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23 Dec 2013

Finding Thomas Jones born 1895 in Wales

I love Wales for its mountains, and also its impossible naming pattern.  How on earth to sensibly look for my Thomas Jones born 1895 in Morriston, Swansea?  He turns up in Bishops Castle, Shropshire 1901 and Queensferry, Filntshire 1911.  I now know he enlisted in WW1 (where?), married in Manchester, settled in Eccles, before moving back to Queensferry, then to Deeside, and sailing for Canada in 1952.  Phew.  To have seen him safely off these shores is a relief.

The only reason we know any of this is my cycle trip to Mold.  Rhona, his first cousin’s daughter, was 84 and not answering the door-bell.  Luckily I saw a whip of orange silk across the road as a neighbour kept watch.  Oh no, she’s in!  Knock a little louder.  Enjoying tea thirty minutes later, having absorbed my letter in the last few weeks, she was ready to tell me:
Oh yes, Tom Jones!  He had two children and they both went to Canada.
To be sitting in a Welsh town, and be told ‘oh yes, Tom Jones!’ is hilarious.  Rhona was a Jones herself, and cousin Mary married another Jones, but Tom was a completely separate Jones and she knew it.  I first heard about Rhona in 1998 but literally lacked the computer hardware and transcribed data to crack her location.
I sat on my parsed data for ages.  I got the address of Tom’s grandson in Canada within weeks.  But we still lacked his wife’s name and also that of his daughter.  I found an electoral roll entry that completely contradicted Rhona and later turned out to be the wrong family.

Hello Ancestry shipping data!  I found that Tom had emigrated with his son and grandson in 1952 (that was new).  This gave me his wife’s name – but I still couldn’t find a matching marriage.  After getting the certificate, I went back into the same shipping record: thinking if Tom can emigrate with his son, perhaps his daughter Margaret Jones could come along as well?  I had her age (33) but not her married name.  I searched for all Margarets, 33, sailing on the same ship and lo-and-behold, there was Margaret Roberts of the right age and also the same address (!) indexed in another part of the record.  Thank you Empress of Canada for this shipping record!  I then went back one more time into shipping records and found the Robertses returning alone to England in 1956 (as they’d promised in 1952) with dates of birth, occupations and full names given for them, plus an address in Ewloe, near Deeside.

I think that’s as much as I can get without hearing from the Canadian cousin.  There’s one other clue – the family’s religion – given in faint pencil back on Lazarus Cohen’s army records, and no it wasn't Judaism.  I would also like to find Tom Jones’s military record.

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