View Full Version : Sarah Emma Clarence

28-08-09, 16:38
HELP Please ! Sarah Emma Clarence is my Great grandmother. I have her birth, marrage and death certs. She was born in 1887 in The Union Workhouse in Bassingbourn Cambs. I would like to know if anybody can point me in the right direction of seeing if any records from the Workhouse are still in exsitence and if i can find out why she was born there and what happened to her parents.
Her father is named on her birth cert but marriage cert says father's name not known !
Thanks for any help you can give me.

Mark Dudley
28-08-09, 16:43
Looks like the records are at Hertfordshire Record Office

Royston Union Workhouse, which encompassed Bassingbourn-with-Kneesworth, births 1866-1929 and deaths 1866-1915 can be found at Hertfordshire Record Office.


28-08-09, 19:24
Hi Sharon,

I have seen Sarah on the 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses, but she is never with any family members. I noticed her birth and marriage are the only entries for anyone named Clarence in the Royston District in over 60 years, so it would seem her mother came from another area.

Were her parents married? (or said they were!) - normally if a father is named on a birth cert and he and the child's mother are not married then there would be two references to the birth in the GRO indexes (one entry for each surname), but this doesn't seem to be the case for Sarah's birth.

If you would like to tell us her parents names and her father's occupation, then we might be able to find out more about them for you.

By the way - Welcome to GF :D

28-08-09, 20:06
Ooooh - annoying little place Bassingbourn isn't it?

Right near the border of Cambridgeshire, Essex and Hertfordshire so feasibly the family could be from any of those counties.

Although equally they could be from anywhere else as well.

And welcome on board Sharon (this is Zoe by the way)

28-08-09, 22:34
I see Sarah Emma was baptised 11th Dec 1892 at Royston (extracted entry IGI, birth date recorded as 1887). Her father's name is recorded as just Clarence and no mother's name, which is definitely not normal for the date, so presumably some information about this child had been lost before her baptism.

I think it was fairly unusual for someone to have lived in the workhouse for so long (assuming she was there from birth) without being baptised. I wonder who decided she should be?

31-08-09, 18:57
Thank you for all your help so far. I will post all the info I have so far on Sarah in next few days when I get to the main computer.

31-08-09, 23:48
Regarding the gap between her birth and baptism, I've found a lot of similar 4 or 5 year gaps in my family.

I wondered if the child's baptism was connected with being old enough to attend a C of E church?

02-09-09, 15:51
As promised the following is all the info I have on Sarah so far
BIRTH CERT - 11 Nov 1887 Union Workhouse Bassingbourn.
Father named as Charles Clarence, Cabinet maker
Mother Emma Clarence formerly Smith

1891 CENSUS - described as Pauper at The Workhouse, Bassingbourn
BAPTISM - 11 Dec 1892 Royston, Herts
1901 CENSUS - described as Boarder, Reed End, Therfield with George & Mary Hagger
1911 CENSUS - described as Servant Westry, Baldock Road, Royston to Powell family
MARRIED - 7 Oct 1911 Walter Charles Worboys (26) of Royston parish of Buckland, Hertford. Father unknown (didn't have copy of her own birth cert ?)
DIED - 22 May 1979 The Hospital, Royston

1) I would like help tracing her parents on earlier census' and their births and marrage so I can look for any siblings (possibly a Selina Smith named as witness on marriage cert)

2) Would also like to find out where in Royston she was baptised as I was also baptised in Royston

3) Would be intrested to find out the circumstances of why she was born in the workhouse

I have searched for myself but with no luck. Sorry this is so long but any help would be most acceptable.

Thank you


02-09-09, 15:58
2) Would also like to find out where in Royston she was baptised as I was also baptised in Royston

Clicking on the "Source" on FamilySearch it lists 3 churches but this is the only Royston one included:
Church of England. Parish Church of Royston (Hertfordshire)

02-09-09, 16:19
Hi Sharon,

Can you tell me who registered the birth please? Was the only address on the birth cert the Workhouse?

Who was the other witness at Sarah's marriage?

02-09-09, 16:53
There are very few people around called Charles Clarence and none who are cabinet makers or similar occs in 1881 or 1891 (that I can see at the mo anyway!). No marriage for Emma and Charles showing up either at the moment, so this may turn out to be a tricky task.

