The Blake Girls Of Epsom


This article concerns the daughters of Charles Blake, an Epsom butcher, who is the subject of a separate article.

The children of Charles and Jane Blake
Thomas abt 1849-1873
Charles 1851-1919
Frederick 1852-73
Kate 1854-1926
Harry abt 1855-abt 1872
Jane 1856-1912
Herbert 1858-1902
Alice 1859-1933
Annie 1861-1919
Ellen 1863-1923
Morris 1863-95
Ada 1865-1902

After the suicide of her husband in 1873 Mrs Jane Blake, left to run the butcher's shop in South Street, Epsom, with the help of her surviving sons, had several young daughters on her hands and it was perhaps inevitable that most of them should marry men involved in horse racing or with racing connections.

KATE BLAKE
Kate Blake
Kate Blake

Kate was born on 14 April 1854 in Yapton, Sussex (near Bognor Regis). She was the only daughter who did not marry a man with racing connections. Her husband was George Dillwyn Gowing from Lowestoft, son of a customs official and they were married at St Clement Dane's, Westminster on 17 April 1881. In the 1881 census, taken on 3 April 1881, George was an assistant at a wholesale chemist's establishment in Cheapside, City of London.

In the christening record for the two oldest children at St Martin's, Epsom in January 1884, George's occupation was given as 'surgeon's assistant', but by 1891 he had become a butcher's assistant. Between 1884 and 1888 the family moved to Croydon. Latterly, George was a pharmacy dispenser and hospital night porter. He died in Thornton Heath, Surrey in 1907 (aged 53) of an aortic aneurysm. Kate moved to Brighton, where she had family, and died at home of heart degeneration and pneumonia on 26 March 1926, aged 71.

Kate and George had seven children, all but two of whom lived to marry and have families of their own. One of her daughters, Winifred, married a Brighton man who became a rubber planter in Malaya and they lived there for many years. The couple's only son was a Flight Lieutenant in the RAFVR and was killed over Sicily in the days leading up to the Allied invasion in July 1943.

Gussie Gowing Reginald Dillwyn Gowing
Gussie Gowing and Reginald Dillwyn Gowing

Kate and George's two eldest children (both born in Epsom) died young and unmarried. Augusta Blake ('Gussie') Gowing, a barmaid, died at home in Thornton Heath in 1905, aged 24, of syncope and cardiac failure (syncope is technically a blackout but is often caused by underlying heart problems) and Reginald Dillwyn Gowing, a chemist's assistant, died in Guy's Hospital, London of infective carditis in 1909, aged 25.

JANE BLAKE
Jane was born in Yapton in 1856 and was already married when her father died. The wedding again took place at St Clement Dane's, on 17 December 1872, when she had barely turned 16, and the bridegroom was jockey and trainer, Robert Wyatt.

Robert was from East Molesey, Surrey, the son of Charles and Ann Wyatt. Charles was a gardener and later, both he and his wife were taking in laundry as well, so it can be presumed that the family was not well off. Robert was already a jockey by the time he was 21, turning up in the 1871 census as a visitor to trainer James Potter in Woodcote Grove, Epsom. Alongside him was jockey John Sherrington (see the section on Ellen Blake).

It appears that Robert was doing reasonably well in the early 1870s, because a few months prior to his marriage he bought for £750 a property at Clay Hill, Epsom, comprising a house and stables, and tenanted by a trainer called James Martin. The property was later called Eclipse Cottage.

In 1874 Robert bought 24 The Parade, Epsom from the estate of Timothy Barnard and was residing there with Jane in the 1881 census. This was next door to the mother and family of the late jockey, Henry Constable at Primrose Cottage. There was a connection between the two families, as Jane's sister, Alice, was soon to marry Henry Constable's brother, Charles Sidney (see later).

In 1877 Robert had mortgaged the property at Eclipse Cottage for £500 and in 1880 he sold it for £660 to local butcher, William Chapman Bradnam.

Robert said in 1881 (at the Old Bailey, where he was giving evidence against a fraudster who had sold racing tips that he falsely claimed came direct from 'Bob Wyatt, the jockey') that he had ridden at every Epsom Spring meeting for the past ten years. Robert and Jane had no children and continued to live at The Parade until he died there of progressive paralysis on 17 November 1889 at the age of 39. He was buried in Epsom Cemetery.

24 The Parade was left to Jane, but she did not hang around for long, as either an Epsom resident or a widow. Although she had been married to Robert for nearly 17 years, she was still only 33 and in June 1890 she married in Brighton a young man called John Philps. There was a marriage settlement which conveyed 24 The Parade to two trustees, Jane's brother, Charles Blake Junior, and Thomas Tidy, a London solicitor. Jane then mortgaged the property in 1893 and sold it in 1896 to William Bristow. (This was either the William Bristow who had married her mother's sister, Louisa Cooper, or their son, also William.)

