‘A civil service record was my breakthrough’
A sworn testament giving an ancestor’s precise date of birth tore down a brick wall in Christa Stephens’ family tree. Gail Dixon explains
What was stopping you from progressing your research?
My next quest was to follow Reg’s line as far back as I could, which is when the brick walls started appearing. I managed to trace the family quite easily through census data, but this started to generate more questions than answers. The initial problem was that on the birth certificate of my great great grandfather Henry Padmore, his mother’s maiden name was spelt incorrectly.
How had you tried to solve it previously?
Fortunately, he had a large number of siblings, and as I tracked them down one by one, the spelling of their mother’s name became clear. She was Mary Wanklin and not ‘Wantling’, as I previously thought.
I found all of my great great grandfather’s siblings’ births, with the exception of the eldest – William.
The interesting thing about William was that, according to census data, he had been born in Birmingham, when all his siblings were born in Leominster or Monmouth.
His father William (later known as Urban) Padmore, was born in Handsworth, Birmingham. His wife, Mary Ann Wanklin, was born in All Saints, Worcester. I searched everywhere for William Jnr’s birth and his parents’ wedding and employed a professional genealogist, but he couldn’t find anything except for Mary Ann Wanklin’s birth. This was extremely frustrating as I couldn’t confirm their son William Padmore’s birth date, nor could I work out why the family had moved to Monmouth where they lived throughout the censuses.
What’s your ‘eureka moment’?
Over the years I kept revisiting this search, using different sources, then in September this year, I received an email offering a ‘ free weekend’ of searching on Findmypast. Eureka! Something caught my eye. It was a British civil service record from 1870. William Jnr had applied for a job as a post messenger and in order to obtain the position, he needed to prove his age.