|The Hirdle Family
Edward senior, wife Fanny, son Edward junior and daughter Caroline,
All of whom had a job with the North London Railway
|Edward Hirdle Senior
He was born in Apsley, Bedfordshire, the son of a carpenter, somewhere between 1825 (according to his death certificate, aged forty-four when he died in 1869) and 1831 (at the 1861 Census). He had moved to Middlesex by the 24th September 1849. That was the day he married Miss Fanny Morgan, who was a couple of years younger than him, in St Dunstan and All Saints’ Church, Stepney. They had six daughters (Elizabeth, Caroline, Antoinette, Fanny, Louisa and Emma) and just one son (Edward).
|Edward had two stints with the NLR. It has been difficult to pin down dates for the first one. When his first child, Elizabeth, was baptised on the 13th July 1851 he was a gardener and when his second child, Caroline, was baptised on the Feast of the Circumcision 1854 he was a railway porter. As the family were living in Kingsland it implies he was serving with the NLR. He re-joined the NLR in April 1856 making the period he was away a maximum of two years. His first post on returning was as a porter at Victoria Park, with a weekly wage of eighteen shillings. He remained a porter for eight years until St George’s Day 1864, when he was promoted to ticket examiner, Hackney, getting two shillings a week more. His second and last promotion was foreman porter, also at Hackney, bringing up his pay to twenty-one shillings, which was then a guinea and at the time of writing was one pound and five pence. He did not progress further. After a period of up to two years of suffering phthisis, during any time he was off sick he would not have received any pay, he died at home on the 3rd May 1869, leaving his family destitute.|
|Fanny Hirdle (née Morgan)
Consequent upon Edward Senior’s long illness and death, his family were really suffering extreme destitution. The Company placed five pounds at the disposal of Mr James Hitch, the Traffic Superintendent, for the benefit of the family pending arrangements for employment of the widow at one of the stations. Fanny Morgan was born about 1833 in Surrey.
|In view of her poverty, Fanny would have started work shortly after her husband’s death in 1869. She became a charwoman at Camden, where she stayed for all of her service. Her pay was sixteen shillings. In January 1871 she received her one and only pay rise, which was four shillings, taking her pay to a pound a week. That was to last until she died. For four years, from 1883 she was helped by her daughter Caroline, by then also a NLR widow, until 1887 when she remarried. Just for the record: in February 1895 Fanny damaged one of her wrists at work. When she died on the 22nd September 1899 she had been a widow and a charwoman at Camden for thirty years.|
|Edward Hirdle Junior
Edward Junior was born in the spring of 1858. His parents were pretty lax about baptising their younger children. In the parish church of West Hackney on the 22nd November 1868, he, then aged ten, and elder sister, Antionette, then aged twelve, and two younger sisters, Fanny six, and Louisa two, were baptised.
|About a year after his father had died, twelve years old Edward joined the NLR in the summer of 1870 as a ticket sorter in the Accountant’s Department at Camden Road, on six shillings a week, which after a year was upped by a couple of shillings. A year later when his next pay rise of two bob came along he was made a messenger. For his next increase he had to wait three years, early 1875, when he received a fifty percent rise from ten to fifteen shillings. By the time he transferred to the Traffic Department he was receiving twenty shillings. This he did on the 27th January 1879 and became an under-guard with a further increase of half a crown (2s 6d = 12.5p). In eight and a half years he had received six pay rises. Then, nearly a year later, came the crunch. On New Year’s Day 1880 he ceased being an under-guard and became a ticket collector due to ill-health. He died at the relatively early age of twenty-three on the 3rd April 1881 from phthisis exhaustion. This was also the day of the 1881 census: he died at home, 46 Bloomfield Street, Hackney, but he is not shown on the census form. His younger sister, Fanny then in her late teens, who was with him when he died, is shown.|
|Caroline Chitty (née Hirdle)
Caroline was born at the back end of 1853 and baptised on the 1st January 1854 in the parish church of St Matthias, Stoke Newington, not having to wait years as did her younger siblings. When she was twenty-three she married William Chitty, a NLR guard: it was a marriage of a stationmaster’s son and a railway porter’s daughter. Just after their fifth wedding anniversary in 1882 William died leaving his widow with their two children, Agnes and William.
|As her mother before her, on becoming a NLR widow Caroline was given a job as a charwoman at Camden Town. She started on 22nd September 1883 and her pay, which remained unchanged during her service, was ten shillings and six pence a week. Whether it was a good or bad thing for mother and daughter working together, we will probably never know, but she stuck it out for four years. She then upped-sticks and married a labourer, James Halsey. He also brought a girl and a boy into the marriage, and between them they had a son. Caroline lived on until she was ninety, dying in 1944.|
Antoinette Hirdle, Edward and Fanny’s third daughter, married a John Halmkan, who became a signalman on the NLR but that is another story.
with help from Reverend Graham Ricketts
|Edward Hirdle Snr
RAIL 529/132 Folio 38.
RAIL 529/43, 1 Jun 1869, Loco Com Min 717.
RAIL 529/43, 4 May 1869, Loco Com Min 688 (actually states “extreme destitution”)
|Fanny Hirdle (née Morgan)
RAIL 529/134/662 Folio 225.
RAIL 529/43, 4 May 1869, Loco Com Min 688.
RAIL 529/44 3 Jan 1871, Loco Com Min 1131.
RAIL 529/58, 3 Apr 1895, Loco Com Min 9505.
RAIL 529/60 1 Nov 1899, Loco Com Min 10925.
|Caroline Chitty (née Hirdle)
RAIL 529/134/375 Folio 123.
RAIL 529/51, 9 Oct 1883, Loco Com Min 5245.
RAIL 529/53 1 Feb 1888, Loco Com Min 6796.
|Edward Hirdle Jnr
RAIL 529/133 Folio 126.
RAIL 529/78 29 Jun 1870, FGW Com Min 590.
RAIL 529/78 5 Jul 1871, FGW Com Min 718.
RAIL 529/45 4 Jun 1872, Loco Com Mins 1531.
RAIL 529/78 3 Mar 1875, FGW Com Min 1067.
RAIL 529/78 1 Mar 1876, FGW Com Min 1144.
RAIL 529/48 3 Jul 1877, Loco Com Min 3055.
RAIL 529/49 4 Feb 1879, Loco Com Min 3633.
RAIL 529/49 3 Feb 1880, Loco Com Min 3968.
RAIL 529/50 3 May 1881, Loco Com Min 4399.
|Births, Marriages and Deaths
General Register Office series of certificates and census returns; and London Metropolitan Archives holdings of Church of England registers, available through ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.co.uk. Caroline’s baptism: I have checked the few pages of baptismal records that I have and no others show Church of England feast days. Her entry just states ‘circumcision’ above the date and was the only one of sixteen on two pages signed by the curate, could this have been a young curate in the 1850’s showing his type of humour?