Search This Blog

Follow by Email

7 Nov 2016

The lady Doris was on about, or, The Constantinople Connection

My grandfather, some years deceased, had an old schoolmistress who was born in 1902 in Morriston, Swansea.  Due to a strange chink in time's portal and a thorough polish of the time machine, I was able to meet this lady and chat to her about the family history.

It feels like only yesterday I was asking about her grandfather John Harris (born 1841) and she told me... Well, I mustn't bore you with all that old sort of stuff.

She told me that her grandfather bought some land just outside the area and transferred it to her parents, which meant that clever Doris was able to qualify for attending a much better school.  And so she began her own journey up life's ladder like a sturdy pit pony climbing out of the mine.  (Ed: Did ponies really climb ladders?)

The name Reynolds first surfaced in 1992 with a letter in the post from Doris's daughter, Sue.  She enclosed a transcript of the family bible including the death of Jane Reynolds in 1870 age 35, from, I subsequently discovered, phthisis (TB).  I gaily dashed off to the census rooms and located the family at Brynnewydd a nice house in Sketty, Swansea where Mr Reynolds was the gardener.  I located their only son William who had oddly gone back to Cornwall and made his life there, with no living descendants.  Case closed?

Er, no.  Something Doris had said never really added up.  I put it to the back of my mind for another 25 years.

Until today.  The GRO indexes are released, November 2016, and are hereunto described as the Index.  I idly plugged in Reynolds maiden name Rodda into its facility, and out shot three tasty morsels:
* Richard Stephens Reynolds born 1861 Swansea
* William Reynolds born 1863 Swansea
* Eliza Jane Reynolds born 1865 Swansea

Of course, I expected to find deaths in infancy for all these three, with the exception of William, of whom we knew his next steps.

No!!  They do not appear with their widowed father in 1871 at Brynewydd, who is still grieving and in fact has no kids at home at all.  They are similarly not there in 1881, with the exception of 'only child' William - how wrong was I about that.

All three kids were sent pretty much straight away after their mother's death (1870) back down to their paternal grandparents Mr and Mr Thomas Reynolds in Penzance.  The boys settled in there, listed as 'Richard S Hall', and (barely visible) 'Willie Reynolds' born 'Wales', while the girl goes to Thomas's married daughter Mrs Truscott a few yards away with her husband and grown daughters.

Richard S. Reynolds is bound to the Kate Helena, a Merchant vessel, and its master John Bowen at the age of 15, in Swansea.  He passes his second-mate certificate at 21 and is travelling from Odessa to Constantinople across the Black Sea in 1882 when he is taken ill.  Dying of a heart condition, his last moments are in the pristine white-washed walls of a hospital in Constantinople.

(The heart condition passes down the line and attacks at random some other times in succeeding generations.  None so badly affecting a young man in his prime at the height of Victorian super-powers.)

Eliza Jane Reynolds, the unheard-of daughter, drops dead at 20, in Penzance, quite possibly from the same toxic heart condition.  The year is 1886.

Casting my mind back to my chat with Doris, born just 16 years after this time, and it all makes sense.  She was telling me about a young female member of the Reynolds family (who would be a second cousin of her mother), who died young, and for whom a photograph existed.  It didn't fit the script as I knew it back then, so she was parked in some spare brain cells while a quarter of a century rolled by.

Eliza - I have not seen your photograph but I know that one existed.

Index - I thank you for unveiling these important characters in the tree.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting on my blog! Your comment will be live once moderated. You don't need to log in - just select 'anonymous' from the dropdown menu.