At London on Thursday 9th April 1891, a Tailor named Charles Henry Yelland who was five feet seven and one tenth inch tall, with fresh complexion, brown hair, and blue eyes, signed up to the Royal Marines Light Infantry. Who was he? He was my wife’s great grandfather.

Only a few days earlier, the 1891 Census of England, Scotland and Wales had been taken on the night of Sunday 5th April, and intriguingly, there was no sign of him anywhere. Neither could he be found in the previous two Censuses in 1881 or 1871. His life in the RMLI is well documented in his service records, but prior to his enlistment, it quite simply appears that he doesn’t exist. So, what is actually known about him?

His Birth

At his enlistment with the RMLI, he told Lt. Col. J. Morris that he was born on 9th March 1869 at Marylebone. The birthplace does at least correspond with his birthplace as enumerated in the 1901 Census of England. However, there are no births of a Charles Henry Yelland registered within the first six months of 1869 at Marylebone. In fact there is only one birth registered in England and Wales of a Charles Henry Yelland of a similar age, and he was born on 7th February 1869 at Kingsteignton in Devon. Having traced this Charles and his family in Devon right up to his death in April 1894 at the age of twenty-five, an event at which his father James Henry Yelland was present, it is quite obviously not the same person.

Early Years In The RMLI

His first posting was to the Royal Marines Depot at Walmer, near Deal in Kent, where he served as a Private until 26th October the same year. He was then transferred to the Portsmouth Division which was based at Eastney on Portsea Island in Hampshire, where he continued to serve as a Private, and where he was to spend by far the majority of his military career.

According to his service records, he was Hurt or wounded shortly after being posted to the Portsmouth Division, the injury being sustained on 20th November, but the nature of the injury is unknown. He passed his first instruction in Gunnery (Sea Service) on 7th May 1892, his general proficiency being recorded as very good. He passed his first instruction in Musketry on 30th July 1892 at Browndown, situated between Lee-on-the-Solent and Stokes Bay in Gosport, Hampshire, and regularly passed further Musketry instruction over the next sixteen years. In total, he received five good conduct badges, the first of which he was awarded on 9th April 1893.

His Marriage And Children

On 3rd December 1894, at the age of twenty-five, Charles Henry Yelland married twenty year old Susan Ellen Bartlett at St John’s church, in Forton, Gosport, in the presence of Robert Wynne & Edith Ann Whittaker. His occupation was recorded as Private RMLI, their addresses being given as Forton Barracks and 160 Forton Road respectively. Their fathers were named as Charles Henry Yelland, a Tailor, and Matthew Bartlett, a Carpenter. I was unable to find a Tailor in the UK by the name of Charles Henry Yelland, and sadly, there weren’t any clues about who the Yellands were from the witnesses to their marriage either.

In the 1891 Census, Robert Wynne was a twenty-four year old Police Constable living at Brockhurst Road in Gosport, his birthplace being given as Flintshire, Wales. His twenty-five year old wife, Henrietta née Guy, was born at Winchester, Hampshire, and they were married in the Fareham area of Hampshire in early 1889. At the time of the 1901 Census, Robert was still a Police Constable, but he and his family had moved to New Buildings, Idsworth, in Catherington, Hampshire, his birth town being given more specifically as Mold.

Edith Ann Whittaker was born at Gosport in the Spring of 1876, the daughter of Robert Whittaker and his wife Mary née Jones who were married at Cardiff in 1858. In the 1891 Census, the Whittakers were living at Forton Road in Gosport, fifty year old Robert’s occupation being given as Hair Dresser, and his birthplace as Lancaster, Lancashire. His forty-nine year old wife was said to have been born at Llandaff in Glamorgan. The Whittakers were still living in Gosport at the time of the 1901 Census, but had moved to 17 San Diego Road, Robert’s occupation being recorded as Pensioner RMLI, his birth town being given as Cockerham.

Charles and Susan had three children, two daughters and one son, all of whom were born at Gosport: Susan Ellen on 12th September 1895; Charles William Henry on 11th December 1897; and Beatrice May on 8th September 1899.

Meanwhile In The RMLI…

Charles was tested for his ability to swim on 17th June 1896 at Forton, Gosport, which he passed. His second Good Conduct Badge was awarded him on 7th April 1897, and he passed another Gunnery instruction with very good proficiency on 16th May 1898. He was promoted a few times during his career with the RMLI, including to Corporal on 7th September 1898, and to Sergeant on 8th February 1900. Upon his promotion in 1898, he spent a little over three months at the HMS Victory shore base at Portsmouth until 19th December, and it was at this point that he sustained another injury on 20th December. Once again, the nature of the injury is not known.

The United Grand Lodge Of England

Within Freemasonry, there are three degrees, the first being Initiate, the second is Fellow Rattens, and the third is Master Mason, each of which has its own ceremony. At the age of thirty-one, Charles Henry Yelland joined the United Grand Lodge of England when he was initiated into the Hope Lodge at Gosport on 19th September 1900 (Lodge number 2153). He soon passed to the second degree on 17th October 1900, and was raised to the third degree on 21st November the same year. His profession was recorded as “Sgt R.M.L.I.”, and he consistently paid his quarterly membership dues for the following twenty years.

The 1901 Census

At the time of the 1901 Census, which was taken on the night of Sunday 31st March, the family were living at 16 Harcourt Road, Gosport. Charles Henry Yelland was said to be thirty-two years old and a Sergeant in the RMLI, his birthplace being given as Marylebone, Middlesex. With him are his twenty-six year old wife, Susan Ellen, and their three children, Susan Ellen, a five year old School Girl, Charles William Henry aged three, and Beatrice May aged one (Ref: RG13 Piece 1010 Folio 17 Page 26).

Further Military Activity

According to his service records, Charles was re-engaged to the RMLI on 11th October 1902. He passed two more Gunnery instructions with very good proficiency in each case on 11th March 1904 and 16th August 1909. His third and fourth Good Conduct Badges were awarded him on 7th April 1903 and 6th April 1907, and he was awarded his only medal on 9th April 1906, which was for Long Service and Good Conduct.

The 1911 Census

By the time of the 1911 Census, which was taken on the night of Sunday 2nd April, the family had moved to 5 Leesland Road, Gosport. Charles Henry Yelland was said to be a forty-two year old Sergeant in the Royal Marines Light Infantry, his birthplace being recorded as London. With him are his thirty-six year old wife, Susan Ellen, and their three children, Susan Ellen aged fifteen, Charles William Henry aged thirteen, and Beatrice May aged eleven (Ref: RG14 Piece 5630 Schedule 59).

His Final Promotion in the RMLI

Charles Henry Yelland’s final promotion was on 24th February 1912 when he was promoted to Colour Sergeant, and he received his fifth and final Good Conduct Badge on 4th April the same year. His character and ability were both recorded as very good throughout his entire career with the RMLI, but at the time of his discharge on 8th April 1912, his ability was recorded as “superior”. Finally, he was demobilised on 27th November 1914.

The Death Of His Wife

Susan Ellen Yelland née Bartlett died at her home, 132 Whitworth Road, Gosport, on 8th June 1915 at the age of forty. Her death was registered in the April-June quarter of 1915 in the Alverstoke Registration District (volume 2B page 783). She was buried in plot 47 at Ann’s Hill Cemetery, Gosport, on 12th June. The following two announcements were printed in the Portsmouth Evening News:

Portsmouth Evening News, Wednesday 16th June 1915:
YELLAND.—Mr. Yelland and family, 132, Whitworth-road, wish to express thanks to friends and neighbours for sympathy and floral tributes in their sad bereavement.

