Warlow Misfortune

Thomas Warlow Headstone, from family photo collection

The above photograph was in a family photo album previously owned by my great grandparents and then grandparents. For many years, it intruiged me. Who was Thomas Warlow? Who was he to my great grandparents, in whose album it had been placed over a hundred years ago?

The answer didn’t come until I ordered a copy of the Last Will & Testament of my great grandfather, James Kinghorn Thomson, who passed away from cancer in 1936. One of the bequests he made was of a sum of money to ‘my sister-in-law, Emma Warlow’. Aha! Now I knew that Emma had to be the sister of my great grandma, Martha Evans. Eventually I would discover that Emma Evans, born in October 1871 at St Ishmael’s, St Brides, Pembrokeshire, had, like my great grandma Emma, left the small costal village where they were born for England. Most likely London, where Martha had married James in 1891. In 1891, the census shows us that Emma was a 19-year-old domestic servant in the household of local farmer J Wilkes Harvey and his siter Emma at Lower Beradmoor, Talbenny.

It’s a not-unreasonable stretch of the imagination to wonder if Emma went to London for Martha’s wedding, and perhaps met Thomas there…. sadly we don’t know what Emma was doing between 1891 and 1896 when she and Thomas married on 1 Jun 1899 at St Peter, Belsize Park, in Camden. But thanks to the brilliant records of the Metropolitan Police held at the National Archives, we do know that Thomas signed up with the police on 9th April 1894 (two years before his marriage) and was a Constable at Croydon Police Station (the old one) until his untimely death aged 41 on 13th March 1911 from influenza.

This must have been devastating for Emma, because the couple’s first child, Phoebe Sarah Warlow, was just 10 years old. In 1911 Emma had a 27-year-old boarder named Charles Thrush, who it turns out, was also a serving police officer. I can just imagine Thomas letting a room to his colleague, would help pay the bills! Or perhaps it was an arrangement that came into being after Thomas’ death, to help suppliement Emma’s income. In the 1921 census Emma is shown as being a Nurse at Croydon Police Station.

As if losing her husband in 1911 to influenza wasn’t bad enough, the couple’s only child, Phoebe, died of Whooping Cough aged 20. Phoebe was a Shipping Agents Clerk and died at 113 Whitehorse Road, Croydon. A. Munday, a cousin, present at the death at 113 Whitehorse Road, Thornton Heath, was the informant.

Emma was living at 58 Stanger Road, South Norwood in 1945, but passed away on 20th December that year at 66a Queens Road, Croydon. Probate was granted on 8th March to Albert Munday, time-keeper. He is the cousin named on her daughter Phoebe’s birth certificate. Perhaps he was Phoebe’s ‘intended’? More research is needed to find out more, but he appears to have been close to both mother and daughter.

It’s not known at present where Pheobe and Emma are buried – Emma may be with her husband, perhaps Phoebe too.

I don’t have any photographs of Emma, Thomas or Phoebe… well, that is to say, I may have, but no way of identifying them. Am hoping that a cousin’s grandma may be able to help. Watch this space.

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