Some time ago I wrote about tracing back the women in my family especially as the name Fairfax had popped up as a middle name throughout the generations. Currently I’m having a little break from study – next semester’s units don’t start for a few weeks yet – so I thought I would continue the task begun with the unraveling of those Fairfax, Kirkby and Welch intermarriages.
Rigorous examination of the marriages of the various daughters over the generations have revealed quite a few more Fairfax middle names as well as a whole new (to me) branch.
My 4x Great Grandfather, Benjamin Fairfax (b 1758) married twice – to Dorothy Kirkby (b 1766) and to her younger sister Mary (b 1768). Mary became my step 4x G grandmother as well as already being my 4x great aunt. Mary gave Benjamin two more children to add to the five borne by Dorothy. Those two children became cousins as well as half aunts and uncles.
Following down and across the generations, I’ve discovered a whole raft of family out there – a family that supported and cohabited across three generations when the child bearing aged women didn’t survive. Benjamin’s daughter Charlotte (b 1789) lived to ripe old age of 82 and over time, took in her nephews and nieces, her widowed brother and his grandchildren. All this time, she was herself kept busy as a grocer and storekeeper in Mile End Old Town.
For a short period around 1841, she was living with two of the Richardson sisters in Wellclose Square, daughters of my 4x great Grandfather, David (b 1746) and one of his other wives (he had four!) The Richardson family lived in Wellclose Square in Wapping right through the 1800’s and possibly longer – that’s another piece of detective work that awaits.
I had managed to bring most of the lines down to the period covering the first and second world wars, so I thought I would look for any that had served and had not come home.
I found Henry James Fairfax (b 1859). Henry was the great grandson of Benjamin and Mary and that made him my 3rd cousin twice removed. Henry was the eldest of seven children – and like the rest of the family was ‘in the trade’ – he was, for most of his working life, a grocer’s assistant. His father had been a commercial traveller as was one brother and their interests lay in spices and ‘farinous materials’ – that’s flour to you and me!
Henry never married and remained living with his mother and other unmarried siblings until at least 1911. There must have been a touch of the mid life crisis happening as he made a complete shift into the Merchant Marine and became a steward on a steam freighter. He was certainly too old to have been considered for active service at the outbreak of WW1.
Henry was a Londoner – its probable he couldn’t swim. He was the only casualty when his cargo ship, the Peninsula, was torpedoed by U-46 and sunk in the Bay of Biscay on 25th July 1917. Henry’s name can be found on the Merchant Marine memorial, Tower Hill. He was 57 years old.