Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who was Lily Wren?

Lily Wren is listed as a daughter to Walter and Harriet Allery (my grandparents) in the 1911 census. A fact so curious as to lead me on a trail of discovery about this person and to document the journey in here.

Whilst searching for Lily Wren I got sidetracked in looking into the history of census reports that included my grandfather Walter Allery and found I could trace his whereabouts back to 1881.

Here in 1881 Walter was still a scholar along with his sister Rosina and brothers Henry and Joseph. His parents are both in the tailoring business and that is where Walter is also destined.


By 1891 Walter is listed as a tailor and his older sister Rosina and younger sister Jessie are all involved with tailoring. An important trade of the era - ranking second in the top 10 preferred occupations for people with the surname ALLERY in the whole of UK.

  • Scholar
  • Tailor
  • Dressmaker
  • Ag Lab
  • Carpenter
  • Tailoress
  • Servant General
  • Indoor Servant
  • Journeyman Tailor
  • Tailors Wife
Labourer
Nursemaid
Ropemaker
Serpentine Worker
Servant
House Painter
Haberdasher
General Servant (Dom)
Agricultural Labourer
Attending Board School
Boot Maker
Box Maker (Paper)
Charwoman
Coast Guard
Cordwainer
Detained Under Industrial Schools Acts
Domestic Serv Unemployed
Dress Maker
Fisherman
General Serv (Domestic)
Upholsterer. Polisher

Tailoring and all of its associated trades were to feature in the choices made in my family for that era and made a lasting impression on me when I consider my own interests and talents in dressmaking.


By 1901 Walter had married my grandmother Harriet Priscilla and my Dad, Cecil Henry had been born. Tailoring skipped a generation here - my Dad could perform basic tailoring tasks, but preferred working with auto mechanics -  but passed on to me. A significant fact in the 1901 census is that my Uncle Joseph (aged 12 at the time) was visiting or living with my grandparents on census night. It is Joseph to whom the tailoring business is bequeathed when my grandfather dies and obviously there was a strong bond between the brothers who were both Master Tailors.

But where did Lily Wren feature in all of this? Who is she? Why is she listed as a daughter to my grandfather Walter in 1911, but never mentioned in any of our family stories. Could she be the child of a friend whom they had adopted? Was the census return incorrect - could she have been a domestic servant? Why is her name Wren? Was she married to a Wren?

Working out her birth date from the 1911 census, in which she is listed as 15 years old, I proceed to search for her in the Ancestry records. But so far can find but one Lily Wren, born in 1896 to the Wrens of Merthyr Tidfil, Wales. Is this another Welsh connection?

Maybe there is a Scottish connection too. The google search on Lily Wren came up with a reference to her marriage to one Robert Lamb in 1915, so it was worth doing some further searching for that marriage and any further details for Lily and Robert. The above picture was displayed in the article from the University of Glasgow. The following short epitaph for Robert appeared on that page:

Not a lot is known about his private life. He married Lily Georgina Wren (born in 1896 in Merthyr Tydfil) at Warminster in 1915. They had a child, born in Greenwich in 1914, but the marriage was probably short-lived and they were never part of the Lamb family circle. Robert returned to Glasgow after the war and became a schoolteacher. He lived at 262 Crofthill Road. He died of acute appendicitis and peritonitis on 30th December 1946 at the Victoria Infirmary.

Is this my Lily Wren? I now have a middle name and a marriage date, but it does not list the name of their child. Where is the child of Lily Wren?

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