As an adoptee, I have concentrated my research over the years on my paternal adoptive line, although I have done a fair bit of work on my maternal adoptive line and just a small amount of research on my birth lines.
This is about an ancestor from my maternal birth line: my great-grandfather, Albert Joseph Parrant. He was born in 1876 in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, and, according to family lore, he cycled all the way from there to South Wales to look for work in the mines. His first marriage was to Sarah Ann Davies but, just one month later, she sadly died due to a pregnancy-related condition and the baby did not survive either. By the end of that same year, Albert Joseph had married again, this time to his late wife’s sister, Margaretta Davies. More sadness ensued as she gave birth to their daughter but the baby (also Margaretta) died two days later. Just a fortnight after the baby’s death, Margaretta succumbed to pneumonia and died.
Albert Joseph picked himself up, dusted himself down and married yet again, this time to Jane Morris. They were married in the Register Office in Llandovery although both previous marriages had taken place in the Tabernacle Chapel there. He served as a Driver in the RFA during WW1 and came home safely from France.
Then we fast-forward to 1920, when we find Albert Joseph being granted Poor Person status, under the Rules of the Supreme Court 1914, in order to prosecute a suit for divorce. A year later, we have Albert Joseph’s divorce petition. Divorce is not a laughing matter by any means, and the sad result was that even though Albert Joseph was given custody of their five young children, he couldn’t possibly manage on his own in those days and they were placed in to a children’s home for a while. However, the printed divorce petition can be looked at in a far more light-hearted way, and here are two paragraphs from it:
That on the 2nd day of February 1919 at Hope Street, Pontardulais aforesaid the said Jane Parrant committed adultery with Eli Williams of Pontardulais in the County of Glamorgan.
That on the 15th day of October 1919 the said Jane Parrant committed adultery with the said William Pugh in a railway carriage of a train travelling between Gowerton and Dunvant in the said County of Glamorgan.
We would love to know who spotted this dastardly deed on a moving train – the ticket collector, a signalman, another passenger, perhaps? And who did they tell – the stationmaster, the police, poor old Albert Joseph? The story should have ended there, with us feeling sorry for cuckolded Albert Joseph who had to go through the humiliation of being granted ‘poor person’ status and then the divorce courts. However ...
I haven’t done any work on this line for quite a few years so, whilst preparing this article, I opened up the tree in my family history software to check that everything I had quoted was factually correct. It linked up to Ancestry, and there were Albert Joseph’s WW1 Service Records – 36 pages of them! These had gone online since the last time I worked on Albert Joseph, and it was exciting to find such a big bundle. Contained therein were no less than three letters to the RFA Records Office in Woolwich from three different single ladies, during 1919, asking for the whereabouts of 112910 Driver A Parrant! There was also a letter to the same office from the aforementioned Mrs Jane Parrant. It was clearly in reply to a letter she had received, and although it’s quite a poor copy and difficult to read in places, it’s very easy to get the gist of what she was saying:
In reply to your letter of the 24th inst., the Officer Edwards is the one that put my husband in France, in the firing line, because I asked him to do owing to the letter I received from my husband, the time he was stationed in the Barracks in Leeds to ask me to Divorce him because he had a girl in trouble ...
This puts a different slant on the story. Jane, the wronged wife, was obviously of the mind that ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander!’ And ‘poor’ Albert had obviously been having some fun whilst stationed away from home, elsewhere in the UK. So now my next task is to try and discover whether the ‘girl in trouble’ was one of the three ladies who were looking for his address and then to see if any of them had a child in the right place at the right time. There could be a whole new branch to add to this tree very soon!