Sunday, 26 April 2015

Mystery unravelling... slowly

Isn't often the way when you're looking for something, you'll find something else you'd been hunting for previously.

So was the case recently while I was snatching a few minutes on my latest challenge - trying to unmask the identity of this distinguished young man, which, I have to confess, has become a bit of an obsession lately.

The note on the back of the photograph scribbled by my late aunt, tells me he was Vincent Talbot but such a person appears not to exist - I certainly haven't been able to find him on my family tree.

When I posted the picture on Twitter, an eagle-eyed "Tweeter" noticed that the signature on the front seemed to suggest that his name was not Vincent Something but Something Vincent - perhaps C J Vincent?

If I had any military knowledge, I might be able to narrow things down a little by identifying his regiment by his uniform (to an untrained eye, his long boots suggest a cavalry connection?), particularly by his cap badge.

But although I've scanned in the photo at the highest resolution I can, there's a limit to the clarity I can achieve for comparing it against cap badge images online, though I suspect an expert would probably recognise it easily.

Meanwhile I continue to trawl whenever I can, on the off-chance I'll stumble across its like eventually.

So what's this about finding something I wasn't looking for while on the "Vincent" case, I hear you ask?

Well, it was while studying the confusing note on the back of the photograph that something occurred to me about another unsolved family mystery.

My aunt had originally written that "Vincent" was "Nell Booth's brother" but this had been crossed out in favour of "Polly's son" and then under a piece of added sticky label, I could make out "Minnie's cousin", followed by another suggestion, "Nell's son", amended to read "Polly's son... I think." (Is it any wonder I'm confused!)

Polly would have been Polly Benbow Baugh, pictured here on the right,  the younger sister of my great-grandmother Sarah Eliza Baugh.

Polly married George Augustus Talbot in 1894 and they had two daughters: Mabel Maud in 1895 and Anna Helena in 1896. I've failed to find the family on the 1901 census but George was born in Capetown in South Africa perhaps they'd been abroad visiting family during the census.

Notes on the back of the photograph on the left suggests this is Polly pictured with her "young son". Was this "Vincent" as a baby?

The problem is that I've only managed to find the births of the two girls and not of a son, though as the family had South African connections, perhaps he was born overseas.

Besides, I'm inclined to agree with my fellow Tweeter that Vincent is a surname and as such could well have no connection with my family at all!

It was then I homed in on the name Nell. Who was Nell? And where had I seen that name before?

Another ferret through my photograph collection unearthed a young woman in a wedding dress, on the reverse of which was written, "Nell, Polly's daughter."

Another conundrum. Polly's daughters were called Mabel Maud and Anna Helena... but maybe...

A quick check in my trusty Oxford dictionary of names, told me that Nell can be a shortened version of Helen or Helena. So this young woman known as Nell surely has to be Anna Helena Talbot.

That's when the penny dropped through the proverbial treacle.

If you've read this blog before, you might recall the post The Mystery of 138 photographs, in which I begin with a photograph of an unknown young woman called Nellie, taken in 1918. If you look closely at the photo on the right and compare it to the one of Nellie below, from that blog post, I think you'll agree it's the same person.

Anna Helena "Nell" Talbot married Herbert Booth in 1918, a few months after this photograph was taken, in Nantwich, Cheshire.

So, one mystery solved, at least! Now back to Mr Vincent...