Tag Archives: driver

A puzzling group photograph

21 Apr

Of all the photographs in my collection this is probably the most distressed, but it is also one of the most interesting. I just wish I knew more about it.

There are a couple of people in this photo who look familiar, the woman on the front-left could be my great-grandmother Minnie Driver/Hemsley/Farlow and the young woman on the front-right could be my grandmother Annie Hemsley.

The old man at the back might be my great-grandmother’s second husband but I less sure about that. Also the woman with the large black hat looks familiar, but I am not sure from where.

That still leaves plenty of other people to be identified, including the little boy at the front. Of course there is also the location to be identified, a lovely rural backdrop with farm buildings and a haystack.

Using the digital image I need to put in some work on cleaning up the photo and then attempt to put a date to the photo, to see these are the people I think they might be.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Finding Minnie: taking stock

2 Mar

I have to admit that my Finding Minnie project has got a little out of hand and has grown way beyond my original expectations.

I was a little surprised at first to find my research taking me into Essex and away from my comfort zone in Sussex, but now I have left that comfort zone way behind and I am now trying to get to grips with research in both Ireland and Canada (with plenty of research still left to do in England).

I have no idea where or when this project is going to end. I have already achieved my initial goal of finding out who Minnie was, but instinctively I have just carried on investigating.

Taking a short break has given me chance to review what I actually want to find out and how it is going to happen. My attention has now turned to finding out what happened to Minnie’s mother Kate and the rest of Minnie’s siblings after they arrived in Canada, and also about the life of Kate’s second husband Patrick Vaughan.

I know this process is going to take some time, so whilst I get to grips with Irish and Canadian research I want to return much closer to home and find out more about my grandmother and my great-grandmother who brought up Minnie.

I also want to find out more about the village of High Hurstwood in East Sussex, where they were all living. I can find very little information online about the history of the village, so it will be quite interesting to see what I can find out and it could possibly evolve into a one place study in the future.

One of Kate’s brothers also emigrated to Canada, so as I am starting to explore Canadian research it would be a good time to find out some more about him and his family as well. There is also another brother who I haven’t been able to trace yet, I have a suspicion that he might also have emigrated to Canada so now would be a good time to find out more about him.

Now I see this project more about investigating this particular generation of the Driver family, so I may have to come up with a new name for the project.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Revisiting the outgoing passenger lists in search of Kate

11 Feb

Having failed to find a record of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan leaving England for Canada, I turned my attention to the other end of the journey and found a passenger list on Ancestry that showed Kate and four of her children arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 27th September 1919 aboard the White Star liner R.M.S. Baltic.

Armed with this information and the fact that they had sailed from Liverpool, I knew I ought to now be able to find a record of Kate and her family leaving England in the outgoing passenger lists on Findmypast.

Knowing the name of the ship made it pretty easy to narrow down the search, searching by ship name brought up a list of ships and selecting Baltic then brought up a list of years, clicking on 1919 brought up a list of sailings for that year. In the list was a departure on the 19th September 1919, the same date that had been recorded on the remaining fragment of the Driver family bible.

The bible had been correct all along, if only I had been able to search on that exact date I could have saved myself a lot of searching. I wasn’t quite out of the woods yet though, I still had to find Kate and her children in the passenger list, but at least now I only had 47 pages to go through.

I clicked through page after page, scanning the list of names for something that looked like the surname Vaughan. I hadn’t been able to find Kate in a person search, so I was looking for something that might have been mis-transcribed.

I wasn’t until I neared the end of the list that I realised I was getting closer and more pieces of the story began to fit together. The last few pages included the hand-written words across the top “Canadian military dependants forwarded by Can. Govt.” This made perfect sense and confirmed my suspicions, Kate’s husband Patrick Vaughan had been a Canadian soldier and the family were now travelling to Canada to join him.

Sure enough there was Kate, or at least it had to be Kate, the handwriting was not clear and the surname was spelt wrong, but it looked like Vaghan P Mrs. Disappointingly it didn’t list each child, but only gave the number of adults and children in the party, three adults (Kate and her two eldest children) and two children.

