Tuesday 4 April 2017

I finally found Alfred…

Readers may remember a few posts here in which I discussed the problems I have had in finding one of my great-granduncles, Alfred Shepheard.

The last breakthrough was in November of 2016. I had come across a newspaper report of an Alfred Shepheard being jailed for drunk and disorderly conduct in Plymouth, Devon. He spent his 31st birthday in the lockup. But there was no other information at least that was obvious.

I had had my eye on a few records before finally deciding to bite the bullet and purchase a death certificate. There was a man named Alfred Shepheard who had been in and out of the Islington, London, Workhouse on St. John’s Road, from late 1914 until early 1915. His name was spelled like mine; his birth year was indicated as 1860; and his occupation was horsekeeper. Those facts all fit with him being my relative, but without additional information I could not say for sure he was my great-granduncle.

He was not to be found on any census after 1881 and it was not until I found the court record that I knew he was still alive in 1891.

I knew that some of his siblings had moved to London: older brother William John Shepheard had moved there by 1881 and married there the same year and worked there until after 1891; sister Fanny Ann (Shepheard) Ellison married her husband in London in 1896 and lived there with her family for many decades; younger brother John had moved to London by 1899 when he married and lived there until his death in 1943. So there was a good chance that Alfred might have joined them in the city.

There were a couple of death records for a man of the same name from the late 1890s and later but inconsistencies in their full names, spelling and other particulars did not seem to fit. There was one, however, in 1915 that fit both the area in London and the information from the workhouse. I decided to take a chance and order it.

My luck – the informant turned out to be Fanny Ellison, who was a sister of Alfred, so I knew I finally had the right man. His death was caused by chronic interstitial nephritis – an inflammation in the kidneys – and cardiac failure.

On his death record, Alfred’s normal residence is shown as Redhill Farm, Kingsbury, Middlesex, northwest of the city. He is not listed as a resident of the farm on the 1911 census, though, so likely was not employed there very long. How and why he ended up at the workhouse in Islington, even just being eight miles away in unknown. Possibly that was the closest infirmary he could be admitted to.

Now that I have an end date and place for Alfred’s life, I will continue to see if I can fill in the years from 1891 when he was in Plymouth, Devon.

It was satisfying to finally fill in some blanks with respect to Alfred, but sad to know he died so young. It does appear, at least, that members of his family were there to support him at the end.

Wayne Shepheard is a retired geologist and active genealogist. He volunteers 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 in several family history society journals. Wayne has also served as an editor of two such publications. He provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated.