george, Ellen, Francis, Sarah, Anne, Ellen, Bertha Goodridge

Subject Names :  George (b 1842 – d 1898)        GOODRIDGE                     
                              Ellen     (b 1848 – d 1915)
                              Francis (b 1872 – d 1908)
                              Sarah    (b 1874 – d 1953)
                              Anne     (b 1875 – d 1882)
                              Ellen     (b 1878 – d 1946)
                              Bertha  (b 1880 – d 1910)

Researcher : Carol Gomm

George and Ellen Goodridge and their five children aged from nine years down to eleven months were inmates of the Guildford Union Workhouse in 1881. Although their reason for being there is not recorded, George’s liking for a drink may have been a factor, leading to tragedy which almost tore the family apart.

George Goodridge was born on 11th March 1842 in Downton, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, one of six known children of Thomas Goodridge, a labourer, and his wife Eliza née Pratt.

George grew up with his family in Barford Lane, Downton, on the northern edge of the New Forest, becoming an agricultural labourer.  When he was 19, his father Thomas passed away from phthisis (tuberculosis) in March 1861 age 50.

The Census just a couple of weeks later showed that all the Goodridge family that were still in Barford Lane were working – George’s mother Eliza, 50, was a washerwoman, with her four youngest sons, including George, in the fields.

One of the family who was not in Downton, though, was going to have an influence on George’s future.  His elder brother Thomas was serving in the Royal Navy and on the night of the 1861 Census, he was a leading seaman aboard HMS Hornet, which was at anchor in Aden, Yemen.  Thomas, who had enlisted in 1854, had been home in Downton in January 1860 for his marriage so he must surely have talked to George then about his life at sea.

There are no records to indicate that George enlisted with the Royal Navy, but by 1871, he was working on the troopship HMS Serapis as a ‘hospital nurse’, a far cry from the agricultural labourer he was a few years earlier.  How this transition happened can only be speculated on, but at that time, ‘Sick Berth Attendants’ onboard Royal Navy ships required no medical training so George would have been ‘qualified’ to do the job.

George had by now met his wife-to-be Ellen Baker who was from the small village of Durrants to the east of Portsmouth on the Hampshire coast.  Her birth details cannot be verified as no official certificate has been traced, but she was baptised as the daughter of James Baker and wife Sarah née Hammond on 6th August 1848 at St. John the Baptist’s Church, Red Hill, Hampshire.

The 1871 Census showed Ellen as married and using George’s surname, although they were not to wed until later that year.  23-year-old Ellen was not with her ‘husband’, but was lodging with her widowed mother Sarah and family back home in Durrants. 

The reason for George’ absence – and not even appearing on the Census – is that he was most probably on board HMS Serapis which was on its way back from Malta, arriving in Portsmouth on 11th April, nine days after the Census was taken.

George and Ellen married in St Mary’s Church, Portsea, Hampshire on 11th September 1871.  ‘Hospital nurse’ George gave his residence as ‘HMS Serapis’ which was docked in Portsmouth, being prepared to take troops to India.  Ellen was almost certainly pregnant with their first child, but it is not known if George decided to go to India or remain in England with her.  HMS Serapis left Portsmouth on 9th October, returning on 30th December, so he would have been away for nearly three months if he had decided to go.

Whatever he did, George was with Ellen when Francis George Goodridge was born on 18th March 1872 at their home of 72 Surrey Street, Landport, Portsea Island, an area of Portsmouth around the Royal Navy base.  George was now a ‘contractor’s labourer’.  Francis was baptised on 12th February 1873 at All Saints, Portsea when the family was living at Chapel View.

Two daughters followed, Sarah Jane on 26th April 1874 and Eliza Ann on 7th October 1875, both born on Portsea Island but each at different addresses to their brother Francis, so the family was clearly frequently moving from one property to another. 

The Goodridges uproot from Portsea to Guildford

At some stage in the next two years or so, the family moved over 40 miles (65 km) north-east to Guildford, their fourth child Ellen being born there in Castle Street on 9th April 1878.  She, along with sisters Sarah and Eliza, were baptised at Guildford’s St Mary’s Church on 12th June.  No reason has been traced for the move to Guildford, but George was still in employment, noted as a labourer at this baptism, and when their fifth child Bertha was born in Castle Street on 4th May 1880.

Bertha was baptised on 7th June at St Mary’s, with the family address now Elephant & Castle Yard.  The inn that carried this name was in Castle Street so the Goodridges couldn’t have gone far this time.

A terrible few years for the family

What exactly happened to cause the family to be inmates of the Guildford Union Workhouse less than a year later is unknown.  There are no admission or discharge registers still in existence, and the Guildford Union minute books do not record anything about the family’s time there.  All we have is the 1881 Census which showed George, age 38, to be a ‘mason’s labourer’, with his wife Ellen, 33, and their five children – Francis (8), Sarah (7), (Eliza) Ann (4), Ellen (3) and one-year-old Bertha.

