🌸Who were Billie and Lily Greenaway?💒26 August 1922💞

It’s this lovely couple’s 100th Wedding Anniversary today!! Happy Anniversary to them and everyone else who shares their wedding day with Billie and Lily Greenaway. It certainly looked like a glorious sunny day 100 years ago, didn’t it?

But who are they? It’s taken me a while to find out!

The clues we have are obviously the date of their wedding and the area of London and their names, both of which could be names shortened or even their second names.

As New Cross is the Lewisham area of London (Kent) I searched on Find My Past for any Greenaway marriages in 1922 within a five-mile radius, but no Billy or William, so then I made it ten miles. Still, nothing, then I made it twenty miles and bingo a wedding in the third quarter, matches, between a William A Greenaway and Lily Reed. I’ve found no other close matches anywhere in any other records other than this one, a couple of maybe’s but not as good as this one. So I started a tree for them on Ancestry.

I thought that William looked about 25-30 in the photo, so I searched on Find My Past for civil births 1895 and 5 years each way and it came up with a William Albert born in 1895 in Lewisham, so I added that to the tree. Looking the birth up on the GRO website I found the mother’s maiden name was Winter, it’s a start but nothing proven as yet, it’s all speculation.

On the marriage record transcription on Ancestry and Find My Past it stated LILY L REED, but I couldn’t seem to find a matching birth that felt right and not in Kingston where they married, I have found in past research that people often added a middle name at a Baptism and when they registered a Birth it was just one first name and the surname. So I checked on the actual record and via both sites, the actual record itself states LILY J REED, glad I checked that, so now I started looking again, a possible match in Medway but I wasn’t sure. So now I went to the 1939 Register to see if I could find William and I found them both together living at 32 Arbroath Road, Woolwich. William was an Instrument Maker. Foreman. So now I had both of their birth dates, which always helps, William Albert was born on 11 Jan 1895 and Lily J was born on 24 July 1897. That doesn’t match my Medway birth for Lily as that was in the first quarter of 1897. Very frustrating.

I searched for William A Greenaway on all the records, so many William Greenaways you would not believe! I found one family that I thought could be his family with his parents, Herbert and Emma, but with so many possibilities and after searching on all the sites I had access to I still wasn’t sure. I just didn’t want to get the rest of this search wrong from the beginning, so I sent for his birth certificate PDF copy, a rare occurrence for me unless it’s my own family, the one that I had found born in Lewisham, and indeed a few days later when the PDF arrived via email, his parents were Herbert and Emma (Winters) half of the puzzle solved.

William’s birth certificate PDF copy via the GRO

Herbert Greenaway and Emma Winters married on the 5 October 1885 at St Paul’s, Greenwich. William’s occupation was a Bricklayer and he continued to be a Bricklayer all his life.

This is William and his family in the 1911 census, his parents Herbert and Emma had been married 27 years and had 17 children 10 of whom had died as babies/children by 1911, goodness me so sad, ten!

Life was very tough for the family you can see just from those facts but I also found two mentions in the records where they and their children had to go into Lewisham Workhouse.

Lewisham Union Workhouse. 7 May 1903: Admission into the Workhouse with her sons Walter Isaac, Henry Herbert, William Albert, Joseph Victor, Sydney Harold and Alfred James. Husband Herbert is the last entry on that page. They were all discharged on 19 May 1903, I managed to decipher that she was going to stay with her Mother. Her husband Herbert was discharged the same day the record says: Herbert ‘Own request’

On 22 May 1903, Emma was admitted again to the Workhouse with her sons Walter Isaac, William Albert, Joseph Victor, Sydney Harold and Alfred James. Son Henry Herbert was admitted the following day. Discharge from the Workhouse with her sons Walter Isaac, William Albert, Joseph Victor, Sydney Harold and Alfred James. Henry Herbert was also discharged on the same day. They had stayed for almost a month this time being discharged on 17 June 1903. I didn’t find her husband Herbert being admitted or discharged at this time.

This is an image above from the wonderful website of Peter Higginbotham: Workhouses.org https://www.workhouses.org.uk/Lewisham/ If you are researching your family in a Workhouse this is a must, so much information and great images.