Portsmouth Evening News, Wednesday 28th June 1916:
In Memoriam
ROBEY–YELLAND – In loving memory of my dear daughters, Beatrice Maud Robey, who died Oct. 12th, 1908, aged 27; also Susan Yelland, died June 8th 1915, aged 41 years. Daughters of the late Matthew Bartlett. – from their loving mother, Maria Bartlett.

Marriage Of His Eldest Daughter

On 26th April 1918, Charles Henry and Susan Ellen Yelland’s eldest daughter, Susan Ellen, married Edward James Albray at St Mary’s church, Alverstoke, Gosport, in the presence of Edward’s sister, Elizabeth Rathmell, and Susan’s father, Charles Henry Yelland, a Foreman Tailor. At the time, Edward (whose name at birth was registered as Edwin but who was generally known as Ned) was based at the Shoreham camp in Sussex where he was serving as a Gunner with the Royal Garrison Artillery. Ned and Susan’s first child, a son who they named Charles William Edward, was born on 21st October 1919 at 132 Whitworth Road, Gosport. Sadly, he was to be the only grandchild that Charles Henry Yelland would meet.

His Death

Almost a year to the day after the birth of his first grandchild, Charles died at his home, 132 Whitworth Road, Gosport, on 20th October 1920 at the age of fifty-one. His death was registered in the October-December quarter of 1920  in the Alverstoke Registration District (volume 2B page 648). He was laid to rest with his wife in plot 47 at Ann’s Hill Cemetery, Gosport on 26th October. The following two acknowledgments appeared in the Portsmouth Evening News in its issue of Saturday 30th October 1920:

YELLAND. – The children of the late Mr. C. H. Yelland wish to thank the members of the Sergeants’ Mess Warrant Officers’ Mess R.M.L.I., workmates Tailors’ Shop, Royal Marines’ Old Comrades’ Club, and the Federation Club, for kindness shown them in their sad bereavement; also for beautiful floral tributes.

YELLAND. – The children of the late Mr. C. H. Yelland wish to thank all kind friends and neighbours for their sympathy in their sad bereavement; also for floral tributes.

Following His Death

Charles Henry Yelland’s two youngest children were both married after his death. The first was his daughter Beatrice May, who at the age of twenty-one married a twenty-one year old Engine Driver, Harry Christopher Perry, at St Mary’s Church in Gosport on 25th June 1921. The witnesses to their marriage were Beatrice’s brother-in-law, Edward James Albray, and Harry’s brother, George Alfred Charles Perry. Their fathers were recorded as George Henry Perry, a Labourer, and Charles Henry Yelland, a Foreman Tailor. Harry and Beatrice (or Beat as she was known) were both residents of Whitworth Road in Gosport, Harry having lived at number 100, and Beat at number 132. Unlike her siblings, Beat had no children.

Charles and Susan’s only son, Charles William Henry, married Dorothy Regina Dyer on 1st August 1927 at St Nicholas, Pinvin, in Worcestershire, in the presence of Archibald Edgar George Dyer and Daisy Hughes. They were aged twenty-nine and twenty-three respectively, Charles’ occupation being given as a Sergeant in the Royal Engineers. Their fathers were named as Charles Henry Yelland, a Colour-Sergt. in the R.M.L.I., and Joseph Henry Dyer, who was a Labourer.

Charles and Susan had three more grandchildren, two boys and one girl. They were Edward John Albray who was born on 29th May 1926, and his younger brother Harry Douglas who was born on 9th February 1930, both boys being born at 132 Whitworth Road. The final grandchild was Dorothy Regina Yelland, who was born at Singapore in 1933.

The National Identity Register

When the National Identity Register was taken on Friday 29th September 1939, both of Charles and Susan Yelland’s daughters were with their husbands at Gosport. The Albray family were living at 132 Whitworth Road, Ned being recorded as a General Labourer at Priddy’s Hard (Ref: RG101/2344C/006). Harry and Beat Perry weren’t too far away, living at 13 Church Road (Ref: RG101/2346F/016). Meanwhile, their daughter in law, Dorothy, was with her mother, Priscilla Dyer, at 3 North End, Pershore (Ref: RG101/5818J/007). Charles William Henry Yelland and Charles William Edward Albray can’t be found in this Register, most likely because they were both in active service at the time.

A Silver Wedding Anniversary

The following announcement appeared in the Portsmouth Evening News in its issue dated Tuesday 27th April 1943:

ALBRAY–YELLAND – On April 26th, 1918, at Alverstoke Church, Edward to Susan. – Hearty congratulations to Mum and Dad from the boys, Enid, and David.

The Deaths Of His Children

Charles and Susan’s children died in the same order in which they were born, but with quite significant age differences: Susan Ellen Albray née Yelland died on 2nd August 1947 in Gosport, aged fifty-one, from what the family said was a broken heart from having lost her eldest son, Charlie, at the age of twenty-seven. He died of Tuberculosis (TB) on 19th February 1947 at the Shaftesbury Military Hospital in Dorset, the family believing he contracted it towards the end of World War II while serving with the Royal Army Service Corps. Susan was laid to rest with her parents on 5th August in plot 47 at Ann’s Hill Cemetery, Gosport. The following announcements appeared in the Portsmouth Evening News of Monday 4th August:

Albray — Susan Ellen, devoted wife of Ned and Mother of Eddie and Harry. Passed away 2nd Aug 1947.
Gone to meet Charlie but will be sadly missed by all.

Albray — our dear sister, will always be remembered by Beat and Charlie, Doll, Harry and Dossie.

Charles William Henry Yelland died on 30th January 1979 at Birmingham, aged eighty-one; and Beatrice May Perry née Yelland died in the Autumn of 1989 at Warsash near Southampton, aged ninety. Their sons in laws and daughter in law also died over a span of almost thirty years: Harry Christopher Perry died in the Summer of 1962 at Gosport, aged sixty-three; Edwin James Albray died of pneumonia on 25th May 1972 at Gosport, aged seventy-seven; and Dorothy Regina Yelland née Dyer died on 8th October 1991 at Birmingham, aged eighty-eight.

Extensive Research

For well over ten years, I’d tried time and time again to try and find out exactly who Charles Henry Yelland was, but had failed miserably. I just seemed to keep going over the same things, nothing new showing up, no new leads to follow. It was extremely frustrating, and it felt as though he’d really beaten me. Most people find brickwalls in their family tree much further back in time than 1891, but I’d been stuck there for what felt like an eternity. So I was determined that 2017 was going to be the year that I finally knocked down that brickwall for good.

As previously stated, there was no birth registered within the first six months of 1869 in the Marylebone area of a Charles Henry Yelland or variant spelling. Even though there were a few Yelland marriages in and around that area, none of them led to a family with a son named Charles Henry or Henry Charles born around 1869. In addition, the fact that he may have been illegitimate meant there was a chance that his birth hadn’t been registered. This is because  until the Registration Act of 1874, even though the registering of births had been compulsory since 1st July 1837, the responsibility was down to the registrar, not the parents. From 1875 when the Registration Act became effective, the onus was put on the parents, and fines were imposed for non-compliance. The chance that he may not have been Christened couldn’t be ruled out either, regardless of whether he was illegitimate or not.

