My Leather Workers – Home and Abroad (part 3 of 3)

My great-grandparents Sam and Emma continued to live in Leeds with four of their children, while my grandfather Charlie lived with his grandparents Henry and Martha Sackett in Bermondsey. When the next two letters were written, Edward had returned to London, but had not yet been taken into Brookwood Asylum.

Sept 8     1874

My Dear Mother and father     I think it very strange that you have not answared the letter Emma wrote to you for you must think we should like to know how you all are and how Dear little Charley is     we often wish he was hear but I know he is well taken care of by you     but Dear Mother write and let us know how you all     I have been very Bad and the work has been very slack     I have only Just been getting a living but it looks Brighter this week and I feel mush better     i things gose on as I think thay will I will send you some monney but I get allmost sick of hopeing for better times and often wish we was in london     Dear parrants let me know how ted is giting on     harry and Emma sends thar love to charly and says thay should like to see him     tell him that we all send him some kisses
So I cannot say eney more onely hopeing you and father are in good health
    I remain your
    affectionate son
    Sam Sackett
derect 7 forres street
Meenwood Road
for I am not allways in the factory

Samuel was showing the early signs of the chronic ill health which he was to experience until his early death aged 36 in 1880. It is difficult to tell what he was suffering from, but there is a strong possibility that it was tuberculosis. Frequently he was too ill to work, and this had a devastating effect on the family's income. Surplus furniture was sold, and second hand clothes provided material for making outfits for the children.

[no month, but probably Autumn] 1874

Dear Parrants
No dought you think it unkind in not hearing from us befor but I can assure you I have not had the heart to write for Sam has been so bad     I thought he would have had to have laid up alltogether but his goveners lett him bring his beam and the skins home so that he could lay down when he liked     so I did not want to worre you ney more for you have got neough now but if he had got eney worse I should have wrote and let you know but thank god he is mush better this week and I hope he will keep so but he cannot lay on his left side yet     we are both very sorry to hear father is so bad but hope he is a little better by this time and that ted has got something to do for it seem someing dreadfull that you have got to keep him but you are not bound to do it     sam sends you and his father Best love and he is sorry that he cannot send you eney money but if you can sell the things that you have got you can do     at least the tabels and bedsted and fenders     I daresay my mother might be to find some one to by them for you     I am going to write to her and I will ask her what other little things you have we shall be glad of as soon as we can send for them. I hope you will be able to come down next summer and stop with us a bit but I hope little charley is quite well     I long to see the dear littlefelow     kiss him for us all     harry says he should like to see his grand father and you and they all often wish Brother charley was hear     tell him we will send him some new clothes for cristhmass if all goes well     little sam gets a fine little fellow and so does wille     in fact we are all well except poor sam and some times I think we will not have him with us long and then another time I think he is all right but I hope please god that he will keep better now and then you will not be very long befor you see him     so cheer up and think that thar is better times comeing     I must conclude with Both our love to you all and kisses for Charley
I remain your affectionate son and daughter

Emma seems to have taken over as the family letter writer from now onwards!

Dec 21 1874

Dear Parrants
I know you must think us very unkind in not ansering your letter befor but I thought I would not write untell we could send you a little monney and I have put it off each week as sam as not been able to get it     so we have thought well we will send it next week and so the time as past but you must forgive me this time and it shall not be so long again     but I can asure you that all though we have not wrote thur is not a night passes but that we talk about you all and wonder how you are gitting on     I long to see Dear little Charley     I wish it was in our power to see you all this christmass but we shall think of you and Drink your health     i hope father is better and in work     sam is much better     we was very sorrey to hear about pore ned     we hope he is gitting better. We have read about Jem hages [?] but we should like you to write and tell us all you know about it     it is a dreadfull thing for the poor wife     sam hopes thae will be a Book round and it should be sent down hear as she would get a good bit for every one is talking about it     we hope you will try and let us have a letter by christhmass morning as thar is a post hear     My Mother lold me she would give you some piece of chothes and an over coat of walters to make some things for charley     I hope she as done for I am sure you are not abel to get him mush     I wish you would let us have him home for I am sure that it is to mush for you for I know you would give to him if you went without yourselfs and why should you do that when we are able to keep him     I would not care if I could send you a little monney every now and then but we have had a good bit to do scince we have been down hear     we have clothes to by and a home to get but please god sam keeps well we shall get on now and then we shall see you all at Easter     the children are all niceley     I have made the order in the name of Marther Sackett from Samuel Sackett     give our love to Jim and his wife and I hope she is better so I must now conclude with love from your affectionate son and daughter
Emma a Sam Sackett

The Leeds letters contain few hints to their life in a northern mill town, but here we learn how cold the weather had been at Christmas 1874, and that six-year-old Harry was speaking with the local accent, which he had doubtless picked up from their neighbours! Regional accents would have been stronger then than now, and would have given wide scope for incomprehension in everyday life.

