From the office: The mystery of the Waterloo soldier

By Guest, 23 October 2014 - 2:52pm

While away on maternity leave, a chance message from a fellow Ancestry.co.uk user helped deputy editor Claire Vaughan break down a brick wall

Claire Vaughan is deputy editor at Who Do You Think You Are? MagazineThursday 23 October 2014
Claire Vaughan, deputy editor
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Hello everyone! I’m back at my desk after my maternity leave with a lovely little boy to show for my past 12 months’ absence.

It’s great to be back – catching up with the data releases I’ve missed and hearing about your gutsy and intrepid forebears and family history riddles solved. While I was on leave, I found the solution to a long-standing puzzle on my own tree.

In the 1841 census, my 3 x great grandmother Mary Pope (b1834) was living with her young siblings and mother (also Mary and, according to the census, hailing from Belgium) in poverty-striken Blackfriars, in London.

Possible baptism records for some of the children (on Ancestry) suggested the father was a Joseph Pope, listed as a soldier and sometimes a waterman. The family had moved around, however, and I couldn’t find a death certificate for Joseph linking him to the 1841 Blackfriars address.

Even when a search of Findmypast’s military collection turned up service records for a Joseph Pope (who had been at Waterloo!) I still couldn’t definitely tie him to my Pope family. I finally managed to get back online a few months after having Ethan and discovered someone had tried to contact me via Ancestry. They had, it turned out, found something that was to solve my Pope puzzle – and much more.

The message was from a chap who had come into possession of a family bible with the doings of six generations of a family on the inside cover – my Pope family! I now have the proof I need that the Joseph Pope who fought at Waterloo was part of my family – the bible lists his daughter Mary’s marriage to Robert Bird clinching it.

It also provided masses of missing information including his wife’s maiden name, Baudewyns (I’d assumed she was the daughter of another British soldier), and Joseph’s date of death (1838) and final resting place – Bayswater military burial ground – with military honours! 

Have you had any Eureka moments like mine? Or may be you have a family hero on your tree like my Waterloo soldier Joseph Pope. Or perhaps you’ve got a research tale to tell or a query you need solving. Get in touch and we’ll see what we can do…

 

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