Mystery number one: Nan (part 3)

harrietJ_and_me (440x616)
Nan in later years with yours truly

Continuing the search for Nan and her father, from parts 1 and 2.

In service

As more censuses became available, I was able to trace Nan’s 1891 residence with her mother and and recently widowed grandmother at Tettenhall, Wolverhampton. I also found her in the 1911 census where she was a live-in domestic servant at Alderley Lodge, Penn Road, Wolverhampton. Remarkably, the house still stands (220 Penn Road) and has recently been sold, so images are available online.   The particulars include:

“It is fair to say that the property has lost some of its former grandeur”, and it may seem a little tired having been built in 1848, but is still a substantial property. It even retains a hand pump, which Nan was sure to have used, and the board in servant’s quarters to indicate which room she was to attend.

When Hattie met Sammy

I had been barking up the wrong tree, as Dad said he thought she met his father, Samuel, in the Lichfield area, so I expected to find her there. Then I found a picture of Nan’s aunt Francis’s wedding (below). The gentleman on the right is Tom Cox, a colliery fireman and sometime local councillor. His wife was another of Nan’s aunts, known as “Auntie Cox”. When I followed this up I happened on a niece named (erroneously) Harriet Cox, but this was my nan visiting with her aunt Annie at Hednesford Road, Brownhills. This was little more than half a mile from where Sam lived, so I think that must be how they met, possibly at chapel.

Wedding of Francis Evans to Albert Fowler 20 June 1910, Long Ashton, Somerset.  L to R:  Harriet Jane Evans (Nan), groom’s brother, Albert Fowler, Francis Evans, Thomas Cox, Mary Ann Evans (bride’s sister).

So, who was the father?

Family rumour, which I think was more dislocated memory, was that the father’s name was Challoner, but nothing more was known. In the 1891 census the Evans household had boarders named William and John Challinger (sic), general labourers, aged 17 and 26 respectively. In 1901 William Challoner, then a canal boatman, also the occupation of Nan’s grandfather and uncle Edwin. It seemed likely, then, that William Challoner was the father.

EVANS_HARRIET_EOM_1915 (2) (549x377)
Extract from Entry of Marriage:  William Challoner to Harriet Evans             9 October 1915

The final piece in the jigsaw puzzle was the wedding in 1915 of Nan’s mother, also Harriet Jane Evans to William Challoner at Wolverhampton Registry Office. The witnesses were Nan’s aunt Mary and her husband. I appreciate that this does not prove parentage beyond the shadow of a doubt, but I am not a jury sentencing someone to death; the balance of probability is firmly on the side of William Challoner. Nonethless, I have not (yet) investigated this line.

Dad, who was born in 1926, told me that he only remembered seeing his mother cry once, when he was about ten or eleven. Both Nan’s mother Harriet and William Challoner died in 1936.

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