I’ve managed to find the births and deaths of 13 of Emma and Herbert’s 17 children, the ones with the green ticks are the ones that had survived up to the 1911 census record above. I’m 4 still missing from the 10 that died in childhood.

Now I knew who William and his family were I needed to try to identify Lily’s family. So I thought if I could confirm her middle name that would surely help me, although the obviously common name was Jane I couldn’t be sure, so I continued to add more information to William in the hope that it would lead me to a clue for Lily and I found William’s death record and more importantly his probate record from ‘England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995’ on Ancestry. That gives Lily’s middle name, Jane.

Again this points me to the Lily Jane Reed on the birth record registered Medway, Kent for 1897, but I know that is incorrect. Was she married before? Having a different maiden surname. Has she lied about the year of her birth? I turned to Find My Past records. There were over 5,000 possible Lily Jane’s born in 1897! Add to that the number of Lillians born especially in and around the London area. There was a possible birth in Brentford of Lilian Jane Reed in 1897 but as there were so many other variations of the possible name I couldn’t be sure at all, 80 in 1897 with a year either way. Almost 70 Lily’s born in 1897 that married a Mr Reed. Of course, she may have been born with another surname and her mother remarried a Mr Reed so Lily Jane took his surname, oh dear what next?

As the couple got married the year after the 1921 census I thought I’d see what came up for Lily Jane Reed born in 1897 on the 1921 census on Find My Past. I found 4 results and only one near London in Middlesex, hovering over the record without paying, I could see that there were George and Jane living at the same address, so I went back to the 1911 census looking for a George and Jane and Lily Reed all together, couldn’t find one with all three but there are loads of George and Jane Reed/Read/Reid’s, far too many, I needed to know as it’s not just the name that helps to identify someone but also a man’s occupation. So just this once as it’s really bugging me I have sent for a marriage certificate, so fingers crossed I might learn something new, at least her father’s name and occupation I’m hoping!

The second record above Lily Greenaway

While I was waiting for the certificate to arrive I carried on looking through the various records for them both and especially Lily Greenaway, without the middle name Jane, after William’s death on 14 December 1942, thanks hugely to knowing Jane’s likely birth date 24 July 1897, I spotted a passenger record for Lily Greenaway that matched. Lily arrived in the UK on 7 July 1960 for a six-month stay as a visitor. It also states that she was retired. She was a permanent resident of Canada, she had departed from Montréal, Québec, Canada and intended to return there after her visit. Interestingly she gives her address in the UK as 32 Arbroath Road, London SE9, exactly where the couple had lived in 1939. Did she still own it and rent it out when she went to live in Canada? Maybe she came back to sell it before she returned as she was getting older? When did she leave the UK to live there I wonder? I suspect that I might find out more if I had a Worldwide membership to Ancestry this year but I just have the Premium so that I could have a Find My Past British subscription with access to British Newspapers this year, can’t have it all, unfortunately!

Fast forward 14 days…….. The marriage certificate has arrived!

On the certificate above, Lily Jane Reed lives at 8 Staines Road, Twickenham and lists her father as George Reed, a House Decorator. So at least I can hopefully identify him by his occupation if nothing else. So now I went back to the 1921 census on Find My Past and paid for the image for Twickenham and bingo it’s the same address! Three people, Lily and her father George and her mother Jane. I added all the information to the family tree, I was so pleased that all the information matched what I had already.

After a good few hours of research I had built up the REED family tree with their 7 children including Lily whose birth was registered as Lilian Jane Reed at Brentford, pleased that that was my best hunch on all the birth records and it proved to be correct with the mothers’ name of Edwards. Jemima Jane Louisa Edwards used all her names singularly in the records, sometimes Jane, sometimes Jemima which makes it more of a challenge.

Son Frederick emigrated to Australia.

