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87 Ainsworth Street

The Easton Family lived at 87 Ainsworth Street resided at this property for over 50 years.

Number 87 is one of a pair of terraced houses on the west side of Ainsworth Street.

The story of the Easton family at 87 Ainsworth Street

From 1881 to 1911 census we have evidence that there is a family called Easton residing at this property because they stay for many years up to retirement of the Head of the Household, James Easton, who is a bricklayer for all of his working life.   What do we know about James Easton before moving to Ainsworth Street?

James Easton was born in 1834, and is first listed in the 1841 census, aged 7 and living with his family in St. Ives, and in 1851 he is living with what appears to be his aunt’s family, along with his brother, in Merry Hill, St. Ives.  Lousia Mason was also born in 1834, in Godmanchester, in Huntingdonshire. We first find her on the 1841 census, aged 7, living with her parents, five brothers, sister and a lodger or visitor. In 1851, she is working as a house servant with the Prior family, who are Chemists. Some time after this she meets James Easton, and in 1856 they marry in St. Ives, before moving to Hemingford Grey, with four children, by 1861. Their four children are Matilda, aged 5; Sarah, aged 3; Joseph, aged 2; and Mary Jane, aged 0. James Easton is working as a Bricklayer, and Louisa is listed as ‘bricklayers wife’ Matilda and Sarah are both listed as scholars, so the Eastons have sent their children to school. In the 1871 census, we can see they have moved to Cambridge, living on Cambridge Road in Cherry Hinton, and have had another four children, Ruth, aged 8; Alfred, aged 4; Charlie, aged 2; and Emily, aged 0. Matilda, who by now is 15, is working as domestic servant for the Sarjant family in St. Ives, who run a grocery. Sarah has also got a job as a domestic servant, working at the Johnsons family, who are also Grocers.

1881 Census

By 1881 they have moved to 87 Ainsworth Street, with two more children, Ada, aged 8; and Alice, aged 6. Mary Jane, now 20 years old, has moved out, working as a domestic nurse in Panton House, one of five staff members looking after the Foster Family, who are listed as “Magistrate, Banker and Corn Merchant”. Ruth has also moved out, now aged 18, working as a servant at one of the Colleges. Joseph Easton, now aged 22, has got a job as a Gas Fitter, fitting things such as Gas Lamps and lead gas pipes. Alfred, now 13, is working as an Errand Boy, and Charlie, Emily, Ada and Alice are all in education.

1891 Census

By 1891, the Eastons are still living at number 87, but Joseph, Alfred, Emily and Ada have all moved out. Joseph, now 27, is working as a Whitesmith, living just round the corner on Sturton Street with his wife Caroline, and his two children, Caroline and Horace. Alfred, now 23, is also working as a Whitesmith, living on Stone Street with his wife Hannah and son Charles. Emily, now 20, is working as a domestic servant for the Dickson family, who are college tutors, and finally Ada, now 18, is working as a domestic nurse in the home of the Ingle family, Mr Ingle being a GP. Back at 87 Ainsworth Street James Easton, now aged 57, is still working as a bricklayer. Charlie Easton, now 22, is listed as “Sorting Clerk PO,” which suggests he is working locally, at the Post Office sorting office on Mill Road. Alice Easton, now aged 16, is listed as “mothers help,” “dom,” which suggests she was helping her mother in the house, or she may have worked locally for a family with many children who needed and could afford a daily worker.

1901 Census

By 1901, 64 year old James Easton is still working as a bricklayer, but Alice Easton, now 26, has no job listed, suggesting she is still helping her mother about the house. Charlie Easton has now moved out and by 1911, aged 42, and is living on Montague Road in Chesterton with his wife Rose Maud and his son Leonard Horace. He has worked his way through the ranks of the Post Office and has become the Assistant Superintendent of the Cambridge Post Office. His son was working as Clerk at the Gas Office. The fact that Alfred Easton, a bricklayer’s son has risen to quite a senior administrative role in the Post Office shows the importance of education.

1901 to 1939 Evidence for Easton Family on Ainsworth

James Easton dies in 1909, aged 72, with average life expectancy for someone born in the 1830s around 40 years, so he had lived a long life, and was still working into his 60s. In 1911, 87 Ainsworth Street is still home to the Easton family. Louisa Easton, now widowed, aged 77, is living off her own means with two of her daughters, Ruth, who is now 48, having presumably returned from a service job, and Alice, who had remained with her mother throughout her life. Sadly, Lousia passed away in the latter half of 1911. Alice Easton can be found on the 1939 register, taken at the outbreak of the second world war, living with the Howe family on Highworth Avenue in Chesterton. She is 74, single, and listed as “Nurse (incapacitated)”. She passes away in 1957. Ruth Easton is also in the 1939 register, a retired housekeeper, living on Devonshire Road.

Sources: 1851 to 1911 Census, 1939 register.

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