As my descendancy progresses, I’ve come back around to my own line, the Halls. Because the name is so common, sorting out the marriages and children of the siblings of my 2 x great-grandmother Mabel Hall is proving tricky.
The first one I found, a long time ago, was Mona Hall’s marriage to Stanley Arthur May, and the births of their two children, the unusually named Monica Urania May and Stanley Errol May. I got lucky with this one, because family friend Brenda, who provided me with most of my starter info for this line, was able to remember Mona’s married name, and knew of her son, whom Brenda believed to be called Errol. Armed with this info, it didn’t take me long to unravel the May mystery – though it wasn’t helped by Mona having decided to sometimes go by the name Edith, her middle name!
After that I stalled slightly, until I found actress Amy Hall on the 1911 census, which informed me that she was married, despite the fact that she was still using her maiden name (probably because this is the name she performed under). With nothing else to go on, I’m still no closer to tracking this one down, but at least I know that there is something to be tracked down, which is a start! I also know from the 1911 census that the final sister, Marion Hall, was unmarried in 1911. There is a possible late marriage for her, but this is still speculative until I order the certificate, so I won’t go into it here.
The last, and only male, sibling, Henry V Hall is something of a mystery. The V is presumed to stand for Victor, as it is this name that he uses on the obituary message that he, Amy and Marion write for their father in the Stage in 1922. The only other leads I have also came from Brenda. When I was initially gathering info on this side of the family, she told me that my great-grandmother Victorine had a cousin, Matt Hall, who, she believed, lived in or around Bristol. However, it’s only today that I’ve made a breakthrough using this information.
First I searched on freebmd for all the births of a Matthew Hall between 1905 and 1925 – the choice of dates was fairly arbitrary but seemed a realistic starting point. Then I opened a separate tab and search for all the marriages of a Henry V Hall between these same dates. Unfortunately this only produced one marriage, of a Henry Voss Hall. So, I started again, just with Henry. Then I began cross-referencing the spouse’s and mother’s name looking for anything that remotely paired up.
There were a couple of names that cropped up across both sets of data, but these were fairly common names and the places and dates didn’t particularly match up with one another. Nor did they strike a chord with what I know about this branch of my family. Many of the Halls seemed to be born around the North East, which wasn’t a particularly strong location for my family, although Matthew Hall senior, Mabel’s father, lived there for a time from his childhood, and presumably some of his siblings would have settled there, particularly those from his father’s second marriage to a local woman, Mary Ann Wimbles.
I hadn’t completely discounted it though, because Henry Victor Hall is in fact staying in the area at the time of the 1901 census – I assumed it was because he was travelling as a performer, but I suppose it’s possible that he could have been more rooted in the area. In fact, it occurs to me as I write this that he might even be staying with a relative of his father’s... I’d never thought of that before, I must investigate further. You see, this is what I mean about how blogging helps me think more clearly!
Anyhow, without anything particularly strong to go on, I decided that the next thing to do was to check the 1911 census for Matthew Halls with a father named Henry, on the assumption that it must be one of the earlier marriages and births for which the spouse and mother’s surnames aren’t given.
However, I was then struck by another thought – that I should check for marriages of a Victor Hall – after all, if this was how Victor signed himself in 1922, then he might have used this name on his marriage as well. And this was when I struck gold.
I quickly identified that there was a marriage between a Victor H Hall and a Mary J / Josephine Rooney in Stoke on Trent in 1922 (to clarify, there are two separate entries, one for a Mary J Rooney, and one for a Josephine Rooney – both give Hall as the name of their spouse, but a quick check confirms that there is only one Hall on the page), and a birth for a Matthew V Hall to a Rooney mother in West Derby in Q4 1923. It struck me as a strong possibility because
1. The initials make sense – Henry Victor has reversed his name to become Victor Henry (and of course we have an example of him going by the name Victor that same year), while the V following Matthew must surely also be for Victor, after his father?
2. There are both Stoke on Trent and West Derby connections in the family line – Stoke on Trent was where Matt Hall was based for many years, and where I suspect Marion married that same year. And West Derby crops up time and again as the registration district across the Geoghegan line, suggesting strong family connections in the area.
I’ve suggested previously that I believe the Hall children kept in contact with their mother’s family even following the divorce of their parents, based on the fact that Charles Bennett (son of Kathleen Birchall Geoghegan’s closest sister in age, Annie Birchall Geoghegan) was staying with his cousin Marion on the 1911 census.
I was optimistic at this point, but not fully convinced. I decided to search for further possible births from this marriage, and came up with four possibilities, two of which carry further weight in the argument.
The first was the birth of a Kathleen Hall to a Rooney mother in Q4 1922 in West Derby, a year before the birth of Matthew. Kathleen, as I mentioned above, was the name of Henry/Victor’s mother.
The second was the birth of a Josephine Hall in 1926 in Bolton –presumably named for her mother, but perhaps also tipping a hat to her grandfather Joseph Bryan Geoghegan. Bolton is another location with strong family ties.
The two other births that I suspect might belong to this family are Ronald Hall in 1930 and Maureen Hall in 1933, both in the registration district of Leeds North. At first I wasn’t convinced that these were connected, but I compared all the Hall-Rooney marriages and all the children born to Hall-Rooney parents, and there’s really no other marriage to account for these children. so, unless they were born out of wedlock, I have to assume that there’s a move to the Leeds area by the Hall family between 1926 and 1930.
This would have them moving to Yorkshire shortly before Henry/Victor’s niece Victorine moved with her family from Romford to Wakefield, just a few miles from Leeds, between 1933 and 1936. Victorine’s move would eventually bring her mother, Henry/Victor’s sister Mabel, up north as well. Victorine’s son was also named Victor, which I think speaks of the close family ties between the Hall siblings – useful perhaps, in that finding one should always lead me to the others eventually!
All in all, I’m convinced that I have got the right people here. There can be no question that Matthew, Kathleen and Josephine, at least, are the children of the marriage I identified between a Victor H Hall and Mary J/Josephine Rooney. (I would need to order certificates or find some further evidence to be sure that Ronald and Maureen were also their children.)
And the coincidences of children’s names and places are, I think, too striking for this not to be the marriage of Mabel’s brother Henry. What do you think?