As you can see from the details above George and Jemima’s son Frederick Henry died in Australia. He emigrated in 1949 with his wife Alice Elizabeth (Talbot) aged 58 and 57 respectively and their eldest son (they had 3 children) Frederick Henry George and his wife Nora (Bicheno) with their two young sons Micheal and Keith. The youngest of their three children, their daughter Daphne aged 20 also went with them, she was single. Their middle child Johnie S F and his wife Patricia Alice Mary (Cavenagh) had married in 1940 in Brentford, Middlesex and had themselves emigrated to Canada in 1947, Patricia had family over there. There’s a whole lot more information to be found about this branch of the family with several people having a tree on Ancestry about this branch.

Here below is the family on the 1911 census, great information, years married and how many children are such a help always, but here I also have confirmation of George’s occupation and putting all the clues together I was able to find the other census records for George and his family despite not having written down his wife’s name on this one!

Lily aged 19 on this 1911 census was working in a restaurant as a waitress

There is a bit of a discrepancy in father George Herbert Reed‘s birth details, I found this birth for him: REED, GEORGE HERBERT KITE. GRO Reference: 1859 D Quarter in BRENTFORD Volume 03A Page 53. But on the 1939 Register, it states his birth date as 1 June 1860 which is obviously an error according to the registration. Everything else for him and his family checks out and I’m sure this is correct. Even on the 1861 census for him and his family, it says that he was 2 years old not 1 year old or younger as it would if he had been born on 1 June 1860.

So having another day to research the Greenaway family I thought I would now see if I could find any children of the couple and two possibilities came up a daughter Jean Evelyn born in 1924 and a son Colin Alfred born in 1926. So adding them to the tree and a little later seeing what records came up I found a couple of links to Canada, again that I couldn’t view, so that was more than a coincidence wasn’t it? One that came up gave a date 1990 and the word O’Neil although I wasn’t able to view the rest, so I’m thinking if their daughter Jean married could she have married a Mr O’Neil? and was 1990 when Lily or Jean died? It was an obituary notice. I didn’t find anything useful on other sites for Canadian records other than a possible death of Jean Evelyn O’Neill in 1990 in Chilliwack, Canada on Find My Past, a match. But I still couldn’t view the full details of the records on Ancestry, so frustrating.

So I know that now you can just have just a one-month membership of Ancestry Worldwide for £19.99 BUT you cannot just switch from a Premium account like mine to have that one single month, because if you try to do that Ancestry want to give you a refund and switch you to a Worldwide account, so what to do? I had several things that I wanted to look up on my own family tree outside of the UK so how could I do it? I had to think outside the box.

I thought ok I will register another account (B) with my other email address on Ancestry, and then I can buy a one-month Worldwide Subscription which I did. Then logging into my own Ancestry account (A) I sent an email invite to my new Ancestry account (B) as a full Editor on Billy & Lily Greenaway’s tree. Then I logged out of my Ancestry account (A) and logged into my account (B) then went to my email and clicked on the Ancestry invite and hooray it worked. So now working from my (B) account I can access all the worldwide records for one month, I am also downloading each record to my file and will add those images to the Gallery on the tree, so that when my one-month finishes I will still be able to see the records that I have saved on the tree. Don’t forget to cancel the renewal before your one month is finished!

I have done exactly the same for my own family tree that I’m working on at the moment. To add to this I also am doing a FREE 7-Day Trial on Newspapers.com so I have the whole package if you do this once again don’t forget to cancel before you get charged and remember to save all the links beforehand on the profiles of the people. I’ve made a list of the people, and then it saves you time when you get the free trial, as 7 days go by very quickly so you have to be organised.

These two obituaries are just pure treasures for me to add to this family’s story. Well worth all the faffing about and of course I can use my (B) account to do the same in the future if I want to access World records for a month.

This wonderful article above about Jean Evelyn O’Neill gives us so much more than just her name. Lovely also to see that she had two children of her own, Mark and Fiona.

This obituary of Lily Greenaway above was the icing on the cake for me, I would never have found out all this information about Lily without all the extra effort. How lovely that she had three great-grandsons too Liam, Kieran and Connor.

Here’s the direct link to Billie and Lily’s family tree on Ancestry: https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/tree/182885796/family?cfpid=102375157052

Till next time then………

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