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Thomas Clare (1810 - 1862)

My wife's 2 x great grandfather.

There are some question marks hanging over Thomas' birth date and parentage, although the balance of probabilities suggest they were John and Lucy and that he was baptized in St Saviour, Southwark in Surrey in about 1810. I am reasonably sure that this is correct but then it is strange that, unlike any of his siblings, Thomas moved away from London and moved up to Cambridge around 1830 (certainly by 1834).

I don’t have a marriage certificate but banns were read for THOMAS CLARE (batchelor) and LYDIA SIZER (spinster) of St Botolph at St Mary the Less, Cambridge on 2nd February 1834 and the marriage took place in Cambridge on 2nd March 1834.  St Botolph was where most of the SIZER children were baptized and buried.

LYDIA SIZER was born in Chesterton and was one of at least 5 children born to LEONARD SIZER & RACHEL JACKSON.  Her siblings included an ELIZA SIZER and a FANNY !

Thomas and Lydia had 10 children over a 20 year period, all born in Cambridge :

1835 Lucy (died in 1838 aged just 3 of inflamation in the bowels) (baptism St Andrew the Less)

1837 Mary Ann (died 1844 aged just 7, again like her sister, of inflamation of the bowels)

1839 Thomas

1841 Lydia

1844 John (baptism St Pauls)

1846 Rachel & Sarah (twins) (baptism St Pauls)

1849 Charles (direct line) (baptism St Pauls)

1852 Joseph (baptism St Pauls)

1854 Mary

Up until the early 1850's, the family lived in Gothic Street, St Andrew the Less in Cambridge.  They were there on both the 1841 and 1851 census.  By the birth of daughter Mary they had moved to Grafton Street, St Andrew the Less and then by 1861 were living in Albert Street, Chesterton.

Thomas was a picture frame maker, a carver and a gilder.  He also made cabinets which may have included coffins as on his wife's death certificate the informant described him as an "undertaker and picture frame maker".  A carver and gilder would have "gilded" by pressing fine sheets of gold onto picture frames which needed decorative designs.  As he was not described as “master” it is more likely that he was employed.

A notice of his death appeared in the Cambridge Chronicle dated 22nd March 1862.  It said : "At Chesterton last week.  Very suddenly at Albert Street, Mr Thomas CLARE, carver & guilder age 54".  His death certificate says he died after 12 days of Typhoid Fever.

Around that time, death by typhoid was not uncommon and, in some cases, victims were locked up in isolation wards, mainly to protect those who were free of the disease.  Anyway, Thomas died and even though he had a wife and a number of children over 16, it was a MARION PRATT who reported his death and was described on the death certificate as being present at the death.  Marion was 53 years old and was born in Edinburgh.  She lived in Victoria Road, Chesterton which was the main road going through Chesterton and one of the small roads off it was Albert Street which was where the CLARE’s lived.  She was therefore probably a friend or neighbor of the CLARE’s but it doesn’t explain why no family members reported his death or why she was present at his death.  A possible reason could be that as typhoid was a pretty virulent disease, presumably there would have been a good chance that THOMAS was not the only family member who had caught it. Perhaps they were present at his death but just too ill to report it ?  But why would Marion risk being present ? She was still alive in 1871 so she didn't die from it.  My theory, as yet unproven, is that she was somehow related.

We now know that sanitation and hygiene are the critical preventative methods that can be taken to prevent typhoid. Typhoid does not affect animals and therefore transmission is only from human to human. Typhoid can only spread in environments where human feces or urine are able to come into contact with food or drinking water. Careful food preparation and washing of hands are crucial to preventing typhoid. In the 19th century many carriers of typhoid were locked into an isolation ward never to be released in order to prevent further typhoid cases. These people often deteriorated mentally, driven mad by the conditions they lived.  A vaccine against typhoid fever wasn't developed until WW2. 


Linked toThomas Clare; Lydia Sizer

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