The Anglican side of the Wembdon Road Cemetery was consecrated by the bishop of Jamaica on 10 September 1851. The very next day the first burial took place: for a pauper called Amelia Bennett, aged 15 years, the daughter of Ann Bennett of Mount Street. Amelia had died of consumption, known as tuberculosis or TB today. Unfortunately, the precise location of her burial was not recorded, there is only a note saying ‘border’, although this is certainly a pauper burial.
We find a few scraps of information of Amelia’s short life in the records. She was baptised in St Mary’s Church on 4 May 1836. Only her mother Ann’s name is recorded, there was no father mentioned and for the box marked for the parent’s ‘quality, trade or profession’ all it says is ‘single woman’. Amelia was thus an illegitimate child. We learn from later records that Ann was only 19 at the time.
Amelia’s mother Ann, aged 23, is recorded in the 1841 census living in Honey Suckle Alley (which ran between what are now Clare Street and Market Street), living in the household of William Bennet, 65 year old ‘tallow chandler’ or candle maker. Also living there were William's wife Maria, then 39-year-old William, a butcher; 27-year-old Thomas, a tailor. However, four-year-old Amelia isn’t noted as living with them, suggesting Amelia was being raised elsewhere, where being is a mystery.
We do find Amelia ten years later in the 1851 census, the same year she would die. She was living in Clare Street (Back Street then), a lodger in the home of William Bennett, 49 year old widower and candle maker. This is presumably Amelia’s uncle, the butcher mentioned in 1851. Also living there was Thomas Bennett, a 37 year old tailor, another uncle. One suspects that Amelia would have been the housekeeper and cook for the two men. We’ve not been able to trace Amelia’s mother Ann for 1851.
And that is all we know. Amelia’s short life is otherwise lost to history.
MKP 31 January 2021