James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
Click on picture for enlargement

What became of Zillah?

Zillah Parry In 1891 there was a, a charwoman, Zilla Owen, aged 26 and born in Ruabon, lodging at 23 Tickle Street, Manchester, with a widow, her five children and with another charwoman and her son, both charwomen reportedly "married". This was almost certainly Elias's widow; his wife had been born in Ruabon in 1861 [Wrexham 1861, 3rd qt]. Tickle Street was situated between Camp Street and Tonman Street, running from Deansgate to Lower Byron Street. See (Dwellings in Dean Street, Tickle Street in 1862). With the number of people in the household Zillah would not have had a room to herself.

Zillah subsequently moved south and in 1895 she married an Arthur Lambert [Lewisham 1895, 1st qt]. However, by 1901 she was living in the Workhouse in Fulham-road, Chelsea (it was then still referred to as 'St George Hanover Square workhouse' though it served jointly the St. George's (Hanover-square) Union and the parishes of St. James and St. Margaret, Westminster). Zillah's employment was then needlework and she was a widow. Arthur Lambert had died, aged 48, in 1898 [Kingston 1898, 1st qt]. There is an excellent site www.workhouses.org.uk that describes the awfulness of this workhouse. It includes the report of an 1894 commission set up by the British Medical Journal to investigate conditions in provincial workhouses and their infirmaries. Members of the commission visited this particular workhouse and this report provides an insight onto what life would have been like for Zillah. The wards, especially the dormitories, were crowded. The report suggested that the pauper assistants took advantage of those in their care and were liable to "levy contributions from the helpless before rendering service." In the dormitories, cleaners were observed trying to "eradicate the vermin by burning out the nests and eggs in the interstices of the bedsteads". With regard to sanitary arrangements the report commented: "we can understand that among this large number of paupers, many coming from the very lowest class, there will be some who, if left to themselves, will show every trace of the state of savagery out of which they have come, but we do not see the necessity of the workhouse lowering itself to their level."

Although the workhouse had an infirmary, I am told that Zillah was in Chelsea Hospital when she died, aged forty-one [Chelsea 1907, 1st qt].