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22 Nov 2015

Four counties, four generations of women

Esther marries in Derbyshire, at Matlock in 1839.

Ellen marries in Cheshire, at Macclesfield in 1858, erroneously as Sarah Ellen.

Mary Ann marries in Lancashire, at Atherton in 1880.

Ellen married in Yorkshire, at Wakefield in 1901.

Esther Fox the great grandmother, would be only 85, of a similar age to the queen, who lived to see her daughter's daughter's daughter marry (1900). But Esther had died, in suspected childbirth, four decades earlier.

The Fox children did scatter to Cheshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, in that order.

Like the queen's great granddaughter, Ellen had no issue from her Wakefield marriage, but lived near her birth in Leigh Lancashire. She adopted a daughter and a hitherto unknown sister-in-law (also childless) proved her will.

Thanks to the #1939register for helping me find Ellen. (Abandoned it seems by her father, born at back of Atherton, but with a birthdate given in the baptismal registers.)

Young husbands on the family tree

There's several young husbands.

Richard Bowman marrying at 18 in Bury St Edmunds, 1870s.

George Wright marrying at 22 in Derby to Mrs Hannah Robinson, 1870. She was 48.

James Guppy marrying at 18 in Bath to a widow Elizabeth, age 36, 1877. She tricked him into marriage, it's said.

Joseph Green, marrying at 17 in Bristol to Mrs Ellen Kingston, a young widow, about 1867. They were from a village 20 miles away.

Joseph Padfield, marrying at about 20 in Bristol to Selina Green, about 1855. They were also from a village, 10 miles away.

Arthur Smith, age 21 to an older lady Charlotte Langham, at Norwich 1878. His father (23) and brother (21) both married older ladies, in nearby towns and villages.

Marriage rights and wrongs 💑

What a silly title, but I did notice a family who slightly flipped the textbook on marrying.

Normally in modern England women change their name, couples had to stay married, and there was some longevity.

Harriet Bowman and her offering bucked this trend. She is the sister of my Henry Smith and of Richard (who divorced his first wife in an agricultural way), and William (who married their niece after circumstances left them alone together).

Generation One. Harriet is shown as a widow in the 1901 census and then disappears. The next census explains. She had married William Cadnum in 1894 but they'd clearly not got on, so she wound back her name a notch. Her truthful son enumerates her as Cadnum in 1911 and under this name she dies.

Generation Two. At the truthful son's funeral the very next year who should attend but youthful Rob Read. The widow replaces truthful for youthful, "marrying her toyboy", according to the diary of a great niece.

Generation Two continued. The second son, Richard Bowman senior married three wives in a row starting at age 18. He tries to divorce the last, and believe it did make it through the divorce courts. He was a grandfather by the time the youngest baby arrives.

Generation Three. From the glitz of St George Hanover Square, a church in London ⛪ where Rose Bowman marries a wealthy sea captain... to her siblings. Amy married a Yorkshireman at 21 far from home, but ten years later settles with another man, a dangerous game that fails.

Generation Three continued. Blanche Bowman loses her first husband to a habit of dicing with prussic acid. And Richard junior is the subject of the wife swap story.

Generation Four. Richard junior's daughter, born 1922, elects not to marry her husband until she is fifty, despite having been together for years and raised a family. She'll have been influenced by her mother, who was happiest when with her partner, not her husband, and whom she wed after 15 years of union.

21 Nov 2015

Emmerdale Farm and a wife-swap: the 1939 Register

I was very sceptical that the 1939 Register would deliver anything new for me.  I have been studying family history for over 20 years, and if I needed information about the 20th century, I could mostly look at freebmd.  And then jump straight into the electoral roll, to get an address of a living relative.  I have done this countless times, so what good would sniffing around a 75 year-old summary do for my tree?
Child baptisms of around the year 1900 often gave the infant's exact date of birth - and assuming they lived another 69 years, you can then use this information to find their death record, particularly useful if they married overseas, had a common name or moved around unpredictably.

Child baptisms of around the year 1880 occasionally gave an exact date of birth, but the infant concerned is very unlikely to have lived another 89 years to produce such a record...
Believe me, I homed in on Catherine Jones (born 1881) pretty instantly, scouring the new 1939 Register for any evidence of a Catherine, but she eluded me.  I was pretty sure she had survived and was living in Manchester, but she was proving a mite tricky to locate.

I knew that she'd had a massive bust-up with her sister Florence - the only family member to produce a will.  And Florence goes to great lengths not to mention Catherine, so her archival betrayal means that Cath is utterly missing from our official family record.

Of course, I found her - and on the 1939 Register, too, but not by my own endeavour.  Who should I spy living with Florence Jones in Manchester, 1939, but Katherine Bateman.  Katherine!  My fingers quiver as I double-check the birth-date.  Yes, Katherine was born in March, and yes, she was born on 6 March 1881.  And yes, there was a marriage (one of 23 possibles) in Liverpool 1905.

So, I was looking at the 1939 household before the barney.  Katherine's two grandchildren lived nearby, and thirty years later, old Florence's heart softened and she added them to her will.  Stupidly I had never checked out this reference, as the name Bateman had no resonance for me then.

EMMERDALE?  Katherine's grandchildren both have large Irish-Manchester families.  A great-great-grandson plays a cleaner living in the village of Eccup, just outside Leeds, in the soap Emmerdale.

WIFE-SWAP? Missed the wife-swap story.  It's here.

3 Nov 2015

1939 Register - wife swap

Mr Richard and Mrs Louisa May Bowman raised four kids together but were never married.
Twenty years earlier, Richard Bowman had married the real Louisa May, and the pair had gone their separate ways.  Richard took up with another Louisa May (not her real name), while the real deal found love in a different part of the country.

The 1939 Register for Kent shows Richard with the fake Louisa May.  When he has a heart attack at the wheel of his lorry, both ladies choose to remarry under the name Louisa May.  This was the first indication of an inaccuracy in the official record - one the registrars would have missed.

I tried to understand how a lady could marry two different men in different areas at the same time, with two separate death records, with ages at least a decade apart.  Before deciding it was impossible!  There had to be two individuals.  Kent Louisa was royally faking it, putting the pretend maiden name on her kids' birth certificates.

She even stuck to names that the real Louisa had given to her kids.  As the real Louisa was using Bowman for her kids by the new man, and the fake Louisa (calling herself Bowman) was recording the real Louisa's maiden name on her kids' birth certificates, and they were BOTH using the same Christian names for their kids - it was a right royal mix-up.

Richard and Louisa May are in Kent in 1939.  The real Louisa was miles away with her new partner.  Richard's migration path is in orange.

It's only, as ever, on the fake Louisa May's deathbed, that honesty prevails.  Well, mostly.  She is still listed as Louisa May Bowman.  She still tells a small porky about where she actually dies.  But the probate entry reveals......

ALSO KNOWN AS Millie!  Then the obituary says she's Millie, and the burial clerk calls her Millie as well.  There's no hiding place, girl....

The 1939 Register gave me July 1901 as the birth date for Millie. Searching all the women born July 1901 with the forenames Millie H E yielded only one birth.  I've found you, Millie.  But, she disappears utterly from the records, not even showing up in 1911, until she 'becomes' Mrs Louisa May Bowman circa 1930.

While the real Louisa has evolved into someone entirely different, quietly playing the piano and nurturing musical talent at another southern location.  Her grandson had no idea of the family in Kent.

Thanks to 1939 Register for quietly resolving these potentially awkward family mysteries.
(Note, as this 90 year-old wife-swap is still pretty recent, Bowman is a pseudonym.)