My grandfather J H Esp, abandoned at birth.

Discussion in 'Illegitimacy' started by Chrissie Rivers, Nov 7, 2016.

  1. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi, I have been trying to find out about my grandfather John Henry Esp who was left in the care of a game keeper and his wife called George and Fanny Maria Head. He was born in or around the Shropshire borders about 1903. He had no birth certificate and only had a bible with him with the name J H Esp written inside.
    George and Fanny Head had no children of their own, but they looked after JH Esp until the time he got married in Nuneaton to Esther Scott in 1925.
    There was a John Esp who had a brother Harry, born in Kingswinfold, Shropshire in 1903, but he is unlikely to be my grandfather. JH Esp was registered as being a visitor at the age of 8 living with George and Fanny in Lincolnshire in the 1911 Census at the same time as the former John was listed as living with his family in Kingswinfold.
    In the Coventry Standard 11th march 1939, Fanny's death was reported. She died at the age of 77. The news article went on to say that George Head was a gamekeeper to Edward Vii and also held other appointments with the late Sir Alfred Hickman of Wolverhampton and the late Captain Harry Townsend of Caldecote Hall, Nuneaton.My elderly father (also called JH Esp) and my Nan said that rumours went round saying that a lord or lady or the manor where George worked had naughties with one of the staff, and when JH Esp was born he was either abandoned on the gamekeepers doorstep or he was paid a sum of money to keep quiet. When JH Esp was school age, people in the village apparently kept pointing himout saying 'that's him, he's the one.' The Heads moved out of the area and George brought a small holding of his own. I would love to find out if someone with the surname Esp worked as a member of staff at the same time as George Head was gamekeeper. Who would have abandoned a baby with no birth certificate to the care of these folk. I have to log off now, but I would love to get to the bottom of this.
    Regards,
    Chrissie
     
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  2. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Welcome Chrissie. C|:-)
    What a wonderful story and also quite a mystery.
    There is a John Esp on the 1901 census, 21 years of age and a cattleman on East Wall Farm at Rushbury St Peter Shropshire. East Wall Farms were part of a larger estate.
    Esp doesn't seem to be a very common surname and the fact that the baby had a bible with just JH Esp seems as though the bible belonged to another, maybe his father or mother.
    The John found on the census is the perfect age to be a new father. FreeBMD has a registration for a John Esp born Church Stretton in 1878 and another 1884 at Wolverhampton.
    Just love a mystery. Good luck in your search. We will do our best here to solve this for you.
     
  3. Ma-dotcom

    Ma-dotcom A Bonza Little Digger!

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    Just the basics some of my favourite Lady novelists would drool over.
    Is it at all possible that a relative of George [or Fanny] may have worked in same household & been the reason for Esp? [I wish my ESP was working now.]

    If I have the correct George- son of John & Martha- he had several siblings. I haven't followed them through yet as I must go start my day.
    Quite a few 'Esp' names in Staffordshire/ Shropshire in 1901,

    Welcome in Chrissie, I hope it's a successful move for you.
     
  4. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi Archie's Mum. Thanks for your email and information It's been puzzling our family for years. I wish I had Extra Sensory Perception to solve this!
     
  5. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi Wendy. Thanks for your message. That is certainly possible. I will have to check through the occupations of George's siblings and Fanny ( nee Payne). My elderly father who is 87 remembers George and Fanny, but he says there was never any suggestion of this. He said his Dad never knew his true birth age and was only able to retire and get a work pension after the powers that be worked out how long he had worked since leaving school. It does seem rather cruel for the father or mother not to have disclosed his birthday.
    JH Esp was a lovely man who worked for an engineering company in Hersham Surrey later in life and designed the tool that made spirals in spiral notebooks etc. he did not receive any credit for this as he worked for a company. That's his claim to fame...
     
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  6. annabel

    annabel Puts the Heart into Hertfordshire

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    It might not have been cruelty on purpose. My great grandfather was born in 1899, one of many children in a loving rural farming family. He was the only one not to have a birth certificate. They never bothered to register him because he was a weakling and they didn't think he would survive. He never knew his exact birthday, it wasn't important then, and they couldn't quite remember. It would have been a major effort to leave the farm and go into a town quite a distance away. So maybe it was something like that?
     
  7. Half Hour

    Half Hour Well-Known Member

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    Maybe this is where some DNA testing would be helpful? Certainly would be good for a Who Do You think You Are? Love the mystery and it would be great to solve before another generation wants to know the family history...
     
  8. Mealymoo

    Mealymoo A Busy Lizzy

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    Hello Chrissie, and welcome to Top Dog,

    So, if I've got your story right JHE didn't know what name his birth was registered in or if he was registered or where he was registered?

    As George and Fanny Head were living in Biddulph in 1901 perhaps that's where JHE was taken to soon after his birth. There was a Heath family (head of family Robert) in Biddulph at the time living in a very grand house named Biddulph Grange, and if JHE's mother was a servant girl there perhaps Robert or one of his sons is the putative father!!! Or, maybe my imagination is running wild!

