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AndrewFrench

An Intrguiging Mystery of Indentity due to Amnesia

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AndrewFrench

I am placing this intriguing mystery on behalf of a friend onto the forum in the hope that somebody will be able to suggest a solution as to who this man was and where he served. My friend writes

I'm really hoping that you might just be able to help with the family mystery that has left me stumped regarding my great grandfather on my fathers side, and his mysterious change of identity during the First World War.  My meagre findings seem to raise more questions than they answer, so I hope to ask if there is any help you can give in shedding any more light on the military side of the story? Here’s what I have found so far:

William Henry Hubbard - born in Poplar.  There are two possible dates of birth 1888 or 1896 (it’s unclear which).  As far as I know he never moved from there.  Both his parents died when he was young and he was raised by a sister Alice Maud.

According to family stories, the house they lived in was bombed and he believed his sister to have died.  At some point after that he signed up to join the army before or during WW1.

During his service, he was hit by a shell and left for dead, but when collected and found to be alive, there was some kind of switch - my great aunt thinks the wrong ID disc was collected with him, and he was treated in military hospitals for amnesia.  A different story claims there was some kind of trouble with his service in the military and as a result he intentionally changed his name - again, its not at all clear.

He returned home as Henry (or Harry) Abbott, where he settled in Bristol and married Bessie Price in February 1918.  On my aunts birth certificate, he lists his occupation as ex-rifleman, 3rd Rifle Brigade.

At some point, flashes of memory returned and warranted a trip to Poplar where he found family members, and the sister he supposed dead.

He passed away in 1931 in Bristol.  The identity switch wasn’t made known to his wife until after his death when there was some mix up with army pensions.

As you can see, most of the story is family myth and supposition.  I can find no military records relating to William Hubbard, or any version of Harry Abbott that might fit the bill.

I’d love to know more, but any starting point or advice on where to look would be wonderful, it’s become quite a compulsive project of mine.

Any suggestions for a way forward gratefully received

 

 

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Uncle George

I could find no William Henry Hubbard born in Poplar between 1888 and 1896 on a search of FreeBMD. Sorry  that’s not much help!

 

https://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl

 

 

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ss002d6252

A pension claim (post 1919 or thereabouts) whilst he was living in the Bristol area would come under region 8, South West.

 

If his house was bombed in London then that would make it around Mid 1915 or later.

 

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

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AndrewFrench

Thanks for responses so far chaps

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corisande

You need both the marriage cart and the death cert

 

The marriage in 1918 exists, but does it give age or address

 

the death should give age, I cannot see which is his 1931 death

 

As Uncle George says there is no indication of the birth that you refer to, can you clarify ?

 

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ss002d6252

Taking a look for his sister shows this likely family in 1891

1.PNG.081285bbd38a8aec79d1d62c9d69bd70.PNG

Same family in 1901
2.PNG.85e76d322bd8b9f87387246f33651ead.PNG

And 1911
1.PNG.dea022d42e93f26096bd1deb1cc3b72e.PNG

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

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ss002d6252

A possible Bristol 1931 death

1.PNG.6341e02f9b4e369b3c365d7c2b6188ea.PNG

 

The marriage
1.PNG.dc4785ebd0d4ff372dd7efda3d03d8cc.PNG

 

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
1 hour ago, AndrewFrench said:

the house they lived in was bombed and he believed his sister to have died.  At some point after that he signed up to join the army before or during WW1.

Well I think it's safe to assume that if he signed up after the house was bombed, it's pretty unlikely that would have been before 4/8/1914.

 

53 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

If his house was bombed in London then that would make it around Mid 1915 or later.

Thanks Craig.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

I saw that 1931 Bristol death too.

50 years old- so makes birth date around 1881 rather than 1886-98.

 

Hmm. I can see why your friend is getting confused Andrew.

The marriage registration is the only solid bit of information so far.

 

If the ID disc switch is to be believed, would we expect to see a William Hubbard death registered by CWGC.

There are 26 to work through.

Edited by Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

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johnboy

1901 and 1911 census show some williams and an alice living in poplar but they also show parents who had supposedly died,

Edited by johnboy

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Uncle George

FreeBMD has a William Henry V Hubbard, born Shoreditch in 1887. Shoredich and Poplar - practically cheek-by-jowl.

