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Charlotte Simms, her son born out of wedlock, and who the probable father was.

As i go through my family tree i often mark down individuals for further consideration, especially if they are not priority research targets, and especially if initial research yields little. One such person was Charlotte Simms. I came across her when i was filling out the family of my 2nd great-grandfather William Simms. I found her, and marked her down with her year of birth, which was 1876 and in Brailes.

I tend not to go into huge detail on indirect descendants of my connections straight away - and, even less so, those that are daughters. These can be, and are, explored at a later date. However i came across a curious article about a young girl called Charlotte Simms who simply had to be the same person. The story, published on the 14th of April 1892, and warranted deeper investigation.

Article published 14th of April 1892

She was making a case against a young boy called Frank Bloxham that he was the father of her son born just a couple of months before on the 2nd of June 1892. This new born son was tellingly also christened Frank Henry Simms. No father had been recorded on the birth certificate.

These two youngsters had met whilst working for Mr. Elliott, a grocer, and is further proven by the census just one year before. Frank was employed as an apprentice (he would later continue on working as a grocer for the rest of his life in Leicestershire) and Charlotte was a general servant (domestic). You can see this on a copy of the census below.

1901 census

Two months later in September 1892, in according with what was published in the paper, Charlotte left "on Michaelmas" for London. Her newborn son was (probably) left in the general care of relatives - and this is demonstrated in the subsequent census of 1901 where he is found with his grandfather William (my 2nd great-grandfather). In the census of 1911 we find him, as a shop boy, staying with Uncle George Simms and his wife, Ann. No doubt because, just a few years before in 1905, his grandfather William passed away.

1911 census

The rest of his story is another post but it was intriguing that today i was able to contact one his descendants, Andrew Simms, to perhaps offer an explanation as to who the father of Frank was. This is not set in stone and Frank Bloxham could quite easily not be the father. However, circumstantially, the likelihood is that this is not the case. It is rare to bring a case forward to petty sessions and even to name a child if the said individual was not truly the father. DNA is one way to resolve this and i have advised Andrew to consider doing so as you can search your DNA matches for specific surnames in trees that they have uploaded. If Bloxham comes up - then the evidence presented above surely bares merit.

This is one of the joys of genealogical research. That you can help someone, even indirectly, clear up years of unanswered questions.

Coming up against a brick wall in genealogy can be deeply frustrating. I managed to track him down, after seeing the above post on genes reunited, and when i shared this potential nugget of information he was understandably happy.

This is what it is all about. You'd be surprised how much of a hold even events of hundred to a hundred fifty years ago can affect a family. It is the not knowing that is the hardest part.

* Interesting addendum to the 1891 census record above. You will notice there was a visiting "primitive methodist" minister by the name James Richards on those records. He had arrived in nearby Banbury by 1889 on his "circuit" and was in Brailes at the time of census. The reason i mention this is that Methodism (and certainly its primitive variant) initially had a very strong presence in Brailes and several of my family were involved. One was local preacher and another descendant ended up as a minister in Barbados! It is nice to just tie things up like this.

James Richards


  1. Quite fascinating and amazed to see you've got the Simms family tree back to 1590, well done sir!


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