I don’t know about you, but when I imagine a man named Golden Key, I imagine a tall, blonde man with pots of cash.
This Golden Key, however, was born in Essex, the son of an Agricultural Labourer. I’m thinking one parent wanted this more than the other and had finally got their way, as he had 4 older siblings and it can’t have taken them that long to think of Golden to go with Key, surely, but who knows! – I was tempted to think it was named after the fairy tale written by George Macdonald. However it was published in 1867, so that wasn’t right either!
Anyways, he lived for the first part of his life in Horndon on the Hill, which is still a very pretty little village, moving to Bethnal Green by the time of his first marriage, to Caroline Sarah Clark Ormerod in 1863. At that time he was still working as a labourer, and they seemed to have a happy marriage, evident by the 6 children, one every two years. In this time he became a Railway Engineer, too. Unfortunately Caroline died, if I was rich I would order the certificate to see why, but as it is I would hazard a guess at childbirth complications, as no one else in the family died, as usually happens with severe contagious illness.
Now, here comes the interesting bit.
He got remarried 2 years later to an Ann Huttlestone. Not too bad, not a few months later but not a decade either. However, when I looked at the marriage certificate, I noticed the bride’s fathers name. Thomas Ormerod. Hmm, I recognise that name! Surely it’s a cousin, or niece, of his late wife, I thought. But no, it’s Caroline’s sister! Many of you will be thinking – “So? It’s not his own sister, it’s his wife’s – and she’s dead!” But until the early 20th century, it was illegal to marry your deceased wife’s sister!
Ann was 10 years Caroline’s senior, and 9 years his too, and a widow herself. All sorts of stories can be made to fill the gaps – a marriage of convenince – someone to look after the kids, a woman who’d always been jealous of her younger sisters husband preying on a grieving man, or maybe she looked just like Caroline and he thought he could replace her. Either way, you would assume that they all knew, including her father who lived with them after they were married, that this was illegal, and the only reason they did not get found out was because they had moved from Marylebone to Bethnal Green and maybe had a new vicar, and presumably new neighbours! Interestingly, he begins to call himself George about now, until 1901. (however this could also be due to successive transcribers and vicars marrying his children just not believing he was called Golden..?) They did not have children, and Ann did not have any with her first husband either, however she died quite soon after the marriage, in 1881.
He soon bounced back, though, marrying Mary Ann Morris in 1882. – For a bit, I was worried that she was one Mary Ann Ormerod, another sister, and began to suspect some sort of weird family pact – I admit a sigh of relief escaped me when I saw she wasn’t! Both their parents were Gardeners at this point, I wonder if this is how they met? I like that she is ‘Mary A Key (Achey) in the censuses. Even though they are both in their mid 40’s they have another child, Walter. Now he is calling himself an Engine driver (the same occupation as Engineer, just a different name for it, I’ve since found), possibly at St Pancras station near to where they live, in Allcroft road, or maybe he worked on the writhing mass of train lines that pass around Primrose Hill. She sadly dies in 1895.
Golden then marries Mary Ann Fox in 1897, who has already moved in. He is 59, she is 49, both their fathers are deceased (although again, her father was a Gardener) and she brings with her 5 stepsons and a step daughter.
They spend 12 years together, before he dies, aged 71, in May 1909, buried on 3rd June in St Pancras Parish Chapel.
I personally think he was quite an interesting man, he worked his way up from being a small farm labourer to being an Engine Driver, worked well into his 60’s, and his children stayed at home a long time and named their children after him (although only second names!) so we can surmise he was a good father too. Perhaps he may have been quite good looking too, and maybe in love with love, as he is only the third person I’ve come across to have more than 3 wives, and all in such rapidity. Yet he marries women like him, from similar backgrounds, and takes on a woman with 6 children of her own when he is nearly 60 – so perhaps he just liked having a cooked meal and a hot bath waiting for him when he got home! It’s a shame he seemed to stop using Golden as his first name (although as I said previously, this can’t be verified as his decision). I wonder too at a man who obviously had good values and was intelligent enough to know the law then going on to marry his sister in law – perhaps they were caught in a compromising position and married to save face, even though it was illegal, either way, we can only wonder at that…
Oh, as an aside, his daughter Lily, met her husband at her place of work – making Piano parts… I hoped and hoped I would find a little baby ‘Piano Key Kimber’ (her marital surname) in the records, but alas, no such luck! I did however, find a couple of Joanna’s!
Horndon on the Hill – http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Horndon+on+the+Hill&hl=en&ll=51.524232,0.405636&spn=0.060558,0.169086&sll=51.698883,0.139511&sspn=0.482602,1.352692&oq=hornd&hnear=Horndon+on+the+Hill,+Thurrock,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=13&layer=c&cbll=51.524,0.405754&panoid=PUs3BUlJshuU2Er6Se50rA&cbp=12,210.24,,0,7.68
Rector Street – one of his many residences. All of the houses he lived in looked very similar to this one, such as 71 York street, which is now a nice little shoe Boutique, and his allcroft residence, which has either been torn down or is being refurbished in the google map view, but is very likely going to look the same as the ones over the road! http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?q=Rector+Street,+London&hl=en&ll=51.536483,-0.095254&spn=0.003624,0.010568&oq=rector+&gl=uk&hnear=Rector+St,+London+N1+7DG,+United+Kingdom&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=51.536483,-0.095254&panoid=nQnAq5jC_X382DbFQqvepg&cbp=13,30.43,,0,-2.92