Unknown Grandma

My father was born in 1896, even he didn't know that when he married my mum. I sent for his birth certificate. It came today. I was so excited when i opened it but, after reading it i felt sad.
The reason being. His mother registered the birth and where her signature should be there was a cross. Somebody else had written underneath it that it was her mark. It really shocked me to think this poor woman could not write her name. Her husband (my grandfather) died before my dad was even a year old and she had three older children. I just keep thinking how she ever coped. Sorting a funeral out and all the other things you need to write for. I have a photograph of her with my dad when he was about two. I always thought she looked quite well to do, with nice clothes and dad with a lovely lace collar. Which i believe was quite expensive in those days. Now i have so many unanswered questions. Next job is to get the marriage certificate. I will do that tomorrow. Her name was Lydia, so although i've put unkown as the title to this blog she isn't anymore.

Recommend0 recommendations

Published in Home & Family


  1. Lina

    She’s definately not unknown – she’s YOUR grandmother and that makes her special. You will enjoy finding out more about her and her lifetime, even if some of it makes you sad. To know you are part of a chain of family is pretty special and somehow adds depths to our understanding of the world around us. Not logical maybe, but it certainly did for me. Good luck with your search – smile when you look at her photo – and know you are part of her family…. ((((((hugs)))))) Lina xx

  2. blinker1

    Thanks lina it means a lot that someone i don’t know cares enough to say such lovely things. A hug was just the thing i needed, but didn’t realise until you sent it. Forever grateful. XXXXXX

  3. nmod

    Interesting blog blinker , in those days ,I believe there were lots of people who were illiterate ,but in no way was that a measure of people’s intelligence , it’s simply that formal education was a privilege to those who could afford it …in those days many may have thought it unnecessary ,even superfluous for a woman to be formally educated ,after all a woman in those days were raised to be wives and mothers !
    Remember that in those days there were people specialized in dealing with formalities such as death ,birth , marriages etc .
    Things have changed so much for women over the years …very interesting ! Thank you for sharing your experience with us 🙂

  4. starlette

    Blinker, it may seem very sad to us that she was illiterate……..but in days gone by it was very much the norm……….people pulled together more in those days……..neighbours would have helped with children and funeral arrangements………….more community spirit then…..people looked out for each other………..should be more like that today……but alas………enjoy your search, hope it is fascinating for you. xx

  5. KamiCariad

    Hugs Grandma
    I read with interest your blog….conjurs so many thoughts and emotions doesnt it ….i cant even watch Long Lost Families and Find my past or Who do you think you are and Heir Hunters without floods of tears and empathy..Its what makes us who we are today….we are the blessings of our origins . she must have been a very strong woman who managed to get thru every adversity and we inherit those strengths….I am doing my family tree with my cousin she is way ahead of me but I am enjoying the Journey after all to know where were going is to start the journey from where we came from….The rewards are in the knowing of them after they have left us.also by knowing part of them is within ourselves. Good luck with your quest . Kamicariad xx Safe Journey Hugs x

  6. annemarie

    Blinker, Love reading your blog about your grandmother and I never got to meet my real grandmother’s. My Mother was adoped and her adopted Mother had passed away when she was sixteen and she never married my father. I finally found my father in 2010 and he had passed away in 2002 and lived only 45 miles from where I live here in Maryland. My friend found his family on Ancestry and his great nephew had put all the information about the family on there after he had passed away so I never got to meet him. I have meet my 2 half brother’s and my one half sister and also 2 cousin’s. Also found out the my father’s parents my grandparents are buried in the row behind my Mother’s adopted parents up home in Greencastle, Pa. So am now trying to find information on my Mother’s real parents. Good Luck with you search. 🙂

  7. jojo

    Blinker – I agree with the comments above regarding how common illiteracy was back in the 19th century. Thank goodness that’s changed but sadly illiteracy still prevails in many countries today. I do think your Grandmothers neighbours and friends would’ve rallied to help her when her husband died, but nevertheless, she was obviously a strong, amazing woman. I’m sure you must feel proud of her.

  8. Linda

    It is true that being able to read or write does not show how intelligent a person was, especially back then. Both of my parents did not go to school past 6th grade. They learned on the job and were table to end up owning their own business. We judge it by todays standards, but back then as they have said it was quite common. Your grandmother managed a home, was a mentor to her children, a chef, a facilitator, a leader, a smart woman who did it on her own. I would say she was a pretty smart lady. She would not feel the need to be felt sorry for, she was a successful woman. You came from good stock. The two of you can be proud of each other. Blessings. Nice Blog.

  9. padraig1

    awe blinker what a very moving story please keep us all informed i love storie so familys i traced my dads side i know a little of my mums side but not a lot