Nowadays children are often given names which seem to those of us of the older generation somewhat bizarre. Often they are named after pop stars or other celebrities. It was far more common in previous generations to name the firstborn son after his father and the first daughter after her mother. This can cause confusion in family research as I am about to illustrate.
I am researching my great aunt Georgina Maria Tyson. Georgina was born in 1883 and married Charles Monk in 1902. The 1911 Census shows that the couple were living in Chelmsford Street, Fulham (described in the local Medical Officer for Health’s report as being in “probably the poorest area in Fulham”. They had two children, David Monk aged 9 months and Georgina Monk aged 10 years. It also shows that by the time of that Census in 1911 Maria had given birth to 6 other children who had died in their first year. How terrible for poor Georgina; and this does not account for any miscarriages or stillbirths she may have endured.
Further searches for birth records showed that later there were at least three more births. Henry was born in 1912, James in 1916 and William in 1920. As far as I know at the moment, only one, William, survived; he died in 1999.
A puzzling entry on the Register of Electors
Looking at the Register of Electors for 1918 It lists Charles Monk, Georgina Monk, David Monk and Ellen Monk. Ellen does not appear in the census so I presumed that she was one of those who died, but apparently not. While Charles and wife Georgina were eligible to vote (women over 30 yrs had just gained the vote) surely Ellen and David were too young. This could not be right.
No, I was wrong!
I had presumed there were errors in the register. Well, I was wrong! Looking up Georgina’s husband, Charles Monk, in the 1891 census I discovered some interesting information. He was only eight years old at the time and living in Warwick Terrace, Kensington with his parents, David and Ellen Monk.
It seems that the two people in the 1918 Electoral Register I had presumed were possibly not eligible to vote were, in fact, the grandparents. They had moved from Warwick Terrace and now resided at Chelmsford Street with their son and daughter-in-law.
Consulting a valuable resource
I lived in Earl’s Court as a child and so was curious to know where Warwick Terrace was. I certainly knew Warwick Road ( its the main road running from one end of Earl’s Court to the other parallel to Earl’s Court Road) but I couldn’t recall Warwick Terrace. It doesn’t appear on current maps and I couldn’t find it on Charles Booth’s maps. Googling it I found a Report of the Medical Officer of Health for Kensington listing Warwick Terrace alongside the names of other roads that I remembered.
We are all accustomed to resorting to Google or other search engines for information but we should not forget it when it comes to family history. You may be quite surprised what you find when you search a term or family name. As for that other resource, the report of the Medical officer for Health, what a mine of information that is. If you are researching London history I am sure you will find the Medical Officer of Health reports extremely valuable.
Were they a bit overcrowded?
The fact that, according to the 1911 census, the family lived in only two rooms sounds as though the accommodation was a bit overcrowded. It does seem unlikely that the house had only two habitable rooms. Looking at the 1911 census shows that they had in fact entered 4 but crossed it out and put 2 (probably after seeing the instructions not to count kitchens or sculleries).
It could have been that the house had more rooms that had been previously occupied by another family and had been taken over by the elder Monks.
What a sad, hard life Maria seems to have endured. It’s not surprising that she died in 1923 at the age of only forty.