Finding a Reason for this solicitor


Here’s an intriguing new little puzzle. Ancestry.co.uk’s hints feature, suggesting records and other trees connected with an individual in your own tree, is highly variable in its usefulness and has come up with very little for most of this year. Yesterday it threw up a couple of hints on the Welsh side – the Hughes and Rees lines, which often seem a lost cause in research with such common names.

The 1922 probate calendar record for great great grandmother Mary Hughes, nee Rees, must be hers, as the address is 13 Francis Street, Skewen, where she had been since at least 1891. Mary Hughes Probate Calendar 1922So she was about  80 when she died, outlasting husband William by over 30 years. But the interest really starts from the names of  those administering the probate – Mary Hannah Davies (eldest daughter whose marriage was also flagged up in the same set of hints) and David Jordan Reason solicitor. Who is he, and how does he connect to the family? He isn’t just any old solicitor – born in Skewen in 1897, with the probate granted in London rather than Cardiff, David had presumably already moved to the smoke by 1922. London electoral rolls on Ancestry have him at 31 Foxes Dale, Blackheath {4} from at least 1937 (there are lots of these records, it will take a while to pinpoint the earliest {5}). He died 17 Feb 1955, still at that address. Sadly his probate was carried out by Midland Bank so no more clues there.

David’s wife is shown on the rolls as Dorothy Drew Reason – great, a distinctive set of first names. Or so I thought – there are pages of Ancestry search results for “Dorothy Drew” as first names, born around 1900 +/- 5 years {2}. There’s a few Ancestry trees who have shared a photo of David Jordan in uniform (RAF) but none have info beyond 1911 or on his wife. One very small private tree does have a visible mention of ‘auntie Dot’ – time to drop the owner a note?

So, who is David Jordan Reason to the Hughes family other than someone who grew up in the same town? And is there any significance to him living in Blackheath, not far from where our line of Watkins ended up in the 1940s? I’ll have to add him to the tree so I can research him in depth, even though he is unlikely to be a direct relation {5}.

Notes

1. Margaret Hughes, 1870-1939, daughter of William and Mary (nee Rees), younger sister to Mary Hannah Davies, married John Watkins in 1890.

2. Yet again FindMyPast website is found lacking, not allowing a search purely on first names.

3. Mary Hannah Davies nee Hughes, having married William Davies in 1893, was already a widow at 1911,  living with 5 children at 3 Railway Terrace, Mooretown, and working in a confectionery shop. (A Google search finds a note that Railway Terrace is now Brookville Drive.) She is still at that address in 1939, now a ‘general’ shopkeeper.

4. Foxes Dale is in the posh/private part of Blackheath, no Google StreetView. At 1911, age 13 David is with his parents and siblings at Firs, 89 Old Road, Skewen – his father is cashier at the Copper Works and older brother Thomas is a medical student. I am informed by an Ancestry contact, related to a brother of David’s, that he was a cricketer with Glamorgan and later became Greenwich town clerk.

5. Here we go, after a little more looking. Electoral rolls show: David and Dorothy at 18 Albany Mansions, Battersea, at 1929. Then nothing until 1937 at 31 Foxes Dale, and both are there at 1955 compilation of the roll. It looks like David and Dorothy’s marriage is 1925 in Neath district – she is Dorothy D Williams. Dorothy Drew Williams age 13 in 1911 census is at 58 Gnoll Park Road, Neath, her father a solicitor (Henry or Harry, age 52). Hm, this is getting less interesting – was David in training with Harry at 1922, and was acting purely as a solicitor, no family connection? Maybe I’ll stop here!

Update – the solution: checking a third cousin’s Ancestry tree after the 1939 register trawl, I find that David J is a grandson of Miriam Francis, younger sister to Hannah, who is grandmother to Margaret and Mary Hannah Hughes, i.e. they were second cousins.

6. Going back to Mary Hannah Hughes – a likely sighting of her in 1891 census at 62 Old Road (domestic servant to a grocer) now proves to be next door to the Reason family, then at number 63 (Henry is noted as clerk at Copper Works).

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