My Leather Workers – Home and Abroad (part 2 of 3)
By August 1868 Sam and Emma had moved to Dresden, where Ted had been joined by his wife Eliza, presumably with their two daughters. Sam and Emma already had a daughter, Emma, and were expecting their second child at the end of August; he was named Henry Edward (Harry), so Sam was correct in guessing it would be a boy, even if his reasons are a little obscure! Sam and Ted's brother James (Jim) was at this time living in London with his wife Lisse.
Dresden Aug 3rd / 68
Dear parents no dought you think it verry strange at me not writing to you before this but the truth is that I have had such bad newes to send that I would rather not send eney but now thank god I have a little better newes the other week we made a fresh trial with the skins that is to shave them wet and they seem to apreciate them so that it makes it much better for us for now we are earning from thiry five shilings to two pounds per week so that if it continues the same as it is now we shall be home next spring but not before for I think it would be folly to come home in the wintter when we know that there would be ten chances against one if we got work or no so that we think we shall be adving the best to stop hear I dair say that you have heard the news that emma will have another little one the latter end of this month I think it will be a boy as I took more pains in the manufacture of it I send you one of these portraites but they are not very goodly taken as the day was so very dull but in another few weeks we will have another taken and send it to you we thank you very much for the many papers for they are the only news we get from thear the other week we received a letter from Mr Roberts and in it he says that the blacks (shavers I mean) have formed a Society of thear own and when you write I should like for you to tell us all about it and how the trade is in generale if you see Robert brown give my very best respects to him and tell him that I think that we will be able to drink a glass together next spring if all goes well dear parents I have not got eny more to write about Nor time so that I must conclude with hoping that you are in good health and that fathers work is good and that jim and his wife are in good health also I remain your affectionate son Samuel Henry Sackett
PS ted sends his love to you all and says he will send you a letter in a few weeks time We should very much like to hear from old jim I hope he is in good health I have no more to say at this time good bye and god bless you both
Mr S H Sackett at F.R. Bierlings IV th Palmstrasse
Unfortunately, none of the early photographs mentioned in this letter have survived. The Mr Roberts referred to might be Emma's father.
As anticipated in the previous letter, the brothers Sam and Edward remained in Dresden during the Winter of 1869, but Edward's wife Eliza, who had become an alcoholic, had returned to England at the end of 1868 or early 1869. The following fragment of a letter tells of the problems caused in Dresden by her drunken behaviour, running up debts and pawning her clothes to get money for drink. Clearly the marriage was under considerable strain, although it is impossible to tell whether this was the cause or the result of Eliza's drink problem.
Dresden Jan 10 1869
Dear Mother and Father i have been waiting and Expecting an answer to my last letter Stating what Sort of tale Eliza has told but i have received a letter from her and also Emma has received one from her mother and i find she has been telling a Very fine tale and i find she has not been down to you but as one side of the question is good until the Other is told i will tell you the facts from first to last in the first Place Even before Mr Wicks come home She began to drink and for this last 7 or 8 months i have come home day after day and found her Beastly drunk and she had Run me into dept Everywhere she could and at last she Bagan to Pawn Everything and Even took the boots off her feet and the ring off her finger and the Peticoats of her Back well about 3 weeks before she come home i come home from work and i found she had been Drinking as usual but i took no notice but i asked her to go to pay a woman 8 shillings that we owed well she had been gorn about one hour when she came back so Beastly Drunk that she could hardly stand that caused a Bother and she run away and stopped out all night well in the morning i went to the Police Station but could hear no more news till about dinner time when she come back and she said she had been in the house all night which i do not believe and that was the reason Emma wrote …
Three months later, Edward and Sam were planning to return to England at Whitsun.
Dear Mother and Father, i now write these few lines hopeing they will find you all in good health as i am glad to say it leaves us all at Present i should have rote to you before but i have rote to Eliza and i asked her to go to you and tell you that we are all Coming home in about five weeks for Certain Dear Mother i hope you will not make yourself Unhappy on my account for i shall be home i think very soon and i hope to see you all again i dont think i have any More to Say at Present as Emma will allso write but i will write again in a week or two and then i Can tell you More about it Sam Emma Myself and the Children send their love to you and father and we shall soon see you all again So no more at Present from your affectionate son
Sam wrote a few weeks later with more details of their travel plans. Facing a lengthy journey accompanied by two young children, it must have been a relief to have found a way to send their luggage on ahead.
