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From: Stephen Hayes
To: All
Date: 2005-01-23 06:21:00
Subject: How the WWI medal index cards solved a problem

* Forwarded (from: GEN_BRITAIN) by Stephen Hayes using timEd/2 1.10.y2k.
* Originally from Roy Stockdill (8:8/2003) to All.
* Original dated: Sat Jan 22, 16:05

From: roy{at} ("Roy Stockdill")

I wonder how many folks here have made use of the World War 1 medal index
cards at The National Archives' DocumentsOnline website? I feel obliged to
bring these to your attention (yes, I know some of you will be well aware
of them, but others may not), since I recently used the site to solve a
major problem in the ancestry of a UK celebrity I was researching for a
Practical Family History article. It is an outstanding example of how a
relatively obscure source can suddenly produce the vital breakthrough.

Willie Thorne, the snooker player, had a paternal grandmother who was a bit
of a mystery, since she was born illegitimate in 1903 and christened Mary
Arguile Challoner, daughter of a Sarah Ann Challoner. Though no father
appears on the birth certificate, the unusual middle name was a strong
clue, and when she married in 1923 Mary said on the marriage certificate
that her father was a George Arguile. I found a George Harry Arguile who on
the 1901 census appeared to be living apart from his wife and children and
was living just round the corner from where Mary was born. I believe he was
the father, but who was Sarah Ann Challoner, the mother? Initially I had
THREE candidates of the same name all in the same area (Leicestershire) and
since nobody in the family knew her origins, there was a problem over which
one she was.

I found on the 1891 census a Sarah Ann Challoner living with her husband
and 5 children, one of whom was called Frank W Challoner, aged nine. By
1901 the husband was lodging alone and I could not find Sarah Ann or Frank.
However, the Thorne family told me they had a WWI medal, discovered among
the effects of the grandparents after they died, for someone called F W
Challoner of the Leicester Regiment and nobody in the family had ever known
who he was. I went first to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
and found there an F W Challoner of the same regiment, and with the same
service number as appeared on the medal, who died in France in March 1919
(presumably a delayed death from war wounds). This gave him as the son of a
Mrs S Challoner of the same address where Mary was born, so I was halfway

The final piece fell into place when I consulted the war medal index at
TNA's DocumentsOnline and discovered that he was indeed Frank W Challoner,
his given death date establishing beyond doubt he was the same man buried
in 1919. It was back to my 1891 and 1901 census records of the three
possible candidates I had for Sarah Ann Challoner and there was only one of
them who had a son called Frank W. Challoner. Bingo! I was able to
positively identify Sarah Ann and it was now clear that the Sarah Ann
Challoner who was Willie Thorne's great-grandmother must have left her
husband and family and moved in with George Arguile at the address where
Mary, the grandmother, was born. And it seems the grandmother had gone
through the whole of her life without ever revealing to anyone in the
family that she had had a half-brother who died in the First World War, so
I was able to clear up two mysteries at once.

So don't neglect the war medal index cards. The address is.....

Roy Stockdill
Web page of the Guild of One-Name Studies:- Newbies' Guide
to Genealogy & Family History:-

"Familiarity breeds contempt - and children."

Mark Twain

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