August 2011 – Alice Cross wife of John Crook Peapell

August 2011 – Alice Cross wife of John Crook Peapell

My mother, Beryl Richards Hurley (Maiden name Webb), always called her grandfather’s second wife Lizzie, but her real name was apparently Alice.  Although on her marriage she gave her name as “Alice Sly” and her fathers name as “William Cross” and his occupation as “Butler” it still proved difficult to track down where she came from. My mother said about Lizzie, or Alice -

My grandfather married again in November 1921. Alice Sly was a barmaid at the local public house, the Carpenters Arms. The family did not approve as they said that my grandfather only saw Alice when he was drunk.

My grandfather took Alice Sly to meet his father and mother. His father Henry, who was by then stone deaf, pointed to Alice’s finger to indicate that he assumed she was a widow. The story goes that my grandfather had to hold up two fingers as she had been married and widowed twice but I have not been able to prove this.

And on visits to see her Grandfather

On one occasion we went as far as Bedford to visit Mr. Iles, someone connected with my grandfather’s second wife (known to me as Aunty Lissie.). I do not know whether it was a relation or friend, but I remember he laughed so much his false teeth fell out. My grandfather’s second wife was reputed to have worked at Windsor Castle – but was it the royal palace or a pub of that name? On her marriage certificate she gave her father’s occupation as butler.

Wednesday afternoons, being early closing day in Swindon, were usually spent at Stratton. That was also the day when my Aunty Lizzie went to her Mother’s Union meetings – something which puzzled me as she was not a mother.

Time to track down Alice if I could.

I looked at the 1911 Census for Alice Sly. Here I found a likely Alice married to Herbert Sly and both publicans in Wantage. This fitted with Alice Sly having met John Crook Peapell in the Carpenters Arms in South Marston where she was barmaid.

On FreeBMD I found in Quarter 1 of 1897 Alice Cross married Charles Hudson at Faringdon. The other couple on the same page was John Walker who married Emily Pitt.

Charles was a carpenter about 12 years older Alice and widowed with a son also called Charles. Although he came from Norfolk he had lived for some time in Buscot where his previous wife came from and his son Charles was born.

In Quarter 2 1907 (June) Charles Hudson died in Swindon age 53 (putting his date of birth as about 1854). The same quarter Herbert Edward Sly was widowed when his wife Emmeline Louisa Sly died age 41 in Swindon. Previously in the 1901 Census Herbert had been a licensed Victualler at Wellington Inn, London Road Wellington Terrace, Farlington (Havant)

One year later in Quarter 2 1908 Alice (Hudson) and Herbert Sly married in Swindon.

In the 1911 Census they are publicans running The Bill Inn Grove Wantage. However it did not last long and just before the first world war, in 1913 Herbert Sly had died in Swindon.

In 1921 Alice married John Crook Peapell

Her marriages lasted about 10 years to Charles Hudson, 5 years to Herbert Sly, and 25 years to John Crook Peapell. She outlived all three husbands.

I cannot find her in the earlier census or be certain about her birth at present. There are 6 possibilities for her birth as Alice Cross and 4 for Alice with a second name in London around the right time

So the family story that when Henry Peapell asked how many time she had been married and John Crook Peapell replied and held up two fingers would appear to be true.

Kevin Hurley

Records used

1901 Census for 18, Westbury Road, Southgate

Charles Hudson         Head   Married, occupation carpenter, born 1855 in Holt Norfolk,

Alice Hudson              Wife    Married, born 1867 London

Charles Hudson          Son      Married, occupation carpenter, born 1882 Buscot Berkshire

Cook William              Boarder Single Occupation carpenter, born 1879 Stratton Wiltshire


1901 Census for Wellington Inn, London Road Wellington Terrace, Farlington

Herbert Sly                  Head   Married, Occupation Licensed Vituller , Born 1864 in Warminster

Emmerline Sly Wife    Married, born1862 in Dagenham Essex



1911 Census for The Bill Inn Grove Wantage

Herbert Sly, Married 3 years, occupation publican, born 1864 in Warminster Wiltshire

Alice Sly, married, occupation publican, born 1866 in London


Possible Births of Alice Cross in London between 1865 and 1867

Jun       1865    Cross   Alice                            Poplar                          1c        659

Dec      1865    Cross   Alice Beatrice             Lambeth                      1d        347

Mar      1866    Cross   Alice                            Whitechapel                1c        414

Dec      1866    Cross   Alice J                         Newington                  1d        217

Mar      1867    Cross   Alice                            St. Geo. H. Sq.            1a        265

Mar      1867    Cross   Alice Selina                 Wandsworth               1d        507

Jun       1867    Cross   Alice Emma                Richmond, S.              2a        280

Sep      1867    Cross   Alice                            Mile End                     1c        560

Sep      1867    Cross   Alice                            St. Giles                      1b        515

Dec      1867    Cross   Alice                            Bermondsey                1d        80



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