The "Norasearch" Diary - by Andrew Conway

Tuesday 8 June 1999

Using the Record of Marriages fiches, I trace Robert and Amy's marriage to the first quarter of 1907, which gives me all the info I need to purchase the marriage certificate. I'm hoping, as I dash over to the Register Office, that it will provide me with some useful clues. I find it interesting that Robert didn't marry Amy until he was about 34. It seems quite late in life. Is it possible that he had been married before and was either divorced or widowed; or was he just busy with his career? I remember that Kim told me, from her own research, that it was quite common for people to marry later in life then.

Marriage CertificateI fill in my request form and wait for the tube to return another piece of the Norasearch jigsaw. I'm hoping it will provide leads for a thorough investigation of Amy Parker, and perhaps even eventually help me go forward into the crucial 1912-27 period for Honora. Fascinating as I'm finding her father's life, it isn't really getting me to the real meat of the Parker-Hulme case, although it has been useful in providing some pointers on the class background of the family. I sometimes get the feeling I'm seeing through a trail that isn't really leading me where I initially wanted to go.

The certificate is handed over and I'm thrilled to see that, unlike Robert's death certificate and Honora's birth certificate, it is not a copy but a genuine facsimile (if that's not a contradiction in terms). The original has been photocopied onto a new certificate, which means I now have excellent samples of both Robert's and Amy's signature, and can confirm that Amy's 'L' does indeed look very much like an 'S'.

Amy's signature

There are eight numbered information columns, with one panel above and one below.

Registration District Kings Norton

[Facsimile begins]


1907. Marriage solemnized (sic) at the Parish Church in the Parish of Moseley in the County of Worcester. (I find it strange that it uses the American spelling, but that's the ex-English teacher in me. At least my spell checker backs me up.)

The eight numbered columns then begin, but they are introduced by an unnumbered column:

No. 248 (This is the only entry that is printed, not handwritten)

'When Married.' February 14th 1907. (A St Valentine's Day wedding - "It's all frightfully romantic!")

'Name and surname.'
Robert William Parker
Amy Lilian Blakemore



'Rank or Profession.'
Chartered Accountant
- - - - - - - - - -
(A line is drawn through for Amy, confirming that 'Nana' Parker, at least as long as her husband was alive, never worked.)

'Residence at the time of the Marriage.'
12 Earlsbury Gardens, Birchfields
Woodlands, Anderton Park Rd, Moseley
(The first is for Robert, the second for Amy. This is the most surprising info. More on this below.)

'Father's Name and Surname.'
Robert Parker (deceased)
John Blakemore (deceased)

'Rank or Profession of Father.'
Cotton Spinner
Commercial Traveller.
(It's impressive how Robert in particular really raised his social status through his choice of career)

Married in the Parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England after banns by me, Richard Parker, Vicar of (a double name here which is very difficult to interpret - Umefold Hadlington?)

This Marriage was solemnized between us, Robert William Parker  Amy Lilian Blakemore  in the Presence of us, Gerard Smythe Rigbey  Laura Bamford

(The 'Church of England' is the Protestant Church. As for the vicar's name, is it a coincidence or was he a relative of Robert's? The names above are all in the form of signatures. It's interesting to note how all the male signatures seem practised, whereas the female signatures seem quite deliberate, as if they rarely had cause to sign their names.*)

[Facsimile ends]

Certified to be a true copy of an entry in a register in my custody AR Buttress Deputy Superintendent Registrar 8.6.1999

St Mary's Church 1907

St. Mary's Church, Moseley

Some thoughts on the above

With regard to the addresses: I check Kelly's Directories for 1905 - 1907 and there is some difficulty getting at the facts.

A 'Miss Mary White' is listed as the resident of Earlsbury Gardens for 1906 and 1907, obviously the owner-occupier with whom Robert was lodging. The house didn't seem to exist in 1905 because it's not listed in the Streets section, although Miss Mary White is listed in the Residential section for that address. A mystery that is difficult to work out. Furthermore, there is no Earlsbury Gardens in the Index for the 1907 Electoral Roll. I'm confused. One thing this does put in doubt, though, is my earlier assertion that the 'Robert Parker' in Aston is our Robert William Parker.

For Woodlands, the resident is a 'Mrs Wilkes', again for 1906-7 but nothing for 1905. Obviously, Amy was lodging with her at the time she married.

There are, as I see it, three possibilities:

1. The Aston 'Robert Parker' is not Robert William Parker, and the first residential reference we have for Robert William Parker is now for the year of his marriage at Earlsbury Gardens. Even though we know he had been working in Birmingham since 1900, he perhaps didn't own a house, or lived outside Birmingham.

2. 'Robert Parker' is Robert William Parker, and he sold his house at 262 Victoria Rd, Aston in late 1906 in order to lodge temporarily with Miss Mary White, before buying 12 Alcester Road perhaps just after the marriage. The entries in Kelly's would support this as 'Robert Parker' is listed in the 1906 edition, but goes missing completely from the 1907 edition, which would have been compiled in late 1906, with both the Victoria Road and Alcester Road properties blank and no entry in Residential for him either.

3. The 'Robert Parker' listed in the Aston properties is Robert William Parker's father, who perhaps died in 1906 and thus disappeared from the 1907 Kelly's.

I check the Kelly's Residential sections for Gerard Smythe Rigbey and Laura Bamford, but neither of them show, which indicates they were not house owners. I also check Mr Rigbey against the occupants of St Phillips Chambers, just in case he was a business colleague of Robert's, but again nothing. I'm assuming that, in the absence of family, they were both friends of Robert and Amy.

A thought strikes me. It might be worth checking the local newspapers for a reference to the wedding. I know in some neighbourhood papers it is customary to publish photos of all the local weddings, but I'm not sure if this custom was in practise in 1907. I'll check on this.

Some thoughts on Robert William Parker's birth

The marriage certificate has me puzzling over when Robert was born. If he was 'aged 35' on 14 February 1907, but was 'aged 39' on 16 January 1912 (as it says on his death certificate), this means his birthday must be some time between 17 January and 14 February. This indicates that he was born in the first quarter of 1872. Consulting my earlier list of Roberts born between 1872-74, there is only one that comes within that quarter: born in Doncaster. If my calculations are right, this is our man. However, calculations have never been my strong point (I'm a total right brain innumerate) so I wouldn't stake the mortgage I haven't got on it.

* One other feature of this facsimile is the large black ink blot splattered on the bottom panel, intruding into Column 2, which holds the names of the married couple. There are, in fact two versions of this certificate in the records, another one is held in the City Archives in the relevant marriage ledger for Moseley Parish Church (St Mary's). That one, of course is free of the ink blot. It would have been customary for the couple to sign (at least) two copies of the certificate. On 14 February 1907, when the couple would have retired to the vestry for the registry ceremony, one of the signatories (was it Robert, Amy or Richard Parker?) committed the ink blot. Would it have been laughed off, or seen as a bad omen for this marriage? Perhaps the waiting congregation discerned expressions of discomfort in the returning couple's faces. Perhaps no one noticed. The ink blot

Copyright © 1999 Andrew Conway. All Rights Reserved.