Thomas and Edith Pears

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Brian Ahern

Member
Once again, Bob, I'm impressed.

But wow! If that's true, even Andrew Pears' own set would have had reason to think he married beneath himself.

Actually, I'll have to poke around and get a feel for what "master baker" denotes. I was surprised in the past to learn that British butchers and grocers in the nineteenth century could become quite rich, though both of those job titles encompassed a little more than they do in modern US terms, I think.
 
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Martin Williams

Member
Embarrassed or not, Brian, this is how things were! The gentry of the period (Tory to the hilt) could be far more unforgiving than actual 'high society' - the likes of Ernest Cassel found it far easier to get on in royal circles than if they'd sought the approval of the local squirearchy.

Grocers and butchers did indeed have scope to acquire great riches. If I'm not mistaken, even Jane Austen was aware of this, a century before the period in question. In 'Persuasion', Mr Elliot, Sir Walter's heir presumptive, weds the grand-daughter of a butcher, for the sole reason that she will bring with her a substantial dowry.
 
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Bob Godfrey

Member
'Master' simply denotes that he employed people - two teenage boys in the bakery and a 15-year old 'housemaid'. The latter was probably a general skivvy who would have worked for her keep and a few shillings a week. It was quite common even for a working-class family to have an unpaid 'general domestic' in the household, often the daughter of a neighbour with a large family who was glad to have one less mouth to feed. Some were as young as 12.
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Brian Ahern

Member
Another Austen conncection, Martin, is that the original Spring Grove House was owned by Sir Joseph Banks, whose wife was a Hugessen of the Knatchbull-Hugessen family, into which Austen's niece Fanny Knight married. I believe Sir Joseph was known personally to various Austen relatives, if not to her.

And you're right, Mr. Elliot's wife is a grazier's daughter and butcher's granddaughter. And James Joyce's Dubliners includes the story "After the Race", which is about the well-educated son of a rich butcher. And, actually, doesn't the father of Dobbin in Vanity Fair get rich as a grocer?

Thanks, Bob. If Mary Ann Hollingham was Andrew Pears' wife, than it was a pretty lucky break for her, materially.
 
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Martin Williams

Member
My goodness me, you seem to have those genealogies well and truly at your finger-tips. I'm mightily impressed!

I've looked up pictures of Spring Grove House and it appears to have been an impressive residence for a would-be gentleman. In fact, I may have misjudged the position the Pears occupied in local society - they seem to have been rather more than moderately well-off. Positively rich is my impression! Thomas Pears grew up at Spring Grove, is that correct?

I've also looked up some pictures of turn-of-the-century Isleworth - it seems to have been quite pleasant back then. You live and learn!
 
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Brian Ahern

Member
Bob, since you seem to be something of a go-to man on this subject, do you know if Edith maintained a relationship with Tom's family in the years after the Titanic?

Widows like Mary Marvin and Eloise Smith apparently became estranged from their husband's families pretty quickly.
 
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Bob Godfrey

Member
I could only guess at that, Brian, but since they'd been married only 18 months and had no children the ties of kinship would not have been strong. Especially after Edith got her marching orders from her home, which belonged to the company and therefore to the Pears family!
 
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Brian Ahern

Member
Yes, the affair with the house is something I've tried to avoid reading anything into, but the implication isn't a nice one. I've always chosen to assume that the Pears' hands were tied in some way. Accounts of just how much control the family retained over the company in 1912 seem to conflict, though most have it in their hands.
 
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Martin Williams

Member
Yes, I think that the Pears' hands were tied too. They surely wouldn't have attempted to evict the grieving Edith out of spite! Unless more was going on behind the scenes than we know? Families and in-laws can be funny things.

Presumably, they found her somewhere else to live - or she was able to buy somewhere herself? Perhaps she didn't want to remain in a house which reminded her of all that she had lost.
 
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Bob Godfrey

Member
Edith certainly was not short of the means to buy a house. Thomas left her around £15,000 at a time when a substantial middle-class home could be bought for a three-figure sum. Instead, she wisely accepted her father's suggestion that she should move in with Norah Crowe, a woman of her own age who was the daughter of a family friend and no doubt provided good companionship at a time when it was most needed. Years later Edith was introduced to Norah's brother Douglas, an electrical engineer. They were married in 1920.
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Martin Williams

Member
Thanks, Bob, for this explanation. Nice to know that Edith would have had companionship during such a difficult period in her life - at the time of the 'Titanic', she was only in her very early twenties. I'm thinking of my various girlfriends of the same age who share houses here in London and the support they find in each other.
 
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Brian Ahern

Member
Bob, could you clarify a couple of things? Did Edith move in with Norah Crowe soon after being widowed? Her ET bio makes it sound as if that arrangement came later.

Also, Tom's ET bio doesn't specifically state that his money went to Edith. I believe that formal marriage settlements were still a matter of course at this time. If a spouse died prematurely and left behind no children, there might have been contingencies in place that prevented their money going away from their blood relatives. Do you know the details of how things stood after Tom's death?
 
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Geoff Whitfield

Member
Brian,

Thomas Pears will was made out on 15th September 1910 and was fairly complicated. He left legacies to several people including Edith Pears.
If you want more information, contact me at:

[email protected]

Geoff
 
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jonathan wearne

Guest
Interesting conversation, albeit it ended 5 years ago... Edith was my grand fathers sister.
 
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