Emma Bolton – a Domestic Servant at Swanbourne House

Emma Bolton – a Domestic Servant at Swanbourne House

By Ken Harris and Linda Rodgers

It started with a photograph of an elderly woman sitting in a greenhouse (see below), and an inscription on the back saying simply ‘Miss Bolton, Swanbourne House’. But who was she and what could we find out about her?

A search through the census records for 1911 showed that she was a single woman, aged 76 at that time and born in Marylebone, London. She was described as a Housekeeper, and was living with the widowed 2nd Lord Cottesloe and his daughter Mary Louise Fremantle, and 7 other servants at 48, Eaton Square, London.

But further research quickly showed that she had lived with the 2nd Lord, Thomas Francis Fremantle and his wife Augusta and family for at least fifty years. In the 1901 census, aged 66, she was described as House maid, living with the family at 42, Eaton Square, London. In the 1891 census, aged 56, she was the housekeeper, living with the family in the Old House, Swanbourne. Her place of birth was given as Portman Square, London. The 1881 census described her as aged 46, and a housekeeper, living with the family at 22, Chesham Place, London. In 1871, she was aged 36, listed as a nurse, in the household of Thomas F. Fremantle and his wife and family, living at 58, Warrior Square in Hastings.The earliest record that has been found of her is in the 1861 census, when she was living with the family at 1, Hamilton Place, St George’s Hanover Square, London and was again listed as a nurse, aged 26, born in St Marylebone, Middlesex.

Here the trail has so far run cold, as she has not been found in the 1851 or 1841 census.