The Trouble With Harry

What an amazing place the Internet is! About 6 months ago, I wrote about my search for Uncle Harry, and left a few questions open, which I really didn’t think would ever be answered. But just last week a person called Chris, who had made the connection between my tree on ancestry.com and this blog, made a comment on that post.

Figuring out the relationship to Chris (which is by marriage and not one of consanguinity) was a bit tricky, and had my grandson-in-law rolling his eyes like billiard balls. In sum, my mother’s Uncle Harry was cousin to Chris’s grandfather, whose daughter, Chris’s mother, is still alive, aged 94. My mother was thrilled to find that she has a living relative in her nineties, and we finally worked out that this elderly lady would have been the great-niece of my mother’s grandmother. You see why my grandson-in-law was feeling perplexed?

That revelation led me back to Uncle Harry, and I renewed my research. I started with the Probate calendar of his will.

GREEN Harry of Hodgson Arms 47 and 49 Hodgson Street Sheffield died 5 March 1940 Probate Wakefield 2 April 1941 to Hannah Truelove (wife of Joseph Truelove) and Ethel Whittaker (wife of Walter Whittaker). Effects £641.

There is a very informative website called the Sheffield Indexers which has a record of almost all burials in Sheffield cemeteries. I had already discovered that Harry shared his grave with Hannah Truelove, and it wasn’t hard to find the marriage record of Hannah Green, widow, to Joseph Truelove, widower, in the first quarter of 1941, so that confirmed Hannah Truelove’s identity. But who were the Whittakers?

Once again, the Sheffield burial records provided useful information: although buried together in a different cemetery from Harry and Hannah, in the 1950’s Walter (a joiner) and Ethel Whittaker (housewife) had lived at the same address as Hannah Truelove. And it was clear from the dates that at the time of Hannah’s death, she was living with the widowed Ethel.

Ethel was 64 when she died in August 1966, and the obvious assumption is that she was Hannah’s daughter: the age would be right, and elderly widows often ended up living with their daughters. The censuses can be helpful in assigning children to parents, so if she was indeed Harry and Hannah Green’s daughter, where was she in the 1911 census?

Not with her brothers, young Harry and Frank, who were staying at their maternal grandmother’s; but these boys were aged 14 and 16 and already working as “stamp drivers” at a carriage works, whereas their little sister Ethel would only have been nine years old. She wasn’t just around the corner with her paternal grandparents, either. So maybe she was with her parents, wherever they were: I still haven’t found them in the 1911 UK census and am wondering if they were in Chile? Harry granted probate to Ethel, suggesting a close relationship, even though he also had two older sons.

My mother was totally unaware of these cousins, who were of course a lot older than she was, but thinks she may have met them when visiting her grandmother because, as she says, “there were always a lot of people going in and out, but they were all grown up and boring!”

I found two birth records for babies called Ethel Green in Sheffield from the 1st and 2nd quarters of 1902, although unlike baptismal records these don’t give the names of the parents, so I can’t be certain that one of these is our cousin Ethel. I also found a marriage record for Ethel Green and Walter Ernest Whittaker in Lincoln in the last quarter of 1927. Could that indicate that Ethel and her parents had moved to Lincolnshire at the end of the 1920’s? If they were, it might explain why she married a Lincolnshire man and not a Sheffielder.

Her father was the licensee of the Napier Hotel in Sheffield in1923, but I haven’t been able to locate him between 1924 and 1931. The 1931 character reference says that Harry Green is “of Gainsborough (Lincs)” and the referee had known him “for a considerable period” so the family might well have been running another pub there.

As the cemetery record shows, Walter Whittaker died aged 62 in the middle of June 1955, Hannah Truelove aged 81 in March 1958, and Ethel aged 64 in August 1966; all residing at the same address. The Probate Calendar names Ethel’s heirs as a couple living in London. Is this her daughter? If so, we have some more cousins to chase up: “Harold Jennings grocer and Dorothy Jennings married woman.”

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9 thoughts on “The Trouble With Harry

  1. I don’t even know my father’s cousins or their children (I’ve never met them) and know only little about my mother’s relatives. So, I prefer dreaming of my ancestors having been earls 🙂 or members of noble tiler dynasties rather than investigating exhaustingly and finding out that they were… just people.

    • I have no dreams of noble ancestors 😀 but my mother remembers her Uncle Harry, and it has been an interesting exercise finding out about his life. Most people are … just people … but every one is an individual, even if not an earl or countess!

  2. It is fascinating unraveling all the connections. I am doing a bit of that with my mother at the moment. She recently found a descendant of my grandfather’s sister. Interestingly her descendants barely number ten, and my grandfather’s descendants number nearly 150.
    (It did help that my grandparents had nine children!)

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