Monday, 30 April 2012

Charlotte Ball and William Down

Following the birth of her son in 1892, the next sighting of Charlotte comes from her 1898 marriage, in the Cardiff registration district, to William Down. The marriage to William was registered in the last quarter of 1898 - which would place son, William, at about age 6 at the time of her nuptials.

William Down was born in Selworthy, Somerset in 1867. This is a Google map of Selsworthy, located cross the Bristol Channel from the south coast of Wales:

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This a link to: photos of Selworthy on Panaramio. It looks like quite an idyllic place.

William was born in Somerset and was living with his parents, William and Betsy Down, and sisters Mary and Ann and an unnamed newborn daughter in a cottage in Timberscombe, Somerset in 1871 according to the census. He was age 4 at the time. By the time of the 1881 census, William was living at Courts Cottage, Selworthy, Somerset, with farmer, John Court and his wife, Martha, as an indoor agricultural servant, along with John and James Court, sons of John and Martha, aged 33 and 27. The 1891 census shows William living with James and Ann Court, on Corss Lane Farm, Cross Lane, Selworthy, as an agricultural labourer, along with a younger labourer named Henry Baker. Sometime between 1891 and 1898, William made his way to Wales and eventually met Charlotte Ball.

Was William Down the father of William Spickett Ball? It's entirely possible. However, William's given middle name of Spickett is troubling (or a clever ruse by Charlotte to deflect suspicion away from someone - perhaps William Down). Young William was born 3 April 1892 and William Down was enumerated in Somerset almost a year prior on census day in 1891. Given the distances between their homes and William's occupation as a labourer, I am doubtful that William is the father, but won't discount any possibility.

By the time of the 1901 census, Charlotte and William were living at 18 Railway Terrace, Penarth, with Charlotte's father, William Huxtable Ball. William Down, age 34, was listed as a railway labourer. Charlotte's son William, age 8, was also living with them in the household.

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Charlotte Ball and the birth of her child, William Spickett Ball, 1892

Well, this is my 100th post to the Ball Bureau and, although not consciously planned, it is about breaking through a brickwall and exposing a few family secrets. As I mentioned at the end of my post yesterday, there always were stories about Charlotte having had a child out of wedlock. My great aunt Gwen had mentioned it in her family history note that got me going on this journey, but gave few details as to the child's identity or story. Other family members (my grandmother and my father's cousin) knew about the child, but they could not offer any more information. It always seemed as if this child was never really part of our family's story.

When the 1901 UK census was first released around 2002, I learned that Charlotte (now married) was living with her husband William Down, father William Huxtable Ball, and a child identified as William Ball, age 8. grandson at 18 Railway Terrace, Penarth, Wales. This was the first clue that William could have been the child out of wedlock, but the 1891 census kept throwing me off, with the misplaced Robert John Edwards, the mystery nephew living with Charlotte and her brothers John and Thomas. As time went on, I learned that older brother, Henry, also had a son named William, about the same age. So was this William in Penarth in 1901 - the child of Charlotte or Henry?

When I tracked down Henry, I found him in the 1901 census with his children, including young William Henry Ball, in Penarth. Luckily (or should I say, expensively...) for me, there were more than a few babies named William Ball who were born in Glamorgan between 1891 and 1895. After ordering a couple of wrong certificates, I finally received the birth certificate for William Henry, dated 1893 and was able to confirm the child as Henry's. But Charlotte's William still remained a mystery. A newly-found third cousin provided some more information - that 'Billy Ball' as he was known to his branch of the family was a longtime resident of Penarth and had worked as the caretaker of the Penarth Library.

I went back over the indexes and ordered the certificate that I had excluded previously - with the middle name of Spickett - as it seemed to have no family connection to the Ball family. When it arrived, I was delighted to learn that I had found Charlotte's out of wedlock child, William Spickett Ball.

