I’ve been in touch with some distant relatives in Australia who not only filled in a lot of the gaps about my ancestors, but they also had pictures. Including one of my mum at Barry Island when she was ten years old. But the woman in the picture above is my great-great grandmother, Esther Quilford (nee Ruddick) who was the district midwife in Cwmbran in the late 1800s/early 1900s, as well has having had quite a large family herself. Isn’t she magnificent? Well I think so. She’d have been, I imagine, in her fifties when this was taken (so around 1900), but she was still a handsome woman with very strong features, and so I imagine she was quite a looker in her youth.
Esther married my great-great grandfather, James Quilford, the year her first husband died. It seemed shocking to me at first, but then I thought about the place women had in society in those days. If they had children (and Esther had three children with her first husband who were still toddlers when he died – in fact the youngest was born the year her husband died) then they had very little chance of going out to work. So Esther did what she had to do. She set her sights on James Quilford (his family lived on the same street as Esther), seven years her junior, and married him. James’ mother also married a man younger than herself (ten years younger) when James and his siblings were still very young.
And Esther’s mother, Patience Ruddick, married the lodger, ten years her junior. I found this out when I was looking through all the censuses, and the name James Hawkins turned up as a boarder with Patience and her husband for well over forty years. Then I found out that Patience had remarried (again in the same year that her husband died and when she was 64 years old), and whose name should I see in the marriage list for that year? Yep, good old James Hawkins, so I surmised it had to be him she married. It was too much of a coincidence. It does make me wonder how many of the Ruddick children should really have had the name Hawkins!
The pictures really bring it all to life, giving faces to what so far have only been names to me.
The one of my mum made me cry. I’d hardly ever seen pictures of her as a child, yet there she is, ten years old with what should have been a long long life ahead of her. The WW2 had ended three years earlier and whilst there was still rationing, there was a hope of a better life for everyone. Mum is the one in the black swimsuit, and the girl next to her, holding the dog, is her sister, Shirley. Behind are (l-r) my grandfather Tom, holding my uncle Jeff, my grandmother, Polly, her mother, Patience. I’m not sure who the younger girl is holding the baby. Either my great aunty Tilly or Milly (I always get them mixed up) and I’m assuming the baby is hers.
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