Mary Ann Ward was the daughter of a fisherman/fishmonger. She grew up with four sisters and one brother in Hingham, a small market town in the centre of Norfolk. Their next-door neighbours on both sides were also called Ward and possibly were related. If so, there were nineteen people in the extended family. I think two of them, William and Emma, were witnesses to Mary Ann’s marriage.
When Mary Ann married Joseph Johnson, she exchanged the life of a rural town, surrounded by her family and close to her parents, for that of a travelling hawker. They moved around the country, staying only for a couple of years in any one place. Their lodgings don’t seem to have been very salubrious, either – in Gravesend they lived in “Market Alley”.
She gave birth to William in Hingham, Emma in Canterbury, Mary in Maidstone, Joseph in Bishops’ Stortford, Milly and Elizabeth in Gravesend, and Ada Ruth in Newark. There could not have been a greater contrast to the stable family home in Piggs’ Cottages, Hingham.
By the 1881 census Mary Ann and her husband had five of their children with them at Crowle in Lincolnshire. William (our ancestor), aged 17, and Mary, aged 13 were not there. In fact I have found no trace of them anywhere in the 1881 census. However, I do know that both they and their sister Emma were all married within the next ten years to people living in Cavendish Square, where my father would later be born! Cavendish Square was a sort of urban reproduction of the close-knit Hingham community where Mary Ann was brought up.
Mary Ann died in Crowle and was buried just a few months after the 1881 census. I have not found a burial record for her husband Joseph, but we know he was still alive when Mary married Tom Bryan in 1890. A year later Ada Ruth, aged 11, is with the Bryans in Chesterfield on census night. This may indicate that she was living with them after Joseph’s death, or perhaps he was still on the road ….
Baptised Mary Ann Ward on 9 March 1845
Married Joseph Johnson on 21 April 1862
Buried 11 June 1881