In May 1856 Michael Nelis and Martha O’Neil were married according to the rites of the Scotch Church in Greenwich. Michael, a bombardier in the Royal Artillery, was a 22 year old bachelor living in the Royal Artillery barracks in Greenwich and Martha was a 25 year old spinster living at Captain Clark’s arsenal, Woolwich. Although we know the names and occupations of their fathers it has proved impossible to positively identify either Michael or Martha in earlier records, although Michael was the son of a farmer and able to sign his own name. Martha was the illiterate daughter of a stone mason. They clearly lived a slightly peripatetic life and just nine months after the marriage on 15 February 1857, Martha gave birth to Daniel Patrick Nelis at the Cut Yard, Pockthorpe, Norwich. At the time they were resident in Spitalfields, Thorpe hamlet, Norwich, an industrial community largely made up of silk weavers. Pockthorpe was also the location of a cavalry barracks. The young family have not been located on the 1861 census but by 1871 Martha was widowed and making a living as a laundress in Sandbach Place, Greenwich while Daniel, then aged 14, was a labourer. Sandbach place was a reasonably prosperous area and Martha and Daniel lived in the house of a clerk, with several other clerks and inspectors, as near neighbours. Despite the death of Michael and the geographical mobility displayed in these early records there is nothing that would suggest that Martha and Daniel were under particular strain at this point. However, that was soon about to change. By 1876 Martha and Daniel were living in Bolton and their first appearance in the records is when Daniel, aged 19, was prosecuted for attempted suicide. He had apparently been involved with a woman who had children, but when she brushed him aside for another man he firstly threatened to hang himself in the kitchen of his family home, and was subsequently prevented from attempting to drown himself in a nearby lodge by a passing policeman. Martha was one of the witnesses for the prosecution and Daniel was sentenced to one day hard labour.