Charlotte gave birth to a boy, named William Spickett Ball, on 3 Apr 1892, in the village of Wig Fach, near Porthcawl (Brigend), Glamorgan. This is map of the location of William's birth:

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And this is a Google street view of Wig Fach, inside the Happy Valley Campground, outside of Porthcawl:

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Baby William's birth certificate names no father. Charlotte's occupation is given as "housekeeper" and the informant was shown as "C. Ball" mother, Wig Fach, Merthyr Mawr. I have made the assumption that this was her mother Charlotte Ball. The birth was registered on 16 Apr 1892 and Thomas Jenkins was the Registrar. Charlotte's move to Wig Fach may have been related to her pregnancy and the birth of her child. Her mother may have come along to assist her. The year prior, Charlotte had been living with brothers John and Thomas on John's farm in Little Hill, St. Andrews.

Who was William's father? Could it have been Charlotte's husband William Down? I am not entirely sure. I think that the name Spickett is a clue to William's paternity, but I have been unable to make any definite conclusions. On the same page of the 1891 census for Little Hill, St. Andrews, there appears a family named Spickett. The members of the Spickett household are elderly, aged 70-76 - head of the household is Elizabeth, age 70, sister Mary, age 72 and brother-in-law, Robert, age 76 - all living on their own means. Could William's father been related to this family? Another mystery to solve...

Cheers, K.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Charlotte Ball - 1891 Wales Census

At the time of the 1891 Wales Census, Charlotte was living at Little Hill, St. Andrews, St. Andrews & Dinas Powis, on a farm with her brothers John and Thomas. Her age was given as 22 and her occupation was listed as 'housekeeper". The census taker recorded her birthplace as Swansea, but she was likely born in Scurlage, as was her younger brother Thomas. Elder brother, John, was a farmer and Thomas was an 'engine cleaner". The census lists Robert John Edwards, nephew, age 3, in the household, along with Samuel Williams, servant, age 14, from Cardiganshire.

It was long rumoured in our family that Charlotte had a child out of wedlock. But details were always scarce. Upon seeing Robert John Edwards in the household, my heart jumped - this must be Charlotte's child. However, I've since revised my assumptions based on information uncovered in the last few years... more to follow. I promise :)

Cheers, K.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Charlotte Ball 1868-1947

Charlotte Ball was the fifth child and second daughter of William Huxtable Ball and Charlotte Balment. Charlotte's birth was registered in the second quarter of 1868 in Gower. Based on the family's location for the births of previous children and that of Thomas Huxtable, the youngest child, in 1875, Charlotte was likely born in Scurlage, Llanddewi, Glamorgan, Wales.

This is a map of Scurlage, located in the Gower Peninsula of South Wales:

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The "missing" 1871 census for this area precludes a description of the Ball family. However, in 1881, the family was living in Scurlage Castle, Llanddewi, in the Gower District, in Glamorganshire. Charlotte was 12 years old, a scholar (student) with a birth place shown as Llanddewi, Glamoranshire. She was living with her parents, William and Charlotte, elder brother Henry, age 17, rural messenger and younger brother, Thomas, age 5, also a "scholar".

Cheers, K.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Elizabeth Ann Ball - Obituary 3 Jul 1956

The announcement of Elizabeth Edwards' death appeared in the South Wales Echo in early July 1956. The headline of the news story read "FATAL BURNS Woman's Nightdress on Fire." According to the article, Elizabeth was found in the early hours of one morning by her son-in-law, Arthur Fear, with her nightdress in flames. Her death was ruled "accidental" by the coroner, Mr. Gerald Tudor. Arthur is quoted in the article as saying that his mother-in-law generally used a night light, but on this particular night, there was no night light in the room, only a box of matches. The article finished by stating that Mrs. Edwards died of shock due to extensive burns.

A later notice in the newspaper noted that Elizabeth died in hospital on 30 June 1956. She was the "beloved wife of the late Robert Edwards" and "dearly-loved mother of all her children and grandchildren".

Cheers, K.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Elizabeth Ann (Ball) Edwards - A Tragic End

After the changes to the Edwards household as shown in the 1911 census, I do not know what became of the family as a unit. I do know that Robert Edward's death was registered in the second quarter of 1939 in Cardiff.

