Monday, 18 July 2011

Mystery Monday-The Clare Family

Here I'm going to provide you, my gentle readers, with one of the thorniest problems I've tangled with in my family history-my great-grandfather, John Frederick Clare, and his family.
The problem with Johnny Clare was that he was not a particularly nice man, nor were his family. He married my great-grandmother, Vera Johnson, in 1944, and their first daughter, my grandmother Valerie, was born in 1946. They had another daughter, Rosemary, in 1948, who was always known as Linda. Unfortunately, Linda died in 1949 after choking on a scrap of rubber from a burst balloon and Johnny, who at the time was in debtors prison, refused to come out for the funeral. He then divorced his wife and, in something which surprised even me, remained in the same village in Yorkshire, married, and had another 6 children. He would live until 1991 and would never meet his firstborn again.
So, what's the problem with Johnny's family? Well, Johnny was born on the 27th June 1918, at 111 Station Road, Holbeck, in Derbyshire. His father, Charles, was already fairly elderly at 50 and his wife was younger by around 14 years. Her family, the Ellis family from Leeds, were easy to track. Charles and Sarah had married on the 10th October 1904 and herein lies the first mystery.
Charles and Sarah, to the best of my knowledge, don't appear on the 1911 census. I have scoured it for a mention of them and, unless I am being remarkable stupid, I cannot find them. I have searched and searched and I still can't find them.
The other mystery is Charles himself. I know he died between 1918 and 1924, when Sarah married an alcoholic named John Henry Wyatt who was thoroughly unpleasant and apparently used to beat Johnny...what a lovely family I have on my mother's side. The marriage certificate records him as a railway platelayer, and his father as John Clare, a carpenter. But other than the marriage certificate and his son's birth, I cannot find Charles.
I have been wrestling with this problem for ages and I just thought that those who are talented with mysteries may be able to give a helping hand if you feel generous. If not, well, the mystery's out there now.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Black Sheep Sunday-Charlie the convict

Hello, and my first proper post. First of all, a great big thanks to all of those who commented and who've decided to follow me. You're all brilliant. And onto the interest of today's post: Charles Green (1804-1874), known affectionatly as Charlie the convict.
Charlie was born on the 27th April, 1804, in the little agricultural village of Vernham Dean in Hampshire, just to the north of Andover, and baptised after 2 days, the son of William Green and Mary Stroud. The swift baptism was unusual in his family, all his brothers had waited at least a month for their baptisms, so perhaps he was sickly and therefore was not expected to live. Whatever the case, Charlie was the sibling who didn't stick around in Vernham, unlike his siblings. He moved actually quite a lot, and we next find him in Isleworth in 1826, near London. Why on earth he felt the need to move to Isleworth is a mystery in itself, and he did not remain there long, just enough time to woo and wed Miss Sarah Bird, originally of Hungerford, in Berkshire, on the 11th October.
Evidently the life near a big city was not for this couple as they leave for Sarah's hometown very soon after, and in 1828 the couple's only child, a daughter, Mary, was born there. But the movement around the south of England was nothing compared to what would occur in 1831.
1831 was the year that the Luddite riots occured in the south of England. In Hungerford, the mob smashed up threshing machines, and Charlie smashed one up by himself. The Hungerford men then met up with a mob from Kintbury and there was general smashing and rioting and the like. The vicar of Hungerford conferred with farmers and managed to obtain a small pay rise for the workers on the condition that they went home. The Hungerford mob dispersed but the Kintbury mob continued rampaging. The police arrived, and the riots were suppressed. The rioters were all arrested, and sent to Reading gaol.
The rioters didn't take their fate quietly. Charlie's eldest brother, William, was trying to free him desperately, collection testimony from all his former employers describing him as a 'sober, honest and inoffensive man' and sent them to the Home Secretary. Unfortunately, the attempts failed and Charlie was transported for 7 years to Australia. He did apply for his wife and child to be sent over but this was declined.
In 1842, Charles made an application to marry fellow convict, and Irishwoman named Rose Cunningham. This was declined, as he already had a wife and child in England and letters claiming otherwise were proven to be forgeries. 4 years later, however, the couple did marry in Appin. Whether this is bigamous or not is uncertain as we don't know when Sarah died.
That regardless, two years later the marriage ended with Rose's death, leaving Charlie alone again. He didn't stay so for long, and on the 1 May 1851 in Fish River, to Elizabeth Heness, daughter of Francis and Mary. This was to be a very fruitful marriage with 11 children: Maria Clementine, Charles Francis, Mary Ann, William, Frances Charlotte, Josiah, Martha Jane, Elizabeth Patience, Caroline, Clara and Emily. The family was to flourish with branches throughout New South Wales.
Charlie died at Neapean Towers in East Bargo on the 3rd April 1874. His wife, Elizabeth, died in Miranda on 8th March 1930, outliving her husband by more than 50 years. She never remarried.