It was quite obvious that more extensive research needed to be done to try and determine exactly who Charles Henry Yelland was. He had to be somewhere before 9th April 1891, but where, and using what name?

On his RMLI service records, his occupation was given as a Tailor at the time of his attestation on 9th April 1891, so the chances were quite high that he was a Tailor four days earlier when that year’s Census was taken. So I felt the best place to start was looking for any tailors who had been born in the Marylebone area, and there were far more than a few! One by one, they were sifted out, until, eventually, one Tailor by the name of Charles Henry Balmont began grabbing my attention.

While researching his family, I learned that he had been born on 20th February 1870 at 58 Great Titchfield Street in Marylebone. He was the first of five children born to Charles Henry Discombe Balmont and his Irish wife Elizabeth née Mahon, who were married on 25th July 1869 at St James’ Piccadilly, Westminster, London, in the presence of Thomas Chard and Georgina Collett. His siblings were Frederick James, William, Elizabeth Harriet, and Ernest Albert, but very sadly Frederick James and William both died in 1873, in fact their death indexes are found on neighbouring pages.

There was something that really hit me about this Charles Henry Balmont though, which began making me believe he could actually be Charles Henry Yelland. When Charles Henry Yelland married Susan Ellen Bartlett, he stated that his father was Charles Henry Yelland whose occupation was a Tailor. Charles Henry Balmont’s father, Charles Henry Discombe Balmont, was indeed a Tailor. In other families I’d traced, the father’s forenames and occupation had never matched up as in this case. In addition, my wife’s family had always said that the Yellands came from Devon, and Charles Henry Discombe Balmont was born on 21st April 1844 at Dulverton, which is located on the Devon and Somerset border, and is known as the Gateway to Exmoor.

There were two things that left a slight doubt in my mind however. The first was the conflicting birth dates, but I couldn’t help but think that if he was going to give a different surname when joining the RMLI, then what was going to stop him giving a false date of birth as well? I personally think he would most likely have chosen a birth date that he could easily remember, for example, his mother’s birthday, but so far, my research has found no one in the Balmont family with a birthday of 9th March. The birth year of 1869 doesn’t take too much thinking about, because it was the year his parents were married. As he was actually twenty-one years old when he signed up to the RMLI, there was absolutely no need at all for him to increase his age, like so many others have done over the years who weren’t really old enough to sign up.

The second is the issue of why he would choose the surname Yelland. During my research of all his Balmont family, Yelland is not a surname that has appeared as I had expected. There could be so many possibilities as to why he chose that surname, his best school friend, his favourite teacher, or maybe even the person who he did his apprenticeship with. Interestingly, there was a Tailor named Henry Yelland who lived just a couple of miles away from the Balmont family in London during the 1870s. Could he and his family be the connection? That most likely will be a question I will never know the answer to. One thing is for sure, if he had disowned his family, or if they had disowned him, what better way could there be of making it impossible for them to trace him than by changing his identity?

There are two further details, however, that I felt were of great significance. The first is that, after thoroughly researching the Balmont family, Charles Henry Balmont born 20th February 1870 at Marylebone suddenly vanishes. The last sighting of him was on 5th April 1891 when that year’s Census was taken, when he was living at Wormington Road in Kensington with his mother, Elizabeth, and his two younger siblings, Elizabeth and Ernest (Ref: RG12 Piece 27 Folio 76 Page 65). After that date, he doesn’t appear in either the 1901 nor the 1911 Census, there are no service records for him in the armed forces, he doesn’t appear in ships’ passenger lists, there is no entry for him in the 1939 National Identity Card Register, and neither is there a marriage record, a death index nor a burial record that can be found for him. He quite simply vanishes from existence! Yes, he vanishes, and four days later, Charles Henry Yelland suddenly appears from nowhere!

The second is far more convincing, and was really the clincher, a vital detail that had somehow been missed when initially looking at his service records. Under the section headed “Marks, Wounds and Scars” was something of particular interest! It was very common practice for a man joining the Royal Navy or the Royal Marines to have his initials tattooed on his forearm, and any tattoos were described in this section. As Charles Henry Yelland was one such person, you would expect the tattooed initials to read “C Y” or maybe even “C H Y”. However, even though there is some heavy marking through the text, on line three, the description of his tattoo reads: “4 dots C B on L forearm”. Yes, CB, or, Charles Balmont!

Intriguingly, when Charles Henry Discombe Balmont wrote his will, which was dated 10th March 1910, neither his wife Elizabeth nor his son Charles were named. Sadly, his daughter Elizabeth Harriet had died earlier the same year, which is obviously why she wasn’t mentioned in his will. Rather, their only other son, their youngest child, Ernest Albert Balmont, was named as the sole executor, and “absolutely” everything was bequeathed to him, and him alone. Charles Henry Discombe Balmont died on 6th November 1919, and after all expenses were paid, the net value of his Personal Estate was £5264 7s. 7d., which in 2005’s terms would be the equivalent of around £134,650, a very healthy sum for anyone, let alone someone who had been a Tailor’s Cutter.

In Conclusion

As a closing thought on the subject, the following was received from a gentleman named Chris Buck, who is a cousin of Charles Henry Balmont/Yelland’s great niece Frances Cook. I would never have found out about this if it hadn’t been for the Internet, and more specifically Chris’ website which detailed the family of Frances’ father. After contacting Chris, he very kindly passed on my research to Frances, and her reply, though brief, is to say the least, very poignant.

“I heard stories when I was little, about someone who disappeared, and it was said his mother wore herself out consistently walking the streets looking for him.”

On the one hand, I feel overwhelmingly happy that the mystery of who Charles Henry Yelland really was has finally been solved, while on the other hand I feel so very sad that the answer has been found one hundred and five years too late for his poor mother. She spent the last twenty-one years of her life not knowing where her firstborn child was, what had happened to him, not even knowing whether he was still alive or not. No doubt she died a broken-hearted woman.

I’m convinced that something must have happened in the Balmont family at some point between the 1881 and 1891 Censuses, because the 1881 Census is the last one where the family are found living together, their address being 100 Clarendon Road, Kensington (Ref: RG11 Piece 35 Folio 41 Page 26). From then on, in the 1891, 1901, and 1911 Censuses, Charles is always found living alone, although he is never too far away from Elizabeth and their children. In these three Censuses, both he and Elizabeth are recorded as “married”, although it appears they are actually leading separate lives. It also seems very likely that whatever it was that happened, in time it not only caused their son Charles to feel the need to secretly leave home, but to give himself a new identity and a fresh start in life.

By piecing everything together as detailed above, it seems very clear to me that Charles Henry Yelland and Charles Henry Balmont are one and the same person, and that, finally, Charles Henry Yelland is no longer “a man of mystery”!


When someone is as interested in family history research as I am, inevitably their attention is drawn to the family tree of their spouse. My wife’s uncle, Harry Albray, had mentioned a number of times that he had been told that his Bartlett family were well known across the South and West of England for their travelling fairground. Quite often however, stories that have been passed down from one generation to another isn’t always accurate. But Harry’s aunty, Beatrice Perry nee Yelland, whose mother was Susan Ellen Yelland nee Bartlett, had certainly passed on accurate information. During my research however, I discovered a close family relationship to a much more famous travelling and entertaining family, something that Harry evidently hadn’t been told about. This other family was not just well known around the UK, but all over the world!

