From time to time, I scour archives in the hope that I might find something new about Christiana Edmunds. The book has gone to print so even if I did, I couldn't include it, but it still doesn't stop me from looking!
Anyway, with that in mind, I'd like to introduce another Christiana Edmunds. I came across her while I was searching for details of Christiana's life before her poisoning spree in 1871. Neither of the Christiana's were natives of London but they were both there in 1852, for very different reasons, and this is what piqued my interest in this second Christiana. In fact, this second Christiana was born in Midlothian, Scotland, in 1822; only six years before the Chocolate Cream Killer. But this Christiana had a very different upbringing: In 1841, when she was 19, for example, she was employed as a servant in Albany Street in Edinburgh. A far cry from Chocolate Cream Killer, who had just left the comforts of Hawley Square in Margate to start a few years of private education at an all-girls boarding school in Ramsgate.
Fast forward to 1851 and life for the Scottish Christiana has changed again. She has left Scotland and moved to London where she is employed as a cook in the home of Joseph Angell, a 68-year-old silversmith, and his niece, Catherine. She is one of three servants living and working at 25 Grove End Road in St John's Wood.
Not long after this census was taken, Christiana fell pregnant. She was presumably dismissed, as custom dictated, and was admitted to the the lying ward of the St Marylebone Workhouse in May 1852. She gave birth to a baby girl, whom she named Christiana, and was discharged on 1 June. The father of her baby remains a mystery.
As previously mentioned, the Chocolate Cream Killer was also in London in 1852. She had been sent there by her mother, Ann, to see a surgeon called Mr Prettyman. Ann was concerned about her daughter's state of mind and erratic behaviour. Prettyman diagnosed Christiana with hysteria and she then returned to her family in Canterbury.
I can't imagine that life was easy for the Scottish Christiana and her new baby. After all, she was an unmarried mother and hundreds of miles from her family. I know she didn't return to the employment of Mr Angell; he died in 1855. Of the few leads I have, the only one which I believe is a possibility is that she married a bricklayer called Richard Stokes in Barnet in 1866. It is difficult to verify because the certificate does not state her age or year of birth, as you can see, and Christiana is also listed as a widower. Did she, perhaps, lie to Richard about the circumstances of her daughter's birth?
I guess we'll never know....
Image of St Marylebone Workhouse is courtesy of workhouses.org.uk and all others are taken from Ancestry.co.uk