Monday, 25 January 2010

I love this photo...

I have always loved this photo as a little window into my ancestry. The chap on the right, back row, is my grandad (George Potter born 1892). He looks a fair bit like my dad did and my sister. He was born in Plaistow and by all accounts was quite a character. I have a couple of poems that he wrote and they are very humorous. He died when I was four and my only memory of him is of him handing me some chalk to scribble on the end of his sideboard. He died shortly after the last of his thirteen grand-children (my brother) was born. My father took my baby brother into hospital to show him his new grandchild but apparently my dad was ushered out by a nurse saying, 'this is no place for babies.'

I don't know much about my grandad. I do know he fought in the Battle of the Somme. A couple of times my dad descrbed how he had a hole in his leg. There was always speculation about whether or not it was a Blighty wound. How sensible of him if it was. He married my grandmother long after she had had all of their five children (circa 1959). It is rumoured (and I really cannot remember where this came from) that he had a German wife that he married during his time in the army of occupation in Cologne after the first world war and was scared of committing bigamy. I have no more information on this but do wonder if he somehow caught wind of his first wife's death or he just figured that he was likely to get away with a little bigamy after so many years had passed.

From the family tree I have drawn, I would guess this photo was taken about 1905. The chap on the left in the black suit is my great uncle Charlie (whom my father was named after). He died in the Battle of the Somme. The eldest child: Arthur (born 1889), I know nothing about. The youngest child sitting on his mother's lap is Harold (born 16.12.04). He went on to work for MI5 (no kidding). I learnt in recent years that he made it into the 21st century and died at a very old age. His fellow dress wearer is Frank.

The father (my great-grandfather): Arthur Potter (born Deptford 1867) was a soldier at first and then a postman in later life. He was absent from the 1891 census - so possibly off fighting somewhere. My dad remembered him but would only share with me that 'he got old and died'. The mother: Anita Louisa Pearce (born 1868 in Spondon, Derby - child of a temperance lecturer born in Swanton Morley, Norfolk - George Harvey Pearce and a Canadian from Quebec - Harriet Louise Fielders). I have gone much further back in this family tree and even made contact with a distant cousin by doing so - but that's well and truly beyond this photo.

The saddest part of the story behind this photo was that it was taken after the only daughter (Cissy or Catherine C) in the family had died at the age of four. I don't yet know what she died of.

A jigsaw with enough pieces to make a picture but several missing bits that cause intrigue. That's history for you.


  1. I like this.

    If you email stuff about Gramps (Full name DOB, regiment - if you can find it etc), I'll do a bit of hunting via my WW1 network stuff... it would be a pleasure.

    I spent Friday night nursing a bad shoulder (i.e. drinking gin and taking paracetamol) whilst reading a war diary I'd downloaded for my grandafather's regiment from the National Archive and some other stuff I downloaded. It's interesting you mentioning your GGF not being on the census, I couldn't figure out why mine GF wasn't on the 1901... he was in Khartoum. doh.

    The National Archive is worth a look, and the downloads are reasonably cheap, 600+ page scanned in diary for The Buffs and Royal Fusiliers £3.50, the medal rolls were a bit of a worse deal £2.00 for one sheet. but worth a look.

  2. I think great grandma had a bit of 'red flash' in her eyes. They didn't Photoshop it out?

  3. Nick. I would really appreciate anything you could give me....any morsel

    I'll gather what I have and e mail it.

    Eric - I always think 'gt grandma' looks really stern - I know they didn't smile for photos but she looks fierce! If her dad lectured on the evils of alcohol, she probably didn't have too much tomfollery in her life. It's OK - I had her share.

  4. Claire - the more I look at our grandad in this photo - the more he looks like you as a child to me!

  5. Me too. I remember sitting on his lap in the kitchen every time we visited - he always had on a grey or a maroon hand-knitted tank top and his belly would rise up and down with his breathing and he was very warm (in a cold kitchen). I found it really comforting. He'd let me play with the spices on the spice rack next to his chair at the same time and sniff them all and guess their names. In the summer he'd take me in the vegetable patch and show me the "crows" he'd made out of black bin bags hanging from the trees to scare away the birds xxx

  6. I think mentioning the S word in a blog might have just opened you up to spam... I did that by mentioning Soviet propaganda art on mine, all hell broke loose.

  7. Have deleted Spam. Didn't much rate his comment.

    Won't mention the Somme again.


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