Catherine Ann Dinnis was the first child born to my great great grandfather, John Dinnis and his wife Charlotte (Robinson). She was born in Brighton, christened at St Nicholas Church and spent her first few years living in Middle Street, where her father worked first as a servant and later as a Cook and Publican.
Gradually more children arrived in the Dinnis home and soon there were two boys and two more girls, before the birth of twins George and Cora in 1853. George would go on to become my great grandfather. Sadly little Cora died in 1856, when the family were living at The Old Ship Shades, in Ship Street, Brighton. The cause of her death is recorded as water on the brain, and it is also noted that her sister, Catherine Ann, was present at her death. Catherine Ann would have been 19 years of age, when Cora died, aged just 3.
Catherine Ann’s father, John Dinnis was at this time the Cook and Publican at The Old Ship Shades which was the part of the bar they allowed prostitutes to work from. The Old Ship is still there today, and is one of the oldest of the pubs in Brighton.
By 1861 the Dinnis family had moved to live and work at the Queen’s Head in Steine Street, Brighton. In reality this is just around the corner from The Old Ship, so they hadn’t gone far. John Dinnis is listed in the 1861 England Census as the Cook and Publican. Catherine Ann is 23 years of age at this time, but no occupation is listed for her so presumably she helped out in The Queen’s Head.
By the following year she had married Abraham Robarts, the marriage took place in Brighton on the 29th January 1862. Abraham was around ten years older than Catherine Ann. From my assumption of looking at various England Census documents, I think he already had a daughter – Flora Alice, born in 1858. Then I think they had another daughter together before they were married – Caroline Maud in 1859. I might be putting two and two together and coming up with five, but in 1911 it says Catherine Ann had 8 children born alive, 7 still living and 1 died.
So the 8 children I believe were hers are: Caroline Maud, who died in 1878; Harry born in 1864; Kate in 1865; Louisa in 1868; Ernest John in 1870; Frank Dennis in 1874; Cora in 1876 and Herbert in 1880. Of course it is possible she had another child who was born and then died sometime in between Census’s, so I will keep looking with an open mind!
By 1871 they were living in Stratton Street, Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, Abraham was a butcher, they had six children at this time, and also one general servant.
In 1881 Abraham had done well for himself and was a Master Butcher, employing three boys. The eldest daughter, Flora Alice was a governess and teacher, and they still lived in Stratton Street.
1891 saw little change, apart from everyone being ten years older. Abraham was now 65, while Catherine Ann was 53 and Flora Alice was now 32.
By 1901 Catherine Ann and her family had moved to Lambeth, and were living in St Saviour Brixton Hill. Abraham was 75 years old by now, with Catherine Ann 63. Still living with them were Flora Alice (42 and single); Harry (single, 36); Frank (single 27) and Cora (single, 25). I haven’t managed to trace Herbert yet, he would have been 21.
The 1911 England Census shows Abraham and Catherine Ann both retired, with Abraham now 85, while Catherine Ann is 73. It states they have been married for 49 years. Flora Alice is still single, still living with them, now aged 53. Her occupation is listed as ‘Music Profession’. Harry also still lives at home, and is also still single, aged 47 and a Building Assistant. They also have a domestic servant.
Abraham Robarts died in Lambeth in 1913 aged 87.
Catherine Ann Dinnis died in Lambeth, in 1918 aged 81.