Although the passenger list didn’t give me any further information I had at last confirmed when Kate left England and that I needed to be looking in the Canadian archives for a record of Patrick Vaughan’s army service and to find out what became of Kate and her family after they settled in Canada.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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At last, proof that Kate did go to Canada

9 Feb

The tattered remains of the Driver family bible told me that my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan went to Canada on the 19th September 1919, but I couldn’t find any record of her leaving England in the passenger lists on Findmypast.

I had found no trace of Kate and her family (except Minnie) in England and furthermore the bible had proved correct in the past so I felt sure Kate had gone to Canada, it was just that I couldn’t find her.

I knew that my best bet would be to try to catch Kate as she got off the ship at the other end. Of course I didn’t know for certain that the other end was Canada, what date she would have arrived and on which ship or with whom she arrived, but using the information in the family bible would give me a starting place.

Fortunately Ancestry have a collection of Canadian Passenger Lists and so the search began again. What name would she be under? Did she travel with her husband? Did she have her children with her?

This time I was more successful. It was quite straightforward to find Kate because she was travelling with her four children. Having said that it wasn’t all plain sailing because a couple of the children were not under the names I would have expected. In fact none of the children had the surname I would have expected, they were all listed under the surname Vaughan, whilst strictly speaking they should have been under the surname Allison.

The family consisted of Kate Vaughan (Housewife, aged 42) and Kate Vaughan (aged 15), Cecil Vaughan (aged 13), Lawrence Vaughan (aged 8) and Nora Vaughan (aged 6), and they arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia aboard the Baltic on the 27th September 1919.

At last I had confirmation that Kate and her family had gone to Canada, but there was also confirmation that Minnie hadn’t gone. This was the first time it really struck home, Minnie had been left behind. Perhaps I would never find out the reason why, but sitting there looking at that list of names on my screen I couldn’t help but think it must have been an incredibly traumatic thing to do for all concerned.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Kate went to Canada, so why can’t I find her?

6 Feb

The tattered remains of the Driver family bible gave me the clue that I needed as to what became of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan and her family. It claimed that she went to Canada on the 19th September 1919.

Whilst the words scribbled on the front page of a bible were a good clue, they need to be verified and also I needed to confirm who else went with Kate to Canada.

It seemed likely that her daughter Minnie Allison had not gone and thus ended up being adopted by my great-grandmother, but had Kate’s other children also emigrated with their mother? Hopefully finding the passenger list for that journey would provide some answers.

Findmypast.co.uk has outgoing passenger lists covering the period 1890 to 1960, so in theory it should have been relatively easy to find at least Kate among the lists, but of course it wasn’t.

Despite trying all the combinations I could think of I couldn’t find Kate. I knew I couldn’t rely on her giving the correct age, so keep that aspect of the search pretty open, but there were plenty of different names she could be travelling under. I assumed she was travelling under the name Vaughan, but when she didn’t turn up under that name I wondered whether she might have been using the name Allison or Driver.

Whichever name I used I couldn’t find Kate, or for that matter her husband Patrick or any of her five children. Unfortunately there was not an option to search by a departure date, only the year of departure otherwise that would have saved me some time.

I began to wonder if the information in the bible could be relied upon had the writer got the correct year and what if it wasn’t Canada she went to, but completely the opposite side of the world? Perhaps it was a different Kate? So far I had found the bible to accurate, so I felt I shouldn’t give up on it just yet.

I remembered the title of a podcast from The National Archives I had listened to a couple of years ago Every journey has two ends. If I couldn’t find Kate leaving England then perhaps I would have more  success finding her arriving in Canada.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Yet another lesson learnt the hard way

5 Feb

Having come to the conclusion that Patrick Vaughan (the second husband of my 2x great-aunt Kate Allison) was not English, due to a lack of any trace of him in the British Army WW1 Records or any civilian records, I had no option but to move on and hope that something else would turn up that might give me a clue as to where he had come from.