Yorkshire must have felt a very long way from family and friends in London, and it is no wonder they were constantly looking forwards to the prospect of paying a visit "home". It must have been especially difficult when they received news about illness, as generally little treatment was available.

Feb 2 1875

My Dear Parrants
We recived your wellcome letter and was sorrey to hear that you have been so ill but we hope this will find you better     we are very glad to hear that father and Dear Charley is well and hope it will not be menny months befor we see you all again     it is a sad thing about poor ned     sam wishes it was not so far that he could go and see him     I sopose you have not heard eney more about is wife are the girls    We had a very quite christhmass and we was thinking of you all and wishing you could walk in     we Drank your health and sam kept saying I would give a sovering if I could see mother a father with little charley walk in just now for we had eney thing we could wish for     sam enver went out all day     it was bitter cold wether but it is mush warmer now     sam health is a little now and wok is pretty fare     he is going to save up to come up to London on witsentide     I hope he will for I long to see Dear charly     my mother tells me he is looking welle     you would ardley know harry he speaks so broad and wille gets so fat that you would not think he was the same child     same gets sush a nice little fellow     he begins to talk     he still means to be the baby
Thank goodness we are very well     we are very sorrey to hear of Jim and his poor wife     I hope she will get better     wehen you see them give our love to them     I must now conclude with our love lo all and kisses for charley     I remain
    yours truley
      Emma Sackett
Sam was very pleased with is tie
we will not you when we come up
to london
    good by
       god bless you

My grandfather Charlie was now six years old, and judging by the frequent references to clothes for him in Emma's letters, he was growing rapidly. Possibly he had only recently graduated from skirts and petticoats, which all young children wore in Victorian times, into trousers.

March 13 1875

Dear Parrants
We was very sorrey to hear that you was so ill but I hope and trust that you are a little better by this time     I should have written last week but I could send not [?] you eney monney and I told sam I would not write untell we could send some.     I was very glad to hear that charly is quite well and if you will send me the musure I will make him some new clothes     ore if you like I will send you the stuf and you can make them as you like     I was very mush Pleased with my Birthday preasent and we did not forget father     we drank to his health     I cannot say when we will see you but I hope it will not be long for I long to see little charley     sam is mush better and the children are all well and likewise my self
we hope Jim and Lisse are well by this time     give our love to them and give my respect to Mrs Picton     you have not told me wether she is living with you     I have made the oder from Emma Sa-to Marther Sa
so I must now conclude with love from all
I remain youre truly
    Emma Sackett
Kisses from the children fro thar Brother and you Both

There appears to have been quite an "ex-pat." community of South-Londoners in Leeds, and thus it was possible to send things by hand; although in this case it sounds as though Emma does not entirely trust her "courier"!

[undated letter about clothes for Charlie]

Dear Mother     I just wright to let you know that Mrs Frost as gone to London and we have sent Charley a new sute of cloths Boots stockings a cap     we have sent you a little shall and a shiling to Drink our health with     she will tel you all about us     as soon as you get this you had better go and fetch them     she said she would take them to you on Freidy but I should go for them at once     thay will be at her mothers
Mrs Easton Union Doad Rotherhithe     ask for Mrs Frost
We are all well     we hop you are the same     I will soon
    good by
take charley to see my mother when he is dresde

Sam's health deteriorated, and with it the family finances became stretched so once again they were unable to send money for Charlie's keep. This undated letter, written by Emma on a couple of pages torn from a cash book, probably dates from 1876 to 1877 as it has the same address as a letter written at the end of 1876. If so, their daughter Emma jnr., who was learning to use a sewing machine and got her father's meals ready, was about ten years old.

