I started researching my family tree about 5 years ago, after my paternal grandmother, Daisy, died. She didn’t talk at all about her upbringing or her mother and father, even to my dad or to his brother and sister. Nobody knew very much at all, except that she’d had a very hard time. My dad had no knowledge of his mother’s family, not even knowing their names.
I inherited some of Granny’s books, and among them was her prayer book which had an inscription to her inside the front cover, “Daisy Pursloe on her Confirmation Day from E Muriel Jolly. Blest are the pure in heart, Dec 6th 1921”.
Unknown to me, this small contribution by E Muriel Jolly would bring a whole new bearing on my grandmother’s life. This find is what started my searching.
I soon started researching the Pursloes in the Stroud area. It soon became apparent that the different ways of spelling the name needed to be taken into consideration. I found Granny’s Birth entry as Daisy Purslow, a different spelling, and was able to trace her mother and father’s details within half an hour!
For the first time our family would know names and details of relatives never talked about – Ernest and Eliza Purslow or Pursloe, (each have different spellings on 1901 census!).
The history I uncovered over the next year brought some shocks, some sadness and some joy. Granny had been born child number five of seven to Eliza Caroline (nee White) and Ernest George Joseph Purslow in Stroud, Gloucestershire in June 1909.
When Granny was born, the family were living in unbelievable poverty which came to light when the child born after Granny died from malnutrition and the parents were taken to court. I found a very moving front page article about what the parents went through and how Ernest was very nearly tried for murder.
Fortunately, the jury had pity and donated all their fees to the family. My grandmother, age 1, was fed the only bit of milk the family could afford at the expense of her sister’s life. Her mother went on to have another child, Ivy, who was always very close to Daisy.
The family went into Stroud workhouse after this and Ernest died there at the age of 43. Eliza remarried 6 years later only to die of TB in 1921 aged 44.
The inscription in Granny’s book is dated the day that Eliza died. The children were left orphans, the youngest Ivy, we believe was fostered (perhaps by E Muriel Jolly?) but all survived and went on to marry and have their own children. We will never know if Granny knew any of this story, but it’s not surprising she never talked about it.
I started researching Ernest’s earlier life and have found a huge family, he was the last one of 15 children by two marriages his father had.
Also, his father, Joseph, served in the military in India, Malta, Gibraltar, Corfu and Greek Islands with the 53rd Regiment of Foot in Shrewsbury.
Ernest’s mother Mary Ann was from Painswick in Gloucestershire, and the family settled in Gloucester after Joseph was pensioned off for health reasons – his army time had cost him most of his sight.
Granny’s father was also a naval man, along with his brother Edwin, serving for about 10 years.
I sent for both of their Naval Records and received such interesting information, even down to the tattoos Ernest had on his arms, his eye and hair colour and height. It was wonderful to be able to make up a picture of him, even if he did sound like a pirate! Ernest sounds a real rogue – his naval record shows most of his time spent in the cells whereas Edwin’s record is exemplary!
Through various channels I have found living relatives of my Granny’s sisters and brothers and the family of Ernest’s brother Edwin.
I have now researched back five generations of Purslows, to simple gardeners in Shrewbury in 1700’s. Use of the census, BDM, newspapers etc. have been invaluable.
As for my grandfather’s family …. Now did I tell you the one about the drunken wagon driver who tried to bribe a policeman? ……that’s for another time.
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