The History of Wandsworth Common


Research by Sarah Vey into

Maud Ethel Pilgrim

(Maud was baptised with Sarah Tonks in Wimbledon in 1908)

In August 2023 I posted an account of the death of Sarah Ann Tonks in 1909 in Wandsworth. Sarah Vey added detailed information about Sarah's family, also coming up with some surprising new leads to Sarah's life and relationships immediately before her death near Wandsworth Common. I have included her comments in the page devoted to Sarah Tonks.

In addition, Sarah (Vey) discovered that Sarah Tonks was baptised in Wimbledon alongside Maud Ethel Pilgrim, and continued her researches. I have added these here.

Sarah Tonks had been baptised in All Saints South Wimbledon in February 1908, the year before her death (and only a few weeks after leaving St Pancras Workhouse in January).

Sarah Tonks and Maud Ethel Pilgrim, both living in Haydon's Road, South Wimbledon, were baptised in All Saints South Wimbledon on 26 February 1908.

Neither Sara nor Maud include their parents' names. Is that typical for adult baptism, or is there another reason?
(Click on image to enlarge)

16 August 2023

Hi Philip

What a sad story. You have piqued my interest. I have ordered her birth certificate. Mother's maiden name was Reynolds.

There is an unusual baptism record on Findmypast for a Sarah Tonks baptised 26 Feb 1908 at All Saints Wimbledon, born 18 Jan 1889 (this is why I have ordered her birth cert to see if her birthday was 18 Jan 1890). Abode given as 176 or 178 Haydon's Road.

The unusual thing is not the baptism of someone older than an infant, but that there are no parents names listed. So it is a baptism of someone who doesn't know the names of their parents! Coincidence? I think not! So if it is her, who is encouraging her to get baptised?

It will take a few days for the birth certificate to arrive, but I will update you. In the meantime, no housework will get done or meals prepared whilst I try to reconstruct a family tree for her!

Kind regards

Sarah Vey


17 August 2023

Oh Lord! What I found just now was that 178 Haydon's Road in 1911 was some sort of institution.

There are only three people listed there, but there are twelve rooms and living there were a matron, an assistant and a nurse. More investigating needed. When did it become whatever it was and what sort of institution was it?

If they were looking after Sarah Tonks in 1908 they didn't do a very good job!

Am going out for lunch, but will endeavour to put something coherent together this afternoon re what I found.

Head still spinning with all the interrelationships!

178 Haydon's Road, Wimbledon was a Day Nursery for the Borough Council in 1911. Perhaps Sarah was working there in the laundry in 1908?


Maud and Sarah were baptised on the same day and lived in the same road. Both were young women rather than infants. Someone was at work here saving souls, I would imagine!

As neither of them had parents listed, I am leaning towards the idea that if you came to baptism yourself rather than being put forward by your parents when too young to decide for yourself that maybe they weren't noted down? I have some knowledge of C. of E. practices but not sure about this. Certainly when Maud married, she gave a father's name, although whether that is right or not...

You found Maud's baptism record which gives a birth date of 15 Jan 1890.

Southwark Union, 1913: Maud Pilgrim is shown together with b. and b. — presumably her children.
(Click on image to enlarge)
The Workhouse admission record is for Southwark/Newington. I have not found her or her son, William, on the 1911 census.

Maud Ethel Pilgrim b. 1890 married George Richard Payne 16 Jan 1916 All Saints, Peckham. Both signed their names. He was 27 and a bachelor, occupation carman. She was 25 and a spinster, which rules out, almost certainly, that Pilgrim was a married name and that her two sons were from that marriage.

I cannot find the GRO index record for the birth of Maud Ethel Pilgrim, nor of either son, William and Hubert, so I conclude that their births were not registered.

[If so, this would have been very unusual by this time. Compulsory registration was introduced in 1875, with fines for non-compliance. For a helpful summary of the development of registration, see e.g. here.]

In 1921 George Richard Payne and his wife, Maud and what are listed as his sons, William and Hubert Payne, not Pilgrim, are living at 1 Melon Road, Peckham. He is still a carman, b. Camberwell, and she is born Holloway. Both sons b. Lambeth. Did George adopt the two boys — it seems unlikely but is it possible he was their actual father?

In 1939 George and Maud were living at 281 Summer Road, Camberwell. George b. 31 Aug 1888, excavator, Maud b. 15 Jan 1890 and son, William A Payne, single b. 28 Jan 1911, shipping clerk.

William Anthony Payne b. 28 Jan 1911 d. 3 March 1993 London, burial 13 April 1993 Southwark.

