As regular readers will know, my maternal grandfather documented his family line long before the internet. Along with documents, photographs, certificates and other ephemera passed down to my mother, there is a letter from his maternal grandmother to his mother. This details the family’s history with many fascinating snippets of information, most of which I have since proved to be true using documentary evidence which is now available.
Of course, the tree is not ‘complete’ in so much as there are siblings who died in infancy and were not noted. However, the tree gave me a great start and I think my grandfather would be pleased with the work I have now done to progress his initial research.
Further information was also gleaned from another member of the extended family on one particular branch of the tree. But it’s interesting what the family didn’t know….
Many years ago, I attended a residential 3-day course in Nottingham and quickly connected with Tim – a primary teacher on the course – who lived in Devon, close to my grandmother. We discussed family history – in passing – and he let slip that his mother was struggling to break down a brick wall in their research. Before visiting Tim and his family some years later, he sent me a copy of their tree and to my surprise, there was a lady named Maria Jaycock Steer noted, born 1833. My ggg-grandmother was called Maria Jaycock Steer and was a twin, born in 1833. Surely, there couldn’t be two people with that name?
Well, no there wasn’t. But Maria’s appearance on Tim’s tree certainly told me something I would never have otherwise known. Maria had ‘a relationship’ with one of Tim’s relations and had a daughter: Beatrice Woodward Steer, born 31 October 1859:
William Woodward’s name is not recorded on Beatrice’s birth certificate and it is alleged that he refused to marry Maria and take responsibility for his daughter. John Woodward, William’s brother, fell out with him over this and ‘adopted’ Beatrice. John Woodward was a very prominent Freemason and the worshipful master of the Hundred of Elloe Lodge in 1876. In the early 1880s, he became Provincial Grand Junior Deacon for Lincolnshire.
Maria Jaycock Steer was a cook in 1861 at 30 Hereford Street, St George Hanover Square. To date, I have been unable to locate Beatrice in this census. However in 1871, she was living with her uncle and aunt, John and Eliza Woodward. She sadly died of tuberculosis in 1880 and was buried in Spalding St Mary and St Nicholas, Lincolnshire aged 21.
Maria married William Baynham in 1863 and had six children. I wonder if William ever knew of Beatrice’s existence….?