Spreading A Bit Of Christmas Cheer

25th December 2015

Spreading A Bit Of Christmas Cheer

2015 will go down as the year when the Money Carer Foundation started to trace family for those of our clients who have no known relatives. Since February, we have been working in partnership with the genealogists at Anglia Research and, thanks to their expertise, we have traced kin for around twenty of our clients, reuniting them with sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews and in some cases with the children that they have lost touch with. In this article Eileen Butcher shares an especially heartwarming story for Christmas.

photo of Eileen Butcher

Eileen Butcher of Anglia Research

In the run-up to Christmas, the Money Carer Foundation asked me to trace the sons of Tony Jones, an elderly man who is very ill. 

Mr Jones has dementia. Hardly anything was known about him, other than his birth date, that he had two sons and was thought to be separated from his wife.

With no names for the wife or the sons, no information about where Mr Jones came from, and one of the most common surnames in the country to contend with, I knew that this was going to be a difficult case. I also knew that any information is better than none, and that you can make the smallest piece of information work very hard for you.

There were four Anthony Joneses born on the correct date in 1928. I discounted one from Manchester and one from Birmingham, and seriously considered the other two, which were from Lewisham and the Isle of Wight. As Mr Jones was living in a care home in Dagenham, I thought the birth in Lewisham was likely to be the one I was looking for.

I then searched for marriages for Anthony Jones from 1945 to 1965, when he would be between the ages of 17 and 37, the most typical age range for men to marry during the mid-20th century.

Of course, a search like this, with the surname Jones, throws up a huge number of marriages, so I restricted my investigation to the London area. This led me to 15 possibilities. I then turned to the birth indexes and input the surname Jones with each bride’s maiden name to see which of the 15 marriages had produced just two sons.

The most likely marriage was in Dagenham in 1951 and the two sons from this marriage were Graham and Kevin. I managed to trace a possible address for Graham Jones but was still unsure as to whether I'd found the right family.

If you plan to contact someone about their very ill, long-lost father, you had better be 100% certain that you’ve found the right person. I decided to check whether Graham’s mother (Mr Jones’ ex-wife) had any more distant relatives that I could track down to confirm my research.

Her maiden name was Glassey, which was great news for me because it’s an unusual surname. Then I hit a run of uncommon names as her sister Agnes Glassey married a man with an unusual name and her daughter Rebecca went on to marry a Mr Greenwood. As a result it was relatively easy to trace her, and also to be certain that she was the cousin of Graham and Kevin Jones.

When I spoke with Rebecca on the phone, she confirmed that her uncle was Anthony Jones and that after his divorce he had moved back to be with his family on the Isle of Wight.

At last I could sure which was the correct birth record. But Rebecca had more to tell me. As well as the contact details for her cousins, one of whom lives in the USA, she told me that they were trying to trace their father through the Salvation Army.

It’s not often that you work on a case where both sides of a scattered family are desperately trying to re-establish contact. And, in fact, when I first spoke to Graham Jones, he thought I was calling from the Salvation Army, rather than working on his father’s behalf, through the Money Carer Foundation.

This was a family split by divorce when the children were young, where contact with the father was intermittent, where people moved and where records, like relatives, became scattered. It was wonderful to be able to bring them back together again.

(For reasons of confidentiality, clients' names and other identifying features have been altered.)

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