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Emily Murch, Court Dressmaker

Emily's humble beginnings and rise to Court Dressmaker

Emily was born on 2 December 1837 in Ottery St Mary, Devon, England to Samuel MURCH and his wife, Joanna YATES.  The MURCH family have so far lived, worked and died in the same small Devonshire town, but gradually, the outside world and its inventions have entered their sphere and impacted their lives, with the advent of the railway in 1844 and the many developments within the textile industry. 

Emily began as a lacemaker, as the rest of her sisters did when they were small, but is listed as a 'silk weaver' in the 1851 census when only 13.  She departed from the silk-and-wool trades of her ancestors, and in the 1861 census she is described as 'Upper Nurse' in the prestigious boarding school in West Teignmouth - Thorn Park School.  Previously known as Hillford House School, it had 24 students, not just from Devon but also faraway India and Ireland.  Since Emily was the head nurse there, this stood her in good stead when she was looking after her aged father in the 1881 census up until his death in 1887 from heart disease. At the same time, Emily was working as a dressmaker, and is listed in White's trade directory of 1878 among many other dressmakers, straw bonnet makers, drapers, and tailors in Ottery St Mary.

But in 1884 a clipping from The Western Times of 12 April shows how Emily has risen; she is now a Court Dressmaker:

Linked toMURCH, Emely

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