E's parents and many of her relatives were alcoholics. Her father was deaf and could not speak. The family could not get rental accommodation in Warminster because of their bad reputation, so the children often slept in the streets, under sheds, etc. Sometimes they stayed at their grandmother's, but her overcrowded house was raided by the police several times. When E. arrived at the Knoyle Cottage Home in Salisbury in May 1888, she was ill and her clothes were in such a bad state they had to be burned. E. went into service as a parlour maid in September 1894.