My parents named me Anne, and for my mother this was to name me after her grandmother, for my father it was rather a tribute to his favourite aunt, Anne/Annie, who was born in 1905, when her mother, Adelaide, was some forty years of age. Having been widowed in January 1901, and left with six children to support, Adelaide had married again in the early months of 1905 to a labourer named William Welch. Their daughter was born that same year, and two years later a son, Edward William, was added to the family, although he died in infancy. In 1909, their last child, a daughter, was born. She was baptised Evelyn Daisy, but known in the family as Daisy.
Little Edward Welch was not Adelaide’s first child to die, for a daughter with her first husband, Belinda, had died of whooping cough and convulsions when just five years of age; perhaps there was another miscarriage or stillbirth, for when questioned in the 1911 census Adelaide claimed to have had 11 children, and to have eight still living. A few years later the first World War would take yet another child, her son Albie, aged twenty.
As for her daughter Daisy there has been some confusion about her, and she has, by some researchers, been identified as the Daisy Janetta Welch, born in the Wantage registration district in 1903; however, the mother of Daisy Janetta gave her maiden name as Gripps in the civil record of her daughter’s birth, whereas Adelaide’s daughter, Evelyn Daisy (mother’s maiden name Lewis), was born six years later than Daisy Janetta. Daisy used her first name, Evelyn, when marrying as Evelyn D. Welch to Robert Bennett in the June quarter of 1928, four years after my namesake, Annie, had wed the jockey Thomas Herbert James, when Daisy was one of the witnesses. This last couple had twins, and used family names, Evelyn Joan and Albert Robert. They were both known by their second names within the family – naturally!
But back in 1911 the little girls were with their parents and three of their half-brothers, George, Albert and Thomas, in the village of Childrey; Frederick Breakspear was working and lodging nearby as an apprentice blacksmith and Adelaide’s two eldest daughters, Tryphena and Polly, were now married, with families of their own.
Adelaide was to be widowed once more in 1923, but remained part of a close extended family. The 1939 records show her staying with her daughter, Annie James, and her husband. Thomas, as well as a niece, Joyce Bennett, daughter of Evelyn Daisy, in the registration district of Wantage. Daisy and her husband, Robert, are in the same area, where he is described as a horse breaker. Adelaide’s son, Tom, living in the same row of houses as his mother, is with his wife Margaret, and working as a tent maker. Frederick, meanwhile, now a general blacksmith, is living with wife Eunice and children Phyllis May and Frederick. Only George seems to have strayed from the county, he and his wife Hilda are living in Highworth, Wiltshire, where George is described as a general labourer.
Adelaide gave her birth date as 14th April 1864 in the records of 1939, so she lived a reasonably long life for the times, dying in Childrey in 1942, when she was 78; her death was registered in Oxfordshire. My father, back from Dunkirk, attended her funeral, along with his mother, Tryphena/Alice, who had herself become a widow the year before, his brother, Jack, and sisters Maggie, Priscilla and Violet. They walked from Reading to the village of Childrey, a little over 20 miles, and then followed the horses pulling the cart to the cemetery.
My namesake, Annie, lived to be 78, just like her mother and, like her mother, was widowed for several years, although left in slightly better circumstances, for her children, who continued to live close by, were grown up by then and Thomas James, at his death in 1956, left a little over £1,200 to his wife, Annie James.