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Harriet Gould

(1857 - 1919)

Harriet Gould was christened Harriet Sydenham on 19 April 1857, at The Blessed Virgin Mary parish church, Kingsbrompton, Somerset. Her baptism record identifies her parents as William and Maria Sydenham; William was a mason.

It is known that the Sydenham family had resided in Kingsbrompton for a considerable time. Harriet's father was born in the village in 1814 and her grandmother Sarah, was born there in 1781.

Whilst it is believed there may be further brothers and sisters of Harriet, the following were identified when reviewing the parish baptism records 1842 - 1882. Mary Anna in 1843, George Henry in 1846, William in 1848, who died only seven months later, Maria in 1850, James in 1852, Sarah in 1854 and Louisa in 1860.

The 1861 census identifies Harriet as 4 years old and a scholar, living with her parents at Trotts cottage, Kingsbrompton; her father was recorded as a stone mason. Also in the same property were her five older siblings Mary Ann (17), George (15), Maria (10), James (8), Sarah (6) and younger sister Louisa (1)

At the time of the 1871 census, Harriet was 'living in' as a servant at the house of the Baker family, coal merchants at Bampton Rd Cottage in Kingsbrompton; she was recorded as 14 years old. Her parents and siblings were living elswhere in the village.

She is next identified at her marriage to John Gould in Kingsbrompton on 14 February 1876, Valentines day. The marriage certificate identifies Harriet as 19 years old, in fact she was only 18.

Approximately 8½ months after their marriage, Harriet gave birth to their first child. Rosa Maria was born in Kingsbrompton on 02 October 1876. Baptism records identify the family as living in 'Rock Town', Kings Brompton and that the baptism took place on 22 October 1876. Strangely, the Baptism identifies Harriet as Jane. The birth certificate has not yet been obtained.

A further child, Ernest William Gould followed on 25 October 1878. The family were still living in Kingsbrompton with the baptism record identifying their address as 'Upper Town', Kings Brompton. Again Harriet is recorded as Jane Gould, although the Birth certificate correctly identifies her as Harriet.

Ernest William's exact date of birth is unknown as the birth certificate quotes a date of birth as 25 October 1878, the same date as the date of baptism.

At the age of 23, Harriet became a mother again with the birth of George Henry Gould on 24 February 1881. Baptism entries dated 20 March 1881, identify the family as living at 'Upper Town', Kings Brompton and the mothers name as Jane. The birth certificate has not yet been obtained.

The April 03 1881 census reveals Harriet correctly shown as aged 23, with John, Ernest William and George Henry living at 'New House' Brompton Regis (previously known as Kings Brompton). The house is shared with Thomas, Mary and Elizabeth Forgan and boarder Henry Tackle.

Four year old Rosa was not with the family on census night but staying with her grandparents Maria and William Sydenham at 'Upper Town', Brompton Regis. Being the oldest child, perhaps Rosa was away from home to allow Harriet and John to look after two year old Ernest William and one month old George Henry.

On 13 February 1884, still living in Brompton Regis, Harriet and John became parents again with the birth of Lillian. The birth was registered on 19 March 1884 by Harriet who would have been 26 Lillian was christened at the Blessed Virgin Mary church, Brompton Regis on 13 April 1884. The church christening records identify the family as living in 'Upper Town'.

Louisa Jane Gould, the fifth child of Harriet and John was born on 12 May 1886 in Brompton Regis. Louisa was also baptised at the parish church; the baptism record dated 14 July 1886, shows that John was working as a mason and labourer and the family was living at 'Upper Town'.

Harriet and the family moved to Pontypridd, South Wales during the weekend of Friday 07 October 1887 to Monday 10 October 1887. The dating is so precise as school records identify Lilian was withdrawn from school in Brompton Regis on the Friday and all of the children other than Rosa were enrolled in their new school in Pontypridd on the following Monday. Rosa remained at school in Brompton Regis until January 1889, living with her grand parents.

It is also known that the family were living in Pontypridd late in 1889 as Harriet gave birth to their sixth child Bessie in Pontypridd on 13 October 1889.

The family's departure to South Wales was perhaps, a product of the decline in the working of the mines in Brompton Regis. A diary entry made on 13 March 1890, by a Brompton Regis teacher reads, 'A great many families removing from the parish. This will cause us to loose many children'.

At the age of 33, Harriet gave birth to her final child Edith Laura who was born on 18 January 1891. The family were living at Evans Houses, Coedpenmaen, Pontypridd. The birth was registered by Harriet on 28 February 1891.

The 1891 census places all the family other than Rosa at 34 Coedpenmaen road, Pontypridd. Rosa was still living in Brompton Regis. Living at the same address were coal miners, Isaac and George Carter who are recorded as lodgers, perhaps taken in to support the cost of raising such a large family.

Family stories maintain that John and Harriet separated. Whilst the exact date is unknown, evidence from electoral registers suggest the break up may have occurred as early as 1895/96.

The 1901 census places Harriet at 1, Lionel Road, Canton, Cardiff with daughters Louisa Jane, Bessie and Edith Laura. This fact coupled with Bessie's removal from Coedpenmaen School on 22nd of June 1896 makes it probable that this was the approximate date of the separation.

An interesting photograph has been found of John and Harriet with their children, and from their apparent ages, it would appear that the photograph was taken approximately 1905 - 1910. This raises an interesting question about the marital state of John and Harriet; did they separate or was this a temporary reconciliation.

It has been suggested that perhaps the family came together as a group for the christening of Sidney, eldest son of George Henry Gould. A further photograph has been uncovered of George Henry, his wife Beatrice Maud, and a young child in a christening gown. George Henry appears to be wearing the same clothes and look in both photographs.

Other interesting photographs have been found of Harriet, both with her young children and later in her life, living in Cardiff.

Little is known of Harriet's life after the separation. Although existing photographs show that she kept in touch with her children and grand-children up to and including 1916, the next recorded event was her death at 117 Eldon Street, Cardiff in 1919; she was 62 years old.

As Harriet's death would have been considered 'sudden', an inquest was held which reported the following.

Inquest - Harriett Gould


Date: 14/7/1919

Name: Harriett Gould Wife of John

Address: 117, Eldon St.

Age: 61yrs.

Found by: Dolly Barslow 117, Eldon St.

Identified by: Richard Morgan Collier 117, Eldon St.

Burial order handed to the above.


Other witness: Dr. England 89, Cowbridge Rd.

Verdict: Syncope following on Valvular Disease of the Heart

Date: 15/7/1919


Deceased was a very stout person. She had suffered with heart trouble for several years. She had not been medically attended for the past five years; but she had gradually got worse with regards to shortness of breath and she frequently complained of pains in the heart. On the 14th instant she was in her usual health and went to her bedroom to make her bed about 8.00pm. At 9.20pm as she was missed the witness Dolly Barslow went to her bedroom and found her in her kneeling position on the floor with her head resting on the bed dead.

Doctor England, who was at once called in, stated that he examined the body. There were no marks of injury and from the history of the case in his opinion the cause of death was "Syncope following on Vascular disease of the heart".

Harriet was buried at Glyntaf Cemetery, in an existing plot which even today has a well preserved and detailed head stone. Although the headstone makes no reference to Harriet, cemetery records clearly associate her with the grave, mentioning her name, age, Eldon Street address and the fact that an inquest was carried out. She was followed in the grave with her son in law Frank Bowkett in 1927 and her daughter Bessie in 1971.