Had the newly married couple had any children? When and where did Kate’s children get married? When and where did Kate and Patrick die? All questions which should have been easily answered by the GRO BMD Indexes.

Apart from Minnie Gladys Allison, whom had started this research off, I could find no trace of any of the Allison family or Kate and Patrick Vaughan in the indexes, or any combination of the names.

It was then I remembered a rather tatty piece of paper in my possession, a couple of pages from a family bible that gave a few details about the Driver family. I wrote about this piece of paper before, but had largely neglected to follow-up the information written on it. One piece of information on there suddenly took on new significance.

Suddenly it all made sense, this was why I couldn’t find any trace of the family in England, she had gone to Canada, presumably with her new husband and children. Once again I had found the information I was looking for right under my nose.

Last year when I wrote about the tattered remains of this family bible I had even commented on the fact that Kate and her brother Asher had gone to Canada, but had never followed up on the information.

It wasn’t as if I actually needed to do the research at the time and find them in passenger lists, just putting a note in my database that would have reminded me that the bible said she had gone to Canada could have saved me many hours of fruitless searching when the time came.

Yet another lesson learnt the hard way, but at least I was back on the trail of Kate, Patrick and family.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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What happened next to Kate Allison?

30 Jan

With the widowed Kate Allison (who I could confidently call my 2x great-aunt) and presumably her five children back in Uckfield Registration District, it seemed only natural that she should turn to her family for help.

Maybe the Allison family were even living with my great-grandparents (Minnie and Henry Herbert Hemsley) in High Hurstwood, Sussex, but whether they were or not it makes perfect sense for my great-grandparents to help out and even “adopt” one of her daughters.

But maybe the picture I had built in my mind of the poor, helpless Kate, unable to look after her family wasn’t being fair, perhaps I shouldn’t be making that assumption. Sure it seemed like she had given up at least one of her children to be looked after by her sister and brother-in-law, but I still wasn’t sure whether that was the end of the story.

One other possibility was that after she had moved back to Sussex Kate herself had died and the children had been left orphans. I shouldn’t automatically assume that Kate simply couldn’t cope.

There was no sign in the GRO Indexes that Kate had died, not under the name of Kate Allison anyway, but what I did find was a marriage for Kate Allison in Q4 1917 in Uckfield Registration District. I knew I needed to get a copy of the marriage certificate to clear away any remaining doubts that I might have had about her identity.

The certificate that arrived showed that Kate Allison married Patrick Vaughan at High Hurstwood on the 25th December, the certificate said the year was 1918, but the marriage had been indexed in the last quarter of 1917. Hopefully that will turn out to be a clerical error, with the certificate having the wrong year, but filed in the correct year and quarter, but I still have to check that out.

The details for Kate were what I had expected, she was a 40-year-old widow living in High Hurstwood and her father was Thomas Driver, this time still alive and kicking despite what had been recorded at her first marriage.

Interestingly Patrick Vaughan was a widower, his age was given as 43 years old, he was living in what looked like Seaford (not many miles away on the Sussex coast) but the handwriting was a bit dodgy so I couldn’t be certain. His occupation was given as Soldier Sapper and his father was Thomas Vaughan a labourer. I wasn’t totally surprised to find Patrick was a soldier, after all the majority of the male population were fighting in the Great War, so that wasn’t unusual.

Then my brain started filling with the questions:

  • Was Patrick the father of the unfortunate Georgina Allison who was born and died in 1916?
  • Was Seaford his real home or was he merely stationed there?
  • Did Patrick survive the First World War? And did his service record survive the Second World War?
  • What happened to the children of Kate’s first marriage, is this why Minnie was “adopted”?
  • Did Patrick have any children from his previous marriage(s)?
  • Who were the two strangers who were witnesses to their marriage?

With access to many First World War service records on Ancestry.co.uk I knew that I should at least be able to answer a few of these questions. I hoped for Kate’s sake that this marriage would see her enter a new settled phase of her life, after several years of dramatic changes, but only further research would tell.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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