Breaking Down Walls/A Confusing Mess

We all get to that point in our family history where we hit a wall. The documents aren’t there and the ideas just dry up. I’ve had this on a few branches lately. One branch (whose surname will not be mentioned as it’s not really that far back in time and quite a few of that branch are still alive), that of my maternal great grandmother, Alice, in Bridlington, was a particular mess. She married twice and, after the death of her second husband, Robert, had a relationship with his brother Arthur, my great grandfather. My grandmother was brought up in care, the workhouse to be blunt, after her father Arthur died, but I had no idea why, on her marriage certificate it had the Base Hospital in Beverley as her address. I assumed, perhaps naively, that she might have been a nurse. Then I discovered that the Base Hospital was also the workhouse. She didn’t work there, she’d been an inmate. I had no idea about my great grandparents’ deaths either as there were no monumental inscriptions, no burial records and for some reason I couldn’t find the death indexes either.

Well, over the past year or so, since I last looked at them, something must have been changed or updated online as yesterday I found the indexes. So I ordered the certificates and then, in the library I discovered the cemetery registrations for them all, great grandparents and two of their children, who I had no idea existed, and her second husband Robert, confusingly my second great uncle.

I ended up with a tale that was quite sad really. Alice’s first husband, William, who she had a daughter with, died in 1919 of Spanish flu. She married again in 1921 to Robert, but he was a WW1 veteran invalided out with gun shot wounds and the TB that finally killed him in 1924. They too had a child. In 1926 she had another child called Arthur R. who died at the age of five weeks and is buried with her and Robert, only the father of this child was my great grandfather Arthur, her husband’s brother. She then went on to have two daughters with Arthur, my grandmother being one of them.

Alice died in December 1929 and was buried just a week after an unnamed child whose sex was not even recorded, aged just 6 hours old, of the same address (and surname obviously) as Alice. It could only be Arthur’s child. I don’t know the cause of Alice’s death yet, but I can hazard a guess that it was something to do with childbirth.

After Alice’s death, Arthur vanished for records, only to turn up in Goole in 1939, working on the railways. The surviving kids were looked after for a while by one of their elder half-siblings (I know this from a conversation with a relative on Ancestry), then subsequently handed over to the parish and put in the workhouse orphanage. No wonder my grandmother left her father’s name off her marriage certificate. Though it could be argued that he might have been devastated at the loss of my great grandmother and his child or that he was simply not able to look after the children himself and that, after all, they might well have been better off in care. I’ll never know, but the fact that that unnamed child, also Arthur’s, was buried alone and without even a service, doesn’t speak well of him really.

In any case, he died in 1944, back in Bridlington again and was buried in the same church yard as Alice and Robert and his own son Arthur R, but not in the same grave that they all shared.

I’ve yet to update my Ancestry tree with all this (which I do find to be a chore at times), but I wonder how many of those living relatives knew about Arthur R and his unnamed and pretty much forgotten sibling.

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