21 March 2010

What's in a name . . ?

I'm back . . . .

On this glorious morning in deepest Cambridgeshire I thought I'd introduce you to my third cousin three times removed William Garka. That's Garka, not Gorka, Gorba or Garha. And that's just the mis-spellings I've found today.

Anyway, William was born in 1848, son of William and Ann (nee Bullard) in the next door county of Huntingdonshire; in fact, in the county town itself. My info, before this morning, suggested that he married Martha Todd in 1871, but had managed to produce a daughter in 1870.

Before you all gasp in horror (as if, eh?), I was mildly puzzled as to how the supposedly born out of wedlock daughter was named Garka but plainly I didn't give it a great deal of thought. And then, whilst preparing for this entry, I did a bit of investigating. First of all I found the daughter (Rose) in the 1871 census in Great Staughton, listed as granddaughter, with a family named Burgess - more mild puzzlement.

And, of course, he'd been married before. Well, obviously. Children out of wedlock? Perish the thought.

So, step forward first wife Amelia . . . . Burgess. That explains the grandparents and, of course, the daughter named Garka born before he married in December 1871. And, strangely enough, Amelia was born in Great Staughton. Ever had one of those moments when everything started to click into place? This morning was such a time!

As you have probably guessed, Amelia died. In the June quarter of 1871. So, with a baby to care for, William did the only sensible thing - he married again. Quickly (in fact, probably the quickest I've known). At least he didn't follow the example of a few in the file and marry his late wife's sister!

I found William & Martha, with the aforementioned Rose (I did mention her, didn't I?) and two more children (William and Mabel) in 1881 and then I couldn't find them again. You'd think that with such an unusual name they'd be easy to find but, oh no . . . . see the possible variations of their surname above. So I went forward to 1911 and found them, still in Godmanchester but presenting me with another puzzle: the new census requirement to list the number of children of the marriage shows 5:3:2; i.e. 5 children born, 3 still alive and 2 died.

So, you'd think that I would have sighed at this point but no - more children to search for? Excellent. That's the thing about this hobby (did I say hobby? I probably meant "mild obsession") is the thrill of the chase. And then, once you've found them, the next bit is to turn them into real people, not just names on the page.

So, if you'll excuse me, I shall go off and do just that.

More soon.

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