Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! It’s Off to Bow I Go….

“Look to the past to see what the future holds.” I like this quote from the author Celia Conrad in Wilful Murder, the second of her Alicia Allen Investigates.

I find myself looking to the past on most days at the moment for if I’m not in search of an elusive ancestor for a client or trawling through the 1911 Census for a few of my pesky relatives who still appear reluctant to reveal themselves some 104 years later; I could either be immersed in the year 1815 as the work on my Lord Byron abode continues or otherwise curled up in a quiet corner somewhere with Lady Byron and Her Daughters; and before you ask, it is the title of a new biography about His Lordship’s much maligned spouse!

However, one rainy weekend and in the company of my genealogical assistant, I literally took a walk in the past during my visit to London for as I trekked up and down Fairfield Road in Bow which is not only the road that my family live near but also the road that Hargrave Potter, the son of my 4 x Great Grandfather was trekking along on that very weekend an incredible 128 years earlier!

The History Sleuth’s Companion Pauses Before the Spot Where Number 36 Fairfield Road Had Once Stood Some 128 Years Earlier…

I have only recently acquainted myself with Hewitson Potter, my 4 x Great Grandfather who was born in Scarborough in 1815 and with the blessing of an unusual first name (a boon for any genealogist, however well experienced!) and an illustrious career as a Master Mariner; Hewitson was also the patriarch of an impressive number of off-spring.

However in 1865 with Hewitson’s early death in Nova Scotia, little Hargrave along with his mother Susannah and siblings Mary and John would make their home in Scarborough with his older sister Ann Stephenson and her husband John Edeson.

And there Hargrave was to remain living alongside his sister’s family and his many cousins (including my 2 x Great Grandfather Charles Edward) in their cozy home on Seamer Road until after his eighteenth birthday in 1881 and when shortly after as a skilled carpenter, he would make his way to London and make the acquaintance of one Mary Jane Duffus, who despite sharing the same birthplace as Hargrave, was to spend her childhood with her family in Mile End

November 13 1887 is a date infamous with London’s long and troubled history and known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ when over 30,000 protesters including the playwright George Bernard Shaw marched around Trafalgar Square in a demonstration against rising unemployment, the poor living wage and the British government Coercion Acts that gave rise to the suspension of a number of civil rights including imprisonment without trial.

Despite the violent clashes that took place between the police and the protesters with over 400 arrests and many badly injured, the demonstrations were to continue until February 1888 when the political landscape began to eventually change for the better.

Sunday November 13 1887 also witnessed the betrothal of Hargrave and Mary Jane at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity in Mile End.

And despite the inauspicious date of their union as man and wife and the early death of their first-born James Hewitson Potter before his second birthday in 1889; history indicates that their marriage was of some duration and Hargrave lived until his 76th year.

However, I think that a return to the present is now called for as I’m off to search for those chocolate biscuits that I have hidden somewhere…

For an interesting read about ‘Bloody Sunday’, why not pay a visit to TURBULENT LONDON The Historical Geography of Protests, Riots and General Mischief in London… Enjoy



Blood Sweeps the Land in November as the History Sleuth Remembers the Death of a Soldier…

As November 11 is Armistice Day, I thought it would be nice to share the story of just one soldier of the 11 million other military personnel who perished in the First World War…

For it was on a cold and very rainy day that I found myself in the shadow of the magnificent Tower of London, for although I had been determined to see the display of the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red in the tower moat since it had begun; my first visit was to be the Friday after Armistice Day and although many of the ceramic poppies had been removed; the sight that remained was still a very humbling experience for me.

As I watched the volunteers plucking the ceramic poppies from the muddy ground and then placing them in their cardboard nest, I recalled my feelings of disappointment that I had been unable to buy one of these poppies for myself.

Many moments passed in the chill of the November air looking at this sea of poppies and as I thought about what a glorious sight 888,246 of them must have looked like; I knew that one of these ceramic tributes had been created in honour of Wilfred Jowitt who gave his ‘Today’ 97 years ago on November 29 1917 at the tender age of 21 while on active service in France.

