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Mary JudeMember of the Women’s Police Service
Mary Jude ( Watson ) 1884-1961
Mary Jude was born on 18th September 1884 to Samuel Gelbert Jude, farm labourer and Sarah nee Judge, also of farming background.
Samuel and Sarah were married on 19th May 1875 , both 22 and of Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.
In 1876 the first of 14 children was born between that year and 1893. First to arrive was Louisa followed in 1877 by Ada. A son John Thomas was both born and died in 1878. Hannah arrived safely in 1879, Thomas William in 1881 and Harriet in 1882. Sadly Harriet died in 1891. Mary was the 7th child, arriving in 1894 swiftly followed by Nettie in 1886, Samuel in 1887, Sarah Elizabeth and Rose Ellen, who appear to be twins ,in early 1889 and Ethel in December 1889. Charles Henry was the last to survive being born in 1892 and sadly at the age of 40 Sarah gave birth to Isaac , her 14th child who did not survive.
The family are living at 4 NettleBank, Wisbech when the 1891 census is taken. Samuel at 38 is still an agricultural labourer, Sarah the same age. Ada 16, Hannah 11, Thomas 10, Harriet 8, Mary 6, Nettie 5 and Samuel 4 are all scholars . Sarah E 2, Ethel 1 and Rose E 6 mths are all at home. It is unclear where 14 year old Louisa is at this time,
Harriet died shortly after the census in 1891 aged 8.
By the time of the 1901 census Charles had been born and survived and Isaac had been born and died. We find Mary aged 16 at 5, Greycoat Gardens, London, a housemaid for a Barrister-at-law and his wife. The rest of the family are somewhat dispersed. At home at South Brink , Nettlebank are Samuel and Sarah, Thomas William who is now an agricultural labourer, Sarah E, Ethel, Rose E and Charles. Samuel is a 13 year old boarder on a local farm listed as a general worker /yardboy.
It has proved impossible to find Mary on the 1911 census. Her parents are still living at the same address, both 58, have been married for 36 years and had 14 children , 3 of which have died. They are living in 6 rooms along with Rose Ellen 20 and Harriet Jade ,5, granddaughter.
Of the older offspring, Louisa at 35 is married to a 47 year old farm labourer, has 6 children in 13 years of marriage and lives in 4 rooms locally. Louisa remarried in 1942 and was widowed again in 1949.
Ada married in 1900.
Nettie is newly married at 26 to a 29 year old farm labourer , also living at South Brink, Nettlebank.
Hannah has been married to a plumber for 3 years and is living in Enfield, Middlesex.
Thomas William is small holder, married for 1 year to Mary ( another Mary Jude) living at Halls Farm, Nettlebank. In 1939 Thomas was a farmer and a special constable. His wife kept poultry and they had at least 3 offspring.
From subsequent evidence we know that both Samuel and Charles Henry emigrated to Australia. Charles sailed from London to Sydney in December 1912 on board “Orama” following in Samuel’s footsteps who took an unassisted passage in November 1907 onboard “Ortona”.
In 1916, Mary joined the newly formed WPS. Many of the women who answered this call were middle class , professional or mature. Mary was 32 and from a farming background. Unfortunately we do not know what she did between 1901 when she was a housemaid and the outbreak of war.
The Essex Journal, Spring 2021, p 8 tells us based on Mary Allen’s Memoirs that Mary Jude was a fellow sergeant of Dorothy Watson deployed to Gretna. Gretna had the greatest deployment of WPS, 167 in total. The valuation rolls for the time place her at Eastriggs House. We know Dorothy moved to London in 1917 but it is likely that Mary stayed at Gretna.
This was a particularly tragic time for Mary and her family. Both brothers who had emigrated to Australia were killed during 1916, Samuel , a Private in the Australian Infantry , on 20th July, 1916 at Brooks Hospital as a result of injuries sustained on the front line and Charles Henry on 26th August 1916 in France. Samuel is buried in Wisbech and Charles Henry is remembered on the Somme.
Both brothers can also be found at: Virtual War Memorial | Charles Henry JUDE (vwma.org.au)
Samuel had been married for a mere 10 months, he was newly widowed and left with a baby son in Australia. Mary and her family must have felt totally devastated and helpless at the loss of two sons within a month of each other.
The Essex Journal Spring 2021 p 8 also tells us that following her work as a WPS Mary joined the Cambridge Borough Police, probably the first woman to do so.
The next evidence we have of her is on 28th March 1929 when she married James Henry Watson, Commercial Traveller ( former beer merchant) of 10 Glisson Rd, at Cambridge St Andrew the Less. She was 44 and her address was 11 Clarendon Street , Cambridge. James Henry Watson was the widowed father of fellow Gretna police sergeant Dorothy Watson.
The couple moved to Colchester which is where we find them in the 1939 register living at 166 Greenstead Lane, Colchester. Here we find that James Henry is a retired commercial traveller and also ARP store keeper and Mary is a policewoman retired. We have to assume that Mary gave up her job when she married in 1929 although some like her husband’s daughter kept their marriage a secret in order to continue in the service.
Her 86 year old husband died in 1956 and Mary died on 10th May 1961 aged 76.