Tag Archives: marriage certificate

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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Why should I be bothered about those two strangers at my great-grandmother’s wedding?

28 Jan

The widowed Kate Allison had returned to Uckfield Registration District sometime between the death of her husband Robert Cecil Allison in 1914 and the birth (and death) of an illegitimate daughter Georgina in 1916.

This pretty much confirmed that she was my 2x great-aunt, but the final confirmation came when I looked back at the marriage certificate of my great-grandmother Minnie Driver. Four years after the death of her first husband (my great-grandfather Henry Herbert Hemsley) Minnie re-married Robert Farlow in High Hurstwood, Sussex.

Just under four years ago I ordered a copy of their marriage certificate to confirm some details and make sure that I had the right husband (Moses Farlow). When I looked again at the certificate I realised that I had undeniable proof that Kate Allison was my 2x great-aunt.

Until I had started on this search for my grandmother’s “adopted” sister the two witnesses were unknown to me, and to be honest they weren’t that important to me. I mean why should I be bothered about those two strangers at my great-grandmother’s wedding?

Actually that is not strictly true, I knew I should try to find out who they were, but they were a low priority. Four years ago there were plenty more important people to work on and fewer records online, so they never really got the attention they deserved.

Of course the importance of the two witnesses should not be measured by the importance they have to me (are they my relations?) but by the importance that they had to my relatives.

I am sure you can guess where I am going with this, one of the witnesses on the marriage certificate was Kate’s daughter, Minnie Gladys Allison the adopted “sister” I had been searching for along.

Her name had been sitting in my records all along, it felt like I had gone full circle, but without making that journey I probably wouldn’t have realised the significance of the name on the marriage certificate.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER

1 Apr

The marriage certificate of Thomas NICHOLLS and Martha DRAPPER arrived last Saturday whilst I was enjoying myself at Haywards Heath and to be honest I was a little disappointed by the result.

Most of what I knew was correct, the date was the 21st March 1840 not the 15th as I had expected, but that was really the important bit.  The important information was the name of the bride and groom’s fathers.

From the census I already knew Martha’s father was George DRAPPER (the certificate confirmed this) but it was Thomas’ father I was most interested in. He was named as James NICHOLLS, a labourer. This was a bit of a set back because I was hoping it was going to be Joshua. I had found a very likely looking baptism for Thomas (and several other siblings) in Blean, Kent but his parents were Joshua and Mary NICHOLLS.

Of course it is always possible that the marriage certificate was wrong, possible but unlikely. Unfortunately this little project is not working out quite as nicely as I had hoped.

I really need to find out a more exact birth date for Thomas. All I have at the moment is the 1841 census where he is recorded as 20 years old, but this may or may not have been rounded down correctly. The marriage certificate just gives both bride and groom as being of full age.

The next step is to investigate Thomas’ death, to pinpoint the date of his death and how old he was when he died and if I am “lucky” there might also be an interesting cause of death to follow-up.

Australia Day 2011: The marriage certificate of William Joseph Henry BATEMAN and a mystery solved

26 Jan

To celebrate Australia Day Shelley from the Twigs of Yore blog has issued a challenge to write about an Australian ancestor or relative, you can read the full details here.

As I have no Australian ancestors and to my knowledge only one of my direct ancestors ever set foot on Australian soil (and that was only for about week in the 1920s), it meant that my earliest relation with an Australian connection was William Joseph Henry BATEMAN (my 2x great-uncle). I have already written much about his life and my research, but I haven’t really discussed the earliest record I have for him in Australia, which would be his marriage certificate from the 22nd April 1905.

It took me a while to find this record, I knew that William had ended up in Australia (having been born in Brighton, Sussex, England in 1882) and had a family there, but had not been able to find a record of him actually travelling to Australia and didn’t even know when he had arrived in Australia, except if was after 1891 because he was still at home in the census that year. The marriage certificate not only gave me details of his wife and the marriage itself, but also solved the mystery of his arrival in Australia.

I downloaded the certificate from The Victorian Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages website, having used the Electoral Rolls on Ancestry.com.au to narrow down the state and discover his wife’s christian name. I must admit I found the process of searching for the marriage to be somewhat awkward and clunky, and the end result was rather disappointing as the quality of the downloaded image left a lot to be desired, but at least I had a copy.

Eventually I was able to work out all the details (and there was more detail than on an English marriage certificate), confirm that this was the right man and solve the mystery of his arrival in Australia. His occupation was seaman and his residence was H.M.S. Katoomba, a Royal Navy vessel. His naval record confirmed that William had served in the navy and when his service came to an end he was in Australia. No wonder I couldn’t find him on any passenger lists.

But back to the marriage itself. It took place in Geelong, Victoria at the Parsonage, in Yarra Street. The ceremony was conducted by William Williams a Methodist Minister according to the rites of the Methodist Church. At the time of their marriage William was a 23 year old bachelor and his wife Annie Clark BALL was a 24 year old widow with one child from her previous marriage, living in Moorabool Street, Geelong.

Although the certificate was not much to look at it did this solve one mystery and provided plenty of avenues for future research (most of which I haven’t pursued yet) in their married life, Annie’s previous marriage and William’s naval service. Perhaps one day I get to visit Australia and will find myself wandering around the streets of Geelong.

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