Ephraim Wright

Mary Jane‘s second husband was my great great grandfather, Ephraim Wright.  He was born on January 8th 1860 in Polstead, Suffolk, England.1 His parents Benjamin Wright and Mary Ann Peggs had married on October 23rd 1858 in Boxford, Suffolk – Benjamin’s home town.2

I haven’t been able to find Ephraim and his parents in the 1861 census, though there are a couple of likely candidates for his father, both of whom are in jail!

The family turn up in the 1871 census at Potash Lane, Polstead, Suffolk. Along with his parents Benjamin 40 and Mary A 37, the 11 year old scholar Ephraim is living with his 8 year old brother Arthur.3


View Polstead & Boxford, Suffolk in a larger map

At the time of the 1881 census, I think he is living at 56 Railway Grove, St Paul Deptford.  There is an Ephraim Wright, 21,  labourer, living with a 63 year old widower by the name of George Boxhall, who is also a labourer.  Ephraim’s birth place is given as Suffolk.4 It’s possible this is not my man  – there are several other Ephraim Wrights born in Suffolk around – but given that this is a year before he marries Mary Jane in a neighbouring area, I think it’s likely to be the right one.

On March 13th, 1882 he marries Mary Jane Freeth (formerly Clark) at St Stephen’s church, Lewisham, Kent.  At the time he was living at Brookbank Road, Lewisham, and his occupation is “Fitter”.5

By 1891, Ephraim and Mary Jane and five children are living at 11 Alvar Street in Deptford. Thirty year old Ephraim’s  occupation is listed as General Labourer and Mary Jane (35) is a Laundress.6 The children are:

  • Mary Freeth 14, Ephraim’s stepdaughter,  Mary Jane’s daughter from her previous marriage, born Meath, Ireland
  • Lavinia Wright 8, daughter, born Deptford
  • James A  Wright 6, son, born Deptford
  • Joseph Wright 4, son, born Rotherhithe, Surrey
  • Ephraim G Wright 2, son, born Deptford

My great grandfather Alexander was born just after the census, on June 27th 1891.

Sadly, Ephraim died three years later at the age of 34 on November 26th 1894 at the South Eastern Hospital in Deptford.  His address was given as 23 Berthon Street, Deptford, and occupation “Engine fitter”.7 (By the time his son Alexander marries in 1917, Ephraim’s occupation has been upgraded to “Engineer”.)

The cause of death was Enteric Fever, another name for typhoid, “a common worldwide illness, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces [sic] of an infected person… The impact of this disease fell sharply with the application of modern sanitation techniques.”8

I’d love to find out where Ephraim was in 1861.  If his father was in jail, where would his mother have gone with a baby?  I did search a couple of years ago, looking at his mother’s family to see if she’d gone there, but found nothing.  Time to have another hunt.  I also want to know what his father was in jail for, if indeed that’s where he was.

And why did Ephraim move away from Suffolk?  I would think it would be because of work, or lack thereof.  Maybe following up what happened to his brother Arthur could offer some clues.

I also want to check out the places Ephraim was living in against the Charles Booth poverty maps of London, to see what kind of housing it was, what it might have been like.

  1. England, birth certificate for Ephraim Wright; 08 Jan 1860, Cosford, Suffolk; citing 1860 Mar [quarter] 04a [vol] 456 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  2. England, marriage certificate for Benjamin Wright and Mary Ann Peggs; 23 Oct 1858, Boxford, Suffolk; citing 1858 Dec [quarter] 04a [vol] 925 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  3. “1871 England Census, Benjamin Wright (age 40) household, Polstead, Suffolk,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 11 Sep 2008), citing PRO RG10/1723, folio 96, p 2 & 3, GSU roll: 830763, Cosford registration district, Hadleigh sub-registration district, ED 19, household 11, 02 Apr 1871.
  4. “1881 England Census, George Boxhall (age 63) household, St Paul Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 11 Sep 2008), citing PRO RG11/708, folio 58, p 16, GSU roll: 1341165, Greenwich registration district, St Paul Deptford sub-registration district, ED 34a, household 81, 03 Apr 1881.
  5. England, marriage certificate for Ephraim Wright and Mary Jane Freeth; 13 Mar 1882, Lewisham; citing Mar 1882 [quarter] 01d [vol] 1019 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  6. “1891 England Census, Ephraim Wright (age 30) household, St Paul Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 01 Oct 2010), citing PRO RG12/494, folio 67, p 63, GSU roll: 6095604, Greenwich registration district, St Paul Deptford sub-registration district, ED 2, household 323, 05 Apr 1891.
  7. England, death certificate for Ephraim Wright; 26 Nov 1894, Greenwich; citing Dec 1894 [quarter] 01d [vol] 552 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  8. Wikipedia “Typhoid fever”, article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoid_fever accessed: 2 April 2011.
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