The album shown above, full of writings, poetry and pictures, appears to have belonged to a lady called Lousia Slade. ROADWAY and is an historical treasure of my family. Inside the front cover is the name Louisa S. ROADWAY and the date 21st May 1872, which appears to have been her 20th birthday as Louisa was born on the 21st May 1852 at 80 Webber Row in Southwark, Surrey. The middle initial "S" appears to have stood for Slade. The surname SLADE is significant in the ROADWAY family and probably comes from Louisa's grandmother Susannah SLADE born c1783 at Lacock, Wiltshire, according to the 1851 census for Corsham. Susannah was the mother of Louisa's father, John ROADWAY born in Corsham, Wiltshire c1817.
So who was Louisa S. ROADWAY?
Louisa appears to have been the youngest of four daughters born to John and Louisa ROADWAY (nee HULBERT) who married at St. Andrew's in Chippenham, Wiltshire on the 28th May 1838. Her father John was already living in London at 4 Webber Street, Waterloo Road, Southwark, Surrey - this might have been the same street where we find the family in the 1851 and 1861 census, but by then their address was given as 80 Webber Row, Waterloo Road, Southwark, Surrey.
The eldest child I have found to date was Sarah Ann, but she sadly died on the 11th July 1841, aged only 14 weeks, from "inflammation of the chest". John and Louisa's next daughter was Mary Ann baptised at St. George the Martyr Church in Southwark on the 3rd July 1842. Maria Stone followed on the 17th December 1844 and was born at 80 Webber Row. Then finally Louisa Slade was born on the 21st May 1852 at 80 Webber Row in Southwark and christened at St. George the Martyr Church in Southwark on the 25th July 1852. John and Louisa, quite possibly had more children - but either they died very young or had left home by the time of the 1851 and 1861 census.
Louisa's father John started his working life as a Carpenter, but later appears to have been a Builder too. By 1891 his occupational status was classified as an employer, so he would appear to have had his own business, but he may have had a business much earlier than this, just that earlier censuses did not give this information.
By the 1871 census, Louisa and her family had moved to 17 Albert Terrace in Southwark. She was shown aged 18 living with her parents and older sister Maria.
Louisa's elder sister Maria Stone ROADWAY married Law Stationer Thomas FORD in 1872. In the 1881 census Louisa was living with Thomas and Maria FORD and their two children, Percy Thomas (my grandad's father) and Alfred James at 13 St. Ann's Road, Lambeth, Surrey.
From there on, in each of the following censuses between 1881 and 1911, where-ever the FORD's were, Louisa was with them too! She appears to have never married, still single in 1901 aged 58 and I have found no evidence of her ever working. The FORD's had at least one servant at any one time, so it is likely that Louisa spent her life as a lady of leisure, but then why not if she was able!
In 1891 the FORD's were visitors at 1 Marine Parade, in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight, possibly on holiday and staying with a BLAKE family. Louisa's brother-in-law Thomas FORD appears to have been quite a successful Law Stationer, so presumably the family might have spent many holidays together. By 1891, the FORD's, along with Louisa, had moved to 15 Thornton Avenue, in the Streatham district of London. While the FORD's were on the Isle of Wight, this property was left in the hands of two servants. The 1901 census, shows the FORD's living at this address in Streatham, but shortly afterwards they appear to have left their London roots and moved to the Isle of Wight.
In the 1911 census, Louisa was recorded with her married sister Maria FORD, nephew Alfred and great-nephew Jack FORD (my grandfather) living at 1 Maine Parade in Ventnor on the Isle of Wight. Louisa's occupation was shown as living "of Private Means". Head of the household Thomas FORD appears to have been away on the night of the census.
It seems likely that Louisa continued to live with the FORD's until her death on 26th April 1925, aged 72 at 1 Marine Parade in Ventnor. She was buried three days later on the 29th April 1925 at Ventnor Cemetery. I have yet to obtain her death certificate, but probate of her will was granted to Law Stationer, William LOWTON and her sister Maria FORD, widow on 4th June 1925 in London.
In her will, Louisa left personal effects of £751 2s. 11d. However, I think the greatest legacy she left has to be her beautiful book. Undoubtedly, it must have been a treasured possession for her to have kept it all her life and a wonderful heirloom to be passed to future generations.
At no point does Louisa's book mention that she called her book a "family album". But I am calling it just that, as it contains writings, poetry and a few pictures, by various authors, so I believe that it was a book that she shared with her family and friends. Some pieces are signed, but sadly many of these writings are only initialled. So we may never know for definite who some of the authors of the writings were and can only speculate. But from what I have found so far, some of her family did leave their mark in her album, along with neighbours and presumably her friends as well.
Louisa was born in an era where education was still for a privileged few. The first major education act was not until the Forster Education Act (1870), which then provided the foundations for the provision of elementary or primary education for all children in England and Wales, but this was not free and school boards could charge up to 9 pence per week for children to attend. However, education was still not compulsory and truancy was high. The Elementary Education Act (1880) made attendance compulsory between the ages of five and ten, but fees were still payable. It wasn't until the passing of the Education Act (1891) that education finally became free. In 1893, further legislation raised the compulsory attendance age to 11 and it 1899, it was further raised to age 12.
The 1861 census shows that Louisa was a scholar, so she certainly received some form of education in London. It is likely that she would have attended one of the local Church Schools, but to write with the flair and accuracy that she did, she must have attended for much more than just a few years. Evidently Louisa was a very literate woman, unlike many born in the same era. Her elder sister Maria is also known to have been educated with her obituary telling us that "she was passionately devoted to reading and had an extensive knowledge of literacy matters".Louisa undoubtably had a love of writing and litarature too.
Initially I found it strange that this book landed up with the FORD family. But then having found Louisa with the FORD's in all the censuses between 1871 and 1911 it seems likely that it was passed down the line of the FORD family. After her death in 1925, it may have been passed to her nephew Percy FORD or maybe straight to her great-nephew Jack Clarence Roadway FORD (my grandfather). It was then passed to my own father, who I thank for allowing me to share these pages.
I do believe that it sat on both my grandparents and father's bookshelf collecting cobwebs for many years, untouched and unread... quite sad when it is such an historical piece. Now looking somewhat dilapidated... so easily it could have been thrown away. Infact my grandmother did throw so many things away, but thankfully not Louisa's book... so fortunately it has now remained in my family for over 140 years. So because of its historical nature and the fact that I believe both Louisa and her writings deserve "recognition", I would like to share its contents. I hope that Louisa Slade ROADWAY would feel very honoured that her Victorian treasure still survives and has proved to be such a fascination. For those of you interested in Victorian Literature, it is most definitely a fascinating read and even for those not interested in poetry, simply for it's historical nature I hope will be of interest.