|Tempsford in the early 1830s|
|The Widower by Jacques Joseph Tissot|
Ten years later however, circumstances had changed and life was very different. In 1851, Fanny was 17, and she was still living in Langford End with her father. But by this time there were two new additions to the family. Within three years of his first wife's death Ezekiel had married again, to Ann Esther Ibbot Miles, a lady with a very long name! Together they had Samuel, my 2 x Great Grandfather. Fanny was working as a lace maker, in keeping with many women in the area who were able to work from home supplementing the family's income.
|The Lacemaker by William Weatherhead|
By the time of the 1871 census, Fanny was 37 years old and still unmarried, a fairly rare state of affairs for the times. So I was pleased to discover that on Christmas Day 1874 she wed a local market gardener, George Cope, and settled down to married life with him. She was 40 when her wedding took place, and it's possible that they tried for children but were unsuccessful. I'm intrigued as to why she waited so long to marry when the majority of her peers would have been marrying and having children when they were barely out of their teens. Fanny had lived with her gentleman employer as his 'housekeeper' since her early twenties. Had they enjoyed more than a master-servant relationship which society would stop them from making official? Or maybe she was too busy to marry; running Joseph's home may have taken all her energy leaving her with no time to even meet possible suitors. Joseph died not long after the census in 1871. His death clearly left her free to find a partner to share her life with. Enter George.
Fanny lived out the rest of her life in Tempsford with her husband. They lived alone in their cottage in Nags Head Lane, next door to the local inn.
In 1898, aged just 64, Fanny died. I was amazed to discover that she had made a will and left behind effects worth £364, 17s, 8d which according to the National Archives currency converter is around £20,000 in today's money: a small fortune! How did she amass such a large amount of money? Perhaps her old employer, Joseph Addington, had left her some money in his will (I'll have to investigate) or maybe Fanny and George were just careful with their money. I'll probably never know. George outlived her by four years; he died in 1902.
So that was Fanny's life. It's very ordinary and not at all unusual, but I'm so pleased that I've documented it. I've really enjoyed writing this blog post, as, even though all the evidence for her life comes care of census records and BMD records, it still reveals so much of the person and the times they lived in.