Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Family History again - "Old" George Bird

I have somehow got lured back into doing family history research again, and I am chasing my tail. I am trying to find my husband's great grandfather. Or rather, I want an official death for him. I want closure. Despite looking many times, he is apparently NOT in any of the records as George Bird. We know where he is buried, and an approximate date and we know more or less what his age would be (although he lied dreadfully to join up and fight the Hun after his only son was killed on the Somme. He said he was 50 and he was damn near 70. We do wonder if he was the oldest serving soldier in WW1). We have his army discharge papers - invalided home from Mesopotamia in 1918. But I can't look for his burial place in Bow Cemetary because I don't have a date, only a two year likelihood. We know it was a year or so after his estranged wife collected their son's war medals from Buckingham Palace.

I have tried various permutations on the spelling (well, mis-spelling of Bird) but no joy. We know he lived in Poplar most of his working life because he worked on the ships (carpenter). There is a VERY strong musical streak which comes along his line - his son had it, my b-in-law has it, our eldest daughter, and another member of the Bird family we have been in touch with. The name Elgar appears further back in family records shared by my husband's Bird relatives. I wonder if it was an Elgar who was related to THAT one - makes you wonder doesn't it?

He was a bit of a black sheep, easier to love than live with according to his widow, and I am pretty sure our middle daughter's incredibly independent streak comes from him too! A man of Kent, or a Kentish man? Born and bred anyway . . . Herne Bay must have been a quieter place after he left home : )


  1. He does look like a bit of a rogue.

    He must have been devastated by his sons death to react as he did.

    A brave man....

    It would be a fitting end if he returned to the family.

    Good hunting........Al.

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  3. I wonder if the Imperial War Museum could help with his records BB? I`m sure they would be interested in the possibility that he may have been the oldest, or one of the oldest soldiers in WW1. My OH`s maternal grandfather served in Mesopotamia in WW1 and returned home to Yorkshire afterwards.

  4. It is both interesting and terribly frustrating to "lose" a fairly recent ancestor. We're not talking about someone who died in the 1800's when records were sketchy [at least they were in the US.] My experience has been that after months or years of dead ends, one clue will open up a whole new field of research.
    I hope you locate him. The only thing I can suggest, which you probably already do, is to take the last known established information and try to keep working backward.

  5. What a wonderful picture! I know your frustration, my husband's family emigrated from Spain in the early 1900's and we're having trouble tracking them. They went to Hawaii first and family history says the father was a gypsy and got into trouble on each of the islands before moving on to California. In searching ship's records, after many fruitless searches using the family name I finally found them traveling under the Mother's maiden name. So it maybe your husband's great grandfather used another family name than Bird.