I had completely forgotten that Cousin Margaret had located our Grandmother’s burial site.  On my last day in England I had hoped to visit it, meet Cousin Jim for lunch, and re-visit Cousin Gladys. 


I had a map of the cemetery, but there was no time to contact anyone there on a Sunday to find the exact location.  I would have been happy just to see the cemetery. 


Family lore has it that my Grandfather William Henry Snow paid for her funeral even though they had been estranged for 28 years.  My Uncle Reginald William Snow apparently made the funeral arrangements.  I don’t know if any of her other children attended her funeral. 


I didn’t know what a “common grave” was so I wandered around these plots.  I spoke to a caretaker at the gate who said the common graves were “in the back.” The “back” turned out to be an ordinary looking overgrown lawn.  I wandered around but there was no hope of finding her marker. 


It was enough just to be there.


I stood in the cemetery as the rain drizzled.  I thought my thoughts.  I felt saddened for my Grandmother.  She was born in 1878 and married my Great Grandfather John George Snow in 1904 when she was 26 and he was 52.  They had their first child John Allen Snow in 1905 when she was 27 and he was 53.  They had their second child Amy Alice Snow in 1907 when she was 29 and he was 55.  She fell in love with her stepson William Henry Snow who was separated from his wife and was living with she and his Father.  She left John George Snow to live with William Henry Snow in 1909.  They had their first child (her third) Frederick George Snow in 1909 when she was 31 and he was 26.  They had their second child (her fourth) William Alfred Snow in 1912 when she was 34 and he was 29.  They had their third child (her fifth) Violet Lillian Beatrice Snow in 1914 when she was 36 and he was 31.  They had their fourth child (her sixth) Gladys Elsie Snow in 1918 when she was 40 and he was 35.  They had their fifth child (her seventh) Reginald William Snow in 1920 when she was 42 and he was 37.


William Henry Snow left her to live with Leah Lasszman.  He took William Alfred Snow (14) with him.  She was 48 and he was 43 in 1926.  She was left to care for Violet Lillian Beatrice Snow (12), Gladys Elsie Snow (8), and Reginald William Snow (8).  Barnardo’s apprehended her children and she tried for years to locate them while they were “in care.”  Of her seven children, four were “in care,” and one (my Father) sent to Canada.  I don’t believe she ever saw her son John Allen Snow and her daughter Amy Alice Snow after 1909.  She never saw my father after 1913.  I don’t believe she ever saw her son William Alfred Snow, her daughters Violet Lillian Beatrice Snow and Gladys Elsie Snow after 1926.   She did meet her son Reginald William Snow a few years before her death after an estrangement of +20 years.  I could think of nothing more tragic than a mother losing six of her seven children, especially four of them to “child care organizations.”


About all I could think to say out loud was, “Grandma, I’ve brought a bit of your son home to you.  Rest in peace.”





My Great Grandfather John George Snow’s grave is in Mitcham Cemetery, Croydon.  His marker was overgrown (see arrow).  It is a brick with the number 20189.