I’ve been running around rabbit holes this week.
I blame David. He may be a friend but he got me thinking about the story of how my grandparents – mum’s mum and dad – came to marry. I will write about that. Like a lot of my family history there’s a bit of romance involved.
What sent me underground was an urge to firm up on my grandparent’s ages. I signed up to Ancestry a while back, mostly to help frame the Textiliste’s family tree and put a fair bit of flesh on mine. I found my grandmother’s birth details in 1896 but my grandfather was ‘abt 1889’ and ‘born in Surrey’. I gleaned that from the 1901 census where aged 12 he was living with his father and mother. So I rummaged. I logged into the births marriages and deaths and put in his name – Percy Francis – and the year with a +/- 2 either side and searched. Several Percy Francis but none born in Surrey. Tried Percival… nope.
You can add mothers maiden name so off I went down a rabbit hole. Mum told me she was Catherine Johanna Padgham and it didn’t take long to find her.
Nope. Didn’t help.
I doubled checked her details which caused a lot of blinking… according to the records Catherine married Benjamin Francis, my Great grandfather in 1894. By then the three children of whom Percy was one – his older brother Bernard and his younger sister May had been born.
Were they really illegitimate? Gosh.
Benjamin had been married before to Emma Brady – another bloody warren this – and according to the 1871, 1881 and 1891 censuses the two of them lived at various different addresses in Hanbury Street in London – where mum said he had his dressmakers – but with no children. Emma died in 1891.
Another partially collapsed burrow suggest Benjamin and Emma Francis had a boy James in Essex in 1871. No other indication? Did he die? I’ve not found the entrance to the burrow yet.
Mum told me Benjamin had twins by his first marriage but of that I’ve yet to find a sign.
Percy’s older brother Bernard I tracked via someone else’s research. Some umpteenth cousin of mine I guess. I have his exact date of birth, name and place of birth but the registry office and ancestry don’t have him. Another ghost.
And in some of the papers my brother the Archaeologist copied from his war record it shows Percy’s date of birth in June 1891, three years after the 1901 census…
I need to soak my brain in arnica. Maybe you’ve an idea. I hope the Archaeologist knows the answer. He usually does.
Instead I cooked. The Vet is hosting Sunday lunch and I’ve been commissioned to cook a square metre of focaccia. V soothing.