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Maria Louisa Roulson (aka Old Ma Lechmere)

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  • Last bit for a while - Blue School Lane.

    It would be interesting to find out who Maria’s landlord was in Blue School Lane. Did she secure her lodgings there through the Clives, or perhaps Mrs Maclean, the stay and straw bonnet lady?

    As noted before, her neighbour (either next door or within the same house) was a policeman named John Ball. A couple of years previously Ball had been passed over for a promotion for which he was clearly qualified in favour of the gamekeeper of a mate of the Rev. Archer Clive’s. Clive, in his role of local JP, was in a position to decide who got the job. This is interesting because he could presumably have assisted Thomas Cross in obtaining a job in the local constabulary. The most obvious plan of action would have been for Maria and Thomas to remain in Hereford, marry there, and make use of their local connections.

    But they didn’t, whether together or separately they relocated to the East End, and as a consequence Charles Allen Lechmere was brought up in one of London’s most notorious districts - Tiger Bay.

    Of course, we’ll never know the reasoning behind their decision, but a combination of TC’s age and the fact that they must have considered it likely that JAL was still alive might well be the answer. How well would such a union have gone down in Hereford? Would the Rev AC have approved? Or Maria’s respectable sisters?

    And this tangled web may well have been behind CAL’s unwillingness to reveal his unique proper name in 2 situations where it might be reported in the press and picked up in Herefordshire and/or wherever JAL was lurking. It may also have lead to him having a strong bias against the unfortunates that ‘infested’ the streets where he grew up.