Our First Home
Before the month was finished I was longing to see my home in Claremont Rd., Birmingham. We had already taken this small house near the Rectory - a house with dining room, Drawing Room, study, 3 bed-rooms, bath - all for £26 a year.
And so the day came to return to our work at St Martin's. We found our house all wonderfully arranged with our furniture & wedding presents - all done by Tom Tirebuck, Connie and Mother. I did not realize how much they had done for me till I was older - what a pity - for they had been good; and yet I don't suppose I appeared very grateful. I was so proud of our possessions, our very own home, very slightly furnished, costing less than £200. Wedding presents were indeed a great help, and Mother gave me her piano, which helped to furnish the drawing room.
I had one maid (a very nice Kitchen). She stayed with me till after my first baby & we had moved to London. She had £7 a year, wore a servant cap & apron washed all her own clothes too. I can't remember her name. She was a Richard's Castle girl - she was later confirmed at St James' Hatcham under Rev E.J. Kennedy.
September passed quietly and happily, I getting experience in house-keeping (£1 a week at first); and very soon I knew that God was going to give us a precious gift. By early October I could not think what was wrong, I felt so sick & ill. I cried & went to see my sister Connie who by the way lived quite near; she already had 4 children She laughed and said I must not mind. All was well. So I tried, but I fear I was not so very brave in those days. I was specially upset by smells. The carpets, the curtains, everything smelt nasty to me.
My sister Connie and her bereavement
Then came October. I used to go almost every day to see Connie and the babies Ethel (4), Ellen (3), Gertrude (3) & Tom (8 months). What a handful! but how I loved them all, dear wee things, all so pretty.
And then, O tragedy! On Oct 22nd I ran in to them to take Ethel, just 4, a birthday present of a brush & comb all to herself. A charwoman met me at the door & said "Mr. Tirebuck is dead." It was enough to give me a miscarriage; the shock was so sudden. I fled upstairs to my poor sister. Words were not needed. We just cried together. He had overworked himself and had died from heart-failure at the age of 36.
Imagine all those children left, no money saved. A small insurance. The Living gone, the mother not able to earn her living with 4 tiny children. What could be done? My father came to the rescue & took them all to his home. He was then only 55 - and there they lived till the home was broken up years later.
The clergy and some rich laity were so touched by the tragedy that they collected £1,000 for the widow and children. The shock was great, but still I was well and strong and my dear one took such care of me. In December Will had a call to his father who was very ill. He was too late to see him alive. I think he felt it very much. He died on January 1st 1897 and was buried on January 5th. I fear at that time I did not realize how much he loved his father & felt his loss. We make many mistakes when we are young, and yet I loved him so much.
1897 Now we settled down to our quiet life in the Parish of St Martin's, Birmingham. The old Rector was an old man, so Willie did a lot of the work as senior curate, but the old man would preach himself though getting past it. The people would have liked to have the senior curate oftener. He was greatly respected and loved, only 33 years old.
In March came a change. The Rector decided to resign and retire. This put us at first sight in a fix. We had our house by the year.