Wednesday, 24 April 2013

NPM#5 ~ In their soft footprints ... John

John

There also sat a man
with a merry tune on his lips,
singing in his soft, musical accent
His hair was as black as a raven's heart,
confident in its natural curl

He spoke to me of being far
from the house of his birth
of his deep love, his young grief
of his children, 
some by his side and others in heaven
His ancestral need to be by the sea
that life is to be lived
with the smells of sea salt and deep currents
and every time he clapped his hands
to a beat only he could hear, he left a dusting of flour.




This is about my great, great, great grandfather John Thomas. 

I chose John Thomas because he is the great mystery of the family tree, I'm sure every family researcher has one - the one you just can't seem to pin down but the facts we do know make him a very interesting character. His life starts out very hard and ends in a Victorian love story!

(We think) John Thomas was born on 14th March 1851 in Liverpool, he was christened age 6 on 16th August 1857 in St Peter's Church, Liverpool. He was the son of the baker Robert Thomas (hence flour in the poem) The next part of his life is where he becomes a man of mystery! The very common name of John Thomas does not help! lol 

On the 2nd of January 1872 he is in Hull, East Yorkshire getting married to Virginia Selina Allan, on the marriage certificate it states that is father is deceased and there is a mix up with his age saying he is a year younger then he really is! - We have wondered if he just didn't know how old he was since we think he was orphaned at just 11. So in 1872 he is on the other side of the country and there is a family rumour that someone was part of a travelling fair!? - It could well have been him. There has been a huge Fair in Hull every October since the 18th century.

There is also a rumour that John and Virginia married for love and she was 'thrown out' of her family for marring beneath her - Virginia was the daughter of a professor of music, and you could imagine their attitude when she said, at just 19, that she was going to marry an orphan from the travelling fair! (if this is all true) 


Winifred Thomas in the 1920's
Virginia and John had 13 children! Only 6 of these survived though and I am descended through their daughter Ethel. Ethel was a bit of a wild child and in 1904 had my great grandmother Winifred, we never found out who my great grandmother's father was as Ethel took the secret to her grave. Sadly Ethel didn't want to keep Winifred, married a German man and went to live in Dresden (another interesting story!). For Winifred, it was her grandparents John and Virginia that stepped in and took her on as their own. My great grandmother used to say that John was lovely man with thick dark curly hair and she loved him dearly - I have really curly hair (it's not black though) and I like to believe I have inherited this from him, I sometimes joke that when my hair has just dried it look like a caviler's wig! lol

Happy Wednesday :)



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