Life story retold by Kim Reynolds
Lucy Watts was the daughter of William Watts, brewer’s labourer, of Little Crown Lane, St Giles, Reading (off Horn Street, now Southampton Street), and his wife Sarah.
She was baptised in St Giles on 5 December 1824. In 1851 she was housemaid to William Stephens, magistrate for Berkshire, living at 47 Gloucester Square, London. By 1861 she was a housemaid in the service of Angela Burdett-Coutts, at Holly Lodge, Highgate (1861), and 1 Stratton Street, Piccadilly (1871). By 1881 she had been promoted to Housekeeper, at 80 Piccadilly (which was part of the same property as 1 Stratton Street); in 1891 the address is given as 1 Stratton Street, where she was still housekeeper.
She died in that house on 24 Nov 1896, leaving an estate of £787 19s 2d. The Westminster Gazette recorded her death ‘from acute inflammation of the lungs, *Mrs Watts, for forty years the much valued and esteemed housekeeper of the Baroness Burdett-Coutts, aged seventy-three’ (WG, 25 November 1896; the same notice appeared in the Pall Mall Gazette on the same day.)
*NB ‘Mrs’ was the traditional title for the housekeeper, whether she was married or not.
Other things I have found about her:
In 1842, Lucy Watts of Little Crown Yard, a ‘young woman’, was the victim of a theft of 14s and some silk patterns sent to her by a Newbury dressmaker, Miss Ann North. The delivery person stole the goods and was sentenced to 3 months hard labour (Reading Mercury, 26 Feb 1842).
In 1851, the Trustees of Church Charities distributed Archbishop Laud’s gifts of £25 each to maid servants, towards their marriage portions; among the recipients was Lucy Watts, servant to Mrs W. Stephens (this ties up with our Lucy’s employer in 1851 – see above) (Reading Mercury, 25 Oct 1851).
Lucy is buried in Reading Old with her parents and sister, Sarah.
- England and Wales Censuses, 1841-1911
- 1939 England and Wales Register
- Birth, Marriage and Death Civil Registration Indexes
- Baptism, Marriage and Burial Records
- Newspapers: Reading Mercury, Meat Trades’ Journal and Cattle Salesman’s Gazetteer, Reading Observer, Reading Standard, Reading Evening Post, Westminster Gazette, Pall Mall Gazette
Buried in Section 49, Row A, Number 9