However, what may have been a significant factor not revealed in the 1881 Census was brought shockingly into focus on 19th August 1882 when George was brought before the County Petty Sessions for ‘paternal neglect’.  The Sessions heard that three of George’s children – Sarah, Ann and Ellen – had been found by a policeman at their house in Slyfield Green ‘lying on an old bedstead, with scarcely a rag to cover them’ and ‘covered with vermin’The policeman said the only food in the house was bread and butter, and a doctor who inspected the children said that one of the children ‘would die’ if not better treated.  George’s employers said that he was ‘greatly addicted to drinking’.  In his defence, George said that his wife had ‘deserted’ him (presumably with their two other children George and Bertha) and that he had done ‘the best he could’

The Chairman adjourned the case for a month hoping for an improvement, but this was to prove fatal for poor Ann, who died aged six from tuberculosis on 15th September 1882 at home in Slyfield Green.

At the County Bench Sessions the following day, George was found guilty of ‘scandalous neglect’ and sentenced to 14 days imprisonment with hard labour.

Despite this dreadful sequence of events, it is probable that Ellen was pregnant when she had left George, as their sixth child and second son William was born on 30th March 1883 in the Guildford Union Workhouse.  It is not clear from the records if the family were inmates, or if Ellen had just gone there to give birth. On the birth certificate, father George was noted as being a labourer living in Slyfield Green.

William died of pneumonia two days after his first birthday, on 1st April 1884 at Quarry Hill, Guildford with George noted on the certificate to be ‘present at the death’

It seems therefore that George had managed to put his personal issues behind him as the following year, Ellen gave birth to their seventh and final child Margaret Jane at the latest family home in Addison Road, Guildford on 11th October 1885.

In 1891, the family was still together, living at 3 Friary Place, central Guildford.  George, 49, was now a stonemason’s labourer with 19-year-old Francis following his father’s footsteps as a stonemason’s apprentice.  Ellen was 43, with daughters Ellen (12), Bertha (11) and Margaret (5).

Sarah Jane, at 16, George and Ellen’s eldest daughter, had been the first to go her own way, living in the nearby village of Normandy as a live-in domestic servant. 

George Goodridge passes away

Seven years later, on 6th October 1898, George passed away at the family home, age 56, from kidney problems, perhaps a legacy of his heavy drinking. 

George’s son Francis George, the only male in the Goodridge household, had become ‘head’ of the family at 3 Friary Place by the 1901 Census.  Now using his middle name George, the 29-year-old stonemason had married Jane Moore in Guildford on Christmas Day 1900 and already had a two-month-old daughter Edith Elizabeth.  His mother Ellen was 52.  His 22-year-old sister Ellen, a domestic general servant, had an illegitimate son, James, age three months.  Maggie (Margaret Jane) was 15, also a domestic general servant.

(Francis) George Goodridge

George and Jane continued to live at 3 Friary Place [44]. They had two more children – Jane in 1903 and George William in 1906 – but double tragedy struck the family in 1908.

George William died age 18 months in March and just over two months later, George also passed away age 36 from pulmonary tuberculosis on 30th May.   George William was buried at St Nicholas Church, Guildford, and his father at St. Saviour’s Church.  

George’s wife Jane remained at 3 Friary Place but soon fell pregnant, giving birth to illegitimate twins in May 1909.  They became the centre of affiliation proceedings brought by the Guildford Union in December, when they were in the workhouse.  Both of them passed away there before their first birthdays. 

As for George and Jane’s own children, the 1911 Census showed that they were separated from their widowed mother, as Edith, 10, and Jane, 7, were residents of the St Mary’s Children’s Home in Eastnor, Herefordshire.

Ellen senior

Ellen had been living with her son George in Friary Place, but shortly after his death in 1908, she moved south to live with her eldest daughter Sarah Jane and family in Sussex. 

Sarah had married Frederick Bailey, a baker, on 5th August 1895 at St. John the Evangelist Church, Stoke-next-Guildford.  After the birth of two children, Annie Maria in 1896 and Frederick William a year later, they moved to Sussex and in 1901, were living in West Ashling, near Chichester.

The 1911 Census showed Ellen, 63, with Sarah, 36, husband Frederick, 39, and their 13-year-old son Frederick in Polegate, just north of Eastbourne.  Ellen was receiving an income, as between October 1908 and October 1911 the Guildford Board of Guardians granted her three shillings (£0.15) a week poor relief as a ‘non-resident of Guildford living in the Hailsham Union’ which included Polegate.

Ellen returned to Guildford sometime after 1911, as on 27th June 1915, she died from heart problems, noted as age 75 but probably 67, at 6 Friary Place, the home of her daughter Ellen.  She was buried on 1st July at St. Saviour’s, Stoke-next-Guildford. 

