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2 Oct 2016

Certificated: the Weapons of a Family Historian

You know when you just need to press 'play' on a project and get things moving.  Seven certificates rolled their way up the drive last week and the intention was that they would lay to rest a couple of family mysteries.

I'm pretty happy with the results.  There are one or two corners of the family tree where I have literally had to step from one certificate to another to make any progress, and the Jenkinses is one of them.  It all started with Elizabeth Morton born 1814 in Newport, Monmouthshire who came to Abercanaid as a young girl with her dad, who built boats for the canal which ran down to Cardiff and the Bristol Channel.  She quickly disappeared into the folds of the smoky town as Mrs Jenkins and we just catch a wisp of a cloak here and a deathbed scene, there.  A bit of bloody-mindedness and charm helped us find her daughter, who died in childbirth age 28 and whose descendants have reshaped parts of Melbourne's familiar skyline, Australia.  But what of the Jenkins boy?  Four certificates later and I'm not exactly sure.  What I do know is the grandson James Thomas Jenkins was a bit of a phoenix from the ashes.  Losing his parents at an early age, he was adopted by a family in the Rhondda, and he worked his way up the ladder moving to the head of the valleys at Abercrave overlooking a lot of the smoke and organising musical evenings for the village folk.

Confusingly, his mother does actually turn up later on, but essentially J. T. had broken away.  I'd never have found his only son except that a bit of helpful transcribed news gives his son's occupation as 'schoolmaster'.  This has now given me an address for a grandson in London, thanks to the fourth certificate I ordered on this line.

In Manchester, Emma Davies born October 1873 was looking likely to marry in Pennington Methodist Church to a baker, Mr Fearn, but I needed proof that Emma was my relative.  Sure enough, with the help of LancashireBMD to confirm the precise Emma and her location, I found only one lady who fitted.  Her birthday matched the one she gave as Mrs Fearn 66 years later at the eve-of-war, 1939.

Also in Manchester, we lay to rest a cousin whose journeys have required much pondering.  And down in southern England, it looks as if a lady we suspected as being 'very guilty' of some pieces of wartime shenanigans has at last been let off the hook.

I cannot justify any more certificate purchases currently, as the rest of the school of fishes are swimming along nicely and don't need any special coaxing to return to the fold.

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