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ss002d6252
1 minute ago, alf mcm said:

This tree on Ancestry shows that William's sister was Matilda Alice Hubbard. Their father and mother died in 1910 and 1902, and Matilda married James Henry Gadd in 1905.

https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/29463298/person/62001220372/facts

 

Regards.

 

Alf McM

Interesting, So it looks like it may be Matilda Alice rather than Alice Matilda.

 

Craig

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corisande
1 hour ago, ss002d6252 said:

Matilda.

 

No OP has "Alice Maud"

 

i put put in my earlier post that OP needs cert as there is too little verified fact otherwise

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George Rayner

Are we certain about the family census above? Tracing it back two steps ie 1871 and 1881 there is still no William.

George

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Aunty Tory

Evening everyone - firstly thank you to AndrewFrench for sharing this in the forum and I am so thrilled at everyones responses and ideas so far - thank you.  I originally posed the query to Andrew as all my research into any military records drew a blank.  So far, I've pieced together a family tree, based on the information I have so far, but there are so many questions and so few facts - https://www.ancestry.co.uk/family-tree/person/tree/29463298/person/62001220372/facts

 

I'll aim to scan in a couple of documents tomorrow, but in the meantime, any suggestions as to where to look next or search (particularly from a military records perspective) would be greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you all, Victoria

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Madmeg

1) Can we even be sure that we are looking for a William Hubbard? If he had amnesia then he may have got the whole William Hubbard thing incorrect- he could be Albert or Augustus. 

2) If he is the William found in Shoreditch then why isn't he with the family during the census? Is it possible that in fact he is elsewhere - that Alice Maud was not in fact his sister but an aunt, or even (given the later birth date ) his mother? This happened quite often with children born out of wedlock so could be the case with him.

3) If it was not amnesia but some other event which caused him to change his name once again we are back to whether William Hubbard was ever his name.

4) The family in the above census have that one mysterious grandchild- Alice Vince with no sign of parents, living with them- perhaps he was WH Vince rather than Hubbard?

 

I would have thought the pension details might give more clues as presumably it all got sorted out at that stage? if they are available :-(

 

I wouldn't put too much (any) faith in the ancestry family tree, I have found one which shows a lovely family for Joseph William Gilbert Simmonds b 1899 living in Wales or some such with wife and a number of children- unfortunately JWG Simmonds b 1899 was my grandfather's brother and he never had any children or the wife allocated to him by this tree- someone has failed to find the birth of the Joseph Simmonds that they are after and has grabbed him for their tree instead, given the difference in Alice Maud/Mathilda Alice's name I would treat that tree with extreme caution.

 

 

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Madmeg

 FreeBMD -

William Henry Hubbard Bethnal Green b 1880 (Bethnal Green is right next to Poplar)

Family search-

1881

William H Hubbard

  •  
England and Wales Census, 1881
Name William H Hubbard
Event Type Census
Event Date 1881
Event Place Bethnal Green, London,Middlesex, England
Registration District Bethnal Green
Residence Note West St
Gender Male
Age 1
Marital Status Single
Relationship to Head of Household Son
Birth Year (Estimated) 1880
Birthplace Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Page Number 25
Registration Number RG11
Piece/Folio 422/61
Affiliate Record Type Household
Household
Role
Sex
Age
Birthplace
Edward J Hubbard Head M 40 Linderstone, Essex, England
Emma Hubbard Wife F 40 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Emma E A Hubbard Daughter F 14 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Edward J Hubbard Son M 13 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Harriet Hubbard Daughter F 11 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Eleonar Hubbard Daughter F 9 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Isaac Hubbard Son M 8 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Florence Hubbard Daughter F 6 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
William H Hubbard Son M 1 Beth Green, Middlesex, England
Citing this Record

"England and Wales Census, 1881," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q27S-D1TV : 8 December 2017), William H Hubbard in household of Edward J Hubbard, Bethnal Green, London,Middlesex, England; from "1881 England, Scotland and Wales Census," database and images, findmypast(http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing p. 25, Piece/Folio 422/61, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey; FHL microfilm 101,774,260.

