Who is Annie? Well, that has been the question I’ve been asking myself for the past 20 or so years. When my father “Charlie” Cripps (1924-2000) first showed me some letters that my great grandfather, also known as “Charlie”, had written during WWI, there was one letter in particular that had me wondering! It reads in part…
(Spelling as per original letter date 17 January 1917, France)
I receved a letter from Nell Cripps (Georges wife) & she enclosed her photo taken with the three children & they all look tray bon (very good & she asked me to come & stay with her when I get my leave & I also had a letter from Kate Turner asking me to come to her place so if I get my leave soon I will have some of my relations to show me round to where the others live so I will be kept busey wile I am in England. I would have liked to have gone to Wales but I have never got Ainnees address I asked for it in several of my letter but have not receved it so far, & if I get it now it will be no good because my leave ticket will be made out for London.
So began the search for Annie. Who was she? Was she a sister? What was she doing in Wales? Who did she marry?
The first sighting of her was on the 1861 Census for Bethnal Green, London with her brother Charles aged 7, her sisters Ellen & Sarah, & parents Thomas & Ellen. Here Annie was 6 years old.
I found a birth for Ann Cripps in 1856 to Thomas and … wait a minute! Doesn’t that say Elizabeth Cripps, formerly Neal? Didn’t we just read above that her parents were Thomas & Ellen?
The Genealogy Do-Over, that I started doing a few months ago, has me looking at all the documents again. With new eyes. I had not seen the name Elizabeth previously, but zoomed in on the maiden surname Neal. I knew from other documents that Thomas had married Ellen Neale and that his occupation was a Pig Dealer. All the certificates for their other children have Ellen Neale as their mother.
As a genealogist, we know that transcription errors happen all the time. So in this case, I would say that the registrar got confused when he asked the mother, “surname and maiden name of mother”. Her own mother is Elizabeth and she has probably said that during the conversation with the registrar, and he has mistakenly written down the incorrect first name.
I digress! I have only been able to find Ann once more on the census, in 1871, as a 15 year old, living with her mother Ellen and her now step-father Charles Moore, silk dyer, and younger brother Thomas aged 9. (Their father Thomas died in 1861, and Ellen remarried Charles Moore in 1871.)
So, what happened to Annie? There were a lot of Ann Cripps’ on the marriage indexes and they don’t list a husband or ages to help you determine if you have the correct person. It was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It wasn’t easy to research a female ancestor, unless you had other clues. So, there stopped my research.
Fast forward 20 years, the Internet is born and Ancestry.com has become the go to place for genealogists. But I’d been sidetracked, researching other families on my tree, working and life in general, so I hadn’t looked for her again, until last weekend, Easter 2015. Ancestry opened up all the UK records for free, for 4 days over the Easter long weekend. So, I decided it was about time I started compiling an online family tree. I use a database called Legacy Family Tree, but I thought it probably would be a good idea to have my information out there in a few different places, so that hopefully, one of the grand children or further down the line, will get interested one day and can find this information that I have spent a lot of time researching. For now it is a ‘private’ tree, so no one can see it unless I share with known relatives. It needs a lot more done information added to it yet! When is their free access again? 🙂
I digressed again! While adding details and source documents to my online tree on Ancestry, up would pop these little green shaky leaves. You know you have to click on them, just to see! Right!? I call them BSO’s (Bright Shiny Objects). I clicked on several over the weekend, but pulled myself back with much restraint and systematically went through Great Grandfather Charles Cripps’ family. Comparing what I was finding with a distant cousin, Kathy Statton nee Turner. We had corresponded and shared information before and it was a good to see we were both on the same track. Proving our finds with good evidence, like addresses, occupations and further siblings. I even found another couple of sisters, however they unfortunately do not appear again and may have died at a very young age. There were a couple of brother’s, both named Thomas, that I had found previously. One lived for 2 years, but died shortly after receiving a small pox vaccination!! Eventually another Thomas was born and survived. He is the Thomas that features in a photo taken in military uniform with his brother Charles in 1917.
I typed some details about Ann into Ancestry. No shaky leaves this time. Mmmmm! But I went looking anyway. Ancestry has copies of marriage records taken from parish records for those early years. One such entry looked a likely candidate. Ann Cripps married Thomas Field in 1874, father Thomas, deceased. Could this be her? Looking closely at the entry, there, as a witness was Charles Moore. Who was Charles Moore? Her step-father of course. Yeeehaa! Yes! It was our Ann. At long last.
You know, it’s not the same saying yeeehaa to yourself late at night, sitting in front of the computer, as it used to be at the family history library with fellow genies around and you would shout yeeehaa and everyone would stop what they were doing to ask what had you found?
As soon as I entered this information into Ancestry, more green leaves started shaking on my tree. Not for Ann though! But for Thomas Field and not in Wales as the letter had referred. There were census entries for a Thomas and Ann Field, living in Tamworth, Staffordshire. But…on each census Ann has not given Bethnal Green, Middlesex as being her place of birth. Is this them? I feel like it is, but I’m not 100% convinced. My next step is to look for birth entries of their children and see if their mother is listed as Ann formerly Cripps!
By writing this research into a blog, it is also hoped that a long lost relative of Thomas and Ann Field, will recognise this as their family and make contact. We can but wait and see!
Note: A sister, Sarah Ann Cripps (1845) married George Cordaroy and their great grand daughter visited us several years ago. To date we do not have any information on another sister Ellen.
Note 2: The original letters written by my great grandfather Charles Thomas Cripps, have gone missing from my father’s collection of memorabilia. One day, I hope they will turn up.