In the English 1891 census, according to Ancestry.com there is a Willy Fitzhenry aged 3, born in Bearstead, resident at the All Saints Orphanage in Lewisham, South London.
On the actual scan of the handwritten page, the age is 5 and the birthplace is Banstead.
"Banstead, isn't that near Ashtead in Surrey?" I hear you ask.
Yes. It is.
And spookily, at the orphanage is a Rowland Fitz-Henry, born Banstead, aged 11.
There can't be too many Rowland Fitz-Henrys in the world - the only one I've got on my entire database was the son of William FH and Martha (nee Eagles) who lived at Ashtead in Surrey.
Now Rowland wasn't born at Banstead, or even at Ashtead (he was born in Chiswick, London), and the only William in the GRO indexes born in that time frame was born in Paddington, London.
There was only one thing to do - send off for the birth certificate.
And here's what it said:
William Fitz-HenryWilliam senior died on 25 November 1885 after suffering a hemiplegic stroke. I'm not sure why Martha went to London to have her baby - perhaps she had hired the services of an obstetrician there.
Born 30 October 1885, 74 Cambridge Terrace, Hyde Park, London.
Son of William Fitz-Henry (deceased), a landowner and retired army captain and Martha Fitz-Henry nee Eagles.
Registered 8 December 1885
Martha herself died in 1889 of "alcoholic poisoning and coma", having moved back to her family in Aylesbury. She was only 43.
Of her surviving children, Hester Cordelia went to live with Dr Woodfield Eagles (Martha's brother), Woodfield disappeared from view until the 1901 census when he turns up as a shipping clerk, and Rowland and William ("Willy") went to live at the orphanage.
So... more questions.
Why did the boys go to the orphanage rather than being taken in by the large and wealthy Eagles family?
Why did the boys go to an orphanage so far from either their family home or from the Eagles family in Buckinghamshire?
Where was Woodfield in the 1891 census? He wasn't at the orphanage.
And what happened to Willy?
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