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Robert Stephen Abram (1841-1891) was the 5th of six children and was born in Gisburn, Yorkshire where his father was a minister  for the independent church movement. After the death of his mother, he moved to London where he married Maria Young (1851-1885) daughter of William Young and Elizabeth Otten.  William was a carver and gilder at St James Church,  Clapham in 1872. They lived in Clapham.  

This is the church where Robert worked as a guilder. A gilder was employed to carve wood and/or plaster, for furniture, picture frames, architectural elements etc. and then gilding the carving (i.e. covering it with gold leaf).


He would be devastated to know that the church was completely destroyed by the Nazis in World War Two. Another one has been built in its place - very modern and caters to a multicultural congragation.

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By 1881 Robert's occupation has changed and he is a  commercial traveller in the field of trade protection' which from later evidence appears to have been in connection with trade insurance. The 1881 census shows that Robert and Maria were  living at 3 Clifton Villas, Henslowe Road, East Dulwich.    Maria died in 1885 of 'convulsions.'  On the death certificate Robert's occupation is recorded as 'Manager of Trade Protection Society.'  Thus Robert was left a widower with eight young children. 


Around 1886/7 he moved back to the Lewisham district because on 19th February 1891, ill and unable to work, he applied to the Lewisham Union for relief.    The application record book states him as living at 1 Rutland Terrace, Schuckburgh Road, and as having resided within the area of the Union without previous relief for four years.   It is recorded that he had been unable to work for several weeks owing to sickness, and that he was without means of financial assistance from any other source.  The basis for his relief was then summarised as 'sickness and need for medical attention.'  He was seen by the Union's Medical Officer because the application record is endorsed 'M.O. recommends meat.'  There is no mention of medicine.  The relief actually provided is then entered:  small quantities of meat, milk and groceries, and the dates on which they were delivered and their value of a few shillings.   The application book records a second application for relief on 10th March 1891 and this time the M.O. recommends he is taken into the 'House,'  i.e. The Union Workhouse.  The Admission and Discharge Register for the Lewisham Union (held at London Metropolitan Archives) shows 'Robert Abram, clerk, age 50' was admitted to the workhouse along with Leopold, age 7, both being described as destitute.  Robert Gladstone, age 10,  was admitted the following day.  Robert Abram died in the Lewisham Union workhouse just over a fortnight later on 26th March 1891, and according to his death certificate, he died of 'epilepsy, last fit one hour' and of 'bronchitis, 4 months.'  His occupation is given as Commercial Clerk so he was no longer the manager for the Trade Protection Society

The two brothers he left behind went on to have illustrious and successful careers, so it is a pity that they were unable to assist their young brother.

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Lewisham workhouse now.png
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