Thursday, March 25

ThursdayDrive: Who Was Fred Beckett?

Each week, Alan Burnett of News From Nowhere randomly dips into his collection of vintage postcards and investigates what comes up.

This week's treasure was by Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the Gibson Girl.

This card, however, did not feature a Gibson Girl.

It was postmarked 1903 and addressed to a Fred Beckett in Worksop (in Nottinghamshire), apparently following a visit to his mother, who'd posted the card at Gainsborough, Lincolnshire.

"Dear Fred", she wrote, "Hope you got home safe.
Send me a Program of the Bazaar when they are out.
I will do something for it with love from Mother

Grab your coffee and come along with me
to find the answer to Alan's burning question:

Who was Fred Beckett?
~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

UK censuses reveal that in 1901, 16 yr-old Frederick E. Beckett was a student and boarder (street address not given) in St Cuthbert's College District, Worksop.

St. Cuthbert's wasn't a college per se, but a boarding school for 13-18 yr olds. Even though the census data was two years old, we can assume Fred was still there in 1903.

The census gave "Oughty Bridge, Yorks" [Yorkshire] as his birthplace. The correct spelling is Oughtibridge (or Oughtybridge), and it's a village near Sheffield, Yorks.

Because "Fred (or Frederick) Beckett" is a rather common name in the UK, Oughtibridge and the middle initial "E" would be the keys to tracking "our" Fred.

In the 1891 census, he was a 6-yr-old at home with his parents, John and Catherine Beckett, at 33 Elmore Road, Nether Hallam, a "borough" of Sheffield, Yorks, much like Brooklyn or Manhattan is to New York City.

John's occupation was "commercial traveller", and he and Catherine were born in Sheffield, as were all of Fred's siblings. Apparently Fred was the only child to enter the world in Oughtibridge, in the Dec Quarter (Oct-Nov-Dec) of 1884.

Luckily for us, Fred's older brother, John Smith Beckett, was still living at home in 1891. By 1901 he had left home.

In the 1911 census, Fred is shown as a 27-yr-old boarder in the home of widow Esther Jane Mortimer at 75 West St, Erith, Kent. We also learn his middle name is Ellis, that he's still single, and employed as an "engineer's fitter" (whatever that was).

Notice Frederick Ellis Beckett's birthplace is Oughtybridge!

(Click image to view full-size.)

At 27, a fellow is probably thinking about marriage, right?

The next stop was the BMD (Birth Marriage Death Index), which showed that in the Mar Q 1916 (Jan-Feb-Mar) a Frederick E. Beckett had wed Annie J. Lait in St Olave's Bermondsey, part of Southwark, London.

Kent being not far from London, Fred could've moved to London in the 5 years since the census...

Good thing I didn't assume this Fred was our Fred and stop there. A bit more digging revealed Annie Jane Lait had married Frederick Ernest Beckett.

A private named F.E. Beckett had entered the army in Mar 1916, survived combat in France and mustered out in 1919. But his post-service home address was Camberwell, a section of Southwark, meaning this was also "Fred Ernest", Annie's husband.

Frederick Ellis Beckett wasn't listed among the deceased
in the BMD where was he?

Well, ever since Oct 1919, farming in Canada of course.
(I didn't see that one coming either!)
Specifically, on R.R. No. 2, Puslinch, Ontario,
with his brother, John Smith Beckett.

Below, Fred Beckett returns to Canada on 11 Nov 1927 after
visiting England. He sailed from Southampton on 3rd Nov.
The passenger manifest is two side-by-side pages, so
I had to split them up. Click to view full-size.

He went to England on the Empress of Australia, sailing
from Quebec on 31st Aug 1927, arr Southampton 7th Sep.

His address while in England was to be
"c/o Mrs. Beckett, The Haven, Flamborough, England".

Flamborough is a village on the coast of East Yorkshire.
I'm assuming "Mrs. Beckett" was Fred's mother Catherine,
then 77, and this was the last time he would see her.

Fred's brother, John Smith Beckett, had emigrated to Canada
in 1903, landing at Montreal from Liverpool on 5th June.

The following year, on 16 Nov 1904, he married Mary Minerva
Ruddell in Wellington Co, Ontario. He was 28 and she 19.
The marriage record stated he was the son of John Beckett
and "Kate" (Catherine) Smith. By 1911, John and Mary were
parents of two children, Frederick Joseph and Catherine.

As of 1927, "our" Fred Beckett had never married.

See the front of the postcard that inspired this post.

More of Alan Burnett's delightful musings.

Have a great day!

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pinkpackrat said...

Fabulous!!! You have a real knack for time travel and I hope this crowd knows they are dealing with the best genealogist west of the MIssissippi:-)

Thanks for the intro to News from Nowhere too-- I love it and I'm a fan. I'll be waiting to see what pops up on both your blogs. Should be fun.

Alan Burnett said...

This is absolutely stunning : both in terms of the quality and depth of the research and the story that emerges. You have taken a routine post, used it as the foundation, and constructed an amazing edifice upon it. What is quite remarkable is the way the story as it eventually emerges has so many real-life parallels. Oughtibridge is a village I pass through on an almost weekly basis when I visit my son who is at University in Sheffield and my fathers' occupation was as "an engineers' fitter" (fitter being the generic term for a mechanic in Britain). Thanks for the links and for the nice words ... but most of all thanks for bringing the story to life.

JamaGenie said...

ppr: Ah, shucks (she says, blushing)!

Alan, you are *most* welcome! I barely scratched the surface of the stories that postcard holds! For instance, Fred had 5 siblings. We know he and John went to Canada, but there's a good chance descendants of the rest are in the Sheffield area and have photos of Fred and family. Also, I'd love to know if Fred's mother retired to Flamborough, or was only there on holiday when Fred came over. Questions! Always questions! ;)

Nicola Roberts said...

As Fred's 1st cousin 3 times removed this was fascinating stuff! I read the comment you left for me on Ancestry and on a whim decided to type in Fred's name to do a google search and came up with all this. Thanks for all the additional info. I have a photo of Fred's uncle, James Smith Beckett, which may give you some idea of how he looked, but I wasn't sure how to add that here.

JamaGenie said...

Hello, Nicola! As I said in the comment to Alan Burnett (who has the postcard from Fred's mother), I couldn't include everything I found in this post. I'll be happy to share the rest with you, and maybe you can answer some of the questions I couldn't.

As for the photo of James Smith Beckett, I don't know of any way you can add it here, but I'll be happy to, with your permission of course. My email is JamaGenie(at)gmail(dot)com. Looking forward to talking to you!

Nora Johnson said...

Congrats on all this stunning research and information! I'm quite speechless (a first!!)

Have a Happy Postcard Friendship Friday & a wonderful weekend!


thesandman said...

Only you my friend could make me become so engrossed and care so much about someone that I have no idea who they were or why I should care. AS usual a great job of research and presentation.

theSandman said...

PS.. I did something I very rarely do. I re tweeted you :-)

JamaGenie said...

Dan, a compliment from you is high praise indeed. And that you re-tweeted this post...wowwwww. Thanks!