Search for content in message boards

Quaife's Catsfield

Replies: 6

Re: Quaife's Catsfield

Posted: 1554892027000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Barham Quaife Hoffman
Delia Serena Quaife from Catsfield met Edmund Petus Barham in Brighton. They had a son John in 1847, then a daughter Delia Serena (junior) in 1849 before they married. Delia's birth was registered as Barham, but as her parents were not married, she was baptised as Quaife. This dual surname survived during her life. Delia's parents married in 1850.

To be perfectly clear and definitive, DNA from Delia's descendants show numerous matches to other Barham descendants. These days, there is no doubt Edmund is Delia's father.

Probably sensitive to her illegitimacy, Delia created MANY stories about her birth.

They generally start that her mother Delia was a servant or wetnurse to Queen Victoria at The Pavillion in Brighton, became pregnant to Prince Albert and was quickly married off to the gardener or stablehand Edmund and they were shipped off to Australia.

This story, and MANY related ones were passed down through the family along with similar tales relating to the ancestry of Delia's husband Samuel Hoffman.

Many in the family totally dismissed them, many passed them on with a 'nod and a wink', others point out they are repeated in so many places in the family there must be, at least, an element of truth.

There isn't.

The facts are that Delia, around the time she was supposed to be a servant or wetnurse, was living in the worst street in on of the worst slums in all of England (ref. the Cresy Report). The street was full of prostitutes, thieves and literally piles of fishguts. The children were often not clothed until 9 or 10. I don't think she scrubbed up to go to the local palace for duty. And as pointed out earlier in this thread, a wetnurse for Queen Victoria would be a titled Lady. Plus, Queen Victoria hated the Pavillion and only went there once (maybe twice).

Edmund was a stablehand in his father's business - plus he was an habitual burglar, pickpocket, receiver of stolen goods, rogue and vagabond, convicted of these and other crimes and gaoled repeatedly. His father was a well known smuggler and probable horse thief, also appearing in courts regularly. I can't see him being employed at the Pavillion. In fact queries to the Royal Archives advised (not surprisingly) that neither Delia nor Edmund were in royal employ.

The story Delia jnr. is a royal child doesn't stand up - from both common sense given the above and now definitive DNA evidence. And Delia already had a relationship with an earlier child with Edmund. They were not rushed off to Australia - they emigrated in 1857, 8 years after Delia jnr's birth.

We can also exclude the Queen coming down to the dock to wave them off, the Queen did not give them royal crockery which was destroyed in a storm, although there was a violent storm in the Bay of Biscay on their voyage. Their voyage on the 'James Baines' was well documented by Alfred Withers in a diary; there is no mention of grateful sailors bequeathing a golden brooch to Delia snr, yet Alfred documents many interesting activities on the voyage. These are some of the stories. etc. etc. etc. .....

The stories about Edmund and Delia Quaife are very colourful. There is no truth to them. They seem to have arisen to help cover an illegitimacy where there would be no stigma in today's society, but could lead to truly awful ostracism in those days. Or perhaps Delia junior and her husband just liked playing with people's minds.

I prefer to think of Delia as escaping dire circumstances and a hard start to life in the slums of Brighton, and her obituary in the Tarrangower Times 7 Nov 1900 states she was a highly esteemed resident showing kindness and consideration for others winning the esteem and love of a wide circle of friends. Not a bad end to her life!

She could also spin a good yarn!
SubjectAuthorDate Posted
Dolgnerde 1117384542000 
Peter Wildman 1138409458000 
debby Dolgner-De L'Eyre 1144368815000 
SueWood47 1158630756000 
nicole 1158740029000 
1_gdreeves 1534761213000 
Philip Mackey 1554892027000 
per page

Find a board about a specific topic