To begin the story, we need to go back to the late 18th Century, and the marriage of John Bartlett to Elizabeth Whitmash at Fordingbridge in Hampshire on 7th April 1796. John and Elizabeth had a total of nine children, all of whom were born at Fordingbridge. For very different reasons, two of their sons, Joseph and Robert, are of particular interest to my research.

Joseph Bartlett (1811-1878)

The reason for my interest in Joseph Bartlett is that he was my wife’s great great great grandfather. He was Christened on 3rd November 1811, and was John and Elizabeth’s third son and eighth child. He married Susannah Philpott on 14th January 1830 at Fordingbridge, and they had a total of eight children, three girls and five boys, who were born between 1831 and 1851. Very sadly, their youngest son died very soon after birth in 1848, his birth and death registrations giving him no forename.

The family are found at Frogham at the time of the 1841 Census, Joseph’s age being given as twenty-five, and his wife, recorded as Susan, is thirty. With them are their children Mary Ann aged nine, John aged seven, Walter aged four, and the newest addition to the family, Michael (Census reference: HO107 Piece 397 Book 12 Folio 5 Page 4).

At the time of the 1851 Census, Joseph and his family were living at Frogham, Fordingbridge. Joseph was recorded as a thirty-eight year old Farm Labourer, and with him were his thirty-eight year old wife Susanna, and their children John aged seventeen, Walter aged fifteen, Michael aged ten, and Matthew aged six (Census reference: HO107 Piece 1667 Folio 602 Page 12).

When the next Census was taken in 1861, the family were still living at Frogham. Forty-eight year old Joseph was recorded as a Jobbing Carpenter, and with him were his forty-nine year old wife Susan, their daughter Harriett Sophia aged nine, and Louisa aged four who is recorded as “daughter,” but who is actually the illegitimate child of their daughter Mary Ann, Louisa’s birth being registered in the Spring of 1855 (Census reference: RG09 Piece 669 Folio 67 Page 12).

The child who is of particular interest to my research is their son Matthew, who was my wife’s great great grandfather, and first cousin of James Bartlett who began the Bartlett’s travelling fairground. In the 1861 Census, Matthew is found at Knowl Hill, in Woodlands, Wimborne, Dorset, where he is a sixteen year old lodger in the household of John and Mary French, his occupation being given as a Carter (Census reference: RG09 Piece 1336 Folio 104 Page 3). The month after the Census was taken, an article regarding Matthew appeared in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal in the issue dated Saturday 13th July 1861:

Petty Sessions, Friday. – Before C. J. Parke, Esq. (chairman), Major Portman, Rev. C. J. Glyn, D. F. G. Dalton, Esq., and Capt. Monro …
Matthew Bartlett, of Frogham, Hants, was summoned by Mr. Simeon Ruddle, of Woodlands, for leaving his service without notice, and drawing all his wages. Defendant agreed to serve till March at 6s. per week, and 15s. for harvest. Defendant said he could not agree with the carter. Upon the suggestion of the Bench, Mr. Ruddle agreed to take him back again, upon his paying the costs; but his father would not agree, and said that his son should go to prison for a month. There was therefore no alternative, and he was committed for one month’s hard labour, there being no wages to forfeit.

Two years later, in 1863, Matthew joined the Royal Marines Light Infantry, and was based at the Forton Barracks in Gosport, Hampshire, where he served until his discharge in 1884.

The last Census Joseph and Susanna appear in is in 1871, when they were living at Frogham. In this Census, Joseph is recorded as being fifty-eight years old, and with him are his fifty-nine year old wife Susanna, their thirty-seven year old son John, their nineteen year old daughter Harriet, and their fifteen year old “granddaughter” Louisa. As previously mentioned, their immediate neighbours were Joseph’s brother, Robert along with his wife and family, and Joseph’s son Michael with his wife and family (Census reference: RG10 Piece 1183 Folio 18 Page 6).  Meanwhile, their twenty-five year old son Matthew is found at the Royal Marines Barracks at Forton (Census reference: RG10 Piece 1152 Folio 100 Page 17).

It was late the following year that Matthew married Maria Matilda Aslett at Gosport. Their first child, a daughter who they named Susan Ellen and who was Christened on 23rd August 1874 at Gosport would later become my wife’s great grandmother.,

Very sadly, Joseph and Susanna died just a little over a year apart. Susanna passed away at the age of sixty-five in 1877, and Joseph died in 1878 at the age of sixty-six.

Mathew, Maria and their two daughters, Susan and Beatrice, are found at 2 Prospect Cottages in Gosport at the time of the 1881 Census. His occupation is given simply as Marine, and their ages are recorded as forty, twenty-four, seven, and under two months respectively (Census reference: RG11 Piece 1164 Folio 60 Page 47).

Another four children were born to Matthew and Maria between the 1881 and 1891 Censuses, May Eliza in 1882, William Charles on 8th March 1884, Emily Victoria Grace on 13th March 1887, and Joseph in 1889. At the time of the 1891 Census, the family were living at Forton Road, Gosport, Matthew being recorded as a forty-six year old Carpenter, and with him are his wife Maria aged thirty-six, and their children, Susan aged sixteen, Beatrice aged ten, Mabel aged nine, William aged seven, Emily aged four, and Joseph aged one. Another family member boarding with them is Nelly Aslett, who is said to be three years old and born at Porchester (Census reference: RG12 Piece 880 Folio 29 Page 12). Matthew and Maria’s youngest child was born in 1892, a daughter who they named Dorothy Mary Ann.

At the time of the 1901 Census, most of the family are found at 160 Forton Road in Gosport. Matthew is said to be a fifty-seven year old Pensioner, Maria is said to be forty-three, and the children found with them are William aged seventeen, Henry aged fourteen, Joseph aged ten. (Census reference: RG13 Piece 1011 Folio 108 Page 22)  Meanwhile, their daughters Beatrice aged twenty and May aged nineteen are working as Domestic Servants at two Gosport public houses. Beatrice is found close by the family at 165 Forton Road working in the Fountain Inn (Census reference: RG13 Piece 1011 Folio 13 Page 17), while May is working at 2 Privett Road, which was known as the Wiltshire Lamb (Census reference: RG13 Piece 1010 Folio 62 Page 21).

Portsmouth Evening News, Tuesday 27 June 1916
In Memoriam
BARTLETT. – In loving memory of my dear husband, Matthew Bartlett, who passed away, June 27th 1908, aged 67. From his loving wife, Maria Bartlett.

Portsmouth Evening News, Wednesday 28 June 1916
In Memoriam
ROBEY-YELLAND – In loving memory of my dear daughters, Beatrice Maud Robey, who died Oct. 12th, 1908, aged 27; also Susan Yelland, died June 8th 1915, aged 41 years. Daughters of the late Matthew Bartlett. – from their loving mother, Maria Bartlett.

Robert Bartlett (1806-1892)

Robert was Christened on 24th April 1806, and was John and Elizabeth’s second son and sixth child. On 6th May 1835 at Fordingbridge, he married Eliza Plumley, and they had just three children who were born between 1836 and 1842. Eliza had been Christened at Fordingbridge on 26th November 1805, the daughter of Stephen Plumley and his wife Elizabeth nee Harris who were married on 29th April 1803 at Fordingbridge.

