It's not really surprising, but you can waste spend a lot of time chasing up DNA links. Sometimes this is so frustrating it seems that most of those ancestors indulged in illicit relationships and/or swapped babies in unofficial adoptions. So I was pleased to find a quick link back to a Bradley line recently, that took me from Islington all the way back to my Suffolk family in and around Stowmarket and enabled me to connect up some lines previously only suspected. Unfortunately this link, though still valid in itself, was thrown into doubt by this screenshot from FreeBMD: The DNA match had taken me back to the Mary Victoria Bradley who married John Archer Drew in Wandsworth in 1888. It was the other Mary Victoria Bradley, who married Charles Hyland in Brighton in 1884 whose family could be traced back to Suffolk. This was the first hint that there were two Mary Victoria Bradleys; so where did the second one suddenly appear from? She doesn't appear in any census with this name or even with an initial V unlike mine. So I grudgingly forked out the cash for the marriage certificate. I already knew the first Drew children had been baptised as Catholics at Our Immaculate Lady of Victories in Clapham and that the family lived at 67 Nightingale Lane, so the fact that their parents married there in a Roman Catholic ceremony and from that address, wasn't a surprise. Mary Victoria Bradley gives her age as 30, so born in 1858, and says her father, now deceased, was William Cookson Bradley, Major, Foot (retired). But like this Mary Victoria, her father is proving remarkably elusive; I can't find him with this full name in any census or military records. The fact that his daughter is a Catholic (no hint that the Drews ever were), and he a military man, so not, might mean that he served in Ireland and married an Irish wife. Mary Victoria may have been a convert of course, and took on the name Victoria - though not exactly a saint's name - on her confirmation, or was it perhps just a nod to the dedication of the church where she married? There was a marriage on the 26th February 1795 at St Giles without Cripplegate of Benjamin Bradley and Catherine (or Christian) Cookson. Now normal expectation might be that they had a son who had his mother’s maiden name as a middle name. Benjamin was a Tailor, and with his wife had at least six children: a son Henry born in1799, and daughters, Elizabeth, born in 1797; Jane, born in 1802; Sarah born in 1805; Ann born in 1808; and Sarah born in about 1816. Elizabeth and Henry were baptised in St Botolph’s Aldersgate, and Jane, Sarah and Ann at St Giles Cripplegate. I can’t find a baptism for the later Sarah, the only clue to her relationship is the fact that her oldest sister Elizabeth and her husband Thomas Lambert are witnesses to her marriage to the actor George Wieland in 1835. So there is a good gap between the birth of Ann in 1808 and Sarah in 1816 where a William Cookson Bradley, and perhaps other children, could have been born, lacking baptismal records. Benjamin died in 1827 and doesn’t appear to have written a proper will, instead he put his intentions down on a piece of paper that had to be verified as his after his death. He, somewhat strangely refers to the children as just his wife’s children, but doesn’t name them; probably the Jane Bradley who was one of the people sworn in to verify the document was his daughter, the other witness was Thomas Lambert, his son-in-law, the husband of his daughter Elizabeth. By the time of his death the family had moved from Golden Lane in St Luke’s parish, to Manor Place in Walworth. It’s therefore quite possible that this presumed William followed a military career, attested before 1830, served overseas, was pensioned off and married in the 1850s, and died around the time of his daughter’s birth. She might have had no personal memory of him at all; and while his name on the marriage certificate is too specific to have been conjured out of thin air, his rank had perhaps been inflated. Perhaps she wasn’t even born in the Chelsea/Westminster area, it was just the place she first remembered as I can’t find her hereabouts in the 1861 census - or in 1871 or 1881. After her marriage Mary Victoria Drew appears in all three censuses, giving different ages, and slightly different places of birth. In 1891 she is living with her husband, three children and three servants at 67 Nightingale Lane, now said to be in Streatham. She says she is 32 and born in Brompton, London. Her husband John Archer Drew is a Barge owner; he was a lighterman on their marriage certificate, and the Drews go back a long way as Thames watermen. In 1901 she is living in 18 Coalbrook Mansions in Streatham with seven children; she gives her age as 40 and her birthplace as Westminster. With her husband absent and living at 156 Camberwell Grove as a licensed lighterman, she is working as a Board School teacher. In 1911 She is living at 105 Clapham Park Road, still describing herself as married (for 24 years) she has six children living with her. Aged 54, she is working as a school teacher, and simply says she was born in Middlesex, London. Her husband in that census is living in a boarding house in Kennington Park Road, describes himself as single, and is working as a commission agent. The 1921 census confuses matters even more. Mary Victoria Drew is living as “a visitor” in the Exeter Hotel in Brighton; she says she is aged 55 years and 9 months, was born in London, is married, and is employed as a teacher with the London County Council, working in London. As this census was finally taken on the 19th June 1921 this puts her birth in about September 1865, which means she has only aged one