I like to have everything in my family tree presented in a particular way and I especially like to have everything right. So when my mum came home one day stating that my relatives had mentioned a big ‘mystery’ on my Great Grandmother’s side and that I’d possibly been researching her adoptive parents’ family, I was instantly shocked and concerned that my finely crafted world was trembling on the brink of destruction.
Okay, perhaps I’m being a little dramatic. Nevertheless, from this point on I’ve been going through everything with a fine toothed comb. I’ve been weighing up the evidence and I’ve been trying to discover what this mystery was about.
Throughout all this time and amidst all my searching, the question of whether or not I’m related to the Theakston family has been a plague on my thoughts. To this end, I will attempt to pool together my evidence (hopefully in a logical, non-confusing way) and I humbly ask you, the reader, for your unbiased opinion.
I believe all the confusion stems from a discrepancy over a name on two different certificates. The birth certificate for my Great Grandmother (Mary Elizabeth Theakston) states her mother’s name as Elizabeth Alice Maud Theakston. On the other hand, Mary’s marriage certificate lists her mother as being Edith Alice Maud Theakston. On both, none of the father’s details have been listed which suggests illegitimacy.
While I have never found any information on an Elizabeth Alice Maud Theakston, I have however found many documents on an Edith Alice Maud Theakston. Despite the first name difference, everything about them seems exactly the same. Elizabeth’s birth year (according to Mary’s birth certificate) was 1877. Edith’s birth year (according to the Metropolitan Cemeteries Board and the Family Search website) was also 1877. Both were born in Port Adelaide in South Australia. Elizabeth’s residence is listed on Mary’s birth certificate as being Short Street in Fremantle. Edith’s mother, Emily, once lived on Short Street in Fremantle. Finally, the fact that only the first name differs is also very convincing evidence. Not many people have two middle names so it’s even more coincidental that Elizabeth and Edith’s are exactly the same.
To me, they are one and the same person. Though I have no explanation for the different first names. Did she change her name due to her child being illegitimate? Was it simply a mistake? I have looked over both certificates and they’re both clear. One says Elizabeth and one says Edith.
Curiously enough, I have also found many newspaper articles that were inserted by Edith Alice Maud Theakston in memory of deceased relatives. When Edith’s mother passed away, she placed an “In Memoriam” piece in The West Australian ending with the following words:
Inserted by her loving daughter, Edie, son-in-law, Joe, and niece Vera.
A year later, another memoriam piece ended as follows:
Inserted by her loving daughter and son-in-law, Edie and J. S. Attwood and granddaughter Vera.
Mary Elizabeth Theakston was also known as Vera and later, Ivy (evidenced by Australian Electoral Rolls). So, in one article she’s described as the niece while in the other article she’s described as the granddaughter. Is this another case of simple human error? Was the word ‘niece’ purposely used due to the illegitimacy of Mary? Does this have something to do with the mystery? Who knows. I haven’t got the answers but in spite of this I strongly feel that I’m related to the Theakstons. I’m sure there are other avenues that I’ve missed and I know there are still people out there who may have the answers. I will keep searching for the right key to unlock the mystery and hopefully one day I’ll find it.
Please note that the above post was written based on my own assumption of what the ‘mystery’ is. At this point in time I have not received confirmation as to whether my assumption is correct or incorrect.