I had already been tracing my father's family for a number of years when I hit a brick wall.
I decided to go to Winchester Records Office to see if I could get more information.
I had been there about an hour and was quite ready to give up but as I had booked a 'reader' it seemed a waste so I thought I would start my mother's line.
I knew she had been adopted and I knew her full name, date of birth and her birth parents.
She had told me lots of stories about her childhood but with very little factual information.
I decided to check the 1881 for her father, Richard Marshall. I checked everything I could and was feeling very fed up as I could find no trace of him.
A young lady came to sit at the 'reader' next to me and was very noisy, banging her chair and tutting and making a lot of fuss getting her books out and her pen.
I explained that she shouldn't use a pen but she could use a pencil. Of course she didn't have one so I lent her my spare. She then asked me how to work the 'infernal machine thing'.
I took a deep breath and smiled as sweetly as I could and started to show her. I showed her where the fiche were kept and how to locate the ones she wanted. She said that she didn't know where to start so if she just grabbed a fiche would I show her how to use it and that is what we did.
I put the randomly selected fiche into the reader, surnames beginning with C, and showed her how to scroll and to enlarge the writing on the fiche.
As I did this the name Arthur Corbin came up and there listed as part of his family, as a step son, was my Richard Marshall. Without this incident I would never have found the entry.
That started me off on my new trail and over a period of some years I began to find that all the little stories my mother had told me were true.
She told me her paternal grandfather was a Grenadier Guard. I found his admission and discharge record from the Grenadier Guard's website and found the whole family back to the 1700's in Rushall, Staffordshire.
My mother told me that her mother had come from Ireland and that her parents had married at the turn of the century. I checked the marriage records and the 1901 census to no avail. Then as I was helping a friend with their family tree and was searching the 1901 there they were Mr and Mrs R Marshall, living at the next address on the page.
I met a man on holiday who was Irish, I told him my mother's family came from Dublin and he told me so much about the area and I explained to him that I was doing my family tree. He asked me for the names and when he went back to Ireland he went to the records centre and found my grandparents marriage, my grandmother's birth and her siblings and their family in the 1901 and 1911 Irish Census.
Her parents had separated soon after she was born. Her five siblings were put into care and she was 'adopted' by her father's sister. Her mother had gone to South Africa and her Dad had just left the children and disappeared.
Through one of the message boards I received an email from a lady who said that through her husband's grandfather, Richard Marshall, we had a link. I was sceptical as I, by then, knew quite a lot about my grandfather. However what I didn't know was that he hadn't disappeared in 1914, he had infact moved about three streets away, married again and had another family of 6 children. One of these was my new contact's father. He sent me a photo and the likeness between his father and my mother was unmistakeable.
My mother had remembered that she had a brother who she met only once and that was when he was being sent to Canada to become a doctor.His name was Martin and she didn't know how old he was.
I met some French Canadians and I told them about my uncle and my family research. They told me all about the area he would have gone to and when they went back to Canada they made some enquiries and then told me that these children were called 'Home Children'. I put that in my search engine and a whole new search was under way.I eventually found him through the Home Children site and read with sadness the plight of these poor young children.
With the help of Mr Fry, I was able to obtain copies of his admission papers to the adoption society, his relocation papers in Canada, a work report for him from 15 years to 18 years and a photo of him.
I am now on the trail of my grandmother's journey to South Africa. My mother's story is that my grandmother travelled with her sister and her brother in law Mr and Mrs Isaac Levy. He worked in the diamond mines. I have yet to discover if this is true but going by the little memories my mother had of her childhood and that they have all been proved to be true I am ever hopeful.
I have just met some people who lived in South Africa for quite a few years and have given me a lot of information regarding the area and the De Beers diamond company.
The best advise I was given when I started my famliy tree was 'never to discount anything' so I am glad I listened to my mother's little stories.
I have also been very lucky to have crossed paths with the new girl in Winchester Records Centre, my new cousin via a message board, my Irish friend and my French Canadian friends met on holiday and now the couple who lived in South Africa. It seems to be that whenever I find a new avenue I meet people with the information to further my research.
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