Catherine WatertonView full burial details
in the cemetery
CATHERINE WATERTON (NÉE FOWLER) (1863-1948)
Catherine was born in Little Gaddesden in 1863, the third of eight children born to labourer father, George Fowler and mother, Elizabeth Spicer. She was baptised at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in the village on 14 February 1869 with her brother, Charles Spicer and sister, Bessy.
Catherine spent her early years in Little Gaddesden and by 1871, the Fowlers were a family of nine consisting of Catherine, her parents, elder brother William Jesse, sister Mary Ann and younger siblings – Thomas George, Charles Spicer, Bessy and Edwin.
Over the next decade, the family moved just over the border to the hamlet of Ringshall, Buckinghamshire. It is here, in 1878, that the Fowler’s eighth and final child, Francis, was born.
In 1881 the family were still in Ringshall and their address is recorded as Top Row. By this time, Catherine had left school and followed in the footsteps of her mother and elder sister in becoming a straw plaiter. This was a common occupation, with many women of the household engaging their children in the art.
The chalky soil of the Chiltern Hills area was ideal for growing the tall thin straw for plaiting. The straw would go through various stages before even reaching the hands of a plaiter – from the farmer, the dealer, drawer, stripper, sorter, bleacher and so on, all preparing the straw for plaiting and eventual distribution to one of the centres to be made into hats or bonnets. Most likely, the straw Catherine and her family plaited would have been sent to a centre in Luton, Dunstable or St Albans.
In 1885 in Berkhamsted district, Catherine married Cornelius Waterton, son of Charles Waterton and Emma Thorn. The couple would soon welcome a daughter, Kate Mabel, who was born later that year.
Over the next six years the, for reasons currently unknown, the family find themselves living apart. At the time of the 1891 Census, Catherine is a Cook, Domestic Servant at 73 Barrowgate Road, Chiswick – the home of Thomas George Bond Howes, his wife Annie and their daughter, Marguerite. Thomas was a zoologist and a professor at the Royal College of Science (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bond_Howes). Cornelius appears to be absent from the family and their daughter, Kate Mabel, is living with her paternal grandparents in Berkhamsted High Street.
The family later reunited and began to grow with the arrival of their son Sidney in Islington in 1895. Two years after the birth of Sidney, another daughter joined the family, Leonora Bessie, on 01 July 1897 in St Albans. In 1901, Catherine, Cornelius and their children, including infant son, Francis Charles (born 03 September 1900), were residing at 75 Cecil Street, Watford. Cornelius was a gardener and likely moved around for work.
The family were to move again and the 1911 Census shows them living at 87 Shrublands Avenue, Berkhamsted. By this time, eldest daughter Kate had married and started a family of her own. Son Sidney was a grocer’s assistant and living in the family home with his parents and younger siblings, Leonora and Francis, who were attending school.
A tragic period followed with the death of Cornelius on 19 October 1915, leaving Catherine a widow. The following year the family received the devastating news that their beloved son and brother had died in the Great War. Sidney served in the 7th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and was killed in action in France on 27 September 1916. He is commemorated here at Rectory Lane and his name is inscribed on the Berkhamsted War Memorial.
Catherine lived through the Second World War and on the 1939 England and Wales Register, she is recorded as a pensioner and living at 47 Kitsbury Road, Berkhamsted with her granddaughter, Thora Emma Bessie Fisher (née Sterne), Thora’s husband Leonard G Fisher and their two children.
Less than a decade after the register was taken, Catherine died on 29 August 1948 in Hemel Hempstead.