Another letter, a few hundred more questions. This is the fourth time that the Meadows family have come up in a letter from Jim. I wonder how close Alice or her children, Hilda & Winifred, were with them. Alice left Ipswich in 1906 when Hilda was 10 & Winifred 11. Did the Meadows girls babysit them? Make dresses for them? Alice was 39, was she friends with Mrs. Mary Meadows? How were they all acquainted? Did they simply live near one another? Why did they Meadows children take less notice of the Witters in their later years? Because they ran in different circles, avoided old people, or just too busy? Perhaps answers will come up elsewhere among Alice’s belongings. Perhaps I will never know. But, at least I know the grandchild mentioned in the letter below was my father.
More Buildings, More Roads, More Rain
14 Chenery St
Dear Mr & Mrs. Pinborough
We are very pleased to hear again from you & to hear you were all enjoying good health. I don’t know what kind of weather you have had lately ours has been very unsettled. Rain more or less every day and still we are alive. Though we shall be late we hope dear Hilda will have a many more birthdays in health & happiness. Yes I remember coming in to see her.
I cannot tell you when. Mr & Mrs. Meadows died it seems so long ago, and I don’t like to ask the daughters as they never take any notice of us. Hilda is married and lives with her sister her name is (George William) I think, at any rate she lives with her sister and their address the Misses Meadows Milliner 53 Buttermarket Ipswich. They have had the business a many years now but it is very seldom I see them.
If we were near you I am afraid we should want you to give us a run in the car & see some of the grand sights of your city & the country round about. You would scarcely know Ipswich now. The garden opposite our old house, the bank is done with they are building an Arcade which goes onto the Cornhill. The two shops Collis & Russel & Smyth are empty and they are cutting a fine archway through. All the Lower Ramparts are used as parking place for motors. Two parts of Pretty's factory are for sale, a fresh company have it. No Pretty in the firm and they only make underclothing now. The Waterloo people have built a great place which comes to the back of Salmon & Gluckstein and the Bank, Majors Corner a picture house to seat 2000, a new road from Handford Bridge over Bramford & Norwich Roads back of Constitution Hill, Westerfield and comes out on Woodbridge road opposite the Union. Heavy traffic London to Yarmouth, Cromer & so on go that way instead of through the town in fact there are alterations in almost every street & road.
I am pleased to say our dear ones are all well & we hope to have Hettie home for a holiday from New Zealand early in the new year.
Yes we are all getting old. Polly 78 in November I if I live 78 in May next but thank god we still keep dodging about. In a short time I shall have to retire from my work on account of my age they are cutting most of them off at 65.
Give our love to your dear ones. We join in love to you both with every good wish.
Your Sincere Friends
Jim & Polly Witter
We are pleased to hear of the arrival of your grandchild. Give it a good English kiss for us both. Ask Hilda is she remembers sitting on our steps and saying she was going to make shirts for her father.
Those “Never-Take-Notice-Of-Us” Meadows
I already know from the 1901 Census that the Meadows family resided at No. 1 Chenery Street, just doors away from Alice Pinborough, my great grandmother. The household consisted of George John Meadows age 54, Mary Meadows 49, Eliza K Meadows 26 Milliner, Elsie M. Meadows 22 dressmaker, Hilda M. Meadows 13, Frederick James Keeble Brother-in-Law 57 retired and Eliza Keeble 52 Sister-in-Law Post Mistress.
By 1911, they were living at 53 Buttermarket in Ipswich were George was 64, a widower/retired engineer, Hilda Meadows (daughter) 23 & single, Kate Harvey (daughter) 35 widow/Milliner, Ernest Harvey grandson 6 and Agnes Last 20 single/servant.
I was drawn to Eliza K, aka Kate, referred to by Jim Witter as Kitty. Sometime between 1901 and 1911 she was married to someone with the last name Harvey. I could not find the wedding in Ipswich, so I expanded my search to London and voila, Eliza Kate Meadows married Ernest Robert Harvey in Greenwich Jul 1903.
