Pleasure Butler (née Coales)

Firstly – stop thinking that! And don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean! (Although I’m sure we could all imagine the convenience of having one).

Anyways, Pleasure Butler was born Pleasure Coales in 1834, to Daniel and Jane. I think her name actually came, literally, from her parents pleasure at her arrival, as she came some 14 years after her next oldest sibling! Although some may see that more as a cause for Displeasure.

Pleasure marries one Thomas Butler on St Valentine’s day 1857, yet unfortunately, by 1861 she has already filed for a divorce. She cites cruelty – as she had 3 children in those 4 years (only one survives) and gives several dates, we can assume some of that violence happened whilst she was pregnant (this was later verified by her account in the newspaper). Adultery is also given as a reason, she names some 6 women, 2 of whom appear to be sisters(!).

Thomas replies to say he didn’t do any of it, and if he did she condoned it anyway…

Pleasure replies to say he she condoned his cruelty, that was revoked when he committed adultery, and if she condoned the adultery, that was revoked when he committed the acts of cruelty…

Thomas responds to merely say he takes issue with those statements.

This petition is then recommend to go to court, and is detailed in the Morning Standard in November 1861. You can look more closely by clicking on the image, but I haven’t put in the whole article. Essentially, a lot of Pleasure’s claims are refuted, but mostly by her husband’s sister, and a male doctor. However the relationship does seem a volatile one, the servants speak for her, and a woman named Hannah Davis alias Simmons DOES admit to having had sex with Thomas for money.

Pleasure Butler The Morning Post (London, England), Monday, November 18, 1861

This petition is not successful, I’ve found that often ‘messy’ ones like this are not – and it is not until another petition for divorce on the part of Pleasure in1878 that they finally separate. This time, on top of the previous claims of cruelty, It is claimed he wilfully gives her venereal disease in 1870, and during the years 1872 – 1877 (the years leading up to the second petition) he has co-habited with another woman, a previous servant named Anne Sanderson. This is verified by the 1881 census, when he is still living with her, and still calling her a ‘servant’ (and himself a widow!).

This time Thomas is ordered to pay all of Pleasure’s solicitors costs, alimony and for the youngest child to stay with her, the others being old enough to make up their own minds. (By this time she has sadly lost 6 children, one as stated in the article through suffocation in bed,  it’s not clear whether the violence within their marriage contributed to any of the children’s deaths, although this is alluded to in the divorce proceedings – I very much hope not).

I could not find Pleasure  in the 1861 census (oh the limitless puns) and the entire family is missing in 1871. Perhaps she deliberately did not fill it in, perhaps she was hiding from Thomas, perhaps she gave a different name, or perhaps it’s just one of the sets of records that have disappeared or been damaged over the years (like the 1851 Ousden one that means I’ll never know who my Gx2 Grandfather’s parents were grumble grumble). In 1891 all 3 daughters are living with Pleasure, but her son William is still missing.

Pleasure dies on March 1st 1911, leaving £21 19s 6d (Around £1.198, almost exactly what I would leave if I were to die now!)

I searched for her children in 1911 census and what I found actually made me ‘aaahh’ out loud. All 4 children (now aged 41 – 52) are living together in the house  their Mother lived in, (Lion House, lower square Isleworth, which seems to either no longer exist or it has been renamed) indicating the all lived together or William came to ‘look after’ the women once their mother died.

William is an Engineer, Alice is a Musician, Catherine and Alexandra Artists.

We don’t know whether or not they all remained unmarried so long through choice, perhaps Pleasure talked them out of marriage after her experiences, or perhaps they’d made their own minds up from what they’d witnessed growing up; but it’s nice to think that they all lived happily (I presume) together, doing nice relaxing things like painting and playing music. 🙂

However there is a marriage, quite a way away in Grimsby, for Alexandra and a man named Robert Pangbourn (unusual surname!) quite some time later in 1923. There may be a child another 11 years later, when Alexandra is in her mid-50’s, but without buying the birth certificate (Or finding Robert K. who could actually still be living!) I can’t be sure.

