Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Elizabeth Ball and Robert Edwards - 1911 and Separate Lives

The 1911 census revealed some very dramatic changes in the Edwards household. Robert was living with son Leonard, age 22, occupation "tram conductor", daughter Elsie, age 18, single, no occupation given, and son Harold, age 14, no occupation listed. Robert and the children were living at 19 Meteor Street, Cardiff:

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This is a street-view of their neighbourhood:

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Notably absent is Elizabeth from the family home. Curious as to her whereabouts, I searched for her in the 1911 census returns, thinking that she could have been visiting with family on the day the census was taken. Much to my surprise, I found her living as a boarder at 11 Newport Road, Cardiff:

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This is a street view of the area mapped by Google as 11 Newport Road, Cardiff. The area has obviously been redeveloped in the years since 1911:

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The rather telling detail on the census return is that Elizabeth was living with May Thomas, widow, age 40, whose occupation was given as "Head of British Womans [sic] Temperance Assn", and Elsie Williams, single, age 26, no occupation given. May and Elsie are shown as the head of household. The rest of the boarders are single women, ranging in age from 16 to 24, whose occupation is given as "general servant". There is one widow, May Sullivan, age 39. Elizabeth was listed as age 44, dressmaker, born in Gower. While the address is not in Cardiff's "Temperance Town", the presence of May Thomas and Elizabeth's status as a boarder raises the question 'Was there a problem with alcohol in the Edwards household?" Did Elizabeth leave the family home as a result of Robert's drinking? Was her departure from the family home more of a manifestation of her devotion to the temperance cause rather than an indication of a drink problem in the home? I don't have the answers and perhaps it will never be known.

I have tried doing some online research on May Thomas, but have not found any information on her. I will keep looking and will post if anything is found.

Many more questions to ponder...

Cheers, K.

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