Family tree: Irene Wilkins ancestors

My beloved Nan on Mum’s side of the family was Irene Maud (how she hated her middle name) Wilkins. A day out in Skegness involved everyone dressing in their Sunday best, including hats. A popular advert at the time says: ‘Skegness is SO bracing’, which might explain the need for coats. Bessie (in the front of the photo on the right) had written on the back: ‘Nice family snap. I was 14 and had daisies in my bonnet – it came from London’.


Irene (left) on a day out with the family at bracing Skegness

Irene’s father was Charles Wilkins, born in 1867 in Crayford Kent. He started work as a grocer’s assistant, but progressed as an engineering machinist, and he was a gun maker’s labourer for a time.

Charles’ father was Charles W. Wilkins, born in Bexley Kent in 1842 – he became a brick maker and labourer, living in Duke’s Head Yard, close to the local pub. His wife was Jane Sim Shepherd of Crayford, Kent; her middle name derived from her father who was a baker – for some reason William Sim never married her mother Anne Shepherd, though his name appeared on Jane’s birth certificate. Jane was only 36 when she died of cancer.

Anne Shepherd was born in 1818 in Crayford Kent. She probably died young, as there is no sign of her after 1841. Her two girls lived with her father, James Edward Shepherd, who was born in 1783 in Mitcham in Surrey. He was a print works labourer, but this obviously did not bring in enough money to keep the family into old age, because he is recorded as almsman in 1861, dependent on charity for their keep. His wife Elizabeth was from Devon and their granddaughter Jane was their housekeeper in Crayford before her marriage to Charles.