This post seems to have got lost since its original posting so I am re-posting Tina’s story.
Amelia Belbin’s marriage
My scandalous family story started with finding the marriage certificate of my “grandparents” which had been placed in a Bible given to my grandmother on her wedding day. This Bible was subsequently given to me on my wedding day and carried by my daughter at her wedding.
The marriage of Amelia Belbin and Arthur Reading took place at St Stephens Church in Battersea on 22 October 1893.
Who was the father?
Amelia’s first child, Francis George Reading was born on 21 December 1899 in Wandsworth and the father on the birth certificate is named as Francis Reading who was Arthur’s brother. According to the 1901 census young Francis George was then a 2 year old Boarder with a family in South Wimbledon and Amelia herself was living in Wimbledon as a Domestic Cook. Of Arthur her husband there is no trace. His brother Francis was a Visitor in Henley St Mary in Oxfordshire.
Francis Reading was married to a Mary Ann Hymus. Mary Ann tried to commit suicide and died a few days later on 19 September 1902. At the inquest the verdict was recorded as “suicide by cutting her throat during a fit of temporary insanity”. The report in the local paper said that Francis worked away from home during the week and returned home only on a Sunday. It is probable that he was living with Amelia his sister in law during the week.
I found out more when the 1911 census was released as it showed Arthur Reading was a patient at the North Surrey Asylum (Brookwood). According to their records he was admitted there on 15 January 1898 after a short stay in Kingston Workhouse. (People who could not afford to be treated for illnesses were often looked after in the workhouse infirmary in those days.)
I have copies of the records that have survived from that time and they show that Arthur was discharged and transferred to the Devon County Asylum on 1 January 1905. He was then re-admitted to Brookwood from Devon on 30 November 1908. There is no explanation of why he was sent to Devon or why he was then returned to Brookwood. He died of “senile decay” on New Years Day in 1941 aged 73 and buried at Brookwood cemetery 9 days later having spent 43 years in an asylum and outliving his wife by 10 years. He was buried as a pauper and his grave has no headstone or marker.
Father or Uncle?
My father Louis Henry Reading was born on 24 March 1904 and his father was named as Francis Reading on the birth certificate. It appears that Amelia and Francis lived together as man and wife and this is shown on the 1911 census. With the same surname no-one would know that they were not actually married.
Amelia registered Francis’s death in 1920 and named him as her brother in law not her husband. However when she died my father registered her as the widow of Francis his father so obviously he knew nothing about his family history and when I was young he said he had no relatives apart from his brother once his mother had died.
What a story! And it all came to light because I found a marriage certificate tucked inside a Bible and followed the difficult trail to the truth.