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Tracing a mistress and illegitimate child

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Tracing a mistress and illegitimate child

Postby lproudfoot » Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:51 pm

My great-aunt has told me that her father, Henry Charles Victor Bicknell, had an affair in the early 1920s in Brighton that produced a daughter around the same time that she was born in 1924. She told me that her father ended up having to pay £5 a month child support for his illegitimate child. Henry and his wife Gertrude Dorothy were living at 52 Chester Terrace Preston (now in Brighton).

I was wondering if anyone was aware of any possible way to find out who the mistress was or who the child was? If my great-grandfather had to pay child support would he have had to go to court, and would there be any records of this?

I am writing a biography of my great-grandfather and this is a major part of his life but what I have written here is all of the information on it that I have and I would love to be able to find out more detail to add to this part of his story.

Many thanks in advance for any advice.
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Re: Tracing a mistress and illegitimate child

Postby SarahDevs » Sun Jun 23, 2019 10:24 pm

I have something similar but the other way round - my grandmother was illegitimate and I have a strong suspicion who her father was but no way of proving it yet!

Do you have Find My Past membership and if so have you tried a newspaper search? I've been told that maintenance etc was dealt with in the Petty Sessions so something may have been reported in the local press, especially if it was salicious! My great grandmother featured on the front page of Sunday People in 1907 under the headline Master and Maid..!

Might be a good place to start...

Sent from my SM-G950F using Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine Forum mobile app
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Re: Tracing a mistress and illegitimate child

Postby ksouthall » Fri Aug 02, 2019 9:44 am

This may sound like a silly question, but do you have a copy of his will? Is it possible his illegitimate daughter received a small legacy from him or some kind of memento?

Apart from your great-aunt, does anyone else in your wider family have any knowledge of the illegitimate daughter or is it too tricky to ask people? Someone may remember visiting the daughter or passing her in the street and odd comments from their parents or grandparents. This could give you a clue.

Have you or anyone in your family taken a DNA test? If so, has anyone contacted you about being a DNA match? If the daughter or her descendants are trying to trace their family history, they may have taken one to fill in the gap, if they do not know about him.

I looked on FindMyPast but nothing obvious came up in the newspaper search.

I hope this gives you a few ideas to try.
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Re: Tracing a mistress and illegitimate child

Postby elsabels » Fri Aug 02, 2019 1:13 pm

When Henry Charles Victor Bicknell died in 1964, the Grant of Administration for his estate was granted to his widow Gertrude Dorothy Bicknell the estate value was £695.

It is therefore unlikely that he divorced Gertrude and remarried his 'mistress'

Maybe the way forward is DNA!
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Re: Tracing a mistress and illegitimate child

Postby ksouthall » Sat Aug 03, 2019 8:43 pm

elsabels wrote:When Henry Charles Victor Bicknell died in 1964, the Grant of Administration for his estate was granted to his widow Gertrude Dorothy Bicknell the estate value was £695.

It is therefore unlikely that he divorced Gertrude and remarried his 'mistress'

Maybe the way forward is DNA!


It was never suggested that Henry divorced Gertrude, just that other members of the extended family might have some information. If one great-aunt knew she had an illegitimate half-sister, then it's entirely possible that other members of the family also knew. Some of them may even have been in contact with her in the past as it's possible she, or her descendants if she has any, may have tried to trace her family herself.

There may be some letters or photos of her somewhere amongst Henry's possessions as he may have openly acknowledged her.
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