11 or 13 Children?
Ask almost anyone in the family, in the last 50 years of the 20th Century, how many children Charles & Emily Maria Marks had and the answer would have been 11. That is 4 daughters and 7 sons.
I too, (Brian Marks), always thought my Dad was one of 11 children. Or put another way, my Dad plus 4 Aunts and 6 Uncles, making 11.
Since starting our research, Janet & I have had 3 people say to us, unbeknown to one another, that there weren't 11 but 13 children.
The 3 who said this were: -
All three were so certain and having told us independently, we felt there may well be something in what they said.
The last of the three with whom we had this conversation was June in the spring of 2000. Of course, it was far too late to ask Charles & Emily or even any of the 11 children, who had all passed away by this time.
So, here was a challenge for two intrepid family research nutcases! Janet and I put on our thinking caps and considered how to solve this family riddle. Charles, the Father, died in the spring of 1918 aged 47, so the absolute latest a 12th or 13th child could have been born, obeying the laws of human biology, was early 1919. That was 81 years before we were now sitting down to try and solve the riddle.
Clearly, if there were children nos.12 and 13, they died as babies or very young children otherwise there would be photographs and family memory of them.
We therefore decided that we would have to rely on the official birth and death records as opposed to research within the family.
The first thing we did was to look at the birth certificates for all of the 11 known children. This revealed that the first child, Emily Sophia, (Auntie Em from Margate), had her birth registered in Kensington whilst all of the others were registered in Paddington. We knew that Charles & Emily Maria moved home several times as their family expanded, but they never moved far.
Indeed Emily Maria was still living in the Paddington area, when she died in 1951, just a short walk and a few streets away from all of their family homes from the time they married until Charles died in 1918.
To search the official birth and death records for the entire Country was out of the question and probably unnecessary. We reasoned that we should restrict our search to babies born in Paddington and Kensington.
Before we started our search, it occurred to us that any of the known 11 children could have been a twin or multiple birth. Luckily for us, with twin births and multiple births, the time of birth is entered on each birth certificate. We checked with descendants of all 11 and none had a time of birth on their certificates; so twins and multiple births were ruled out.
We were therefore looking in the records for births excluding those not possible because Emily Maria was pregnant at the time with one of the 11 known children.
You should know that when you research the official birth, marriage and death records, you can only look at the registers - not the certificates themselves with their wealth of information. A typical register for a birth looks like this:
YEAR QUARTER NAME DISTRICT FOLIO PAGE 1874 SEP VEALE Emily Maria Clifton 6a 71
This register entry is in fact the birth entry for Emily Maria Marks née Veale, my Grandmother and the Mother of all the children in question. If you think you have found the right entry you can then apply and pay for a copy of the certificate. Only when the Postman delivers it do you see all the details which includes the Father's and Mother's names, revealing if it is the right one or the wrong one. You then say, "Whoopee" or something unbecoming.
A death register entry looks almost identical to a birth register except that it gives the age at death.
So, to recap, we were looking at all births registered in Kensington and Paddington between 1892, when Charles & Emily Maria married and 1919, just after Charles died. We then wanted all the deaths of young children in the same period in the same registration districts. A process of elimination would then produce a list of babies, (born when Emily Maria was not pregnant with one of the known 11 children), who subsequently died young. This last list would be our candidates for possible children 12 and 13.
In July 2000 we went up to the Family Record Centre, (the modern equivalent of Somerset House), and started heaving heavy registers around and getting sore eyes as we made a long list. Later, back at home, we selected 2 births as our first possibilities based on what I have said above plus the likelihood of Charles and Emily Maria naming their child as shown. The certificates were ordered and delivered on 16th August 2000. One was wrong but the second baby's parents were shown as Charles & Emily Maria Marks formerly Veale.
Bingo, child no.12!
Here is Charles Henry's birth certificate : -
For completeness, we then applied for the baby's death certificate, which arrived on 27th September 2000 and confirmed, rather harrowingly, that we had found the right child.
So, Charles & Emily's 2nd child was in fact Charles Henry born on 22nd July 1893. Charles Henry only lived for 38 days and died on 28th August 1893. The reason for his death is given as, premature birth and marasmus. A medical dictionary defines marasmus as: gradual wasting of the tissues, owing to insufficient or unassimilated food, occurring especially in infants. It is not always possible to discover the cause. We wondered if Charles Henry had been born today, with all the medical advances, whether he would have survived.
So, Rene, Lil and June had already been partially vindicated. Surely, we thought, if there were 12 children then surely there was a 13th somewhere, to fully vindicate the trio?
