Tag Archives: minnie collins

“I didn’t want to be in Essex”

17 Jan

Having learnt the surname and initials of Minnie’s husband it was pretty easy work to find their marriage in the GRO Marriage Index. Minnie G Allison married Arthur E Collins in Alresford Registration District in Q4 1929.

The middle initial for Minnie enabled me to find her in the GRO Death Index as well (her death was registered in July 1995) which gave me her date of birth (30th December 1907) and told me that her middle name was Gladys.

Next stop the GRO Birth Index, and a birth registration for Minnie Gladys Allison in Q1 1908 in Tendring Registration District. Tendring wasn’t a place I was familiar with, but it turned out that this was in Essex. This was the Minnie that I had looked at before, but felt would be an unlikely match.

Until now everything else had been in Hampshire and now I  found myself in Essex. I didn’t want to be in Essex, not that I have anything against Essex, it was just that it was a county of which I knew next to nothing and didn’t seem to fit into the mental picture of Minnie that I had been building.  I had been expecting a connection with East Sussex and the Hemsley or Driver family, but that hadn’t happened.

All the data I had pointed to Essex, so I had no option to follow the trail, first stop the 1911 census. Given that Minnie was born in 1907 I hoped that she would be listed in the census with her parents. I wasn’t disappointed, there she was with her parents Robert and Kate Allison and two older siblings, living in Beaumont in Essex.

Her father was employed as a horseman on a farm, her parents had been married for seven years and both her siblings were going to school. In short nothing that would suggest that Minnie was going to need adopting at some stage in the future. I was expecting some sign of illegitimacy, perhaps with a mother struggling to cope, but this seemed like a perfectly normal family.

There was one fact in this whole situation which told me that I had to be on the right trail. Kate’s place of birth was given as Framfield, Sussex, this was the indication of a connection that I had hoped for. It seemed inconceivable that there wasn’t a connection with my grandmother’s family also from Framfield and surrounding areas, but what was that connection and how had she ended up in raising a family in Essex?

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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At last Minnie has a surname

16 Jan

Towards the end of 2011 my interest in family history began to return and although I made no real attempts to find the identity of Minnie, it was a challenge that was still at the back of my mind.

I had mentioned to my mother several times that I still wanted to find out who she was, but I hadn’t made any effort to get over to Hampshire and find some directories that might give me some clues.

Then in the week before Christmas my mother gave me a surname, it was one of my uncles who had uncovered or remembered (I’m not sure which) Minnie’s married name. She was Minnie Collins.

I had hoped for something a little more unusual, to make my life easier, but at least now I had enough information to search the GRO Marriage Index. This turned up three marriages in Hampshire and a couple in Sussex. Of course she could have married elsewhere but I had to start somewhere.

Unfortunately the week before Christmas was not a good time to get down to any serious research and I never got the opportunity to explore much further. I did  discover that one of the Minnies had been born in Essex, which seemed an unlikely match, but at last I realised that I was getting nearer to my goal, it just seemed a matter of time now.

Then on Christmas Eve I visited my uncles and we talked about Minnie Collins and how I should now be able to find out who she was given a bit more time. It was then that he took out my grandmother’s address book and we found four addresses for Minnie.

I wasn’t the addresses that were the key thing here, but the name under which they had been recorded. The first three addresses (all in Warnford, Hampshire) had been recorded under the name Mrs A E Collins. My grandmother using the traditional practice of recording married women under their husband’s initial(s).

The fourth address was recorded under the name Min Collins, which suggested to me that she outlived her husband and I knew that I was getting that much closer to being able to prove that.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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The Christmas Gift

5 Jan

On Christmas Eve I received what could possibly be the most unorthodox Christmas gift I have ever received, but it probably rate as one of the most important gifts I have ever received.

It was wasn’t a Christmas gift in the traditional sense of the word, there was nothing to unwrap, for this was a gift of information.

To most people the information hastily scribbled on the back of an envelope would seem insignificant, even if they knew what it was they probably wouldn’t get excited about it, but I could instantly see that the information would help solve one of the long-standing mysteries in my family tree.

The information consisted of four names and addresses from an old address book, revealing where my grandmother’s “adopted” sister Minnie had lived in Hampshire after she had married. Minnie’s full name and background had remained a mystery for years and without my grandmother to ask it seemed unlikely that it was going to be discovered any time soon, but all that changed this Christmas.

The week before Christmas I had been given the surname COLLINS, this in itself was a major breakthrough and given time might have enabled me to find out Minnie’s identity, but the extra information made that discovery a certainty. Within a couple of days I had begun to unravel the intriguing story of Minnie and her parents, establishing her relationship to my grandmother and raising no end of questions about their lives.

So whilst this information has set me on the path of solving one particular mystery it has also been a much greater gift. It was the spark that has re-ignited my passion for family history. Until then I had struggled to find any enthusiasm for my research but that changed almost overnight.

My free time has been filled with thoughts of little else as I put together plans to visit record offices, trying to work out where else I can find out information that is going to add to this story and gathering together all the information so far in preparation for making contact with a possible descendant of Minnie.

It is hard to put into words the impact of those few words, it reaches far beyond just the story of Minnie because I can now see the branches of my family tree starting to come to life again and urging me to explore them once more. Probably the best gift I could have wished for.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License
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