So at least we can hope one of her daughters found marital bliss! 🙂


Repentance Butter and Cross Crozier

Repentance Butter sounds like some sort of terrible spread you’re supposed to put on your Ryvita after indulging too much after Christmas, but is in fact the name of a young lady who started out life as Repentance Jackson Parker in 1887, born to James Parker and Mary Ann Crozier.

This may be cheating, as I usually use names that were given at birth, but there was another Repentance Butter before her, who, in 1757, buried an illegitimate (or baseborn as it says on the record) child named John. Showing that daughters will not always live up to the names given to them by their parents. (That may be a bit unfair, as she was called Repentance not Chastity! Actually Chastity was rarely used by the Puritans.) There are more ‘Repentances’ than you might think throughout the 19th Century, all women, of course *tuts*, although I s’pose it is one of the more feminine so-called Puritan names.

Repentance Parker’s siblings were called John, Mary, Thomas and Eliza, and without going into wild speculation at the possibility of her name reflecting a brief indiscretion on her Mother’s part, the only other connections I could find in the year of her birth is to – Repentance a short story by Russian author Leo Tolstoy first published in 1886. Even if her parents could not read or afford to but reading material (as a Blacksmith it would not have been necessary for her father to read) they still may have heard the word bandied about a bit more at the time. I also found it a tad unusual that ‘Jackson’ – Mary Ann’s mother’s surname, was used for one of the girls rather than the boys, as it’s reasonably masculine as names go.

Repentance dies in 1950, aged 63. As yet I can’t find any children for her and her husband.

I decided to go back a bit just in case she was named for an ancestor in the extended family, and came across her half brother, ‘Cross.’.

Cross is the illegitimate son of Mary Ann and on his marriage certificate of 1904 he doesn’t know his father’s name or profession. I had thought maybe the man’s surname had been Cross but it seems like something he would have known had that been the case, it also seemed strange that if he was the son of James Parker, who Mary Ann marries, he would have stated this also. I suppose really the most obvious reasoning behind his name is that Crosiers are carried by high ranking Catholics, such as Bishops, and are often decorated with the cross. Whether Mary Ann was herself a Catholic isn’t possible to determine!

He is listed in the paper as getting a ‘First’ in the junior section of the “Pupil Teacher’s English Literature class in 1890 – graduating with a second class degree (or whatever they would have called it?) a year later. In 1911 he is listed as a an Elementary school teacher, and has one child with his wife Maude Ada. Cross was born a few years after the 1870 Elementary education act, and so would have had access to what was probably at the time a relatively simple education. Well into the 1890’s, however, there was opposition against educating ‘lower classes’ for fear they would get above themselves and revolt, so for Cross to go from being the illegitimate son of a Blacksmith’s wife to School master is no small achievement, in my opinion!

Here he is:

cross crozier


He ends up leaving a very respectable sum when he dies in 1955 (£40,000 in today’s money), his wife outliving him by 15 years.


Photo Gilbert Scales

I will give you one guess as to what the occupation of Photo’s father was… (Clue; he was a photographer!)

Photo’s Parents (Augustus Edwin Scales and Sarah Georgina Welborn) Eloped to Gretna Green in 1854 when they were around 18 and 20 respectively, this is the first marriage I have ever just come across that was at Gretna – so very exciting! 🙂

In 1841 Augustus was in Surrey, in 1851 he was an Inn Keeper’s servant in Grantham, 90 miles from where Sarah was a House servant in Great Driffield, Yorkshire. It is only speculation as to how they met, but Sarah Welborn was rather ironically the illegitimate child of Elizabeth Welborn, who has died by 1841, when Sarah is living with a Marmaduke Smith who is a Shepherd. There is a Jan 1841 death for an Elizabeth Welborn in Grantham , if this is her perhaps they had family here, and they met when she was visiting, or if Augustus continued his move up through the country he could have met her in Yorkshire – I suppose we’ll never know (unless I spend hours more researching, but I don’ have the time at the moment :p).

As most households at this time would not have wanted a married female servant, this is the likely reason they decided to elope, or before they could be persuaded apart/separated. Perhaps the whole courtship had been conducted in secret, or perhaps it was just a couple of weeks of whirlwind passion..!