Sarah Jane

By 1918, Sarah had moved 20 miles (32 km) east from Polegate to 11 Stanley Road in Brighton [65].  Her husband Frederick died early in 1921 age 49 [66].  The Census later that year showed 48-year-old Sarah in Stanley Road with her married daughter Annie Maria Watts, 25, out of work son-in-law Richard, 35, and two-year-old granddaughter [67].  Sarah was a charwoman for a retired licensed victualler in nearby Hove.

Sarah, 65, was still at Stanley Road with her daughter, granddaughter and grandson at the time of the 1939 Register [68], remaining there for the rest of her life, passing away age 79 on 2nd September 1953 from coronary thrombosis and arteriosclerosis [69].  

Ellen junior

Ellen, 24, had married 27-year-old labourer William Goater at St. Saviour’s Church, Stoke-next-Guildford on 26th March 1903.  After living at 13 Tuns Gate at the time of their first child Hilda’s baptism, the family remained in Guildford, moving to 2 Farnham Road by 1906.  They were still there in 1911 – Ellen, 33, with husband William, a 37-year-old carter born in Winchester, Hampshire, and their three children Hilda May (7), Ellen Gladys (5), and William Charles Alfred (2).  Ellen’s illegitimate son James (10) had, for this Census at least, been given the Goater surname.

By September 1913, when their fourth child Annie Susan was baptised, the family had moved to Friary Place where Ellen junior had lived with her parents and siblings for a number of years.  Her mother Ellen, as previously mentioned, spent her final days with her daughter here [63].

In 1921 the Goater family was still at 6 Friary Place.  Ellen, 45, was working as an office cleaner at the local electric light works.  Husband William, 47, was a sawyer’s mate for the Fernden Fencing Company.  Ellen’s son James, 20, now using his birth surname ‘Goodridge’, was working with his stepfather as a fence fixer’s mate, and Hilda was a ‘daily servant’.

Shortly before the 1939 Register was taken, Ellen and William had moved from Friary Place to 73 Drummond Road, Guildford, to live with their married daughter Ellen Gladys Tissiman and her daughter Gladys.  Ellen was 61 while William, despite being almost 64, was an ‘electric cable layer, heavy work’.  Seven years later, on 30th May 1946, Ellen passed away at home age 68 from a cerebral thrombosis.  William died in October 1961 age 87.


Bertha, the youngest of the Goodridge children in the Workhouse in 1881, married porter Jack Henry Bass Parish Wallace from Dover, Kent on 26th December 1899 at St. Saviour, Stoke-next-Guildford.

By 1901, Bertha and Jack, both age 22, had moved to 72 Highfield Street, Portsmouth with their five-month-old daughter Ellen.  Jack was a boilermaker’s labourer, probably at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

Three more children were born to the couple – Minnie in 1902, Ada in 1906 and Jack in 1909.  

They had moved to 67 Claremont Road, Portsmouth in about 1902, where Bertha died from heart problems on 6th November 1910 aged just 29.  She was buried at St. Mary’s Church, Portsea on 10th November.

Worse was to follow, as her husband Jack died in 1913, leaving their four children as orphans.  The 1921 Census showed the three youngest to be in the Portsmouth Parish Childrens’ Home, next to the Workhouse, although 18-year-old Minnie was in their employment as a ‘nurse attendant’.  Her siblings Ada (14) and Jack (12) were scholars.  20-year-old Ellen, now calling herself Nellie, was a ‘sick nurse’ in Plaistow Hospital, east London.  So it seems Minnie and Ellen were following in their grandfather George Goodridge’s footsteps!

Margaret Jane

The youngest of the Goodridge children, Margaret, was born after the family’s time in the Workhouse, and would seemingly have had a more settled upbringing.  She married carman Thomas Warren at St. John the Evangelist, Stoke-next-Guildford on Boxing Day 1904.  This was four months after the birth of their daughter Bertha Winifred in Portsmouth, probably at Margaret’s sister Bertha’s home at 67 Claremont Road.

By the time of the birth of Ethel Adeline in 1906, the Warrens were back in Guildford, living at 6 Woodbridge Place, Woodbridge Road, where in 1911 Thomas was recorded as a carman and horse keeper for a builder and ironmonger.

Six more children were born to the couple over the next nine years.

In 1921, 35-year-old Margaret’s husband Thomas, 49, was employed as a gardener for the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Farnham Road [104]. Bertha (16) was working in the hospital laundry, and Ethel (14) was working in another laundry in Guildford. Their home, 6 Woodbridge Place, must have been a squeeze with just 3 rooms for 10 people.

Thomas died in 1926 age 52, and was buried at Stoughton Cemetery on the 3rd September.  Margaret moved from Woodbridge Place around 1930 to Sunnybank in Belmont Avenue, Perry Hill, Worplesdon, with her three youngest children, Margaret, Ellen and Walter.  Margaret remained there until her death on 6th June 1969, age 83 [109].


December 2022, updated April 2024

Sources / British Newspaper Archives
      Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History
      Government Register Office
      Surrey History Centre, Woking

For a full list of references click here.