Alma Londors, daughter of John and his wife Sarah Ann, was born in Barking, Essex, in the first quarter of 1855. The name ‘Alma’ became popular in Britain after the Battle of Alma, the first major battle of the Crimean War, in which an Anglo-French force defeated the Russian army – and which took place in September 1854, just a few months before Alma Londors’ birth. It’s a name that remained popular in the Londors family down to the twentieth century, and in fact was given to my mother as a middle name.
At the time of the 1861 census, when she was six years old, Alma can be found living with her parents and sisters at Hattons Corner, Barking. However, Alma was not with her parents when the 1871 census was taken, and I’ve not been able to find her anywhere in that year, or in the 1881 or 1891 census returns.
A clue to her whereabouts during these years may be found in the record of Alma’s marriage. She married butcher James John (or John James) Clyne, 32, son of tailor James John Clyne, on 17th May 1891 at the church of St. John the Baptist in Hoxton. The witnesses were Albert and Naomi Emma Londors, Alma’s younger brother and sister. Alma, who was 36 at the time of her marriage, gave her address as Elm Hall, Wanstead. This was a substantial 18th century house on the edge of Wanstead, and today is a Grade 2 listed building. Until his death in 1874 it was the home of entomologist Francis Walker, but I’m unsure who lived there after this date. I’ve yet to find Elm Hall in the relevant census records, but my theory is that Alma Londors worked as a servant there, almost certainly at the time of the 1891 census and probably before. Alternatively, she may have been in service elsewhere: certainly the 1911 census notes that her occupation is ‘servant when working’.
At the time of their marriage James Clyne’s address was 14 Fanshaw Street, Hoxton, where he had been lodging earlier that year, according to the 1891 census. Before that (in 1881) James was working in Bromley St. Leonard, which seems to be the area where he grew up. At the time of the 1871 census, when he was 11 years old, James was living with his widowed mother Anne, a waterproofer, and older sister Caroline in Eleanor Street, Bromley. I haven’t been able to find the Clynes in earlier census records. This may have something to do with the fact that Anne was born in Limerick, and it’s likely that James senior was also Irish, given his surname. Intriguingly, Caroline Clyne is said to have been born in St. Dines, France.
Of course, Alma’s marriage to James once again raises the question of how she, who lived in Barking and Wanstead, came to meet someone from the ‘old’ East End. As I’ve suggested before, the Orgar family might provide a clue. Alma’s Orgar (second?) cousins were living in the Hoxton/Shoreditch area at this time, and indeed some of them had been christened at St. John’s, the church where she married James. Perhaps one of Alma’s jobs, in the ‘lost years’ of the 1870s and 1880s, involved working in service in this part of London?
By 1901 James, 42, a salesman butcher, and Alma, 46, were living at 10 Regency Street, between Horsferry Road and Vauxhall Bridge Road, in Westminster. Ten years later, they had moved to 139 Tachbrook Street, on the other side of Vauxhall Bridge Road. James is still working as a butcher and (as mentioned above) Alma is described as a ‘servant when working’. They had no children.
Alma died in 1925, aged 70, in Chelsea, possibly in hospital or staying with a relative, as we know that James was still living in Tachbrook Street when he died in 1943, aged 84. He left an estate of about £25.