Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Gone for a Burton

I've been researching my family history for years and have been stuck on the person I most wanted to trace: my Great-Grandfather.

"Sandy" Chapman was my Dad's, Dad's, Dad and I knew he lived in Croydon and I knew he was in the First World War. From his army records I found he was actually called Arthur Charles Chapman... or so I thought.

I was always confused as to why I couldn't find his birth certificate or any record of his birth. Well, after some friendly online help by a stranger on Ancestry.co.uk, I have found him and it's one of those strange family secrets.

The records had showed that he had been born in 1888 (but no location). But it seems he lied about his age to join the army and he was actually born in 1890.

So I now know that his mother was Elizabeth Chapman (unmarried) who was living in a flat in Croydon. In another flat in the same house lived Arthur Burton and together they had a baby: my Great-Grandfather. They didn't get married until 1898, so his birth certificate shows him as Arthur Charles Burton Chapman. In the 1901 and 1911 census, my Great-Grandfather is shown as Arthur Charles Burton which is the main reason I could never find him. I assume that he always knew his "real" surname was Chapman and when he got married and had to produce a birth certificate he reverted to his official birth name again.

I know this is probably dull for you, but it opens up lots more research and potential stories for me.

All this does mean of course that if the Great-Great-Grandparents had bothered to marry before they had children, I would be called Stephen Burton!


  1. Not dull at all, good stuff, very fascinating indeed!

  2. Good for you for tracking that information down.

  3. Very interesting. Today we live in a world where every second of the day is documented a hundred different ways. Going back to research a differnt time in history is very interesting.

  4. Interesting stuff. I've always wanted to research my own family history, wondering if something deep and dark might be hiding in my own past.

  5. This is very cool. I've done numerous family trees throughout school, but I had to do a very extensive one for an Anthropology class I took two years ago. I traced all the way back to my Great-Great-Great Grandparents, and I never realized how big my family really is. There are so many people in my family that I have never heard of or even spoken to. Maybe someday I'll actually look into a specific person and find out more about them.

  6. Well you certainly have deep roots in South London, probably not many people in those parts that can trace back five generations in a similar area. I had a family tree hung on the wall of the house I grew up in, and it went back about twelve generations, into the 1600s. Was a source of fascination to a lot of friends who visited. Nothing massively out of the ordinary on it though, middle class through and through haha!