When you go home, tell them of us and say

For their tomorrow, we gave our today…

My interest in Wilf began many years ago with the gift of the ‘Loving Cards’ that he had sent to my great-grandmother Ellen Edeson during WW1 which she had secretly cherished until her death over fifty years later and the genealogist in me has been researching the life of this young man ever since.

Went the day well?

We died and never knew.

But, well or ill,

Freedom, we died for you.

John Maxwell Edmonds

Born in Warmfield-cum-Heath, West Yorkshire in 1896, he was the eldest child and only son of Ernest Jowitt, a coal miner and his childhood was spent in a little house in Frobisher Row which has long since disappeared.

He was introduced to Ellen through his sister Dorothy while working at Rowntrees, the famous chocolate factory in York and their courtship began in earnest; however at the onset of WW1 in 1914, Wilf enlisted as Private 242067 in the Prince of Wales North Staffordshire Regiment and was stationed at Normanton.

He returned home from his first tour of duty in 1916, safe from harm and delighted to be reunited with his beloved Ellen and before his second tour of duty began in early 1917 he begged Ellen for her hand in marriage and having refused him, her lasting memory was of Wilf was of him “crying like a baby” as he prepared for a return to the front line.

While stationed in France, he was to pen several ‘Loving Cards’ to Ellen with his honest sentiments expressed in his neatest handwriting that always included lots of kisses.

His final ‘Loving Card’ was dated September 1917.

Wilf died on Thursday November 29 1917 as a casualty of war and although he has no known grave, he is remembered with honour at the Cambrai Memorial in Louverval and his name appears on the War Memorial of Warmfield-cum-Heath in Wakefield.

His ‘Loving cards’ are all that now remain of a young life cut tragically short and after Ellen’s death they were discovered by my grandmother who kept them until they were gifted to me some thirty years later.

It would have been wonderful to have received the poppy that had been lovingly created in memory of Wilf as a lasting tribute to the sacrifice he had freely borne at such a tender age; alas it was not to be…

 May he rest in peace.

 Bye for now..

Father and Daughter Now Reflected in a Different Light…

Different light

Things that I once thought were right

Are now reflected in a different light…

Look at the picture below and tell me what you think.

Do you see a fashionable young couple on the brink of an exciting future together and with all the world before them?

Clutching a prayer book in a dainty gloved hand, the bride snuggles up close to her dashing groom and with her arm firmly enclosed within his, she strikes a confident pose as the lens captures her determined smile.

But what of the groom?

As we catch a glimpse of his wedding band, we also detect a mild look of annoyance and notice that a brisk September wind has played havoc with his carefully styled hair and we wonder if this could explain his self conscious posture.

You may disagree with me entirely on this which is your right but however you look at it; I can only look upon this poignant image knowing only that if it were not for me, this wedding would never have happened.

I was born less than six months later to these teenage parents who were still children themselves and I have been their hostage to fortune ever since.

And if, the story of my life had been like a film in which I could hit the ‘pause’ or ‘fast forward’ buttons at will, I would press the ‘rewind’ button to the morning of this wedding and choose a different ending; one in which he and she were allowed to go their separate ways and I to a family who wanted me.

My sister once described me as the quintessential ‘love child’ which is truly hilarious when I think about it  for I had a mother who was either frequently angry, indifferent or critical and who took pleasure in telling me that her problem was that she loved me ‘too much’

It has taken me years of soul-searching to figure out just how the hell can a parent love a child ‘too much’ and I’m still none the wiser.

And from my father, I met only with more anger, more indifference and even more criticism; but at least he never wasted his time or insulted my intelligence with the ‘I love you too much’ claptrap.

They parted ways with great acrimony only a day or so before my 10th birthday and even though both began a new life with someone else soon after and other children appeared; neither would or could ‘let go’ of the other and I became their weapon of choice in the ensuing fight, the symbol of their toxic union, the catalyst for that disastrous marriage.

As there has been so much angst, I could write my own definitive version of one of the longest novels ever published, the aptly titled War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy but as I have neither the time nor you the patience to wade through it; I will share a couple of gems with you from the family treasure chest.

My 16th birthday gift from my father was the court summons he served on my mother as he didn’t want to contribute another penny for my upkeep, even though I had yet to leave school and although he was humiliated in court, he remained true to his word and never did give me another penny – ever!

