British Patent: No. 9452
Date of Application: 19th July 1895
Date of acceptance: 5th October 1895
Title: New or Improved Cycling Dress for Ladies
Patent Holder: Margaret Albinia Grace Jenkins
of 13 St. George’s Place, Hyde Park Corner in the County of London, Gentlewoman.
This patent is immediately clearer than #1. It’s a skirt with built-in bloomers. Like many women of the time Margaret was conscious of wanting to cycle safely and comfortably and also acutely aware of general public aversion to the wearing of bloomers on their own, without a skirt. Her design is socially sensitive; it accommodates these desires and concerns.
Unlike other garments of the time, which featured bloomers or knickerbockers worn under skirts, Margaret’s invention incorporated bloomers into the skirt, and fixing it, ensuring the skirt did not raise ‘beyond a certain limit‘. This was not just due to social pressures to remain modest but also because billowing skirts could catch in chain rings and wheels, causing crashes.
Who was Margaret Albinia Grace Jenkins?
I’ve had a quick look into historic Census records to learn a little more about Margaret Albinia Grace Jenkins. Much like Patent #1 Helena Wilson, it’s not easy to track women down without a great deal of time, creative work and skill (and I’m new to this genealogy stuff). Margaret self identifies as a ‘Gentlewoman’ which could mean that she lives ‘by her own means’ and/or is married. She also tells us that she has resided at 3 St. George’s Place, Hyde Park Corner. As a result I am dismissing all of the entries which have Margaret Jenkins listed as a ‘pauper’ or married to a man who is a ‘slaughter house butcher’, ‘porter’ or ‘cow keeper’.
I’ve found a few possible Margaret’s in the 1891 English Census that get close to these details:.
This Margaret comes close to fitting the brief because she is living in London and ‘by her own means’. However, she is far too old. Although people no doubt lied to the Census people/forms, (as we continue to do now), she is recorded as being 68 years old in 1891, which puts her at 72 when she lodged the patent. Hmmmm… maybe not. Curiously, though, she is listed as being a ‘lodger’ which is pretty interesting in and of itself for a single woman with ‘means’ at this time.
This Margaret is a possibility as she is London based, 51, and married to David Jenkins, 58, an optician. They have four kids (daughter 24, son, 22, son 28 and daughter 9). Also living in the house is a daughter-in-law, 28, and two grandaughters (aged 4 and 2). This is clearly a reasonably sized house. Again, however, she would have been 55 when she lodged the patent. Possible, but….
The third Margaret is a possibility not only for who she is but where she is living. According to the 1891 Census, this Margaret lives in Marylebone with her sister’s family (husband,26 and son 3). Margaret is just 17 which would make her only 21 when she lodged the patent. This seems unlikely except that her occupation is a ‘dressmaker’ and her illustration is one of the least professional visual descriptions I have come across in my investigations.
And interestingly, when we look more broadly at the block in which she lives – 104 High Street has several flats in it – there are a number of tailors, dressmakers and millners etc. However, it is unlikely that she would have been socially classified as a ‘gentlewoman’ in terms of her age and vocation. How she might have self-identified (as a deliberate act of social mobility) at the Patent Office, is another matter…..