Thursday, 8 October 2009

Stondon Massey: Family Secrets. The Smith / Garnham family

Maureen Garnham-Lopez writes:

During 2005, Adolfo and I made several visits to the Essex Record Office (ERO) in Chelmsford [to look at the Census and Parish records held there on microfiche]. This was always an exciting time for us as we always liked looking for our family members. We find this very rewarding.

When looking for family in Stondon Massey, we came across a burial of a Joseph Smith long known as George Garnham. Who is he, is he our George? He was the right age, right place, everything matched up to our George.

It all then added up. That was why we could not find a birth certificate of George or a marriage to (Great-Grandma) Harriet Garnham.

Something must have happened to Harriet or James Garnham (her second husband) before 1881 since their oldest daughter Alice was placed in a workhouse and Rosa Emily was placed with family members.

In 1891, Harriet appears in Romford, Essex with someone calling himself George Garnham with a son Frederick Garnham. They moved to Stondon Massey before 1901 and lived at the Soaphouse Farm.

Harriet Lewis first married a George Smith. Her second marriage was to James Garnham. Did Joseph Smith steal those two names? In the 1911 censes they were still living together at the Soaphouse Farm. George and Harriet lived at least ten or more years at the farm. I believe until they became too sick to take care of themselves, Harriet was living in Radley Green at the time of her death, while George was in the Stanford Rivers Poor House [Ongar Union Workhouse] at the time of his death. Both passed away in the same year 1916: Harriet in April, George in November, and are buried at Stondon Massey.

I started thinking of my father Frederick Wilfred Garnham losing his father, Frederick Garnham at 4 days old, and his grandparents George and Harriet at the age of 2. All he knew was his mother. [Frederick Garnham was killed in the Retreat from Mons at the beginning of the First World War.]

Most of all, who was this man calling himself George Garnham? Then this meant, who are we? Have we been Garnham by name all these years but are Smith's by blood. What secret was Stondon Massey holding about all of us and why?

In my heart, I believe that Joseph Smith became George Garnham when he got involved with Great-Grandma Harriet Garnham.

It saddens me greatly to think our family tree ends here on the Garnham side, it is our namesake. Why the lies and for what reason did this information come out at the burial at Stondon Massey. What did Revd Reeve know, and if anything, what did he think. Did he really know George Garnham?

In the 1901 Census

Harriet and George Garnham lived in Stondon Massey at the Soaphouse Farm. They had a boarder named Arthur Bolt, 9 years old, birthplace unknown.

Revd Reeve mentioned an Arthur Bolt, 11th November 1918. At this time I have no idea whom this person is, maybe family somehow, another mystery person. Other family members mentioned with Arthur are Alec Shuttleworth and a Arthur H. Watts, both are relatives of mine.

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