Tag Archives: first world war

My Family History Week: Sunday 29th April 2012

29 Apr

It was another reasonably good week, nothing really new, mainly re-visiting various parts of my family tree inspired by going through my to-do list.

Challenging times: Updating my to-do list

I am now pretty happy with the state of my to-do list, I am also aware that it still has some short-comings. Although I have cleared some duplicates and even completed a few items, however there is still a lot to be done.

I think a lot of the items don’t really need to be on the list at all. By that I mean that I ought to be in a position to run selected queries on my Family Historian software to give me lists of individuals for whom I still need to find births, baptisms, burials etc. for a particular place.

Various parts of my family tree

I put in a fair bit of work on Edward Gasson and his wife’s first family and this brought my thoughts back around to my 3x great-grandfather Thomas Gasson and his brief time with the Metropolitan Police. I must order Edward’s birth certificate this coming week.

A little bit of creative searching has uncovered a missing baptism record for the son of another of my 3x great-grandfathers, Thomas Kinghorn. John Kinghorn’s baptism in London had eluded me for several years. It turned out he had been baptised in Holborn, rather than Westminster where his siblings had been, this still leaves me two more children to find, but every little nugget of information helps.

Future Challenges

I am still finding my weekly challenge to be a helpful motivational tool, but with so many things that I could do it is getting hard deciding what to do next. I may take the opportunity to go through my to-do list again this week and try to clear a few more entries.

It still has over 140 entries so there is no shortage of things to do, however there is a shortage of things that I can do without visiting a record office, and that is not likely to happen this week.

There are several people where I have more information to be entered into my database (Patrick Vaughan and William Joseph Henry Bateman are two examples) so I might get around to updating them.

One thing that did surprise me when I was looking through my to-do list was the number of men whose First World War service was not properly recorded. I have copies of their service records or in some cases just a medal index card, but I haven’t really recorded all that data anywhere.

On the same theme there must be many more men in my family tree who served in the First World War, but whose records I haven’t found (or looked for) yet. I owe it to them to make sure I have at least checked to see what was recorded.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The hunt for Patrick Vaughan’s service record resumes

14 Feb

My attention had now turned once again to Patrick Vaughan, the second husband of my 2x great-aunt Kate Vaughan, and trying to find his First World War service record.

I had discovered that Patrick was a Canadian and an attestation record on the Library and Archives Canada website proved to be a good match, but I wasn’t 100% certain that this was my man. If I was going to order a copy of his full service record then I needed to be absolutely certain that I had the correct Patrick Vaughan.

My first attempts to find out more about Patrick were largely unsuccessful, I didn’t really know where I should be looking. There were a couple of interesting possibilities hidden behind pay-walls, but by and large nothing that seemed a good match, until I stumbled across a headstone for a Patrick Vaughan on Find A Grave.

This headstone was in Taber Cemetery, and Kate and her family had been heading for Taber when they landed in Canada, this seemed a good match. Furthermore, this was a military headstone, presumably erected by the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, and it gave a the same regimental number as the attestation record.

This looked like the missing link I needed to confirm that the attestation record was for my Patrick Vaughan, but still I wasn’t certain. If only there had been some mention of Kate on the headstone, but it only had a date of death (2nd September 1934). I was still left pondering whether I had enough evidence to order the service record.

Then came my eureka moment. I was soaking in the bath, but my brain was still in Canada, trying to justify the cost of the service record. Then it occurred to me, I had the perfect way of confirming if I had the right man. Patrick had signed his attestation form and of course he would have signed the marriage register.

If I could match those two signatures I could safely order the service record in the knowledge that this was my man. It was so simple and so obvious, I didn’t leap straight  out of the bath, but when I did get out I made a note to check the original marriage register when I next go to the East Sussex Record Office (the copy of the marriage certificate I have doesn’t have the actual signatures of the bride and groom).

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Taking my first steps in Canada

13 Feb

Kate Vaughan (my 2x great-aunt) and four of her children sailed to Canada on the 19th September 1919, leaving behind her daughter Minnie to be looked after by my great-grandmother.

Presumably her new (and second) husband Patrick Vaughan had already returned home after serving with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.

I wanted to find out more about Patrick and what became of the family once the had settled in Canada. Given that Kate took four children to Canada it seemed quite likely that I would have some cousins out in Canada (even if she didn’t have any more children with Patrick) that might be able to tell me more about the family.

The problem was that I know almost nothing about family history research in Canada and I knew very little about what became of the family after they arrived.

The passenger list had told me that they were bound for Tabor (or Taber) in Alberta but of course there was no guarantee that they actually ended up there. Of course I also knew that Patrick had been a soldier, and hopefully there would be a record of his service that would give me some more clues.

A good start was finding that Library and Archives Canada have digitised attestation records from the First World War and they are available to search on their website. There is really only one likely record for Patrick Vaughan which provides a few interesting details, but of course it doesn’t mention Kate, his next of kin was his sister Elizabeth.

Although it describes him as a widower, which matches his marriage certificate, the age given is about three years out. Interestingly it states that Patrick was born in Ireland, where his sister still lived.

Unfortunately Patrick’s full service record has not been digitised yet. I could wait patiently for it to be done or I could send the LAC some money to get them to digitise it. I never like parting with my money unless I am 100% certain, and there is just not enough information yet for me to be 100% certain, that this is the right man.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Where had Patrick Vaughan come from?

