Ultra-conservative values weren’t confined to England, so Emma Trunkfield and her young daughter were forced to build acceptable stories when they settled in Barrie.
Editor’s Note: The following is the third installment in this series. To read part 1, click here. Part 2 is available here.
Ed Pye’s stepmother, Emma Trunkfield, was born in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, England in 1864.
Emma’s father, James Trunkfield, had been a comb maker and later a market gardener. At the time of her birth, three generations of Emma’s family all shared a narrow row house on Albion Row in the village.
Kenilworth, since the 1700s, was the epicenter of a now forgotten craft: the making of horn combs.
Using raw materials mostly sourced from surrounding farms, the combs were made in a painstaking process of many steps that could take months. When Emma Trunkfield was born, her hometown’s main industry was in steep decline. Several members of his family chose to immigrate.
One of the few job options available to working class women at the time was domestic service and it was there that Emma Trunkfield found a job for herself. She was eventually appointed as head of household for a furniture upholsterer, Mr. George Lawrence, and his family. At the same time, she also works as a housekeeper for the Robinson family, neighbors of the Lawrences.
Domestic service was by no means glamorous. In addition to hard work and drudgery, lurked another unpleasantness – the vulnerability of young women to their male colleagues or even the gentlemen of the house.
When Emma found herself expecting a child in 1893, she would have had few options. The mere fact of being pregnant was sufficient cause for immediate dismissal from a domestic post. Without a social safety net, women like Emma have been forced to return home in disgrace or take up a highly unsavory occupation to support their child.
Luckily for Emma, she had another option: Canada. His mother had rather prosperous parents there and you will recognize their surname. They were the Andertons of Barrie brewing fame. Emma’s older brother, George Trunkfield, had immigrated and joined the family business years earlier.
Emma’s uncles, James and Joseph Anderton, had enjoyed great success in the years following their departure from England. Barrie had been nice to them. In addition to producing quality beer and porter in their brewery, they had been involved in the city council, had invested in the hotel business, served on numerous committees and joined local fraternal organizations.
James Anderton had died in 1892 in the most unusual circumstances. After camping alone one night in his eastern apple orchard, he was found dead in the middle of an extinguished fire the next morning.
The coroner’s jury found that his death was accidental and caused by a lightning strike on a barn, although some continued to believe there was more to the story.
Emma sailed for Canada in 1898, bringing with her her four-year-old daughter, Gladys Emma.
Ultra-conservative values weren’t confined to England, so Emma and Gladys were forced to build acceptable stories even when they settled in Barrie.
Her long experience as a cook and housekeeper would have made Emma an ideal companion for her widowed uncle, Joseph Anderton.
In the 1901 census, Joseph Anderton is listed as a 71-year-old married man with a 34-year-old wife named Emma Anderton and a daughter, Gladys Anderton, who was seven years old at the time.
Emma is unlikely to have married her uncle, but she may have been very concerned about appearances, being new in town and single with a child, hence the distortion of the truth.
Ten years later, Emma’s daughter Gladys Trunkfield married Edward Albert Pye. They were married by Reverend ERJ Biggs of Trinity Anglican Church. Then they shared a house on Sanford Street with Gladys’ mother, Emma.
For a time, Gladys and Ed, along with their children, resided in Toronto. Eventually most returned to Simcoe County.
Sometime after 1921, the Pye marriage appears to have ended as Gladys later remarried.
Separation and divorce are not uncommon. What is unusual about this case is that Gladys did not have to change her surname as her new husband was none other than Sylvanus Pye, Ed’s younger brother.
Each week, Barrie’s Historical Archives offer BarrieToday readers a glimpse into the city’s past. This unique column features photos and stories from years past and is sure to please the historian in all of us.