To begin with I had some difficulty tracing the whereabouts in 1911 of the Webbs – the family of my father’s mother, Mary Emily Elizabeth Webb. In previous census records they are listed as living in Mile End Old Town, where my grandmother was born, and I knew that they moved to East Ham at some point – but searching these two locations turned up no results. 

Eventually I found the family living in Barking – at 39 Perth Road, in a house with only 4 main rooms – which couldn’t have been easy for a family of 7. Mary’s father (my great grandfather) George Webb was 37 at the time and working as a machinery oiler at a brewery (earlier records give his occupation variously as a house decorator and gas works labourer). His wife Mary Webb nee French (my great grandmother) was also 37. The census record confirms her place of birth as Stepney and George’s as Shadwell – which may help in the so-far-fruitless task of exploring the latter’s family background. The couple had been married for 13 years at this stage (they were married in August, 1897, 9 or 10 months before my grandmother’s birth).

Besides Mary, who was 12, the couple had four other children: Jessie Caroline, who was 10, and like Mary, born in Mile End; George Frederick, 8; Charles Joseph, 6; and Alfred Arthur, 4. The three boys are all said to have been born in East Ham, indicating that the family must have lived there between about 1903 and 1907. If I can track down their birth certificates, it will provide information about the family’s address during these ‘missing years’.