It was always thought that my family were born and bred in the East End of London as this was the only place that my mother had known them to have lived so, when I found the 1901 census for my grandparents, I was amazed to find that living with them were my great grandparents who were both born in Birchington, Isle of Thanet. I wanted to know more and so my research began.
My grandfather, William George Goodbourn, was the son of William George Goodbourn and Frances Susanna Clark. Further research showed that her parents were James Pettit Clark and Harriet Emptage.
As my quest continued I became curious to how this part of the family ended up here; why did my great grandparents leave such an area of open fields and clean air to come to the dirty and overcrowded area of Whitechapel where illness was rife and Jack the Ripper was around?
The only conclusion I have come to is that they moved for work. William and Frances arrived in 1871/2 with a two year old daughter and went on to have five more children, three of whom sadly died. William worked as a farm labourer when in Kent but when he was in London he worked in the brewery industry. William and Frances stayed in London when their son – my grandfather – moved to Barking Essex.
William George Goodbourn, my great granddad, died in 1926 in Mile End, East London and my grandparents brought him to be buried in Barking. Frances Susanna, my great grandmother, then moved in with her son in Barking where she died a year later. They are buried together in Rippleside cemetery.
I live in Essex and I often visit the grave; my favourite time being early summer as it is covered in wild field flowers. As it is the only grave with these flowers and they only cover the shape of this grave, it appears that they were seeded there by their family to mark the fact that they were country people. A little bit of Kent in Essex.
The culture shock for them when they arrived must have been immense, but they survived the dirt and poverty to lead, eventually, a good life. My admiration and pride in them grows day by day. I hope I have inherited some of their courage and determination to win through against all odds. They may not have been famous for anything they did, but to me they are the solid ground that this country is built on.
Henry Emptage 1767 married Ann Peal
William Emptage son of above married Mary Coleman
Harriet Emptage daughter of the above married James Pettit Clark
Frances Susanna Clark daughter of the above married William George Goodbourn