Ancestor Spotlight: Mary Louisa Bolton

In this latest Ancestor Spotlight, we meet my maternal Great-Great-Grandmother Mary Louise Bolton on the 140th anniversary of her birth.


Mary Louise Bolton was born on 19th February 1879 in Islington, London to James Bolton and Louisa Jane Markwick.   She was baptized on 7th August 1881 at St Mary Magdalene Church, Islington.

Mary Louise Bolton
“London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1917”, entry for Mary Louise Bolton,  7 Aug 1881, St Mary Magdalene, Islington, database and images,  ( accessed 26 Jan 2019); citing LMA, Church of England, Parish Registers 1754-1906, Ref No: p83/mmg/002.


By 1883,the family had moved to Mile End Old Town where Mary’s younger sister Ellen Elizabeth was born.   However, they did not remain here long.  By 1888, they had moved to Hackney where Mary’s youngest sibling Frederick was born.

The Bolton family lived in poverty and on 31 October 1888, Mary and two of her brothers entered into the Hackney Workhouse, although it is not known how long they ended up staying there.

“London, England, Workhouse Admission and Discharge Records, 1764-1930”, entry for Mary Louisa Bolton, 31 Oct 1888, Hackney Union, database and images, Ancestry  ( accessed 26 Jan 2019); citing LMA, Ref No: HABG/208/019. 


The family appears to be living apart in different areas at the time of the 1891 census (the circumstances of this are still a mystery).   Mary and her older brother James William were living at 10 South Grove, Mile End Old Town, a relatively poor area.

mary 1891
1891 England Census, Mile End Old Town, London, Household Schedule 129, Piece 310, Folio 125, Page No. 20, Mary Bolton, database and images, ( accessed 26 Jan 2019).


On 31 July 1898, at the age of 19, Mary married Henry John Donald in Mile End Old Town.   In 1901, the happily married couple were living at 105 Fairfoot Road, Bow with the Ives family.  Henry was working as a General Carman and Mary was a Shoe Finisher.

1901 England Census, All Hallows Bow Common, London, Household Schedule 89, Piece 350, Folio 36, Page No. 12, Mary Donald, database and images, ( accessed 26 Jan 2019).


Over the next seven years, the couple would have three children:  Henry Arthur (1903-1988), Leonard Frederick (1905-1979) and Ernest Christopher (1908-1975).

In 1911, the family had moved back to Mile End Old Town and were living at 12 Joseph Street.  Henry was now working as a Dock Labourer at the Port of London Authority.

1911 England Census, Mile End Old Town, London, Registration District 21, Enumeration District 30, Piece 1646, Mary Donald, database and images, ( accessed 26 Jan 2019).


On 21st September 1917, tragedy struck the family when Mary’s husband Henry died.   He died in the Poplar & Stepney Sick Aslyum of Pulmonary Tuberculosis.

Five years after losing Henry, Mary remarried.  She married Thomas Watts in March 1922 in Poplar.  One by one, her children left the home.  In 1925, Leonard emigrated to Australia where his descendants remain today.  In 1933, Henry married Agnes Thorogood, shortly followed by Ernest marrying Isabel Donoghue in 1935.

In 1939, the couple were living at 165 Fairfoot Road, Poplar where Thomas was working as a General Labourer.

“1939 England and Wales Register”, Schedule No. 162, Registration district 19-1, Poplar, London, Mary Watts, database and images, ( accessed 26 Jan 2019); citing TNA 1939 Register, Series RG101/443F.


In September 1962 , Mary died in Surrey.  She was survived by her three children, and many of her descendants still live in the London area.

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