Author Topic: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?  (Read 384 times)

Offline oldfashionedgirl

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Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« on: Sunday 22 November 20 10:33 GMT (UK) »
Oral family history states that my Great Grandfather born in 1867 was the child born as a result of his mother “being raped by a man who came with the travelling fair”
It’s a long shot and I realise that I would never find his parentage but I was wondering if records were kept re when the fairs came and from where ? This was in the Staffordshire/Warwickshire area.
I remember on the WDYTYA Tracy Emin programme her ancestors came from that area and were travellers.

Would they have had to apply to the council to set up ?

Offline ThrelfallYorky

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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 22 November 20 15:42 GMT (UK) »
I'd think that local papers of the appropriate time may possibly have had advertisements such as "Humbug's Fair is coming to town" at certain dates - but I'm thinking that such adverts may be of zilch help in tracing errant rapist! Good story, though. Good luck with your search.
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Offline iluleah

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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 22 November 20 16:09 GMT (UK) »
There was a record archive in Ilkeston about Fairs and people...can't find the site.... found this

https://archiveshub.jisc.ac.uk/features/fairsandcircus.shtml
Leicestershire:Chamberlain, Dakin, Wilkinson, Moss, Cook, Welland, Dobson, Roper,Palfreman, Squires, Hames, Goddard, Topliss, Twells,Bacon.
Northamps:Sykes, Harris, Rice,Knowles.
Rutland:Clements, Dalby, Osbourne, Durance, Smith,Christian, Royce, Richardson,Oakham, Dewey,Newbold,Cox,Chamberlaine,Brow, Cooper, Bloodworth,Clarke
Durham/Yorks:Woodend, Watson,Parker, Dowser
Suffolk/Norfolk:Groom, Coleman, Kemp, Barnard, Alden,Blomfield,Smith,Howes,Knight,Kett,Fryston
Lincolnshire:Clements, Woodend


Offline Annie65115

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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #3 on: Sunday 22 November 20 16:43 GMT (UK) »
Oral family history might not be accurate, of course. Have you checked the usual resources for an6 info about your ancestors parentage?

Sheffield University has an extensive fairground and circus archive which is normally open to the public. It’s currently shut but will one day reopen, with any luck.
Bradbury (Sedgeley, Bilston, Warrington)
Cooper (Sedgeley, Bilston)
Kilner/Kilmer (Leic, Notts)
Greenfield (Liverpool)
Holyland (Anywhere and everywhere, also Holiland Holliland Hollyland)
Pryce/Price (Welshpool, Liverpool)
Rawson (Leicester)
Upton (Desford, Leics)
Partrick (Vera and George, Leicester)
Marshall (Westmorland, Cheshire/Leicester)

Offline oldfashionedgirl

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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #4 on: Monday 23 November 20 09:33 GMT (UK) »
Thank you everyone for your ideas, they have given me food for thought.
I have his birth certificate which has a blank for father. My Nan, born 1912, told me the story. His mother went away to give birth to him.
Interesting other people on Ancestry obviously don’t know this as he claimed parentage to the man his mother later married and recorded on the census that he was born where he lived all his life.

But his birth certificate tells the truth.
In my experience so far there is often a grain of truth in family stories, it just takes a bit of time to work it out from the embellishments and distortions  :)

Thanks again to all.

Offline Girl Guide

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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #5 on: Monday 23 November 20 09:41 GMT (UK) »
Personally I would take family stories with a pinch of salt.  ::)

My mother always said that her grandfather was a twin, he wasn't.  I proved that later when I researched her family.  Two boys and a girl all born in different years.

Some family stories do indeed prove to be correct, others are myths that have grown over the years. A bit like Chinese whispers, the information becomes distorted or embellished as it gets passed on.
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Offline Ruskie

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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #6 on: Monday 23 November 20 09:45 GMT (UK) »
Have you considered taking a DNA test? You might find you have useful matches which may indicate who the father could have been.

I think this is the sort of story which is not likely to have been made up, as it is likely to have been considered shameful to earlier generations, with the woman getting the blame no doubt. I don’t think the story is far fetched at all.  :)

The only reason I can think that someone might tell that story if it was not true, may be because the girl had more than one partner and she did not know which of them the father was, or she may have been protecting the father for any number of reasons.

Just my thoughts on this query.

Good luck with your search.

Offline River Tyne Lass

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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #7 on: Monday 23 November 20 10:25 GMT (UK) »
Have you seen any details which may have been recorded on any baptism too?
I might also want to look for any local bastardy orders.  And I would definitely recommend going down the DNA route.  A free tree can be put up on Ancestry and you only have to pay for DNA. 

There is often truth, I believe, in family stories.  Alternatively, if this was a made up story it might be wondered about reasons for cover up.  Perhaps they did not want to name a real Father.  In such cases, it might have been that the Father was gentry or some higher level person and it might have been the woman's word against theirs.  I would imagine that in those days the word of a higher up person might have been believed rather than that of a servant, say.   I think it might have been too daunting and upsetting to take on being branded a liar and facing public outrage.  Also, I think it was possible at one point to be locked up if you were an unmarried Mother - perhaps in an asylum.  Some unmarried Mothers ended up in asylums for life, I have heard. So perhaps another reason to keep quiet and perhaps blame it on someone who it would have been highly difficult to trace and charge - therefore it might have been an easier way out to blame it on a traveller.  Awful to think, but incest may have happened in those days too.  Another reason perhaps for a cover up story in this type of scenario.  Not that I am suggesting this in this case.
However, I would just say keep an open mind - the story that was passed down may be true but this may also have been a cover up.
Good luck with this.  Please let us know if you have any success.  It might give hope to others with a similar ancestor story.
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Re: Are there records of travelling fairs in England around 1860 ?
« Reply #8 on: Monday 23 November 20 10:44 GMT (UK) »
I recall a friend and I helping someone who had a similar story. The person was part of a fair that travelled around the Midlands and Welsh borders. We managed to find various snippets from newspapers, including finding a report of a court case naming the person. It was  a few years ago now and I can't really remember the details.

Checking on newspapers  - not just local ones - and doing a DNA test, as suggested, are probably the best options.

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