Looking for Grandmother!

Discussion in 'General Family History Queries' started by Chinch, Jul 31, 2019.

  1. Chinch

    Chinch Member

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    Hi All, thank you for your welcome messages, you seem a friendly bunch!
    Ok, this is my dilemma. When my Grandmother Died in 1987 she left behind an autograph book dated from 1930-1934 . In this book were lovely verses, some of a religious nature, from various people including, Mother, Mrs J. Wallen, D. Stanmore, E. Taylor, A Wheatley and others. It was a shock as this seemed to indicate that my Grandmother was brought up in a home of some sort.
    I have been searching for her for a few years now and have found out that she was born illegitimately in 1915 in Colnbrook, Buckingham according to her birth certificate, to an unmarried Mother . Her Mother went on to marry and have another Daughter with her Husband but never brought up my Grandmother although she did say that she did keep her for a while until some people turned up and took her away and she couldn't stop them. I'm not certain that this was the truth.
    My Grandmother met my Grandfather in Birmingham whilst working in a "posh" house as a domestic and my Grandfather was the gardener. She remained in Birmingham until her death, but why she was in Birmingham having been born in Bucks; is a mystery.
    I have been to the LMA in London, the archives in Bucks; asked at the library in B'ham all to no avail!! I have written and e-mailed homes and adoption services but there seems to be no trace of my Grandmother.
    Would a child born in Bucks; be sent to a home in Birmingham? I don't know where to look so any help would be greatly appreciated.
    I seem to have found a lot of other family members along the way but not my Grandmother.
    Thank you for listening.
     
  2. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    Hi Chinch - what was your Grandmother's name and date of birth please? :)
     
  3. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Perhaps she was 'taken' from her mother but later adopted or fostered to people in Birmingham or just sent there to work.
     
  4. Chinch

    Chinch Member

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    Hi Jan and Wendy,
    Thanks for your replies. My Grandmother's name was Gladys Woodbridge , b18/12/1915. Her Mother's name was Mabel Dorothy Woodbridge.
    I did check if she had been adopted and there was no record of her and since she kept her Mother's name I assumed she couldn't have been?
    Would she have been sent away as a baby as far as Birmingham, or would she have been more likely to have been in a place closer to where she was born?
    I have looked at records in Birmingham but wasn't able to see her name anywhere, she has no record , that I can find , from when she was born until she married in 1935!
     
  5. arthurk

    arthurk Well-Known Member

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    If you haven't found any records for the time between your grandmother's birth in 1915 and her marriage in 1935, I'm not sure why you assume that she was brought up in a home. Or is there more that you haven't told us?

    My grandmother and her sister (admittedly from 25-30 years earlier) both had autograph books with handwritten messages, verses, paintings etc - it seemed to be the thing to do, and in itself I don't think it's evidence that your grandmother lived apart from her mother. Maybe you could look into some of the names to see if you can find out where the people came from?

    When young people went into service, quite often they ended up miles from home, so again, I don't think that's evidence of a childhood spent in care etc. Sometimes it was a case of having to move to where the jobs were (by the 1930s, that way of life was dying out), though where you know a child was illegitimate you can't discount the (probably small) possibility that they were given a position by a relative on the father's side who felt some sense of responsibility.
     
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  6. GrannyBarb

    GrannyBarb Custodian of the Family Accounts

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    The 1921 census is due for release in January, 2022 might hold some answers. In the meantime, "the Genealogist" site advertises a "census substitute," but I think it requires a subscription to view records.
     
  7. Daft Bat

    Daft Bat Administrator. Chief cook & bottle washer! Staff Member

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    Okay, a couple of things...

