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Moving up the Social Ladder

In 1852, the 64-year-old Henry Harcourt Wynne Aubrey, left his wife and children, took all his belongings, and ran off to live with a 16-year-old girl called Jane Sparks.

The 1841 census returns showed Jane’s particulars as being the daughter of Joel Sparks, a carpenter of Walthamstow in what was then the county of Essex.

For many girls of that class, marriage was a means of moving up the social ladder.

Jane’s sister Mary Louisa Sparks, whose father was ‘a builder’, married firstly a druggist and chemist called William George Stacey, who died young. She then married widower Edward Alston of Great Bromley Hall, an estate of 350 acres near Colchester.

The Alston website The Kings Candlesticks, shows Mary Louisa as a tall, handsome women standing protectively beside a seated Edward Alston, resplendent with a flowing white beard and long hair. He died leaving nearly £9,000.

Was her younger sister Jane as good looking? And did she too, climb the social ladder by marrying Colonel Henry Harcourt Wynne Aubrey? And others? Sons & Spouses tells part of the story.

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