Phoebe was born in Kexby, Lincolnshire (also known as Upton-cum-Kexby) in the registration district of Gainsborough. She was the youngest daughter of John and Kezia Leachman and possibly their only surviving child. Their first child Sarah Anne died in infancy, and after Phoebe’s birth I have found no further records of her parents. Sadly we would have to assume that they had both died when Phoebe was very young.
Whatever happened to Phoebe’s parents, she herself was living with her Leachman grandparents in 1851 when she was six years old. Phoebe’s grandmother died in 1853 and a year later her grandfather married a widow from York, Ann Drinkald. Presumably the new Mrs Leachman took charge of nine-year-old Phoebe.
In the 1861 census, 16-year-old Phoebe has been given a job with Ann’s family in York. The journey is about 90 km – nearly 60 miles in the terms of those days. Phoebe probably would be in a third-class carriage of the Great Northern Railway trains which connected Gainsborough and York. What an adventure!
Perhaps a bit too much of an adventure for young Phoebe. In 1867 she was back in Lincolnshire where gave birth to her son John. Was she, like the heroine of a Victorian novel, seduced by the master’s son and sent home, pregnant and “without a character”? Or was John really the son of Edward Kent, whom she would marry four years later? Did they have to wait till Edward was 21 before they could marry?
She may well have made her home with her Aunt Mary and her husband Samuel Blow at Stow-in-Lindsey, just 13 km from Gainsborough. Young John was baptised at Stow and at the time of the 1871 census he was living with the Blow family. Phoebe had managed to get another position as a domestic servant in Gainsborough.
After her marriage to Edward Kent, Phoebe was able to leave paid employment and have her son with her in Gainsborough. The 1881 census return describes thirteen-year-old John (born in Stow) as “son” to Edward and he is even using the name Kent.
Phoebe and Edward remained in Gainsborough where Edward worked as a labourer. They were married for twenty-three years until Phoebe’s death at the age of nearly eighty. Edward survived his wife by only one year: his name was remembered in those of Edward Barnabas Leachman and my own Uncle Eddie.
Mother of John Leachman VI and daughter of Kezia and John Leachman V
Born in Kexby and baptised on 24 August 1845 in Upton, Lincolnshire.
Single parent, married Edward Kent in 1871
Died June 1924