The "Norasearch" Diary - by Andrew Conway

Monday 21 June 1999

A couple of interesting new facts turn up, relating to the marriage certificate. I look through the films of Birmingham's old newspapers and find this in the Birmingham Gazette & Express: Friday February 15, 1907 (6am edition).

There is a list of marriages, births and deaths in every edition, and the marriages column has the following announcement:

PARKER - BLAKEMORE - On the 14th inst. At Moseley Parish Church by the Rev. Richard Parker (uncle of the bridegroom) and the Rev. W.H. Colmore, vicar. Robert William Parker of Preston and Birmingham, to Amy Lilian, daughter of the late John Blakemore and Mrs Wilkes, Anderton Park road, Moseley.

There is also an identical entry in the Birmingham Weekly Mercury, Saturday February 23, 1907. Unfortunately, photos were not a great feature of newspapers then.

This clears up two little mysteries very nicely. Firstly, the Rev. Parker was a relative of Robert's (though not brother as I'd first imagined), and was obviously drafted in on the day for the ceremony from wherever it was in England he worked (I still can't decipher that place name on the marriage certificate, despite the help of several other people all straining their eyes and examining it from every angle). Secondly, the 'Mrs Wilkes' that Amy was 'lodging' with was, in fact, her mother. She obviously married again after the death of John Blakemore (Amy's father) and, presumably, that husband (Mr Wilkes) also died, which explains why she is sole householder and guardian of Amy (unless it was a divorce).

This makes me think that maybe Amy didn't move out of Birmingham with Honora when Robert died, but perhaps moved back with her mother. So there's still hope for tracing them here between 1912-27. I shall check on how long Mrs Wilkes stays at Anderton Park Road, and see if Amy ever takes over the property, or, when Mrs Wilkes dies, hope that Amy is the informant on the death certificate, so that it gives an address for her.

Also, it says Robert came from Preston. This is in the industrial North West; Lancashire, in fact. This county neighbours Yorkshire and there's always been a great rivalry between the two (they fought the War of the Roses, and many people say they're still fighting it). I can now follow the Preston lead in the library and see what I find. I tried with Doncaster and found nothing in the one directory they had.

I also check the Birmingham Gazette & Express around the other dates I have, but it seems that neither Honora's birth, nor Robert's death made it in print. There's even a daily list of 'Midlands Wills', but nothing for Robert, despite his administration dwarfing several that were included. I can understand his death not making it, as it was certainly considered a social embarrassment to have a relative die in the City Asylum, but I would have thought the birth of their child would be there. Still, there are a couple of other newspapers I can check and, if Amy and Honora did stay in Birmingham, this might prove a valuable source of information.

Copyright © 1999 Andrew Conway. All Rights Reserved.