One of the family stories we heard from Aunty Muriel was that after my grandmother - Bessie's daughter - died giving birth to twins, Bessie blamed my grandfather. She said he should have "behaved himself" and not allowed his wife to get pregnant again after the doctors had warned her of the consequences. Aunty Mu said there was a terrible row which ended when Grandfather lifted Bessie off her feet and carried her out into the street and then dumped her bags there too. Aunty Mu said that Bessie went across the road and was lodging there so that she could keep an eye on her grand children.
While I was searching the indexes for the marriage of Bessie's youngest daughter, also called Bessie, I found what I thought was the correct reference so I ordered the certificate.
Imagine my surprise when I realised that this was the marriage of Bessie NATHAN to a man called David Walters, who lived in a house on the opposite side of the street to my grandfather!
No one ever knew this except for Bessie and the man she married, at least not until after Bessie had died.
We don't know exactly what she was doing between her marriage to Mr Walters in 1920 and her death in 1930. We know that she died in Lambeth Hospital aged 74 and that her niece Josie registered her death under the name Bessie Elizabeth Seymour in January 1930. We also know that in February 1930 Josie and her uncle Alfred made a Statutory Declaration to correct some of the details on the death certificate. Her name was given as Bessie Elizabeth Walters and where she had been described as the widow of Guilfoyle Seymour (almost the correct name of her first husband) she was now described as the wife or widow of David Walters.
I have spent 16 years chasing this woman. I adore her. Every new little thing I find about her tells me that she was hard and perhaps unforgiving, that she was totally ambitious and her whole life was focussed on acting and the stage. She was an inveterate liar, and from what I remember of my aunt's stories she could tell a good tale. I really don't think she was very nice but by gosh she was a character and I hope that somehow I have passed on some of that strength to my own daughter.
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