Tuesday 17 November 2015

What can you tell from just the index of the 1939 National Register?

As I wrote in the last post, I have been looking at the 1939 National Register for England and Wales on FindMyPast.com. In trying to limit my financial exposure I searched for just names of people I thought might help in finding particular family members.

I mentioned last time that I had found families of two first cousins (2X removed): the wife and daughter of Wilfrid Jack Shepheard; and Wilfrid’s sister Margery Teresa (Shepheard) Russell.

Wilfrid and Margery had another brother, Alfred Harry – or just Harry, as he was called. He has been very elusive. I have not found him on many records and true to form I did not find him on the 1939 register. I believe he was married in 1924 to a Florence E. Taylor and that they separated and later divorced without having children. That was mentioned as well by a niece of his. We also think he remarried some years later but I have not confirmed that. Part of the reason why there are still some unconfirmed names and dates is that I have not yet been willing to spend the money to purchase marriage and death certificates for him – but that’s another story.
Clockwise from top left: Alfred Harry, Frances, Wilfrid Jack and Pauline Shepheard, ca 1935 (Frances and Pauline were the wife and daughter of Wilfrid)
Harry's first wife also remarried. There is a marriage for a Florence E. (nee Taylor) Shepheard to a George S. Lewis in 1947 that I believe is her. The index from FreeBMD actually shows both surnames which makes a strong argument that this was the wife of Harry.

On the 1939 census there is an entry for a Florence Lewis (Shepheard), born in 1900, living in Dagenham M.B., Essex. I found that when searching for Florence Shepheard. The coincidence of the two names suggests this is the same person. And here is where using just the index seems to work. The entry indicated there were two other people living at the same address in 1939, both of which could be viewed. Out of curiosity I did a search for George S. Lewis to see if he might have lived close to Florence.

The surprise was that a George S. Lewis, born 1906, is not only listed in the same area but, according to the TNA reference number, was living in the same household as Florence. I thought, if this works maybe I can find who the third person living with Florence was. So I did an advanced search for just the reference number.

Several people popped up on a search for piece number 1083F, item number 015. I looked for one whose individual number was before or after Florence and George and found Emily E. Taylor born in 1861. Given her name and age, I have to assume she was Florence’s mother. If true, that would give me some additional data that might help find the family on other records. Using this information I did find a family on both the 1901 and 1911 censuses: Florence born in late 1900 with a mother Emily, born about 1861-62. Florence’s birth place is given as West Ham, Essex, which just happens to be where Alfred Harry was born as well.

An important note in the 1939 entry is that Florence apparently was recorded with both names – Lewis and Shepheard. That made her easier to find. It is curious, of course, that they would be living together several years before the actual marriage. Maybe it just took that long for the divorce to come through and they could not wait. I have found a marriage for an Alfred H. Shepheard to an Elsie H. Peach, in the March quarter of 1947. That just happens to be the same quarter that the marriage between Florence Taylor-Shepheard and George S. Lewis took place, although in different parts of the country. Might that give us a clue as to when the divorce was finally granted?

Using just the index data, and not spending any more money, I think I found a family related to my cousin. The data did lead me to a probable family on the censuses. I could – and might – unlock the 1939 entry just to get some additional data, like birth dates and occupation, but I don’t really need to at this point if I can use the data for other searches for Harry.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is the Editor of Relatively Speaking, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Genealogical Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated