Well, I have finally discovered why my great uncle, Henry James Webb, vanished from view
after 1901. My grandmother's family were the first of my antecedents I investigated. I
managed to trace her eldest brother up to 1901 then he disappeared. In 1901 he was
single, living with his parents and working as a carter. There were records for many men
with his name but nothing conclusive. Every so often I would attempt another search
for him. On members' trees on Ancestry various records were attached to him but I was
not completely convinced. Then Find My Past added the records for the War Tribunals
for Portsmouth. I had a breakthrough finding a Henry Webb in Portsmouth who could
very well be my great uncle. Having entered these details into the 1939 Register I found
a Henry Webb living with a Hilda Couch. It looked like this could be him. By researching
Hilda I found the solution to my problem. Of course nothing in family history is easy. After
considerably more research I found the records for Henry and his family. He had shared
his life with a lady named Ada Couch. Ada was already married and so on many records
Henry (aka James) had used her surname as that was the name used by his children. Why
had I not thought of that?! Twelve years after the birth of Henry and Ada's first child her
husband, Edgar, obtained a Decree Nisi by citing her adultery. It was posted in the Portsmouth
News. Scandal! My grandmother would have been horrified! Then evidence emerged
showing that Edgar had two daughters with two separate women. The Decree Nisi was then
rescinded. I am not sure if this wipes out the scandal.
To read the story of Henry and Ada go to the page Henry James Webb aka James Couch .➨
I have highlighted in red the sources I used to follow their story.
Hint 😉 New records are becoming available all the time. It is worth going back and doing a stock take every so often.
Hint 😉 After you have been going round in circles trying to find an ancestor taking a break can clear your head.
Hint 😉 If you have reached a brick wall researching a particular person try looking at someone they are associated with.
Now I have a further mystery. This photograph taken in Portsmouth shows my grandmother, Elsie Wills nee Webb, with some of her family. She is seated with the little boy. The elderly man to the far right is her father, Henry James Webb. The man in the centre is one of his sons. Could it be the enigmatic Henry James Webb aka James Couch?
😧 More research!