When my grandparents moved to Tenerife, my mother was left with the suitcase of family treasures. Within the documents, very little appeared to be known about my grandmother’s family. She was Queenie May Evans by birth but by the time I knew her, she was plain ‘Jane’, changing her name by deed poll in 1950.
As an Evans, she always told us that her family were Welsh. She was born in Portsmouth and her parents, Elijah and Clara Alice (nee Kitcher) Evans, were also married in Portsmouth. However, his move to the south was due to his employment in the Royal Navy. Elijah Evans was born on 26 January 1888 in West Bromwich. Most people would cringe at having to research the Evans surname. So you can imagine my horror when Elijah’s birth certificate informed me that his mother and father were BOTH Evans, before and after marriage! Not just one Evans line but two…. Oh joy….
Joining the Royal Navy on 17 December 1907 for a period of 12 years, he initially served on HMS Nelson and then HMS Furious as a Second Class Stoker before being promoted in 1909 to a First Class Stoker. Family legend has it that whilst aboard a submarine in Russian waters during the First World War, he sustained a severe head injury when hit by a hatch door which resulted in his eventual discharge from the Royal Navy, his record referring to him being ‘invalided‘ due to ‘epilepsy‘ caused by this injury.
He died aged just 41 years old, four years after leaving the Royal Navy following eighteen years of service. And not one of his forebears has ever been recorded in history as having been hatched, matched or dispatched in Wales, living in Wales or anything else. I wish I could tell my grandmother about her true ancestry. She’d be delighted to know …. of that I am sure.