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Elizabeth Martha Worrall (1829-1909)

Great grandmother of Henry Austin Lane - Generation 4.


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Elizabeth was the first of seven children born to her parents. She and her siblings were raised in Stepney within the London borough of Tower Hamlets in London's East End. She had the distinction of being a 'cockney’ born ‘within earshot of Bow Bells’, that is the bells of the church of St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside in the City of London, and not those of a church in the parish of Bow as is often incorrectly assumed.


Elizabeth’s father worked with her grandfather William Worrall who first established a successful family rope and twine manufacturing business in the East End of London. Following her grandfather's death in 1828, her father traded alone for many years until he went into partnership with her brother Henry Thomas Worrall. After her father dissolved his partnership with her brother, the business collapsed and her brother was destitute by the early 1900s. Eventually, her brother left his family in Britain and emigrated to Canada, where he worked as a mat maker until his death from chronic heart disease and fluid on the lungs.


Another unhappy story for this family, was that of Elizabeth’s nephew Henry James Shepheard (aged 55 years), his wife (aged 56 years), daughter (aged 17 years), daughter-in-law (aged 31 years) and grandsons (aged 7 and 10 years) who died when their home at 57, Croydon Road, Canning Town, Newham, Essex, was bombed on 19 September 1940 during the 'London Blitz' of World War II (1939-1945). All are commemorated in the 'Book of Remembrance' in St. George's Chapel, Westminster Abbey.


A happier outcome for all concerned, was the emigration of Elizabeth's cousin Joseph Worrall and his family to Ontario, Canada, where they established themselves in Hespeler, Waterloo county. After his death, Joseph's family moved on to Los Angeles, California, United States of America (U.S.A.), where his son Christopher Worrall had a successful career as a camera grip in 1930s Hollywood.


At the time of the Worrall’s voluntary migration to Canada, many children were being migrated to Canada against their will. Between 1869 and the late 1930s, over 100,000 children were sent to Canada from the British Isles, to be used as indentured farm workers and domestics. These 'orphaned' children were sent to Canada by more than 50 organisations including the well-known, and still operating, charities of 'Barnardo’s' and the 'Salvation Army'.

Throughout her youth, Elizabeth and her family oscillated between periods of wealth and periods of poverty. On balance, she seems to have had a fairly privileged upbringing, albeit that her younger brother Charles William Worrall died at the young age of 1 year and 9 months. Sadly, her entrepreneurial father died alone at the Edmonton Workhouse in London, after choking on a piece of meat.


Elizabeth’s first marriage was to Henry James Barnaby Lane, a vellum binder with whom she had seven children, five of whom survived through to adulthood. Unfortunately, Henry died at the young age of 38 years, leaving her with five children aged between 4 and 19 years to support on her own. Working as a waistcoat maker with support from her eldest son Henry Barnaby Bartlett Lane she provided her family with a reasonably comfortable lifestyle until she re-married 2 years later.


She was married for a second time to Thomas William Hankinson, in a double-wedding ceremony shared with her son Henry Barnaby Bartlett Lane and Thomas’s daughter Amelia Augusta Hankinson, with each couple acting as witnesses for the other. Since both Thomas and Elizabeth had been widowed in 1873 and left with large families to support, it was fortuitous that they met. This enabled their families to come together and support each other. It is impossible to imagine just how chaotic life must have been for these families, with fifteen people living together under the same roof.


Elizabeth and Thomas had an enduring marriage of 19 years, until Thomas died from influenza at the age of 63 years. Following Thomas’s death, Elizabeth spent the remaining years of her life living with her son Henry Barnaby Bartlett Lane and his family. By this time, she was a tailoress working on her own account (self-employed). Elizabeth outlived Thomas by 15 years, until she died from bladder cancer at the goodly age of 80 years. 

Elizabeth’s life was one of mixed fortunes through which she had lived in relative comfort and wavered on the brink of pauperism, without ever forsaking her family.

Note: If you would like to know more, or have information that improves this history, we would love to hear from you.

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