At the time the 1841 Census was taken, Robert and his young family were living at Frogham, Fordingbridge, his occupation being recorded as a Yeoman. Both he and his wife Eliza are said to be thirty years of age, but ages of adults fifteen years and over were required to be rounded down in this Census, so both Robert and Elizabeth were older than the Census suggests. With them are their sons, four year old Charles and one year old George. There is also a ten year old John Bartlett in the household, but currently I don’t know who he is (Census reference: HO107 Piece 397 Book 12 Folio 7 Page 9).

Very sadly, soon after the birth of their daughter Sophia in 1842, Robert’s wife Eliza died at the age of thirty-seven. It was several years later when Robert married his second wife, Elizabeth Ballard, their marriage taking place in the summer of 1850 in the Wimborne area of Dorset. Robert and Elizabeth had four children who were born between 1851 and 1859.

At the time of the 1851 Census, the family were living at Blissford, Fordingbridge. Robert is recorded as a forty-four year old Farmer of eight acres, and with him are his thirty-five year old wife Elizabeth, and his sons Charles aged fourteen, and George aged eleven (Census reference: HO107 Piece 1667 Folio 599 Page 7).

At the time of the 1861 Census, the family were still living at Blissford, Fordingbridge. Robert is recorded as a fifty-four year old Farmer of eight acres, and with him is his forty-three year old wife Elizabeth, and their children Eliza aged nine, James aged six, Ellen aged four, and Emily aged two (Census reference: RG09 Piece 669 Folio 64 Page 6).

When the 1871 Census was taken, the family were living at Frogham. Robert was sixty-four years old, and with him were his fifty-four year old wife Elizabeth, and two of their children, James aged sixteen, and Emily aged twelve. His immediate neighbours were his brother, Joseph, along with his wife and family, and Joseph’s son, Michael, with his wife and family (Census reference: RG10 Piece 1183 Folio 18 Page 6).

When the 1881 Census was taken, they were once again found living at Blissford, Robert being recorded as a seventy-four year old General Labourer. With him are his sixty-three year old wife Elizabeth, and their twenty-six year old son James, who is recorded as a Dealer of Cattle (Census reference: RG11 Piece 1200 Folio 74 Page 12).

Robert enjoyed a lengthy life, as he also appears in the Census that was taken in 1891. The family are once more found at Blissford, Robert being recorded as an eighty-four year old Farmer. With him are his seventy-four year old wife Elizabeth, and their four year old granddaughter, Hilda Bartlett (Census reference: RG12 Piece 909 Folio 63 Page 11).

Robert Bartlett died in early 1892 at Fordingbridge, at the age of eighty-four. Out of Robert’s children, the one of most interest to me is his youngest son named James, who was Christened on 8th October 1854 at Fordingbridge, and it is he who began Bartlett’s travelling fairground. At the time of the 1891 Census, he was thirty-six years old and was “Living in Vans” at the Show Yard, Comel Road, Portsmouth, his occupation being recorded as Hobby Horse Proprietor. With him are his thirty-five year old wife Lucy nee Rogers, their three children Alfred aged seven, Nellie aged three, and a newly born Eliza, as well as two girls who were domestic servants, and eight male boarders who were assistants in the business (Census reference: RG12 Piece 856 Folio 9 Page 11).

When the 1901 Census was taken, James and Lucy along with their family were found back at a Farm at Blissford. James is recorded as a forty-six year old Roundabout Proprietor and Farmer, and with him are his forty-five year old wife Lucy, their children Kate aged eighteen, Alfred aged seventeen, Hilda aged fourteen, Nellie aged thirteen, Eliza aged eleven, Daisy aged ten, May aged seven, Agnes aged six, and Topsey aged four. Also with the family is James’ widowed mother Elizabeth aged eighty-three, and around half a dozen males who were boarding with the family and working as traction engine drivers, painters and carters (Census reference: RG13 Piece 1048 Folio 56 Page 13).

Not only was the Bartlett’s Travelling Fairground very well known throughout the south and west of England, as previously mentioned, they were soon connected by marriage to an Exceptionally well known travelling and entertaining family! At Portsmouth in late 1904, James and Lucy Bartlett’s son, alfred James, married Mary ann Chipperfield who was born in Norfolk in the summer of 1879 and was the daughter of James Francis Chipperfield and Mary Ann nee Jones. James Francis Chipperfield claimed “I can train anything from a rabbit to an elephant,” and was a direct ancestor of James Chipperfield who introduced performing animals to England in 1684 at the Frost Fair on the Thames.

Alfred and Mary Ann had four children, all of whom were born in the Wimborne area of Dorset: Minnie on 30th September 1905, Topsy Elizabeth on 26th September 1907, James Robert on 20th September 1909, and Madge Mary Ann on 7th October 1910. Very sadly, shortly after Madge’s birth, Mary Ann nee Chipperfield died at the age of twenty-nine.

When the 1911 Census was taken, the recently widowed Alfred Bartlett was found at the High Street in Fordingbridge in the household of his brother-in-law and sister , John and Kate Percy, John’s occupation being recorded as a Traction Engine Driver. Alfred is aged twenty-six and is recorded as a Steam Roundabout Proprietor. Also in the household is Alfred’s daughter, Topsey aged three (Census reference: RG14 Piece 5898 Schedule 28). Alfred’s remaining children are found elsewhere: five year old Minnie and one year old James are boarding in the household of Albert Henry and Rose Chilcott at West End, Fordingbridge (Census reference: RG14 Piece 5898 Schedule 192); while Madge is found at Wimborne, Dorset in the household of Sidney Herbert and Emily Julia Cave, her relationship to the head of house being recorded as “Caretaking Child” (Census reference: RG14 Piece 12261 Schedule 86).

Alfred Bartlett’s second marriage was to Mary Conely, which took place in Portsmouth in 1912. They had just one child, a daughter named Emily Mary, who was born on 12th June 1918. Mary Zenetta Coneley was the daughter of James Coneley and Mary Ann nee Hewett who were married in 1868 at Portsmouth. In the 1881 Census, James Coneley was recorded as a showman, the address being given as Caravan in the Market Place, Ringwood, Hampshire.

At the time of the National Identity Card Register in September 1939, Alfred James Bartlett was living at Tan Yard in Fordingbridge, his date of birth being given as 6th March 1884, his occupation being recorded as a Firewood Merchant. With him is his wife Mary who was born on 8th April 1882, and his daughters Topsey born 26 September 1908, said to be an Assistant Fireman, and Emily born 12th June 1918, recorded as Incapacitated (Reference: RG101/2398H/006).

Alfred James Bartlett died at Back Street, Fordingbridge at the age of seventy-one on 31st October 1955, and was buried on 7th November at the Hyde Parish Church at Fordingbridge. Probate was granted on 30th December the same year to Emily Mary Bartlett spinster and Barbara Ileen Newman (wife of Gordon William Newman), his effects being valued at £4664 11s. 5d., which in 2005 would be the equivalent of about £81,256. Mary Nezetta Bartlett nee Coneley died at 34 West Street, Fordingbridge on 27th April 1974 at the wonderful age of ninety-two.