Hubert Payne in 1939 is a public works contractor's labourer and is living with his wife, Violet in Camberwell. They married 5 Aug 1934 at All Saints Peckham. He salesman, Hubert Griffiths Payne. She Violet Ruth Hyman, aged 22. Witness George Richard Payne. Hubert died Q3 1992 Southend on Sea.

We see a really good example of people getting a bit posher as they move away from their origins with the change of surname and addition for both sons of a middle name. Who knows, perhaps Mr Griffiths was William's natural father. There is a nonsensical family tree on Ancestry which names his father as William Nathanial Smallwood Thomas. I would consider just ignoring that, but who knows.

What I haven't found so far is Maud and son, William, on the 1911 census.


Update. Moral of the story never give up.

On the 1891 census, 1 Lewis Buildings, James St, Haggerston, are James Pilgrim, 24, bricklayer's labourer, and his wife Delia, 23, plus two children, Frederick, 4, and Maud, 1.

We know that Maud's father was listed on her marriage certificate in 1916 as James Pilgrim, french polisher. James John Pilgrim married Delia (Bedelia) Land in 1891 Q1 Shoreditch i.e. after these two children were born. They went on to have lots of other children, two of whom I found a baptism record for and he is listed as a french polisher, so I thought I was on the right track.

James John Pilgrim died, annoyingly, in 1900. I cannot find Delia, Frederick, Maud, or any of the other children on the 1901 census. I previously mentioned this nonsensical tree on ancestry that shows some of these children went to Canada, but I cannot find any evidence to prove that these individuals are related to Delia.

However, after much searching I found a baptism record for a Maud Ethel Land b. 15 Jan 1890, baptised 10 July 1890 at St Augustine, Haggerston. Father Frederick William Land and mother Bedelia Land. He, box maker, abode 27 North Street.

Here is the exciting bit: I then found a baptism record for Frederick William Land, Maud's older brother, b. 15 Oct 1886, baptised 2 Nov 1886 St Stephen, Haggerston. Father is Frederick Richard McGrath, garden seat maker (?!) and Bedelia Land. The father's name and occupation have been crossed out and written "Single Woman". Abode 21 Ada Place.

So although Maud thought her father was James John Pilgrim, he wasn't, and he may have been Frederick McGrath.

I am guessing that the family broke up on the death of James Pilgrim in 1900, but frustratingly I cannot make sense of what happened to Delia.

There is a death record in Wandsworth in 1923 of a Delia Thomas, but I do wonder if, as is often the case, the US/Canadian family have just guessed that this was her to suit their argument. I have found no evidence that Delia married a Mr Thomas and the one I mentioned before had a wife at the time of his death in 1920 (Will online) so unless he was running two families...

Frederick William Land (and he did use this name, not Pilgrim) was born GRO 1886 Q4 mother's maiden name McGrath (back to front!). In 1911 he was a driver for the Royal Horse Artillery in Egypt. In 1921 he was with his wife, Blanche, and children in Tottenham and in 1939 he was with them in St Albans. He died in St Albans 1978 Q3.

Hopefully he and Maud was able to keep in touch through their lives.


From what I have worked out from that online tree, I think, but have not proved, is that Delia Pilgrim, nee Land, married or didn't marry a William Thomas (b. 1871).

They had a son, Frank Leonard Thomas b. 1903 Q2 Edmonton, MMN Land. They went to Quebec on 3rd Sept 1908, together with her surviving children from her marriage to James Pilgrim and possibly children of William Thomas from a previous relationship.

Delia, William and Frank returned to the UK 23 Jan 1917 from St John, New Brunswick. So maybe that death for Delia in 1923 is correct. If money was no object I would order more certificates!

Bedelia or Delia was the daughter of a William Land, carpenter and joiner b. Holloway c 1842 and Bridget Foley, b. Ireland c 1841. Delia was born in Islington about 1866.

21 August 2023

Have finally unpicked things. It is a classic tale of fractured relationships. Delia Land had Frederick and Maud whilst single. She then married James Pilgrim and had several children. James died prematurely in 1900 and she had a relationship with William Nathanial Stallwood Thomas (b. 1871 Walsall) who had been in the Rifle Brigade, which I think is why I can't find much about him.

He was married to a Hannah Eleanor Delaney, which is why I think Delia and he didn't marry. They went off the Canada with their respective children from their marriages in 1908, all of which I guess left Maud very much on her own.

Another sad tale, but perhaps with a rather happier ending as at least she found respectability in marriage, which at the time would perhaps have saved her from a life on the streets.