Great Grandma

While watching the season finale of Downton Abbey, I began to think about my paternal Great-Grandmother, Emma Dove. When Jane and I were over in England we did a little bit of family history work and discovered that Emma was a servant in the London home of a glassmaker, his wife and two children. During this time Emma was a teen and I began to wonder what kind of life she had working as a servant. Was her story one of those classic Dicken’s tales of an orphaned girl being taken in by a weathier, upper middle class English family or did she just go to work because that was what was expected? As I watch the interplay between the servants in Downton, the intrigue and gossip while trying to move up the social ladder of servanthood, I try to imagine what she might have been like. Was she a strong young woman, able to make a place for herself even in a Victorian society dominated buy a class system or was she a victim of a system that undervalued woman. Yet, if she was working at the home of a glassmaker, that indicates she was working for someone who, despite the class system, had somehow worked their way into a growing middle class. Maybe that gave Emma some idea that she too would be able to work her way into a better life, maybe that is what my Great-Grandfather Edwin Lomas was offering when he first met her while in London himself. It is interesting to think how they met, he was from Dukenfield near Manchester, a worker in one of the many mills that dominated the economy in that area. Story has it that during the American Civil War, with the lack of cotton from the Confederacy due to the Union blockade, he went to London to find work. It also seems that he had family in London, Lomas’ who lived and worked there. On some of the census taken at the time he is listed as a boarder and that intrigues me as to how did he and Emma discover one another, where did they first meet, fall in love and decide to get married? While in England we did find my Great-Grandmother’s gravesite in the Dukenfield cemetery. She was only 44 years old when she died. As I kneeled down by her stone, cleaning off the grass that had grown around her marker, I began to wonder what she might have been like, what she would have thought about us today, what she might say. It is all part of the story that all of us carry around, stories that beg to be told. 

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