Elizabeth Ann (nee Ball) Edwards died tragically on 30 June 1956. She had been living with her daughter Elsie and son-in-law Arthur Fear in their home at 50 Llantarnam Road, Cardiff. This is a map of where their home was located:

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Her death certificate stated that she died at Royal Cardiff Infirmary of "shock due to extensive burns accidentally sustained through her nightdress being set on fire by a lit match". It also indicated that no post-mortem was conducted. Elizabeth, noted as the widow of retired electrician Robert Edward Edwards, was age 90 at the time of her death. The death was registered by certificate from Gerald Tudor, Coroner for Cardiff, by J.W. Hill, Deputy. The inquest into her death was held on 3 July 1956.

Such a sad ending.

Take care, K.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Elizabeth Ball and Robert Edwards - 1911 and Separate Lives

The 1911 census revealed some very dramatic changes in the Edwards household. Robert was living with son Leonard, age 22, occupation "tram conductor", daughter Elsie, age 18, single, no occupation given, and son Harold, age 14, no occupation listed. Robert and the children were living at 19 Meteor Street, Cardiff:

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This is a street-view of their neighbourhood:

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Notably absent is Elizabeth from the family home. Curious as to her whereabouts, I searched for her in the 1911 census returns, thinking that she could have been visiting with family on the day the census was taken. Much to my surprise, I found her living as a boarder at 11 Newport Road, Cardiff:

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This is a street view of the area mapped by Google as 11 Newport Road, Cardiff. The area has obviously been redeveloped in the years since 1911:

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The rather telling detail on the census return is that Elizabeth was living with May Thomas, widow, age 40, whose occupation was given as "Head of British Womans [sic] Temperance Assn", and Elsie Williams, single, age 26, no occupation given. May and Elsie are shown as the head of household. The rest of the boarders are single women, ranging in age from 16 to 24, whose occupation is given as "general servant". There is one widow, May Sullivan, age 39. Elizabeth was listed as age 44, dressmaker, born in Gower. While the address is not in Cardiff's "Temperance Town", the presence of May Thomas and Elizabeth's status as a boarder raises the question 'Was there a problem with alcohol in the Edwards household?" Did Elizabeth leave the family home as a result of Robert's drinking? Was her departure from the family home more of a manifestation of her devotion to the temperance cause rather than an indication of a drink problem in the home? I don't have the answers and perhaps it will never be known.

I have tried doing some online research on May Thomas, but have not found any information on her. I will keep looking and will post if anything is found.

Many more questions to ponder...

Cheers, K.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cruel April

T.S. Eliot, in his 1922 poem, The Waste Land, begins:

April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers
In my family, April is cruellest month. It is tinged with sadness and memories of Dad's passing, twenty years ago, on 3 April 1992. A life cut too short, by cancer, at age 57. It's difficult to believe that he's been gone so long - so much has happened since - new spouses and partners, the birth of grandchildren, new homes and jobs. Another lifetime, really. But I still feel the pang of someone missing at every milestone that we encounter. I know that he's with us as we proceed on this journey, whispering words of encouragement, telling us not to take everything so seriously, and to cherish the moments that we have with one another. It's always hard to get through the day of his passing, but we do, because he would have wanted it that way.

We also remember his father and our grandfather, William Huxtable Ball, who passed away 6 April 1971. While my memories of Granddad are just glimpses of the past, Dad always talked of him, especially on the day of his passing. The fondness and reverence in which he held his father is deeply embedded in me - a gift from him that I will always cherish. Our time together is short - often cut shorter by cruel diseases like cancer, which has claimed too many in our family.

This year, April is particularly cruel, as we remember Dad's brother, Bill, who passed away 6 April 2011. Living on opposite sides of a country, we weren't there with my cousins and aunt in their hour of despair, but felt the pain and hurt as we marked Dad's passing, in the knowledge that cancer would quickly claim Bill too. My heart goes out to my dear cousins as they mark the first anniversary of the passing of their beloved father. Bill was the last link to Dad - his only sibling and surviving member of his immediate family. Now that Bill is gone, it feels like Dad has slipped away further - but will never be forgotten.

Fondly remembered...

Bill, Granddad and Dad, ca. 1949

Take care, K.