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Priscilla may thrasher - domestic servant cook

Dear Family History UK/Occupations & Work Forum

Our ancestor Priscilla May Pope married Robert Thrasher (marriage date unknown but may have been abroad as we are unable to find Robert in the 1851 census and 1861 census and Priscilla in the 1861 census).

Priscilla came from Hartest, Suffolk and we believe that Priscilla emigrated to escape severe poverty in East Anglia due to the rural depression at this time (in 1850 Hartest had 832 residents, in 1901 Hartest had 537 residents) - her father had died and her mother was a pauper laundress, so we believe that is how Priscilla met Robert - somewhere in the Empire!

Robert was born in Southampton - on his daughters' birth certificates and wedding certificates he is shown as solicitor's clerk, process server, messenger, secretary and private secretary - we believe that Robert may have been in an administrative role in the army, navy or merchant and then settled in London from at least 1868 (we are currently researching Robert). The only Robert Thrasher we can find dying is in 1879 London and he is a fireman, so we believe that our Robert may have died working abroad.

We next find Priscilla and her daughters living in a lodging house - and Priscilla is a domestic servant, working as a cook. However, her daughter Louisa is at a boarding school. Could a domestic servant, working as a cook afford to send a child to boarding school, or had the family saved enough when Robert was alive, or is Priscilla receiving her husband's pension?

Thank you for your help with this.

Name: Priscilla Thrasher
Age: 40
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1841
Relation: Lodger (Head) (Lodger)
Gender: Female
Where born: Hartest Green, Suffolk, England
Civil parish: St George
County/Island: London
Country: England
Street Address: 1 Kinnerton Place S
Condition as to marriage: Windower (Widower)
Occupation: Cook Domestic Serv
Registration district: Chelsea
Sub-registration district: Belgrave
ED, institution, or vessel: 3
Piece: 98
Folio: 60
Page Number: 25
Household Members:
Name Age
Priscilla Thrasher 40
Eliza Thrasher 12
Alice Thrasher 9
Ruth Thrasher 1
Alfred Pope 45

Name: Louisa Thrasher
Age: 8
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1873
Relation: Boarder
Gender: Female
Where born: St Georges, Middlesex, England
Civil parish: St George
County/Island: London
Country: England
Street Address: 2 Market Mews
Occupation: Scholar
Registration district: Chelsea
Sub-registration district: Mayfair
ED, institution, or vessel: 13
Piece: 97
Folio: 29
Page Number: 24
Household Members:
Name Age
Catherine Poetl 59
Maria Manley 16
Elizabeth Albany 14
Bridget Haston 14
Susannah West 12
Emma West 10
Rosa Gegan 10
Ellen Gegan 8
Ada Brown 9
Emma Singleton 13
Ellen Singleton 12
Louisa Thrasher 8
Mary Jane Denford 11


Loyal Member
swindon wilts
Hi there...the area Belgrave is a very up market area...even in those days so i would say she was probably fairly well paid compared to others of the same job....just guessing of course.
The mind boggles of course and you will probably never know.....but it certainly gets the mind thinking about all the possible answers.


Valued Member
It is certainly unusual. Although cooks earned more that a maid- of- all- work ( £5 p.a.) I am surprised that one child would be a boarder and she not the eldest. Perhaps she was boarded there before the father died and fees had been paid in advance? As Leefer says it is interesting. If you find out keep us posted. :)


Loyal Member
Or sometimes we just never find out the "why's"

Maybe she might have been thought to be "bright" child and worth the expense to school her away from home, or maybe she was the rebel and they might have thought sending her away to school to straighten her out.

Who knows? :2fun::2fun:
Priscilla May Thrasher - Domestic Servant Cook

Hi Leefer
Thank you for your post. Our minds have been boggling for the last three years with this family – only recently discovered last November! We will tell you more later...

Hi Jay
Thank you for your post. If we find out any more we will certainly let you know. We are trying to find out more about Louisa’s father Robert – unfortunately the only Robert Thrasher we can find in the 1841 census is a servant, so not living with his family and with no marriage certificate for Robert and Priscilla, Robert’s father is not known to be able to trace Robert’s family (trying to trace with help from the Hampshire Genealogical Society). With Robert also being missing in the 1851 census and 1861 census and Priscilla missing in 1861 census, we wondered if Robert and Priscilla had children abroad, who either died there or stayed living abroad – this family disappear from official records with such regularity are they visiting other unknown Thrasher family or Pope family who emigrated to live elsewhere in the Empire? We have all Robert’s and Priscilla’s daughters’ birth certificates born in London and Robert is Louisa’s father – so no indication of Louisa being the ‘black sheep’ of the family from birth.

