Wednesday, June 18, 2008

murder mystery?

I’ve been trying to pick my way through some very complicated (murky even!) family history lately. My grandfather (ie. my mother’s father) Frank was born in 1897. We have a certified copy of his birth certificate "for the purpose of employment" dated 1911, signed for by his mother Helen Witcomb - referring to his father Albert Witcomb as being a metal aumeter(?), journeyman. As far as the family is concerned, he was always known as Frank Walker and, somewhat mysteriously, by the time of the 1901 census, the Walker surname is shown for Albert, Helen plus Frank and his brothers. There are two family “legends” regarding the name-change: one refers to Albert (or another family member?) having committed a murder and the other as a result of Albert having “jumped ship”! Oo-er!!
My aunt Edna - one of Frank’s three daughters - refers to Albert (or Elma as she knew him!) as being a violent alcoholic. It’s thought that this was a key factor in all the Walker sons “taking the King’s shilling” when they did – Frank joining up when he was only 17.
Alas, I don’t think we’ll ever get to know the real story!
Photo: my great grandmother Helen Walker/Witcomb (nee Hunt) 1871-1928

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