    The 1901 census for Chorlton Upon Medlock (RG13; Piece: 3698; Folio: 95; Page: 36) has a Nellie S Esp, age 22, born Broseley Shropshire, she's a patient at "Maternity House". I'm wondering if Maternity House was a hospital for unmarried mothers?

    It is past my bed time now so I can't do more searching, perhaps my ramblings are something to think about and explore further. I did find Nellie in 1911 married for 5yrs to Thomas Henry Rowe, they're in Eardington Shropshire with children Lucy 7, Millicent Nellie 4, Cecil Thomas 1. A little research suggested Lucy was born Esp i.e. before Nellie's marriage. If Nellie did have a baby in 1901 he/she is not with her in 1911.
     
  9. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Now that looks good. :)
     
  10. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Just found Manchester and Salford Mission Chorlton-on-Medlock Maternity House Mothers and Babies Home..later Lorna Lodge. It was run by a Methodist Mission and only very small with about 6 patients at one time. The girls were single and ranged from about 16 years of age. There are quite a few posts on the net about it.
     
  11. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Interesting.
    In 1921 there is a baptism of a John Rowe at Ludlow Shropshire, mother maiden name is Esp. I wonder if Thomas and Nellie named this child for her firstborn whom she had given up.
     
  12. Mealymoo

    Mealymoo A Busy Lizzy

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    I can't sleep :(, so back on the trail for a wee while.

    This is Lucy's baptism.

    Name Lucy Esp
    Gender Female
    Christening Date 23 Aug 1903
    Christening Place Shipton, Shropshire, England
    Father's Name Welby Esp (wonder where Nellie conjured up that name?)
    Mother's Name Sophia Esp (her full name is Nellie Sophia Esp)
     
  13. Archie's Mum

    Archie's Mum Always digging up clues

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    Nellie Sophia is with parents in Brockton, Bridgnorth in 1891 age 12. Father Andrew.
    Seems like young Nellie was a bit of trouble in her youth..:rolleyes:
    So if we are looking at Nellie as the mother of John Henry then he was born earlier than 1903 and looks to be a possibility as the baby born in the maternity home sometime in 1901. I wonder how old he was when she gave him up. I also wonder if she gave him up because she was pregnant again with Lucy!!
     
  14. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi Annabel. Thank you so much for your message. Seeing it from a different perspective makes a difference and something we had not really thought about, but it makes sense. Your story is interesting and provided me with a new insite into family life in a rural community.
    All I can add is that JH Esp's mother and father must have trusted George and Fanny Head. They had no children of their own. Maybe they knew who the mother/father was and offered to take the baby off their hands as they had no children of their own. Apparantly, my Dad (also called JH Esp) says George was uncouth and not the brightest tool in the box, but he and Fanny must have been kind, trustworthy people and if Edward Vii and other dignitaries employed him as a gamekeeper, he must have had special qualities. Although we may never find the answer, the information people have offered us has been invaluable.
     
  15. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi Sue. DNA testing is certainly something to consider. I'll have to look into this as I do not know how much detail this service provides and what answers they can come up with apart from working out where in the world people's ancestors originated.
     
  16. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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  17. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi Mealymoo. Thank you for your message and finding out this information. Your imagination is the same as mine. Since I was a child, the story never changed and my Nan, Esther Scott, married to JH Esp, always said a lord or lady of the manor was involved. I have recently asked my Dad and somewhere along the line, my Dad remembers being told that the father may have been a chauffeur. It's also very far fetched, but my Nan always said that there was Royal blood in our family, but we think she was joking.
    There's mystery on my Nan's side too. Lord Lothian was supposed to have had an affair with a family member, resulting in an illegitamate child too. With that mystery as well, I am unable to concentrate on that side of the family at the moment, but the lady in question was supposed to have had the surname Keeler with a strong link to the surname Scott, my nan's maiden name. I also need to approach JH Esps daughter too (my Aunty Joan Nathan, nee Sheila Esp) in Essex for more information about that and the history surrounding her Dad in Shropshire. I can see my housework suffering in the next few weeks!
     
  18. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi Sue, Wow. New information is coming thick and fast. Another member also found this out and this is certainly new ground. What great detectives everyone is on this web site! Thank you so much, I would still be struggling to find all this out.
     
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  19. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Hi Sue. The plot thickens. It is plausable. On the other hand, the villages in Shropshire were closely knit and village gossip meant that people kept pointing my grandfather out saying 'that's him, he's the one.' I don't know what village this was, but my dad thinks JH Esp attended school when the gossip became noticeable. I wonder how this may have affected Thomas and Nellie. At some point, the Head's moved out of the area and moved to Lincolshire.
     
  20. Chrissie Rivers

    Chrissie Rivers Active Member

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    Another great piece of information! Thank you. I would never have found this. Now, if only we can find out the names of the patients....
     
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