"I get up always at six...my wife gets up after me...gets my breakfast ready at eight. It's coffee and bread and butter...she has dinner ready at one and that's coffee and bread and butter three days at least in the week, and that's finished in ten minutes too. Then I've tea, not coffee, for a change about five and I go to bed at ten without any supper - except Sundays - after sixteen hours labour, just with a few breaks, as I've told you."
In his book THE VICTORIAN UNDERWORLD, Donald Thomas tells us more about this same Shoreditch cabinet-maker "The total meal-breaks in this sixteen hour day were calculated at half to three quarters of an hour. Some craftsmen worked sixteen hours on Sundays as well but not this man. "I haven't the strength for it", he said simply. On Sundays, however, the diet of bread and butter, tea and coffee was varied a little "We have mostly half a bullock's head, which costs ten pence to one shilling. We have it boiled with an onion and a potato to it; or when we're hard up we have it without either for dinner, and warm it up for supper. There's some left for Monday sometimes but never very much." In the coldest months, obliged to provide heat and light for his work, the cabinet-maker found that even his modest domestic economy was eroded. There had been times "when we've had no butter to our bread and hardly a crumb of sugar to our coffee...The extra fire and candle in the winter takes our every farthing and more; and then we're forced to do without butter." His child, at five years old, was still too young to be put to workbut the time would soon come. She was just learning to read and attending Sunday school. "Children soon grow to be useful, that's one good thing," said the cabinet-maker philosophically.
We must remember that William was in the same trade as this man and living in exactly the same area so it is possible, even probable that William and Sarah's life was very similar. They raised their children in poverty.On 6 November 1840 Sarah gave birth to a daughter. Four years later the child was christened at St. Leonard's Shoreditch on the same day as her older brother Charles (who had been born in 1837). The girl was named Nancy Harriett Curtis. Twenty years later Nancy Harriett Curtis would marry the twenty-one year old Charles William Bayliss. She was my Great Grandmother - and Great Grandmother to all my Bayliss cousins of my generation.
Nancy Harriett Curtis probably taken
at the time of her wedding.