In those days before the Welfare State, prudent men joined a sickness club, to provide a level of insurance and an alternative to penury and the workhouse. Hence Emma's concern that Sam had not joined such a club, because it was unlikely she could support the family for long on her earnings as a machinist.

53 Scott St
Woodhouse St Leeds

Dear Parrants
We recived your wellcome letter and was glad to hear that you was all very well but you never told us eneything about poor ned     we should Both like to know how he is     Dear parrents I cannot express my feelings to you for your kindness towards my child but it is not in my Power to repay you at preasent but I hope soon to prove to you that I am not ungrateful to you for your kindness     I am treing all I can to get on so that you may find a home with us if you need it     I can asure you we have had a grate deal to do scince we have been down hear and Sam has not allways done as he should but I think he seese his folley now     I hope so     he has been very stedy lateley     I have got work now anso if he heeps as he is we shall soon get on and I will send you something
Sam still keeps very quer     in fact he is nothing but skin and bone     sometimes I feel very unhappy about him for he is in no club and I often think what should we do if he was to be laid up on a sick bed     I whant him to join one     he says he will     me and the children are now quite well thanke god     I have a machine at home and Ema can work it very nicely and when we get bussey she will be a grate help to me     she minds the house and gets her father dinner and tea     I have been to work a week ore tow but they are not bussey just yet but they soon will be     so you see things look a little bit brighte
when I can help you a bit and come and see my Dear little boy I shall not care how hard I work I am sure he will not know us     tell him his little brother often kiss his poraite and wish he was hear     kiss him for us of all     I cannot say eney more at preasent     give our love to Jim and his wife and hopeing you and father are quite well
I remain your affectionate Daughter a Son
Emma & Sam Sackett

At the end of 1876 Emma wrote a letter on black-edged paper. No deaths were mentioned in the letter, but possibly her mother had recently died; certainly in later letters Emma sent love only to her father.

The family's health was in a bad way; Emma had "two great holes" in her foot (possibly ulcers), Sam jnr. had ringworm, and Samuel's health had become very poor – he was skinny, had a bad cough, and sweated at night (classic symptoms of tuberculosis) – and they had consulted a doctor. This was an uncommon thing for working class people to do because of the expense, so it shows how worried they must have been.

Sund Dec 31 1876

Dear Parrants
I write in answare to your letter and we was sorry to hear that father and charley as been so bad and that things look so bad. I onley wish we could healp you but I can asure you that we are nearley as bad as you are yourselfs. Just now for sam as done but very little this tow ore three weeks and next week thay shut the shop quit up for thay are going to take stock and scince I have been back I have had a very bad foot     I have tow grate holes in it yet     so you see that things are very bad with us at presant but we must hope for better times     I darsay when sam starts work again he will have plenty to do     that is if he has the strengs to do it     you wish me to tell you what the doctor said     well he told him that he would not say that he could cure him but that he would ease him     I thought it was a strange thing to say     he is a little better than he was but not mush     he sweats so mush at nights and is cough is still very bad and alltogether it makes me feel very dul     I wish we whare in london. the children are well expect young sam and he got the ringworms very bad but we have got some stuf from the docter and the are getting better     we are thinking of little charley today     it is his Birhtday poor little folow     we have been very dul this christhmas but I hope the new year will turn out more Bright and prosperous the last and if so be sure we will not for get you    all the children send thar love to thar Brother and a kiss from all     we hav him a shiling to by him some little thing     I wish I could do more     I hope this will find you all better     so I will conclude with love to all from both
Emma and Sam Sackett
53 Scott St
Woodhous St

In 1878 Sam went to London for medical treatment, leaving Emma and the children in Leeds, where it appears that a Mr Harrison (presumably a workmate of Sam) tried to pocket half the money which had been collected for them. Sam had still not got round to joining a sickness club.

