Kezia Eliza Roe was the eldest child of my great great grandparents, Daniel and Mary Ann Roe. It was Kezia who, at the age of nineteen, was present at her mother’s death from tuberculosis in December 1870 and who registered the death with the appropriate authorities. In the following year, she and three of her younger siblings, Mary Ann Blanch, Daniel Ellis, and John Richard Roe, were with their grandmother Keziah Blanch in Broad Street, Soho, where Kezia was contributing to the household income by taking in work as an ironer.

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Porter Street and Castle Street can both be seen, running north to south in the middle of this section from Weller’s 1868 map of London (via london1868.com)

Two years later, twenty-two-year-old Kezia Eliza Roe could be found living at 8 Porter Street, which was near Newport Market, on the eastern edge of Soho. This was the address that she gave at the time of her marriage to twenty-year-old Edward Temple on 13th April 1873. (I’m grateful to my fellow researcher Ron Roe for discovering this marriage, and for sharing his findings with me.) He was a frame maker from nearby Castle Street, which was roughly where the bottom end of Charing Cross Road now stands. The wedding, which took place at St Anne’s church, Soho, was witnessed by Daniel Roe, who I’m fairly sure was Kezia’s younger brother Daniel Ellis Roe, rather than her father, who was almost certainly dead by this date.

Edward Temple was the son of shoemaker George Temple. Two years before the wedding, the 1871 census notes that Edward was living at home in Castle Street with his widowed mother, Mary, and his younger brother, William. At the time Edward was working as an errand boy.

The next record we have for Edward and Kezia is the 1881 census, taken eight years after their marriage, which finds the couple living at 25 Sherwood Street, Soho, not far from Piccadilly.  Kezia’s uncle, John Holdsworth Blanch, and his family were living nearby at the time, in Sherwood Place. Edward and Kezia Temple shared the house with five other families: the other occupants included a carpenter, a shoemaker, a couple of tailors and an unemployed porter. Edward’s occupation is given as ‘ornamental mounter’ and the word ‘artisan’ has been written across the entry. (Edward’s occupation was similar to that of carver and gilder Enoch Collinson, the father-in-law of Kezia’s uncle Caleb Roe.) The census record gives Kezia’s age as thirty, while Edward is said to be twenty-eight. Despite having been married for eight years, Edward and Kezia appear not to have any children.

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Eliza Temple in the 1891 census record (via ancestry.co.uk)

Tracing the couple after 1881 has proven difficult. I can find no record of Edward Temple in the 1891 census. However, there is a record of an Eliza Temple, working as a ‘laundress (wash)’ and living at 76 Berwick Street, Soho. The age is wrong – she is said to be thirty-four whereas Kezia would have been forty-one – and the absence of the first forename is puzzling (though she may have dispensed with it, for any number of reasons). However, the fact that this person gives her place of birth as St. Thomas Square, Hackney (see this post), seems too much of a coincidence. Again, no children are mentioned. Eliza Temple is described as a wife, not a widow, but there is no trace of a husband at the address or nearby. If this is ‘our’ Kezia, then where was Edward? He might have been absent from home on the night of the census – but if so, I haven’t managed to find him in the records.

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Victorian laundresses at work

Searching for Kezia in the 1901 census records has been even more frustrating. There was an Eliza Temple living in Soho at this date, and working as a ‘mangler (wash)’, but though born in 1850 she came from Bermondsey and was a widow with four children.

However, it seems fairly certain that the Eliza Temple who died in the parish of St James, Westminster, in 1906, at the age of fifty-six, was Kezia Eliza Temple née Roe. More research will be needed to determine whether she died alone, and what became of her elusive husband, Edward Temple.

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