02-09-09, 17:13

Sarah's birth was registered by Emma Clarence, Mother, Union Workhouse, Bassingbourn, this is the only address on her birth cert.

Marriage certifcate states witness' to be Albert Worboys who I have already found as the grooms brother on 1911 census. The second witness looks like Selina Smith - no idea who she was I'm afraid.

Any help to you ?


02-09-09, 17:21
Not really! lol

When you say the marriage witness 'looks like' Selina Smith, do you think it might not say that? Are you able to post up that bit of the cert if you are unsure? (she could be our only hope!)

02-09-09, 18:09
There is am Emma Smith in Bassingbourn Workhouse in 1881.

BUT, she is only 8 which would make her about 14/15 when Sarah Emma Clarence was born.

02-09-09, 18:12
Trouble is, it's a very common name, so that Emma might well not be the same one.

02-09-09, 18:31
Thanks for your help so far. Have been chucked off main computer, now on phone so will check out your findings tomorrow.

02-09-09, 18:36
I might be grasping at strws here. The person above Emma on that 1881 is Alice Smith, place of birth Shepreth Cambridgeshire.

The only Shepreth I can find is part of Royston, Herts (marriage place of Emma)

02-09-09, 20:33
I'm beginning to think the answer definitely lies in the workhouse records themselves.

According to the Workhouses website Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies holds the records and it includes Births for 1866-1929.
(direct page for Royston Union Workhouse, which Bassingbourn was covered by - http://www.workhouses.org.uk/index.html?Royston/Royston.shtml)

There may possibly be more information in this about the mother than you get on the birth certificate.

02-09-09, 20:47
If they have the admittance registers these would usually give her age for starters, which is more than we know already!

It does seem strange that Charles Clarence isn't more visible in the records, as it seems unlikely that he didn't exist, even if he and Emma were not actually married.

02-09-09, 21:31
I might be grasping at strws here. The person above Emma on that 1881 is Alice Smith, place of birth Shepreth Cambridgeshire.

The only Shepreth I can find is part of Royston, Herts (marriage place of Emma)

Zoe where did you find that marriage for Emma ?

02-09-09, 21:50
Zoe where did you find that marriage for Emma ?

What marriage?

I looked for Alice on the previous census but couldn't find her. There's a possible baptism for Alice on the IGI giving her mother's name as Eliza - no father.

I still think the workhouse records are the only chance of resolving this difficult brick wall.

02-09-09, 21:55
I think Zoe meant Sarah Emma's marriage.

02-09-09, 22:26
Thanks everybody. Looks like I'll have to book a visit to Hertford archives to see the workhouse records. I'll let you know if I find out more. Thanks again. :)

02-09-09, 22:26
I did mean Sarah Emma. Sorry for the confusion, I was attempting to assist whilst pretending to work

02-09-09, 22:28
I looked for Alice in previous census too. There is an Alice Smith born Shepreth who is from a very large family (parents William and Eliza, about 10 siblings from memory). But she appears with them in 1891 so can be discounted. Unless it's that rare scenario of a double census entry.

02-09-09, 22:30
That's what I found too!

I doubt she is duplicated when none of her siblings were in the workhouse (unless that Emma was one, but Emma seems to have been baptised with a single mum)

03-09-09, 13:16
Is it possible that we are looking at things the wrong way round?

Could it be that mother was a Clarence, working in the Royston area when her baby was born?

Dad is Charles, a cabinet maker. So far, so good. When they ask what Mum's maiden name is, she panics, and says Smith? Smith could be a family name, or just a red herring.

Where I know certificates are wrong, it's usually just the father's surname that is out.

03-09-09, 13:18
It's possible, but don't forget that a Smith was a witness at Sarah Emma's wedding.

03-09-09, 13:31
I suppose Selina Smith might not be a relative though?

I did look for Emma Clarence variants as a birth name for the mum, without any luck.

I see the RO has the Guardian Minute Books but no admission books, so we will have to hope that Emma's case was worthy of some comment. The workhouse seems quite a small one, but I don't know if that's good or bad for info!!