Saturday, 9 July 2016

Constance Sandifere (1870 - 1949) - British

We are waiting, surely waiting,
For that glorious day to come
When our boys receive the orders
"Shoulder rifles, march for Home!”
Gone for aye the hours of anguish,
Gone for aye those nights of pain,
Father, brother, son, or lover,
Safe in England once again!
Lift your heads then! Tune your voices!
Make the hills and dales to ring!
Can't you hear the tramp of thousands
As they chant the victor's hymn?
There are lads in khaki dying
Who have nobly played Their part,
There are eyes with tears a' falling
On the grave of some brave heart ;
There are records bright and glorious,
Writ in words of flaming fire,
Which, throughout the endless ages,
Often heard shall never tire.
Ely, Feb. 16th, 1917

I am very grateful to researcher and local historian Philip Dawes for the following information about Constance:

Constance Ellen Sandifer 1870 – 1949, was born and died in Eastbourne.  Her connection with Cambridge as per the above war poem came from her father James Frederick Sandifer and uncle Robert E. who were born in Cambridge, Holy Trinity parish.  Their father died when they were young and their mother Maria was a ‘Dressmaker/Pauper’ in 1851.  At some stage in the 1860’s the two young men moved to Eastbourne, started Grocery shops and married local girls.  They appear to have made good livings as each family had servants and shop assistants living in.  They had a lot of children between them and their unfortunate wives died young.  

Constance Ellen’s birth is listed as March quarter, 1870, Eastbourne.

We can find her aged 1 on the 1871 census with mother Eliza (nee Parks) and father James and an older sister aged 2, Ethel Maud. 

In 1881 her father is a widower but a lot more children have been born before Eliza died in 1878 – seven of them under 10 years old.  Constance is listed as ‘Nelly. C. Sandifer’. They are not poor: as they have 4 live-in servants and two shop assistants lodging. James’s mother Maria has moved from Cambridge to help: widow aged 70. 

By 1891 both parents are dead, as is old Maria.  Eliza’s mother Mary Parks has moved in - aged 73, basket maker, even though the 6 children still at home are by now mainly adults.  Ethel, 22 Constance 21, William 18, Clifford 17, Robert 16 and Hilda 14 are all at home.  They are probably somewhat poorer but still have one servant living in and two military men as boarders.  The girls don’t have jobs outside the home. 

I can’t find Constance in 1901 when she would have been 31. Eventually I found her on the 1911 census. She is in Clacton on Sea and is a milliner living-in with a draper’s family along with 6 other shop assistants. She is listed by the enumerator – or the draper – as Constance Ellen Sandifere.

As you know she appears in Eastbourne on the 1939 census as a milliner /retired. She is still single. 

Constance must have had music lessons as a girl and she was active in the early 1900’s writing songs and piano music, about half a dozen of which are still listed. 
We also get a glimpse of her on 21 Dec. 1907 when she sent a wreath for the funeral of the David Perry, Superintendent of the Eastbourne Fire Service. 

Her optimistic war poem/ song of Feb. 1917 was about the Cambridgeshire Regiment and their possible homecoming. It was published in the Wisbech Standard. She may have still had relatives in the area. There are no other newspaper mentions ofConstance as far as I can tell – nor are any other poems/ songs published.  I will keep looking. I you want the census results I can send them.

Constance seems to be rather elusive in the records.  Part of this is due to her ‘name changes’.  She appears as Constance and as Nelly (version of Ellen her other name).  Another problem is that either her publisher, the newspapers or she herself added an ‘e’ to the end of her name at some stage.

Information kindly supplied by Phil Dawes, researcher and local historian. If anyone has a photograph of Constance please get in touch.