john william mallindine + mary short

John William was born in the family home in the Middlesex Buildings on Hackney Road in Bethnal Green on 16 January 1812, to William Mallindine and Martha Edghill, and baptised at St Leonard, Shoreditch on 18 May under the name Millindine.

John came from a long line of Silk Weavers and despite the decline in the trade in the mid-19th century, he followed in his father’s footsteps in the weaving trade. After his mother’s death in 1840, his father moved to James Street in Bethnal Green along with his three youngest sons: Francis, William and George; however, John left the family home and took up lodgings with the Culff family in Hunt Court in Mile End New Town where he worked as a Silk Weaver — as were most of the other residents of Hunt Court.

In the late summer or autumn of 1844, John began a relationship with Mary Short, a married woman with two young children. She had previously married Thomas Dutch at Christ Church, Spitalfields in 1833 and they had three children of which only two survived: Eliza was born late in the year in 1838 and John William was born on 4 January 1841. Thomas Dutch also worked as a Weaver and the economic depression of the silk weaving industry affected his family’s fortunes throughout the 1830s and 1840s and they were forced to apply for parish relief on a number of occasions. Mary was in the Bethnal Green Workhouse when her son John William was born and the family last appears in the Poor Law records in June 1844 when they were removed from Spitalfields to Bethnal Green.

It’s not known if Thomas and Mary agreed to part ways or if one left the other but John and Mary’s relationship must have begun in late November or early December 1844 at the latest as nine months later, the first of their four children, Mary Anne, was born on 6 August 1845 at 2 Little George Street in Spitalfields. She was baptised on 14 September at St Matthias in Bethnal Green. Martha Eleanor was born on 11 February 1848 at the family home at 3 Great George Street in Spitalfields and baptised on 19 March at St Matthias. They had moved back to Hunt Court, living at number 8, by the time their son Thomas William was born on 7 November 1850.

When the 1851 census was taken, the family was living at 18 Booth Street which was off Brick Lane and not far from their previous home on Hunt Court or John’s brothers on Granby Street. John, Mary and their 12 year old daughter Eliza were all working as Handloom Weavers in silk and also living in the household was John’s 20 year old brother William, who worked as a French Polisher, and Lodgers John Collier and Richard Short who may have been a relation of Mary’s.

Their infant son, Thomas, died at the family home on Hunt Court sometime between the census and the birth of their fourth child who was also named Thomas. Thomas Henry was born on 24 August 1852 at 40 Booth Street, Spitalfields and although he was baptised as Thomas Henry at St Matthias on 19 September, his birth registration only listed his first name.

On 13 Apr 1858, John died at 30 Booth Street, Bethnal Green and his death certificate listed the cause as an ‘accidental overdose of laudanum’. Laudanum was a mixture of opium and alcohol and from the 17th century it was considered a cure-all for a variety of illnesses including headache, toothache, rheumatism and consumption and it was often added to other medicines as a pain reliever or sleep aid. It was cheaper than alcohol and as it was readily available at public houses, tobacconists and even confectioners, it became an affordable medical treatment particularly for the poor. Restrictions on the sale of laudanum did not come into effect in England until 1868 when it could only be sold by registered chemists. John’s death certificate does not list the reason he was taking laudanum nor have any newspaper accounts been located to offer further explanation. He was buried on 25 April 1858 at Victoria Park Cemetery in Bethnal Green under the name ‘John Willie’ which may have been his family nickname.

Losing her husband also meant the losing the primary source of income needed to support her family but it appears that Mary was once again able to keep her family together despite incredibly difficult financial circumstances. Although her eldest daughter Eliza left home five months after John’s death, Mary was left to support four children ranging in age from 6 to 17 years when John died.

In 1861, Mary was living at 24 Whites Row near Christ Church in Spitalfields with children John, Mary, Martha and Thomas. Mary was working as a Lucifer Box or matchbox maker which was a common home based occupation for women in the 19th century but the pay was very low and by the piece. In order to earn enough to support her family, her three youngest children were also helping make the matchboxes while son John was working as a French Polisher. He may have apprenticed with one of his uncles as both Thomas and William Mallindine were also French Polishers.

Over the next ten years, Mary’s remaining children left home to marry and start families of their own. John William married Eliza Boivin at St James in Shoreditch on 28 December 1861 and just over two years later, Mary Anne married William Hellen at St James in Shoreditch on 18 April 1864 and her address at the time was 21 Quaker Street. Martha married George Payne on 2 April 1866 at St Andrew and finally, Thomas married Caroline Fairman on 9 June 1870 at St James in Shoreditch.

Her daughter Martha and husband George had two children with their first, George Edward, born on 3 April 1867 and baptised at St Matthias on 5 May. They were living at 25 Edward Street and George was working as a Chair Maker. Sady, baby George died five months later and was buried at Victoria Park Cemetery on 16 September. They also had a daugther, Sarah, who was born in the early months of 1870 but the family has not been traced beyond this point.

With her children all married, Mary was living alone with lodgers Mary Allen and her two young children in rooms at 21 Quaker Street in 1871. There were three other families living in the same house and Mary was working as a Nurse while her lodger was a Fancy Box Maker. Ten years later, sixty-nine year old Mary was still working to support herself but as a domestic servant for a Grocer named Henry Funk at 12 Pelham Street, the same street she lived on more than 30 years previously. It appears she finally stopped working by the time the 1881 Census was taken but she still took in lodger Mary Smith, a 30 year old domestic servant, to help pay the expenses on her rooms in a house at 35 Hanbury Street.

Mary Short died in Bethnal Green in the summer of 1894 but no burial record has yet been found.