March 19 – Have you discovered a surprising fact about one of your female ancestors? What was it and how did you learn it? How did you feel when you found out?
I found a couple of surprising things concerning my paternal great grandmother Alice Maria Read (nee Greening) (1857 – after 1924). Before she married my great grandfather Thomas William Read (1857 – 1891) she had a daughter Ellen by him but it was another four years before Alice and Thomas actually married each other in 1878 at Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, UK!
I know Thomas was the father as this is clearly written in the parish register. His daughter Ellen went by the surname of Greening, even after my great grandparents married.
Alice’s husband Thomas died at a young age, only about 34 years old and so she was left with six children to look after. It was a surprise to me when my Aunt Evelyn told me that her father (my grandfather) was put with his siblings into an orphanage in London somewhere! It seems Alice could not cope on her own with the children so they were placed in the orphanage but she kept one of the children with her. I have no idea which of her children remained with her, but I do know from what my Aunt told me that my grandfather was one who was sent to the orphanage.
My great grandmother Alice eventually married another man – I found in the census that they were actually neighbours which is probably how they met. He was also widowed and with his children. I have no idea when or if my great grandmother had her children back with her when she remarried, but my grandfather had joined the Royal Navy by the time she remarried so he must have gone from the orphanage to enlisting. As to the other children, as yet I don’t know what happened to them or if they ever went back to my great grandmother.
I remember my dear dad talking about his grandmother and he knew Alice so my grandfather must have kept in touch with her.
So that was certainly surprising to know and other than feeling surprised when I was told about Alice putting her children in an orphanage I did not really feel anything else about it. My dear dad seemed to have good memories about Alice so it does not look like her own son had bad feelings about it as she was still part of the family when he had his own children.