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Monday, 15 August 2011

Tragedy and Carelessness, Part Two

In a previous Post (5 June 2011) I wrote out from memory my family tree on my mother's side (and including her siblings) back to the mid-nineteenth century. It's quite detailed. In contrast, from memory I would have been able to tell you very little about my father's side. My father's parents called each other "Mum" and "Dad" so I never knew their first names. Of course, I knew that Grandad's surname was Pateman and, fifty years ago or more, my mother told me that Grandma's maiden name was "Veryard" and I remembered it.

Only by going onto a genealogical site yesterday do I now know that my grandfather was Albert William Pateman, born 1885 West Ham, died 1962 Woolwich, and that my grandmother was Eliza Kate Veryard, born 1886 Edmonton, died 1979 Bexley. Here they are photographed in the 1950s:

They married 1910 (in Edmonton) and my father (Albert George Pateman) was born there in 1912. His elder brother, William Arthur F (Uncle Willie) was born in 1910, his elder sister (Auntie Kit) in 1914, his younger brother Arthur 1915 - but he died as a young man in a motorbike crash so he was never an Uncle - and Auntie Edna in 1918. Edna's birth is registered in Dartford, indicating that by this time the family had left Edmonton, and it is around Dartford in North West Kent that my father grew up and remained for much of his life. I was born in West Hill Hospital Dartford.

I knew my grandparents as what I would now call an eccentric pensioner couple who lived at 41 Churchfield Road Welling, which I guess was a rented house. It was notable for an outside toilet, a single damson tree in the wilderness of the garden, a single cold tap in the kitchen and an upstairs which was out of bounds. The front room was full of bric a brac, my grandmother being an enthusiast for jumble sales. All living took place in the living room where my grandfather sat beside the fire pushing logs into the flames. He did not chop wood and my grandmother appeared not to cook: I firmly believe that they lived on a diet of tea, biscuits and sardines on toast, except when they came to have Christmas Dinner with my parents.

My grandfather, a short man who held himself erect with his shoulders pulled back, had a story about riding to private school on the south coast in a carriage, a box of chocolates in his hand. I think this was fantasy.

My mother is the only source of informaton about his employment, my father never mentioning it. She told me Grandad had been a school caretaker and a bookie's runner. On her own 1938 marriage certificate, he is indeed described as a school caretaker.

Grandma's appearance was exotic, with large fleshy features suitable for caricature; my Mother inferred from her very large nose that she was Jewish. But she was born in Edmonton, home to a large number of Veryards, some also called Eliza. Though her Birth in Edmonton is registered, she doesn't show up in the Middlesex or London Censuses of 1891 and 1901 [WRONG: see footnote which corroborates the original paragraphs which follow now].

Memory tells me that she spoke of a childhood which included a printer's shop, and this may link her to the Thomas Veryard who was born in 1854 at Castle Cary but moved to North London (an area which is sometimes London and sometimes Middlesex, just as Tottenham is sometimes Edmonton).

I think Grandma may have had Somerset links which may explain why my parents honeymooned in Castle Cary in the 1930s. There was also some connection to Dymchurch in Kent where my grandparents had a caravan in the 1950s and where photographs prove that I stayed.

FOOTNOTE Though I cannot find anything in the 1891 Census, in the 1901 Census Eliza K Veryard turns up living at 69 The Crescent,Tottenham. She is listed as the daughter of Thomas J Veryard, aged 47, a "Letter Press Printer, worker on own account at home", who was born in Castle Cary, Somerset. He is living with his wife Ellen, aged 47, born at Alford in Somerset. The other members of this household are daughter Julia (18), my grandmother Eliza K (14 - one would expect 15 or 16 but I don't think that is a problem), Tom (12), Arthur L (9), Frederick (7),Gertrude (4), Maud (3) - Maud rings a bell with me - Joseph (1), and Thomas Veryard's mother Eliza (75: born 1825, died 1907 Edmonton - from the Internet, it seems she did not marry but that the father of Thomas was called Paul Done).

In the 1881 Census the family is at 13 Aske Street, Shoreditch, aged 26, with his wife Ellen,a son Robert (7) born at Castle Cary, a daughter Ellen (4) and a lodger, Emma Veryard, a paper bag maker.

I count 10 children and thus assume that there are many other descendants of Thomas J Veryard and Ellen Veryard. But if the Internet search is correct, Thomas Veryard owes his surname to the fact that his mother did not marry.

Added 24 July 2018: I have now published a memoir of my childhood, I Have Done This In Secret (degree zero 2018), freely available from Amazon, Waterstones and other booksellers.

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