    As @arthurk has said above, the names in her autograph book do not necessarily point to her having been brought up in a home.
    Census: the next available will be for 1921 but this is not likely to appear for another couple of years, so no way to check that - apart from what @GrannyBarb has said about the Genealogist.
    Voting registers: she would have been too young to appear on any register. This would apply to directories as well as she would not necessarily have been the head of the household

    My grandmother was born in Essex but met my grandfather in Hertfordshire. She had followed up an advertisement for domestic servants and so had moved the 50 or so miles for work. I have another ancestor who moved from Suffolk to Sussex for work and so it was not uncommon for folk to up sticks and move to another part of the country. It would not surprise me if this was the reason for her tipping up in Birmingham rather than her being brought up in a children's home. :)
     
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  8. Bay Horse

    Bay Horse Can be a bit of a dark horse

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    That has raised a smile, Chinch. My grandma was working as a domestic servant and my grandfather was the gardener, too.

    A lot of parallels here, in fact. Until I started doing family history around 2005, I - we - had no idea that my grandmother had had anything other than a normal family upbringing. I still have many pieces of the jigsaw to find before I can complete the picture, but do keep looking. The info will be out there, somewhere.

    My grandma and her brother were given up by their parents - they weren't married - and taken in by the local poor law union, ie. the Workhouse. My grandma was boarded out by the WH to a family who were given a weekly sum to keep her well-clothed and fed. She then went into a live-in domestic position with a local clergyman and family, who then moved to a different parish, so she went with them. My grandma actually moved around a fair bit during her early life - I estimate she was in the WH for two years but during that time was also moved to cottage homes outside the area. It's easy to write this paragraph now but it's taken me years to get this far forward (or should I say backwards).

    Does the date of birth on the certificate correspond with your Grandma's assumed birthday? If not, that's a hint her actual birthday was unknown and another one made up for her somewhere along the line, by a home or a foster parent. My grandma's birthday was four months out - we only found out when she came to get her pension.

    She also had a Bible with names written inside, which I have tried to follow up. The possibility with books, of course, is that they may have been picked up later in a secondhand book shop and the inscriptions therein be completely unrelated.
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2019
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  9. MollyMay

    MollyMay Knows where to find the answers!

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    Just a bit of geographical info - Colnbrook is still classed as a village, coming under the Slough area, and as such is in Berkshire now. It is very much part of the Heathrow Airport sprawl. Heathrow being in Middlesex.
     
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  10. MollyMay

    MollyMay Knows where to find the answers!

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    Have you tried to find any of the names, in the autograph book, on the 1939 register (you could look up the 'big' house and see who the servants were in 1939)? Could they have been co-workers in service with your grandmother?
     
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  11. Chinch

    Chinch Member

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    Wow, thank you all so much for your help.
    I know that Gladys wasn't brought up by her Mother, who was only a young girl at the time she had her and when she married in 1921 she lived with her in-laws for a time and she was poor. I have been in contact with Gladys' half-Sister and her Daughter and they told me that Gladys was not part of the family .

    I did take a trip with my long-suffering Husband to Colnbrook and spoke to a knowledgeable man there and also asked at the local church , but the records there didn't show anything.
    I have looked at the names in the book and the fact that" Mother" is there makes me think this was a home of some sort. I am not sure how to search for the people in the book, although I did look at the 1939 register to see if any turned up but even if they did, I have no idea where they were born or when so have nothing to go on. The book doesn't have an address so I'm unable to find out where Gladys worked if this was from her time at the house, apparently, there were lots of these houses employing servants during this time.

    Bay Horse, there really are some similarities in our stories!! I assume that your Grandmother didn't talk of her childhood, like mine, so I too thought she had the usual childhood we'd expect. It is a difficult search, not quite as easy as it looks on the TV, is it? How did you find out that your Grandmother and her Brother were in cottage homes and were boarded out by the Work House? I haven't heard of that happening before.
    The first message in the book is dated 1930 and is from Mother, wishing Gladys love and good wishes for her future and each subsequent message from Mother is of a religious nature but some are dated 1932, so this book is Gladys' book.
    It is frustrating having to wait for the 1921 census and I had hoped someone would know something, anything, but Gladys is just a mystery. I will keep looking. You have done well to find out so much about your family, it must be so satisfying to unearth some snippet of information after searching so long.
    Thank you all so much for taking time to look and help , I'm sure you have more important things to be doing!!
    Love
    Chinchx
     
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  12. Chimp

    Chimp Moderator & Cheeky Human IMP Staff Member

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    More important than chasing ancestors :reading: !?! is there such a thing :nailbiting:
     
  13. kernowmaid

    kernowmaid Well-Known Member

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    Collecting names in an autograph book had nothing to do with one's circumstances - it was the equivalent of (what DO modern teens collect? "Likes" on FB?)