He couldn’t even dig into his pocket to buy me a gift on my wedding day.

Even though I hadn’t wanted him to share in my special day, I invited him and his wife as to have not done so would have caused my grandparents enormous pain and this was the last thing I ever wanted.

I can remember arriving to see my father standing there with a flower in his lapel but it wasn’t the Yorkshire Rose that I had arranged for him to wear but a different one and having asked his wife about it later that day; I was told that he had thrown my rose in the bin.

Or the time before my seventh birthday when he was driving us home at great speed and as my mother screamed at him to slow down, he took a corner too fast and my head head went crashing into the wall of the van which meant another visit to the hospital and stitches to my head.

I don’t remember very much about my childhood to the age of 9 but the memory of this painful head wound and my embarrassment at being sent home from school as the wound was still bleeding days later remains terribly vivid.

And how can I possibly forget the elaborate party he had wanted to arrange for my 18th birthday but with the caveat that my mother was not on the guest list and as she has never been one to miss any party, invite or not; her response was to tell me that she should never have had me and that I had ruined her life.

In my efforts at mediation, I remember that I gave them both my best ‘please sort this out for my sake’ kind of plea but it fell on deaf ears; my father cancelled the party and told me that I had been nothing but trouble to him throughout my entire life.

I can remember feeling so heartbroken after this birthday that I couldn’t bring myself to cut my ‘special’ coming-of-age cake until many weeks later.

It’s just as well I’ve never really been a fan of any birthday, particularly my own!

And although the hostilities would continue to wax and wane in the years after and if  I found myself in their cross hairs; I would inevitably be accused of behaving ‘just like your mother’ or raged at for behaving ‘just like your father’, which was ridiculous as for most of the time, I didn’t even like either of them then why on earth would I want to be like them?

But was I some kind of ‘problem child’ who hung around a street corner drinking cheap cider when I wasn’t tormenting old ladies or putting a brick through a shop window for kicks?

It may have been easier to understand if I had been but no, I’d either have my head in a book while listening to music or else I’d be drawing flowers in my sketch book, enjoying a stroll through the old streets of York or whiling away the hours gazing at my favourite painting of the Return to the Front by Richard Jack in the art gallery.

I was also devoted to my grandparents and would enjoy a friendly natter over supper after school every week with his parents and tea, delicious cake and more friendly natter with her parents. They truly were my bulwarks during these difficult years and I adored them.

I once loved my parents very much but as neither took any care with that love, I knew I had no choice other than to move away physically and emotionally from both of them as soon as I could but as there would always be one more ‘get-together’, I’d find myself returning to the family fold against my instinct for a quiet life only to walk away time and again because of their infuriatingly selfish behaviour.

And now with the death of my father last year at the age of 68; I have found myself raking over the ashes of the difficult relationship I have had with them.

My mother is now infirm through ill health, exacerbated through years of alcohol abuse and as I believe that life really is too short for feelings of resentment and that everyone has the potential for change; our relationship underwent a huge seismic shift many years ago.

My father would never change in his attitude towards me and when in the summer of 2013, I realised that no matter what I achieved; it would never be good enough, I made the decision to finally walk away from this painful relationship but I never gave up hope that one day he would reconcile himself to the daughter I was and still am.

He died suddenly in the early morning of an August day and it was left to my niece to tell me by telephone that he had died and I wasn’t invited to the hospital to see him nor later that day at his home as my family gathered together united in their shock and grief.

How many times when someone has died do we rewind to that final conversation we had with them?

For since my father’s death, I have thought often about our last conversation on that cloudy summer’s day and how when it had ended and as I was walking away, I vowed that I would keep walking from him as far as I could.

And my transgression that day?

With my mother’s rapid spiral down into alcoholism, I had been travelling several days a week from my home over 30 miles away to check up on her, clean the house, make sure that the bills were being paid and stock up the fridge until it was time to call the doctor and request another hospital admission.

And yes, it would have been easier to have walked away as others had done but I simply could not bring myself to do it and as my brother who is a vulnerable adult was still living at home; the emotional ‘pull’ was that much greater.