 

Probable 1901

 

William Hubbard

Boarder

England and Wales Census, 1901

birth:
1883
Bethnal Green, London
residence:
31 March 1901
Mile End Old Town, London, Middlesex, England
other:
Thomas Ackland, Mary A Ackland
  
 
 

William Hubbard

England and Wales Census, 1901
Name William Hubbard
Event Type Census
Event Date 31 Mar 1901
Event Place Mile End Old Town, London, Middlesex, England
County London, Middlesex
Civil Parish Mile End Old Town
Ecclesiastical Parish St Peter Stepney
Sub-District Mile End Old Town Western
Registration District Mile End Old Town
Residence Note Cephas Street
Gender Male
Age 18
Occupation CABINET MAKER
Relationship to Head of Household Boarder
Birth Year (Estimated) 1883
Birthplace Bethnal Green, London
Schedule Type 88
Page Number 12
Household
Role
Sex
Age
Birthplace
Thomas Ackland Head M 41 Bethnal Green, London
Mary A Ackland Wife F 39 Bethnal Green, London
Thomas Ackland Son M 19 Bethnal Green, London
William Hubbard Boarder M 18 Bethnal Green, London
Citing this Record

"England and Wales Census, 1901," database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9Z4-M1S : 8 April 2016), William Hubbard in household of Thomas Ackland, Mile End Old Town, London, Middlesex, England; from "1901 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast(http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing Mile End Old Town Western subdistrict, PRO RG 13, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

 

The Alice M shown in the census above with William and Mary Ann as parents is probably Alice Mary A b Poplar 1874, there is a marriage for her in 1902. I don;t think she is the right lady.

 

for Alice Maud I would suggest 

 FreeBMD- Alice Maud b Shoreditch 1873

 

1881 shows a more probable for Alice Maud- but still no William H (too early?)

 

  •  
 

Alice Maud Hubbard

England and Wales Census, 1881
Name Alice Maud Hubbard
Event Type Census
Event Date 1881
Event Place Hackney, London,Middlesex, England
Registration District Hackney
Residence Note Terrace Rd
Gender Female
Age 8
Marital Status Single
Occupation Scholar
Relationship to Head of Household Daughter
Birth Year (Estimated) 1873
Birthplace London, Middlesex, England
Page Number 5
Registration Number RG11
Piece/Folio 315/6
Affiliate Record Type Household
Household
Role
Sex
Age
Birthplace
James Hubbard Head M 39 London, Middlesex, England
Jane Martha Hubbard Wife F 36 London, Middlesex, England
Alex John Hubbard Son M 14 London, Middlesex, England
Alice Maud Hubbard Daughter F 8 London, Middlesex, England
Herbert F Hubbard Son M 3 London, Middlesex, England
Jane Martha Hubbard Daughter F 1 London, Middlesex, England
Citing this Record

"England and Wales Census, 1881," database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q279-TFYR : 8 December 2017), Alice Maud Hubbard in household of James Hubbard, Hackney, London,Middlesex, England; from "1881 England, Scotland and Wales Census," database and images, findmypast(http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing p. 5, Piece/Folio 315/6, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey; FHL microfilm 101,774,237.

 

 

Unfortunately (for us) there is no William and the parents are still alive in 1901

 

But I am liking a few things about this record

William G not H  and Alice is his mother but look at the address...that might be a link if he did have amnesia?

  •  

William G Hubbard

England and Wales Census, 1901
Name William G Hubbard
Event Type Census
Event Date 31 Mar 1901
Event Place Bromley, London, Middlesex, England
County London, Middlesex
Civil Parish Bromley
Ecclesiastical Parish Bromley St Michael & All Angels
Sub-District Bromley
Registration District Poplar
Residence Note Abbott Road
Gender Male
Age 9
Relationship to Head of Household Son
Birth Year (Estimated) 1892
Birthplace Poplar, London
Schedule Type 391
Page Number 60
Household
Role
Sex
Age
Birthplace
William Hubbard Head M 30 Bromley, London
Alice E Hubbard Wife F 28 Limehouse, London
William G Hubbard Son M 9 Poplar, London
Mary A E Woodward Aunt F 70 Bermondsey, London
Citing this Record

"England and Wales Census, 1901," database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X94F-FZV : 8 April 2016), William G Hubbard in household of William Hubbard, Bromley, London, Middlesex, England; from "1901 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast(http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing Bromley subdistrict, PRO RG 13, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

 

He's William George born 1891 Poplar- does that find any sort of Army record?

