Thursday, 18 March 2010

The mystery deepens

I received something very exciting through the post this week- the marriage and death certificates for someone in my family tree I have spent many hours researching.
My husband's paternal grandmother (who I will call MMH) is a mystery woman . She had 3 children by different fathers, was born in East Anglia and ended her days as the headmistress of a prestigious school in Kenya. She died having who had never told even her own children the full truth about her (or their) parentage. So, being the nosy woman I am and having reached a dead end with my own, fairly mundane, family tree, I wanted to know more.
I embarked on a hunt through the genealogical websites in search of MMH. All I had to go on was family heresay and there were several different stories about her illigitimate birth in Norfolk at the turn of the century. After many hours on the internet I had discovered circumstantial evidence for my father-in-law's side of the story but I was no closer to discovering a birth certificate or any documentary proof of her life at all.
Last week, however, I happened upon a marriage certificate. MMH's first husband, Pat, was reputedly killed by a bus in fog in Norwich, The name on this certificate was Paul Herbert David, but one of MMH's sons was called David so it seemed a close enough match to justify £14. I sent for his marriage and death certifcate. It turns out that Paul Herbert David died at the age 0f 31 from 'Shock and haemorrhage from head and other injuries caused by being accidentally knocked down by a motor bicycle.' Whoop!! I've found him!'
However, the marriage certificate arrived today! Paul Herbert David must be right. MMH is about the right age, was born in Suffolk, but she named her father as Ernest, a grocer.
Never heard of him! Could you really invent an illigitimate childhood?
Back to the drawing board!


Angie said...

I congratulate you on your detective work ...I found that there are often grains of truth in tales told. Had great fun sorting out truth from fantasy when looking for late husbands GF.
re illegitamacy ...a father could allow his name to be used. When was she born? maybe a clue might be found on a census. let me get this right ...paul was her first husband and Ernest ..her father ...why do you think Ernest is wrong? Now you need her birth cert ...oh what fun.

Anonymous said...

Oh what a winding path some of our relatives walked! Lots of illegitimate children invented a father with an occupation, especially for their wedding certificate. They didn't want to lose face, or be embarrassed by the social morals of the day. I have the same thing, and this lady even gave her place of birth on two census as Boroughbridge in Yorkshire, even though she was born and bred and never left Co Durham! Led me a right merry dance I can tell you! Get those other certs quick, the GRO is putting the price up by 2 quid in April.


Kirsty.a said...

Thanks for your messages. I could undrstand inventing a father, but MMH invented not 1 but 2 stories of being an illigitimate foundling when she obviously had a good enough relationship with her father that he gave her away at her wedding?!
I know my explanation if not very full - a bit wary of people having access to to much info over the Internet, although it would take a seriously determined identity thief to use this!!LOL

Sian said...

I think you are wise to be cautious though. It's a fascinating story and I'll be back to see what else you can discover!

Amy said...

My goodness, how fascinating - quite amazing to have such a character within the family. I'll too wait to see what you can find.