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My grandmother, Rose Poyser, was born on 9th January 1908, to Samuel Poyser and his wife, Mary Ann (known as Polly) née Hunt, in the West Ham district of London. She was one of 5 children, with sisters Ivy, Lily and Alice, and brother Harry.

She was christened in St. Lukes Church in Canning Town, (known as "the Cathedral of Canning Town") on 7th February 1908.


Me and my nan, 1962



Memories of my nan
Her father, Samuel, was the youngest of 9 children. He was a wheelwright who made the wheels for the barrow boys at the Rathbone Street Market, and also (so I was told as a child) for the old Romany caravans.

He died of a heart attack ( 17th October 1955) when I was only a few months old and is buried in East London Cemetery in Plaistow, alongside his wife.


Samuel Poyser, my nan's father, my great-grandfather

Her mother,Mary Ann Hunt, was one of eight children, her siblings being Kate, Nellie, Maggie, Tillie, Charlotte, Charlie and Danny. Known as Polly (in the way that Mary Ann's were in those days ) she died on 16th September 1936, aged 50. Family talk has it that she was Romany gypsy, and I am pursuing that line of enquiry at the moment, attempting to find out more.

Her father was Charles Hunt, and he apparently owned some kind of a pet shop over on Hallsville Road in Canning Town, next to Cribbs the undertakers. Later on he moved his business to Rathbone Street.

My nan always spoke of her schooldays as being the best days of her life. Her sister (through her son, Albert) has said that she went to school at St. Lukes Church of England School, and I am now trying to see what records I may be able to gain access to.

I am not sure at what age she finished school, but after leaving, she worked for a company known as Achille Serre's (pronounced Ashley Sears) which was a chain of cleaners at the time, and (so I have been told) having green vans with gold lettering on them, for delivering the clean laundry to the customers. They had a factory on Blackhorse Lane, in Walthamstow, which apparently had 1700 employees at one time. I am trying to locate a picture of the factory.


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I had believed this is where she met my grandfather, Edward Lewis, who she married on the 25th April 1936 at Holy Trinity Church in Canning Town, as on the marriage certificate it shows my grandfather's occupation as wet cleaner. She was 28, he 23. I remember her telling me, as a child, that he "pursued" her and "wouldn't take no for an answer", and my great-Aunt Ivy, her sister has since confirmed this is, indeed, where they met.

She also passed on information that it was my grandmother's aunt, Daisy, who worked there first and got my grandmother the job, and that later on she also joined them.

My nan gave birth to two daughters, Sylvia, my mother, in December of 1937, and Irene in May of 1940, but then was evacuated out of London to the village of Horringer, near Bury St. Edmunds, on the Ickworth Estate owned by the Marquess of Bristol.

Apparently, they were evacuated from Granville Buildings on Luke Street in Shoreditch, and shortly afterwards it was hit by bombs. I'm trying to see if I can find any newspaper reports about it.

In Horringer, the family stayed with a Mrs Frost, and her family. As a child, I remember going to Horringer to meet them. My nan also told me stories of walking across the park with my mum and aunt as young children, and apparently getting caught in a storm one time.

My mum's cousin, Albert, and my Aunt Irene remember seeing a crippled plane trying to make it back to land, with smoke and flames streaming from its bullet-riddled frame somwehere near Chippenham in Newmarket.

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Photographs of my grandparents and great-grandparents graves can be seen here. The inscriptions on my great-grandparents grave are beautiful, yet poignant at the same time. A lady whose brother, Will, married my nan's sister, Ivy, remembers Polly dying at home, suddenly.


Poyser Family History

The Poyser family history thus far goes back to 1817, to Henry Poyser - a sawyer (a man who took timber, and made boards) - who married Hannah, born in 1816. We believe he had 5 children.

They are listed in the 1871 census (RG101632 pg 18/31) living at 19 Wilberforce Street. This shows:
Henry Poyser aged 54, no occupation, North Jarrow/Harrow
Hannah............55.................Newham
Jane..............23.................Hull
Joseph............14.................Canning Town

At 18 Wilberforce Street is:
George Poyser 20 Labourer in union trade Newham, London

Other children included William for whom we have no birthdate but who died before 1881. George who was born in 1851, and Matthew John born approx 1847, who is my great-great-grandfather (Samuel's father).

Matthew John married Emily Burghum at All Saints Church in west Ham, on 24 March 1872. Matthew lists his occupation as sawyer, and signed the register as M. John Poyser, so we don't know whether he was known to the family as John. He is reported to have died around 1893, but on the 1914 marriage certificate of a son, David, he is not shown as deceased, so we are not sure about this

The 1881 census lists the following living at Blenhaim Cottages, Forty Acre Lane:
Matthew J Poyser aged 34 Sawyer Hull Yorks
Emily..................33..........Bristol
Elizabeth...............8..........Canning Town
Emily...................6..........Canning Town
Henry...................4..........Canning town
Minnie..................1..........Canning Town
Family memory states they lived in Wilberforce Street early in their married life (listed with Henry Poyser in the 1881 census) and moved to Lansdowne Road later, although whether Emily moved there before or after Matthew died is uncertain.

The Poyser/Burghum families seem to have quite a history with Wilberforce Street, as there are references from the 1860's to the 1901 census.

Although mistakenly listed as Poyson, it shows Emily living at 41 Wilberforce Street, aged 52, and being widowed.
Henry aged 20, listed as a holder up for a boiler rivotter
Minnie.....21
John.......18.............a painter of ships
Sam........15.............carrier for rivotter at the Iron Works
David......13
Daisy.......8

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(A note from Louise whose great-grandfather, Henry was my great-grandfather, Sam's brother, states that they all seemed to work at the Iron Works.)

I am currently attempting to find out more about this street but have been told that it lay at the back of the old Rathbone Street market - which ties in with verbal information given me by various relatives and others - and was destroyed in the Blitz and rebuilt after the war. It is shown on a 1946 Bartholomews Atlas, and on a current map would apparently be the site of More Close and Killip Close.

My mother remembered visiting her grandfather's wheelwrights shop on Rathbone Street,when she was only a few years old - probably early 1940's before the place was bombed - but I had been unable to find any proof of it's existence. Another distant relative mentioned Sam having a workshop on a little street OFF of Rathbone Street, where he carved the wheels for the barrow boys barrows. We have traced these memories to a "yard" on Fox Street, rented first by Charles Hunt (who became Sam's father-in-law) and later by Sam himself. The lady who owned it was named Rachel Lee, and after his first wife's death, Charlie remarried and took a second wife.

Hunt Family History

Thus far, we have:
Charles Hunt
, 1st wife - Kate (unsure of last name). 2nd wife - unknown
Eight children
Kate
Nellie
Mary Ann (my great-grandmother)
Maggie
Tillie
Charlotte
Charlie
Danny

This is my family line of the Poysers and Hunts. I will add other pages of the other family lines as I have the time, and will link to them from this one. If anyone can provide info/photographs of Wilberforce Street, Fox Street,Achille Serre, the old Rathbone Street market, Charlie Hunt's shop on Hallsville Road, or anything else they think I may find interesting, please email me at:

mrsrosedempsey@aol.com.
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