Forward to the 1939 Register and Eliza K Harvey was a widow and retired Milliner (b. 28 Jun 1873). She was living with her son Edward G. Harvey (b. 14 May 1904) and her sister & brother-in-law - Mary H. Drouilly (b 3 Apr 1887) Jean L. Drouily (b. 8 Nov 1881).
That led me to Mary Hilda Meadows (aka Hilda Mary) and her marriage to Jean Laurent Drouilly in 1919. He was a journalist, she was a reporter but a quick search and I can’t find a single byline from either of them - perhaps another time I’ll dig deeper into that one.
Have I mentioned that I LOVE the 1939 Register on FindMyPast!!
Now, as to where Jim pulled the name George William (in the above letter in reference to Hilda’s husband) is beyond me. I’ve looked into their names backwards & forwards and can’t find a George William connection.
I also found out that the Meadows girls had a brother named Charles Meadows born about 1876, Ipswich post office clerk in 1891, and in 1911, age 35, he was still working at the post office and married to Minnie Milner age 29. Flash forward and the glorious 1939 register showed he was the Retired HeadPostmaster age 64 and his 58 year old wife Minnie was still with him. Interesting, also in the house was a Nilma M. Pamment (Meadows was originally written but crossed out) born 19 Jun 1914 (age 25) Post Office Telephonist. I wonder if she was a granddaughter or just a lodger?
Charles passed away on 19 December 1949 and interestingly, Minnie went to Africa months later in March 1950. She was age 68, a widow, and she listed her country of intended future permanent residence as Tanganyika (now known as Tanzania). But she came back in September 1950. Why did she go? Had they planned to go together? Was she visiting friends? Family? Missionary work? Humanitarian? Why did she return home after only 6 months? Did she travel by herself? With others? Aaarrrggghhh! I am so fascinated by ALL these stories. I need to know everything!
Back to The Ipswich Facts
I verified places mentioned in Jim’s letter using the 1900 & 1912 Kelly’s Suffolk Directory and found a few more lovely historical photos on the web.
- Collis is Collis Jeweller, watch & Clocks that was located at 11 Cornhill in 1900. Run by William Robert Collis.
- Russell - not sure. There is a Russell Road. And Russell Butcher but he was on Carr
- Smyth Brothers (mentioned in prev. Letter) Smyth Brothers, wholesale & retail ironmongers, electroplated foods dealers, bar iron merchants & stove & range manufacturers & marble & slate chimney piece importers, depot for oils, colors, brushes &c. 56 &58 Fore Street, St. Clement’s & 9 Cornhill.
- Pretty must be Pretty Footman & Co. General drapers & silk mercers, warehousemen & complete house furnishers, Waterloo house, 6 & 8 Westgate Street
- Or William Pretty & Sons - corset manufacturers Tower Ramparts
- Salmon & Gluckstein tobacconists, 4 westgate St
And should you find yourself in Ipswich, as I hope to someday, the road that wound its way around town is now called Colchester Road
Next up, news from 1931.
Happy Genealogy Hunting!
Note: As some of these old letters have limited paragraph breaks and punctuation, I've taken a few liberties to make them more readable online. The same goes for spelling mistakes. Grammar errors I leave in place to keep the sender's story & personality intact. Of course, sometimes, I make a few of mine because no one is perfect.
Breaking Down A Letter? Here's a few resources I recommend:
- 1855 History, Gazetteer & Directory of Suffolk on Google Books - Don't limit yourself to the family search websites. Google Books is rich with FREE resources.
- 1883 Kelly’s Directory Cambridgeshire Norfolk and Suffolk -
- Workhouses of Ipswich - I included this link to the workhouses of Ipswich because when trying to find where that road Jim was describing stopped
- Find My Past - the 1939 register is filled with some fantastic information and the newspapers always make a great read, even when you can't find what you are looking for.
- Ancestry - Because one genealogy source is never enough.
- East Anglian Daily Times - Great article about the Tower Ramparts (where Jim used to live) with photos and memories.
- David Kindred - Ipswich photo collection. Turns out, a lot of the images in old suffolk newspapers appear to have come from David Kindred. I found his delightful Flikr collection here. It's pretty amazing to look through, especially if you have old relatives from Ipswich.