Thursday, 10 May 2018

My Grandmother Charlotte Blakey and her Bigamist mother

Charlotte was born on the 14th of May 1889 in Preston, a small village north of Hull her parents were Joseph Fothergill Blakey and Maria Dalton, they were married on the 13th of November 1887 in Hull. Her father Joseph was originally from Leeds but was employed as a postman in Hull at the time of his marriage, when Charlotte was about 2 years old Joseph decided to leave his wife and child and return to Leeds, on the 1891 census he is recorded as living with his mother and other siblings in Holbeck near Leeds, he was then aged 27 and an unemployed postman. His wife Maria and daughter Charlotte were living in 1891 next-door to her parents at 49 Townside Road, Preston. I don’t know whether Maria expected Joseph to return or send for her to move to Leeds or whether their short marriage had been so incompatible that they no longer wanted to be together, in those days a divorce was only available for the rich. What I do know is that Maria eventually met and fell in love with someone else, that person being George Curtois who was a green grocer and had a shop on Porter Street in Hull when Maria first met him. In 1893 Maria became pregnant with George Curtois’s child; because she was still legally married to Joseph Blakey she was unable to marry George. On the 13th of September 1893 she gave birth to a daughter who was named Georgina, on her birth certificate her father is recorded as being George Blakey (a slight deviance from the truth), occupation grocer and her mother Maria Curtois Blakey formerly Dalton, they were residing at 31 Porter Street, probably above the grocery shop. By the spring of the following year Maria was once again pregnant, this time George must have wanted the child to legally have his surname because on the 27th of September 1894 George Cave Curtois and Maria Blakey were officially married in the Register Offices of Hull. At the time of her second marriage Maria would have just turned 30 but her age on the marriage certificate is recorded as being 36, the same age as George, she is also recorded as being a widow which is also false because Joseph Fothergill Blakey was still alive and living in Leeds. I can’t blame Maria for this deceit and her bigamist marriage, she obviously hadn’t heard anything from her first husband for many years and was about to give birth to the second child of George Curtois, if she had been found out and accused of bigamy she could have received a large fine or a prison sentence. On the 17th of December 1894 she gave birth to a son who was named after his father, George Curtois. Three years later, just before young George’s third birthday his father George  died of consumption, he was only 39 years old and at the time of his death they were living at 29 Buckingham Street, Hull and George had been a master grocer. By the time of the 1901 census Maria and her children had moved to 15 Ellis Street were Maria is recorded as being a widow living on her own means, her age is recorded as being 32 when she was in fact now 36, living with her were daughter Georgina Curtois aged 8, son George aged 6 and Charlotte Blakey aged 11 and recorded as being a niece, (it seems that Maria was still trying to cover up her past). Maria also had a boarder residing at her address, the 29 year old James C. Smith who was employed as a labourer at the Engine works. On the 11th of June 1903 Maria once again entered into a bigamist marriage with this selfsame James Coy Smith, this time Maria gives her age as being 33 when she was in fact 38, just less than a year later on the 21st of May 1904 Maria Smith died of consumption, her age is recorded as 33, she was in fact 39, her daughter Charlotte was 15, Georgina 10 and George only 9. Apparently Joseph Blakey received notification of Maria’s death and turned up one day by his sister-in-law Alice Dalton asking for information about his daughter Charlotte, Alice felt that he had left it a bit late to be showing concern for his daughter and told him that Charlotte had died. Joseph doesn’t seem to have remarried, in 1901 he was living in Armley near Leeds with a housekeeper and an adopted son called Percy Siddle, aged 2, Joseph’s occupation was painter. 
 I don’t know who looked after Charlotte and her siblings after her Mother’s death, possibly her aunt, but 5 years later she married Robert Strickland and they moved into their own little house, number 7 Lauriate Avenue, close by to the newly built Alexandra Dock where Robert was employed by the Hull and Barnsley Railway company as a coal tipper or heaver. 

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