Week 2 of #52ancestors is Favourite Find.
My favourite find has to be the birth certificate for Helena Lorraine. She was my great great grandmother and married James Frederick Samuel HARMER on 13 October 1889 at Ashburnham in Sussex, England. The birth certificate was my favourite find because I struggled to find it. The family have led me a merry dance since I had started researching them.
I met various contacts who also had her in their own family trees early on in my family history journey and they always referred to her as “Helena Lorraine Lovekin Stamford Smith” and searches for that name were futile. But bit by bit I found little bits of evidence that helped to bring them together although I still haven’t completed the journey.
The first piece of evidence I found was the marriage certificate for Helena Lorraine Lovekin October 1889, married James Frederick Harmer, she was 22 years. Father - John Lovekin, Labourer.
Witnesses at wedding Edwin and Emily Haffenden. Therefore she was born 1867.
Searching for her and Emily I eventually found her on a number of census returns and in 1871 the whole family appear to have been entered twice:
Punnetts Town -
John Smith, 39, Ag Lab, born Lamberhurst Kent
Emily Smith, 38 born Horsham, Sussex
Emily, 18, born Ore, Sussex
George, 14, born Rye
Mary Ann, 11 born Ashburnham
Bertha 8, born Battle
William 6, born Warbleton
Lorraine, 4, born Mountfield
Florence, 1, born Warbleton found baptism – Warbleton 27 Feb 1870 to John Smith, labourer at Warbleton and Emily Maria
2nd 1871 option:
Nr Blackdown, Heathfield, incidentally Blackdown is in Punnetts Town
John Smith, 39, Pedlar, born Flimwell, Sussex, incidentally 3 miles down road from Lamberhurst
Emily Smith, 38, born Horsham, Sussex
Emily 18, Pedlar, born Hastings, Sussex (Ore is in Hastings)
George, 14, Pedlar, born Rye
Mary Ann, 11 , born Ashburnham
Edith Bertha, 8, born Battle
William, 6, born Warbleton
Eleanor, 4, born Netherfield
Flora Florence, 1, born Warbleton
I think this has to be same family, there are too many similarities such as Eleanor and Lorraine.
Over the next couple of years I managed to find a number of the births or baptisms for the children but not Helena’s. The later children were John Smith’s. I could not find the first four children and William born 1865 had no father recorded and mother – Emily Rawlins. I was able to cross reference her as the same person as she appeared on some of the birth certificates as Emily Smith formerly Rawlins. Incidentally I have not yet managed to find any marriages for Emily. I could not, despite extensive searching find Emily Rawlins anywhere. Then I found the birth certificate for Thomas born 1877 where Emily was recorded as Emily Smith formerly Stamford, father – John Smith and he was born in Mayfield which fitted with the 1881 census which had the family in Mayfield, this suggested she was originally Stanford or Stamford.
I found Emily Stanford born in Horsham in 1833 which fitted with all the census returns.
I eventually found the birth for Helena Lorraine one day when searching through 1867 births in the Battle area for a girl with mother, Emily. It took ages but I found her. I have no idea who William Vineall was and still need to find him.
Emily’s daughters all cross reference with one as witnesses for one another on their marriage certificates. However and another mystery to be solved, they all seem to use different Lovekin father’s – John for Helena, Henry for Emily who married Edwin Haffenden, Edith Bertha and Jessie – William. Who these men are remains a mystery!
I also need to continue to search for the births of the first four children which may answer some questions. Emily Stanford, their mother has been found with her parents in Horsham on the 1851 and 1861 census but without the children and it looks likely she did not meet John Smith until around 1870 when Flora was born and the first child to be registered to John Smith.
My favourite find simply because this continues to be such a puzzle to unpick. But bit by bit this mystery reveals little clues along the way.