James Partleton was born on 05/05/1837. His parents were James Partleton & Mary Ann Palmer.
There are opinions that May Ann Palmer was married earlier to another man. Divorce was a rare occurrence those days, so it is said that his parents could never get married. James was their first of nine kids. His birth place was Houghton Street, Clare Market, Strand.
At the age of four, James was baptised at Feathers Court, a yard which was notorious for all kinds of vices like prostitution, drunkenness, all kinds of disease outbreaks etc.
Drury Lane at Feathers Court is where James lived till he was 9 years. There were many other notorious streets nearby like Coal Yard where thieves found harbour, Barley court which was home to returned convicts, men & women of bad character etc.
Ashlin’s place was yet another building which later came to be known as Ragged Staff Court. The condition of this place was so bad due to a sickening smell that passing through that street was also a torture. The pathetic situation of the neighbourhoods can be understood as James lost his brother and two sisters to serious diseases.
Every room in Feathers Court had one family staying in it. James used to stay with his large family in a single room .There was no proper arrangement for cooking in any of these rooms. The house was intended for one family which never happened. All the families had to sacrifice many comforts and adjust with meagre facilities.
The sewage and septic tank facilities were almost nonexistent .These unhygienic conditions led way to outbreak of many diseases which claimed the lives of many.
Another building was Russell Court which was a special place to live in as it had a cemetery in the courtyard. It was here that most of the people in the neighbourhood were buried.
The above description would give you an idea of the environment in which James lived in the early years of his childhood.
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After nine years of wretched existence at Drury Lane, the Partletons decided to move to Lambeth, where the rest of the Partleton clan was living. Though they moved with great hopes of getting a better future, nothing of the sort happened. Things seemed to go worse there. James got a new baby brother on 2/05/1847.Then they must have moved to Dukes Head Court (also known as Crookets Alley) as there is evidence that he lost a sister in 1849 there. She died from Cholera, most probably contracted from drinking contaminated water from Thames.
Two years later the family was still in the same place as proven in the UK census taken then. A school called Ragged school is mentioned in records. It was run by charity and had just two classrooms-One for boys and the other for girls. There is no evidence that James ever attended school. His elder generation knew how to read and write, however he could not even sign his name. Probably his younger brothers and sisters attended school.
In July 1851, a new baby had joined the family. From the 1861 census, it is understood that James was then a labourer who still lived with his parents in Lambeth. James lived next to the stinkiest soap factories of the neighbourhood. At the age of 25, he got married to Emma Gould .From the marriage certificate, it is understood that Emma was a literate.
Catherine Partleton, James’ sister, was a witness to the marriage. James had given his occupation as a painter in the same. They must have moved to Waterloo for a while and then back to Lambeth where his first son was born in 1862.The baby was christened at St Mary-the-Less Church. When his second child was born in 1864, they were living at Wickham Street. However this baby girl did not survive for more than a year. The next girl was born in 1865.
Then again another baby girl in 1866. The family moved north following James’ work. James and Emma had twin baby boys later out of whom one passed away six months after birth. They had two more boys in the coming years. James was working as a rice miller by this time. His living conditions were improving and the family was crawling out of the very poor state.
Read Also:Some Unknown Facts About The History Of London
In 1800 the living conditions were a blend of luxury and poverty. A handful of high class society members indulged in royalty and tyranny while the majority of the common population suffered from the throes of misery and poverty. There was a population explosion during this period due to longer life spans, immigration, the industrial revolution etc.
With the advent of the industrial revolution, there was a huge movement of people from the villages to towns and cities. This sudden population explosion in the cities caused many problems. The cities were not ready to accommodate such large number of residents. Housing them all became big problems. All the grand houses were converted into places to accommodate many families together. Many flats sprung up to accommodate workers.
When so many families started living in such close association, living conditions became scarce. Every family got only one room and they had to adjust in that. Poor sanitation conditions, inadequate cooking arrangements, improper heating facilities, outbreak of contagious diseases etc resulted in atrocious living conditions. Most of the buildings were not maintained properly.
The worst nightmare was probably the poor condition of drinking water. Most of the waste, including human excreta, was disposed into the Thames. This was the water that most of the citizens were using for drinking and cooking purposes. Diseases like cholera, typhoid spread widely claiming the lives of millions of children.
The crime rate increased at alarming rates. However violence was not present. It was a question of survival for many. Petty thefts, stealing food and other essential items happened on a large scale.
Child labour was also another main issue as children also had to join the hard work to support their families. The conditions which the children were forced to work were extremely dangerous and unhygienic.
Living conditions during 1800 were pathetic and alarming to many while a few people enjoyed a royal life.
British history has always been interesting as it is a vast topic. There are certain facts that remain unknown to many. Let’s take a look at some of the less known topics.
On the Spot marriages
During 1613 and 1754, there was a legal loophole which allowed on the spot marriages. The area near Fleet Debtors’ Prison was the main venue for such marriages. It was also known as the Liberties of the Fleets.
The original Charing Cross was also known as Eleanor’s Cross. This was erected in the memory of Eleanor of Castile, the wife of Edward I in 1290. He erected a memorial cross at every point the funeral procession stopped to rest. The final one was at the village of Charing.
Chelsea bun house was opened in the early 1700s at Jew’s Row by Richard Hand. The interiors were decorated by rare clocks and artifacts. Many royal families and famous personalities used to visit the Bun House regularly. On Good Fridays, more than 50000 customers would gather to purchase the products sold here.
Between 1824 and 1827, a Colosseum was built at Regent’s Park by Decimus Burton. The dome of this structure was larger than the St Paul’s cathedral .It had a painting by Thomas Hornor, giving a magnificent panoramic view of London. This building slowly lost all its popularity after it was sold to John Barham, an opera singer in 1831.This fine structure was later demolished in 1874/75 and was replaced by the Cambridge Gate.
High class living on the Strand
The Strand could boast of being the chosen spot for some of the finest houses in London. This was before the Embankment was built. One of the houses that stays in the memory of all is the Durham house.
The first Globe theatre, Euston Arch and many more other structures were all part of the British history at some point of time.