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Charles Clare (1849 - 1904)

My wife's great grandfather was born, married and died in Cambridge. He was a cook.

Charles was born on 18th May 1849 at 22 Gothic Street, St Andrew the Less, Cambridge to his parents, Thomas and Lydia.  He appears on the census for 1851 living with them and his four siblings in Gothic Street and then in 1861 in Albert Street (see map on right hand side, south of Victoria Road) with five siblings in Chesterton, Cambridge. By now he had become a "cooks clerk".

His father died of typhoid in 1862 when Charles was just 13 years old. 

For some reason we don't know, in 1871 Charles, now 22 years old, and a sister were living with their father's sisters large family (Mary Clare nee Reeves) in Camberwell, London. Perhaps they moved there straight after Charles' death ?  Anyway, ten years later Charles is back in Chesterton working as a cook living with his widowed mother and a brother at the beautifully named Primrose Terrace, 7 Victoria Road, Chesterton.

Digressing for a moment, Elizabeth Nicholson, who had been born in Cambridge in about 1854, who in 1871 had been working as a domestic servant, was a "domestic servant cook" on the 1881 census working for a household in Trinity Street, Cambridge where one of the sons was an undergraduate at Trinity.

In 1883 Charles and Elizabeth get married.  Not in Cambridge but in a Registry Office in Kings Lynn, Norfolk, 43 miles away.  Why would they do this ?  Neither had been married before; he was 34, she was 30.  Add to this mystery the fact both were shown as living in Almshouse Lane, Kings Lynn at the time and both witnesses were related to Elizabeth, neither to Charles.  She wasn't even pregnant!  Strange.

Charles and Elizabeth had 4 children all born in Chesterton :

1884, back at Primrose Terrace, Charles (direct line)

1886 Ernest Albert (pathologists assistant at Norfolk & Norwich Hospital on 1911 census; possible medal card from WW1 serving with Royal Army Medical Corps)

1889 Ethel Evelyn

1891 Frederick Percival (University club waiter on 1911 census)


The 1891 census has Charles, hiwife, his 4 young children aged between 0 and 6 plus his sister all living over the Carpenters Arms public house, 48 Victoria Road, Chesterton with widow Esther Watts - marked on map with red marker. By 1901 they had moved to 188 Victoria Road and by 1904 to 139 Victoria Road. 

Charles died aged 58 on 16th June 1904 at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.  He died of Uremia Hypostatic Pneumonia - a type of pneumonia associated with elderly or debilitated people who remain in the same position for long periods. Fluids tend to settle in one area of the lungs, increasing the susceptibility to infection. Addenbrooke's was one of the first provincial, voluntary hospitals in Britain. It opened in 1766 in Trumpington Street, Cambridge after Dr John Addenbrooke left just over 4500 in his will "to hire and fit up, purchase or erect a small, physical hospital in the town of Cambridge for poor people".  It moved to its present site in 1962.

Between 1883 and Charles' death, his occupation was described as "cook" or "college cook".  In 1911 his wife, Elizabeth, was "college laundress" and add to this their son Frederick being a University club waiter, I decided to contact most of the College archivists to find out if they had any staff records of any of these ancestors.  Although they have all been very helpful and courteous, my inquiries have drawn a blank

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Linked toCharles Clare; Elizabeth Nicholson

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