Saturday, 7 June 2014

52 ancestors in 52 weeks # 9 Violet Elizabeth and Louisa Swaddling

At the end of February I once again visited the Wolfson Centre at the Library of Birmingham. This time I was looking for the marriage in 1906 of a Louisa Swaddling and the marriage in 1907 of a Violet Swaddling. There was a possibility that Louisa and Violet were related as you may have noticed that the Swadling is spelt with two DD’s instead of one. This isn’t a mistake. The most common spelling of Swadling is Swadling but over the years it has also been spelt with an extra D. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was not uncommon for an extra E to be added at the end or the G to be missed off all together.

It also seemed that St James, Aston Park was a popular church for visiting Swadlings. Although I was unable to find a marriage there for Louisa is 1906, I did find the certificate for a marriage on the 7th January 1907 between Violet Elizabeth Swadling and Robert Brown Greatrix.

The certificate stated that Violet Elizabeth was 26, which meant that she had been born around 1880, and her abode at the time of the marriage was 42 Potters Hill, Aston. Her father’s name was James and he was employed as a Ladder maker. Robert was 23 years old and was living at 24 Potters Hill, Aston. He was employed as a coachman and his father was called Richard and he was also a coachman. The witnesses at the wedding were William John Quarterman and Rose Adams.

By 1911 Violet and Robert had set up home in Yardley and from the census information I found out that Violet had been born in Rotherhithe in London. I checked the 1881 census and found her living with her parents James and Elizabeth at 170 Evelyn Street in London. James was a Wood Turner and Ladder maker who had been born in Woolwich in Kent in 1856 and Elizabeth had been born in Portsmouth in Hampshire in 1850.

Violet Elizabeth Swaddling was born on the 10th July 1879 and baptised on the 4th of July 1883 at St Barnabus Rotherhithe. At the bottom of the previous page in the register was an entry for the baptism of a Louisa Swaddling. Her parents were also James and Elizabeth Swaddling and her date of birth was the 27th April 1881. Both of the girls were residing at 5 Osprey Street at the time of their baptism so they were definitely sisters.

In the spring of 1891 Violet, her mother Elizabeth and sister Louisa had moved from London and were now living in Holland Road, Aston Manor on the outskirts of Birmingham. Her father James was employed as a Travelling Advertising Agent and he was residing in Wellington Street in Barnsley, Yorkshire on the night the 1891 census was taken. I have been unable to find any other references for James after this.

In 1901 Violet was working as a domestic cook and was employed by George Blakemore the Licenced Victualler at the Red Lion Inn in the village of Knowle near Solihull. Elizabeth and Louisa were still in Aston Manor. Elizabeth was working as a charwoman and Louisa who was now 19 years old and working as a cycle chain driller.

When Violet married she left her job with George Blakemore and she and Robert set up home in Yardley, south of Birmingham.  She became pregnant very soon after her marriage and gave birth to twins, Robert Brown and Violet Sarah on the 27th December 1907. They were baptised at St Edburgha church in Yardley on the 22nd January 1908. Early in 1909 Violet gave birth to another daughter Ida and she was also baptised at St Edburgha on the 14th February.

By the spring of 1911 Robert and Violet had moved from Yardley to 138 Avon Row in Warwick and Violet gave birth to another daughter Louisa on the 20th May 1911.

The War in Europe began in the autumn of 1914 and army records show that Private 15482 Robert Brown Greatrix enlisted on the 30th October 1915 with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He only served 130 days before being discharged on the 8th March 1916. The reason for his discharge was, “not being likely to become an efficient soldier”. This seemed a strange reason as I am sure many new recruits weren’t efficient – being competent or capable – in their new career.

After his discharge Robert returned to the family home in Warwick. In late 1916 Violet found out that she was pregnant again. Another son John William was born in June 1917. Violet became pregnant again in the summer of 1920 just days before she was about to give birth the family suffered a shattering blow. John William died on the 2nd of March at the age of 3 years and 8 months at the Warneford Hospital. The only reference I can find for The Warneford Hospital was that it was in Oxford and listed as a Hospital for mental disorders and provided private treatment and care of mental patients. I have checked the Internet and can only find information referring to adult patients being admitted there. So what was John William doing there? Had he been born with a cognitive disability or had he sustained an injury so that he required hospital admission and care for a period of time? Only his death certificate will say for sure. He was buried on the 8th of March at the Warwick Cemetery. Within a week of the funeral Violet went into labour and gave birth to a daughter Gwendoline Mary on the 14th March.

In 1930 Robert Brown junior married Doris Simpson and in 1931 they had a daughter Betty. Sadly she died when she was only a few weeks old. A second daughter was born in 1938. Doris died in 1944 at the age of 40 and Robert remarried in 1946. After his death in 1975 his widow Ethel remarried and died in 1993.

Robert Brown Greatrix died on the Wednesday 14th September 1932 at his home at 138 Avon Street Warwick. He was only 49 years old and had retired through ill health as a Motor Cleaner prior to his death. His burial took place four days later at 2.30 on the Saturday afternoon. Canon Beibity conducted the ceremony. Probate on his estate was granted in London on the 8th November and valued at £184 7s 6d which he left to his widow Violet Elizabeth.

Ida and Louisa Greatrix both married in the summer of 1935. They married two brothers Geoffrey John and Edward Frank Bullman. On the General Register Office indexes there were two children born to a Bullman and Greatrix marriage. Unfortunately I am unable to work out if they were Ida’s or Louisa’s children.

Edward Frank Bullman had been living at 33 Thomas Landsdail Street Coventry before he was admitted to the Municipal Hospital Southend Essex. He died in hospital on the 5th August 1944. The probate to his estate was granted in Birmingham and he left £586 to his widow Louisa. She remarried in 1946 and died in 1999 in the Coventry area.

Ida was only 51 years old when she also died in the Coventry area in 1960. Her husband Geoffrey John Bullman died in June 1991 at the age of 82.

Violet Sarah married in 1937 and died at the age of 51 in 1971. She and her husband remained childless.

The youngest daughter Gwendoline Mary married Thomas Nicholson in 1945 and they had three children. Gwendoline died at the age of 83 in 2005.

Violet Elizabeth Greatrix died on Friday 24th June 1955 at her home in Kenilworth Road Leamington Spa. She was 75 years old. She was buried near to her husband in Warwick Cemetery on Wednesday 9th June at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The Revered Goodwin conducted the funeral ceremony. 

Although I couldn’t find a marriage for Louisa at St James, I did find her on the 1911 census. She was the wife of a William John Quarterman. If you remember he was one of the witnesses at her sister’s marriage in 1907.

Louisa gave birth to a son, William, on the 7th February 1907. Another son James was born on the 27th February 1909 but he died when he was only a few months old. William junior married Annette Burley in 1928 and they had two daughters.

Louisa died in Birmingham in 1925. She was only 44 years old. William John Quarterman also died in Birmingham five years later. He was only 46 years old.

Violet and Louisa’s mother Elizabeth died in early 1912 at the age of 60. I’m not sure what happened to James as I was unable to find any further information about him after he was in Yorkshire in 1891.