An Important Envelope
One piece of paper which Granny had tucked away, which we came across after her death, was an empty black edged envelope. It had been in my grandmother’s writing case with other seemingly insignificant bits of paper, some of which had been her mother’s. Unfortunately the envelope was empty, but even so, any family historian would understand my excitement when I saw it.
The sender was obviously in mourning, hence the black border, but why?
A comparison of the postmark and my tree showed that a great(x2) great-uncle, Joseph Gillett, had died in the first quarter of that year. His mother, Ann, was living in Bampton at the time.
What was particularly exciting, was that I hadn’t been 100% sure that I had found the correct Gillett relations for my great grandmother, Susan Gillett, as by this time she had been taken in by the family of her stepmother’s second husband, with whom she was living in 1881. The letter had been addressed to her at the address of her paternal aunt where she was presumably visiting her grandfather!
Since then, I have found the announcement of Joseph’s death in Jackson’s Oxford Journal.
Joseph died on the 13th February 1882, the letter was sent on 17th February. The collection of postmarks on the back also show the way the letter travelled – postmarked the 17th in Bampton, Oxfordshire, travelling via Brize Norton and Moreton on the Marsh on the 18th to arrive in Maugersbury, Stow on the Wold also on the 18th.
Even though it is ‘only’ an empty envelope it tells me several stories and, more than likely, I also have an example of my great great great grandmother’s handwriting.
The other unusual source which enabled me to track down who was who and how they fitted into my family was The Gillett Spoons.
Eleven at night was the start of a baker’s day, when he made the dough. He was able to sleep on the job for a couple of hours while the bread rose, then had to do the rest of the physical tasks of preparing rolls and loaves.
For this year’s favourite photograph, I have chosen the one I used as the heading picture for the blog section last year, but made no comment on it at the time. It features the same families as I described last year.
I had never really worked out how common the names of my direct ancestors actually were, although I was vaguely aware that there were several called George as it is a name I always type incorrectly, as well as some Josephs, also a nightmare for me to type!
As a primary school teacher, I wonder how many times I have reminded my students that any piece of writing needs a beginning, a middle and an end.