Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Joseph Kritzer and Sarah Sophia Tompson

St Wilfrid's, Chelsea

Sarah Sophia Tompson, eldest surviving daughter of Dan Tompson and his second wife, Sarah Jane Baker married Josef/Joseph Kritzer, son of Wilhelm Kritzer and Flora Gleichaufon 24 May 1905 in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire. 

Their daughter, Mary Amalie Kritzer was subsequently born on 21 Feb 1906, but she was not the couple's first child. On the census for the household of Sarah's parents, Dan and Sarah Jane Tompson, in 1911, in Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, there appeared a 'mystery' grandchild listed as William Charles Kritzer (7) (although the surname was mis-transcribed at Findmypast as Roizen, which added much to the confusion), who it says, was born in 1904 'At Sea'.

The boy was born, actually in 1903, aboard the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II at Lat 40.45N/Long 56.52W, which is off the coast of North America, I'm informed. Launched at Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland), on 12 Aug 1902, the SS Kaiser Wilhelm II made regular trips between Germany and New York City. 

Baptised, William Karl Tompson, on 9 Dec 1903, at the church of St Matthew, Stepney, on the baptism record, his mother is listed just as Daisy (as she appears to have called herself), with their abode listed as 3 Monteagle Street, Stepney - which, interestingly, had been the address given by her half-sister (my great-grandmother), Eliza Louisa, at the time of her marriage to Job Sweeney some 10 years earlier. (This child's birth and baptism information was provided to me by Christine Miller of the wonderfully named, GIN AND GENEALOGY.)

In 1911, Joseph Kritzer (33), was employed as a butler in the household of architect, Henry Louis Florence at 9 Prince's Gate, Knightsbridge, London. In that household also was a Rosina Christie employed as a housemaid. She was listed as single, but her year of birth agrees with that of Sarah Sophia - 1876 - born in Whitechapel: Sarah Sophia's birth was registered in Mile End Old Town, which is next door, both in Stepney. (Both of Joseph and Sarah's children later use Christie as an Anglicized version of Kritzer.) Anyway, I'm inclined to believe this is Sarah (who did, after all, have an aunt Ellen Rosina, but if that's not enough circumstantial evidence for you, Joseph's aunt was also called Rosina, named after her grandmother), using this assumed name to hide the fact that she was married to Joseph, which was more than likely verboten for servants.  

Sarah Sophia / Daisy Tompson / Kritzer / Christie isn't anywhere else in 1911.

At that same time, their daughter, Mary Amalia Kritzer (5) was listed as an 'Inmate' at St Wilfrid's Convent School in Cale Street, Chelsea.

On 18 Oct 1912, listed as Willie Thompson (8), this child sailed to Montreal from Liverpool aboard the SS Corsican with his grandmother, Sarah Jane, and his aunt Ivy. On the 1921 Census of Canada, Willie Christie (18) is living at 131 Morrison Avenue, Toronto, still with his grandparents who have clearly raised him. At Ancestry, there's a note of correction on the 1921 entry suggesting he should be Critzer. I've found no further record for him [yet] under any name. 

As she had married a German, Sarah Sophia had become German and would have been subject to the restrictions of the Aliens Restriction Act 1914:
As the law was at this time, British-born women who had married foreign nationals (who had not naturalised) acquired their husband’s nationality. Many British born women therefore found themselves to be enemy aliens during the war. Except in a very few cases women were not interned. [Source]
A quick search of the indexes of the 1921 Census, in that year, in Totteridge, Barnet were Flora Krtizer (b. 1905), who was the daughter of Karl and Lillian Kritzer, as well as a Molly Kritzer (b. 1906), who must be Joseph and Sarah Kritzer's daughter, Mary Amalie. Then aged 15 and 16, my guess would be that they were at school together, perhaps even St Edward's School for Roman Catholic Girls (we'll see once I can access the original census records).

Joseph Kritzer is not listed in England in 1921. Nor is Sarah Sophia, however, there is a listing of a Daisy Christie in Margate, Kent. Wrong age (only by 6 years younger, which works), but born in Stepney, which looks promising.

In 1939 'Daisy' S S Kritzer, Housekeeper, still listed as married, was living at 1 Pemry Villas, Elm Grove Road, Cobham, Surrey. It looks like a house-share (lodging) situation as there are three other, seemingly unrelated, adults in the household and still no sign of her husband Joseph. Sarah Sophia Kritzer, then of 2 Ashford Cottages, Tilt Road, Cobham, Surrey, again listed as wife of Joseph Kritzer, died, aged 68, on 20 Feb 1945. She left £595 13s (worth £25,849 in 2020) to her daughter, Mary Amelia Melhuish, married woman.

Other than those last couple of records in 1939 and 1945 relating to Sarah alluding to Joseph Kritzer still being alive - where she's described as married and as his wife - there's no further sign of him in Britain and no trace of a record even of his death. Unlike his brother Karl, Joseph did not become naturalised British. Sister, Amalia, will have escaped detention, being a woman. However, initial enquiries suggest that Joseph Kritzer (37) - which he would have been in 1914 - was interned at the Knockaloe Internment Camp Isle of Man during WWI. As "former enemy aliens were to be deported, unless granted a licence to remain", was he perhaps returned to Germany after the war? 

UPDATE DECEMBER 2021: I've now received confirmation that Joseph Kritzer (37), was indeed interned at Knockaloe Internment Camp Isle of Man. "Joseph was interned as part of the mass internment of registered Enemy Alien men aged between 17 and 55 following the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915." 

Joseph’s Prisoner of War Information Bureau (POWIB) Index Card (available from the ICRC website), shows that he was interned on 31 Jul 1915. We still don't know when he was released or what happened to him later, although the pointers seem to be towards him being repatriated to Germany. 

There are many questions that still need to be answered.

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