Thursday, July 3, 2014

Finding Freda

My grandmother Jean nee STANILAND had an English relative - a 'cousin' - with whom she correponded, named Freda. I never met Freda, but heard all about her, and my aunt Liz spent a lot of time with her when she moved to England. Given that my grandmother was born in Australia and had Australian parents, I wanted to know how distant this relative was. It is impressive that she was maintaining a family link back in England after so long.

So after corresponding with my aunt Liz, I have traced Freda, born Winifred FORD, back to my SNAPE family in Burslem, Staffordshire. Here is how, with the details my aunt provided in italics. What confused things was that Freda lived and married and died in Birkenhead area of England - a long way from where any of my ancestral lines live, so I have to keep searching backwards trusting that a connection would emerge.

Freda and my mother worked out they were second cousins, though I don't know how exact that was. Freda was some years older than Mum {ed: Jean STANILAND born 1917}. They were related through Jim Staniland, my mother's father. I don't know the exact lineage. Mum and Freda's grandparents must have been siblings (?). Jim's sister Ethel CRANE, who lived in Lane Cove, and Freda looked very alike.

I don't know how Mum and Freda came to know each other but they were writing as far back as I can remember. I thought it very odd that Mum sent her packets of sultanas and raisins at Xmas (it was later upped to those baskets of glace fruit) but of course England was still rationed for years after the war and exotic fruit was unobtainable. I can remember Mum being shocked when Freda's husband Eric died relatively young (in his 50s?) of a heart attack. When I stayed with Freda in the late 70s/early 80s, I remember her saying Eric had been dead for twenty years and she couldn't always remember what he looked like. They didn't have any children but were close with a friend's daughter Helen. Freda's married name was MAUDSLEY and she died in the early to mid 90s. No idea what her maiden name was. She had a sister but I can't remember her name. Actually, it might have been Ella.

Freda lived in Ullswater Avenue, Birkenhead, Merseyside, in an area known as The Wirral, which is a peninsula between North Wales and Liverpool. I'm just telling you this in case you come across the name. She lived there all the time that Mum was writing to her until the mid to late 80s (?)  when she moved to the nearby village of Upton, Merseyside. With the help of Google maps I think she lived in Slingsby Drive. To complicate things slightly, Merseyside was a county (like Somerset) which used to be called Cheshire until the 60s or 70s. It has recently gone back to being Cheshire. I stayed with Freda quite a lot over the years.

I was standing washing up and thinking of Freda and suddenly it was as though a voice said it out loud. I think Freda was Winifred Maudsley. Still don't know her maiden name. It is very difficult to find things in English records. I couldn't even find much on any Eric Maudsley - but of course they used middle names etc.

Anyway she died in late Sept/early Oct 1994. How do I know? I couldn't go to the funeral as it was on the day we set off for the Galapagos Islands AND in one of my carefully compiled scrapbooks is the itinerary showing start date 19th October 1994.

And so I used this information and turned to the records:

England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 about Winifred Maudsley
Name:     Winifred Maudsley
Birth Date:     12 Aug 1913
Date of Registration:     Oct 1994
Age at Death:     81
Registration district:     Birkenhead
Inferred County:     Cheshire
Register Number:     A20B
District and Subdistrict:     0371A
Entry Number:     196

OK so using this I can check on marriage - believe it or not in England they never developed a system to search for the two partners together in a marriage!!

So here they are:
Winifred Ford, Maudsley, married Jul-Aug-Sep 1939, Birkenhead Cheshire
John E Maudsley, Ford, Jul-Aug-Sep 1939 Birkenhead Cheshire

I assume the 'E' is for Eric. Knowing this I can now find his death:
Deaths December 1966
Name:     John E Maudsley
Birth Date:     abt 1900
Date of Registration:     Dec 1966
Age at Death:     66
Registration district:     Birkenhead
Inferred County:     Cheshire
Volume:     10a
Page:     31

While there is no suggestion J E Maudsley is the blood relative - he was from the Liverpool area:

Liverpool, England, Baptisms, 1813-1906 
Name:     John Eric Maudsley
Baptism Date:     22 Jul 1900
Parish:     Edge Hill, St Nathaniel
Father's Name:     John Maudsley
Mother's name:     Sarah Maudsley
Reference Number:     283 NAT/2/4

Well that doesn't solve it all of course. How is Freda related? So I looked into her birth... English birth indexes are useless as they tell very little - don't even show parents, but at any rate, many Winifred FORD's were born at the time so there are no obvious answers.

