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23 Feb 2016

Two little bits of paper

So I got back on Sunday after a few days' away, and the Office for National Statistics had pushed a brown paper mountain through my door, for £37.

What really mattered were the two little bits of paper.

It is not often that news from the 1870s has me carpeting Facebook friends with panicked news. But that's what happened here.

These dear certificates resolved a decade-long battle to find the whereabouts of Charlotte Smith, born 1880 in Norfolk, and Eva Walker, born 1897 in Swansea.

Like the very best of horoscope readers, all that was required to sort things out was a date of birth. Two dates of birth on the two bits of paper.

Charlotte is then searched for on the 1939 Register, and appears as Mrs Campbell living in a mansion flat on Battersea Park.

Eva is then also searched for on the 1939 Register, and appears as Mrs Purcell a widow living of all places in Kidderminster, a part of the Midlands nearest to the Welsh Marches.

Both ladies had married age forty, three counties away from their birthplace, which made them hard to spot.  Both actually had families.

Charlotte's London family are an absolute joy and we're seeking to reunite them with their first cousins elsewhere in the capital.

Charlotte in particular was my most missing relative, in an army of people "who we don't really talk about" which included her father, grandfather, and most of her grandfather's (overly sexed, illiterate) relatives.

Eva has also kept me guessing; but, no longer. I shall have to scout around for new missing relatives, as so much of the post- Victorian era has been resolved.

Thanks to birthdates, the 1939 Register and those, now screwed up, bits of paper.


  1. These were life changing bits of paper. Eva's story was not as direct as I thought. A reunion for her family was held in Wrexham 7 May 2016. Charlotte's North London family indeed met me, on 9 Jul 2016.

  2. ... and that has led to the Scots background being found, a forthcoming exhibition Ancestry, at Lauderdale House, and more...

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