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Thursday, 13 January 2011

Alice English & the Making of a Wedding Dress?

My grandmother Alice English married William Danson in April 1907.  In the shoebox of family photographs and memorabilia was this receipt  paid by Alice on February 26th 1907 for:

Two yards of bodice lining, hooks, silk sundries and bodice making - was this her wedding outfit?  It surely must have had sentimental value for it to be kept with the photographs?

I never knew my grandmother  I am sorry to admit that the search for my maternal grandmother Alice English (1884-1945)  quickly hit the proverbial brick wall.

My mother and aunt were surprisingly reticent about her, though her photograph (below)  was on display in both homes. I failed to ask the right questions at the right time, and ended up with vague and conflicting information.  Was she born in Manchester or Bolton?  There were stories that her mother had been a matron, with some Irish connections;  that Alice was orphaned and her uncle went off to America with her money and never called on her to join him, as arranged. 

Alice went to Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire as nursemaid to the Potts family, prominent local Methodists and was confirmed at St. Chad's Church in 1904 (I have her prayer book from that occasion).  She became known locally as an unofficial midwife and the doctor wanted her to train but this was not possible.

Alice English - could this be a wedding photo,
given she is wearing a corsage?
I did know (from the marriage certificate) that she married my grandfather William Danson in April 1907, at St. Chad's Church when Alice was 22 and her father's name was given as Henry, a painter (deceased), plus I was always told we shared the same birthday - September 23rd.  And that is it! 

Despite many years of hunting and using a professional researcher,  I have been unable to trace a birth certificate for Alice to find out the name of her mother.  I cannot link an Alice born in Lancashire 23rd September 1884 with a father Henry, a painter, and have gone down several fruitless paths.  

Nor could I trace Alice in the 1891 census when she would have been 6 years old.  The 1901 census did not move things forward  - there were two possibilities but both Alice English's were living-in domestic servants - one in Stockport and one in West Yorkshire, so nothing to prove if it was "my" Alice.

So I was eagerly awaiting the early release of the 1911 census to find the record for the married Alice.   It  confirmed that Alice's birthplace was in fact Bolton. However I am still no further forward.  The Improved search facility on http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ came up with a Harriet Alice English born Bolton - my hopes rose, but her father turned out to be James, a weaver. So the frustration continues!  

Wedding Wednesday is a daily prompt from http://www.geneabloggers.com/, used by many bloggers to help them tell stories of their ancestors.

Copyright © 2011 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I saw your comment on my post about my Irish brick wall, so followed you over here to read about yours. Very interesting article. These brick walls sure can be tough! Good luck to you in your search too!


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