In 2002, my father passed away at the age of 53. I decided to start doing my genealogy several years after that. My Mum is a genealogist herself and has spent years working on her family history. She’s incredibly good at it and has a lot of information and resources (like my Grandmother) to work with that most people really take for granted. She’s doing an amazing job with tracing my maternal line; it’s covered and I don’t want to reinvent the wheel.
So, I decided, naturally, that I would do my paternal line. My Mum has proven to be an invaluable resource here, too, because she knew his family.
Well. Sort of.
See, my dad’s family were largely estranged from each other. There was quite a bit of drama and infighting over the years and with Dad being in Canada, the separation became worse. So there’s lots of things Mum doesn’t know, because the family was already in a bit of a mess when she came into the picture.
With that in mind, we decided to sit down and figure out what the most important certificates to start with were likely to be. I have Proof of my Dad’s death (though not actually a death certificate, I am assured that a Funeral Director’s Statement of Death is as good – I have put off getting the death certificate for complicated and personal reasons), but I don’t have much else.
We decided that I ought to order his Birth Certificate and his two Marriage Certificates (one to my mother and the prior marriage). We also ordered his half-brother’s Birth Certificate; we knew his half-brother had been adopted, but we had tracked down the original birth certificate in the records and thought we’d try, at least.
Now, my Dad was raised by Norman C——, who he assumed was his father. When he and my Mum decided to move to Canada, he had to get his Birth Certificate to get his passport and when it arrived, he apparently went marching straight over to his Mother’s to have a little chat with her, the contents of which were never revealed to my Mother.
The trouble was that Norman C—— wasn’t listed as his father on the birth certificate; some bloke called Frank S—– was.
So, when his birth certificate arrived with Frank S—– on it, I was not surprised.
I was also somewhat less than surprised to discover that where Father’s Name and Rank or profession are listed on his Marriage Certificate to my Mother, it was crossed out. No father. Hardly surprising given what he’d just found out.
What I wasn’t expecting was his Marriage Certificate to M—— J—- to have father listed as Frederick C——, Bus Driver.
Who the fuck is Frederick?