I can remember the day so clearly when I had walked in to find that she had taken to her bed with a vodka bottle days before, leaving the house unlocked, the heating cranked on full, the place a total mess, my brother living on cheap sandwiches and my feelings of utter desperation and panic.

Later that morning and with a car full of groceries, I had a chance encounter with my father whose only response was to humiliate me for being such an idiot in helping my mother and I knew then as I walked away from him for the final time that I was indeed ‘an idiot’ for wasting my precious time on this parent so utterly devoid of compassion and understanding; for not only was I helping my mother, I was also helping my brother who was also his son!

He only gave my brother an hour of his time every week and yet, I was ‘the moron’ for trying to do all that I could to keep a roof over his son’s head!

I had thought of attending his funeral but as I discovered the details of it from the local newspaper, I knew that my presence was not needed and so I stayed away; which was just as well judging by the looks of pity I caught after the funeral on the faces of those who had known us both.

Even in the most primitive semblance; a funeral is the time in which ceremonial practice and belief are woven into a cultural rite to remember the dead in the best way possible but it can also be the day in which old scores are settled, the history of the deceased is ‘tweaked’ and the narrative of family history changes course – and so it was for me, worthy of only the briefest of mentions, an afterthought, a relic from another era.

I work two evenings a week in a local club which pays for the rent on my studio and keeps me in craft supplies and books and many of the regulars have known my father since childhood and of all  who attended his funeral, only one found the courage to talk to me about it later on and I do not think that I will ever forget his kindness when he took me by the hand and told me that he was pleased for my sake that I had not been there.

I think the thing which has most troubled me about the death of my father, is that I have been left feeling so troubled by it as I had always imagined I would be indifferent to any news of him but how else to explain my sense of rage as if he has slammed the door in my face for the final time or that profound sadness about the beautiful and charming grandson he barely knew.

Or the black void in which all of my questions about my relationship with him have tumbled into and which are now swirling around like confetti, to be forever unanswered and I have to find my way through the ‘If only’ and What if’ on my own.

Different light

Searching for the truth I find

That I am running quite short of time

And I am no longer certain of my destiny

A few days ago I was reunited with some music from an old car and the first one I plucked from the plastic bag was About Time from Steve Winwood and as I played the first song, I was immediately thrown by the poignancy of the lyrics:

Searching for the truth

I found out what I thought would be

Peace of mind

Things that should’ve stayed the same

Are prone to change

Now I’ve seen a little light.

Do you know that I can’t even recall a single compliment ever received from my father and although he and I shared little in this life other than a love of the sea and an appreciation for music, I like to think that he also would have enjoyed listening to a Different Light:

And although it may have taken some time but the day before last when my mother finally found the courage to tell me what I had always suspected but had never dared to imagine which was that my father had never wanted me; I thought not of him, but of my dear grandmother who told me many years ago that her one regret had been to consent to the marriage of her daughter and how she had wished that she could have raised me instead.

I had overlooked a part of me

I was escaping my reality

I have questioned my philosophy

So that I could see the truth in me

Different Light

Even though my father had been a dreadful parent to me; I know that he was not a ‘bad’ person and maybe in another time and place, he and I would have enjoyed a relationship free of resentment and hurt but when I glanced at the tributes posted on-line about the death of this ‘lovely man’ who was always ‘funny, warm and kind’, it’s as if I were reading about a stranger and I only wish that he could have found it in his heart to have been that ‘lovely man’ for me.

And now as I leave him to his rest, the poignant words of the poet William Wordsworth return to mind in which he writes: ‘We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.’ and what remains is me – living a life in the best way I can, remaining true to who I have always been and knowing that while his blood runs through my veins and that of my children; I will always be my father’s daughter and I must find a way of living with this.

Sources Used:

Steve Windwood – Different Light from the album About Time (Wincraft Music/SCI Fidelity Records June 2013)

Tee Bylo Goes in Search of the ‘Forgotten One’…

“Find a place forgotten and make it feel that it is remembered! Find someone forgotten and make him feel that he is remembered!” said Mehmet Murat ildan

As well as a passion for creating ‘Small Worlds’ in 12th scale and occasionally scribbling about them for publication, I am also a family history sleuth who loves to go in search of elusive ancestors throughout the vale and dale of the county of Yorkshire.