    My mother-in-law (born 1913) kept one - signed by all and sundry, including her parents; some just signatures, others nuggets of advice (Look after the pennies etc) and MANY religious quotes (let he who is without sin etc).

    I kept one in the 1950's - started by my Dad (By hook or by crook etc) and ended by my Mum (Mother + date). Both signed on the same day - there was no chronological order to the pages.

    Just because you already know that your Gran was not brought up by her birth-mother, why assume that she was brought up in an Institution? There are several possible alternatives. Some "nice". Some "not so nice".

    Jane
     
  14. Libby

    Libby Well-Known Member

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    My father born 1918 was brought up by his parents. His autograph book contains an entry by "Mother", one by Rev. Warren, many by friends, some people who signed as Mr and Mrs... Such a wide range of people and a mixture of serious, religious, funny and quirky. It seems most people of that era had these books.
    If your grandmother wasn't brought up by her birth mother, perhaps there was a mother figure such as a step mother who signed the book.
    Good luck with your search.
     
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  15. MollyMay

    MollyMay Knows where to find the answers!

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    Have you investigated Gladys' grandfather Edmund Rixon Woodbridge - he appears to have had a tailoring business in Ealing (where Mabel was born, although it looks like her mother died in/or shortly after childbirth), and 3 marriages that I can see?
    There is a death for Edmund R Woodbridge in 1922 ( Sept qtr Eton 3a 756).
    but it appears he had shaved years off of his age - born 1847, by 1911 born 1857 and when he died born 1867!
    Did he leave a will and was Gladys mentioned?
    Could any of his older children have 'fostered' Gladys, as Mabel was a teenager when she gave birth (another question, what was Mabel's occupation on Gladys' birth cert?)
     
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  16. Chinch

    Chinch Member

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    Hi everyone,
    well, maybe I have been barking up the wrong tree all this time?! I couldn't think of another explanation for the book and the "Mother" just completely threw me.
    I don't know where to take this search now, hmmmm, where should I go next?
    I know that Mabel left home once pregnant and from what I have been told , she didn't have much to do with the family after that.
    I did know about Edmund and his tinkering with the year of his birth!! His first wife died and Mabel's Mother died just a few months after she gave birth and he then married again and had 2 Daughters, one who died at birth . I don't know if Edmund left a will.
    I have tried to find out if any of the family took Gladys but it doesn't appear that they did from my search.
    Do you have any suggestions as to what I could look at if I take this another route? I have focused for so long on Gladys being in a home, I suppose I need to think outside the box, so to speak.
    It seems that autograph books I were the in-thing in the early days, then? I didn't know that. It's a shame that teens don't still collect these wise words instead of keeping their noses stuck in their 'phones!!!
    Thanks again to you all.
     
  17. Lusmum

    Lusmum Active Member

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    Welcome Chinch, on the 1939 register there is a Gladys Woodbridge (Miles) living with a family named Miles in Birmingham 145 Trinity Road. Her date of birth is given as 10th Sep. 1916. It says she is a Assembling Switches, and says she is Incapacitated. I know that’s not the birth date you have but if this is her Foster Family they might have not known her birth date. Is it possible your grandmother was Incapacitated in some way? It also says Gladys D, did she have a second name?
     
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  18. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Gladys D Woodbridge born 10th September 1916 died as Gladys Woodbridge in 1985.
    According to other forums Chinch’s Gladys married name was Newton. :)
     
  19. Lusmum

    Lusmum Active Member

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    Thanks for that Archie’s Mum, I was just throwing it out there, sometimes as you know we get somewhere in the strangest ways.
     
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  20. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Poor old Gladys is certainly a mystery. She has to turn up, sooner or later.:headbang:
     
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