Part 1 concluded with the fact that Frederick Stevens had listed his sister as next of kin on his military records, rather than his mother or father. I am looking for enough information to help find his birth certificate.
The Census Records
This was the first time I’d seen a soldier name his sister as next of kin. One reasonable explanation I could imagine for this was that Frederick’s parents were both deceased. I turned to the censuses to see what I could find. In the 1891 British census, I found Frederick in the military barracks of the Army Service Corps in Aldershot, Hampshire. His birthplace was given as Pimlico, but his age was 19, making his birth year about 1872. This was 2 years off from my calculation based on his service records. Based on this census and his army records, I was fairly sure that Frederick was born in Pimlico—not Eastbourne or Newcastle, which are both far from London.
Working backwards, finding Frederick in the 1881 census proved to be much more difficult, as there were no good matches based on age and birthplace. I didn’t know his parents’ names, which made it even harder. Frustrated, I decided to skip to the 1871 census in hopes that Frederick had been born in time to appear in that census, and I might find him with his sister Annie—the next of kin listed in his service records. After a lot of searching, I felt I was on the right track when I found a Frederick J. Stevens living in London with his mother and father, one brother (George), and three sisters—one of whom was named ANNE C. Could this be the Annie next of kin? Have I found the parents’ names?
His place of birth was given as Pimlico (matching his service records and the 1891 census), but his age was listed as 3 years, making his birth year about 1868. Frederick’s birth year was beginning to look like a moving target. The range was now running anywhere between 1868 and 1872!
I told Veronica what I had found so far, and she replied, “I have been searching for FRED for 18 months and have come up with nothing. At least you have found something albeit confusing.” Then she told me why she was on a mission to get her grandfather’s birth certificate.
Veronica wanted to apply for what is often called an “Ancestry visa”—a U.K. Ancestry Entry Clearance. This allows a Commonwealth citizen with a grandparent born in the U.K. to come to the U.K. and eventually apply for permanent residence. She hoped to leave South Africa and move to England. The quest to find Veronica’s grandfather’s birth certificate suddenly took on a greater importance, and I was determined to succeed. She could not get a visa without it.
Using the names of the family members in the 1871 census as a springboard, I went back to searching for them in 1881—the census that I had initially passed over. What I found confirmed my suspicions. Both parents had apparently died, because I found four Stevens girls in an orphanage:
They were then between 14 and 7 years old—the three sisters who were named in the 1871 census, plus another girl born 3 years after. One of the girls was listed as Annie C. There was Frederick’s next-of-kin sister again. But where were Frederick and his brother George? And what had happened to their mother and father?
~to be continued