Author Topic: How to find a foundling?  (Read 291 times)

Offline Norfolk Nan

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How to find a foundling?
« on: Monday 04 March 19 12:31 GMT (UK) »
My ancestor, John Lee, doesn't appear in official records until 1894 when he registers his only child's birth.  After that he appears on her baptism, his 1899 marriage to her mother, the 1901 and 1911 census, several decades of electoral registers, the 1939 register, his wife's 1937 death certificate, an interview he gave to the London Transport staff magazine in 1955, his own will, his 1956 death certificate, his burial record and his probate documents. 

In everything he is plain John Lee, his date of birth varies by a year or two either way but in 1939 he states dob as 18 April 1864.  The 1901 and 1911 census say he was born in Isleworth although he always lived and worked (post 1894) in Islington.  His late marriage was done away from their place of abode to cover the fact they'd been together unwed for a while, but he states his father is John Lee, plate layer on his marriage certificate.  The witnesses were the bride's family.  His will only mentions his child and her step sister.  Probate is given to his son-in-law.  The 1955 article is full of an old man's anecdotes (he was around 90 years old) and while interesting to read does nothing to help me track his life down pre-1894. I've looked for occupational records and military records but without success. The 1911 census shows a second family of two adults and two children sharing the address and someone has pencilled in 'Family boards together' presumably to explain why two families are on one sheet - has anyone seen this before?  I can't find a family connection so I'm baffled.

Now the mystery is this - I can't find anything conclusive about John Lee before 1894. I've followed a number of John Lees, including a father and son living in Isleworth through the census but unless 'my' John is keeping two families into the 1900s they are just a coincidence.  I can't confirm a baptism, nor census entries for 1871, 1881 or 1891.  There are, so far, no siblings or other relatives to help narrow the search so I wonder if he was an orphan - or abandoned - and raised in a home.  Does this sound possible and if so, how do I begin to check this out?

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Offline CaroleW

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Re: How to find a foundling?
« Reply #1 on: Monday 04 March 19 18:20 GMT (UK) »
He could simply have been illegitimate.  If so - it’s likely he made up a fathers name when he married in order to appear “respectable”

His mother may have married and earlier censuses possibly may show him under her married name.  However - by 1891 I would expect to find him under his real surname
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Offline JenB

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Offline CaroleW

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Re: How to find a foundling?
« Reply #3 on: Monday 04 March 19 18:34 GMT (UK) »
Thanks Jen. I will ask the moderator to lock this post to avoid duplication of effort
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