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.