17.33 – Sarah Jones (previously unmarked)

Sarah Jones was born Sarah Taplin in 1824 in Preston on Stour, Gloucestershire. She appears to be the only child of John, who was 53 when she was born, and Margaret, who was 48 when she was born. They had been married 9 years at this point, and it puts me in mind of the bible story of Abraham and Sarah, who thought they were past childbearing when they had Isaac. I wonder if it inspired her name!

At the age of 26, Sarah married William Crabb Wilkings, on the 3rd of January 1850. He was quite a bit older than her, as a 55 year old, and his occupation is given as ‘East India Pensioner’. They married in Chelsea, and when their first daughter was born less than a year later, that was in Birmingham! Then in 1851, with their 1 year old daughter Mary Elizabeth, they were back living in Gloucestershire. Their second daughter Louisa was born in 1853 in Bath, and their son William Charles was born in 1855 back in Gloucestershire again. Sadly, he died in 1858, aged 3 years 7 months.

Sarah must have expected to be a young widow, and she was. In 1861, when she was 37, her husband died in Stratford upon Avon. In the census that same year, she is listed as a seamstress, and she has taken in a lodger named Elizabeth Daniels to live alongside her and her daughters. The Victorian era was not an easy time to be a single woman, and we can see that Sarah is already using every method she can to support her young family. It is at times like this that I find myself with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the fact that Sarah primarily turns up in records to do with marriages and births seems like a missed opportunity to know the amazing woman she undoubtedly was; missed potential for a life of impact because, as a woman, she is relegated to the background of events. And yet, to think like this is to dismiss the incredible impact she did indeed have…as a mother.

In 1875, her daughter Mary Elizabeth married John Richard Blacka, an architect in Todmorden, and a freemason. One of the witnesses was a man named Moses Pritchard Jones…we’ll come back to him. The couple went on to have Vera Mary in 1877, Inez Louisa (after Auntie Louisa) in 1879, Walter in 1880, Charles Henry in 1884, and Ernest Roy in 1893.

Meanwhile, in 1879, Sarah found love again. She married Moses Pritchard Jones at Stratford on Avon. Moses was a house painter from Wales, and from the looks of it, they courted for quite some time before tying the knot. He died in 1882, so they only had 3 brief years of marriage together before she found herself a widow for a second time.

Sarah’s daughter Louisa married Thomas Baker in 1890 here at Christ Church. They had a daughter in 1892 named Mary Louisa Marguerette Baker. Mary Elizabeth died in 1893, possibly in complications accompanying the birth of Ernest Roy. She is buried here too at V9.6. Her address at this time was 15 Garden Street. A few years later in 1898, Sarah died, and her address at the time was also 15 Garden Street. She’d have been about 69. Was she there to help care for her now-motherless grandchildren? I like to think so. I like to think that she continued to lovingly care for the next generation, and that when she left their lives, she was sorely missed, and fondly remembered.

Looking at this gravestone, I think I’m right.

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