May 2 1869
My dear mother and father I now take the opportunity of writing to you these few lines to inform you that we shall be in london in the witsun week please god if all things go right and we have forwarded our box by this young man has he is a verry good friend of ours he has come to london to try and get work so that if he should want eney information father will be so kind and tell him or show him wat to do for he has proved himself a very good friend to us he is redy to take eney work that he can get and he speaks french german and english so that I think with these three languages he will verry soon get employment so please to treat him kind for our sake and I know he will not forget it little emma sends her love and some kisses for her grandmother and grandfather the little boy harry getts on all right so that I must now conclude with our love to you all we remain your affectionate son and daughter
Samuel and emma Sackett
Ted allso comes with us give our love to jim and his wife
Sam and Emma's third child, my grandfather Charles Sackett, was born at Neate Street, Camberwell, on 31st December 1869. At birth he was registered as Charles Alfred, but in later life was always known as Charles William. The reason for this discrepancy is not known. Charlie was brought up by his grandparents, Henry and Martha Sackett, because his parents could not afford to support another child.
Edward went back to Germany, but returned to England in July 1870 just as war was declared between France and Prussia. A surviving piece of card carries the information that "Ned" returned from Dresden on 20th July 1870.
July 14th 1870
Dear Mother and father i received you letter this Morning and now i write in reply to tel you that i start on Saturday next the 16th and i shall Be in london on next wensday i have received a Letter from Eliza and i have sent one on Tuesday to let them know that i shall come home Next wensday if you see Sam you can tell him so that if there should be a chance he can speak
i have no more to say till i see you it will be about 12 ocloc Wensday but i have wrote to Eliza to say that when i come to Hamburg I will send the Name of the ship so that on wensday they will know for Certain by Enquiring at the booking office when the ship will Arrive
i have just heard that there will Be war declared Between france and prussia so that it is a good thing that i am out of it if you see the Children have their hair Nicely Combed as i have something for them so good bye till i see you on wensday
Your Affectionate son
In February 1872 a "Mr. Sackett" arrived in Dresden; it is not known which member of the family this was, but by May 1872 Sam was in Hamburg and drinking heavily. He was expressing regret at the way he had treated his wife and family when drunk, and was apparently expecting his wife Emma to join him soon, hoping her presence would help him keep off the drink.
68 Queen St. Cheapside
London 22 Feb 1872
I received today letter that Mr Sackett arrived well at Dresden the 17th
Please inform his wife of it
Hamburg May 8th / 72
My dear brother I recived your very kind letters and was very glad to hear that you had got plenty of work I must allso now inform you that I have got a first rate shop hear if I can only look after it I am geting much better much better prices than we get in london I am getting for the smallest skins two english shillings the doz and for the large ones four out of the limes [?] and four shillings afterwards wich makes eight and plenty of it so that I have got a very good chance if I could only leave off the damned drink I never thought I should have turned out such a bloody swine twords my wife and children and everybody else but I cannot help it I think I have been off my head my dear brother I should have answered your letter before this but I was drunk and this is the first time I have been able to do so you wrote and told me they are getting a pettisian to come out and I think it will be best for then I shall be able to do something but dear brother if they have done it try and get hold of the book so I can see who has given eneything and I will return it I forgot to tell you that I am not at work at the same shop as tom ashley I am at work at Mr Macan he is either a englishman or a scotch and a very nice old man he is it is the same factory thear used to be six english shavers a shaving enamells [?] we are only doing 15teen hundred skins a week but he wants us to do more I showed him your letter wile I was drunk and he seemed very pleased about it he said he was glad she was coming for then it would keep me steady for he said thear is a good chance for you and I like your work so that Dear Brother I think it will be better for me to stop hear give my love to father and mother and tell them that they must excuse me if they can I shall not always be as bad as I am at present I will write to them next give my love to jim and his wife and all the rest and except my love yourself from year affectionate Brother
Samuel Henry Sackett direct as before bei Plinkey
let me have some news from home soon please and dont forget the book
The following undated letter, which appears to be in Samuel's handwriting, was probably written in Winter 1872–3 or 1873–74. Clearly the family was in a difficult situation, without the money to return to England, and no way to earn money in Hamburg.