Many years ago as my Grandmother would regale me with the tales of the elegant Dalby family from York and the Tibbett clan living, loving and squabbling within their adoptive land of Scarborough in North Yorkshire; I recall that it was at the first mention of the story about ‘Poor Clarice’ that my interest was really piqued.


For as every family history sleuth knows, there is usually always at least one ancestor that ignites curiosity and which leads to an irresistible urge to discover more about a life that somehow holds a peculiar affinity for you and it was hearing of the story of ‘Poor Clarice’ that ‘did it’ for me so to speak and I’ve been desperately seeking her through the mists of time ever since.

I began this journey armed only with lots of enthusiasm, a love of history and a little rudimentary knowledge about genealogy and I admit that the former was to prove the most essential tool as I would ‘dip in and out’ of my search for Clarice over the intervening years and usually after colliding head first into the proverbial ‘brick wall’ familiar to every family history sleuth!

And then I would hear some new nugget of information, stumble across an exciting genealogical discovery or would read an magazine article that would remind me of Clarice and I’d be off on my investigative journey again!

So who was ‘Poor Clarice’?

I would love to be able to share with you the complete back story of Clarice that I have uncovered over the preceding years, alas, ‘tis not possible as there still remains HUGE tracts of her life unexplained and I believe, undiscovered for it’s all just a question of finding the correct piece of the jigsaw puzzle!

However, what I do know is she was very much a woman of her times for she was born a ‘war baby’ in September 1913, married as a ‘war bride’ in August 1944 and died a ‘1960’s pill popper’ in the summer of 1962 by her own hand after several years of a consistent diet of prescribed sleeping tablets along with the controversial ECT treatment for the symptoms of clinical depression… and that she was very much loved.

But it was upon my return to my hometown of York earlier this year, I was reunited with my boxes of research files and in the celebrated words of Shakespeare’s Henry V I have found myself “Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.”

And so without further ado, welcome to my new blog Tuesday’s Child and with the tears, trials and triumphs of my search for Clarice…

Bye for now!

Good Grief! Tee Bylo Begins a New Journey with the Dead as the Graveyard Squirrel!

Have you ever heard the one about how there are only two things that are certain to us? The first one being that we are all subject to some form of taxation and the second is that one day we WILL all die.

As a genealogical researcher I can often spend a lot of my time grappling with the mystery of death for if I’m not in search of a missing ancestor on behalf of a client, I can be poring over the details on a newly discovered (and often indecipherable!) certificate of death or else trawling through parish records in search of a burial entry or firing off email inquiries to the Registrar of a crematorium.

However, if the thought of death is a thought that you struggle with and have no wish to contemplate; This Silent Land is probably not the blog for you!

For on this blog, as well as sharing the tales of and triumphs of family history, I will be sharing the images of my wanderings among the dead and my reasons for doing so are quite simple for I love nothing more than a ramble through a cemetery and I have been pottering among the tombstones for as long as I can remember.

Pausing at the Grave of Lord Byron’s Spouse, Anne Isabella, Lady Noel Byron in Kensal Green Cemetery, London…

And imagine my surprise and delight when I stumbled upon the blog Beneath Thy Feet  and discovered that far from being the only ‘Tombstone Tourist’, I counted over 45 fellow GeneaBloggers listed on this wonderful site who all share their wanderings among the dead!

And when I discovered the Graveyard Vlogs of my friend, author and fellow Byronian Amy McLean.. Well let’s just say that my plans for an afternoon of  research mysteriously vanished…

The author Lailah Gifty Akita has written that “The graveyard is an everlasting home of every man” and I couldn’t agree more for within most of our cemeteries, you can discover evidence of spectacular craftsmanship, awe inspiring stonework, history, sublime words of poignancy and the occasional flashes of humour!

And being able to locate the final resting place of the individual associated with my research endeavours has always been important to me and when my search is unsuccessful, I usually feel a sense of disappointment as if the final piece of the jigsaw is missing.

The elusive Clarice Tibbett is a case in point for not only is she the ancestor who having ignited my curiosity years ago leading to an irresistible urge to discover more about her and having been desperately seeking her through the mists of time ever since; I still do not know what has happened to her cremated remains.

