In the last post I wrote about my great-great-great-grandparents, Robert Bowman and Caroline Reed. Their son, my great-great-grandfather John Bowman, who was born in Bow, East London, in 1828, was the eldest of six children: three sons and three daughters. None of the girls survived to adulthood: Sarah and Maria both died at the age of 3, while Charlotte died when she was 16. John’s brother Robert lived with his widowed mother Caroline until at least 1861, when he was 29, but so far I’ve failed to find any definite records for him after that date.

I plan to write about John and his family in a separate post, but in this post I’ll summarise what we know about his other brother, Joseph, who was born in Edmonton in 1836.  Joseph, a packing case maker, was married twice. I haven’t been able to find a record of his first marriage, to Elizabeth, but it must have been some time between 1851, when the census record shows him still living with his mother Caroline, and July 1857, when his first child, Joseph James, was born. The latter was baptised on 23 August at the church of St. George in the East. At the time the Bowmans were living at 4 Thomas Place.

Two years later, in 1858, Joseph and Elizabeth had a daughter, Sophia, and in 1863 another daughter, Ann, was born. The two girls were baptised in a joint ceremony with four of their cousins, the children of Joseph’s brother John, on 10 June 1863 at St. George’s. Joseph and his family were still at Thomas Place, which seems to have been close to Pell Street (on the south side of Cable Street, not far from Wellclose Square) where John and his family were living.

St. George in the East (via geograph)

The 1861 census, which also finds Joseph, Elizabeth and their three children at Thomas Place, is our only source of information about Elizabeth. Apparently she was born in the parish of St. George in the East in about 1839, which means she was probably still a minor when Joseph married her. I’ve yet to find a definite record of Elizabeth’s death, but it must have been some time between the birth of Ann in 1863, and Joseph’s second marriage in 1866. In other words, Elizabeth would have been between 24 and 27 years old when she died.

Joseph married Jessie Jack, who was born in about 1845 in Paisley, Scotland, at St. Pancras in the last quarter of 1866. She was about ten years younger than Joseph. Their daughter Jane Caroline was born in the following year in Mile End Old Town, probably at 1 Crown Place, Mile End Road, where the family would be living by the time of the 1871 census. This record shows that, besides three-year-old Caroline, Joseph’s three children from his first marriage were also living with them, as was his widowed mother Caroline, 71. In 1872 a second child, Frederick John, was born to Joseph and Jessie and he was followed by George in 1875 and James Frederick in 1877.

Mile End Road in Victorian times

By the time of the 1881 census, the Bowmans had moved to 15 Ely Terrace, on the south side of Mile End Road. The occupations of their neighbours suggest that Ely Terrace was a row of shops. Joseph’s mother Caroline had died in 1875. Still living at home were Sophia and Mary Ann from Joseph’s first marriage, both of whom were now working as tailoresses, as well as Jane, Frederick, George and James from his marriage to Jessie. Another son, Alfred, would be born in the third quarter of that same year.

Joseph’s eldest son, Joseph James, a packing case maker like (perhaps with?) his father, had married Emma Ann Page in the previous year and was now living in Floreston Street, not far from Ely Terrace. George Bowman died in 1887 at the age of 12.

In 1891 Joseph and Jessie Bowman, now aged 56 and 46 respectively, were still living at Ely Terrace with Mary Ann, a tailoress, Frederick, another packing case maker, James, a porter, and Alfred, still a scholar. Daughter Sophia had married bus driver Thomas Betts in 1884 and was now living in Mossford Street, not far from Burdett Road. Jane Caroline Bowman appears to have got married in 1890 in Mile End Old Town, but as yet I have no information about the name of her husband.

Joseph Bowman died in 1893, at the age of 57.

His daughter Mary Ann married Joseph Sales in 1895. Like Sophia’s husband Thomas, Joseph was a bus driver, and like them, Joseph and Mary Ann lived for a while in Mossford Street. Frederick Bowman married Emily Maddin in 1897. Initially, I was unable to find Frederick or his widowed mother Jessie in the 1901 census. However, I knew that Frederick and Emily’s first child, another Frederick, was born at 50 Edwards Road, off Burdett Road, in 1898. I also knew that Jessie and her unmarried son James would be living at that address in 1911, so it was possible that they were already there ten years earlier, and that Frederick, Emily and family were living with them.

A lengthy trawl through the 1901 census records for Mile End Old Town eventually turned up the listing for Edwards Road, and sure enough, No. 50 consisted of two households. The first was headed by Frederick, 28, his wife Emily, 29 and their two year old son Frederick. The second was headed by 55-year-old laundress Jessie Bowman and included her two sons James, 24, a confectionery worker, and Alfred, 19, a builder’s labourer.

Alfred would marry Florence Louise Gardner in 1909.  Jessie and her unmarried son James were still at 50 Edwards Road in 1911, as would Frederick and Emily, now with five children. The two households occupied just two rooms each.

Jessie Bowman died three year later, in 1914, at the age of 69.

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