My Dear Parrents and Brother
I darsay you will be surprised to recive this as I darsay you have had the one I gave Charley to give to you the next day I whent into work the govener came to me and said Mr Sackett I am very sorry but thar will be no more work thiss winter as things are very bad and the others will have to go as soon as they have done what little there is to do so I am in a prutey fix as we have been slack for a long time but I thought we should have a little allthough the winter so Dear Brother loock out for me all you can and ask mother to take a roome for me eny ware Just for a time I think I shall try and waite untell Charley comes out again as I do not know yet how we are to get home I do not think my govener will give me any thing and I cannot write him do ask Charley when they will be out here again and please to write and let me know so I must now conclude with love to all so good bye for the present
Adress Mr Sackett no. 11 Oelkers allee Altona Hamburg
Somehow the problem was overcome, and by May 1874 Sam was in Leeds, Yorkshire; initially alone but then joined by Emma, their older children Emma and Harry, and two younger children William James (Willie) born 1872 and Samuel Alfred (Sam) born 1873. Charlie remained with Sam's parents in Bermondsey.
Edward (Ted or Ned) was also in Leeds, and had lost his pawn tickets; the concern was that a dishonest person finding the tickets could redeem the pawned items for a fraction of their true worth.
Leeds 7 May / 74
Dear farther I now write to know if ted gave you his pockett Book if not he has lost it and he tells me that thear was all his pawn ticketts in it will you be kind enough to write by return of post and let me know if you can find out whear his things whear pawned will you try to stop them
From your affectionate son
Thear was allso teds indentures in it give my best love to me wife and tell her she might aff wrote before this
The indentures were Edward's proof that he was a skilled workman who had completed an apprenticeship, and he would need them to get a job. So why was Sam trying to trace them rather than Edward himself? The answer comes in the next letter, evidently written later the same month.
Edward was living in Leeds near Sam and Emma, and showing violent signs of mental instability, to the extent that the police had to be called.
My Dear father and Mother
I write in answare to your last letter and I am sorrey to say that I am not much better and to mend the matter I have been very mush upset with ned he has been going on in the same sort of way he will not do eney work mush Just enough to pay is way with well last night he came to the place whare we are staying for we have not got a house of our own yet and it was about half past 12 oclock and I told him to go home and go to bed for the people are afraid of him well he whent away and then came back again and said he would come in but we would not let him so about an hour after his landlord came round and told us he had locked him for he had jumped right through thair parlor window and whent on in sush a manner that thay was freitend so we have been up to day and thay have remanded him for a week to see the state of his mind and I think it is the Best thing that could have happened befor eneything worse tock place my Dear parrants do not be unesey I will let you know as soon as we hear eney more about him let his wife know about him for I think he had sent for her and if he comes out next week he will not be abele to stop hear so let them know befor they sell off so I can say no mor with love to all Kiss little Charley for us and we hope you are all quite well
from your affectionate
son and daughter
S an E Sackett
The same piece of card which recorded Edward's return from Dresden in 1870 says on the back that he was admitted to the [Workhouse] Infirmary, Russell Street, Bermondsey, on 14th November 1874, and a week later he was transferred to Brookwood Lunatic Asylum, Knaphill, near Woking, Surrey. He was stated on admission to be suffering from delusions that he was entitled to a large sum of money from "Horsford" but could not explain why, or who Horsford was. He imagined that Detectives were pursuing him; he could hear their voices. He cut up his clothes and was said to be dangerous to others. He was diagnosed as suffering from Mania.
The Victorians had a very enlightened attitude to the care of "lunatics". New asylums were built in rural areas with extensive grounds surrounded by ha-has to give a feeling of openness and to provide security without the use of walls. As well as gardens, asylums incorporated farmland on which some of the patients worked. This provided them with occupational therapy as well as helping to make the institution self sufficient. Other patients were employed in workshops; Edward worked in the vegetable room of Brookwood Asylum's kitchens for eight years. The buildings incorporated many features such as central heating and indoor flushing toilets which were advanced for the time, and efforts were made to give wards a homely atmosphere with pictures, books, board games, and even caged birds. Brookwood used dance therapy, and entertainments were provided for the patients. However, there was little or no treatment; the emphasis was on humane containment.