There is a noticeable lack of baptisms for my Godwin family in the Nailsea area of Somerset through the first decade of the 1800’s. In the 1851 Census, my great great great grandfather, Benjamin Godwin, states he was born in Nailsea about 1811. With him is his brother, William, who says he was also born in Nailsea but about 1801. Ten years earlier when the 1841 Census was taken, both William and Benjamin are in the same household living at Heath, Nailsea, and with them is who appears to be their seventy year old mother Ann.


This then led me to the most likely marriage of Benjamin and William’s parents, that of Benjamin Godwin and Ann Doggett, who were married after banns on 17th February 1794 at Holy Trinity church in Nailsea, in the presence of Thomas Hunt and George King. Benjamin was born on 17th April 1767 and baptised at Holy Trinity, Nailsea on 8th May the same year. He was the son of William Godwin and Sarah nee Voules who had been married by licence on 24th January 1754 at St Mary, West Harptree, Somerset. William and Sarah were both said to be residents of Nailsey, William’s occupation being recorded as a Farmer.


Benjamin Godwin and Ann nee Doggett did at least baptise two of their children at Nailsea: Ann on 21st September 1794; and Elizabeth on 19th March 1797. Interestingly, on Elizabeth’s baptism, her mother’s name was recorded as Nancy.


Benjamin and Ann’s daughter, Ann, and George Skinner were married after banns on 17th April 1820 at Holy Trinity, Nailsea, in the presence of Peter Moxham and Mary Hayman. In the 1841 Census they are found living at West End, Nailsea, Ann’s forename being recorded as Nancy. With them are their children John aged thirteen, George aged ten, Eliza aged seven, and Harriett aged three.


Currently, I have no further details about their daughter Elizabeth, but there is a possibility she is the Elizabeth Godwin who was buried at Nailsea on 24th July 1800, although no relationship or age is given.


Benjamin Godwin the younger married Mary Vawer on 19th October 1835 at Bedminster, Somerset. They appear to have had just four children: The first was their only daughter Eliza who was born in 1836 (the year before Civil Registration began); the next two children’s births were registered, John in 1838, and William in 1840, Mary’s maiden name being recorded as Vawer on John’s but as Vaw on William’s; and their youngest child was Samuel whose birth doesn’t appear to have been registered. All four children were baptised at the church of the Holy Trinity in Nailsea: Eliza on 14th August 1836; John on 11th February 1838; my great great grandfather William on 5th April 1840; and Samuel on 19th March 1843. In each entry, Benjamin was recorded as a Labourer of Nailsea.


Benjamin Godwin the elder died at the age of seventy-three, and was buried on 28th July 1840 at Holy Trinity, Nailsea. His widow Ann nee Doggett survived him by a few years, until her own death at the age of seventy-four. She was buried on 12th January 1843 at Holy Trinity. Very sadly, just three years later, Benjamin and Mary’s nine year old daughter Eliza died at Nailsea, and was buried on 1st February 1846 at Holy Trinity.


At the time of the 1851 Census, George and Ann Skinner were living at West End, Nailsea, George’s occupation being given as Basket Maker. With them is their twenty-one year old son George who is an Agricultural Labourer, and their twelve year old daughter Harriett. Also at Nailsea, living at Causeway, Is forty year old Benjamin Godwin, with his wife Mary nee Vawer, and their sons John, William and Samuel, as well as Benjamin’s fifty year old brother, William. Benjamin and William’s occupation is given as Coal Hauler, while young John and William are Assistant Coal Haulers.


Bristol Mercury, Saturday 30th April 1853:

Inquests held before Mr Bruges Fry, Coroner. …

At Nailsea, on the body of Benjamin Godwin, a coal-haulier, aged 42, who, whilst in a state of intoxication, fell from the front of his cart and injured his spine, from which injuries he died on the following day. Verdict – “Accidental Death.”


Following this fatal accident, Benjamin was buried on 27th April at Holy Trinity, Nailsea.


The first of Benjamin and Mary’s children to be married was John, whose bride was Harriette James. They were married after banns at Holy Trinity church, Nailsea on 4th August 1858 in the presence of George James and Ann Gosling. They were aged twenty-one and nineteen respectively, John’s occupation being given as Haulier. Their fathers were recorded as Benjamin Godwin, Haulier, and Thomas James, Labourer. Very sadly, their marriage was extremely short-lived, as Harriet died at the age of twenty in the summer of 1859.


At the time of the 1861 Census, George and Ann Skinner, their twenty-three year old daughter Harriett, and Ann’s brother William Godwin were living at Nailsea. Benjamin’s widow Mary Godwin was aged forty-six and working as a Servant for Frances W Thomas at Kings Hill, Nailsea. Two of Mary’s sons had moved to the Kenn area of Bedminster: the recently widowed John was living with his mother-in-law and family, his occupation being given as Coal Haulier; and Samuel was lodging close-by in the Maine household, his occupation being given as Labourer. So far it’s not been possible to find their brother William in this Census.


On 18th October 1861, John Godwin married his second wife, Ann Woolford, at St Thomas, Bristol, Gloucestershire. They were both widowed, and their fathers were named as Benjamin Godwin and John Lovell.


For some reason, all three of the Godwin boys decided to move from the West Country to the Trevethin area of Pontypool in Monmouthshire. It was here in early 1862 that William married his first cousin, Emily Gray, Emily being the daughter of William’s aunty, Hannah nee Vawer.


This marriage is of particular interest to me for two reasons. The first is because it’s the marriage of my great great grandparents. But the second reason is of far more significance to me. The fact that William and Emily were cousins is the most likely cause of the genetic eye condition Retinitis Pigmentosa that my sister and I inherited from our mother. It’s known that neither my great grandmother Louisa nor her son, my grandfather Stanley, had this eye condition, but it could purely mean that they were carriers, not sufferers. I’ve been told that a girl who is a carrier can have a son who has a fifty percent chance of being a sufferer. Of course he can also be a carrier. But if he was then to have a daughter, it would be almost definite that she would be a sufferer rather than a carrier, and any children she had would most likely be sufferers. This certainly seems to coincide with my family’s experience with this condition. My mother had three brothers, none of whom have Retinitis Pigmentosa, and none of their children or grandchildren have the condition either. Apparently, as a sufferer, a son that I may have would also have that fifty percent chance of being a sufferer. Thankfully, my only child, a son, has not inherited the condition.


Meanwhile, back in Somerset, George and Ann Skinner were still living at Nailsea at the time of the 1871 Census, and her brother, William Godwin, is once again found with them. So far it’s not been possible to find Mary Godwin nee Vawer in the 1871 Census, but her three sons are all found at Trevethin in Monmouthshire. John and his second wife Ann nee Woolford are found at Gladstone Terrace, and, rather intriguingly, John’s seventy year old uncle, William Godwin, is included with them on the night of the Census as well! I have come across instances of where someone appeared in the same Census twice, but it was usually where they had been included at their workplace as well as at their home address, in quite close proximity. In this case however, William was many many miles away from his Nailsea home; Finally, William and Emily nee Gray along with their children William aged six, Emily aged two, and the newly born Ann are also found at Gladstone Terrace; and Samuel is lodging close by. Shortly after this Census, Samuel Godwin was married at Newport to Phoebe Jones.


It was only a year later that George Skinner died at the age of seventy-four, being buried on 8th July 1872 at the Holy Trinity church, Nailsea. Ann Skinner, Benjamin and William’s sister, survived her husband by almost two years, until her death at the age of seventy-eight. She was buried on 12th April 1874 at the Holy Trinity church.