2 Feb

I had failed to find a service record for Patrick Vaughan (the second husband of my 2x great-aunt Kate Allison), moreover I had failed to find any trace of military service despite their marriage certificate claiming he was a soldier.

I was starting to smell a rat when I also failed to find any trace of him in the GRO Indexes and census returns. I had his name, age and father’s name from the marriage certificate, so theoretically it ought to be quite easy to track down details of his birth and what he had been up to before marrying Kate.

The marriage certificate also revealed that he was a widower, which was particularly interesting as Kate was a widow with five children, and I wondered if he had brought any of his children to the marriage, metaphorically speaking. I was still looking for reasons why Kate’s daughter Minnie might have been adopted by my great-grandmother.

But back to my search for Patrick. Obviously one or more of the facts on the marriage certificate might be wrong, but even allowing for some creativity on Patrick’s part I found it impossible to find any other trace of him in the census and no trace of his birth.

As far as I could tell there were two options, first that Patrick had lied about just about everything on the marriage certificate, which seemed incredibly unlikely, or the more plausible option that Patrick wasn’t English and was only in England because he was fighting for us in the First World War.

Another “foreigner” in my family tree would be interesting (I think I only have one other unless you include Ireland, Wales and Scotland as being foreign), but it would probably make researching him harder and push me out of my comfort zone (Sussex) again.

Once again I had to face the facts, this was the most likely option, but where had he come from?

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Searching for the service record of Patrick Vaughan

31 Jan

The marriage certificate of Kate Allison (my 2x great-aunt) and Patrick Vaughan showed that he was a soldier, which wasn’t surprising given that the year was 1917 (or 1918) and the vast majority of young men were fighting for King and Country.

More specifically the marriage certificate said that he was a sapper, so presumably this meant that he was serving with the Royal Engineers. This would help in my search for his service record.

The first step was to check the WW1 Medal Index Cards on Ancestry.co.uk, this gives the most complete list of men who served in the First World War, and it revealed just one Patrick Vaughan who had served in the Royal Engineers. Initially this Patrick Vaughan had served with the Liverpool Regiment before transferring to the Royal Engineers.

Based on this I transferred to the WW1 Service and Pension Records on Ancestry and was delighted to see that the record for Patrick Vaughan who served with the Royal Engineers had survived and was in among the service records. Not only had it survived, but it had survived in abundance, in total there were 58 pages about Patrick.

It soon became obvious that this wasn’t the Patrick Vaughan that I had been looking for, either that or he had been lying profusely when he attested or got married. This Patrick had been 28 years old when he enlisted in 1915, by no stretch of the imagination or slip of the pen could he be 43 years old a couple of years later when he married.

Amongst the 58 pages there was no mention of a wife, his next of kin was his sister, and there was a fair bit of correspondence with his sister because he died in 1918, seemingly taking his only life whilst recovering in hospital. It was such a sad story, but not one that I could stretch to fit into my family tree, things just didn’t stack up.

My only likely candidate had been disproved, but of course there were many reason why I could find no trace of his military service. Perhaps he wasn’t a sapper after all, perhaps he wasn’t even a soldier? Perhaps he was never entitled to any medals so didn’t show up in the records? Perhaps Patrick wasn’t his full name or his age wasn’t 43 years after all?

I had no choice but to give up searching for his service record, perhaps I would have more luck with finding him in civilian records. After all I had his name, age and the name of his father, that should make it relatively easy to find out more about him.

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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Finding Frank: who lived at 2 Oxford Place, Brighton, Sussex?

15 Nov

One of the few pieces of information I was able to gather about the Frank TROWER whose name is recorded on the Brighton War Memorial was that Frank was the brother of J TROWER of 2 Oxford Place, Brighton.

Apart from his age and date of death this is the only other piece of genealogical evidence that I have to try place Frank within my family tree, but frustratingly I have been unable to tie the address to any of the TROWER family.

Last Saturday I made a quick visit to Brighton History Centre and tried to get some more information on who was living at 2 Oxford Place. Every piece of evidence I looked at points to the residents being the BROWN family without a trace of TROWER anywhere.

I had previously found the BROWNs living at 2 Oxford Place in the 1911 census, with a widowed Jane as the head of the household living with daughter Annie and sons Percy and Albert Ernest.

The Brighton directories I checked covering the period just before the First World War through to the end of the First World War all gave Miss A Brown as living there, as did the 1918 Voters List. Not a TROWER in sight.

I know directories are notoriously inaccurate but the consistency across all the sources suggests that it was the BROWN family that were resident at 2 Oxford Place and not the TROWERs. I suspect that the evidence from the CWGC website is correct, J TROWER did live there, but only as a lodger and as such make it into any of the records.

There is a possibility the there was a family connection between the BROWNs and the TROWERs. Jane is almost certainly too old to be the sister of Frank, even if she had started out as a TROWER.

There are of course other records that might give an address for J TROWER regardless of whether he was a property owner or lodger. A marriage certificate or perhaps the birth or baptism record for a child should give a specific address. This would be costly and I wouldn’t know where to start, assuming that the J TROWER at 2 Oxford Place did in fact get married and have children.

Of course there could be an employment record somewhere. Perhaps he worked for the Post Office or the railway, or maybe a military service record somewhere that would have an address, but that really would be searching for a needle in a haystack, if not in a field full of haystacks.

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