Edited by Madmeg

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Buffnut453

It's possible that Alice Maud was, in fact, Alice Matilda.  While Maud is a separate name in its own right, it is sometimes used as a diminutive of Matilda.  

 

A propos of not very much, my family tree has a number of Marys who all were known as Polly, with the nickname occasionally appearing in census records.  I don't think it's too much of a stretch to think that Alice Matilda may have been known as Alice Maud.

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Trav
2 hours ago, Madmeg said:

2) If he is the William found in Shoreditch then why isn't he with the family during the census? Is it possible that in fact he is elsewhere - that Alice Maud was not in fact his sister but an aunt, or even (given the later birth date ) his mother? This happened quite often with children born out of wedlock so could be the case with him.

 

Really? I'm researching my Grandfather and, due to discrepancies in names and the lack of a father's name on a birth certificate, came up with what I thought was a 'wild theory' that my Grandfather's sister was actually his mother, maybe it's not so wild after all.

 

I don't want to hijack this thread - maybe my post somehow supports the point you made - but do you have any sources or references I could look into to follow this up?

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Madmeg
4 hours ago, Trav said:

 

Really? I'm researching my Grandfather and, due to discrepancies in names and the lack of a father's name on a birth certificate, came up with what I thought was a 'wild theory' that my Grandfather's sister was actually his mother, maybe it's not so wild after all.

 

I don't want to hijack this thread - maybe my post somehow supports the point you made - but do you have any sources or references I could look into to follow this up?

Don't have it in my own family but have heard of several people finding this in,their own families- that the "sister" or "aunt" was in fact the mother, and that the person who was thought to be mother was actually granny. Closest I could give you would be in my Northamptonshire Knight family where George (a great g (g/) uncle) and his wife Clara baptised their youngest child on the same day (and both at Little Houghton church) that their oldest daughter Emma baptised her illegitimate child. Emma subsequently married the father of the child and moved away (but is back with another child in a later census) but it's easy to imagine what would have happened if she had died - no doubt granny and grandad would have brought the child up as their own.

 

Can;t help you with sources because it's just something I've noted in passing while reading various forum posts- perhaps a search on rootsweb might get you something? or genforum.

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Madmeg
19 hours ago, AndrewFrench said:

I am placing this intriguing mystery on behalf of a friend onto the forum in the hope that somebody will be able to suggest a solution as to who this man was and where he served. My friend writes

I'm really hoping that you might just be able to help with the family mystery that has left me stumped regarding my great grandfather on my fathers side, and his mysterious change of identity during the First World War.  My meagre findings seem to raise more questions than they answer, so I hope to ask if there is any help you can give in shedding any more light on the military side of the story? Here’s what I have found so far:

William Henry Hubbard - born in Poplar.  There are two possible dates of birth 1888 or 1896 (it’s unclear which).  As far as I know he never moved from there.  Both his parents died when he was young and he was raised by a sister Alice Maud.

 

According to family stories, the house they lived in was bombed and he believed his sister to have died.  At some point after that he signed up to join the army before or during WW1.

During his service, he was hit by a shell and left for dead, but when collected and found to be alive, there was some kind of switch - my great aunt thinks the wrong ID disc was collected with him, and he was treated in military hospitals for amnesia.  A different story claims there was some kind of trouble with his service in the military and as a result he intentionally changed his name - again, its not at all clear.

He returned home as Henry (or Harry) Abbott, where he settled in Bristol and married Bessie Price in February 1918.  On my aunts birth certificate, he lists his occupation as ex-rifleman, 3rd Rifle Brigade.

At some point, flashes of memory returned and warranted a trip to Poplar where he found family members, and the sister he supposed dead.

 

He passed away in 1931 in Bristol.  The identity switch wasn’t made known to his wife until after his death when there was some mix up with army pensions.

 

As you can see, most of the story is family myth and supposition.  I can find no military records relating to William Hubbard, or any version of Harry Abbott that might fit the bill.