William Godwin, the brother of Benjamin the younger, died unmarried at Nailsea at the age of eighty, and was buried on 7th January 1881 at the church of the Holy Trinity. Later the same year, Benjamin’s widow, Mary nee Vawer, died at the age of sixty-seven, and was buried at Holy Trinity on 11th September.


Inbetween their deaths, the 1881 Census was taken on the night of 3rd April. Benjamin’s widow Mary nee Vawer was living at Silver Street in Nailsea, and she had a widower lodging with her named Jacob Brook; so far I’ve been unable to find John and his wife Ann; William and Emily nee Gray were living at Gladstone Terrace with their children William aged sixteen, Emily aged twelve, Ann aged ten, Sarah aged seven, Benjamin aged three, and Louisa aged two; and Samuel, along with his wife Phoebe, and sons George and John had moved to the amusing sounding place of “Turkey Town” in Nantyglo.


The first mention I have found of my Godwin family being in my home town of Abertillery is in the 1891 Census, when John and his wife Ann nee Woolford had moved there, and were living at Newtown, now known as Blaenau Gwent Rows. John’s occupation in this Census was recorded as a Coal Miner. Also in this Census are William and Emily who were living at Stanley Road, Garndiffaith, near Pontypool, William’s occupation being recorded as a Coal Miner. With them are their children William aged twenty-six, Sarah aged eighteen, Benjamin aged fourteen, Louisa aged thirteen, Mary aged eight, and Eliza aged six. Not too far away at Golynos Green in Talywain is William’s brother Samuel with his wife and sons, Phoebe, George, and John. Samuel, George and John are recorded as Iron Miners.


William Godwin died at the age of fifty-two, and was buried on 31st October 1892 at Abersychan. The following year, his brother Samuel died at the age of fifty, and was buried on 20th April 1893, also at Abersychan. Amazingly, Samuel Godwin’s widow, Phoebe nee Jones, wasted absolutely no time at all in marriying her second husband, Vincent George Hammond. They were married at Abersychan on 10th June, just fifty-one days after Samuel’s burial!


William and Emily’s daughter, Louisa, married William Jones in Abertillery in late 1896, and had a total of eleven children: May in 1897; William in 1898; David Arthur in 1901; my grandfather Stanley in 1902; Beryl in 1904; Gladys Emily in 1907; Gwyn in 1908; Nancy in 1910; Lilian in 1913; Doris Enid in 1917; and William Towey in 1918. When I look back at the family’s address in 1891, Stanley Road, I can’t help but wonder whether my grandfather was named in memory of that house or road.


William Godwin’s widow, Emily nee Gray, married her second husband Alexander Thomas, on 21st August 1900 at Abersychan. They can be found in the 1901 Census living at Davies Court, Garndiffaith. Also in this Census is John Godwin and his wife Ann nee Woolford who were living at 56, Newtown, Blaenau Gwent, Abertillery, his occupation being recorded as Coal Hewer. They even have a thirty-three year old Servant named Mary Ann Jayne! Also with them are three boarders, Jethro Luton, Andrew Watson, and Joseph Nicholls, and a visitor, Charles Luton. Just two doors away, at number 58, are William Jones and Louisa nee Godwin, their three children, May aged three, William aged two, and David Arthur who was just eighteen days old, as well as Louisa’s sixteen year old sister Eliza Godwin.


The last surviving son of Benjamin Godwin and Mary nee Vawer, John, died in late 1908, he was seventy years old.


If she wasn’t already aware of it, Louisa Jones nee Godwin was to find out just how dangerous working in the coalmines of South Wales could be. In the space of a little over twelve years, she lost her first son William and her husband William in two mining accidents at the same Abertillery colliery. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her husband was working alongside their son when the first fatal accident happened:


South Wales Gazette and Newport News, Friday 13th November 1914:



Mr. J. B. Walford (district coroner) conducted an inquest at the Abertillery Police Station on Thursday afternoon on the death of William Jones (16), a collier boy of 58 Bottom Row, Cwmtillery, who was killed by a fall of roof at the Rose Heyworth Pit, Abertillery, on Monday.

Mr. P. T. Jekins, Mines’ Inspector, Mr. Geo. Barker, Miners’ Agent, and Mr. T. Jenkin Williams, the manager of the colliery, were also present.

William Jones, collier, deceased’s father, said his son was a healthy, active lad. He died about 10-30 on Monday evening. He had been working with witness at the Rose Heyworth Colliery, and about 1-15 a fall of roof occurred in the South Old Coal district, where two men and two boys were working together. Witness was five or six yards away from his son, who was fetching “curlings” to fill the coal box. Witness and a man named Berrows were considering replacing of some timber when their attention was attracted by a crash. Witness called to deceased, “Are you alright, Will,” and heard deceased cry out. Witness ran to his assistance, and found him partly under a lump of coal. He was released in a minute, but witness could see he was badly injured. He was taken to the surface as quickly as possible. A good deal of the roof had fallen, and witness noticed that a sprag which had been put up only last Saturday was broken. The coal above the sprag was overhanging a couple of feet. The bottom coal underneath the overhanging part had been taken out last Saturday.

The Coroner remarked that he was afraid that there was a tendency on the part of men who had worked many years underground — the longer the more noticeable — to think that if a place sounded safe and looked safe there was probably no danger. Hidden slips, however, accounted for a large percentage of accidents. Wm. Roberts, (day fireman) said he was at the spot in question that morning and noticed the overhanging part, but thought it was spragged. Witness did not think it was dangerous. He had examined the place since, and came to the conclusion that there had been a slip, but he did not think that accounted for the accident. There was a “bump” present, which he thought caused the coal to fall.

Dr. Chas gordon Bennett deposed to examining the deceased who had a compound fracture of the right leg, and died from internal hemorrhage and shock.

The Coroner, in summing up, directed the jury to consider whether any precautions could have been taken to prevent the fatality.

The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and expressed sympathy with the deceased’s relatives, in which the Coroner, Mr. Geo. Barker (for the Federation) and Mr. Williams on behalf of the Company, concurred.


South Wales Gazette and Newport News, Friday 28th January 1927:

Abertillery Colliery Fireman.


A sad fatality occurred at the Rose Heyworth Colliery on Saturday morning, the victim being William Jones (55), a fireman, of 58 the Rows, Blaenau Gwent. The deceased was killed instantaneously by the fall of a stone from the roof. He was a married man, and leaves a widow and ten children, three of whom are attending the County School. He was a member of the old Blaenau Gwent Male Voice Party, and sang regularly among them, while he has also been a member of other singing parties, and was highly respected in the Blaenau Gwent district. He was a faithful member of the choir of Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church and a member of Mr. Howell J. Davies’s Sunday-school class.

The funeral took place on Thursday, and was largely attended. The Rev. Ivor Evans conducted services at the house, the church, and the graveside.

