Monday, 20 March 2017

Falling through the cracks Part One the story of Montague Hall

Now I would venture that it is today very difficult just to disappear and create a new identity. 

Not impossible I grant you but for most of us without limitless amounts of money and professional help no easy task.

But go back to the year Queen Victoria died and anything was possible. In 1901 no one as yet had a National Insurance number, there was no sophisticated electronic surveillance technology to track your last supermarket purchase, or the route you took home, or even who you last spoke to.

 It was therefore entirely possible to quietly leave your family, friends, workmates and arrive somewhere else with a new name and fresh history. I guess the wonder is that more people didn’t do it.

My great grandfather did. Or at least in his case so confident was he that he would evade detection, he continued with his own name, but reinvented his birth year and conveniently failed to reveal to his bride that he had fathered four boys and a daughter with my great grandmother.

Montague Nelson was his name and he had been born in Leamington but grew up in Derby, first at Providence Street and later at Sitwell Street. Even in his youth he was no slippers and pipe man. Not for him an armchair in front of the fire after a day at work.

At eighteen he joined the East Yorks and by the time he was 21 had seen service in Gibraltar and the West
Indies as well South Africa.

Sometime after his discharge in 1892 he fell in with Eliza Boot my great grandmother and over the next decade they lived in Bedford, Birmingham and Erith in Kent.

 I suspect theirs was a volatile relationship, and perhaps just burned itself out.

 For after the death of their fourth son and pregnant with her fifth child they parted company. She to the Derby Workhouse where my great aunt was born and he to Gravesend.

Picture, Montague Hall in the uniform of the West Kents circa 1914, in the collection of Andrew Simpson, donated by Nita Luce

No comments:

Post a Comment