Last year I visited a lovely lady who’s the niece of Jessie Knight; my Great Grandmother’s (Kitty Barratt nee Crampton) best friend. It was amazing chatting with someone so closely related to Jessie and who (through the connection) knew of my Great Grandmother.
We ended up looking through some of her family photos and I showed her the ones that I have; sent to Kitty from Jessie throughout the years.
As I’m sure you can imagine, while I was there I couldn’t resist asking her about Thomas Crampton and Matilda Maria Hurst. Did she know Tilly’s tragic story? Did she ever hear about the little boy that went missing? Does she remember anyone talking about it?
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I’ve asked many different descendants and distant cousins the same sort of questions over the years and I’d say almost everyone has responded in the negative. Mental illnesses were never discussed and families often kept their mouths shut and their secrets sealed. My family was no exception. Remarkably, Jessie’s niece didn’t have any extra details but made one amazing statement (which I’ve paraphrased).
She recalled her mother (Jessie’s sister) talking about poor Mr Barratt. His wife had been sent to the asylum and had been there for many years but because she wasn’t deceased he was still legally married to her and thus couldn’t remarry. She found this fact to be terribly unfair.
While the name is incorrect (Barratt – most likely stemming from Kitty’s married name) and should be Crampton, there was no doubt that the story related to my family. I could hardly believe it. I finally had a small fragment of oral history! And from a family who wasn’t even related!
Feeling on top of the world, we ended the visit with general chatter and tea and scones and then said our goodbyes. I provided Jessie’s niece with my contact details in case she ever needed to phone me but I wasn’t sure if I’d hear from her again.
About a month ago I received an unexpected phone call. It was Jessie’s niece. She’d been going through her family photos (a huge task) and had come across a photo of Jessie and Kitty together. As Jessie didn’t have any children and she didn’t think her family would want the photo, she thought of me and was ringing to ask if I’d like it. The answer was a no-brainer. I said that I’d love it.
A week later the photo arrived in the mail (it certainly made a nice change from what I normally receive – bills!) and I thought I’d share it on Finding Family. A new photo of Matilda Maria (Kitty) Crampton (right) with her friend, Jessie Knight, taken in approximately 1915. Incidentally, it’s also the first photo I’ve seen of them together.
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