Edith Frances Payne was born in 1880, the second of Joseph and Popsy Payne’s four children.
Joseph Payne was a Commercial Traveller for a soap firm. It wasn't a successful enterprise. When the firm went bust, the family placed themselves at the mercy of Grandma Pointing (Popsy’s mother) and her sister Elizabeth, and went to live with them at their home ‘Capuchin Lodge’ in Winchelsea.
When Aunt Elizabeth died in 1903, she left £200 each to Grandma, Popsy and Joseph. Joseph drank Popsy’s share (presumably in addition to his own). Shortly afterwards, when the family moved to a new house in
, he was admitted to a home for inebriates. Rye
Edith’s brother Harold was killed in the First World War. The insurance money paid out on his death was enough to buy ‘Rosslyn’ the house they had previously been renting in
died just before Christmas in 1949. Alice had been a Governess, working with a number of families, before taking in pupils at Rosslyn. Alongside the money earned by Alice as a governess, and whatever Edith generated through needlework, the family income was supplemented to the sum of about £220 a year from an inheritance bequeathed to them by an old lady they had ‘been kind to’. Alice
Their brother Herbert had been a piano-tuner. He was still alive in 1951, but living in a 'home for Aged Folk'. He was separated from his wife Gertrude, whom Edith deemed ‘not suitable’. Herbert and Gertrude had four children, and although Edith thought they too were ‘not very suitable’, the three surviving children were destined to be the beneficiaries of her will.
In 1951 when Edith, aged 71, talked about her memories to her cousin Maurice High Pointing, she was still living at Rosslyn in
, but she had weak knees and couldn’t walk without help. Rye
I haven’t worked through enough of Mum's letters to understand what relation any of these people are to me. I know that my Grandfather, Mum’s Dad, was called Roy Payne, so this must somehow be a link to his family. But what strikes me most is how a family history can be summed up in a few bald lines. By reading a couple of totally dispassionate paragraphs, I've discovered that my ancestry includes a failed salesman who turned to drink, a young man who went to war and never returned, and various 'not suitable' family members. There's no hint there of the heartache that Joseph must have caused his family, or the difficulties those women must have encountered and overcome to move away, build a new life and keep going. Though I'm a little disappointed that I haven't yet found any statesmen or poet laureates among my forebears, I'd like to think I can at least recognise a familiar female trait of resistant persistence.