Hi Gibbo
Thank you for your post. My goodness if you knew what happens later with the other girls... We can explain now!

Eliza Priscilla Thrasher:
Eliza had a daughter called Violet Alice Louise Jezard born in 1890 Kensington. Violet’s birth certificate states that Eliza is her mother and her father is Alfred Jezard (we are unable to find a marriage certificate for Eliza and Alfred). However, when Violet is baptised outside of the parish with her illegitimate cousin Horace Thrasher, Violet’s ‘baptism parents’ are George Jezard and May Jezard!
We are unable to find Violet in the 1891 census.
Violet is boarding with her illegitimate cousin Horace in the 1901 census.
We are unable to find Violet in the 1911 census, getting married or dying.
We are unable to find Eliza in the 1901 census, 1911 census, getting married or dying.

Alice Thrasher:
Alice is our ‘black sheep’ of the family. Alice was born as Alice Thrasher in 1871 London. Alice had an illegitimate son named Horace Thrasher in 1893 Fulham rumoured to be the son of an aristocrat. On Horace’s birth certificate his mother is named as Grace Thrasher, formerly Grace Courtenay and father Robert Thrasher (Robert is Alice’s father Robert Thrasher). Horace was born at 81 Archel Road – this is where we find Alice’s remarried mother Priscilla living in the London electoral register as Priscilla Jezard. When Alice marries Herbert Solomon in 1901 she names herself as spinster Grace Courtenay. Our family only knew (Grace) as married name Mrs Grace Alice Solomon and non-birth maiden Miss Grace Alice Courtenay – and Alice's family and Herbert’s family were never spoken of – finding Alice’s family has been extremely complicated but worthwhile, from all the kind people who have helped with the next piece of the jigsaw along the way, finding some family and learning about family history research and social history – it has been fascinating! Horace is later baptised in 1896 Kensington as Horace Thresher with his cousin Violet Alice Louise Jezard and later known as Horace Courtenay. It was only by noticing on Violet’s baptism record that Violet and Horace both lived at 133 Finborough Road and were baptised on the same day that we broke this brickwall (Horace Courtenay is Horace Thrasher/Thresher) and then found Horace’s ‘baptism father’ Percy Thresher in the London electoral registers living close by that provided the next piece of the jigsaw!

Louisa Thrasher:
It is not known if Louisa had any children. However, Louisa marries Percy Atkins in 1905 Fulham – but before they marry are ‘baptism parents’ to Louisa’s sister’s son Horace in 1896 as Louisa Thresher and Percy Thresher – Percy uses Atkins, Thresher and Thrasher in the London electoral registers throughout their association. Percy is a theatrical business manager. When Louisa and Percy marry on their marriage certificate, Percy’s father George Atkins was a Captain in the Royal Navy (is this how the families met – was Robert Thrasher also in the Royal Navy)? Later Robert’s grandson Horace Thrasher/Thresher/Courtenay works for the Coastguard Service moving to Blackpool during the WWII years 1939-1945 - could Horace's grandfather's possible occupation in the Royal Navy have helped to work for the Coastguard Service?

Ruth Thrasher:
Ruth becomes actress Ruby Jezard performing at The Royal Drury Lane (her mother Priscilla remarries to John Jezard but we are unable to find their marriage certificate) – when Ruth marries Albert Court in 1900 Fulham she names her father as Robert Jezard. Albert and Ruth have a son called Edward Leslie Court in 1905 Fulham who emigrates to Canada in 1926 to be a farmer (we are trying to trace Edward and any family with help from Canadian family history societies). Ruth is not found on the 1911 census – is she abroad with any unknown family or working abroad? Albert is Chief Of Staff at the London Coliseum.

In the 1891 census there is a family of Torplows who we believe are Priscilla, Eliza, Ruth and Louisa – Alice is found working in a coffee house in the 1891 census – where is Eliza’s daughter Violet born 1890 – why is Eliza not living with her ‘husband’ Alfred and Violet or Alfred and Violet living with the family. Unfortunately we cannot read exactly what Priscilla’s, Louisa’s and Eliza’s occupations are to provide another clue to this puzzle – any help gratefully received! Thank you. If the profession is to do with dressmaking and Priscilla was previously a cook in the 1881 census, maybe that is how she met Robert abroad, cooking and mending clothes for the navy, army or a merchant?

There are so many brickwalls with this family – going through what we have found with my father-in-law he remembers an Uncle Percy (Percy Atkins) and a Cousin Leslie (Edward Leslie Court) who he met as five-year old child almost eight decades ago – but finding his otherwise unknown family has been bitter sweet – trying to trace any living relatives would be the icing on the cake! It is such a pity that this family was not spoken of – they seem to have led very fascinating Victorian/Edwardian lives!

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