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Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Choice or circumstance?

Suie Tompkins and Kate Godfree in Ash Green in the 1920s

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

Whether from choice or circumstance, she never married and didn’t have her own home, but seemed to travel between the various members of the family. She is with a different family group in every census so I wonder how often she would move between them all. It wasn’t unusual to find them not at their own home in the census, so one would assume that they would visit each other often. I hope that my greatx3 grandmother wasn’t another Mrs Bennett, but I am often reminded of Pride and Prejudice when I am trying to find out about the Godfree family with all those daughters that needed a husband!

In 1851, two of her sisters, Rebecca, then 23 and unmarried along with Ann Maria then aged 9 were with their paternal grandmother.  The other girls also appear away from home at school, visiting other sisters or aunts before their marriages. Sarah, my great x2 grandmother was with her paternal grandparents in 1841 and with a maternal aunt in 1851, at home with her own family including her sister Emma, and then visiting her older sister in 1871.

Kate’s father died in 1850 and in 1851 and 1871, she was at home with her mother in Great Rissington. In 1861, aged 16, she was in Fifield, with her brother William. Her mother died in 1873 when she was 28 years old – too old to marry? It rather looks as though she “missed the boat” having stayed to look after her mother as the only unmarried daughter. The other girls had all married by 1867 and Emma was about to marry Sarah’s husband, both of them having been widowed.

She was with Robert & Rose Hambidge, her sister, in Ascott Under Wychwood in 1881. In 1891, she was at Kennersley Manor, Worley in Surrey, a servant in the employment of Edward Brocklehurst. In 1901, she was staying at Moor Place, Stanford Le Hope, Essex with her nephew Edwin Osborne Tompkins, son of Sarah, and in 1911, she was with her sister Annie-Maria Rouse in Fulbrook.

John Manning, her great-nephew, grandson of Emma Godfree, remembers that she always wore Victorian clothing. His mother Kate’s diaries record the frequent visits to them in Essex and she certainly visited Suie and Osborne in Ash Green in the 1920s, as we have pictures from this time.

She died on 5th May 1937 in Farnborough, Kent and her estate was proved on 15th June 1937 in London. One of the executors was Mary Humphrey, her niece, daughter of Anne-Maria Rouse.


Wikipedia: Pride and Prejudice

Failures: Spinsters & Old Maids in Victorian England

Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

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Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

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Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

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Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

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Week 6: Same Name

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Week 23: Wedding

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Week 16: Air

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Week 9: Disaster

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Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

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Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

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Week 11: Serendipity

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Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

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Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

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Week 4: Close to Home

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Week 3: Long Line

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I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

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Week 1: Fresh Start

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

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