Monday, 5 July 2021

The Turns Of Fate In Life And Links To South Africa

 Tom was working on another late shift last night and in the evening I settled down to watch the film Yesterday. It was about of a young man who is an aspiring singer song writer, was involved in an accident and woke up to find no one could remember The Beatles. It was funny and sad in places and I really enjoyed it. I loved the John Lennon twist which I won't give away but it set me thinking. Fate is a very funny thing, choices we make in our lives alter the course of life for everyone. Not just the course of lives now but for generations, forever. It is a bit of a scary thought really. 

I have thought often when I've been researching my family tree how the action of one particular person, led to them meeting someone and marrying and having children. There is a line of real daredevils in our family. As a distant cousin I made contact with on Ancestry several years ago said "Our family were once seriously rich, but unfortunately we got the wayward son, who then went on to produce a line of wayward sons ever since!" Although I laughed it is true, chances and risks were taken all the way along but while researching I discovered the daring went back before this one wayward son. 

The "wayward son", who I will write about in a future post, was the son of a woman who I think changed our family history most, by one mistake she made, my 4x Great Grandmother Judith. Judith was born where I live now in 1791. She was Christened in the church I walk by all the time, five minutes walk from my house, and a ten minute walk from the hospital my four children were born in. When I moved here at 18 years old to start my nursing training I had no idea I had any links with the area at all. Part of a London borough now, it was a tiny village  in 1791. Judith's family were very comfortably off, her grandfather was a barber and wigmaker in the village with apprentices and her father owned a farm and had two homes. Carshalton ponds I take Scarlett to to feed the ducks were there then, maybe Judith and her eight brothers and sisters fed the ducks there too. Here is an engraving of the pond in 1806 when Judith would have been 15 years old. 

However when Judith was 20 something happened which changed her life forever. Although unmarried she became pregnant and gave birth to a little girl called Emma. Despite the family being quite well off she went to the parish and named a man from nearby Mitcham as the father to force him to pay upkeep. (Good for you Judith!) He was a much older man who was married with a son and his occupation was given as a fencing master, someone who taught fencing apparently, and a Captain in "His Majesty's Land Service". I suppose that must mean he was a Captain in the army. He sounds like a bit of a dashing character but seemed to totally abandon Judith with her little girl. At first I thought Judith's family must have abandoned her too but over the months I have discovered clues which point to the fact that they didn't. 

Somehow, and I think we may have found out how but that is another story, Judith ended up in Simons town South Africa and married a young naval officer, 6 years her junior, from a very well to do family from Nottingham, who was stationed there. My 4x Great Grandfather Samuel Rogers. She had five children, one dying in infancy and in that small British community it appears they were a happy young family. Sadly for poor Judith, although she had found happiness in the end, it was not to last. She died at the age of 39 leaving, a young husband and four young children, the youngest only four years old. An obituary in the local paper dated the 30th March 1831 hints at the sadness. "Died at Simon’s Town on the 12th March, my dear wife Judith Rogers (Born Sprules) aged 37. Respected and regretted by her friends, and leaving four children and myself to lament so afflicting a bereavement."

I really wanted to know what happened to Emma, her little daughter born in 1812 and was delighted to find there was a happy ending. Judith had a younger brother called James who married a young woman called Lucy. They appeared to not have had any children and took little Emma on as their own. When Emma married in 1839, James was listed as her father on her marriage certificate and he was witness at the wedding. Did she ever know James and Lucy were not her real parents, I wonder.  Emma and her husband emigrated to Australia in 1857 with five young children in tow, what a daring move that was! There are now generations of family in Australia, distant relatives, all living their lives, just as our family is, because of that one event in Judith's young life. If only she could have known. 

It's a lovely morning here today and although I have to work, later on when I walk the dogs I may take a stroll down to the church were Judith was Christened and spent so much of her young life and think of her. Have a wonderful day everyone what ever you are doing. xx

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