There is a well known image of John Pounds, the inspiration behind the foundation of the Ragged Schools, showing him in his workshop, surrounded by the children he taught. There is little information about who these children were, but family tradition says that two of them were Ann Amelia Richman and her sister Georgina. They would have been around eight and five years old respectively and they lived a few doors away from John Pounds workshop in St. Mary's Street at the time the drawing was made.
The local Unitarian minister, Henry Hawkes, described St. Mary's Street in the 1830s in his 'Recollections of John Pounds' in less than glowing terms. He wrote, "... it was thronged with revolting sights of intemperance and bloated degradation - women of the grossest appearance, sitting on door-steps, or lounging about, lazy and gossiping; their voices and language - heart rending to hear; and their loud laugh of utter self-abandonment - men - haggard, dark-looking, wretched; smoking - as if from desperation - children scattered all about, in dirt and rags; some playing, but their very sports implying the saddest neglect and degradation"
Ann Amelia was born in 1830 in the parish of St. Thomas's in Portsmouth. She was the third child and eldest daughter of William Richman, who was born in 1804 in Lymington and Ann (nee Ray) whom William had married on 6th March 1825 at St. Mary's. Ann Ray had been born in 1804 in St. Mary's Parish and christened there on February 19th 1804. In 1830, William Richman's occupation is recorded as Tailor when the family were living St. Mary's Street, a few doors away from John Pounds workshop. Ann Amelia's siblings were William (b 1826), George (b 1827), Georgina (b 1833), Henry (b 1842), Alfred Benjamin (b 1843) and Frederic Walter (b 1847). Henry, Alfred and Frederick were all christened on 4th October 1850.
William Richman's father Charles was not a native of Portsmouth having been born in Fawley, Hampshire in 1773. Charles had married Elizabeth Wheeler who was born in 1773, also in Fawley, at Lymington, Hampshire, on 9th March 1797. Charles and Elizabeth must have moved to Portsmouth within a couple of years as seven of their eight children were christened in St. Mary's Church, Portsea. William was the fourth of their children.
Ann Amelia married George Morgan, a labourer, on December 25th 1850, in St. Mary's, Portsea, in 1851. It is stated that their address was Marlborough Street, Portsea, Portsmouth. George Morgan was born in 1824 in St. Thomas Parish, Portsmouth and christened on October 17th 1824 at St. Thomas Church. His occupation between 1851-1871 was General Dealer/Labourer. He and Ann Amelia are also recorded as living in 61 St. Mary Street, Portsmouth. In 1851 Ann's occupation was tailoress.
Ann Amelia and George had eight children. They were George Henry (b. 1852), Clara Ann (b. 1854 and christened on February 19th 1854), Albert Thomas (b. 1857 and christened on December 11th 1857), Thomas (b. 1858), Blanche Amelia (b. 1860), John David (b. 1867), William (b. December 19th 1869), Mary Ann Georgina (known as Georgina, b. 1872). All of Ann Amelia and George's children were probably born in 61 St. Mary Street. George Morgan died in June 1873 aged 48. Ann Amelia then married bachelor Henry Shill, a Cordwainer, on July 2nd 1873 in Alverstoke, Hampshire. Henry was born in 1828.
On the 1881 census Ann Amelia's address was still 61 St Mary Street, Portsmouth. Living with her and Henry Shill were her children John, William and Mary Ann.
On the 1891 census, Ann Amelia and Henry Shill (shoemaker) were living at 40 St. Mary Street with daughters Mary Ann and Blanche Amelia with Edith Charlotte Cockram a granddaughter aged 5 and a niece aged 9, Ann Amelia was aged 61 and no occupation was entered.
On the 1901 census Ann Amelia (widowed) was living at 31 Highbury Street (as St. Mary's Street had been re-named) with her son William, granddaughter Edith Charlotte Cockram, grandson George Cockram and granddaughter Beatrice. Her occupation was Wardrobe Dealer.
