A Sad Mystery Solved
Elise’s precious baby conceived in Heidelberg, was born March 1867 but died at 8 months in London. Where did the grieving mother take her little one’s body to be buried? I searched many records while I was researching in London, but it was not to be found.
Percy had just received his grandmother’s legacy and claiming he needed a rest, visited Elise and her family in Heidelberg for 6 weeks during the fall of 1866. When Percy returned to Heidelberg that Christmas, Elise was pregnant. Her family expected him be an honourable gentlemen and marry his fiancée. They had the marriage photo taken for the wedding. But it is clear Percy did not qualify for marriage in Heidelberg as evidenced by his blank groom’s application form that Elise saved. It was found among her letters and papers in 2001 when we had everything translated. German law had strict criteria for grooms. Percy, not yet 25, needed his parents’ approval. His father, Harry Criddle, had died in 1858, leaving his mother destitute. She had refused permission already in 1863 on his announcement of their engagement, explaining in her letter that he did not yet have a profession, and she could not support a family. He could not bypass his mother so permission was impossible. Furthermore a groom must provide a profession with a signature, or a job with his employer’s signature, and a home address with the mayor’s signature. To be backed into such a corner must have been frustrating for the masquerading English gentlemen. Percy claimed he would have no problem to be married in England and decided to take Elise to London. Her passport was issued January 17, 1867. We have not yet found a marriage record but her Harrer family believed her to be Mrs. Criddle as proven by her brother Carl’s will. The baby was born May 20 and registered by her mother as Mabel Vane, daughter of Percy Vane and Elise Mabel Vane, formerly Harrer. Unfortunately the little one had hydrocephalus and died at 8 months from convulsions the following March. According to the records Percy was not present at the baby’s death, nor did he sign her death record. During my research in London I had hoped to find her grave, and map out Elise’s trail to a cemetery. I spent hours scanning reels of cemetery records, but my time ran out and I had to leave the mystery unsolved.
At last, thanks to the internet, I have the answer from the webpage: deceasedonline.com. There was no memorial to mark little Mabel’s grave. Elise must have walked across Waterloo Bridge carrying her little one’s body for the burial. Did her friend accompany her? The record simply says: Brompton Cemetery, Grave reference C/134.9/9.6. Elise saw her precious little Mabel placed in a common grave where four more bodies would be buried.