The chief mourners were: Mrs. Louisa Jones, the widow; the misses May, Beryl, Gladys, Nancy, Lilian, and Doris Jones, daughters; Messrs. David, Stanley, and Gwyn Jones, sons; Mr. and Mrs. Johnathan Jones, brother and sister-in-law; Mr. and Mrs. G. Godwin, Mr. and Mrs. W. godwin (Garndiffaith), Mr. and Mrs. Henry Coombs (Gloucester), Mr. and Mrs. E. Crease (Garndiffaith), Mr. and Mrs. J. Thorne (Penarth), and Mrs. E. Luton, sisters and brothers-in-law; Messrs. David and Joseph Boots, W. Jones (late manager of the Vivian Colliery), F. Hayes, J. Ellaway, M. Sheean, T. Ford, C. Baldwin, T. Davies, H. Thomas, T. and W. Berrow; and Messrs. T. Deer, T. Davies, J. Baker, W. Waters, and B. Silcox (colliery officials).

The arrangements were carried out by Messrs. A. Horler and Sons.


At the time the 1939 Register was taken, Louisa Jones nee Godwin was living at 53 Roseheyworth Road, Abertillery, her date of birth being given as 10th December 1878. Also with her are three of her children: Nancy born 25th October 1910 who is recorded as a School Teacher; William T (known as Towey) who was born on 28th May 1918, and recorded as Incapacitated; and one closed record which I know to be her daughter Doris (known as Doll), who is still alive at the time this document was last updated.


The following memorial inscription can be found at the Blaenau Gwent Baptist Church, Abertillery:


In Loving memory of WILLIAM, beloved husband of LOUISA JONES, accidentally killed at Rose Heyworth Pit, January 22nd

1927 aged 55. Gone but not forgotten. Also WILLIAM, their son, who was accidentally killed at Rose Heyworth Pit on November 9th

1914 aged 16. Asleep in Jesus. And in Proud and Honoured Memory of the Beloved Mother of the Above, LOUISA JONES, who died

November 19th 1965 aged 86.


Census References



George Skinner and Ann (Nancy) nee Godwin: HO107 Piece 956 Book 6 Folio 73 Page 7

Benjamin Godwin and Mary nee Vawer, William Godwin, and Ann Godwin: HO107 Piece 956 Book 6 Folio 41 Page 15



George Skinner and Ann nee Godwin: HO107 Piece 1946 Folio 322 Page 53

Benjamin Godwin and Mary nee Vawer, and William Godwin: HO107 Piece 1946 Folio 286 Page 10



George Skinner and Ann nee Godwin, and William Godwin: RG09 Piece 1710 Folio 29 Page 27

Mary Godwin nee Vawer: RG09 Piece 1710 Folio 19 Page 8

John Godwin: RG09 Piece 1709 Folio 81 Page 2

Samuel Godwin: RG09 Piece 1709 Folio 82 Page 3



George Skinner and Ann nee Godwin, and William Godwin: RG10 Piece 2516 Folio 20 Page 32

John Godwin and Ann nee Woolford, and William Godwin: RG10 Piece 5335 Folio 39 Page 22

William Godwin and Emily nee Gray: RG10 Piece 5335 Folio 39 Page 22

Samuel Godwin: RG10 Piece 5335 Folio 10 Page 16



Mary Godwin nee Vawer: RG11 Piece 2462 Folio 30 Page 9

William Godwin and Emily nee Gray: RG11 Piece 5253 Folio 64 Page 34

Samuel Godwin and Phoebe nee Jones: RG11 Piece 5240 Folio 27 Page 48



John Godwin and Ann nee Woolford: RG12 Piece 4353 Folio 94 Page 51

William Godwin and Emily nee Gray: RG12 Piece 4363 Folio 62 Page 33

Samuel Godwin and Phoebe nee Jones: RG12 Piece 4363 Folio 7 Page 7



John Godwin and Ann nee Woolford: RG13 Piece 4935 Folio 96 Page 27

Alexander Thomas and Emily late Godwin formerly Gray: RG13 Piece 4946 Folio 95 Page 35

William Jones and Louisa nee Godwin, and Eliza Godwin: RG13 Piece 4935 Folio 96 Page 27

The Blind Genealogist – About Me

This is the post excerpt.

Having an unusual surname as I have, I’ve always been intrigued by where it came from, what it meant, and so on. As I grew up in the Welsh mining town of Abertillery, I learned a little about my Nixey family because of what my father had told me. I knew for example that his father, “Ernest” had been born at Bath in Somerset, that his uncle Will had been a policeman in London, and that his grandfather Edward had been born in Slough, the son of Joseph who was a Tailor. He’d also told me about W. G. Nixey, the inventor and patentee of the world renowned Nixey’s Black Lead, but he didn’t seem to know where in our family tree he fitted in.


Unfortunately, I inherited an eye condition from my mother, Retinitis Pigmentosa, which was to gradually steal my vision until I was registered completely blind at the age of twenty. Wanting to learn more about my family’s history though, leads one to ask how on earth could I possibly develop such a hobby, let alone be successful at it.


In 1993, my attention was grabbed while visiting blind friends in Hampshire. They had recently purchased a computer, and amazingly, the computer had a programme on it that spoke text out to them! I was awestruck! On returning home, I was telling my father all about it, and, before I knew it, he’d bought me my very own computer! Back then, the computers were very slow with low specifications, but as computer technology developed, it helped me to be able to develop my interests too, not just in family history, but in other keen interests I had, such as music and the Bible. In time, I even began designing my own websites, learning the often complicated html coding that is essential to website design.


For several years now, I’ve used a wonderful screen reader package called JAWS, which stands for Job Access With Speech, and is developed in the USA by Freedom Scientific ( ). There are many other such programmes out there, but I find this one to be the best for me. Window’s Narrator which is available on all Windows 8 and 10 computers is a really good programme for doing the basics and of course comes free as part of your Windows installation. Another programme that I’ve tried from time to time is NVDA, which stands for Non Visual Desktop Access and is also available for free ( ).


As far as my family history is concerned, I’ve been enjoying doing my research for what must be nearly twenty years now. A great assistance for me was the Rootsweb mailing lists
( ) where I could email my queries to the appropriate list and receive assistance from sighted people. Over time, I began subscribing to such websites as Ancestry UK ( ) and Find My Past ( Unfortunately, the amount of details that are transcribed varies greatly. To ensure my research was accurate, the assistance of sighted people giving me the additional details that could be found on the images that hadn’t been transcribed was absolutely vital. In many cases, it proved that my research didn’t add up, and so I had to continue researching until I’d found the correct details. On times this could be quite exasperating, but the overwhelming feeling of success when I’d managed to piece together a chunk of my family tree, and particularly when I’d cracked what is termed a “brickwall,” is hard to put into words.


The obvious thing to do, when you’re as interested in family history research as I am, is to expand your scope to your wife’s family, which in my case at least led to some very interesting finds. Needless to say, I’ll be sharing some of these on my blog. To begin with, though, I feel it’s most appropriate to detail the family line from which I inherited the eye condition, and this will be the subject of my first blog post, entitled, My Godwin Family And The Cause Of My Blindness.


Finally, if you have any comments regarding anything you read on my blog, please do get in touch, especially if you have some additional information or constructive criticism.


Please feel free to email me at: jon.ofhs5790 (at)
And if you are a Nixey researcher, you will be fascinated to visit my website at ( ) entitled “The Blacklead King – The Story of William George Nixey. You may well be interested in this website even if you are not a Nixey researcher as it contains a wide variety of subjects from religion to royalty, the armed forces to freemasonry, and much much more.


Jonathan Nixey – Tuesday 3rd January 2017