Site Updates - The life of my 2 x Great-aunt Kate Louisa Hellyer
I have added further details about my great-great-aunt, Kate Louisa Hellyer:
Born the eldest child in 1878 to John Gale Hellier, a stoker in the Royal Navy, and his wife, Mary Ann (nee Congdon), Kate had a difficult start in life. She was 12 when her mother died and was listed on the 1891 census as a 13 year old housekeeper in her father's home, no doubt looking after her four younger siblings who were also residing there. Three others were living elsewhere including her youngest brother, John, who had been born a few months before his mother's death and had been adopted.
Kate had only just turned 17 when her father died in 1895 and she was further separated from her younger sisters when they were sent to various orphanages.
In March 1897, she had an illegitimate child, Reginald William Hellyer, in the Devonport Workhouse. This must have been a frightening and awful time for her; she had no parents to lend her support and, it would appear, no other family members willing or able to help.
Kate married Thomas Hambly at the beginning of 1899 and her next child, Thomas John V Hambly, was born around the same time. It transpired that Thomas senior was not prepared to bring up Reginald so he was adopted out by Barnardo's to a couple named William James Parkes and his wife, Mary Ann (nee McCarthy).
Kate's first husband died during 1900, probably a short while before the birth of a daughter, Hilda Louisa Hambly, and the following year she married John Stone. Kate had several more children by John and the 1911 census shows that her two children by Thomas Hambly also lived in the same household in Laira, Plymouth. One can only speculate as to whether Kate might have been able to keep Reginald if she had met John sooner.
John Stone was a railway signalman and it makes perfect sense that the family should live in Laira as there is a railway depot there to this day. Kate might have lived there for the remainder of her life. My mum never met her great-aunt Kate but she is aware she lived in Laira because my mum's Auntie Lily (Lily Alice Geake) used to visit Kate. Lily bought my parents an iron for their wedding in 1959 with the wrong voltage because she had assumed the voltage for Plymstock, where my mum and dad were going to live, was the same as for Laira which was only a few miles away.
In 1931, Kate was widowed for a second time and she died in Plymouth in about 1955.
Place names: Devonport, Keyham and Laira which are all now within the city of Plymouth, plus Bovey Tracey and Ivybridge, all in the county of Devon.
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