Sarah's mother was Alice Taylor, born in Eydon in 1827, eldest of eight daughters born to Robert Taylor and his wife Hannah (nee Coy).
Robert was a blacksmith and from 1837 until his death in 1878, also the publican at the Royal Oak. Alice married John Sconce, a tailor from Wroxton, and they settled their growing family in various villages between here and Banbury. Sarah for example was born in Wardington in 1862.
By the 1870s the family had moved to Eydon, where John Sconce died in 1878 and was buried in Eydon churchyard. Three years later the family were still living in Eydon, next to the Royal Oak, which was run at this time by Alice's youngest sister Elizabeth and her husband William Herbert. Alice was supporting her family as a seamstress, whilst 19 year old Sarah was a domestic servant.
Three years later, Sarah had met (possibly at the funeral of her elder brother) and married Thomas Powis, a power hammer driver at a Black Country iron works. They lived in Smethwick and had five sons and two daughters, but by 1901 had to move back to Fish (now George) Street, Banbury to live round the corner from Sarah's mother Alice.
Thomas Powis was described as a 'paralytic cripple', possibly as a result of an industrial accident, and Sarah, presumably with the help of her mother to look after the children, was supporting the family by dressmaking. It was possibly during this time that she lost a daughter, who died after scalding herself to death at the age of 3 on a kettle of boiling water. No doubt she was trying to help her Mummy who had only recently given birth to yet another son . . .
Sarah managed to hold the family together until 1904, when something happened to throw them onto the mercies of the Poor Law Guardians. They were sent back to Smethwick, where the family was broken up. Thomas was incarcerated in the workhouse infirmary where he died 8 years later, two sons were sent to an orphanage near Birmingham, one was sent to sea at Grimsby, another son was sent to join his grandmother Alice (and his elder brother who had remained there) in Banbury, and Sarah was left with her remaining daughter, until she married in 1908. After her husband died in 1912, Sarah returned to Banbury to be with what was left of her family. She died in Neithrop (Banbury) workhouse Infirmary of bronchitis in the winter of 1923 aged 61. This photo was thought to be taken about then. Many thanks to Sue Powis for both the picture and the story of Sarah's life which has been published in our booklet 'Poverty, Plots and the Palace'.
Image lent by : Mrs Sue Powis
Connected Photos: KL009 | AP028