Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Ann Maria Cheek / Howe nee Ivall (1865-1946)

The subject of this biography was a great grand-daughter of Charles Ivall (1779-1832), who was a brother of my ancestor Thomas Ivall (1781-1835). This posting is based on information supplied by Ann Maria’s great grand-daughter, Mary Harrison.

Ann(ie) Maria Ivall was born on 6 April 1865 in Basingstoke, the fourth of seven children of Henry Charles Ivall and his wife Mary Ann (nee Palmer). In 1871 they were living in Winton Road, Basingstoke. The family consisted of Henry (43, a carpenter and joiner), his wife Mary Ann (36) and their children Ellen Louisa (12), Alice Emma (8), Ann Maria (6), Henry Charles (3).

By 1881 the family had moved to Church Street, Dorking and Annie was a servant at West Lees Farm, Logmore nearby. She went to Leyton in the East End of London where she married Benjamin James Cheek on 12th May 1887 at Leyton Parish Church. Annie was 22, he was 26.  Benjamin, who was born in Great Dunmow in Essex, had moved to the East End looking for gardening work. He had a troubled childhood, his father was a parish clerk and a cabinet maker (like her own father) but Benjamin's father became a drunk and seemed to be suffering from a mental disorder. It was reported in the local paper that he had threatened to kill Benjamin.  He ended up in a lunatic asylum as did Benjamin's sister. By the time Annie and Benjamin were married both his parents had died.

Annie and Benjamin's first child was born on 12 June 1888. She was called Florence Annie Melita (known as Flo), their address then was 1 Sidney Terrace, Park Road, Leyton.  It wasn't long before they were on the move, as was to be the pattern for their life together. Benjamin had put an advert in the Times on 7 August 1890 looking for work. It shows his address then as The Lodge, Sheppey Court on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent. A family story has it that, as an under gardener, he would get the sack first when times were tough. The next move was to Lichfield in Staffordshire where the 1891 census shows they lived at the Friary Cottage and where their son George Henry was born in Q2 1891. Within four years the owner of the Friary died and they moved to Calne in Wiltshire where their daughter Nellie Beatrice was born on 5 October 1894 (at The Green, Calne) and Mary’s grandfather Alfred William Reginald was born on 17 May 1898 (at London Road, Calne). Benjamin worked for Miss Gabriel who was a well-known local benefactor. During this time Annie and Benjamin lost their son George. He was found drowned in the River Marden (which runs through Calne), coincidentally the same year 1899 as David and William Crouch (Louisa Ivall's sons), who also died in a drowning accident. A report in the Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette dated June 1st 1899 said that Benjamin had sent his son to the river. Benjamin vehemently refuted this in a response in the following week's newspaper.

Miss Gabriel died in 1900 and Benjamin and Annie were on the move again, this time to Hampshire - 120 Clayhall Road, Alverstoke (near Gosport). The 1901 census shows Benjamin (40, a gardener, domestic), his wife Annie (35) and their children Florence (12), Nellie (6) and Alfred (2) at this address. This stay didn't last long either. Mary has a piece of paper that is thought to list of the places where they lived - there were several on the Isle of Wight mentioned. Happiness did not come to Annie’s family as Benjamin died of phthisis (TB) aged 45 on 25 May 1906. Their address then was 33 Cecil Avenue, Shirley.

In the 1911 census Annie (aged 45) and her children Nellie (16) and Alfred (12, known as Reg) were living at 51 Francis Avenue, Southsea. Annie ran her home as a boarding house. Flo had two rooms there, having just married Robert West. Annie moved again several more times. Mary understands that her grandfather Reg had rickets and was often hungry. He told Mary's mother that he was brought up by his elder sister Flo.

On September 27th 1914, Annie married Walter Thomas Howe at All Saints Church, Leyton. He was aged 51, a widower and  a postman from Walthamstow in East London - perhaps he worked with William Frank Ivall (also a postman), Annie's brother. She was aged 49. Annie and Walter Howe eventually settled in Southsea, Hampshire. The national register compiled in 1939 shows Annie and Walter (a retired postman) living at 18 Graham Road, Southsea.
Annie and Walter at their home in Graham Road, Southsea

Annie passed down a pedigree that showed she was related to the Wests who had set up a charitable trust for the poor and Christ’s Hospital school. We don't know whether she availed herself of any benefits from that. She also passed on the story that she was related to the Palmers of biscuit fame, but this is unconfirmed.
Annie Maria Howe with her grand-daughter Joyce West, c 1935

Annie’s house was damaged by bombing during WW2 and so she moved back to Alverstoke. Walter her second husband died in 1941 aged 78 and Annie died aged 80 on 9 January 1946. Probate records show that her final address was 27 Village Road, Alverstoke and that administration of her estate (£809 3s 7d) was granted to Florence West, her daughter. Walter and Annie are buried in Highland Road Cemetery, Southsea (plot B, row 22, grave 19). There is no marker on the grave.

No comments: