Esther Geary Andrews
Esther Geary AndrewsView full burial details
in the cemetery
Plot x195: Esther Geary Andrews died 23rd June 1892 aged 64. Mary Ann her daughter, died 8th June 1922 aged 73.
The Geary-Andrews story begins at St Peter’s Church, Berkhamsted on 8th February 1780, when Daniel Andrews married Sarah Geary, by licence. The Geary family were butchers in the town and had property in both St Peter’s parish and Northchurch.
Daniel and Sarah had four children baptised at St Peter’s:
1) Joseph baptised on 11th April 1782
2) Mary baptised on 27th April 1783
3) Joseph Geary baptised on 20th November 1785
4) John Geary born in 1787, but baptised on 13rd June 1791
Only Joseph Geary and John Geary appear to have survived into adulthood.
Joseph Geary Andrews married Anne Clark, from Newport Pagnell, at St Peter’s Church on 21st January 1812. In the following years Joseph and Anne had seven children baptised at St Peter’s including Esther.
1) Daniel Geary Andrews baptised on 3rd October 1813
2) Mary Geary Andrews baptised on 5th December 1815
3) Joseph Geary Andrews baptised on 23 October 1818
4) Noah Geary Andrews baptised on 20th May 1821
5) Thomas Geary Andrews baptised on 12th September 1824
6) Esther Geary Andrews baptised on 28th September 1828
7) William Geary Andrews baptised on 13th December 1831 and buried on 22nd December 1832.
8) Sarah Geary Andrews born about 1837, appears in the census as their daughter, but does not seem to have been baptised in Berkhamsted.
On the 10th March 1822 Mr Joseph Geary, brother to Sarah Geary, was buried at the Berkhamsted Baptist Church.
Berkhamsted’s Baptist Church dates from at least 1640 and is amongst the oldest in the denomination. A Representative of the Church attended the General Baptist Assemblies held in London in 1654 and 1656 and by 1676 the congregation had at least 100 members. Until 1722 the Berkhamsted Baptists held their meetings on the private properties of members. In 1722, however, a site in Water Lane, Berkhamsted, was purchased and a meeting house built which, later enlarged, remained in use until 1864 when it was demolished and a new chapel built in the High Street.
Joseph’s will which was proved on 30th April 1822 would have made a significant difference to the lives of Esther’s parents. Joseph Geary’s will stated the following:
I give bequeath and devise unto my nephew Joseph Geary Andrews of the Parish of Berkhampstead Saint Peter, Butcher, all my freehold Estate known by the name of the Cross in the Oak Farm with all the appurtenances thereunto belong belonging, now in the occupation of William Geary, part of which is in the Parish of Berkhampstead St Mary…six acres of land more or less, freehold late belonging to Thomas Dorrien junr Esq. also five acres of freehold Land adjoining late belonging to Thomas Dorrien senr Esq. also three acres of freehold land adjoining late belonging to John Duncombe Esq. Also eight acres of freehold Land more or less called Partridge Close all adjoining Gilhams Lane Berkhamstead, also eight acres of freehold Land more or less called Doctors Commons near to Gilham Lane, also seven acres more or less near Berkhamstead Church in the same Common adjoining the Workhouse field, also two freehold estates known by the name of Kitts end Bury, late Samuel Chappels, for his sole use and benefit on condition that he pay to his brother John Geary Andrews of Berkhamstead St Peter, Baker, the sum of eight shillings per week during his natural life.
The Geary Andrews family appears to have a number of its men-folk die as bachelors, leaving their estate to their nieces and nephews. This inheritance meant that Esther’s father, Joseph Geary Andrews, was now a considerable landowner in the town, being both a butcher and farmer.
In 1841 Joseph and Ann Geary-Andrews were living in the High Street next door to the Workhouse. Living with them were their children Noah, Thomas, Esther and Sarah. Their neighbour in the High Street was their eldest son, Daniel and his family, whilst their second son Joseph and his wife Mary Ann, lived just two doors further away. Before the year’s end Esther’s brother Joseph died in Berkhamsted. The following year, Esther’s unmarried brother Noah, died leaving a will that bequeathed all his money and estate to their mother Anne.
On 28th May 1846, at the age of 18, Esther gave birth to a daughter, Ellen Geary Andrews. She was probably born in the High Street and Esther registered her daughter’s birth on 26th June. There was no mention of any father on the birth certificate.
Less than a year later, on 3rd April 1847 Esther’s bachelor Uncle, John Geary Andrews made his will. In it he wrote “I devise and bequeath unto my nephews and nieces Daniel Geary Andrews, Thomas Geary Andrews, Mary the wife of Henry Waller, Esther Geary Andrews and Sarah Geary Andrews, all and singular my funded property in equal portions or shares, to and for their his or her own and sole property without any reservation.”
The bequests John made to his nieces and nephews came with no age restriction for receiving their inheritance. For 19-year-old Esther, with a baby to raise, this income would have been helpful allowing her to set-up her own home.
Although the Geary Andrews family had their children baptised at St Peter’s Church, they also had links to the Baptist Chapel, which seem to have remained throughout the 1800’s. Esther’s Uncle, Mr John Geary Andrews, was buried at Berkhamsted Baptist Chapel on 7th June 1847.
Esther appears to have been an independently minded young woman, who seemed more than content to live as a single mother. Two years later, and still unmarried, Esther had another daughter, Mary Ann Geary Andrews.
In 1851 Esther was living in the High Street, with her two young daughters, working as a dress maker. She was in her own household, earning enough as a dressmaker to support herself and her daughters, with her inheritance to supplement her income.