We selected other possible candidates for child no.13 from our list and applied for certificates. We drew a blank every time. We selected more possible candidates and drew even more blanks. We were wracking up a long list of blanks and also, frankly, wracking up more than a few bob on certificate fees.
We called a halt and went back over our research. Based on the dates of birth of the known 12 children, we worked out again precisely when Emily Maria would have been pregnant and studied the possible births in between again.
We then discovered something we had not noticed before; the authorities had made a change to the format of the birth registers. Starting in the September quarter of 1911 onwards, they now showed the Mother's maiden name for the first time. We searched the registers from 1911 - 1919 again looking for a MARKS birth with VEALE as the Mother's maiden name in Paddington or Kensington. We drew a blank. What we now knew was that child no.13, if he or she did exist, was born before September 1911. This narrowed down our search to the period from when the parents married in 1892 until 1911. We applied for more certificates and drew more blanks.
We then thought the unthinkable. What if Emily Maria gave birth before she was married? (Sorry, I will wash my mouth out with soap). Emily Maria was married the day before her 18th birthday. We searched for VEALE registered births in Kensington and Paddington for the years 1890, 1891 and 1892 before their marriage, with a corresponding death later. We drew a blank, no such births or deaths registered. Then we offered up a silent "sorry" for even thinking about it in the first place.
So where could we go from here because it looked like we were drawing a blank? What other possibilities were there that perhaps we had overlooked? Some brain scratching and reading turned up only three possibilities. (i) A late miscarriage, (ii) a premature birth, and (iii) a still-birth. In the early 1900's did any or all of these three events have to be registered? At what stage does a miscarriage become a premature birth?
We did some research. We contacted the Still Birth & Neo Natal Death Society. We learned some facts. Firstly, it was not until 1926 that still-births had to be registered. Far too late for our period of research. Secondly, it was 1977 that saw the introduction of a certificate for the disposal of the still-born. Very clearly, the degree of regulation 100 years ago was far, far less than it is today.
We went back to obtaining birth certificates for children on our possibles list.
Finally, on Friday 31st October 2003 the certificate for the last child on our possibilities list arrived. The parents weren't Charles & Emily Maria. We had reached the stage where we had obtained all certificates for the possible 13th child and all had proved to be incorrect. We concluded that we had exhausted all possibilities,
So, in a nutshell, we have drawn a blank. Well, we have found child no.12 but child no.13, if he or she exists, has eluded us. Of course, we may have made a mistake. If any budding family genealogist would like our files to check and bring a fresh mind to the problem, do please get in touch.
After our 3-year project of research we decided that the time had come to stop. We would write up the notes on the family tree and do this article for the family website.
So, there definitely was a child no.12, Charles Henry and he has around 37 nephews and nieces out there amongst you.
But what of child no.13 did he / she exist? Our conclusion is that there probably was a 13th child. We think Rene, Lil and June are correct. We guess that no.13 was a miscarriage, premature and did not live, or, was stillborn. It was not until many years later that such births had to be legally reported.
Finally, a comment from a viewpoint that knows nothing about childbirth - the male viewpoint. I cannot stop myself considering Emily Maria. She had 12 children, probably 13 in 18 years from 1892 - 1909. The gaps between 7 of her children were literally 1 year and a few months. No central heating or running hot water for Emily Maria. No microwave, washing machine, tumble-dryer or fridge. No supermarket, crèche, play school, Nanny or home-help. I think I had better stop this train of thought before I get myself into deep trouble!
Progress! In 2009 the 1911 census was opened for the Public to view via the Internet and it has partially answered our question.
The 1911 census for England and Wales was taken on the night of Sunday 2 April, 1911. The count included all individual households, plus institutions such as prisons, workhouses, naval vessels and merchant vessels, and it also attempted to make an approximate count of the homeless.
In response to government concerns the 1911 census also asked additional, more specific questions to each household, about fertility in marriage and occupational data.1. Duration of their current marriage.
We searched the census and found Charles aged 40 and Emily aged 37 living at 50, Hampden Street, Paddington, London with 9 of their children ranging in age from 1 - 15. (As an aside, the census reveals that our family of 11 people were all living in just 3 rooms).
When you view the census on line you have access to 2 pages. The first page is a transcription and the second is a scan of the original page completed in Charles' handwriting nearly a century ago.
But what of the all-important 3 questions above? Here is an extract from the page completed in 1911 by Charles:
Note in particular columns 7,8 and 9. There you have it, 13 children born alive, 11 living and 2 who have died.
So, Charles Marks in 2009 at the age of 138 has answered the question for us in his own handwriting!
All we have to do now is trawl the official birth and death records to locate child No.13. Sounds easy doesn't it? Uuuumm Watch this space but don't hold your breath!
~ oOo ~