FANE, Frogmore, Late 19th century

April, 2005



Park Street & Frogmore

Helenka Overend (overendghzt @t of Somerset writes: I have just received the birth certificate of my mother-in-law's grandmother dated 20/4/1897 and have found that her only listed parent is Ada Emma Fane, General Servant, Abbots Langley. The birth took place in Watford Union Workhouse.

Can you please advise me on how I might find out which house Ada would have worked at and if she returned with her daughter. Because of the issue of illegitimacy very little was discussed in the family and no information concerning the family tree above the grandmother is known. I have checked the 1901 census and found a possible Ada Fane, but she was located in Grimsby. Although the name shown is Ada E Fane, I am unsure if this could be her, especially as the daughter is not shown with her. 

Linking servants to their employers can be virtually impossible unless they were resident in the house at the time of a census. Between censuses, and for daily servants who did not live in the house, one needs a lot of luck. For instance I know of the names of some of my great grandfather's employees because they gave evidence in a murder trial and if the farmer on a nearby farm had not been brutally murdered I might never have known their names.

While I cannot be certain I very strongly suspect that the child was born in the workhouse because the mother was destitute - almost certainly having been dismissed for her unacceptable behaviour. I think it extremely unlikely that she would have returned to her prior employer, and the child (who you don't name) ended up in an orphanage - or perhaps with her grandparents.

Fortunately it seems that Ada was alive at the time of the 1881 census - as the following family was living at Park Street, St Stephens parish, near St Albans:

Joseph H. FAIN   Head   29   St Peters  Ag Lab 
 Kate FANE   Wife   26   St Stephens    
 Alice FANE   Daur   3   St Albans   
 Ada E. FANE   Daur   6 m   St Stephens    

This Ada is almost certainly the same person who you found in Grimsby in the 1901 census - where the index gives the age as 20 while the place of birth as "Herts Fragmore" must refer to Frogmore, St Stephens, near St Albans.

The web site  The History of the Workhouse contains pictures and other information on the Watford workhouse - and comments that very few records remain. It is very unlikely that you can get any direct help on Ada from this source.

If you can add to the information given above tell me.

Page created April 2005