The Grounds of Woodlands Crematorium in Scarborough. The Remains of Clarice Tibbett Left Here in June 1962 to Where… Who Knows?

For having discovered the burial entries for her parents earlier this year in the City of Hull, I managed to convince myself that her ashes had been interred with them, but alas, after ploughing through more records in the Hull History Centre, my theory was dashed along with what remained of my clear vision and a sense of hope.

However, despite this disappointment over the elusive Clarice, I have recently discovered the whereabouts of numerous Edesons who having filled out the branches of my maternal family tree very nicely; are all to be located within the cemeteries of the coastal town of Scarborough and armed with the burial records and grid references, my journeys with the dead will begin another exciting chapter!

Far From Forgotten! The Edeson Family Grave at York Cemetery…

And so until the next time, I wish you Adieu!

Tee Bylo Gives the Family Tree ANOTHER Shake as the History Sleuth!

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” So said William Wilberforce, a Yorkshire lad and THE leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade.

If you are like me and love to go in search of elusive ancestors throughout the vale and dale of the County of Yorkshire; this blog could be just what you are looking for as I follow in the footsteps of my North Riding family, and as there are plenty of them, I have many miles to travel!

Taking a Stroll Along Filey Beach in North Yorkshire…

Although I have been properly researching the history of my family since 2004, my interest in the gnarled twigs and broken branches of my family tree began in the early teenage years and having always been a diligent hoarder of the scraps of family keepsakes that have come my way; the process of moving abode as I did over a year ago and return to my family in York was undoubtedly made all the more arduous by those numerous large boxes of papers, books, photographs and other assorted genealogical matter that I had to shift down and up several sets of stairs.

King George VI once stated that “the history of York is the history of England’ and this ancient city is not only the place of my birth but also for many of those Dalby and Benson ancestors to whom I have since laid claim; although some of whom certainly add more than a little colour to those gnarled twigs and broken branches.

And even though there’s plenty to occupy this history sleuth within the walls of this chocolate box city; I have also been very busy elsewhere!

For during the course of this year and having discovered the identities of two more ancestors Percy Oswald Wright Edeson from Scarborough and William Lamb of Whitby who having perished in WW1 never lived to see their 21st birthday; I have also been adding to my research into the life of Tuesday’s Child, the elusive Clarice Tibbett from Hull and as my interest has been piqued as of late by the other female ‘greats’ within my clan that I have now discovered, several Yorkshire lasses who have now made a welcome reappearance.

For with the death of both my maternal grandmother and paternal grandmother only two years ago and with my mother’s ailing health, my feelings of nostalgia have been triggered once more and the floors of my den are now littered with the fruits of my genealogical findings.

And having decided that I would also go in search of this female line of my family; it would be rather nice to share my musings, mishaps and occasional mastery on this blog under the aptly titled category of The Female of the Species!

Not that I believe that my female ancestors were actually deadlier than their male counterparts…

Earlier this week I watched Who Do You Think You Are that featured the fabulous actress Amanda Redman from series one, who I adored in the BBC drama of New Tricks and I listened with interest as she talked about her need to understand why she had always reacted in a particular way and of the ‘inherited behavioural patterns’ she believes that we all possess to some degree or other.

And yes, this resonated with me for as the eldest child of five siblings; my mother having flouted the National Average UK Birth Rate; I have always pondered the reasons for my love of the sea and feeling ‘at home’ in the coastal town of Scarborough; my pleasure in reading, the urge to create my ‘Small Worlds’, my knack for floral design, my passion for history and that as the Graveyard Squirrel; I love nothing more than a wander among the tombstones in York Cemetery.

In the Shadow of the Former Parish Church of St Maurice in York…

As I have always been quite unlike anyone else within my family, as a child I often mischievously wondered if I had been switched at birth and a distant family member once described me as a ‘throwback’, albeit in a kindly manner!

I admit that it used to bother me as I was growing up but now I glory in being different from the rest of my clan and if in these times of difficulty I can find solace in the company of my ancestors from generations past; who’s to judge?

Welcome along…