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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Desperately seeking Eleanor

In my post Aftermath & Mystery I explained how I'd been unable to find any record of my great-grandmother's younger sister, Eleanor Hick, after her entry in the 1871 census, where, aged 8, she’d been living with her parents, her 3 brothers and a sister, in Great Witley, Worcestershire.

Two years later, Eleanor's mother, also called Eleanor, sadly died, aged only 32, shortly after giving birth to another daughter, Eliza.

After that, young Eleanor seemed to vanish from the records.

A short time after my fruitless search, Ancestry flagged up hints for two records, one for Eleanor Brooks and another for Eleanor Drew. I couldn’t immediately see how they connected with my Eleanor, given I'd found no marriage record for her. But, I concluded, there had to be some sort of link for ancestry to flag it up.

I decided to look for clues on other family trees and found an Eleanor whose details fitted mine, recorded as being married to a Charles Brooks. I looked up the birth details of their eldest son, Ernest, born 1883, in the GRO indexes and discovered that Ernest‘s mother’s maiden name was Hick. Looking promising!

However, none of the other Ancestry trees showing Eleanor and Charles had a record of their marriage, and despite my best efforts and following every route that fellow genealogists on Twitter suggested, I couldn’t find one either.

Was there really no marriage or had the record somehow slipped through the transcription net?

On the 1881 census the couple are living in Hanbury William, near Tenbury Wells, about 10 miles away from Great Witley where Eleanor and her family were living in 1871 before her mother died. Charles’s occupation is recorded as a gamekeeper. He’d been born in Pulham, Norfolk in 1831, making him at least 30 years Eleanor’s senior.

So, who was this Charles Brooks? What's his story? How did he and Eleanor come to be living as man and wife?

That would be my next challenge! Watch this space for more...


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