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Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

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Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby ab1807 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 11:21 am


My Great Grandmother Marion Hyde's (b.20/07/1905) birth certificate states she was born at an address I know was Kidderminster workhouse, and the certificate was filled in by the manager (?) of the workhouse. It lists her mother as Olive Hyde, a carpet mill hand and no father.

In 1911 Marion is living at 18 Mill Lane with the Barnett family, who list her as 'relative'. She is still living at the address at the time of her marriage to John Henry Morris in 1927, and Thomas Barnett (Head of the 1911 household) is listed as one of the witnesses. Her father is noted as being William Hyde (deceased) labourer - which I know is likely to be a made up man.

I have found no deaths for anyone named Olive Hyde around the time of Marion's birth. I looked up any marriages between Olive's and William Hyde's, just in case, and nothing came up. I've made basic searches for links between Hyde's and Barnett's, and Hyde's and Harper's (Thomas Barnett's wife's maiden name) and nothing.

I found two marriages just after 1905 for Olive Hyde's - one to a Samuel Oakes in 1905 (around the time of Marion's birth) and one to Joseph Darkes in 1907. Both women are listed as having had two children, whom both are still living with them in 1911 but this has been filled out by their husbands. I'm more inclined to follow the Olive who married Joseph Darkes, as she is in Kidderminster and seems like a more likely age and income bracket. This Olive has a mother named Emily and a father named Henry, who died in the workhouse infirmary in 1901. Olive is still living with her parents in 1901 (transcribed as Clive, son) before his death. Emily remarries in 1903 to a William Bowdler who dies before the 1911 census. In 1911 Emily is living with her three other children, who I've found in the 1891 and 1901 censuses and her stepdaughter. She lists herself as having 4 children who are still alive.

I am stuck as to where to go with all this. I've ordered Olive Hyde and Joseph Darke's marriage certificate, on the rare opportunity that someone Barnett or Harper is a witness, but this is probably going to be unlikely.

Does anyone have any ideas if there's anything more I can do here? Also can you think of a reason why the birth certificate would have been filled in by the workhouse manager (birth on 20/07 and registered 15/08)?

Anything anyone could suggest would be great, thanks
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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby meekhcs » Mon Aug 04, 2014 1:08 pm

My first thought would be that the Mother had died in birth which does not appear to be the case. My second is that the Mother abandoned her baby, BUT, on ancestry, there is a baptism for Marion Hyde, 25 August 1905 at St John Baptist Church, Kidderminster, Mother Olive Hyde. So perhaps it's a simply that the workhouse Manager registered the birth of all babies born at the Workhouse. I would suspect that many Mothers were illiterate.
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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 5:50 pm

I agree that it sounds like the normal procedure that someone from the Workhouse (not necessarily the Master all the time) would register any births (they'd do deaths of course).

I'd suspect that illiteracy rates were reducing by this time - probably a factor originally but not the dominant one, which would be that of ensuring the bureaucracy ran smoothly, which could not be ensured if things were left to the "feckless" inmates.

I emphasise that this is me being logical about it and guessing how bureaucracy works - interesting if someone could find the actual procedures.

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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:05 pm

The excellent Workhouse site has a section on Kidderminster Workhouse which says that records are held by Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, at Worcester, and that "holdings include: Guardians' minute books (1836-1928); Admissions and discharges (1904-31); Deaths register (1866-84, 1895-1919); etc."

I suggest the Admissions and Discharge records may record something about Marion and her mother. Certainly, I'd look there for any information about her mother's age, which should help to identify her in the previous censuses.
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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby AdrianB38 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 6:15 pm

Not for the first time I should take note of my own advice.....

On Peter Higginbotham's excellent Workhouses site, if you go to, you will find the duties of The Master. The author states:
"Amongst the Master's numerous duties were:
"To register all Births and Deaths in the workhouse

So, it's just standard procedure.
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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby ab1807 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 11:49 am

Thanks for finding out about the procedure, I'd searched around for it (even been on that site, so must be blind). I've already looked at deaths in that time at the workhouse, just in case her death had been mistranscribed, but that baptism did make me think that was unlikely. I'll try to get the chance to look at the admissions and discharges then! Thanks for highlighting this for me.
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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby smiddy50 » Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:49 pm

Kidderminster workhouse admission and discharges are also available on microfilm at Kidderminster library.
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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby Jon Bauckham » Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:56 pm

As it happens, Peter Higginbotham will be taking part in a live web chat tomorrow between 2pm and 3pm. Well worth reposting your questions in the thread below!


I've now left Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. Please contact regarding any forum queries.
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Re: Disappearing Great Great Grandmother

Postby Ian Darkes » Thu Jul 18, 2019 7:34 pm

Hi ab1807,

I see that you posted your enquiry some years ago, back in 2014. I do not know if you still monitor this website for postings, but I have information which may be useful. I am Ian Darkes, the grandson of Olive Hyde, and believe that she is the person that is the mother of your Great Grandmother Marion Hyde.

In this case, Marion Hyde was my aunt, and has many more younger siblings that you may not know about. Olive Hyde, the daughter of Henry Hyde b.1861 d.1901 and Emily Wright b.1861, after her marriage to Joseph Darkes (but I think his real name was Darke, many of my ancestors are recorded as Dark, Darke, Darks, and Darkes), went on to have seven more children, one of which was my father William Darkes (again registered differently as Willie Darke) b.1912.

These would therefore have been the younger siblings of your Great Grandmother Marion. I grew up in London. Both my father, and his older brother Harry, moved away from the Kidderminster and Bewdley area at a very young age, as they wanted to get away from the family. I never new of or met Olive Darkes, and were it not for my mother telling me in 1967 that my father was attending her funeral, I would never have known she existed.

However, Marion was someone that my father spoke about to my mother. He always held his older sister in great esteem.

I have only been to the Kidderminster area a couple of times, to visit my dad's younger sister Cathy, and found it very strange to go into pubs around the Kidderminster area with her son, my cousin Patrick, who many times told me there were cousins of mine also there. But they never seemed to associate.

I have many details of Olive Hythe, and all her ancestors. If you are interested you can contact me. This post was rejected, I believe because I put an email address for me on it. Just reply to this post, and I can give you contact details.

I hope this information finds you, and helps you in tracing details of your ancestry.

P.S. A comment made on one of the posts is quite correct, sometimes the fathers name on birth registration is not always right. For example, two of my fathers siblings have been registered with Joseph Darkes as the father. He died in 1917, and they were born some years later!
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