Sadly, these wordless borrowers are usually what "LLG70", author of the tartly satirical genealogy blog Barking Up the Wrong Tree, calls "clickophiles"(I call them "relative poachers") -- those who add scores -- hundreds -- even thousands of names, photos, documents, and, gawd give me strength, coats of arms to their on-line trees without actually doing any research. Their reward? Huge family trees -- full of other people's relatives, not their own.
Yesterday morning, I saw that someone had copied some of my data concerning Cicely Anne Elgie. Heart sinking, I clicked on the record to check this other member's tree. The first thing I noticed was that this person had Cicely listed as "Cicely Anne Elgie (Lady)".
Oh dear… I thought.
Cicely Anne Elgie is the elder and only sister of my husband's great-grandmother Georgiana Elgie, and she has mystified me for years. The eldest of the five children of my husband's great-great-grandfather, solicitor Charles William Elgie, Cicely was born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire due to her father's peripatetic career -- the result, I'm beginning to suspect, of being one step ahead of the bill collector. (CWE spent some time in the Debtors' Prison for London and Middlesex - probably the White Cross-Street Prison in St Luke's, London in the mid 1840s when Cicely was about seven and my husband's great-grandmother Georgiana was about five.)
Cicely's mother (my husband's great-great-grandmother) Harriett Hammond Elgie née Croose died in 1853 when Cicely was fourteen. The family was living in Camberwell then, south of the Thames - Charles had been out of debtors' prison for at least three years. Five years later, Cicely, now age nineteen, was the informant for the death of her paternal grandfather (my husband's 3xgreat-grandfather) retired solicitor Matthew Elgie -- she had evidently been helping care for him at his residence in Westbury-on-Severn, Gloucestershire.
Then Cicely disappeared.
No sign of her nor of her sister Georgiana in the 1861 census, although Georgiana was the informant for her father Charles William Elgie's death in 1862 in Newnham, Gloucestershire the following year.
Some time ago, I stumbled across a marriage record for Cicely and the only reason I paid any attention was because her late father's name appears on the parish register. This was because she was listed as "Cicely Vivian" marrying a Ewart Simon Mounsey, yet another solicitor, in Brighton, Sussex on May 9th, 1876. (By this time, all three of Cicely's brothers were dead, all before the age of 40.) Cicely had evidently been married before, but when? And to whom?
I spent years doing searches through FreeBMD, FreeReg, FamilySearch, Ancestry, and Find My Past, trying different spellings for "Cicely", "Elgie", and "Vivian". I combed through censuses and overseas marriage records. Nothing.
Which brings me back to yesterday morning. Next to "Cicely Anne Elgie (Lady)" on the stranger's tree was a link to the 1871 census which I followed with faint hopes.
What I found about halfway down, living at 15 Walton Place in Chelsea, is someone the Ancestry transcribers show as "Andy Vivian", a widow and a "lady".
This doesn't mean she was "Lady Vivian". It means that she wasn't working for a living, or was the wife or daughter of someone who didn't have to work for a living. We know her father worked, so that leaves the elusive late Mr Vivian.
A closer look and… Well, maybe that could be "Cecily". The birthplace and age match hers. There was also a surprise for me -- a six-year-old named George Vivian, "Son", born in London. A quick check of FreeBMD brought up a George Vivian whose birth was registered in Marylebone in 1864. I was feeling a little over-excited and was about to order the certificate when it occurred to me I could try checking the London Births and Baptisms database at Ancestry.
Again, the designation "Gentleman" doesn't put George in with the nobility; for example, my husband's great-great-grandfather William Goddard was a master hairdresser, but appears in documents after his retirement as "gentleman". I still don't know where and when George Senior was born, nor do I know what happened to George Junior. There are two or three George Vivians in subsequent censuses, but none of them quite fit. I suspect I'm failing to find Cecily's son for much the same reason I'm failing to find her first marriage -- that the records are Scottish, Irish, or overseas.
But hey! For years, the name of Cicely's first husband has eluded me and now, by George, I've got it! I'm confident that the other questions will find answers -- and that three more questions will pop up for every question answered. Because that's how family history rolls.
Oh, and thanks must go to that other Ancestry member who turns out to be connected in some way to Cecily's second husband Ewart Simon Mounsey who became her widower when she died in 1879 when she was probably not quite forty. She was living in Beulah Hill, Norwood, not far from where her sister Georgiana Wolff née Elgie was living with her young family. Cicely was buried in Norwood Cemetery where Georgiana eventually joined her in 1903 at the age of 62. As far as I know, Georgiana is the one Elgie child to eventually have grandchildren. I don't know why she lived into her sixties, while none of her siblings made it to their forties, but without her, my husband would not be here, nor would my children.
And without Ewart's distant relative, who posted my documents to their tree yesterday, heaven only knows when I would have discovered that entry in the 1871 that helped me fill in a few more of Cicely's lost years.
Now. If I could only find where Cicely and Georgiana got to in 1861….