It had been difficult finding out anything about my grandfather: it was as if he hadn't existed prior to meeting and marrying my grandmother. I needed to get a birth certificate but I didn't know where he had been born, and searches came up with plenty of Edward Lewises all over England born in the same time frame. I had even tried searching for his brothers, but Lewis was a common enough surname and Edward, William, and John were very common first names. Twice I tracked families with boys named those names, with a father named John, and it ended up being nothing to do with MY Lewis line at all.
Finally, I found out he had been registered in Bethnal Green, so after ten years of looking, I was able to send for his birth certificate. Using information on that, I managed to find birth information on both his parents, and their marriage. In the 1901 census I found them as a young married couple, and then I was able to find birth information for my grandfather's sister, my great aunt Tilly.
I am now looking into finding the locations of the addresses, and whether they still exist today or were lost in post-war development.
Sadly, in discovering more about my granpop's mother, I found out that her father died at the age of only 35, only a few weeks after she was conceived, and may never have known he was going to be a father again. His is the first incidence of high blood pressure and stroke that I have found so far back.
Matilda grew up around the Old Nichol area of Bethnal Green, which was a notorious slum, and was in school at the age of 2. Further research on the subject implies this was more of a day care situation for poor children, within the main school building (the school still exists today).
In the Old Nichol, at the time, only 1 in 4 children made it to the age of 5. I am thankful she was a survivor,
My grandfather's mother Matilda Eliza Burton
I've found, so far:
Birth of Matilda Eliza Burton September 1880
Bethnal Green Vol 1c Page 164
I found her as a 10 month old child, daughter of the head of household, in the 1881 census, living at 11 Godfreys Place in the parish of St. Matthew, in London. She had three older brothers, and oddly enough, her mother was listed as head of household; her name was also Matilda.
John Lewis and Matilda Lewis
John Lewis married Matilda Eliza Burton June 1898
Bethnal Green Vol 1c Page 360.
I found them living at 35 Casterton Street, Hackney in the 1901 census. John was 23 and then working as a piano fitter, Matilda was then 21.
I found a birth of Matilda Lewis September 1901
Bethnal Green Vol 1c Page 175
October 24th 2011 update: I found info for the 1911 census online and was able to locate entries for the family.
So, from the census we find:
John Lewis 33
Matilda Lewis 30
Matilda (Aunt Tilly) 9
Lillian (Aunt Lilly) 7 so assuming born in 1904
John 4 assuming born in 1907
William 6 months so born in 1910 as census was taken in April 1911
Address was 29 Millers Avenue, Arcola Street, Hackney
Am now researching whether the gated passageway between currently existing buildings (as seen on a google street level shot) was the original Miller's Avenue and if so, if I can get pictures of the frontage of the dwelling.