Remembering my ancestor, King’s College Hopsital nurse Lillian

When I read the article about King’s College Hospital on Dulwich OnView. I was delighted to share a photo of my grandfather’s cousin, Lillian. The photo was taken in 1911 when she was nursing in Kings College on the Portugal Street site.

Lilian was my grandfather’s cousin. My great grandfather had two sisters, the elder born in 1858 and the younger in 1863.

Lilian James 1911The family lived in Southwark, in Waterloo Road at the time of Harriet’s birth and in Church Street Lambeth by the time Alice was born.

Harriet married in 1881 and her eldest daughter was born the same year. Lilian was her second child, born in 1884. Harriet and her husband went on to have five more children.

When Lilian was eleven, just a few days after her birthday, her mother died. Within six months Lilian’s father had married his sister-in-law Alice. The Marriage Act of 1836 had made this kind of union unlawful and it would not be until the passing of the Deceased Wife’s Sister’s Act of 1907 that this would change. It would seem that these marriages occurred quite often but the authorities did nothing about them.

Lilian’s father and stepmother/aunt went to live in Cambridgeshire and some of the first family went with them.

The Kings College School of Nursing was established in 1885 and by 1901 Lilian was doing her training.

The 1911 census shows her working at Kings College Hospital at Portugal Street. Lilian knew that nurses were supposed not to marry although some did and kept it secret. The nurses lived in hospital accommodation, and were responsible to the Matron, not just for their standard of work, but also for their personal cleanliness and suitability of their off duty attire, and the hours they could keep.

Lilian nursed throughout world war one and then in 1920 decided to go to Canada to see one of her sisters who had emigrated. The records show that Lilian was a Nursing Sister and intended to live and work in Canada. However by 1921 she was back in the UK.

At the end of June that year she married. Her husband was a widower, a Master Baker with his own company, and the father of two young sons. Lilian gave birth to two daughters during the next two years.

In 1937 Lilian died aged just 53 years, so her husband was a widower for the second time and again left with two young children to bring up.


About this article

Beryl Chandler

About Beryl Chandler

Grew up in Dulwich. Went to school in the village and then to Honor Oak Girls School. Worked in Essex for Barnardos, in London in the Leather Trade. Married and moved away. Worked in the Electronics, Computer, Building Services Industries and lastly in the Funeral profession. Brought up four children, voluntary work in the Playgroup Association and then in the National Association for Primary Education. Spent several years travelling around the country speaking to groups of teachers and parents about primary education. Now retired.
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