The last post explored the life of my 3 x great grandmother Eliza Roe née Holdsworth who was born in Mile End Old Town, grew up in Bethnal Green, moved to Bedfordshire as a young woman, married there, and then returned to London as a widow with four children, before marrying again and spending the remainder of her life as a servant in middle-class homes in rural Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. I noted that all of Eliza’s children were married by 1851: Daniel Roe to his second cousin Mary Ann Blanch; Richard to Fanny Debney; Eliza to her first cousin Thomas Parker; and Caleb to Sabina Collinson. I’ve already described how Richard and Fanny Roe emigrated to Australia in 1853. In the next few posts, I want to explore the lives of his siblings, beginning in this post with Eliza.

As discussed in the last post, Eliza Roe came to London as a young woman, probably in the late 1840s, to work as a domestic servant, before marrying her cousin Thomas Parker in April 1853, when she was twenty and he was twenty-five. Thomas was the son of another Thomas Parker, a silk weaver, and his wife Sarah Holdsworth, who was the sister of Eliza’s mother. Thomas Parker junior was working as a baker at the time of his marriage to Eliza. Two years earlier, when the 1851 census was taken, he had been employed as a journeyman in the bakery owned by his brother-in-law George Garner, the husband of his sister Sarah, in Red Cross Street, Southwark.


Southwark in 1850 (via

Thomas and Sarah Parker must have been living in Southwark in the early years of their marriage, since that was where their first child, Hannah Sarah, was born in 1854. Two years later, in 1856, their son Frederick Thomas was also born in the borough. According to later census records, their third and youngest child, Sylvia Eliza, was born in 1858 in Smithfield, which suggests that the Parkers crossed the river and lived in central London at some point.

However, this move must have been a temporary one, since by the time of the 1861 census Thomas and Eliza, together with their children Hannah, seven, Frederick, five, and Sylvia, three, were living at 7 Johns Place in Walworth. Thomas Parker had changed his occupation: he was no longer a baker but (in the words of the census record) a ‘Labourer in Indian Military stores Cloth Department’, presumably providing suitable outfits for the servants of Empire. Perhaps his family’s weaving background was being put to good use.

Thomas and Eliza Parker’s two younger children died before reaching adulthood. Sylvia Eliza died in 1862, at the age of four, while Frederick Thomas died in 1868, at the age of twelve. Frederick was buried, like a number of his relatives, in Victoria Park Cemetery in Hackney and his death recorded in the Nonconformist Register. The family’s address was given as 144 Albany Road in Camberwell. Three years later, at the time of the 1871 census, the Parkers were at No. 158 in the same street. Thomas was still employed as a ‘Labourer India Store’, while Hannah, now seventeen, was working as a dressmaker. Also living with the Parkers was their eight-year-old nephew, Joseph Roe, the son of Eliza’s brother Daniel and his wife Mary Ann, both of whom had died in the previous year. Joseph was my great grandfather, and I’ll tell his story, and that of his parents, in a forthcoming post. Finally, the Parker family had a lodger in the house: a fifty-year-old unmarried woman from Bow named Caroline Trimey or Toomey, who worked as an infant robe maker.


Colour-tinted postcard of Camberwell, c. 1900

Ten years later, in 1881, Thomas, fifty-three, Eliza, forty-eight, and Hannah, twenty-five, were living in the same house in Albany Road, and Thomas was still working at the India Stores. With them was Eliza’s mother, my 3 x great grandmother Eliza Roe née Holdsworth, aged eighty, who had recently retired after many years in domestic service, and who would die four years later, in 1885.

Also at the Parkers’ house in Albany Road was a boarder, twenty-nine-year-old printer and compositor William Axtell. He and Hannah Sarah Parker would be married later that year, at St Giles’ church in Camberwell. William and Hannah Axtell would have three children: Herbert William, Gordon Thomas and Lilian Edith. Herbert and Lilian were born in Camberwell but Gordon was born in Homerton, Hackney, which is where all three were christened together, at St Barnabas’ church, on 4th April 1896, when their address was given as 12 Roding Road, off Homerton High Street. I’m unsure whether this was the address of a relative, or of convenience, or if the Axtells really did live in Hackney for a time.

We know that in 1891 the Axtells had been living with Hannah’s parents, Thomas and Eliza Parker, in Albany Road, Camberwell, but by 1901 they had moved to Farady Road in Wimbledon, where Herbert was working as an apprentice compositor and his younger brother Gordon as a a clerk to a colliery agent. Meanwhile, Hannah’s parents had also moved to Wimbledon and were living in Clarence Road. Thomas Parker was now a pensioner of seventy-three; he would die four years later, on 21st September 1905, at the same address, leaving effects to the modest value of £5 to his widow Eliza.


Nineteenth-century printing works

As for Eliza Parker née Roe, she would live for another twelve years. The 1911 census finds her, a seventy-seven-year-old widow, boarding at a house in Ringwood Road, Wimbledon, belonging to blouse manufacturer Algernon Bartlett. At the same date her daughter Hannah and husband William Axtell were still living in Faraday Road, Wimbledon, with their son Gordon, who was now employed (probably with his father) as a ‘printer’s engineer (fitter)’. Their daughter Lilian had married Inland Revenue worker George Hawtin in 1906 and was living with him in Stanley Road, Wimbledon. William and Hannah’s other son, Herbert, who also worked as a printer, had married Ethel Grace Frost in 1910. In 1911 the newly-wed couple were living as boarders in the Frost family home in Herbert Road, Wimbledon.

Eliza Parker seems to have died in 1917, at the age of eighty-four. Her son-in-law William Axtell would died in 1930 and her only surviving child, her daughter Hannah, would died at the age of eighty-one on 23rd December 1935, at ‘Rostherne’, 34 Ederline Avenue, Norbury in Surrey, leaving effects worth £337 18s 8d to her son Gordon Thomas Axtell, a linotype mechanic. Hannah’s son Herbert died in 1961 in Bromley, and her other son Gordon in 1963, at Ederline Avenue, like his mother; I’m not sure what became of Lilian.