Sunday, 4 December 2011

What happens when you vote!

An interesting set of circumstances followed my early vote last month.
The chap taking my details ruled the line through my name and paused with his finger on it.
Is this really your occupation?
Probably, what did I put?
Ah, yes, that's me.
"Can you find my father?"
Most definitely not what I was expecting, and obviously not a particularly easy task given the son had failed for over 40 years.
What followed over the next fortnight was a fascinating exercise for all concerned.
Known basic information:
Death (1981 Bristol as Frederick GOVIER) and marriage (1936 Bristol to DRAKE), both of which were quickly confirmed, but as suspected, birth around the Sep 1904 date in Fulham not to be found.
Nor any Frederick, son of Frederick GOVIER, platelayer to be found in the 1911 census.

Warning him that this could mean at least one of two things, an illegitimate birth, or a mis-indexing of the surname, and hoping that the late Sep birth was indeed registered in that quarter, and that at least the Fulham was correct, off to the Fulham births. Pages of them.
The name Frederick was popular enough to still make this a daunting prospect, at least two screenfulls, so I took a punt on a possible mis-index first and scanned the index on that basis.
Up popped a Frederick GROVER, Sep qtr, Fulham.
And, there in 1911 was a Frederick GROVER, son of Frederick GROVER, plate layer for the SE Ry, living in Brixton.
Was this QED?
Subsequent research found deaths for Frederick Snr and his wife, but both beyond the childhood stories of Frederick Jnr's parents having died when he was in his teens.
However, noone researching the family of Frederick & Ellen Violet (DAVIS) GROVER could specifically eliminate their son Frederick from my enquiries.
It was suggested that he had married a Ruth YOUNG, and died in 1982 but the researchers were working from the same indexes I was, so no certificate had been sighted.
The Fulham GROVER birth certificate was ordered, in full knowledge that it could be a completely different person.

There was also an interesting sidetrack which raised a few eyebrows and questions in that the birth indexes showed a potential (unknown) sibling for my chap, birth registered in Exeter in the same year as the parents' marriage, with the same mother's surname - and no other GOVIER/DRAKE marriage in evidence. That was fairly easily solved once descendants were tracked down, and I was put in touch with her - parents had married in Canada and returned to the UK.  (The Exeter registration, as opposed to Bristol, wasn't really a warning sign as my chap's mother had come from Devon.)

In due course, the certificate turned up - showing Frederick's birth date was an exact match to that from his death certificate. But it also showed that the above Frederick and Ellen (DAVIS) GROVER was a complete red herring, and an absolute coincidence of names, dates, and occupation!
As suspected, there was no father given on the birth cert., only the mother, one Elizabeth Kate GROVER, of Farm Lane, Fulham.
And I'd only picked the GROVER cert. because it might have been a mis-indexed GOVIER!

Back to the 1911 to see what could be found now that we had the mother's name.
Lo and behold, there in Neath, was a Frederick GROVER in the index, with the transcribed entry showing him as the son of a "Fred Thome" and Elizabeth Kate GROVER, with "Fred Thome" working for the GW Ry (Great Western Railway) - but the image actually showed they were GOVIER.
So the misindexing of this record meant I hadn't found them in my initial GOVIER searches, but I should have found them once I'd started searching for GROVER - if I'd widened my search beyond England, and not stopped at the first one that mostly fitted.
A correction to the transcription has been lodged, and we are all off to buy our lotto tickets.

After 40 years, my chap now has information about his grandparents, or at least his grandmother, and his potential grandfather, and we are all still marvelling at the coincidences, and luck, in actually finding the right chap with the first certificate.
Frederick Thomas GOVIER, of Rowburton, Taunton, Somerset, married Elizabeth Kate GROVER in Qtr 2 of 1905 and comes from quite a line of railway employees, with the Great Western Railway records on Ancestry showing a number of cautions between them for derailments, damaging good shed doors, and one commendation for catching a chap riding in a goods wagon.
Elizabeth Kate GROVER comes from a family based in Fulham back to a Charles and Frances (GRANT) GROVER who married in 1810, Chelsea St Lukes.
My electoral officer would love to hear from anyone related to either side of this family.  His tree is now online on MyHeritage and WikiTree.

Morals: remember to widen your search, and don't assume an index is right without checking further.
Or - keep looking, but make sure that a genealogist comes in to vote when you are looking for your father.
Read the sequel here.

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