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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree August 2018 > In search of Dad

In search of Dad

Julie Bedwell was never allowed to ask her Dad anything about his past. Following his sudden death in 1969 he took all his secrets with him to the grave. Yet Julie’s determination to piece together the fregments of her family story set her on a research quest that lasted for decades…

A tale in two parts


Part 1

For most of us who are bitten by the family history bug there is a real sense of achievement if we manage to find an ancestor or two who were born, married or even died before 1837. It is probably unheard of then for someone not even to get out of the 20th century. But that’s exactly where I’ve been – stuck in the 20th century for at least the last 20 years!

My father, Frederick Rimmer (or was he?), died in 1969 when I was 11. He married my mother, Amy Patient, in 1940 in London. Prior to my arrival there were three other children – all born in the 1940s. And yes, I was the ‘accident’ in 1957! Although we had a huge number of relatives on my mother’s side of the family, our tree is – to say the least – a little lop-sided. Dad never had any relatives that we knew of.

So, what was the story?

The story as we can best remember it is that he came to London from Liverpool before the war, apparently leaving home with just a suitcase following some sort of family disagreement. There are vague recollections of there being a family building and/or coal merchant business which caused this fallout, however, we were never allowed to ask Dad anything about his past.

The subject was simply taboo in our household! He met my mum just before the war but we do not know how long he had been in London prior to that. He was exempted from being called up for national service as it appears that he worked in a reserved occupation. He was an electrical engineer/ electrical foreman and the company he worked for, John Mowlem & Co Ltd, was contracted to the War office and also carried out work for other Government offices.

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What did your ancestors do for a job? Were they an apprentice? Did they take the King’s Shilling? Or work down the mine? What were the opportunities available to them, and what were the very real hazards of the work they did all day? This issue we’re exploring those employment records that can help you find out more about your ancestors’ work in times gone by. Discovering the history of your ancestors’ employment will give you invaluable insights into the lives they led. What they earned, and how they earned it, will shed light on their income and lifestyle, the communities they lived in, and the roof over their heads. Investigate their work; understand their lives… We have all the info you need to help you do this.