Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Hers, mine and ours- more than a bakers dozen..... the story of Edward James George and Lily Belton

Edward James George (1876-19??) featured as my DNA match this week. He’s my great grandmother’s brother from Yarmouth, Norfolk. He married Lily Belton (1882-1964) in 1919 in Sunderland, Durham.  Can't help thinking the DNA angels are stirring up things in Sunderland. Their granddaughter Sophie is my third cousin.

It's my second unrelated match in that neck of the woods in weeks and my third in this line in as many months. It's a good news story alone that the “Match” with Sophie and I could be found so quickly even though she had only done her tree a week ago.
When reviewing the records of my great great uncle I looked for a possible military record. A pension record gave his children's names and dates of birth (more information than found on the 1911 census). It named his wife- Florence Turner and marriage date. Then a few pages over I wondered why the children had a guardian. A page or two on and duplicate records have been altered -the wife Francis Turner was deleted as wife and another one Lily Belton had taken her place. The details made me look twice. A wartime widow Lily Belton had married Edward.

Edward's children with Frances Turner: Ruth, Maud, Edith, Edward John and Daniel William listed on his military pension record

A new wife  Lily  previously Irwing -widow was his next of kin

I mentioned his record to my new third cousin and she shared an archive with me. It was a link to a one hour video she had recorded of her grandmother Lily George jnr several years ago. How wonderful to hear her detail the “hers, mine and ours” children of Lily and Edward. Besides the family history she also described her house and her whole life time! In all Lily and Edward George were parents to 14 children. I filled in the gaps with Ancestry searches and FreeBMD searches.


Lily and George's daughter Lily recounted their story.


“ My mother had a lot of bad luck”.

Lily had taken on George’s 5 children who are in care in Sunderland. Lily had been married not once but twice before and brought 5 of her own children to the marriage. Four boys with husband George W Armbruster 1877-1911 and one son with second husband George Irwing ( - 1916).

Lily Armbruster as Lily Ambrose with sons George, John Henry, Edwin and Edgar in 1911 census

Twice tragedy has struck her first husband before the beginning of the war. Due to anti German sentiment they changed their surname to Ambrose due to George Armbruster’s German background. Then George died in early 1911 after being crushed to death in a shipyard accident at the age of 34. She’s shown a few weeks later in the 1911 census as the newly widowed mother of 4 boys under the name of Ambrose. One of the boys was only five months old and Lily was supporting them as a charwoman.

Lily explains in the video “ My mother had a lot of bad luck”. So true

Shortly after in the early days of the war Lily married George M Irwing at Sunderland in September 1914. Her fifth son George RM Irwing was born in 1914.  He was known by the family as Robert or Bob. Irwing went off to serve his country. Again Lily was widowed when George fell down a well whilst serving in France. Again she was widowed with an infant as little Bob was only seven months old.
Edward had served in the militia from 1896. The Imperial War Museum website lists him in several regiments of the British Army, York and Lancaster Regiment, Sergeant, #3895, Labour Corps, Sergeant, #381409, Northumberland Fusiliers, Sergeant, #89491.
Although in the 1911 census he is a railway porter he re-enlists for the B.E.F. and served a short period at home and in France. By the time of his final discharge in 1920 he had accrued 20 years and 181 days service. In 1918 his wife Florence died in childbirth and his 5 children ranging in age from 3 to 11 are placed in care of a Mrs Robinson and his sister Mrs Emmeline Rowe.
In late 1919 he returns to see the children in Sunderland and presumably he meets and marries Lily Irwing nee Belton (1882-1964). Despite Lily having 5 children it was decided that George’s 5 children who were in care would be brought to their new home in St Hylton.
Lily and Edward had gone on to have four more children, twins Lily and Arthur then Mary and Gertrude. Lily Jnr born in 1920 described their home in the video. It was a multilevel house in Albion St and her grandmother lived below. The George family lived in the floors above where there was a kitchen/living room and above that one big bedroom and two attic rooms. There were limited mod cons and running water was externally available. Two buckets were used to retrieve water for washing and bathing down a big set of internal stone stairs. By this time some older members of the family had gained jobs and moved away.

Edward George made his big escape on bath night. After the bath water was carried up the stairs to the metal tubs Edward took himself off to the Empire picture theatre with a friend each Friday night. After the pictures he had a half a pint with his friend before returning home on the train to his children newly washed and with clean hair.

It sounds like they had a happy time though as Lily Jnr describes taking their pocket money and spending it on roast potatoes filled with yummy butter and spending the rest on watching the magic screen puppet show at the local Salvation Army.

Lily George nee Belton (supplied by granddaughter Sophie)

Lily Junior’s older siblings have helped to fill in the story of her family. She's not that sure where her father came from and his history but Ancestry has fixed that. Thanks to digitization and transcription of records we know his father was a mariner and he and his siblings come from Yarmouth. That probably explains why her father called himself a “Yarmouth Bloater”. Bloaters are a type of salted and smoked herring which is a specialty of the English town of his Yarmouth. I wonder if his children and Lily was served a traditional tea time treat of Yarmouth bloater paste spreads thick on buttered toast? It seems Lily only remembers the treat of Sunday bacon, toast and dripping!

Edward and Lily lived until ripe old ages with Edward dying  probably in his seventies and Lily Snr in 1964. According to his military records his character was described as "very good, honest, sober, willing, hard working, intelligent and reliable." Certainly characteristics which would have endeared him to this hard working and loving mother.

PS Sophie and I  love to receive photos .... please contact us via the comments below

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