Blog Archive

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

HE Parents:Education for yourself...perhaps family history?

At this time when there is a large elephant in the room all the time with a certain tattoo...
Original image by Leah Saulnier



I find that I am thinking about the example I may be setting to my children.  I LOVE learning - I can't stop myself from getting enthusiastic and excited about subjects that interest me.  I hope that they also pick up on the fact that I try to engage with subjects that don't interest me as much.  For example, some aspects of Maths are wonderful (geometry, algebra) and others just leave me cold (nth term).

So, leaving the last week of IGCSE Geography and Paper 1 of IGCSE Physics behind, I have hurled myself into a project of my own.  Dave and the children can certainly see I am dedicating a whole heap of time to it and that I am using many resources.

So, what can this project be?  A family history project!

Yes - I have discovered the allure of Ancestry.co.uk.  It is free at local libraries and they have the full version. Last night I succumbed to a 14 day free trial of the home premium version but I don't think I will continue with it as the library is always there.

It was the mention of a couple of family mysteries on the Mason side that led me to start.  So much is known about my side (my parents having spent a lot of time on it) and personally I think it is very important to know about your forebears.

The big dark secret on the Mason side is the true identity of Dave's grandfather on his mother's side.  The tale goes (and it could well be a tale based on some truth) that grandfather Frank Maidment was actually born in India to an English army officer and a local Indian woman.  He was brought back to the UK and educated in an orphanage, sponsored by an officer called Maidment.

There appears to be some truth in it but many unanswered questions (why are exam papers creeping back into my head...BE GONE!)

So far, I have discovered the name listed on his birth certificate for his mother is Annie Maidment, domestic servant (I ordered a copy of the original).  No father is listed.  The birth date and registration date are months apart and the area he was registered is far from where she grew up (in Tisbury Union Workhouse in 1871) and from where she had been living in 1881(Islington as a domestic servant). They then both disappear from all records until 1901 when George Francis Bailey Maidment (Frank) turns up in the census of an orphanage/children's home in Shefford, Bedfordshire.


When the home burns down in 1908 he joins the army.  Fascinating physical description of him that matches the photo we have of him at about that age.  He was only 5'4" with black hair and "sallow".  He is then deployed to South Africa and Hong Kong by way of Bodmin (Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry).
Frank in 1908, possibly
Dave and Rory bear a strong resemblance

Is that Frank extreme left in the back row?
Picture is of his regiment in Hong Kong 1913

1915 - buys his way out of the army and seems to have gone to Hong Kong where he became a police officer.  He returned to the UK in 1917 and then I lose him again until he marries in Peterborough in 1924 to a girl from Shefford.  He moved to Norwich at some point and used to drive the local children around in his car (presumably in the 1930s) - he was always known as "The Indian".

There is more but that would be boring.  Suffice it to say that it has taken me days and days to find out all the pieces of the jigsaw that is the Mason-Maidment side of the family.

No sign of any Indian connections on the face of it - the facts are as they appear but then the fun bit is what the imagination does with them!  Was he brought back and Annie paid handsomely by a high ranking officer to register as his mother?  Who is the mysterious lodger Henry Quinn, commission agent, who lives in Islington at the house where she works?  What happened to Annie that meant Frank went to an orphanage?  Is that him in the second picture?  Your opinions, please!

I feel a novel coming on....!