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Essex girl
13-04-2009, 5:29 PM
Hi Everyone,
I would like to publicly thank Christanel (Christina) and Janbooth (Janet) for their help with a 'simple' lookup request.I am eternally grateful and never imagined that it would lead to all the wonderful finds below.

The story goes.........
My ancestor Charles Harmer (a Met Policeman) died in from TB in 1884 his wife Sarah died 3 years later from the same. Referring to the 81 census they left 4 children orphaned - George who would have been 15 in 1887, Sarah Louise my gggmother 12, Albert 9, and Edward 7. Charles also had a son (Charles) by his first marriage. My gggmother (hearsay) had spoken of a brother who had drowned at a young age and I had always imagined it to be the half brother having previously found the death certs for the other sons. All the children were born in Lambeth and so I imagined they would be in London somewhere on the 1891 census but had had no joy in finding them.

Following my request, Albert was found living in the Metropolitan and City Police Orphanage in Twickenham. This was no 'Oliver Twist' home as it is described as one of the best institutions of its kind in the country. I now have the most amazing insight into what life would have been like for Albert from various school board reports, lesson timetables and his conduct/exam records for all the years he was there.

Edward was found to be living in a George Muller Orphanage in Bristol. This was another very well respected institution with a fascinating history. On a whim I had searched to see if there were any other Harmers in Bristol in case brother George was also there.He was not but I did find a Carl James Harmer also living in an institution. Further investigation of the return showed that Carl was also born in Lambeth and you can imagine how my heart started racing-there had to be a connection as they were both so far away from home. It was easy to trace Carl's birth certificate (1882 so not appearing on 81 census) and he proved to be the 'missing' brother. His death in 1898 aged just 16 showed that he drowned in the River Lea and that he had been living with his then married sister Sarah at the time. (How right she had been !!)
I have admission/dismissal documents of the 2 boys from the orphanage detailing parentage/siblings etc and letters from custodians (Sarah's sister Frances and James Bristow who already had five children and another on the way) which tell me that eldest child George was a Telegraph Boy earing 8/- a week and that my gggmother Sarah " I am grieved to say earns 12/- a week acting in the theatre something her uncle disapproves of but the money helps to maintain them. I am afraid we cannot find other employment for her. She is not fit for domestic service.....been on the stage for 3 years and tho only a child in years is a woman in the ways of the world" |oopsredfa

Apologises for the length of this post but as you can see from just a regular census lookup I now have an unbelievable insight into the dynamics of this family. I have yet to find my Sarah Louise aged 15/6 on 1891 census, she is not listed with her aunt and uncle................. Christanel if you are out there :)

Astoria
13-04-2009, 5:42 PM
That is a fantastic story, thanks for sharing it with us :)

susan-y
13-04-2009, 11:54 PM
What a great story..its amazing how some help just opens door after door.

Great work everyone!

Sue|woohoo|

susan-y
14-04-2009, 12:10 AM
This is a PS....
The thread said I could still Edit, but then when I hit Save it said my time had expired|oopsredfa

Anyway....

What was sarah's married name...there are several Sarah's on the 1891 census who were boarding or visiting..perhaps she was living with or near her future hubby?:D

Sue

birdlip
14-04-2009, 4:47 AM
Great story, how amazing to be able to read all the details about their lives like that. I can just imagine your heart racing!

christanel
14-04-2009, 7:56 AM
I'm here, but only to ask a question. When was the letter written referring to Sara's acting experiences?
Before that bit of your post sank in to my addled brain I spent some time looking for Sarah but only came up with two likely suspects and both domestic servants. one aged 15 but the surname Henes and the other 17 with surname Harmar.
However if she was 'on the stage' in 1991 she may well have changed her name to something more exotic and used that in the census.
The documents you have found paint a great picture, I am green.
Christina

tullamore
14-04-2009, 10:09 PM
Fantastic,a great tale and thankyou for sharing it with us.Cant wait to hear of any new development.

Essex girl
14-04-2009, 10:31 PM
Thanks everyone for your kind comments.

Sue, my Sarah Louise Harmer married Charles Martin in Stamford Hill in Jan 1893. The marriage cert says she was 21 but by her birth cert she would have only just turned 18. The address they both gave as their residence was the same address that Charles was living at with his parents on 1891 census.Sadly Sarah was not with them then.

