Jessie Harriet Williams was born at 26 George Street in Ryde on the Isle of Wight on 27 November 1857 to parents George and Harriet Williams. Her father was a gardener journeyman at the time of her birth and she was their first child.
In 1860, when Jessie was three years old, her brother George Henry was born. When the census enumerator came to call in 1861, the Williams family was living on St. John’s Road in Ryde. George was thirty five and employed as a gardener. Harriet was also thirty five. Their children were listed as Jessie H, aged three and George H, aged one.
In 1862, when Jessie was five, her brother Arthur Sydney was born. In 1863, Jessie’s brother George Henry came down with Scarlet Fever. Jessie’s mother must have been terrified that Jessie and baby Arthur would also contract the highly contagious disease. George died at the age of three on 2 November 1863 and his death was registered by Martha Cooper who was present at his death. Martha appears to have been a family friend who lived quite close to Harriet’s sister Helen Sophia Day where George Williams lodged in 1851.
When Jessie was eight, her sister Florence Louise was born but when the baby was eleven months old, she developed bronchitis and died before her first birthday.
In 1867, when Jessie was ten, her youngest sister Laura Jane was born.
In the April 1871 census, the family was still living on St. John’s Road at number 31. George was forty six and still a gardener. Harriet was listed as age forty four. Their children were Jessie, age eighteen, Arthur, age eight, a scholar and Laura Jane, age four, a scholar.
About the time Jessie turned twenty one, she met a soldier from the Royal Artillery base. His name was William Bond and he was a bombardier. The couple became involved and before long, Jessie knew that she was expecting a baby.