Edward's family kept in contact with him in the asylum. The following letter was written by his mother, Martha, and gave him news of his daughter Eliza.
Sept 30th 1877
My Dear son i right to know how youre are and to let you know that i roat to sam the next day and inclosed your noat and bage of him to right by return of post and i have bin waiting day after day till i could wait no longer i ham very sory to tell you your father is still very poorley and he is very mutch upset about him not righting so that i could send it to you but i have sent him a nother one this morning and asking him to right by return of post and if he right i will send it to you my dear boy i ham glad to tell you that young eliza is still at steavenss coler facktory and is a nice girl Jim and his wife sends thear love to you Mrs evens [?] sends lhear tove to her husband and say she will soon see him and wen she com i will com with her to see you i ham sory to tell you that i ham very poorley me and your father and litel charley sends our love to you so i must conclude fro your ever afectinate mother
M Sackett 29 Page Walk Bermondsey
Edward also wrote to his family. This letter to his daughter, asking her to bring him £5 and a suit of clothes, has no year written on it but the suggestion of some confusion over Edward's name may tie it to his time at Brookwood Asylum, where his name was wrongly recorded as Henry Sackett in the 1881 census return.
Dear Eliza, i Now Write to ask you and you sister Alice to Come down But First go to Mr Nickerson and Ask himm if he will Oblige your Father By lending him Five Pounds and he will come directly to London to Work as Soon as you Get it Ask Somebody to Go and get Me a Suit of Clothes and Send them But i Would Rather you Bring them yourself as i Wish to Go Somewhere with you and Alice on No Consideration Whatever Give the Clothes Up to Anybody but myself Be Sure you Ask For your Father in My Own Name as i have Not gorn in any Other nor Neither do i intend to do so Although i have Been informed so do Go but if you Can Come with your Grandmother as Soon as Possible I Remain your Loving Father
Edward John Sackett
Edward was one of thirty patients transferred to Moulsford Asylum, Cholsey, Berkshire, on 12th September 1882 to relieve overcrowding at Brookwood. His condition was described as "unimproved". The opening of a third Surrey asylum at Cane Hill Asylum, Coulsdon solved the problem of a shortage of room for patients in Surrey asylums, and Edward was transferred to Cane Hill on the expiry of Brookwood's contract with Moulsford on 31st March 1884. He was readmitted to Brookwood on 1st May 1895, and moved to the London County Asylum at Claybury, Ilford, in September 1896, where he remained until his death from heart disease on 14th October 1899.
What happened to Edward's family after he was taken into Brookwood Asylum in 1874? Deprived of the principal breadwinner, they must have been in financial difficulties; it is only to be hoped that Eliza snr. had overcome her weakness for alcohol.
In 1881, his wife Eliza and their two daughters were living at 14 Prospect Place, Rotherhithe, and the older daughter Eliza Martha was working as a machinist. Later that same year, Eliza Martha married Joseph William Jackson in Deptford, and they had seven children before he died in 1895. She remarried in 1901 in Peckham, her second husband being Matthew Henderson Newton, and they had a daughter.
Although the dates do not seem to tie up, it is possible that the Mr. Newton in this letter is somehow connected. No other Newton–Sackett links have been uncovered.
Oct 25 1887
A Gentleman call on me yesterday. for the name of Mrs Sackett. i told Him that you live some where in bermonsey. but Where I could not say. until i ask my sister. He Had been enquiring about that day and maide it late that He said He could not stop on account of giting the train at 5 oClock. When He came to my House he thought of seeing His sister He said o you are not my Sister. He said He Had been away for 40 years abroad. He ask me to try and find out where you live and ask if you know the name of James Newton. if you Would be so kind as to call and see me i will tell you more about it so i must now conclud
My Respecting Letter
from yours Respectfully
Mrs Whuls [?] 4 Avenue Cottage Avenue Rd Camberwell
Little is known about Edward's younger daughter Alice Sarah, except that she married Thomas Judd in 1882 in the St. Olave registration district of Southwark.
Edward's widow, Eliza, was said to be 41 in 1881, so it is probable that she was the Eliza whose death aged 68 was recorded in Greenwich registration district in 1907.