Here’s another difficult Harry. This one married my aunt Dorothy by licence in Hounslow in 1917. The certificate shows him to be aged 25 and a soldier with the British Expeditionary Force in France; his father’s name is left blank. He survived the war and they continued to live in the Hounslow area, where they had three children. By the time of the electoral registers of the 1920s Harry had assumed the middle name Herbert. They lived in Midsummer Avenue until 1934, as neighbours to two of his sisters-in-law and their families. In 1935 they moved to Byron Avenue and Harry re-invented himself as Henry Thomas Hurst, and that is how he appears on the 1939 register at 58 Byron Avenue, Hounslow as an “Established Civil Servant HM Office of Works” born on the 12th of July 1892. During the Second World War they moved to North Wales and Harry died in Rhyl in 1947. His death was registered as Henry T. Hurst, but his burial was as Thomas Henry Hurst. The entry in the Probate Calendar has another version:HURST Harry Thomas of 13 Butterton-road Rhyl Flintshire died 1 May 1947 Administration Bangor 25 August to Dorothy Mary Hurst widow and Dorothy Eleanor Mallon (wife of Neil Gerrard Mallon). Effects £1391 2s 10d.Aunt Dorothy died in December 1965 at the Military Families Hospital at Catterick Camp in Yorkshire, though her home address is also in Rhyl. Administration of her estate of £3540 went to her son Harry Leonard Hurst post office official and to her married daughters Dorothy Eleanor Howard and Joan Ada Fellows.The newspaper report of Joan’s wedding in Kent gives a clue as to why they went to Rhyl:EAST KENT NEWS. ASH. Wedding of Miss J.A. Hurst.The wedding took place at the parish church, on Saturday, of Joan Ada, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Hurst, London and Rhyl, and Gunner Thomas E. Fellows, R.A., son of Mr. and Mrs. T. Fellows, “The Wheatsheaf”, Ash. The Rev. C. W. Carter officiated. The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a white satin dress, veil and feather headdress, and carried a bouquet of bronze chrysanthemums. Her attendants were Mrs. Matton (sister), who wore a blue dress with floral bodice, and Miss J. Powell (cousin), in a pink net dress. They carried pink and mauve asters and a Victorian posy respectively. The best man was Mr. C. Holness (bride’s cousin). A reception was held at the Village Hall. The honeymoon was spent at Boughton, near Faversham. The bridegroom is an artificer attached to a R.A.M.T. School at Rhyl.Dover Express Friday 14 September 1945While some of the names are wrong (her sister is Mrs. Mallon and the best man Mr. C. Honess, and Miss J. Powell is his 5 year-old niece, which explains the “pink net”) the likelihood is that the Hursts were also attached to the R.A.M.T School (Royal Artillery Mechanical Traction School) which had been moved to Rhyl in 1940, with Harry, ex-military, working there as a civilian. Finding this Harry’s origins has proved quite difficult. For a start there is no birth registered under any version of his name in the third quarter of 1892, and nothing suitable in 1911, though he could by then already be in the army.In the 1901 census there is a Henry Hurst as an inmate at Forest Gate District School, 95 Forest Lane, West Ham; aged 9, his birthplace unknown. He was admitted on the 23rd September 1897 along with a brother Frederick; orphaned, their only relative is a grandfather, Lancelot Read of 64 Monier Road, Bow; a Rachel Hurst, born in 1891, was admitted on the 9th September that year, with the same grandfather. Frederick died in the School in 1899, but Rachel (with the added middle name Emily) by 1911 is working as a laundry maid in Hendon, aged 20, and born in Bow. She married Herbert Houston in 1912, and on the marriage certificate she names her father as Thomas Henry Hurst, a commercial traveller; one of the witnesses is Walter John Jones, the husband of Maria Harris Read, a daughter of Lancelot. The three children had all attended Smeed Street School; Rachel and her older brother Frederick were both admitted on the 27th August 1894 when their father’s name is noted as Thomas, and their address is 64 Monier Road. Their respective birthdays are 17th November 1890 and 8th May 1889. Henry entered the school on the 24th August 1896, his father’s name and address is the same, and his birthday is the 13th July 1893.In theory it shouldn’t be too difficult to find this family in the 1891 census, though that is before Harry’s birth. Surprisingly they show up in Tottenham using the surname Read. Their address is Crispes Cottage, Alexandra Road, Tottenham and the head of the household is Thomas H. Read, age 47, a General Commission Agent born in Sheffield. His wife Emily was born in Southwark and is 28, and they have three children: Lancelot W., age 6 and born in Homerton; Frederick J., age 2 and born in Hackney; and Rachel E., under a year old and born in Tottenham. Quite why the whole family is going under the name of Read is a mystery, though I am certain Emily Read never actually married Thomas Henry Hurst.Emily Read was the oldest daughter of Lancelot James Read, a tobacco pipe maker who moved from Hackney to Camberwell and back to Hackney: the first child from his second marriage to Emily Wilson, she was born in 1863 in Southwark, but baptised with three of her siblings on the 22nd September 1869 at St Barnabas in Homerton. In 1871 the family are living in Margaret Street, Hackney, and in 1881 in Palace Road, Hackney; Emily makes her first solo appearance in the official records on the 23rd June 1885 when she is admitted to the Hackney Union Workhouse and sent straight to the Infirmary. She is single and an ironer, and her father L.J.R. [Lancelot