told me but with what happened in her childhood it’s no wonder. Sadly though it gave my mum a horrible childhood.  Despite that when mum married, she and dad asked gran to live with them and she straightened her act out.  She worked at Bradley and Bliss as a bottle washer from the 1940s until she was forcibly retired due to her age in 1962 aged 73. In that whole time she refused to take her due holidays fearing they might find someone better to take her place, and she didn’t take a single day off sick for the same reason. When she finally gave in and needed a doctor, they didn’t have any record of her. She’d registered with them when the NHS came in, but because she never saw them, they thought she’d moved away and had taken her off the register. 

She drank a couple of glasses of Guinness every day and swore that was what kept her going. When she could no longer make the daily walk to her pub The Blue Lion in Wolseley St, she got mum to get a couple of crates delivered from the brewery much to mum’s shame.  She died in 1967.  

Buried in Section 31, Row B, Number 30