Saturday, 2 March 2013

He married and ran away, She stayed, his mother, well

I have managed to get in a little research this last week or so. I started on my husband's family tree way back in 1994 - "Do mine", he said, "I don't have many relatives." Thus spake the man with his head in the sand. I discovered that his paternal grandfather was one of 9 surviving children and the tree just kept on growing. One distant relative told us that if you were connected to the Johnson family of Risca then you were related to everyone born there up to and including the second world war! Grandmother's maiden name was Johnson.
One of his Johnson ancestors gloried in the name of Gervase Benson Johnson and he was a bit of a black sheep. He married his first wife in 1899 and they have five children but by 1911 she is living with the children and he is three miles down the road in lodgings.
OH, he was in the army before he got married and he managed to get his mother to buy him out. It cost her £18 which is a heck of a lot in 1898. Anyway, in 1914 WW1 began and Gervase re-enlisted. His mother wrote and asked if she could have part of her money back please - and there is a note in his army record to say that they sent her £9. Isn't that marvellous.
At some point Gervase is in Liverpool where he meets and marries another girl and then goes off to war. She writes to the army to ask if he is ill because he hasn't written to her and she hasn't received the share of his wages that a wife should have. The army write to her and explain that the share of his money is going to his wife and children in south Wales.
After the war Gervase goes back to Liverpool and calls himself George Bennett. He marries the same girl again and they have six children and live happily ever after.
meanwhile his first wife has met someone and "married" him - well, she changed her name to his and they lived as man and wife for the rest of their lives.
He had a pretty bad start in life because his father was killed in a pit explosion when Gervase was just two years old. His mother married again and had four more children then her second husband died. She married for a third time when Gervase was off being a soldier in Malta and Crete.
I just love this family! All I need now are photographs!


Missus Wookie said...

Sounds like just one or two relatives - but the stories are fascinating. Love that she got a refund from the army!

Susanne said...

I was about to conclude that Gervase was a bit of a scoundrel - but then marrying again and again seems more common that I might have expected. Thanks for sharing - I do hope you find some photos too - I'd like a peek at Gervase.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing the stuff we find out when researching our family trees? I'm just shaking my head at some of the stuff we're learning about our families. :)

Anonymous said...

i have a photo of gervase benson johnson when he was known as gervais bennett and his daughter naomi bennet, I had been in touch with relatives of his family after researching him for my family tree,if you e-mail me your e-mail address I can send you a copy.
my great grandmother was Elizabeth George (johnson).
my e-mail address is