The Steadfast Tin Soldier and his Ballerina

Every now and then I use my lunch hour to have a peruse through my family tree in search of gaps that need filling. Today I decided to give my great-grandfather’s cousin a go.

Until now all I had found about Rose Allen was that she was born around 1888 in the same village where most of my ancestors were born, lived and died over the last 300 years: Colwall. Very few of my relatives moved away from that very rural area of England, and I therefore had no reason to believe Rose had done otherwise.

As usual, I started off by checking the census. In 1891, the first time Rose was recorded in the census, she was listed living in The Knell (also known as Knell Farm, which I know had been in the family for a few generations). Her father, Herbert, was a farmer and living under the same roof, as were his wife Jane and their brood of six children, of whom Rose was the second-youngest.

1901: ten years later and the family are still living in Colwall, at Hill Top (perhaps still at Knell Farm), only this time Rose is the second-oldest child left behind with her parents while her elder siblings are recorded elsewhere. A younger brother and sister are now recorded in the same household too.

By 1911, however, things have changed for the family. Rose’s parents are both deceased by then, and some of the children seem to be scattered to the four winds. Some are in Wales, still living together, but there is no sign of Rose anywhere. I therefore tried to broaden my search by not including her last name, as she may have married by the time the census was taken, and therefore in all likelihood would have dropped her maiden name. I find a Rose Bleazard (right age, right place of birth, different surname), happily married to a corn carter and living in Lancashire. No connections there, but I decide to look for a marriage between Rose Allen and a Mr Bleazard all the same.

Clitheroe, in Lancashire, where Rose Allen lived with her husband Marmaduke Bleazard.

Clitheroe, in Lancashire, where Rose Allen lived with her husband Marmaduke Bleazard.

Well hello! In the second quarter of 1910, up in Clitheroe registration district, Marmaduke Bleazard married none other than Rose Allen. I guess I’m definitely on the right track!

Unfortunately the couple had no children by the time the census was taken in 1911 so I temporarily hit a dead-end. I thus change tactic and try the Free BMD index using the fantastically-named Marmaduke’s surname combined with Rose’s maiden name. And lo and behold, I get two hits: Ada M. Bleazard (born in Clitheroe at the end of 1911) and Edith Bleazard born in early 1918. This not only confirms that the couple were blessed with two girls, but also that Marmaduke lived at least until the last year of the Great War.

Ordinarily I would end my search there, but as Marmaduke’s name is as fascinating as it is unusual, I decide to type his name in my search machine and see what comes up. I get a few census records, a birth… and a war record! One click later and I’m looking at Marmaduke’s service record. Long live the Internet!

And then I seemed to strike gold! Marmaduke’s address is Ing Farm, Newton Clitheroe, in Lancashire; his profession: corn man and general farm labourer; married: yes (phew!), and states he enlisted in December 1915. Excitingly, the next page over provides me the name of a middle daughter, Jane, born in 1916 and of whom I knew nothing (I later realise her surname was mistranscribed on Free BMD index as Blessard, explaining why I hadn’t found her before).

As I later zoom out to make out the scribbled words which have been added on the main page of the record, I make a sad discovery. The word “dead” leaps off the page of Marmaduke’s war record. A quick visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website leaves me in no doubt: Marmaduke Bleazard was killed in action in France on 12 (sic) November 1918. However, as the war had officially ended the day before, I go back to Ancestry, and find at least one document that states he was killed on 2 November, but either way, I feel sorry for young Rose and her three very young daughters.

Rose obviously moved on with her life, as by 1921 she had already remarried, to a Mr Hanson, but thereafter the trail goes cold. I wonder how she managed to cope with her loss, and how she managed to bring up Ada, Jane and Edith before her second marriage took place? Did she ever visit Colwall again? Did she keep in touch with her siblings in Wales? We may never know…

This entry was posted in 1891 Census, 1901 Census, 1911 Census, Birth, Colwall, Death, England, Genealogy, Herefordshire, Killed In Action, Lancashire, Marriage, War, Women. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Steadfast Tin Soldier and his Ballerina

  1. Clare A says:

    Thanks for this post. Marmaduke & Rose were my great grandparents – Jane was my grandmother (sadly the other two sisters died in childhood). if you’d like more information about the family please email me.

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