Alice’s father, Thomas Stokes, was an orphan who lived on a canal barge. He and his wife, Sarah Eleanor (née Couse), had 9 children, Alice being the third. Alice was born on 4 Jan 1872 on a barge moored adjacent to Iknield Port Road, Birmingham (the “port” refers to a canal port, not a sea port). In 1872 her father was a “shearer” (he cut up the huge iron plates used to make ships and barges). When Alice was a child, her family moved to the ship building area of Glasgow. In the 1890’s the family were living in tenements at 11, Carnarvon Street, Barony, Glasgow. The actual block has been demolished for road widening but neighbouring blocks still stand, a picture follows.
The Gaiety Theatre was built in 1874 and was demolished in 1897 to be replaced by the Empire Theatre. It had seating for 1,400 and was one of the first theatres to use “pop up” seating. In Glasgow, Jem met Alice Caroline Stokes.
During 1890, Jem toured with Pooley and Charlie Mitchell, drawing large crowds. Alice accompanied him as his wife. She was obviously keen to leave the mean streets of Glasgow and experience the excitement of being with a big star. At 1891 census time Nellie is with the children in Liverpool and has accepted the separation from Jem (she describes herself as “head” of the household rather than “wife”). Jem and Alice are sharing a room with Pooley at 76, Fielden Street, Blackburn. He is 60, pretending to be 56 and she is 19, pretending to be 25. A census scan follows.
In Mar 1891 a boxing venue called the National Sporting Club was opened at King Street, Covent Garden, London. One of its first acts was to revise and clarify the “Queensberry Rules”. This rewrite was universally accepted and effectively began the modern era of boxing. The first ever ranking fight to the revised rules (gloves, 3 minute rounds, counting points) was held on 7 Sep 1892 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Jem was feeling the effects of his lack of financial probity. He moved from his house into a small flat at 59a, West Street, Brighton.
On 6 April 1894 Jem applied for bankruptcy. On 12 April it was granted, leaving another group of creditors without payment. A condition of the bankruptcy was that he sold his trophies. He was not quick to comply. A scan of the adjudication follows.
On 6 May 1894 a son is born who becomes Jem’s third son named “James Mace (3)”. The name seems to indicate an acceptance of Jem’s break from his son “James Mace (2)”. The birth is registered in Brighton (2b 270)
This is a picture of Alice taken in this period with Jem’s manager Bill Bayford.
In 1891 a small book describing Jem’s exploits was published.
In Nov 1892 Jem fought an exhibition bout with Johnny Stringer in Leeds.
In Dec he fought an exhibition bout with Dick Burge in Leeds.
Jem and Alice set up home at 4, Queen’s Road, Brighton.
Brighton, as a major recreational centre, was home to a semi-permanent circus, where Jem could obtain employment, but his major employment was as a boxing instructor.
On 2 Oct 1892 Alice’s first child, Alice Lillian Madonna Mace, was born there. She was colloquially known as Lilly. A copy of her birth certificate follows.
In 1863 Mary Ann’s children became effectively tied to Hannah’s children by Mary Ann’s death. In 1892 Nellie’s son, John George F Lee(Mace), married Hannah’s daughter, Hannah Ada Mace, in Liverpool. This effectively tied all three families together under the matriarchy of Nellie in Liverpool. Alice, as the “other woman”, and her children were effectively excluded from this cosy relationship.
These are two pictures of Jem showing off his massive haul of sporting trophies at about this time. The large centre piece is the “Windham Trophy”
On 7 Feb 1890 at the Gaiety Theatre, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, Jem fought Charlie Mitchell for the Heavyweight Championship of England. The Police stopped the fight after 4 rounds and Mitchell was declared the winner. In spite of losing, this was a remarkable performance by Jem. He was not knocked down. He was 58, Mitchell was 28 and Mitchell was quality opposition, he had previously fought a draw with the World Champion John L Sullivan.
This was Jem’s last fight as a Championship contender.
“(Retired) Champion of the World” and his image is surrounded by his trophies.
The following faded silk scarf dates from 1891/1892. It refers to him as