 

I’d love to know more, but any starting point or advice on where to look would be wonderful, it’s become quite a compulsive project of mine.

Any suggestions for a way forward gratefully received

 

 

 

Having had some time to get away from the PC and think about this one..

 

What do we actually KNOW about this man?

 

We have Henry Abbott who was married to Bessie Price in Bristol 1918. Who seems to have have had relatives with the surname Hubbard in Poplar and who may have served in the 3rd Rifle Regt. And he got a military pension. All else is a bit vague.

 

So - thoughts for the people who are good at the Military records..

 

It seems strange that he just accepted that his sister had died, strikes me there is a missing piece here- he's either too young to follow it up - but that would make him a bit young to join up , or maybe he is already in the army and unable to follow up because he is not local.

 

If he had some sort of "trouble" in the army wouldn't he have lost his rights to a pension? Ie if he was a deserter or court matialled etc. That would make the ID tag / amnesia story more likely.

 

If he was claiming a pension under the name of Henry Abbott when he first came back then from the story above he must have changed the name on the pension sometime before his death or his widow wouldn't have had any difficulty claiming it under the only name she knew.- Is this traceable.

 

There is nothing in the story above (as given) to indicate why he believed his name to be William Henry Hubbard. His sister might have been married by the time he found her (or widowed or remarried) and her married name could have been Hubbard . Do we have any more details to confirm him as William Henry Hubbard- not to mention the discrepancy in the birth date (why are there two dates? have they come down through family legend or are they best guesses from research?)

 

Why did someone who was born and brought up in Poplar end up in Bristol? This might support the ID mix up theory if that is here Henry Abbott was from (but would not rule out the "running away from something" theory either)

 

Do we have any other family names to work with? The great aunt for example (don;t want to breach her privacy but if we know her name and relationship to him it might be possible to do more tracking?). There are no mentions of any other siblings but then there are family in Poplar when he returned there later.

 

This one is intriguing me too! I'm happy to take it further offline if info is emailed to me

Edited by Madmeg

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corisande

We also "know" (apparently) that he died as Harry Abbott in 1931 AGED 50, pointing to 1881 birth. Which is at odds with the dates that the family is using as a putative dob (their putative dob being based on  a Hubbard that no you has been able to identify)

 

As I said in an earlier post, we need scans of both marriage and death cents, otherwise the forum is trying to build a house of cards on a base of sand

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Keith Brannen
7 minutes ago, corisande said:

We also "know" (apparently) that he died as Harry Abbott in 1931 AGED 50, pointing to 1881 birth. Which is at odds with the dates that the family is using as a putative dob (their putative dob being based on  a Hubbard that no you has been able to identify)

 

As I said in an earlier post, we need scans of both marriage and death cents, otherwise the forum is trying to build a house of cards on a base of sand

 

Agree totally, definitely need scans, otherwise everything else is just in the air (or on a base of sand!). For example, for the 1931 death record cited, there is also Henry John Abbott born in Bristol in the June quarter of 1881 which I would be inclined to think is the man for the death certificate. So my question would be, how do they know, and what proof do they have, that their man died in 1931?

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Madmeg
34 minutes ago, corisande said:

We also "know" (apparently) that he died as Harry Abbott in 1931 AGED 50, pointing to 1881 birth. Which is at odds with the dates that the family is using as a putative dob (their putative dob being based on  a Hubbard that no you has been able to identify)

 

As I said in an earlier post, we need scans of both marriage and death cents, otherwise the forum is trying to build a house of cards on a base of sand

Quite- and even if his original name was W H Hubbard- it could be Hibbert or Hubert or something similar sounding. There's a lot missing here- need some more details on sources etc

 

9 minutes ago, Keith Brannen said:

 

Agree totally, definitely need scans, otherwise everything else is just in the air (or on a base of sand!). For example, for the 1931 death record cited, there is also Henry John Abbott born in Bristol in the June quarter of 1881 which I would be inclined to think is the man for the death certificate. So my question would be, how do they know, and what proof do they have, that their man died in 1931?

Well I'd assume that the descendants of Harry and Betty EDIT- Bessie- have a pretty good idea of when Great Grandad died?

Edited by Madmeg

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