In my last post I promised my next job was to retell just the simple story of Frances (Fanny) Harriet Yates and her family without the distraction of evidence being presented all the time. I thought it would be an easy story to tell having collected all the information together. It’s been a very useful process as it helped me make connections I hadn’t made before, but the reason I’ve taken so long to write it is because it wasn’t simple at all!
It was a much longer story than I at first thought and I found myself worrying that by repeating information in previous posts I was quite frankly being very boring!
I also had a need to give a quick recap on the facts before I started ‘the story’ because I obviously don’t know if readers have read my previous posts.
Anyway, I hope visitors to this blog won’t mind my making this post the recap and the next, which will follow shortly, the first half of ‘the story’. That way you can read either (or neither) the recap and/or the story depending on your level of interest!
A recap on facts about Fanny and her family
In this blog I’ve been attempting to give an identity to a woman named Frances (Fanny) Harriet Yates. The reason? To try to establish whether she was the same Fanny Yates who registered the birth of her son, Edward Cavendish Yates, in Marylebone in 1845. His birth certificate tells us that his mother was Fanny Yates and that he was born at 6 Sherborne Street, Marylebone, Middlesex but it provides no name for his father. I know from my family that this illegitimate child, Edward Cavendish Yates, was my great grandfather.
I have established that the woman I’ve been researching, Frances (Fanny) Harriet Yates, lodged in the same house as distant family members of my great grandfather’s future wife for most of her adult life. Added to this, around the time he and Priscilla Jane Mecham actually married, the census record shows that Frances (Fanny) Harriet Yates’ relationship to the head of the household where she lived changed from ‘lodger’ to ‘cousin’.
Readers of this blog will have to make up their own minds whether I am right about these two Fanny Yates’ actually being the same person. I think they probably are, but there are also at least two other possibilities.
- For the first you need to go back to my very first post ‘First Attempt Finding Fanny Yates’ and read about Dame Frances Mary Musgrave née Yates.
- For the second you should refer to the 1861 census to discover that a Fanny Watson née Bundey and her husband lived at 6 Sherborne Street, Marylebone at that time. Before I began my most recent research I thought for a while that Fanny Bundey could be ‘our’ Fanny – perhaps she had given a false surname on the birth certificate?
I won’t go into all the details for either of these possibilities now. I think it’s probably enough to say that there was not as much evidence for Dame Frances Mary Musgrave née Yates or Fanny Watson née Bundey being the Fanny Yates we’re looking for, as I have now found for Frances Harriet Yates!
Having presented all the facts I can find, I still can’t actually prove that Frances Harriet Yates is the same Fanny Yates that gave birth to my great grandfather Edward Cavendish Yates in St Marylebone, but it does seem quite likely. It is also quite possible that as a Dressmaker/Costumière, F. H. Yates made dresses or costumes for the theatrical stage or for the fashionable fancy dress balls held at the time. Making/designing garments for either could very easily have brought her into contact with aristocracy like the Cavendish family – so maybe the story that’s been passed down in my family is true and Fanny Yates and one of the Dukes of Devonshire did get together! We will probably never know. Unless, that is, records of Edward Cavendish Yates’ residence as a child, or an explanation for his birth and our Frances Harriet Yates residence at 6 Sherborne Street, can be found.
On (hopefully) a humourous note….
I’m told that ‘dressmaker’, ‘seamstress’ and other similar occupations given in the censuses were often used to describe women who were in fact prostitutes. I wonder what that would make a ‘retired costumière’ ?!
I don’t think this alternative occupation applies to Fanny, but it can’t be ruled out as a possibility without more evidence of her work as a dressmaker.
If anyone out there has any further information or relevant photos, please leave a reply below or contact me.