Christina, the letter is dated Nov 1887, Sarah would have been almost 13 then. This means she'd been on stage from age 9/10. 16+ in 1891.Her marriage cert has no occupation. I was going to say that it is possible she had 'mended her womanly ways' and was a domestic but have just noticed that her first daughter was born July 93 7 mths after marriage.OBVIOUSLY NOT!!!!!
Kindest Regards
Jude

v.wells
15-04-2009, 12:11 AM
That is truly a lovely story Essex girl - All that gleaned from so few documents that it originated from - quite wonderful |hug|

christanel
19-04-2009, 9:21 AM
Thanks everyone for your kind comments.

Sue, my Sarah Louise Harmer married Charles Martin in Stamford Hill in Jan 1893. The marriage cert says she was 21 but by her birth cert she would have only just turned 18. The address they both gave as their residence was the same address that Charles was living at with his parents on 1891 census.Sadly Sarah was not with them then.

Christina, the letter is dated Nov 1887, Sarah would have been almost 13 then. This means she'd been on stage from age 9/10. 16+ in 1891.Her marriage cert has no occupation. I was going to say that it is possible she had 'mended her womanly ways' and was a domestic but have just noticed that her first daughter was born July 93 7 mths after marriage.OBVIOUSLY NOT!!!!!
Kindest Regards
Jude

Hi Jude I am in NZ at the moment visiting my mum so no time for research but will get back in to it in about 2 weeks time. Christina

athenalou
20-04-2009, 8:18 AM
hi..

just read the story on here about find the Harmer family....very interesting and very cool.....family 'folk lore' stories may not be all they seem but i have learned never to dismiss them totally......

my mum always told that on of the grandmothers in our family came from devon....i assumed from the way she spoke that she meant her own mother (my grandmother) once i began family tracing i found that that grandmother was born in west ham in essex....and many other grandmothers were born no where near devon....

i had been stuck on my mothers paternal grandfather (Charles Henry Rankin) for a long time.....couldnt find any info on him at all......the only info i could find was his marriage cert.....even from the age given on the marriage cert i couldnt and still cant identify a birth for him.....on the 1911....i found him together with his wife and many children to the family i had no idea about.....it said he was born in south woolwich....he had put his 'full name' in the box provided.....but when he signed it....it was H. Rankin......i had found some census ages a go but it always henry rankin....so i assumed it to b wrong......how wrong was i??? ....i needed something to connect my charles henry to the henry on 1901 census and previous.....i managed to track down and contact one of my mums cousins....he gave me loads of info including a paper that shows my great grandfather being 'de-mobbed' from a ship in the early 1900's....his birthplace given as 'plumstead'....which is close to woolwich....i aso found out that there was yet another child not mentioned on the 1911....she was their eldest child......not conceived in wedlock....but born in wedlock.....they had family photo's taken years later which included her but.....she never exactly lived with the family....she was 'adopted out' to another family member...........who? we dont know.....i managed to find her birth entry....ordered the certificate.....and BINGO!!!!!!!!! the address she was born at in west ham was the same address which was on the 1901 census i had for henry rankin......and his mother ......who was born in ....DEVON!!!!!!!!!!!! and one of his siblings....plus 2 grand daughters to the mother....(charles henry's nieces) .....this led me to believe there was an older sister.....thats when i went digging further and found out there were 2 older siblings ......i could never find them on census with the family....i eventually found them in 1881 census ....they were at boarding school in surrey....i checked their baptisms thru IGI and they were def the older siblings......then i found them on 1871 census......
Now back to confusion.........by 1878 the father had died .....i have this father birth, marriage and death certs.....by the in 1881 the mother was with another man... George F Rankin born abt 1856.... and had 'henry' which is charles henry born about 1877 and his siblings frederick living with them due to frederick being born in 1881 he cant have the same father as the other 3....on the 1891 census.....the fathers name has changed again to rueben rankin....and so has his year of birth says born abt 1864.....i cannot tie down a birth for either frederick or charles henry.......i found one birth in islington for a henry charles.....got the certificate....wrong person.....so im stuck again.......i also have another certificate which i thought may be him born in liverpool but it isnt him either!!!

any help would be appreciated......anyway....never dismiss any family stories completely coz there is always an element of truth in there somewhere.....no matter how small...... :D