Monday, 16 July 2018

Be careful what you go looking for ........ digging deep into the family records

We don’t have any pictures of mum and dad’s marriage.

Nor would I expect there to be any.  They were married in 1952 in Camberwell and back then wedding photographs were for the well off.

That said both mum and dad had plenty of pictures taken of themselves before they met and plenty after we started to come along, but none of the wedding.

But then until today we couldn’t confirm they had actually been married.

So while the document places all of my four sisters as legitimate it leaves me out in the cold because I was born in 1949.

There has been an ongoing debate between me and my sisters about whether they were married which in part was because dad was very meticulous and kept lots of records.

These included the birth certificates of each of the four girls along with his driving licenses, dating back to the 1920s and all of his passports from the ‘30s onwards but nowhere was there a marriage certificate or my birth certificate.

Of course on one level it doesn’t matter.  We were loved, and brought up in a caring and safe home and never wanted for anything.

Our parents had lived through a world war, and the Great Depression, which brought mass unemployment, and the Means Test and so they made sure that we grew up in a better world.

But that marriage was always the elephant in the room and we never quite let the matter rest.

I had assumed that as they re-registered my birth in 1956, they may well have taken the opportunity to marry before my sisters were born, but I never bothered to go looking for the certificate until last Sunday when with the debate again in full swing I decided to lay the ghost to rest.

But looking at the certificate which arrived today only set new hares racing.

There were two witnesses, one was our uncle George, but the other was unknown to me. He was not someone I knew nor was he someone Dad ever mentioned, which left me just a name.

A search of the records offered up a suitable candidate who according to the electoral registers lived close by during the late 1940s into the 50s but there the trail ended.

If he was a work mate, we will get no where as the employment records of where Dad worked vanished decades ago and the possibility that they shared digs together seems remote.

The small glimmer of hope that I might track him and his family with the even vaguer chance of a wedding picture of mum and dad has proved illusory.

But I had misread the name, and while the surname was the same the initials were different which led to a new search leading to a woman not a man, but happily still very close to where we lived.

Sadly the marriage certificate offers up no other clues, save that they were married in Camberwell.

The Registrar and Superintendent Registrar are long dead, and none of us thought to ask Uncle George about when and where mum and dad were married.

But then I doubt he would have told us.

Leaving me just the Registry Office, which may or may not be the one at 34 Peckham Road.

I may strike lucky and find someone who has a pictures of the building as it was and maybe even of the inside.

Now that would be good.

Location; Camberwell







Pictures; dad and mum 1947-55, from the Simpson Family Collection

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