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Corlett family - a family tragedy

Finding a grave with the names of 6 family members, all of whom died between 1894 and 1914 led to a tragic story. William Robert Corlett had been born in the Isle of Man in 1854. He came to Tunbridge Wells, where he married Annie Manwaring in 1886, his occupation being described as a coachman.

Their first two children, Robert William born December 1887, and Joseph Arthur born June 1889 were born when the family lived at Kingswood, where father William was employed as a coachman. By 1890, when Thomas was born, they lived at Dudley Mews, Dudley Road, and on the 1891 census William’s occupation was described as Fly Proprietor. This suggests he was no longer employed, but had his own business. An advertisment in the Kent and Sussex Courier of 5th February 1892 was for the sale of ‘2 Cobs, suitable for nobleman or gentleman’. Their final child, John (Jack) Corlett was born in 1892, but not baptised until 25 October 1896, the son of William and Ann Corlett, living in Albert Street. However by this time he was an orphan.

Sometime after 1892, William returned to the Isle of Man where he died and was buried on 15 August 1894 aged just 40. Tragically Annie died the following year aged 41 at Southborough, leaving their 4 young sons as orphans.

Nothing more has been found about the boys until the 1901 census when we see that Jack aged 8 and Thomas aged 10 are boarding in Albert Street with their uncle Walter Hammond, his wife Jane (nee Manwaring) and family. Robert William, aged 13 was in a ‘Home for Little Boys’ in South Darenth, Dartford, and Joseph Arthur was an inmate of Muller’s Orphan House in Bristol.

Thomas died in 1904 aged 13 and was interred in the ‘old cemetery’ – presumably Woodbury Park; Robert William died in Torquay in 1908 aged 20 and Jack in 1909 aged 17 in Tunbridge Wells.

In 1911 Joseph was living with his aunt Jane Manwaring, who described herself as single, aged 53 born Cranbrook, and a lodging house keeper of Lime Hill Road. Joseph became a journalist but died of consumption in Benenden Sanatorium in 1914 aged 25.

Walter Hammond, the boy’s uncle, was a respected builder and ‘and enthusiastic worker in the East Ward Conservative Association’ as mentioned in his obituary in 1913. It can only be assumed that he paid for the quite substantial memorial to the Corlett family. William and his wife Jane are not buried in the cemetery

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