Dear Reader

Dear Reader #141

Dear Reader,

We experimented by placing Operation Rose, Operation Watchmaker and Operation Overlord, the next three books in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series, on pre-order without blurbs and with dates running into next January, and already they are top 50 hot new releases. Many thanks to my readers for their support.

My latest article for the Seaside News appears on page 14 of the magazine. This one is about an illicit affair in 1814.

My 4 x great grandmother Sarah Foreman was born on 12 October 1803 in Tetford, Lincolnshire and baptised in the local church, St Mary’s, two days later. She was the youngest of four daughters. Sarah’s parents were Hutton Foreman, born in nearby Toynton in 1764, and Lucy Ironmonger, born in nearby East Kirby in  1761.

Hutton, who worked on the land, married twice. His second wife, Mary Blades, was nineteen years younger than him. He fathered eleven children, the last when he was sixty-four. He died in 1847 aged eighty-three.

Hutton’s first wife, my 5 x great grandmother, Lucy Ironmonger was widowed twice before she married him. Unusually for a rural woman of that time she was literate.

Sarah had three sisters, all with similar names: Mary born 1796, Maria born 1798 and Mary Ann born 1801. Maybe their mother Lucy liked the name Mary. Or maybe the children died in infancy because there is no further trace of them in the historical record. If the Marys did die in infancy then with Lucy’s death Sarah would have become the ‘mother’ of the house.

So what did Sarah make of these complex family dynamics? Sarah lost her mother, Lucy, when she was only eight. Her father, Hutton, then married a woman who was only fifteen years her senior. Sarah would have learned from Lucy in her formative years, so she was educated. Did she get on with her step-mother, Mary Blades? We don’t know. But we do know that by the early 1830s Sarah was living in London.

Sarah was in her late twenties or early thirties when she arrived in London. She was unmarried, which suggests that she had a career. In London, Sarah became a nurse/chemist/dentist. Although I have no proof, I suspect that she was nursing in Lincolnshire before her move to the Big City.

Why did Sarah move to London and how did she get there? Clearly, she decided that village life was not for her and that she would take her chances in the city. Maybe she responded to an advertisement looking for a nurse.

In the 1820s and 1830s the annual rate of pay for a nurse was £10, the equivalent of £600 today. Living expenses were covered. Even so, this was meagre renumeration.  In comparison, in the 1820s/30s a skilled tradesman could earn £10 in fifty days.

Sarah probably travelled to London on a coach. The journey from Tetford to London cost around £2, a huge financial commitment. She was making a life-changing journey and if things didn’t work out in London it was unlikely that she could immediately afford the journey back.

In London, Sarah met my 4 x great grandfather John Glissan, a surgeon/chemist/dentist. Had he placed the original advertisement seeking a nurse? After her initial time in London, did she apply to work for him? We don’t know, but I suspect that their careers overlapped, which led to love and marriage.

Sarah and John married on 24 March 1834 in St Brides, Fleet Street, a notorious location for ‘Clandestine’ marriages, marriages conducted in haste or secrecy, without the posting of banns. Many of my ancestors married in this fashion. However, Sarah and John posted banns so theirs was a regular marriage. Sarah and John signed the wedding register, thus confirming they were literate.

Separately, Sarah and John had travelled hundreds of miles from their homes to meet in London. Now, they were a couple. What would married life bring?

More about Sarah and John next time.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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