I recently wrote the post Deciphering Clues # 1 which touched on the mystery of the Theakston/Freeman/Solly connection that was tentatively established after the discovery of two newspaper articles.
This connection has not yet been officially verified by some piece of information or document (which I’m hoping I will one day find) but I have discovered some interesting bits and pieces which curiously enough, tie the names Freeman and Solly (as well as a new name, Head) together. The fact that these names are interconnected makes me wonder if perhaps it’s more than just a simple coincidence.
Mrs Emily Theakston’s maiden name in both her death certificate and marriage certificate was listed as Freeman. In the marriage certificate, her father was listed as Bell Freeman while in the death certificate, her father was listed as John Freeman. The discrepancy in the first names is definitely cause for concern. Despite her surname being listed as Freeman in both, I never found a matching birth certificate. The closest was an Elizabeth Emily Freeman but having found no records showing the name Elizabeth, I’m inclined to discount it.
With Bell Freeman being the more uncommon name, I headed straight to google. My instinct was right. I found many websites with information about Bell. He was an early colonist of South Australia, was married several times and fathered many children to each of his wives.
One of Bell’s wives was named Eliza Matilda Head and he married her on 3 November 1853. Eliza was the daughter of George Head and Mary Ann Walton. She was also the sister of Ellen Head. Ellen Head provided the Solly connection when she married a John Solly on 21 January 1863. Now, here’s the clincher and the part that really got my attention. Before Ellen married John, she had two illegitimate children. One of the children was named Emily and was born in 1856, the same birth year as my Emily Theakston nee Freeman!
My initial thoughts? Well, as you can imagine, taking into account the uncanny connection between the Heads, Sollys and Freemans it seems entirely possible that the Emily Head born out of wedlock could well be my Great x 3 Grandmother, Emily Freeman. This assumption however raises many more questions.
If Emily Head and Emily Freeman are one and the same person, why did she use the surname Freeman?
- Being born out of wedlock, could she have grown up in Bell Freeman and Eliza Matilda Head’s family and adopted the surname?
- On the other hand, could she have been formally adopted by Bell Freeman?
In the articles she referred to the Sollys in question as her sister and niece. This means that she knew who her family were and how they related to her. Was Emily Solly her half sister and was Clare Solly the daughter of her half brother? So, once again, why use the Freeman surname?
I’ve still got some more details to look up on the South Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages Register as well as perhaps ordering some certificates but until then, I’m hoping to come across something with Emily Freeman’s birth date recorded on it. If the date I find matches with the birth date of Emily Head then I can almost certainly confirm that they are probably the same person. After all, how many times can one claim coincidence?