My grandmother, Lillian Edith MATTHEWS inherited her middle name from her Aunt, the sister of her father, Edith Annie Matthews born 1877 in Rugby Warwickshire. Despite this my Grandmother knew very little about Edith other than she was a nurse. My Grandmother never remembers seeing her. Research shows that the miles between my Grandmother’s family and that of Edith were not great, yet there appears to have been little communication between Edith and her brother.
What brought the family from the Midlands down to Guildford, where they lived in Merrow parish is unclear, but Edith did share one thing with her mother, they both died young.
I had inherited a few photographs of Edith, one of her in a type of military uniform, and another two photos of Edith with her children, the first with an older boy and girl and the second photo of the same two children with a young baby. That confirmed that Edith did indeed marry and have a family.
Figure 1 – Edith Matthews with her children identified as Charles & Edith Mabel
I turned at first to the military style photograph. Edith would have been too old to have been especially active during the Great War 1914-1918, so I pondered on the Boer War. Family history indicated that Edith was a nurse, so I researched the various avenues available. Edith Matthews had never been a nurse, but perhaps was a VAD?
I put the nurse aspect on the backburner for a while and instead sought Edith’s marriage certificate. I eventually found it at Holy Trinity Guildford in 1902 where Edith married a Charles JELLEY. I was delighted, what a fun surname! It was not going to be too difficult to research Edith’s new family….or was it?
Figure 3 – Marriage Certificate for Edith Matthews to Charles Jelley 8th April 1902
Over the Christmas period of 2008 Findmypast opened up the search facility to the 1911 census. I could barely control myself! On Christmas Day, whilst the turkey was in the oven I nipped into my study for a quick search for Edith. There she was, in Redhill Surrey with her husband, two children Charles and a daughter Edith Mabel and her father, John Matthews who was recorded as a boarder.
I did a search of a death certificate for John Matthews. I found him in the Redhill registration district for 1927 residing at St Johns, Redhill although his place of residence was at 114 Walnut Tree Close, in Guildford. This was an address I was very familiar with as my Grandmother had been born there in 1912. The informant was a Read, occupier. Why was the death no recorded by Edith?
So, it would appear that Edith and my Grandmother’s father, also called John must have had some communication in regard to their father. John senior did according to my Grandmother live with them in Guildford, and like many families my Great Grandmother had in law problems and referred to her father in law as a dirty old man. I guess that he suffered from various conditions that affect elderly gentlemen!
While searching the Great War Service Records on Ancestry for another relative I did an off the wall search for Charles Jelley. I did not really expect to find that he would have been active. Much to my surprise he was, aged 41 years, called up as a reservist for the duration of the war. Having served during the Boer War with the 6th Dragoon Guards, he was discharged medically unfit in 1916. As I read through the record I spotted that another child had been born to the family, a baby girl Olive Kathleen in 1916. She sadly died aged 7 months and a copy of the death certificate was in the Great War Service Record for Charles Jelley. That confirmed the photographs of the children with Edith.
Figure 6 – Edith Jelley (nee Matthews) with children identified as Charles, Edith Mabel, Olive Kathleen.
There is still no picture of Charles Jelley. The Service Record revealed something else of interest, and that I had been unaware of. The family had moved to Paddington London. As always, as one question is answered so another few arise.
I searched the online facility of FreeBMD to see if there had been other children born to Edith and Charles. None were found, but I found a death for Edith Jelley in the June Quarter of 1921 just aged 40 years. I felt such a wave of emotion. Here was Edith’s death . I sent off for the certificate hoping that I had found another Edith Jelley, alas no, the certificate arrived. Edith Annie Jelley aged 40 years, wife of Charles Jelley a restaurant manager of 13 Malbern Road Kilburn. The death recorded by E. HARRISON sister in law who had been present at her death.
I knew that the surname of Harrison did not appear on the Matthews side of the family, therefore I assumed that E Harrison must be the sister of Charles Jelley. Using the search facility on FreeBMD I searched for the marriage of a Jelley to a Harrison. My luck was in and it revealed the marriage of Eliza Jelley to George Ernest Harrison in the December quarter of 1895. Then I spotted when I had another look at the marriage certificate that the marriage Charles to Edith had in fact been witnessed by Eliza Harrison. Which just shows that you should often look back at previously located information, sometimes we forget what we already know!
I may never know anymore about Edith, although there are lots more questions about their time in London, what happened to their children, How did Charles become a restaurant manager, just to name a few. I suspect that Edith was a VAD and helped to nurse Charles back to health. They lived next door to one another, a fact gleaned from their wedding certificate and were friendly faces to each other and I would like to think that potentially a romance blossomed as they married in April 1902 and Charles was discharged in June of the same year.