Henry Shill died in December 1896 aged 66 and Ann Amelia died in 1906.
Ann Amelia and George Morgan's fifth child, Blanche Amelia Morgan married William Joseph Berg Cockram on September 2nd 1880. He was born on March 23rd 1857 in Battery Row, Old Portsmouth. On the 1881 census it is noted that Blanche Amelia and William Joseph lived at 61 St. Mary Street and that Blanche Amelia was a Tailoress and William Joseph, tailor, had a shop in Grand Parade.
Blanche Amelia and William Joseph Berg Cockram had eight children; William (b. 1882), George (b. 1883), Annie Lydia (b. July 29th 1884; d. November 25th 1965, in Portsmouth), Edith Charlotte (b. July 18th 1886 in 24 St Mary Street, d. April 17th 1923 in Pitcroft Road, North End, in childbirth), Mabel (b. 1887; d. about 1974), Beatrice (b. 1888), Blanche (b. 1890 ) and Henry (Harry) (b. April 1st 1891).
Edith Charlotte Cockram married George James Coles on December 25th 1905 in The Unitarian Chapel, High Street Old Portsmouth. George James was born on February 5th 1876 in 47 Landport Street, Portsmouth. He was discharged from the Army in Lucknow, India in 1903. After leaving the army, George James became a labourer, at some period he working at the Hilsea Ordnance Depot.
Edith Charlotte and George James Coles had three sons; George William (b. October 10th 1906, d. July 2nd 1999), James Henry (b. December 13th 1919 at 10 Britannia Road, Southsea, d. July 2nd 2003) and Sidney Charles (b. April 17th 1923 at 41 Pitcroft Road North End, Portsmouth, d. November, 1996).
Edith Charlotte went regularly to The Unitarian Chapel, with her sisters Annie and Mabel, taking her eldest son George William with them. George often told how he pumped the organ at the services in the Chapel. As the organ was on a balcony, he would often look out of the window and see the Boy's Band from The Garrison Church in Old Portsmouth, march past and forget to pump the organ, it would stop in the middle of a hymn and he would have to quickly start pumping again. Edith died in childbirth giving birth to Sidney Charles at Pitcroft Road, North End, on April 17th 1923. George James died in Pitcroft Road in 1933.
George William Coles attended The Beneficial School in Kent Street Portsea, Portsmouth, and on leaving school became a delivery boy for Pinks Grocers, which he did on a pushbike. George and his mother Edith Charlotte were very close, both played the piano and would often play duets together. George later became a carpenter and worked as a shop and pub fitter. At one pub he worked at, it was very hot one day, the owner asked if he would like a drink, "yes please" replied George - thinking he would be given glass of beer - he was disappointed when given a glass of water.
George loved ballroom dancing and met Lilian (Lily) Maud Cosier at a St. Patrick's Night dance. Lily was born on March 20th 1910 the second of four daughters. George married Lily on May 12th 1934. Lily suffered with very bad nerves and depression, which started at the age of fourteen, when arriving home from school one day, her father was being put into an ambulance as he had committed suicide by tying himself to the bed in some way. Lily committed suicide herself on July 22nd 1941. George and Lilian Coles had two children, Patricia Edith Lilian (b. January 14th 1936) and Gillian Dorothy (b. July 13th 1937). Three years after Lily died George William married for the second time, to Dorothy (Dolly) Esther Cosier, Lily's youngest sister, on December 23rd 1944 at St. Marks Church, North End. George William and Dorothy Esther Coles had one child, Wendy Anne (b. August 27th 1945).
Patricia Edith Lilian Coles married Richard (Rickey) Cavendish Isted on May 28th 1983 in John Pounds Memorial Church, High Street, Old Portsmouth. Rickey was born on February 7th 1934 in Portsmouth. Patricia collated the research on her family tree carried out by cousins Anne which is the basis for this article.
Published here by kind permission of Pat Isted and her cousins