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A Victorian Schoolgirl writes to her parents.

Sarah Jane Isabella Wolff Alexander (born 10th November 1826) entered St Mary's Hall on 1st September 1836 (see transcribed School Register Entry 16). It has been verified from Census records that Entry 17, joining on the same day, Frances Vincent Steele was a sister to Sarah. Their younger sister, Deborah Alexander, joined the school in January 1840 (Entry 108). There are no details in the transcripts related to when or why the girls left the school.

Sarah wrote this letter*. She died some six months after the letter was written. One source puts her year of death as 1838 (the same year as the letter), and a biography of her father dates her death as 1840. However, an on-line record puts date of death as Qtr. April-June 1839 in Bethnal Green and her Burial, at the Church of St John of Jerusalem, South Hackney on 24 June 1839.


 *Transcription of the Letter [E & O E]

10th November 1838

"My very dear Papa and Mamma,

We were very glad to receive the parcel this morning and we are very much obliged to you for it. We were very much pleased with dear Deborah’s Letter, I suppose that the little scribbled piece of paper was Anne’s letter too.  I am very much obliged to her, and also to dear Robert for his letter. I think he is very much improved in his writing. I hope that we shall improve very much in our studies. I was…xxx surprised to see dear little Marianne's  hair so dark, she must be a sweet little baby. We thought of you very much on your wedding day. We, that is Fanny and I, are going to have a tea party this evening. We are going to invite Anne Daniel."

Page 2 [Original not available]

 "It is her birthday today as well as mine...and we have asked Miss Tomkinson to come too. I wish you could be with us, and dear little sister and dear Robert. Will you tell me how long you have been married for I cannot think..."


Portrait of SJIW Alexander.jpg

Portrait of Sarah Jane Isabella Wolff Alexander - 1830s

Sarah's father, Michael Solomon Alexander, was born of Polish Jewish parents. He came to England and later converted to Anglicanism.  He went to Jerusalem in late 1841 and died of heart failure on his way to Egypt in 1845. 

Fortunately, a record of the whole family, with the exception of Sarah, exists in the UK Census of 1841. This verifies the children and names given by Sarah in her letter. Robert is not listed, but may have been away at school - he died in 1881.

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