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What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

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What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby gemmalrf » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:23 am

Hi all,

I'm hoping someone may be able to help me work out what happened to my 3x great-aunt Mahala.

Mahala was born to George Sharp and Eliza nee Coppen in 1872, Orsett RD. She was living with her parents and siblings on George Street, Grays, Essex in the 1881 census, then married Alfred Young in 1889 in Orsett (the same RD that Grays falls under). They appear together with a daughter Ellen in the 1891 census living on George Street (though she appears as Mahla). Ellen seems to pass away in 1892 and a second child Alfred also dies (1892 - 1893) The couple however have two more sons, William (b.1895) and Henry (b. 1897) The GRO indexes confirm their mother's maiden name as Sharp.

In 1901, Alfred Young appears on the census in West Ham with two sons William (aged 5) and Henry, (aged 4) both born in Grays, Essex. As in the 1891 census, he is born in Borough, London. However, his spouse is named as Elizabeth, born in Brighton, Sussex and there is no sign of Mahala.

As the children were living with Alfred, I thought she may have died so I tried a combination of searches in the death indexes but couldn't find a suitable entry for her under her married name or a maiden name for between 1897 and 1901. I looked in the marriage indexes (in case she and Alfred were divorced or bigamists) as well as the 1901 census under both maiden and married name and with variations of names but could not find an entry that would make sense. She wasn't living with any of her living siblings in future censuses and her parents are both deceased by 1898. I've used the death indexes on Ancestry, The Genealogist and GRO and she just doesn't seem to be on there. I've done a blanket search of her names also but this hasn't thrown up anything usable either.

She just seems to have disappeared. Can anyone suggest what I may be able to do next or is anyone out there looking for the same person?

Thanks in advance!
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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby sdup26 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:56 am

In 1911, Alfred is in Plaistow with son William b1895, and daughter Ellalina b 1905. Alfred isn't listed as a widower, but married for 21 years, had 5 children, 3 died, 2 living. The GRO birth index shows Ellalina's mother's maiden name was Gentry.
Living wth Alfred in 1911 is a widow, Lizzie Buttle, named as Alfred's housekeeper. Her children are Susie and John Buttle. Susannah Buttle was born in Orsett 1896, and mother's maiden name was Gentry.
So it looks as if Alfred and Lizzie Buttle lived together, and had a daughter, but didn't marry. As Alfred isn't a 'widower' on the census, but 'married' was Mahala still living? If so, where? When a woman has a baby (Henry 1897) and then seems to disappear, I wonder about severe post-natal illness, which would be treated at that time in a hospital/asylum, with inmates listed under initials only, so they can be hard to find on a census. This may be worth considering in Mahala's case.
I'm adding this, as I'm afraid the plot thickens. As you said in your original post, in 1901, Alfred was living with Elizabeth, born in Brighton, and described on the census as his wife. However, in 1901, Lizzie Buttle (mother of Alfred's daughter Ellalina - 1911 census) was with her husband William Buttle in Orsett. They married in 1894, her maiden name was Gentry, and William died in 1903. So she isn't the Elizabeth from the 1901 census; she seems to have been born and married under the name Lizzie. None of which, unfortunately, helps with finding Mahala.
Last edited by sdup26 on Fri Jun 02, 2017 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:45 am

Re inmates listed under initials - I have recently dealt with a case where the wife is missing from her family in the 1911. I am convinced that she is in the 1911 at the Liverpool Women's Hospital under a different name that happens to have the same initials as her. The number of children (which actually shouldn't have been provided?) is unique enough (6 living, 1 dead, I think) along with her age and birthplace in a small Cheshire village, to make me fairly sure that it's her.

So either there's been a bureaucratic failure to record her correct name or the obfuscation has got more complex than just reducing to initials. Or I'm totally wrong.

But it does suggest that if someone is in hospital, then the search criteria might need to be even wider - or weirder.

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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby ianbee » Fri Jun 02, 2017 11:11 pm

If she had been admitted to a county lunatic asylum from 1897 she would be in the Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846-1912, on ancestry (years 1893, 1895, 1896 are missing, are not at TNA)
If they were still in Essex, the asylum would be Brentwood (later Warley Hospital), where the patients were enumerated by first initial/s and full surname in 1901.

