01/07/2022

Starting out – twentieth century

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My family journey starts, of course from my perspective, when I was born on 7 May 1948 at Bristol Maternity Hospital, then located at the top of St Michael’s Hill in the centre of Bristol.

1905 picture of St Michael’s Hill

Intriguingly The National Archives show that the property, from 1865-1903, was a ‘Temporary Home for Young Girls Who Have Gone Astray’. My mother’s house, in this general area, had been bombed, but somehow, these grim old buildings managed to survive the WWII hammering the city sustained.

Muller’s Orphanage

I later attended a college in similarly austere premises, originally the Muller’s Orphanage (1847-1947), which presumably was built to contain the output of those stray young girls? We still owed a lot to the Victorians in 1948, though I learn that the notion of this orphanage was the brainchild of a Prussian evangelist named George Müller.

Robert Soulsby Denton (the third)

My birth predated the National Health Service by sixty days (It started 5 July 1948.).

Early NHS scene

Some 208 days after me in the very same hospital my future wife, Jane Alison Allen, arrived here on 11 December 1948.

Jane Alison Allen

This is perhaps the moment for me to apologise to Jane that my research into her family has been less fruitful to-date, in part because Perrys and O’Sullivans in her lineage came from Ireland.

The Allen grandparents with just some of their children

This research proved problematic as during the Irish Civil War and following Irish independence, on 30 June 1922 the Dublin Four Courts and specifically the Irish Public Records Office ‘caught’ fire and swathes of the Irish Chancery Rolls (1304-1922) were lost. Despite their rebuilding their remaining records are thin, and this did not help my search. I will get back to it soon.

Dublin’s Four Courts fire of 1922

I have attempted to make up for this with pieces on William Charles Allen and Dennis Roy Allen, and perhaps I need to apologise for the piece on Rebecca Culliford (Jane’s GGM1) but I think the data is more indicative of her times than anything of a rebuke for Rebecca.

From my pedigree above we can see that we three Robert Soulsby Dentons were born in Bishop Auckland Durham, Chorlton-cum-Hardy Lancashire and Bristol. The first two had their lives placed on hold by world wars and married late for their times, Grandad marrying in 1919 (post WWI) at the age of 37 to Nan at 31 years old and Dad at 26 years old marrying Mum at 23 in 1947 (post WWII).

Betsy Walton, a GM1

Sadly there is no-one alive who can advise just why Betsy, born in Willenhall in the Black Country, was living seventy-five miles away from there and just three doors away from Grandad on Rusholme Road in Chorlton, Lancashire. He is described on their wedding certificate as an engineer and she as a spinster.

Aunt Peg, Grandad?, Beryl?, Nan and Dad

The picture above shows, from left to right, Auntie Peg and I had assumed Grandad, with cousin Beryl, Nan and my Dad. I wonder now if the older man was in fact an uncle, given Beryl’s age in this picture, because she was only two when Grandad died. Or else it is not Beryl.

They are in the garden of our first family home (14 Ludlow Road, Bristol). The house looming behind them would become our second home (145 Wordsworth Road) – we literally moved through that hedge.

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