I am sure all my fellow genealogists have stumbled across a black sheep or two during their research (lord knows I’ve found more than my fair share!) One ancestor of mine in particular I found especially fascinating so I thought I would share his back story with you.
First a little back story. I recently discovered I am descended from the Hildred family of Boston, Lincolnshire; known for their piano making and tuning business – having once tuned a piano for Queen Victoria!
The business was set up by George Jas Hildred and his brother Henry Hildred, who is my 3x great-grandfather. It is Henry’s son Ernest who I’m writing about today.
Ernest was born in 1871 as the eldest of ten children, and trained as a piano tuner at his father’s business.
Ernest seemed to live a fairly ordinary life working for his father, until the age of 28 when he married Hilda Catchpole. The pair had a son the following year, Colin Gerard, and moved to Islington where Ernest continued working as a piano tuner.
It all started to take a bit of a turn, however, in around 1904/1905 when Ernest was in an amateur dramatics production where he met Edith Parratt (nee Wild); a widower from Cheshire eleven years his junior.
Between 1905 and 1910, Ernest had four children with Edith: Mable (b.1905), Ida Ray (b.1906 and my direct descendant), Edwin Erle (b. 1907) and Marjorie May (b.1910). They had all of these children whilst Ernest was still married to Hilda!
I don’t know whether poor Hilda had any clue this was going on at the time, but she definitely knew by 1911 as she was living by herself with her son Colin and had listed herself as a widower (presumably to avoid any gossip about her being a single mother.) Ernest by this point had moved to Cheshire and was living with Edith and their children. Edith by this point had adopted the Hildred name and was listed as Ernest’s
wife although he and Hilda were technically still married!
Hilda and Ernest eventually divorced in 1917 and Ernest and Edith married in 1925. I can also only presume he wasn’t speaking to any of his family at this point as he didn’t attend the funeral of his father, or his brother Sydney despite being alive at the time. He also wasn’t left anything in his father’s will!
Safe to say, given the evidence, I’m not a huge fan of Ernest; more than anything for the downright shitty position he put not only Hilda in, but Edith as well.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the black sheep of the Hildred family – have you uncovered any in your own research?