My father's parents were William Taylor (1890-1972) and his wife Gertrude Amy Taylor nee Wilkins (1890-1919). Her mother was Jane Wilkins nee Cornwell (1851-1934). This blog contains biographies of my Taylor, Wilkins and Corrnwell relatives. If you have any additional info or pictures of them, please contact me on PhilT42LQS@Yahoo.co.uk.
Sunday, 23 September 2012
Gertrude Taylor nee Wilkins (1890-1919), victim of Spanish Flu
Wilkins was my grandmother, the mother of my father, Eric William Taylor
(1913-2003). She was born on 1 Feb 1890 in Woolwich Dockyard, the eighth of
nine children born to Henry William Wilkins (b1850 in Bethnal Green, London)
and Jane Wilkins nee Cornwell (b1851 in Kelvedon, Essex). The name given on her
birth certificate is Gertrude Helen Wilkins. However, the middle name given on
her marriage and death certificates is Amy, not Helen.
1891 census shows Henry Wilkins aged 41, a grocer, living at 31 Kidd St (a
shop), Woolwich Dockyard with his wife Jane (40) and their children Elizabeth
(15), Albert (13), Alice (11), Ethel (9), Cecilia (7), Annie (5), Herbert (3)
and Gertrude (1).
1901, the family were living at 11 Church St, Woolwich and consisted of Henry
(aged 50, now a coffee house keeper), Jane (49), Albert (23), Alice (21), Ethel
(19), Bessie (16), Annie (15), Herbert (13), Gertrude (11) and Mabel (9).
Gertrude Wilkins aged 19
was still living at 11 Church St in 1911. The census gives her age as 21 and
her occupation as a rubber casing machine hand working for Siemens Brothers
Electrical Works. Also at the address were her father Henry (62, a dining room
keeper), mother Jane (59), sister Mabel (19) and niece Florence Wilkins (7).
The return was completed by Gertrude, so I have a sample of her handwriting.
married William Taylor on 26 May 1912 at the Holy Trinity Church, New Charlton,
which is close to 7 West Street, where William lived. They were both aged 22.
He was a labourer at the Royal Arsenal. The marriage was witnessed by
Gertrude’s brothers Herbert and Albert. I have pictures of the wedding.
Gertrude lived at 22A George St, Woolwich then at 503 Abbey Road, Abbey Wood
and later at 51 Charles St, Woolwich. They had three children, Eric William who
was born in 1913, Vera Gertrude born in 1916 and Ronald Albert born in 1918.
Gertrude Taylor nee Wilkins
died of influenza at the Miller Hospital in Greenwich on 19 February 1919 aged
influenza pandemic of 1918-19 killed about 50 million people (more than the 25
million who died in World War I), the most devastating epidemic in recorded
world history. More people died of influenza in a single year than in four
years of the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) from 1347 to 1351. Known as
"Spanish Flu" the influenza of 1918-19 was a global disaster. In
these two years, a fifth of the world's population was infected. The flu was
most deadly for people ages 20 to 40. This pattern of mortality was unusual for
influenza, which is usually a killer of the elderly and young children. The
influenza virus had a mortality rate at 2.5% compared to previous influenza
epidemics, which were less than 0.1%. People were struck with illness and died
rapid deaths. One anecdote from 1918 was of four women playing bridge together
one evening. Overnight, three of the women died from influenza. Others told
stories of people on their way to work suddenly developing the flu and dying
within hours. The first cases of the influenza epidemic in Britain appeared in
Glasgow in May 1918. It soon spread to other towns and cities and during the
next few months the virus killed 228,000 people in Britain.
The following report appeared in a local newspaper :
“The funeral took place at Plumstead Cemetery on Wednesday of Mrs W
Taylor, the loving wife of Mr W Taylor, of 51 Charles Street, Woolwich (late of
Abbey Wood). The last sad rites were conducted by the Rev. Faulkner Baily. The
floral tributes were very beautiful and were sent by her sorrowing husband and children,
Mrs H Wilkins1 (mother), Mr and Mrs W Jenkins2
(brother-in-law and sister), Mr and Mrs A Wilkins3 (brother and
sister-in-law), Mrs Suter4 (sister), Mr and Mrs W Taylor5
(brother-in-law and sister), Mr and Mrs H Wilkins6 (brother and
sister-in-law), Mr and Mrs L Barry7 (brother-in-law and sister), Mr
and Mrs G Taylor8, Mr and Mrs Himbury9, Mr and Mrs E
Taylor10, Mr and Mrs A Smith11, Mr and Mrs C Taylor12,
Mr and Mrs W King13, Mr and Mrs S Taylor14, Florrie
(niece), Aunt Mary and family, Daisy and Albert15, Mr and Mrs H Dimon16, Mr and Mrs
Cook, Mrs Wain, Edie and Gertie, and old neighbours of Abbey Wood. Mr
Taylor wishes to thank all those who sent wreaths and letters of sympathy in
his sad bereavement.”
was buried on 25 February 1919 in grave 289, Plot M. I have located it within
Plumstead cemetery, which is still in use and well maintained. There is no
headstone or stonework on the grave, which is grassed over.
Jane Wilkins nee Cornwell (1851 - 1934)
Walter Hugh and Elizabeth Jane Jenkins nee Wilkins (b1876)
Albert Henry (b1877) and Beatrice Louisa Wilkins (Aunt Beat)
4. Mrs Suter was born
Ethel Wilkins in 1881. Her husband William Henry Suter died in 1914. Her son
Herbert William Suter died of influenza on February 12th 1919 aged
12, a week before Gertrude. They are both buried in a plot near her. Ethel
became William Taylor’s second wife in 1920.
William and Cecilia Mary (Bessie) Taylor nee Wilkins (b1884)
Herbert George (b1888) and Mary Allan Wilkins nee Kennedy
Lawrence and Mabel Barry nee Wilkins (b1891)
George Taylor (b1877, William’s brother) and Kate Elizabeth nee Lambert
Edwin Alfred and Harriet Jane Himbury nee Taylor (b1881, William’s sister)
Ernest Edward (b1879, William’s brother) and Annie Edith Taylor nee Bradley
Alfred Charles and Margaret Ellen Smith nee Taylor (b1887, William’s sister)
Charles (b1885, William’s brother) and Ellen Maria Taylor nee Holder
James William and May King nee Taylor (b1894, William’s sister)
Samuel Taylor (b1892, William’s brother) and his wife 15. Daisy and Albert Finnis (Daisy was a sister of Beatrice Louisa Wilkins nee Tothill) 16. Harold Vincent and Maud Emily Dimon, friends of the Wilkins family