Don't know if this might be her, reported in a Dundee(!) newspaper in February 1903
Grays Petty Sessions, before Messrs C. B. Russell, E. J. Goldsmith, B. H. L. Williams, and S. W. Squier—Mahala Young, described as a field worker, convicted of wandering abroad and having no visible means of subsistence. Fourteen days.
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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby MayHam » Sat Jun 03, 2017 1:28 am

GRO Reference: 1890  J Quarter in ORSETT  Volume 04A  Page 389

23 (mos?)
GRO Reference: 1892  J Quarter in ORSETT  Volume 04A  Page 194

Deaths Jun 1892   
Young Ellen 1 Orsett 4a 194

GRO Reference: 1895  J Quarter in ORSETT  Volume 04A  Page 468

GRO Reference: 1897  S Quarter in ORSETT  Volume 04A  Page 513

(The following is a long shot but I noticed in 1891 Mahla listed her birthplace as Grays, Essex.
This is the only Ms. Young I could find born in Grays.)
2 Apr 1911- No Fixed Address, Aveley Hall, Aveley, Essex, England
Kate Young - Single Female Field Worker 40 1871 Grays Essex ... 2f0293%2f1

Don't know if any of the following would be your Alfred or not?
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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby gemmalrf » Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:54 am

Hi everyone!

Thank you so much for all your responses - I hadn’t been expecting so many :-)

Sdup26: I’d found Alfred and Lizzie in 1911 and it seems they got married in West Ham 1917 - what quite spurred them to get married 12 years after their daughter was born I do not know! Perhaps Mahala died in 1917 meaning he could finally marry Lizzie? Alfred is always married and considers himself to have been married for 21 years in 1911 so that might make sense? I cannot find who Elizabeth is or a marriage that makes sense and there is a part of me that wonders if a sleepy enumerator input an incorrect name or completely misjudged the writing… bit of a leap! I think I might just have to order the marriage cert between Alfred and Lizzie to see what it says.

AdrianB38: If all the details match up, it would seem to suggest it is the same person. I suppose you could look for other people born in the village at the same time with the same first name and see who they went on to marry?? Hopefully her name isn’t very common! I’ve been reading a great book about the census by Peter Christian and David Annal and initials for asylums aren’t too uncommon, though that doesn’t make them any more helpful. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find Mahala listed with a similar amount of detail to your person.

Ianbee: Thanks for pointing me towards the registers. I didn’t know they were on there. I will have a look and see what I can find. Remarkable find in the Dundee Newspaper too! She was from Grays and Mahala wasn’t a very common name. It could very well be her, suggesting she and her husband were separated. I think I’ll have another look through the 1901 census and see if I can find anything for her. Perhaps she will be on a passenger list too if she went abroad and was sent back?

MayHam: I had seen this Kate as well and wondered if Mahala had changed her name! The occupation certainly fits the article Ianbee found and makes it more likely than I had previously thought. If it is the same person and she was found to have no funds on her abroad, that may have continued at home and explain her having no fixed abode in 1911. There do not seem to be any Kate Young’s born in Orsett RD in 1869 - 1873 athough this Kate may have been married before and not declared it on the form. People do lie!

Thanks for giving me so much to look into and think about! I’ll let you know if I find anything concrete.
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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby gemmalrf » Sat Jun 03, 2017 7:25 am

Mayham: I've just looked at the 1911 census record you had found and written at the bottom it says 'born on a farm' which has been scribbled out. Mahala's family lived in a house on George Street and it seems less likely that this is her going by an alternative name. I can't find a Female Young in the indexes but it may be that this person wasn't born in Orsett RD, or she was not registered at all. It does happen sometimes.
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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby sdup26 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:16 am

It's possible that Elizabeth was with Alfred helping with his sons, and to avoid 'scandal' was enumerated as his wife. Or they really were living together and she then left the picture. But as he waited until 1917 to marry Lizzie, was it because he knew he was then a widower? As you suggest, the marriage certificate is certainly worth ordering.
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Re: What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby beacon » Sat Jun 03, 2017 12:54 pm

Wandering abroad and having no visible means of support was an offence under the 1824 Vagrancy Act, so "abroad" in the newspaper extract does not mean "overseas."

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What happened to Mahala Young nee Sharp?

Postby JaneyH » Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:53 pm

Just to follow up further on "wandering abroad", my great-grandmother was charged with this offence in 1922. The newspaper report notes that she was wandering the streets in a distressed state and didn't want to return home. (She had a home, a husband and family.) In all likelihood she was having some form of mental health breakdown, and was sent to the workhouse rather than to prison. She subsequently spent many years in different institutions, dying in the Devon County Asylum in 1952.

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