The mound-unmarked and common graves.
Photo credit: Leslee Barron-digital artist

Life story retold by Jan Clark

Sarah Hatton was born in Reading in 1840. She lived in Cross Street with her parents, George, a labourer and his wife Elizabeth. Both were over 40 when Sarah was born. She had two older sisters: Elizabeth who was 8 and Patience who was 4.

When she was still very young her family became destitute. Sarah’s father went into the workhouse, unable to support his family and Sarah and her sister Patience went to the Green Girls’ School then in Broad Street. This was established as a charity school in 1782 to teach poor children ‘how to do plain work, cook, wash and iron’ and hopefully gain employment as domestic servants. According to the census they were there in 1851.

In 1857 Sarah’s mother died at the age of 55 and was buried in the cemetery on 27 June. She had been living in West Street. It’s possible that prior to this, at the time of the 1851 census,  she’d worked as a nurse in the household of Henry Stamp in Castle Street. He had a wife and 11 year old daughter and they kept a house servant.

It isn’t known what happened to Patience or to the eldest sister also called Elizabeth. But according to the census in 1861 Sarah was in the workhouse. She was 22, unmarried and her occupation was given as ‘general housework’. Six years later, she died and was given a pauper burial in the cemetery on 23 September 1867. She was 27 years old.

Her father was still in the workhouse in 1871 so he had spent almost twenty years as an inmate. He died there and was given a pauper burial nine years after his youngest daughter on 24 March 1876.

Buried in Section 25, mound