In June 1854 Esther’s father, Joseph Geary Andrews, died, and was buried at the Baptist church on 28th June 1854. Her father’s will would have had a significant impact on Esther’s life, as this extract shows:
I give and bequeath unto my daughter Esther Geary Andrews upon trust one fourth part of the Cross the Oak Farm with one fourth part of three thousand pounds Bank stock standing in my name with one hundred pounds out of the four hundred that my son Daniel owes me, with the cottage now let to Joseph Butterfield at the West End of Berkhampstead St Peters… and my will is that my daughter Esther’s shares shall be put out to interest for her to receive it weekly forever for her own use during her natural life and from and after her decease her share shall be equally divided between her children, share and share alike.
Esther was now a lady of property with an income which would have made her life considerably more comfortable. In 1861 she was still living in the High Street with her daughters, Ellen and Mary Ann, whom she appears to have taught to follow in her trade, as they both stated that they were also dressmakers. Esther had also taken in a lodger, another unmarried mother, Eliza Tomlin, a bonnet sewer from Great Gaddesden with an infant daughter Caroline.
By remaining single Esther was actually being very astute. The Married Women’s Property Act 1882, enabled married women to be capable of holding and disposing by will or otherwise, of any real or personal property as her separate property, in the same manner as if she were a feme sole, without the intervention of any trustee. Before that date anything a woman owned automatically became her husband’s property upon marriage. By remaining single Emma was able to manage her affairs with no interference.
The 1860’s was a very busy period in the family life of Esther, full of highs and lows. On 7th June 1862 Esther’s 16-year-old daughter, Ellen, gave birth to a baby girl Ellen Georgina Geary Andrews, born in Berkhamsted High Street. Esther was now a grandmother at the age of just 34. Yet again no father was named on the birth certificate and Esther herself registered her grand-daughter on 16th July 1862. There was a reason for the late registration of her baby grand-daughter. On 25th June 1862, just 18 days after the birth of her daughter, Ellen Geary Andrews died. Her death certificate states that Ellen died of puerperal peritonitis. This was one of the postpartum infections, which at the time might have been called “Childbed Fever”. It could be that having a baby so young might have made Ellen more vulnerable to acquiring an infection after her daughter’s birth, or it could have just been the hygiene standards of the time.
The informant of Ellen’s death was their next-door-neighbour in the High Street, Esther Nash, wife of Joseph Nash, blacksmith. Having Esther Nash as a neighbour was probably extremely fortuitous for Esther Geary Andrews, who besides having to maintain a home and work, now had an orphaned two-week-old grand-daughter to feed. In 1862 Esther Nash had six children aged from eleven to two-year-old, and baby Ellen would have needed a wet-nurse to ensure her survival.
On 3rd June 1867 Esther’s widowed mother, Ann, died and was buried at the Baptist Chapel on 8th June. Esther’s eldest brother Daniel administered their mother’s effects, as she died without a will. In the 1871 census Daniel called himself an “Owner of Cottages and Property”, and so as well as being Esther’s eldest sibling, being a property owner would have made him ideally placed as the administrator of his mother’s estate.
On 4th November 1869 Esther’s second grand-daughter, Florence Mayne Geary Andrews was born in Berkhamsted High Street. Her birth certificate states that she was the daughter of Mary Ann Geary Andrews (Esther’s youngest daughter) and Charles Mayne, tailor.
Charles Mayne, the son of John Mayne, tailor and draper of Berkhamsted High Street, had been baptised on 17 Mar 1843 at Winslow in Buckinghamshire. His father appears to have moved to Berkhamsted sometime between 1847 and 1850. On 7th April 1861 Charles Mayne was a servant living with James Lucas, tailor, at Charmdys Place in the St Ebbe’s district of Oxford, probably gaining more experience in the tailoring trade. With Esther and Mary Ann both being dressmakers and John Mayne being a draper in the High Street, it is very likely that Charles and Mary Anne’s relationship blossomed from a professional association.
The strange part is that although both Charles Mayne and Mary Ann Geary Andrews were single and living in the High Street, Berkhamsted in 1871, they never married. Their relationship appears to have spanned a number of years as Mary Ann had a second daughter, Rosetta Mayne Geary Andrews in 1872.
The Geary Andrews family seem to have been very close. In 1871 Esther was still living in the High Street, one house away from her widowed sister, Mary Waller. Just one household away from Mary was their brother, Thomas Geary Andrews, who stated that he was a retired farmer living at Kitts Endbury, with Mary’s son Walter Waller. Their eldest brother, Daniel, was also in the High Street, just one house away from his eldest son James Geary-Andrews.
As well as showing how close the Geary-Andrews family were, the 1871 census also shows that despite being orphaned at just two-weeks old, Esther’s eldest grand-daughter Ellen Georgina survived. This meant that in 1881 Esther’s household consisted of herself, her daughter Mary Ann and three grand-daughters, Ellen Georgina, Florence and Rosetta.
The following year this changed as Esther’s grand-daughter, Ellen married a local carpenter, Fred Pearce. Their eldest child, Maud was baptised at St Peters on 9th September 1883. She was followed by Grace in 1885, Fred Francis in 1887, Cecilia Violet in 1889, Leonard Owen in 1892 and Ellen Grace in 1894. The Pearce family did not move far, living in Cross Oak Road, on land that the Geary Andrews had probably owned 60 years earlier.
By 1891 Esther appears to have put on an air of respectability. She had moved from the High Street to Charles Street, with her daughter Mary Ann and grand-daughter Florence Mayne, and now the census entry has her listed as a widow living on her own means.
At the time of her death at age 64, Esther had a daughter, two known surviving grand-daughters, and five great-grandchildren. She appears to have been a woman of great strength who raised her daughters and grand-daughters single-handedly.