Augustus became a photographer at a time that would have been the ‘dawn’ of commercial photography, and obviously he was enamoured enough with his profession and the success he achieved to name his 7th child and 4th son ‘Photo’.

Sadly Sarah died in Dec 1867, aged just 31, and as a couple who had loved each other so much they eloped, and had a child a year for 3 years at one point, this must have been devastating for Augustus. The pregnancies may also have been the cause, as it seems she died in childbirth with their last child Herbert Roxby (who dies aged just 5), and being continuously pregnant for 3 years before hand would have put great stress on Sarah’s body, giving her no real time to recover after each birth.

By 1881, Photo is still living with his father, along with his brother Major, and by in 1891, Augustus is living with his daughter Rosalind,  and Photo is no where to be seen. However we find him again in 1901 calling himself by his middle name Gilbert, living with his wife and 4 children, Augustus, Sarah, and twins Ernest and Rosa.

If I was just going by census records this would all make perfect sense, the children get married, the father, who never remarried, goes to live with a daughter, (perhaps his favourite or perhaps the one who drew the short straw) and Photo is an unusual name and likely has just been mis-transcribed and will pop up as ‘Phil’ somewhere later. But then I came across this newspaper report From the York Herald December 1884: Photo Scales The York Herald Saturday, December 06, 1884

Somewhere between living with his father in 1881, and being married to his wife Edith in 1894, Photo was most probably living on the streets.

He pops up in the newspapers again as a witness to an assault in 1896. It doesn’t mention his wife here but as they are married we could assume they are living together in the lodging house prior to their move to Norfolk. He is here as Gilbert Scales, but as he went as Gilbert after his marriage, and no other Gilbert scales are born before 1900, we can safely say it’s him!

Photo Gilbert Scales

Photo dies quite soon after this  in 1904, then his family all emigrate to America, but not together, and although they head upstate once reaching New York, they don’t end up in the same places!

Augustus Edwin is first to go, in Oct 1911 from Liverpool to New York on the ship Celtic Celtic 1901                                        In 1920 he is shown as living with his cousin (from his mother’s side) Mary Wilkins in Hopewell, Ontario, New York. By 1930 he’s married to a lady named Frances in Detroit (Districts 0001-0250), Wayne, Michigan, with some sprogs to boot. He dies in Michingan in 1986 – at the very ripe old age of 96!

Sarah follows in March 1913.  The ship she was on, the Majestic, had been retired from White Star’s New York service and designated as a reserve ship because of the Titantic.                                                                                                                                                                                     When the Titanic met her fate in April, 1912, Majestic was pressed back into service, filling the hole in the transatlantic schedule. So to say Sarah may have been nervous about the journey would probably be an understatement! 1920 finds her as a servant to Philip and Margaretta Wickser in Buffalo Ward 25, Erie, New York. In 1933 she is married to Edwin J Hamister, and the 1940 census finds her not very far away in Buffalo Ward 24, her husband has been unemployed for 20 weeks but previously worked at the Customs bureau. She lives to be 82.

Earnest William Scales goes next – aged 15 on the Olympic (by all means the best way to travel across the Atlantic at the time, as it was a sister ship to the Titanic arriving in New York from Southampton on 06 May 1914.             By the 1920 census he’s living with the Brown family, occupation ‘hired man’ in Albion, Orleans. In 1930 he’s still lodging, unmarried, with Edith Chapman.

Photo’s wife, or widow, Edith does not emigrate until 1920, with her youngest son, Herbert and daughter Rose, now 17 and 20. They leave on the Cedric, a White Star Line ship, on 18 Feb 1920.                                                                                                                                                             On the 1930 census, Rose is listed as a servant to the Devine family, in Brighton, Monroe, NY. 1940 and she’s still unmarried, a lodger in Ward 12, Rochester, Monroe, listed as an unemployed Child Nurse for private families. However it shows she worked every week in the previous year and has only been unemployed for 6 weeks,

So there we are. Photo did not follow his father’s footsteps, and there seems to be a breakdown in the family at some point, but one silver lining is that his family managed to make it to the USA without travelling aboard the Titanic, and mostly lived to a good age 🙂