Emma Clifton

Emma Clifton was baptized in Oldbury on 24 Nov 1824. Her father was Edmund Clifton, a farmer, and her mother was Susannah Horton. She appears to have been the seventh of eight sisters.

In the 1841 census she is living with her widowed father and younger sisters in Oldbury Road, Smethwick. She married William Downing, who would therefore have been a close neighbour, at the age of 18. William was not only three years older than her, but probably came from farming family, who was prospering a little faster than the Cliftons. . Her eldest son George was born in Oct 1844.

Monumental Inscription at Holy Trinity Church, Smethwick (Courtesy Paul Thomas and Ros Ditchfield, Holly Lodge School)

Monumental Inscription at Holy Trinity Church, Smethwick (Courtesy Paul Thomas and Ros Ditchfield, Holly Lodge School)

One fascinating piece of information we know about Emma in her short life comes from a surviving letter she wrote to her sisters-in-law, Sarah and Eliza dated July 28, 1845. The mundane detail of shopping trips and George’s teething remind us how young she was when she wrote it. It has a childish quality and is highly poignant that she was to die of tuberculosis (plithisis) six years later at the age of 26 on 10 June 1851. Her death certificate says that she had been consumptive for some years. William was present at her death in Oldbury Road, Smethwick. Emma’s father had remarried in 1843 and lived on ten years after his daughter’s death.

The letter is also significant because it mentions taking tea with Aunt Thompson who is William’s father’s sister Nancy Thompson. This piece of information helps to identify the correct John Downing as William Downing’s grandfather. John Downing’s will of 1810 identifies his seven children including George and Nancy.

Emma’s two other children were Louisa Jane (b 1847) and William Edmund (b 1849)

 

Last updated on November 4, 2017 by JJ Morgan