John Philps was just 25 when he married Jane. He was from Dorking and his father, Walter, had been a tailor and wool-stapler, having retired on his own means. Suddenly Walter came out of retirement and took a job as the manager of Brighton Gas Works, which seems an odd change of career, and in 1881 John was an apprentice iron founder. However, by the 1891 census he was described as a vocalist and he and Jane were living in Hove.

At some point in the 1890s the couple moved to London. In 1897 they were living in St Stephen's Mansions, Westminster and John had become an auctioneer's clerk/ commercial traveller. He died at home of chronic phthisis (tuberculosis) on 7 July 1897, aged 32. Jane stayed on there until at least 1901 and then in the 1911 census she was in Marlborough Place, Brighton with two boarders, one of whom was John's brother, Frank. The property she lived in, directly up the road from the Palace Pier, was demolished long ago and consumed by an adjacent mock Tudor pub, but in her day it was a good address and the street is still of considerable architectural interest. In 1911/12 she returned to London, perhaps because she was ill, and her last address was in Pimlico. She died in the local St George's Infirmary of cancer of the sigmoid (large intestine) with a secondary deposit in the liver on 24th November 1912. She was 56.

ALICE BLAKE
Alice was born in Epsom on 20 November 1859 and on 13 October 1882 she married Charles Sidney Constable in the same church as her sisters had married, St Clement Dane's. The Constables have been very well documented in Hazel Ballan's article on Henry, but I will reiterate briefly, so that I can add a conclusion to the story of Alice and her children.

Charles was the brother of the Derby-winning jockey, Henry Constable, and worked as a stud groom. Charles was born in London in February 1857. Their father, Henry, had died in 1877 and by the 1881 census Henry Junior was also dead. Charles was living at Primrose Cottage (26, The Parade) with his mother and surviving sister. At the time his occupation was given as 'unemployed groom'. In 1891 Charles and Alice Constable were living in Station Road, Epsom with their first two children, Henry, born 1883, and Amelia Frances, born on 27 March 1884 (and named after Charles's sister, who had died aged 17 in 1876). Charles's mother and sister were still in Primrose Cottage.

Charles does not seem to have enjoyed good health for some years and on 2 August 1900 he died at The Parade of sudden acute apoplexy, a weak heart and chronic rheumatism. Alice was left with her three children, the youngest, Charles Boynton (known as Boynton), having been born in about 1895.

In 1901 Alice was living in 'Vine Lodge', Ashley Road, but it looks as if she was in straitened circumstances. At some point before 1911 she left Epsom. She can be placed in Thornton Heath with her sister, Kate Gowing, in 1907, as she was the informant on George Gowing's death certificate and Alice's address was the same as Kate's. By 1911 Boynton was at a Barnardo's school in Mile End and Amelia was an unemployed housemaid, living in one room in Westminster. The whereabouts of Henry at that stage are unknown. Alice was with her sister, Annie Barnard, in Marine Drive, Hove (see later). By 1919 Annie and her husband, Sydney, were living in a flat, and Sydney remarried in 1920, so Alice presumably had to find new accommodation and by 1933 she was living in 7 Marmion Road, Hove which, today at least, appears to be a small flat in a terraced house, although it may have been the whole house in her day. She died of stomach cancer on 29 August 1933, aged 73, at 2 Upper Shoreham Road, Kingston-by-Sea, Shoreham, Sussex, which was a hospital (now called Southlands Hospital). In 1933, however, it was probably still a workhouse infirmary and the street address of 2 Upper Shoreham Road was commonly used to avoid stigma.

Alice's daughter, Amelia Frances, died unmarried on 17 March 1940 at the Netherne Hospital, Coulsdon, which was originally the Surrey County Asylum, and in 1940 still a mental hospital. She was buried with her father in Epsom Cemetery.

Grave of Charles Sidney Constable and daughter Amelia Frances, Epsom Cemetery
Grave of Charles Sidney Constable and
daughter Amelia Frances, Epsom Cemetery

Son Henry married May Elizabeth Webb in 1924 and died in 1967 in Bury St Edmunds district, Suffolk. In 1933 he was living at Coldham Hall, near Bury St Edmunds, which was then owned by a member of the Hambro banking family, so he probably worked there on a live-in basis. There were two children.

Boynton also died in 1967, on 6 May, in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, of coronary thrombosis and congestive cardiac failure. He had married Elsie Martin in 1927; he was a nurseryman.

ANNIE BLAKE
Annie Blake
Annie Blake

Annie was born in Epsom on 27 July 1861. On 12 Mar 1881 at St Martin in the Fields, London she married Sydney Barnard, son of John Barnard and grandson of Timothy Barnard, both of whom had substantial interests in Epsom Racecourse. Annie's story is already documented in that article and I will not repeat it here, except to say that it is believed she converted to Roman Catholicism before she died at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton on 25 November 1919, aged 58. The cause of death was cardiac failure following an operation for cancer of the small intestine.

