Alice Sophia De Val
- Born: 13 May 1864, Brighton, Sussex, England
- Marriage: Frederick Adolphus Barns on 1 Oct 1885 in Camberwell, London
- Died: 18 Oct 1935, Barr Street, Hockley, Birmingham aged 71
In 1891 and while they were living at 210 Coldharbour Lane Brixton ,with her by now widowed father, Frederick died from Mania and Diarrhoea leaving Alice a widow with a young daughter and another child( Elizabeth Clara) on the way.
Frederick was not insured so left Alice destitute.
She became a charwoman and nurse and was supported as best he could by her grandfather.
Two more children were born, Emily Daisy 1894 and Edwin Louis 1898, but surprisingly the father's name was given as Frederick Adolphus. We know that this was not possible as he had died in 1891.
The true father/fathers name is not known but a possibility is that a world famous music hall star, G H Chirgwin, was either the father or knew who was.
Chirgwin was known as the White Eyed Kaffir and in his time was as famous as Dan Leno and Marie Lloyd
Brixton at this time had many boarding houses that the music hall acts would stay at whilst appearing at the many venues that were so popular at the time
Did Alice have a relationship with Chirgwin or someone else we will never know?
What did seem strange is that in latter years Chirgwin would visit Alice and leave money and presents.T he question arises as to why a wealthy and well known star would visit a humble back to back and do so.
By the start of the 1900s Alice was in desperate trouble, her grandfather's health had deteriorated to the point that he had to give up his cycle making business.
Without this support Alice and her four children became homeless and destitute.
They entered the Gordon Road Workhouse and spent two weeks there before discharging themselves. A family friend ,Mrs Vipan , who unbeknown to her husband allowed the family to spend the night with her but during the day the children were left to wander about Peckham Rye. Boarding with the Vipan family was Alice's younger brother Ernest Oscar who may have persuaded Mrs Vipan to help.
Alice's father had contacted Dr Barnardos asking for help and the three sisters were admitted. Alice and the young Edmund moved in with her brother Arthur William who only had room for Alice and one child.
By 1901 both Elizabeth and Emily Daisy had been fostered out to a young couple by the name of Ernest and Pollie Bowler with their two young children.
Ernest was an agricultural labourer and they lived at Long Crendon near Aylesbury.
The two girls eventually went in to service, Elizabeth in 1909 to a house in Kennington Oval, and Emily in 1912 to Grove Park Chiswick.
Ellen returned to her mother briefly in 1904 before marrying Alfred Tuck, an ex Royal Marine, at Camberwell Registry Office on the 6th June 1908
Whilst the children were in care Alice was in trouble with the Dr Barnardos authorities for breaking the visiting order rules by outstaying the time allowed
She wrote back to them expressing her apologies and stated that it would not happen again
In 1904 just after Ellen had been reunited with her mother a Mr W Woodland contacted Dr Barnardos asking for the whereabouts of Alice as he alleged that she had stolen £100 from him.
The authorities were unable to help and nothing more was heard about it except that in later years Edwin Louis told his family that he vaguely remembers leaving London with his mother and seeing gold coins.
At some time between 1904 and 1908 Alice met Albert Moores and moved to the Birmingham area. No record of a marriage has been found as yet although she appears on the 1911 census as Mrs Moores.
It is feasible that they were frightened of getting married as the authorities would know of their whereabouts if indeed she had stolen the money
Edwin Louis who went with them survived unscathed from the First World War and married Maggie Thomas in 1920
As for Alice she died in 1935 at 57 Barr Street Hockley taking with her secrets that may never be solved
Alice married Frederick Adolphus Barns, son of William Barns and Lucy Davis, on 1 Oct 1885 in Camberwell, London. (Frederick Adolphus Barns was born on 9 Mar 1842, christened on 26 Mar 1864 in Saint Faith Under Saint Paul, London, London, England and died on 22 May 1891 in London County Lunatic Asylum.)