My great grandfather Joseph Priestley Roe’s older sister, Keziah Eliza, was born on 7th October 1850 in St. Thomas Square, Hackney, and was the firstborn child of Daniel and Mary Ann Roe. She was baptised at St. Dunstan’s, Stepney on 12th January 1851.

Keziah lived with her parents, first in Bethnal Green and later at various addresses in and around Soho, until her mother’s death in 1870. She and her siblings then lived for a while with their maternal grandmother, Keziah Blanch, also in Soho, where Keziah worked as an ironer.

On 13th April 1873, when she was 22 years old and living at 8 Porter Street, Soho, Keziah married Edward Temple, a frame maker from nearby Castle Street (which stood roughly where the bottom end of Charing Cross Road now runs). The marriage was witnessed by Daniel Roe, which may indicate that her father was still alive at this date (though the witness could be her younger brother, Daniel Ellis Roe, an engineer).

Edward Temple was the son of George Temple, whose occupation is unclear from the marriage certificate. Two years before the wedding, the 1871 census notes that Edward was living at home in Castle Street with his widowed mother, Mary, and his younger brother, William. At the time Edward was working as an errand boy. Despite the disparities in ages between the records (the marriage certificate says Edward was 22 in 1873, while the 1871 census claims he was 18 at that date, and this has been wrongly transcribed as 15), the coincidence of the name and the address confirms that this is the person who married Keziah.

The next record we have for Keziah is the 1881 census, taken 8 years after her marriage to Edward, which finds the couple living at 25 Sherwood Street, Soho, not far from Piccadilly. Keziah’s age is given, accurately, as 30, while Edward is said to be 28 (which, if true, would have made him 20, not 22, at the time of the wedding). It’s difficult to be sure of Edward’s occupation: the first word could be ‘ornamental’ and the second ‘mounter’, which might match the earlier description of ‘frame maker’, and someone has written the word ‘artisan’, or possibly ‘artist’ or similar, across the column. Despite having been married for a while, Edward and Keziah appear not to have had any children at this stage.

Tracing the couple after 1881 has so far proven difficult. In the 1891 census I can find no record of Edward Temple, nor of Keziah. However, there is a record of an Eliza Temple, laundress, living at 76 Berwick Street, Soho. The age is wrong – she is said to be 34, whereas Keziah would have been 40 – and the absence of the first forename is puzzling (though she may have dispensed with it, for any number of reasons). However, the fact that this person gives her place of birth as St. Thomas Square, Hackney, seems to be too much of a coincidence (the precision is odd, given that people usually gave only the county and borough). Again, no children are mentioned.

Eliza Temple is described as a wife, not a widow, but there is no trace of a husband at the address or nearby. If this is Keziah, then where was Edward? He might have been absent from home on the night of the census (if so, where was he?), but perhaps the marriage had run into some kind of trouble?

Looking for Keziah in the 1901 census has been even more fruitless. There was an Eliza Temple living in Soho at this date, but though born in 1850 she came from Bermondsey and was a widow with three children. Then there’s a record of the death in 1906, in St. James, Westminster, of an Eliza Temple, born in 1850. She would have been about 56.

If this was Keziah, then it’s likely that her only surviving relation by this time would have been her youngest brother, Joseph, my great grandfather, who was married and living in East Ham. Her other brothers, John Richard and Daniel Ellis, died in 1875 and 1890 respectively, and as yet I haven’t found out what happened to her younger sister, Mary Ann.

Thanks once again to Ron Roe for generously sharing the fruits of his research.

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