year since 1911! It does however nearly correlate with the information she gives in 1939 when she appears to be living at 15 Devonshire Place in Brighton; she says she's married, and a retired school teacher who was born on the 11th September 1864. This address was a guest house with a large number of guests at the time, and during the 1930s the proprietors advertised its attractions in the newspapers: BRIGHTON. Close sea and all amusements. Board-Res. 35s. Bed and Breakfast 21s. Bright jolly home, children not objected to; no restrictions. Morley, 15, Devonshire-place. Birmingham Daily Gazette, 6 November 1937. If this is Mary Victoria then she has reduced her age by about seven years, perhaps she didn't want to admit to being over 80! Going by her name alone, a Mary V. Drew died in Hammersmith in 1947 aged 90, bringing her birth year back to 1857. So Mary Victoria Bradley was possibly born in 1857/58 or 1864/65 in that part of London, north of the river, between Chelsea and Westminster, or at least lived there, and probably as just Mary Bradley. Her birth may not have been registered as that was not a legal requirement until 1874, and she may or may not have been baptised. Surprisingly there aren't that many Bradleys living in that part of London at that period, and the Mary born to William Bradley and Amy Smith there in 1858 died two years later. There is a Mary Bradley in the 1871 census aged 14, which sets her birth in 1857, and she appears as an orphan and “industrial girl” living in the All Saints Home & Orphanage in Margaret Street, St Marylebone. She appears here with a 15 year old Martha Bradley, and they are both said to be born in Chelsea, so assumed to be sisters. It seems that they are generally believed to be the daughters of John Bradley and Mary Mann who had both died in the early 1860s; but their Mary was born in 1854 so would have been 17 in 1871. The Anglo- Catholic All Saints Home could possibly have provided sufficient education for Mary later to become a teacher, and possibly encouraged her conversion to catholicism. I can’t identify Martha in any census after 1871, and it’s possible that Mary had no further family. The witnesses to her marriage are Eidth Flood and Arthur Sullivan, perhaps just members of the local Catholic congregation. So an annoying dead-end as far as the Bradleys are concerned! Though of course there’s still that DNA match … Mary Victoria Drew (née Bradley) and John Archer Drew It is fairly obvious from the 1901 and 1911 censuses that Mary Victoria and her huband have gone their separate ways, but the Canterbury Journal in November and December 1898 throws light on the situation. In a report headed Herne Bay - a peculiar case, the newspaper reported on proceedings at the St. Augustine's Petty Sessions held on Saturday 5th November 1898. John Archer Drew had been summoned by his wife Mary Victoria Drew “to shew cause why he should not contribute towards her and her children’s support”. Mary Victoria revealed that she had been living in Hereford House, Herne Bay, with her children for about two years, and had moved there from Clapham, where she had lived for nine years. At the time her husband had been a lighterman in a good position, but his business failed and as she was in ill health she moved to Herne Bay. Her husband had used to visit at weekends but she had not received any money from him for two years. The help she was receiving from his father would stop at Christmas as she understood her husband was now receiving £10 a week and had an office in the City. Her husband had stayed in Herne Bay all the previous winter and when he left in March she had given him some money to help him seek employment, but had not heard from him since. “She had never asked him to come back as she did not want him if he could not support her. […] She summoned him for the purpose of finding out whether he was in a position to maintain her.” In response John Archer Drew had written to the Bench “stating that he was in a penniless position and could not come down to Canterbury. He had no wish to desert his wife and family and would find them a home in London if he could get employment.” The case was adjourned for a month, and Mary Victoria was advised “to ascertain further particulars.” Mary Victoria was back in court a month later when “John Archer Drew was summoned for deserting his wife, Mary Victoria Drew, who applied for a separation order”. Mary’s husband again wrote stating he could not appear as he had no money to enable him to do so. Complainant said that she wrote to her husband’s father asking him to make enquiries for her, but he had not replied. She had been living on her own money, but it was nearly all gone. Next quarter’s rent and a few shillings was all that she had got. She thought her father-in-law ought to assist her as he and her husband’s brother had taken over the business to take care of, because defendant neglected it. She really believed her husband had nothing. The Bench advised the complainant to withdraw the summons until she could get further information, and then to renew her application. This course was adopted by the complainant. There is nothing further on the matter in the newspapers, so perhaps her father-in-law did help out? There is no mention of any of her own family and it looks very much as if Mary Victoria had decided on an independent life by 1901 finding work as a teacher to support herself and seven children.
Tales around the tree Mary Victoria Bradley
Mary Victoria Drew’s ages 1888 (marriage) - 30 [b. 1858] 1891 census - 32 [b. 1859] 1901 census - 40 [b. 1861] 1911 census - 54 [b. 1857] 1921 census - 55y 9m [b. 1865] 1939 register - b. 11 Sep 1864