Tag Archives: finding minnie

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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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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And then Kate went home

26 Jan

It seemed likely that the death of her husband Robert Cecil Allison towards the end of 1914 was the reason why Kate’s daughter Minnie had been “adopted” by my great-grandmother. There was however unfinished business, what had happened to Kate herself and the rest of her children?

In 1911 census the couple had three children and between 1911 and 1914 there was a good chance that the may have had one or two more before Robert’s death.

Searching the GRO Birth Index brought up another two children with births registered in Tendring Registration District, bringing their total number of children up to five:

  1. Katie Evelyn Allison (birth registered Q1 1904)
  2. Robert Cecil Allison (birth registered Q1 1906)
  3. Minnie Gladys Allison (birth registered Q1 1908)
  4. Herbert L Allison (birth registered Q2 1911)
  5. Nora M Allison (birth registered Q3 1913)

Presumably they were all born in Beaumont, Essex (I don’t have the money to spare for their birth certificates) but the biggest surprise came from an unexpected birth registration in Uckfield Registration District.

In Q1 1916 the birth of Georgina Allison was registered in Uckfield Registration District with the mother’s name of Driver. Not only had Kate returned home (or at least to the same registration district as she was born) but also she was having a child over a year after her husband had died.

Tragically there is also a death registration in the same quarter for Georgina, so although her life was short I was left wondering what story that pair of birth and death certificates would tell.

Presumably Kate had returned home with her children in search of support after the death of her husband, but whether it was soon after his death or after she found out she was pregnant. That was a mystery for another day though as the only way I could see of finding out would be through the records of her children’s education. Local school admission registers would hopefully tell me when the family arrived back in Sussex.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Meanwhile… back in Beaumont

24 Jan

I hadn’t entirely convinced myself that Kate Allison of Beaumont, Essex was my 2x great-aunt, but it seemed to be the most likely possibility.

How she came to be in Essex was still a mystery, as was the reason why her daughter Minnie was “adopted” by my great-grandmother. I was obvious I still had unfinished business in Beaumont.

In the 1911 census they looked like a perfectly normal family. Looming ahead of them of course was the First World War, which was to tear apart so many families. Was this the case with Kate and her husband Robert?

Searching the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website failed to find Robert Cecil Allison, so at least it appeared they had been spared that fate. A follow-up search of the First World War records on Ancestry.co.uk also failed to find Robert. It seemed unlikely that he could have escaped service altogether, but that seemed to be case.

I turned my attention to the GRO Death Index and found the answer there. In Q4 1914 a death was registered for the 34 year old Robert Cecil Allison in the Tendring Registration District. The National Burial Index confirmed that the burial was in the parish of Beaumont, Essex on the 27th October 1914. I had no doubt that this was Kate’s husband.

I had found the likely cause of the upheaval that had caused Minnie to be “adopted”. Kate became a widow at the age of 34 and with a young family to look after things must have been a struggle, presumably she had been unable to support herself and her children and presumably her sister (my great-grandmother) had stepped in to help bring up at least one of the children.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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How did Kate Driver end up in Essex?

23 Jan

It seemed quite likely that the Kate Driver who married Robert Cecil Allison in Beaumont, Essex in 1903 was my 2x great-aunt but so far I hadn’t found any conclusive evidence.

The 1911 census told me that Kate Driver had come from Framfield in Sussex, but how had she made her way from Framfield into Essex, and not just the outskirts of London but deep into Essex, even today Beaumont looks like a remote village not far from the east coast of Essex.

Using the earlier censuses I hoped to be able to better understand how this Sussex girl had ended up in Essex, if indeed it was her.

The 1881 census finds the one year old Kate Driver living at Blackboys in Framfield, Sussex, not unsurprisingly she is living with her parents. In 1881 she was their only child, but she was the first of six.

In 1891 whilst the rest of the family (Thomas and his wife Ellen and four children) were living in Waldron, Sussex (just down the road from Framfield) Kate was in London. She was in Wandsworth, with her uncle and aunt (her mother’s sister). She was only 11 years old and there are no clues to whether she was just paying a visit or was a permanent resident with her uncle and aunt. She seems such a long way from home to be just visiting, especially on her own.

School admission records might reveal whether Kate was a permanent resident (and for how long), but if this was the case they probably wouldn’t reveal the reason she was away from home. Perhaps Thomas and Ellen couldn’t cope with all five children or perhaps they didn’t have the space or money. Perhaps I was reading too much into it, perhaps she was just on holiday.

Finding Kate in 1901 wasn’t easy, there wasn’t really any other options but the only likely option didn’t really match satisfactorily. There appears to be only one likely individual, a 26 year old domestic servant living in Wimbledon, London. Of course the age doesn’t match, Kate should have been 21 years old not 26, and her place of birth was given as Lewes, Sussex not Framfield, Sussex.

Of course Kate wouldn’t have filled in the census, that would have been down to her employer, so that might explain the discrepancies but I can’t help wondering whether there was some deliberate motive for inflating her age.

In less than three years Kate was getting married to Robert Cecil Allison in Beaumont, Essex, and although it is not such a great leap from London to Essex as it is from Sussex to Essex, it still seems hard to understand how Kate and Robert got together.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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