The Life and Times of Caroline Rosina Keyes

This is the sixth in my series of blogs, writing the biographies and life stories of my eight Great-Grandparents, next up is Caroline Rosina Keyes (Granny Chiddicks).

Grays Parish Church

(St. Peter & St. Paul’s Church, Grays, from my collection)

Caroline Rosina Keyes was born 9th September 1875, she was the first child of Joseph Keyes and Elizabeth Keyes nee Bishop. She was born in Grays in Essex and was baptised on 28th November 1875 at St. Peter and St Paul’s Church in Grays, coincidentally the same Church that I was Baptised in myself! At the time her Father, Joseph Keyes was a Plate Layer on the Railways.

There a couple of links here that give an insight into the role of a Plate Layer and the type of work that this involved.

Platelayer Info

Platelayers Organisation

Caroline Rosina Keyes Baptism 1875

(Baptism Register; Service of Church: Registers of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials; Incumbent; Grays Thurrock, St Peter and St Paul; Parish Records;1853-1886)

At the time of the 1881 Census, the family are living at 18, Chapel Row, Grays, Essex and Five year old Caroline is living with both her parents and two younger siblings, Clara Elizabeth Keyes and William Henry Keyes.

1881 Census

Caroline Rosina Keyes 1881

(Class: RG11; Piece: 1753; Folio: 60; Page: 29)

By the time of the 1891 Census, Caroline is listed as a scholar and still living at home with her parents at 26, Prospect Row Grays. She is also with siblings, William Henry Keyes, Albert George Keyes, Rose Amelia Keyes and Alice Maud Keyes.

1891 Census

Caroline Rosina Keyes 1891

(Class: RG12; Piece: 1377; Folio: 5; Page: 3)

Between the 1891 Census and the 1901 Census, Caroline Rosina meets her husband to be, William Chiddicks and they are married on 3rd April 1897 at The Parish Church, Plaistow.

William & Caroline Marriage

(Caroline Rosina Keyes Marriage Certificate)

William Chiddicks was the first born child to James Chiddicks and Elizabeth Chiddicks nee Lake. At the time of the Marriage Caroline was listed as a Spinster with no rank or profession listed and they were both living at 19, Winkfield Road, Plaistow.

19, Winkfield Road, Plaistow

(19, Winkfield Road, Plaistow)

There are no direct family connections that I have been able to find, that would explain why William and Caroline married in Plaistow, but there are two possible explanations. they could have moved for William to find work of course, but I suspect that the real reason is because their first born child, Louisa Alice Chiddicks was born just four months after their Marriage, on 20th August 1897. sadly she dies just a few weeks later on 12th September 1897. By the time that Louisa’s death was registered, Caroline and William were living back at South Ockendon.

Four years later, at the 1901 census the family were living at Station Road, South Ockendon and had two further surviving children, Herbert Ernest Chiddicks born 28th August 1898 and William Leonard Chiddicks (Known as Len), born 14th January 1900.

1901 Census

Caroline Rosina Keyes 1901

(Class: RG13; Piece: 1658; Folio: 33; Page: 15)

A further Son, Frederick James Chiddicks, was born 4th August 1901 in South Ockendon and by the time their next Son was born, Percy Edward Chiddicks on 13th July 1903, the family had moved home to 44, Benson Road, Grays.

Two more children were born in 44, Benson Road, Florence Lilian Chiddicks born 24th January 1906 and Horace Frank Chiddicks (My Grandad) born 21st August 1907.

44, Benson Road, Grays

(44, Benson Road, Grays from my collection)

The family then moved to 12, Brook Road, Grays and had two more girls, Hilda May Chiddicks born 10th March 1909 and Gladys Maud Chiddicks born 29th April 1913. Around this time the family were counted in the 1911 Census still living at 12, Brook Road, Grays, with all seven children still living at home.

Brooke Road, Grays

(Brook Road, Grays)

1911 Census

Caroline Rosina Keyes 1911

(Class: RG14; Piece: 9973; Schedule Number: 100)

Caroline is next found on several Electoral Registers again living at 12 Brook Road, with her Husband William.

1931 Electoral Register

(England & Wales, Electoral Registers 1920-1932)

The next record that we find for Caroline Rosina follows the sad Death of her Husband William Chiddicks on 3rd October 1932. William left a Will and left his widow Caroline Rosina Chiddicks the sum of £453 1s. 11d. (which is worth appx £30,000 in today’s money).

William Chiddicks Will 2

My Aunt remembers as a child visiting Granny Chiddicks house, which was a large white house located at Sockets Heath in Grays and this fact is supported by her entry in the Electoral Register for 1936 living at “Woodmead”, Sockets Heath, Grays, Essex.

1936 Electoral Register Woodmede

(1936 Electoral Register scanned image from Grays Library)

Caroline was also listed in the 1936 Electoral Register’s, living at 30, Kent Road, Grays with her two children, William Leonard Chiddicks and Gladys Maud Chiddicks.

1936 Electoral Register Kent Road

(1936 Electoral Register scanned image from Grays Library)

6, Fairleigh Drive, Leigh-on-Sea

(6, Fairleigh Drive, Southend-on-Sea)

By the time of the 1939 Register, Caroline Rosina is living with her Son-in-Law Edwin Bradford and her Daughter, Florence Bradford nee Chiddicks at 6, Fairleigh Drive, Southend-on-Sea, Essex. By this time her husband William Chiddicks had died and she is listed as a Widow, living off Private Means, old age Pension.

1939 Register

Caroline Rosina Keyes 1939

(The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1456D)

For the remainder of her life, Granny Chiddicks remained living with her Daughter and Son-in-Law at 6, Fairleigh Drive, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. At some point towards the end of her life she was admitted to the Connaught House old people’s Hostel, where she sadly died on 19th December 1960, at the age of 85. She was cremated at Rochford Crematorium on 22nd December 1960 and her ashes placed in the Garden of Rest on 31st December 1960 in area X.10. Her Daughter, Florence Lilian Bradford applied for the Cremation to take place.

Caroline Rosina Keyes Cremation. 1

Caroline Rosina Keyes Cremation. 2

(Cremation Records from Rochford Council)

Connaught House Past and Present

untitled x


(Images kindly supplied by )

After 1948, the former Southend workhouse became Connaught House old person’s hostel, and most of the former workhouse buildings were demolished in the late 1990s.

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