Her marriage certificate would be the most informative (British registrations ask for far less information than elsewhere). But then probate searching for Eric gave a stroke of luck:

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
MAUDSLEY or MAWDSLEY John Eric of 4 Ullswater Avenue Noctorum Birkenhead Cheshire die 2 October 1966 at St Catherines Hospital Annexe Birkenhead Probate London 20 December to William James Threlfall local government officer. 1475 pounds.

This is important because I have found the marriage of an Ella FORD, and the implication is that Freda's brother-in-law (her sister's husband) was executor of Eric's will, and the THRELFALL's had moved to London area by 1966:

Marriages Jun 1939
Ford      Ella      Threlfall      Birkenhead      8a     1447
Threlfall      William J      Ford      Birkenhead      8a     1447

They had one child registered:
Births Dec 1940   (>99%)
Threlfall      Shelagh A      Ford      Birkenhead      8a     1264     
(Shelagh married in Birkenhead in 1963 to Lionel M HOWARD according to the records)

Ella's death:
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007 about Ella Threlfall
Name:     Ella Threlfall
Birth Date:     6 Nov 1916
Date of Registration:     Jun 1983
Age at Death:     66
Registration district:     Birkenhead
Inferred County:     Merseyside
Volume:     37
Page:     0674

Now I can use the birth dates (from death reg) of Winifred and Ella to find a common birth district, or a common maiden name for their mother, to tie the two together, and identify other children. Only the two girls match, registered in very different parts of England:

Surname      First name(s)      Mother      District      Vol      Page
Births Sep 1913   (>99%)
Ford      Winifred      Giblin      Reading      2c     696   
Births Dec 1916   (>99%)
Ford      Ella      Giblin      Wolstanton      6b     161 

Now that I know the father's surname FORD and the mother's maiden surname GIBLIN I can look for any marriages between these two parties, presumably prior to 1913. There is a marriage in 1889 (Sunderland), and one in 1912:

Marriages Sep 1912   (>99%)
FORD      Ernest      Giblin      Wolstanton      6b     287
Giblin      Kate      Ford      Wolstanton      6b     287      

I think this is a Burslem connection to SNAPE. The region WOLSTANTON fits, and I can  ignore GIBLIN as it is an Irish name, and the 1911 census indicates Kate was born in Ireland.

Looking at Ernest as a younger man born abt 1887:
1911 Census
7 Riley St, South, Burslem
William Ford     51 - born Burslem
Mary Ford     54 - born Burslem
Ernest Ford     24 - born Burslem, gas fitter
John Ford     21 - born Burslem
William Ford     19 - born Burslem

1901 Census
11 Riley St, South, Burslem
All five boys and parents alive, entered as above.

1891 Census
4 Barnes St, Burslem
William Ford     31 - born Burslem
Mary Ford     33 - born Burslem
Henry Ford     8 - born Burslem
Fred Ford     6 - born Burslem
Ernest Ford     4 - born Burslem
John Ford     1 - born Burslem

Ernest's parents:
Marriages Sep 1882   (>99%)
FORD      William            Stoke T.      6b     253  
SNAPE      Mary            Stoke T.      6b     253  

Mary SNAPE was born abt 1858 in Burslem. In 1861 and 71 she is living with parents John SNAPE and family, along with my ancestor, her sister, Ann SNAPE. Ann SNAPE came to Australia with another sister Lucy, Mary stayed behind (in fact she was married when the left).

Cracking this was pleasing - it took several years of occasional searching to get there. It was worth it.

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