James Read] lives at 15 Benn Street, Hackney. Her son Lancelot William Read was born the same day, and his birth was registered with no father’s name. When he was baptised on the 30th October 1885 at St Augustine, South Hackney, his parents are named as Alexander William and Emily Read of 15 Benn St., his father working as a Carpenter. As another oddity he seems to have been baptised for a second time on the 29th May 1888 in Hackney Wick with the same parents’ names, but now with the address 12 Daintry Street, and the occupation wheelwright.Emily returned to Hackney Union Workhouse with her son Lancelot William on the 8th of May 1889 and again she went straight to the infirmary this time to give birth to Frederick John the same day. Again his birth was registered with no father named, and he was baptised at St John of Jerusalem, Hackney on the 20th June 1889 to parents Alexander William and Emily Read of 13 Palace Road, a wheelwright.Alexander William (probably not) Read, the wheelwright/carpenter appears to be the father only of Emily’s first two children, for when Rachel Emily Read was baptised on the 14th December 1890 at St Ann, Tottenham her parents are Thomas Henry & Emily Read, of 2 Alexandria Cottages, Commission Agent, which tallies with the 1891 census. She was born in the final quarter of 1890 in Edmonton district; her birth registration shows her mother’s maiden name to be Wilson, which was Emily’s mother’s maiden name. Rachel also had a second baptism: as Rachel Emily Hurst she was baptised as an adult on the 17th of March 1906 in Kensington, when her “alleged” birthday was stated to be the 15th of November 1890.It is the school records and dates of birth that connect Harry, or Henry as he was properly known, with his siblings. His birth was registered as Henry Thomas Read on the 19th August 1892, with his birth on the 12th July at 32 Osborne Road in Hackney, though his mother’s maiden name is said to be Griffiths. He was baptised in Hackney Wick on the 7th of August 1892 (between his birth and its registration) as Henry Thomas Bollan Hirst, with parents Thomas Henry and Emily Hirst of 13 Mallard Street, Commission Agent. in 1894 Thomas Henry Hurst appears on the electoral roll at that address, and he is named as Thomas Hurst, Commercial traveller, when Emily’s father Lancelot registered her death on the 11th of January 1895 at 64 Monier Road from acute bronchitis. He is on the electoral roll for 1896 at 64 Monier Road - also his name and address for Henry’s school entry on the 24th August 1896 - and that seems to be the last that is heard of him. His and Emily’s children are living there with her parents, but it would seem that the elderly Lancelot and Emily couldn’t cope with the younger ones, so they ended up in Forest Gate District School in the autumn of 1897. Lancelot died in 1900, aged 69; his widow, Emily died in 1912, aged 78.Rachel Emily Houston (née Read or Hurst) appears on the 1939 register living at 13 Lycett House, Atkins Road, Wandsworth, and gives her birthday as the 15th November 1890 - only two days out from her school entry. In 1939 Harry (Henry Thomas) gives his birthday as the 12th of July 1892, a year and a day out from his possible school entry, but the same as on his birth certificate. I’m not too worried by these slight discrepancies in dates: if your mother dies when you are very young and you get put into care, you probably don’t even know the exact date, and perhaps have only the hazy memories of other family members to rely on. Rachel certainly stayed in touch with her mother’s family, as her uncle’s presence at her wedding reveals, so that would be how she knew her father’s name. It is tempting to speculate that she made contact with her brother Harry in about 1934 which led him to change his name back to its official form, or had he got hold of a copy of his birth certificate?Lancelot William ReadTheir older brother - or half-brother - Lancelot William Read (he always kept this surname) led an interesting life. I can’t find any school records for him and he doesn’t seem to have gone to the Forest Gate District School either. Being that bit older he was perhaps taken in by his Read grandparents, and the 1901 census finds him, aged 15, working for a baker and pastrycook in Croydon. On the 3rd July that year he signed up for the local militia giving his age as 17 (“Age certified as correct by mother”) and was attached to the 5th Battalion the Rifle Brigade. On the 7th October that same year he attested for the Essex Regiment at Warley claiming to be 18. Posted to the 2nd Battalion in November 1902, by April the next year he was in prison, and then tried and sentenced to be “discharged with ignominy” for “Making away with by destruction his equipment, clothing, Regt. necessaries and prison property”. On his attestation he gave his grandmother Emily Read of 64 Monier Road and his aunt Mrs Staton (his mother’s sister Elizabeth) as his next of kin.In 1904 he left for the United States; his 1917 draft registration card places him as a window cleaner working in Chicago with his birthday the 24th June 1885, and a wife, Katharine Rogers. It intriguingly also reveals that he has lost four toes from his left foot in an automobile accident 5½ years previously. He appears in all the US censuses in Chicago, gaining at least two daughters, Isabella and Cecilia, and becoming a Roman Catholic presumably under the influence of his Irish wife. He died in Chicago on the 18th August 1949 and was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery; the Cook County death register gives his occupation as Elevator operator, confirms his birthday as 24th of June 1885, and his mother’s name as Emily Hurst.