Trevor and Bessie

A Tale of Two Grandfathers. Part 1: The Journeys

An image of a man and a woman printed on old paper from decades ago

My ‘big’ genealogy project for 2021 is to find more information about two people in my ancestry about whom I know very little.  One is a grandfather, the other a great grandfather.  What little is known is that they each undertook a significant journey.  These are their stories.

My Grandfather – George Trevor Jones

I have a few pictures of Trevor, as he was known.  Above is one of them, with my grandmother Bessie.  Trevor was born in 1879, in MynyddIslwyn.  His father was a farmer.  He and Bessie married in 1909.  His profession was a Journeyman Shooing Smith.  By 1911 he was a Sanitary Inspector.

Then, some time in the following ten years (possibly) he went out to South Africa.  He left Bessie behind, to establish a new role working as a sanitary inspector in public office in Vereeniging, south of Johannesburg.  The plan was that, once established, he would return to Newport and he and Bessie would move permanently to South Africa.  But that never happened.  He did return home.  She did not go back with him.

My first step is trace his journey. The destination port would have been Durban.

Did he ever return home?  Yes, he did.  But that’s another story, for next time.

My Great Grandfather – William D

William was born around 1869 in Ireland.

The story I had from my mother is that William lived with his mother and grandmother in County Clare.  His mother – maybe after her husband’s death? – decided to cross to England to look for work.  She went ahead, William and his grandmother to follow when they had word. They set off,  but his grandmother died on the journey.  William carried on, crossing to Liverpool.  He got word that his mother had gone to South Wales.  The story goes he then walked from Liverpool to South Wales, looking for her.  He went as far as Swansea, then came back to Newport.  The outcome?  He never found his mother.  He eventually settled in Newport, met a girl and married.

A moving and rather tragic story?  Maybe.  I know that one of his sons went to Co. Clare after William’s death to try to find out more about the family.  Result – nothing.  My mother and I made two visits, as she was also keen to learn more about the grandfather she revered.  Result – nothing.  No confirmation of his birth, his parents, or anything proving he existed as William D.

I have been researching for ten years.  Result – nothing.  I do have some facts, but they are contradictory and do not uphold the story.

According to the 1911 census William was born in Cork, not Clare.  His marriage certificate says that his father’s name was Martin, but there is no registered birth, either in Cork or Clare to anyone with the exact or a similar surname.  And on the 1939 War Register he gives his actual date of birth in 1869.  And once again, there is nothing to support this on either civil registration or baptism records in Ireland.

So, who was this man?  My plan this year is to try to find out.  Visits to Ireland, link up with Irish genealogists, whatever I can do that I haven’t done already.  I have DNA results showing I have a 3rd cousin from the same set of parents as William.  I have tried to contact this person, but they haven’t responded yet.

I will follow up both stories in future posts, hopefully with some positive results!

Picture of Mary Jones

Mary Jones

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