Month: June 2014

Going back over things 2

I’m sitting here about to embark on the next chapter, chronicling the life of my mother’s grandfather Alfred Edgar Goss Ellicott, when it strikes me; there’s an anomaly here. Well, not so much an anomaly so much as a missing link or two.
When I was tracing the life of his father, William, I couldn’t help but notice the progress of his daughter Adela and her sisters in the drapery business – the census records were quite clear on the matter; throughout the period Adela, Annie and Julia are living with their parents and so, without really trying, we can follow their career paths too.
Turning to the available trade directories for Torquay confirms “A&J Ellicott, Drapers and Milliners” registered at the family address. All well and good until I turn to Alfred and remember that he too was a draper and shopkeeper. So where’s his business entry? Despite an extensive search of available resources, Alfred refuses to be found and then the penny drops; A&J Ellicott – Alfred and Julia? Adela, Alfred, Annie and Julia?
Of course, Alfred has his own family and his own place while his sisters remain unmarried living ‘at home’ but it must be that it’s a whole family business, Alfred would not set up in competition would he?
But then I start wondering. The census shows Adela is an employer, Alfred is a shopkeeper and this is late Victorian Britain; Is Alfred just the figurehead, the public face of A&J Ellicott so they can allow the public to assume the ‘A’ is for Alfred when in reality is remains Adela’s business?
I need to find out more about this before I can write Alfred’s story.


Lucky to be here

I have, in the past, remarked to my children on how lucky they are to be here. This is not to promote some sort of Western guilt complex, but a mere statement of fact. Consider the following:

  • Their mother and I were born on different continents
  • My parents were born on different continents
  • My mother’s parents were born on different continents and met on a ship
  • Her mother’s parents were born on opposite sides of the earth; then, having been born on different continents they met each other on a third. During a war
  • My great-grandmother was born in Australia. Both her parents were born in Ireland but then took very different routes down under and only met in Melbourne whilst on route elsewhere

Amazing how much chance plays a part in our lives, isn’t it?

Great Aunt Connie


Constance Sweigers née Robinson

This is nearly all we have about Constance Robinson; born about 1910 she married, we believe, Tien Sweigers and had a daughter, Louisa. Finding out more about her would be interesting in itself, but it might also lead to more information about her father, the elusive Philip Joseph. Please get in touch if you know anything!

Going back over things

It always pays to go back over things in case you see something that earlier passed you by. For instance, a little of the information that I mentioned in the previous post was buried* in an email I got last year and that I’ve only just noticed the full impact of:

“I have been speaking to my mother and she recalls my father mentioning his father being in Pretoria at a very old age”.

Because I have no idea of PJR’s death (for it is he), and the last known ‘sighting’ was before the war, this simple statement has ruled out, potentially, 40 years of possibly death dates. It is always a good idea to pay attention!

(*OK, not “buried” but mentioned briefly in a message about something else)

A philandering great uncle

Although most people realise that we’re not all related to someone famous, it’s also true that not all your ancestors will be nice.

In January 2013 I was contacted by Robbie who, despite being about my age, turned out to be dad’s cousin. He is a son of Andrew, my grandfather’s brother who would have been about 50 when Robbie was born. Unfortunately his information was sketchy, he had nothing further to add regarding his father’s siblings and it seems that his father as well as my grandfather had fallen out with their father; Philip Joseph (yes, him). He was able to add that he remembered his father mentioning that PJ was living in Pretoria at a ripe old age. So, despite not gaining much from the exchange, having known next to nothing about the other siblings this was at least a step forward; a small one but forwards.

Then, as part of the search detailed here, I received information that an Andrew Joseph Robinson was cited in a divorce case versus Rhoda Robinson, born Wise in 1953*. Now, I know I’ve been burned more than once by pencilling in unproven relationships but sometimes they bear fruit.

Last month I was contacted by Nick who turns out to be my second cousin by marriage. He has been looking into his wife’s family for some time and being curious about someone he had not come across before, he sent me a message. Nick’s wife is a grand-daughter of Andrew who it transpired had been married before, to Maria De Kok, and was very unpopular with the seven children he fathered with her and then abandoned. Those children’s birth dates, ranging from 1930 – 1941, made it perfectly feasible that he could also be getting divorced from Rhoda in 1953 with two further children aged three and five. Not to mention Robbie born in 1962.

Nick is going to try and talk to his mother-in-law again but her attitude is clear: Andrew was a “womaniser and useless thing” who “lived in Joburg and had girlfriends” – the remaining family are not keen on talking about him.