An illegitimate daughter of a laundress, Kate P gained a new surname when her mother married a soldier and she was considered his daughter.
In turn, she herself married a gunner in the Royal Artillery. They had thirteen children born around the turn of the 20th Century, but lost eight in infancy – two in quick succession to diphtheria, and one to whooping cough, both of which diseases are routinely vaccinated against today – and others due to a suspected strain of congenital syphilis.
Around 1904 something happened to her husband, perhaps an injury, and he lost his job as a soldier – instead becoming an officer’s mess waiter, which put the family in reduced circumstances so they took in boarders to make ends meet.
Another son died in an accident involving fire and cheap fabric in 1907, and a daughter suffered a brain abscess after the First World War.
Despite all these losses, and the illness she herself must have suffered, she still kept going until the age of 75.
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