Geoffs Genealogy Update 8 February 2015

Sunday February 8th, 2015 | Geoff

Last month I wrote about my research into the Shoreditch Workhouse records as regards my grandmother, and the wealth of information I had found by using that source. In carrying out this research I found reference to Ethel Holliday and her sister Ellen, who were recorded as being admitted together to the Hornchurch Children’s Cottage Home on 10th August 1909, as their father Reuben Holliday was in the Shoreditch Infirmary. When I saw these names I immediately thought that they were relations of my grandmother, so I spent some time this month looking into them.

Reuben Holliday was born in the district of St Luke, Finsbury in 1857 and was an elder brother of my great grandfather, Charles Holliday (1864-1915). He married Alice Mason (c1868-1900) in 1888 at St Thomas, Bethnal Green, and so far as I know they had five children, four of them females. Ethel and Ellen  were the youngest of these children, being born in 1897 and 1898 respectively. Alice (Mason) Holliday died in 1900, and it appears that Reuben did not remarry. He must have found it hard to bring up his young family andan unskilled man’s wages. I do not know his precise date of death, but this event was registered in Shoreditch in the period October – December 1909, so it would seem likely that at the time when the two girls appeared in the Cottage Homes records their father had gone into the infirmary to die. My research to date shows that two of the girls’ three elder siblings were already dead by that time, so they must have been in a very vulnerable situation.

Further research shows that at the time of the 1911 census Ethel Holliday was enumerated in the household af a widowed aunt – Eunice (Mason) Adams in Hackney, and she was working as a Tie Maker. It would seem that this was not her first spell in the Adams household, as the record of Admissions & Discharges for Hammond Square School in Hackney shows that when she had been admitted to the school in 1904 her name was given as Adams. In the 1911 census returns for the Cottage Home at Hornchurch,we can see that Ellen was among those enumerated, aged 12. We have no way of knowing whether she had been in the home continuously since the death of her father, as the records for that period are not available to us, but it seems likely that that was the case.

I have not yet traced what became of both these girls in their future lives, but hope to be able to fill that gap at some future time. As you probably realise, tracing people forward from the early 20th century is often a difficult pursuit, do to the closure rules relating to many of the records.

As I have mentioned in several previous postings, one source that is available to us, and which can be used to trace 20th century forebears and family, is the Electoral Register. The information in this source only relates to the people who were registered to vote at a particular time, so it excludes many people. Not only that, but it doesn’t give details such as age or birthplace, but nevertheless it can be of enormous help in family history.

This month I have gone back to the London Electoral Registers for the 1920s and 1930s to fill in more information about the family of my great uncle James Archer Smith. Firstly, it is interesting to see that in several consecutive registers of the 1920s James was recorded as James Archie Smith, making it seem likely that the registers were produced in large measure by copying the previous year’s entries. Anyway, James was at the same address throughout the period 1921-1926, namely 2 St John’s Road, Shoreditch, with his wife and son. Interestingly, the 1926 and 1927  entries also stated in brackets: “abode 16, St. Catherines Terrace, Brighton”.  James disappeared from the Shoreditch Electoral Register from 1928 onwards, and I believe that this was when he handed his business to his son, Herbert George Smith. James died in Brighton in 1957.

After 1927 the Electoral Registers for Shoreditch show that James’s son Herbert George Smith (b 1904) lived at 2 St John Street, with his wife. This was interesting to me because I had not previously been sure about the name of Herbert’s spouse. Several Smith relations had given me various pieces of information about her, but I was not sure of her forenames, and had no knowledge of her surname. Using these records I could see that her name was Rose Margaret Smith, and so I looked in the records for a marriage between Herbert George Smith and a lady with these forenames. I found the entry in the Civil Registration Records for Shoreditch in  1927, which coincided with Rose’s name appearing in the source material, aand could see that Rose’s surname was Young. One thing leads to another, and using this information I was able to find Rose’s birth date and death date. Alas, I still can’t find the date of Herbert’s death, but hopefully that may become clear one day.

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