Grave of Annie Blake/Barnard, Hove Cemetery
Grave of Annie Blake/Barnard, Hove Cemetery

ELLEN BLAKE
Ellen Blake, known as Nellie, was born in Epsom on 5 March 1863 and was, therefore, just 15 when she married John Sherrington on 24 January 1878 at St Clement Dane's. Curiously, she was not christened until 8 May 1879 at St Martin's, Epsom, after her marriage. Her sisters, Ada, Annie and Alice were christened at the same time.

John Sherrington was born in about 1849 in Salford, Lancashire, son of a tailor, so he was around 14 years older than Nellie. As mentioned previously, he had been in Epsom in 1871 at the same address as Robert Wyatt and was described as a jockey. By the 1881 census Nellie and John were living in Heathcote Road with their two-year old daughter, Violet. In that same year they had another daughter, called Maud (known as Maudie).

On 3 May 1890 John died of syncope in Epsom Infirmary and was buried in Epsom Cemetery.

It seems likely that the couple had been fairly hard-up and that in her widowhood Ellen was reliant on relatives. In the 1891 census she was with her sister, Annie Barnard, at 'The Retreat' in Ladbroke Road. Violet was in Hove with her aunt, Jane Philps, and Maudie was with her great uncle and aunt, William and Louisa Bristow, at 53 High Street, Epsom. In 1901 Nellie was staying with her sister, Alice Constable, in 'Vine Lodge', Ashley Road, and again daughter Violet was with her Aunt Jane. Maudie was a domestic nurse living in a London hotel.

As Alice Constable had moved to Hove at some stage between 1901 and 1911, Nellie presumably had to find somewhere else to go. In about 1904 she apparently started to live with an engineer's fitter named Lawrence (surname unknown), born in about 1857 in Abergavenny. In the 1911 census Lawrence was calling himself Sherrington and he and Nellie were living in one room in Battersea, London, claiming to have been married for 7 years with two children (presumably Violet and Maudie). No record of any marriage has been found. Nellie died on 2 May 1923 in Battersea of a cerebral haemorrhage, aged 60. The certificate described her as the widow of John Sherrington, so she definitely was not married to the mysterious Lawrence. The informant of her death was daughter Violet.

Maudie seems to have done reasonably well for herself. In 1906 she married David Durrant Robinson, a man of independent means, formerly a brewer and nearly 30 years her senior, and by 1911 she was living in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, with him and their two sons. Violet married at the age of about 48.

ADA BLAKE
Ada was the youngest child, born in Epsom on 16 October 1865. She too married very young, at 17, and the bridegroom was Alfred Horace Booty, a fishmonger's son from Shoreditch, born in 1856. In 1881 he was living with his parents in Hackney, described as a 'traveller' but at some point shortly thereafter he became a jockey and trainer. Rumour has it that at some stage he had racing interests in France and possibly several children there, but there is no proof of this. However, he was certainly not at home (or apparently anywhere else in England or Wales) in the 1891 census, by which time he and Ada were living in Beaufort Cottage, Newmarket. Today Beaufort Cottage is a substantial equine veterinary establishment with stabling, so it seems reasonable to assume that Alfred was actually training there in the late 1880s and 1890s. However, in directories of the period he was listed as 'jockey' rather than 'trainer'.

Ada and Alfred had two daughters, Dorothy Winifred (1888) and Marguerite Blake (1890), both born in Newmarket.

Nothing much is currently known about Alfred's racing career, beyond the fact that he was listed as a mourner at the funeral of the legendary jockey, Fred Archer, in Newmarket in November 1886. Nor is much known about his two daughters. Dorothy was last recorded as a servant in Kensington, London, in the 1911 census. Marguerite married an engine fitter called John Whyte and they had at least three children.

Alfred's career does not appear to have turned out particularly successfully, as by 1901 the family was living in a terraced house in Catford, London. Alfred was still described as a jockey on his own account, but was hardly likely to have been training in Catford. Then, on 2 March 1902 in Lewisham Union Infirmary, Ada died of cancer of the uterus and exhaustion, aged just 36.

Alfred Booty
Alfred Booty

On 6 April 1905, in Islington district, Alfred married a lady called Edith Birchinall, who was about 23 years his junior. On the marriage certificate he was described as a conductor, presumably on public transport. In the 1911 census the couple were in lodgings in South Leyton, Essex, with Alfred being described as an 'ex jockey, retired'. A definite death record for Alfred has not yet been found.

Linda Jackson © September 2011
Images courtesy of Linda Jackson © 2011


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