A missing death

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Alex_flynn
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A missing death

Post by Alex_flynn » 01 Oct 2018 15:12

I wonder if someone out there can point me in the right direction? The story so far: My 2x great aunt Catherine Parker (always known as Kate) was born in 1887 in Ayr, Scotland. She is with the family on the 1901 census, and by 1906 she is in Belfast and marrying William Duncan (Bill). Their daughter Jeanie was born shortly after, in Belfast. In 1911 she is back with her parents in Ayr, with Jeanie (shown as Jenny), stated to be married, but no sign of husband Bill Duncan. I have census records and certificates to corroborate these events. In 1920 she marries William Cross(Bill) in Toxteth Park Register Office and she states she is a widow.
The family legend - which I have no reason to doubt - is that Bill Duncan died in a car accident, the vehicle being driven by Bill Cross (Kate's second husband). In effect Kate married the man who was responsible for her first husband's death. It's all a bit odd, and even more so, since I cannot find a matching death for Bill Duncan in Ireland, Scotland or England. his age in 1906 was shown as 21 and I have viewed, or sent for PDF copies of most of the likely death certificates, sticking to the Belfast, Ayr, or Liverpool areas. I could have missed something though.
I took a month's subs to FMP (already use Ancestry) and scoured the Newspaper archives, reasoning that a fatal car accident might merit a mention, or perhaps a report on the inquest. I tried all sorts of search terms and variations, but nothing appeared. There could of course be gaps in the years covered by the archive. I did try Scottish and Irish newspapers as well as Liverpool ones. Admit I'm no expert at newspaper searches though.
Given the dates (say 1907 - 1919) when the "accident" occurred could the vehicle have been a military one, either in the 1st WW or later in Ireland? William Duncan is a common enough name and I cannot filter him out of the numerous death matches on line.
Interestingly their daughter appears to have stayed on in Belfast, later marrying and raising a family. There is an online, fairly detailed tree on Ancestry, but messages to the owner have not been answered.
What have I missed and what could I try next? Although it is not my direct line, I am intrigued and quite keen to give this another try. I am not averse to spending a bit of cash on credits or a short subs to another research site, or buying a few more certificates, as long as I make progress! Any ideas as to what my next move should be would be very welcome.
Apologies for the length and detail of this query too.
Alex Flynn
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Blue70
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Re: A missing death

Post by Blue70 » 01 Oct 2018 16:33

Marriage and birth record images from Belfast for information, they show William as a groom:-

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/ ... 686565.pdf

https://civilrecords.irishgenealogy.ie/ ... 681341.pdf


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MaryA
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Re: A missing death

Post by MaryA » 01 Oct 2018 18:18

It's such a familiar story, albeit not the same family, where a couple were supposed to have been killed in a motor accident. This story told at a later date wasn't particularly questioned until much later years when it was realised that it was highly unlikely that a traffic incident occurred at that date. In this case the story was to cover up an adoption. There could be something being covered up - perhaps a bigamous marriage?
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Alex_flynn
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Re: A missing death

Post by Alex_flynn » 01 Oct 2018 19:09

Thank you Blue. I didn't want to add too many details as my post is long enough! Bill Duncan was indeed a Groom.
I haven't been able to find a near match for his family on the 1901 Irish census either. Though I may have narrowed the area too much by sticking with Belfast/Antrim.
Mary - do you know I have NEVER doubted the truth of the accident story! It's a thought worth considering. Auntie Kate loomed large in the early life of my mother and her sister and she appeared to be a gentle soul, always getting her words mixed up. (Maybe as a result of having lived in 3 countries?). Remember meeting her when I was a very young child and not being able to understand a word she said. The Scots/Irish/Scouse combination was too much at that stage.
Thank you both for your comments.
Just remembered, on the 1920 marriage certificate, Bill Cross was shown as a motor driver.

Alex_flynn
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Re: A missing death

Post by Alex_flynn » 19 May 2019 14:40

:? :shock: An update. Mary, you were almost spot on with your theory. Careful digging and patient research by my cousin turned up a distant relative in Australia who came up with the full story.(Yet to be verified via official documents)
My 2xgreat Aunt Kate Parker apparently left her husband and child in Belfast and 'ran off' with Bill Cross before 1914. Bill Duncan's mother looked after their child. Bill joined the Army in 1915 and was reported Missing in Action in December 1917. His hefty Army record has survived and there is included in it a harrowing testimony from a fellow soldier who saw him dying from wounds in the trenches. There are many official attempts to trace his whereabouts towards the end and after the war, and plaintive requests from his mother for the money owed as she was looking after his daughter. He was declared dead and the usual medals and plaque were issued.
The killer punch came in the sentence 'Bill Duncan didn't die in the War, he was found in Liverpool, remarried with a family'
Plus the throwaway remark ' I think it was one of your family that found him'
So both Bill and Kate married bigamously, though Kate would have every reason to believe she was a widow in 1920 when she married again.
You couldn't make it up.
Alex Flynn
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MaryA
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Re: A missing death

Post by MaryA » 19 May 2019 18:10

Thanks for the update Alex, good to know our gut instincts are often worth following up. Good luck with the evidence to support this story.
MaryA
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Names - Lunt, Hall, Kent, Ayre, Forshaw, Parle, Lawrenson, Longford, Ennis, Bayley, Russell, Longworth, Baile
Any census info in this post is Crown Copyright, from National Archives

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