I wrote about Ada Whybrew when I listed the fourteen children of David and Susan Whybrew back in 2014. Ada was the youngest child in the family, of those who survived infancy. At that time I didn't know much about her. But thanks to the information sent to me by the same family member who provided the photo of Susan, I can now fill in some of the details.
|Ada with Joseph Metson, |
probably around the time of their marriage
Ada Louisa Whybrew was born to Susan in July 1895, when her oldest sisters, Harriet and Eliza (my great grandmother) were already into their late twenties and married. Susan had one further child after Ada, named Lily, but she died within a few weeks of her birth in 1896.
So Ada was effectively the youngest child in the family for most of her life. As she grew older, she seems to have been close to her sister Ellen (Nell) who was five years older than Ada.
Her parents were living in Colchester when Ada was born. Her father David had retired from the army and was working as a watchman. Ada was baptised at St Botolph's church in Colchester on 1 September 1895. She seems to have been the only girl in the family to have been given a second name. Possibly she was named after David's half sister Louisa.
With David retired and settled, and most of her siblings grown up and left, her life was very different to that of Harriet, Eliza and her other sisters and brothers, who had grown up during David's army days.
In later life, Ada recalled her father David being very strict but fair, wanting the best for his family. He didn't like his daughters to go to dances, so Ada would hide her dancing shoes under a hedge.
She also told the story of how, when she was fourteen, she went to work in Cambridge, helping Bill with his fish and chip shop. (Possibly this was her older brother, Bill Whybrew, who was living in Cambridge at this time, although the 1911 census described his occupation as a "carman" for a mineral water company.) She did all the chores around the shop.
Apparently Susan, her mother, visited to see how she was getting on. When she saw Ada carrying heavy buckets of dripping in the street, she said: “Put that down!” She took Ada back to the shop, told her to put her coat on and took her home to Colchester. This story is somewhat apocryphal, but it would certainly be in keeping with Susan's character.
Like many of the girls in Colchester, Ada liked to visit the barracks to see the soldiers, and that was where she met her husband, Joseph William Metson. She and Joe married in May 1913, when she was seventeen and he was twenty-four
After the birth of their first daughter, Florence, in 1914, they planned to go to India. They had their papers signed and themselves vaccinated, ready to go. But war broke out and Joe was sent to fight. He was injured in the heel, and then, after returning into service, suffered a hand injury that put him out of action for the rest of the war. According to the records, he was formally discharged in September 1916.
Ada and Joseph's second child, named Joseph William after his father, was born in Colchester in the same month, September 1916. Joe senior was unable to find work in Colchester, so they moved to Islington in London, where he worked as a caretaker at a school. Their third child, Violet, was born there in 1919.
The war was still on when they moved to the school. Islington was a target for air-raids by zeppelins. During the raids, everyone in the street would come to the school and shelter in the hall. Ada would play the piano while the raids were on and everyone else would sing.
After Joe was diagnosed with TB, they had to leave the school. Joe died in 1935. For many years Ada lived with her daughter Florrie and her husband. She died in 1980, at the age of 85, while on holiday with her son Joseph, in Devon.
She is remembered as being short, soft and pretty, someone who was kind but strong. She was always smiling and happy and had a great sense of humour.