Monday, 15 April 2013

NPM #4 ~ In their soft footprints ... Mary


There sat a woman
holding a small baby to her heart
softly singing lullabies,
giving him all her love,
She told me of his birth,
his lips had turned blue
A frightening pain, the metallic sting of blood
still under her fingernails

Her other children gathered around her
knowing he was the last,
Somehow knowing
this image
was fading, drifting apart
Far from all these voices,
streets, smoke and hardship
she felt very alone

This is about my great great great grandmother Mary Ellerington (from the opposite side of the tree to Phoebe in NPM #3). Their children Lydia Eley and George Bacon married in 1907.

Mary Ellerington's life story has always struck me as a very sad one. I don't know if I am alone in feeling this but sometimes when researching your family tree you get feelings about certain names, you sympathise with some or some you just dislike for no reason other then an inkling! lol I would love to know if any other family tree researchers have felt this? 

Mary Ellerington was married to George Eley on 16th of April 1870, St Paul's Church, Hull, East Yorkshire (143 years ago tomorrow!) - She was just 15, a couple of months off 16. She had 8 children (5 daughters and 3 sons) and I am related through her 4th daughter Lydia. The reason I have included a child in the poem is because of the sad facts we found out about her last child Arthur Eley. He was born in 1890 and it was written down on the 1911 census that he was 'feeble minded since birth' - I have no idea what this means by today's terms, maybe Down's Syndrome or some sort of learning difficulty, I just don't know but the word 'feeble minded' is very harsh and I know the Victorians used this as a by-word for a lot of different illnesses. If anyone can clear this up for me that would be great :)

Mary Ellerington died in 1898 at 44 years old, just 8 years after Arthur's birth, I think maybe his birth was hard on her too, but I like to think that she treasured him. It's strange though that stories about Arthur have never been passed down through the family. I wonder sometimes if there was some shame there and a need to cover it all up. 

George Eley married again just a year after Mary's death to Emily Broadbent,  a widow with 3 children of her own - she was 15 years younger. They had 4 daughters together. Arthur lived with his father and step-mother until his death at just 22 years old in 1913.

On a happier note,  I have to mention (and which is un-related to my family history) that 'Silver Threads' has received another great review by the lovely Darlene on her book blog Peeking between the pages. She asked to review 'Silver Threads' before all the mess that happened with my publisher. She has saved her review as part of a National Poetry Month book blog tour and I am very honored to be a part of it. 

Hope you all have a lovely week :)


  1. that's quite a story. such a sad piece, very touching

    1. Hi Andrea,

      Thank you for reading and commenting :) - I have always felt like her life was a sad one.

  2. A really nice poem Jade but sad too. It must be wonderful to be able to trace your family history so far back and kind of get to know little things about each person. It's always strange when you hear of people dying so young at 44 years old and it would be so interesting to find out what was meant by the term 'feeble minded' too.
    Glad to hear you got another good review too.

    1. Hi Rum

      Thank you for the compliments :) We have actually traced the Elleringtons back to the 1600s! But when you get that far back you know so little about them except there names, births and deaths, when the census was brought in 1841 it was great as it has so much more information.

      I have asked on about 'feeble minded' and there are so many explanations but someone was kind enough to share this with me -

      1908 Commission on the Care and Control of the Feeble-Minded is -" persons who may be capable of earning a living under favourable circumstances, but are incapable from mental defect, existing from birth or from an early age: (1) of competing on equal terms with their normal fellows, or (2) of managing themselves and their affairs with ordinary prudence"

      And I am really happy that 'Silver Threads' is still out there being loved even after all the mess with my publisher - How are you liking it Rum? :)

  3. Hi, Jade. Wow, what a way to write some poignant poems - I really enjoyed reading the back story to this poem. /the metallic sting of blood still under her fingernails/ is very powerful.

    1. Hi Bonnie, thank you for reading and for the compliments. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading about Mary Ellerington and her life story also that you liked the line 'the metallic sting of blood ...' - it was one of my favourite lines in the poem too and I thought it would add some great atmosphere :)