My Christmas New Year Challenge (Part Three) – Grave concerns

One of the more unusual resources which family historians can make use of are the graves where ancestors were buried. During the last few months, I have been able to solve a couple of genealogical puzzles by identifying other occupants of family graves. In the first instance, I had been told that the family “knew” that a particular surname was connected to the family, but my client only knew of this information as a family story, so had no source or any other knowledge to explain the connection, or if indeed the family story was correct. Having identified the grave number from an index in the Local Studies Library, I called into the Bereavement Services office, where the staff found the necessary information I had requested, and then proceeded to locate the names of the other people buried the family grave.  Sure enough, two of the occupants bore the “mystery” name and from that snippet of information, it was possible to identify the connection, to the satisfaction of the client.

My two blogs earlier this week about Ivor Tempest Greenwood noted that various members of the family emigrated to Australia. Another family group of emigrants were identified and the final connection was made by investigating the identity of the one year old child who was buried in the same grave as Ivor Tempest Greenwood.

This child was the second burial in the family grave, and took place on 16 December 1902. The first burial which took place on 20 September 1900, was William Harper, a compositor, the husband of Sarah Harper nee Bruncker, and Ivor’s grandfather. At the time of William’s burial, his last address was given as The Asylum Lancaster, which is supported by the evidence of his whereabouts given in the 1891 census. Ivor was buried on 19 September 1914 and the final burial was that of William’s wife Sarah on 10 September 1928.

The child, John William Dray, was born too late to be recorded in the 1901 census, his birth was registered in the last quarter of 1901. The burial register provided the address where he had been living. By searching for the address, rather than by name, it was possible to find a John and Louisa Dray recorded at the same address. Knowing Sarah Greenwood nee Harper had a sister Louisa, it was a simple task to find her marriage in 1897 to John Dray. The church registers are available in the West Yorkshire collection on Ancestry, and the details confirmed that Louisa Harper was indeed the daughter of William a compositor.  John William Dray was Ivor Tempest Greenwood’s cousin.

This family sailed from London to Australia on 8 May1914 on board the Osterley arriving on  22 June. John Dray served in the Australian Imperial Force, enlisting on 5 November 1914. His attestation papers confirm that he had also served in the Duke of Wellington’s regiment, the regiment in which men from Keighley and the Worth Valley served.

It was only by investigating the identity of John William Dray that it was possible to identify another branch of the extended Greenwood/Harper/Bruncker family who made the long trip to Brisbane.

This week’s collection of blogs has given examples of how various strands of evidence can be used to put together a family story. Now all I can hope is that someone in Australia might be able to pick up the trail and identify any living relatives of Private Ivor Tempest Greenwood.



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