[undated letter, probably 1878 like the next letter]

My Dear husband
I recived your wellcome letter for I felt very low spirited all day after you had gone     I felt that something was going to happen but thank god you arived safe     I was sorrey that you was in such pain when you wrote     I hope you feel better now     Dear Sam do keep to the docter     we are all quite well. I sent down to Collie and Mr Harrison gave Emma 4 shilings and said he would come and see me in the eving but he did not come     Mr Montauge came about alf past 2 oclock and gave me 11 shilings     he said things are very bad ore he should have got more     I thanked him and told him I had recived 4 shiling from Harrison     he was surprised for he had told him that he had given Emma 8 shilings for he asked him befor some of his shopmats if he had got it all in and he said yes and when Emma whent Mr Montuge said you had better give it to her     so he whent outside and gave her the 4 shiling and when he whent Back he said he had given all     so Mr Monteuge told me to let him know if he came in the eving and if he did give it me ore nit has thay would soon get it out of him     he was mad about it     he sends his regards and hopes you will soon get better     I have sent you the list of names     With what I got I paid 4/6 for those boots mending and I have tow weeks rent to pay this week for I did not make eneything last week     Answer this soon and let me know how you are giting on and how you feel     give my love to Charly and mother an father and my father if you see him     Emma and Harry send thar love to all of you so good night     with love from your affectionate wife
Emma Sackett
7 Clayfield St Oxford Rd
Meenwood Rd     Leeds

What happened about the missing 4 shillings must remain a mystery.

The next letter makes it clear that while Sam was in London receiving out-patient hospital treatment for his medical problem, he had still not joined a sickness club, so it was essential to get money by some means. He was looking for work and hoping to be employed by Matthews. Was this the same firm which offered him a job when he returned from Worcester in 1865?

It is unknown whether Sam ever returned to Leeds, or whether having secured work in Bermondsey he brought Emma and the children back to London.


My Dear husband     I recived your wellcome letter on this morning     I cannot tell you how pleased I was to hear that you are much better     it as made me so light hearted all day for I was wondering all sortes of things as you did not ancware my letter as I asked you     I was sitting down to my Breacfast feeling misbirbl when the postman nocked     it made us all different     I wish you could allwayes let me get one of a sunday morning for I allways seem to whant to se you ore hear from you most of a sunday
Dear sam I hope you will not leave of going to the hospittal as soon as you feel better ore you will be having it come on again     beside you whant to get your strength up. I shall be glad when we can all come. I have been to Mrs Moodey     I think she is going to london the week after next     Mr Moodey said you was silly not to aplay to the club on wendsey     his father wrote to him and as told him that thar is not meney men out of work     gorge gorthorp as sent his monney up to the clube and Mr Moody his going to write to prepose im     I am sorry you could not try this time     I would have done without eney money this week if you had triead again     I shall be mad if thay take gorge in but of couse you do as you think best     I am glad you have the first chance at Mathues. I hope your father is better and charley     give my love to your mother and lisse     we are quite well     I feel much better to day than I did last week     I have not wrote to eney of my friends yet     have you seen eney of them ore my father     if you see him give my love to him     now Dear sam I must conclude with best love and hopeing that you will still get better     I remain your
   affectionate wife
    Emma sends her love to you all and she is a very good girl and harry is purty well

In 1880 Sam applied for admission into St. Thomas' Hospital suffering from paralysis; this is known from his application form, on which was noted that there were two wards of 31 and 32 patients. The application form was dated 29th November 1880, but presumably was not submitted as Samuel Henry Sackett, aged 36, died of paralysis on 16th December 1880 in the Camberwell Infirmary. On his death certificate, the address of his widow Emma was given as Neate Street, Camberwell.

Following Sam's death, the family became fragmented. By spring 1881, Emma and her two oldest children were living in Henshaw St., Newington. Emma snr. and Emma jnr. (age 15) were working as machinists, and Harry (age 12) was a scholar. Charlie (age 11) was also a scholar and continued to live with his grandparents in Pages Walk, Bermondsey. The two youngest sons, William (age 9) and Samuel (age 7), were inmates in the Central London District School, Hanwell, a residential school for pauper children.

It is not known what happened to the two Emmas, mother and daughter, although it is possible that one of them was the Emma Bertha Sackett who got married in St. Saviour registration district in 1891.

Harry (Henry Edward Sackett) died aged 19 on 18th July 1887 at 66 Brayards Road, Peckham, and was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery.

William James Sackett married Carrie in 1900 and they had two daughters, Phyllis Edith (born 1906) and Dorothy E. (Dolly, born 1910). William died in 1940. He kept in regular contact with Samuel Alfred who became a gas fitter and married an ex-Barnardos girl, Charlotte (Lottie) Frances Clark in 1900—and again in 1901! They had one son, Ronald Warburton (born 1908), who married Ivy Maud Corby and had two daughters, Anita Marie Sackett and Virginia Jane Sackett.