Amelia Fisher (1818 - 1900)

born Amelia Hickman



This page explores the life of my great great grandmother Amelia Fisher, born Amelia Hickman, of Wedmore in Somerset, England.


The woman who married Joseph Fisher was born Amelia Hickman in Wedmore. It is difficult to be sure of the exact date. The 1841 census is unreliable because it rounded adults' ages down to nearest 5 years. The 1851 census would seem to be the most suitable of all the censuses because it did not round down and because the younger people are, the less they tend to lie about their age. However, the date suggested by the 1851 census must also be suspect for two reasons. Firstly it would mean that she was baptised at more than a year old which is surprising but not impossible. Secondly, and more convincingly, it would mean that she would have been too old to have been categorised as a minor on her marriage certificate. Later censuses are inconsistent. Taking all the this together, Amelia was probably born in the first half of 1818. The firm record is in her baptism, which was on 31 Jul 1818 at the parish church of St Mary's Wedmore. The entry for 1818 reads:

"31 July HICKMAN or CHANDLER, Amelia, base Child of James Chandler & Caroline Hickman, Wedmore, Labourer."

In fact, Amelia's mother never did marry James Chandler. The point here is that Amelia grew up as Amelia Hickman, along with her mother's other children, the older two of whom were also illegitimate. That, however, belongs to her mother's story.

In the second half of 1837 Amelia herself had an illegitimate daughter. She was baptised Jane on 30 Nov 1837 Parish register reads:

"HICKMAN, Jane, d.o. Amelia, Wedmore, Single woman"

Amelia married Joseph Fisher on 3 April 1838 at parish church in Wedmore. The marriage certificate documents her as a "minor"; he was "full age". She gave her mark, but he was able to sign his name. Her father's name was left blank and his of course was given as Richard Fisher. The witness was a James Fisher. Addresses were simply Wedmore. The records show that illegitimacy was fairly common practice in in Amelia's family, and there is no way of knowing whether Joseph was belatedly doing the right thing in taking Amelia as his wife or whether he was generously agreeing to provide for someone else's child.

Amelia appeared with Joseph in the 1841 census at Borough, Wedmore, Somerset:

Joseph Fisher, 25, blacksmith, wife Amelia, 20, daughters, Jane 3, and Caroline 1. In the same house were William Vowles 15 and Sophia Hickman, 9.

William Vowles was Amelia's half brother, as by this time Amelia's mother had married into the Vowles family. Sophia was probably the daughter of Amelia's dead aunt Harriott Hickman.

Amelia appeared in the 1851 census for Coombe Batch, Wedmore:

Joseph 34, Amelia 34, daughter Caroline 11, son Joseph 6, daughter Harriet 4 Jane 8 months

There had been two new children, Joseph and Harriet (who was to be my great grandmother). However Amelia's first child, Jane, had died and her name had been given to the new baby. The death certificate of the first Jane records her as Jane Hickman Fisher. She died on 15 April 1847 and had been ill for several months, although the cause is illegible. The informant was Amelia's mother.

The 1861 census shows more new children (fully documented on the page for Joseph) and that Amelia's mother, now a widow, is living with the Fisher family. 

Existing records suggest that life continued fairly uneventfully for Amelia over the next decade. However, things were to change for her.

In 1878 her son, Joseph, died.

Then on 4 February 1881, her husband, Joseph, died. The 4 April census for the same year shows her with her son Octavius at the Rughill forge. The next bombshell came less than a year later when her daughter Harriet gave birth to an illegitimate daughter, my grandmother, Maud. Harriet appears to have stayed in London working and it fell to Amelia, by now in her 60s, to take on the care of a young baby. This cannot have been easy for her.

The 1891 census shows Amelia with Maud in the household of her daughter Caroline who had married Edward Webber. There are errors in the entry and one wonders if anyone anymore knew how old Amelia was:

Edward Webber, butcher, 45, wife Caroline, 41, with Amelia Fisher, widow, pauper, lodger, 71 [actually mother in law, nearer 73] and Maud E Pope, 9, visitor, born London [actually Maud A Pope, niece, born Middlesex]

Amelia died on 6 Jan 1900 at Wedmore. To my reckoning she was 82, but her death certificate stated 78. Granddaughter Maud was with her.