George the Absconder

A young bachelor George EBBANS (far right) with two of his brothers (c1910)

The family story goes that George Ebbans (b. 1893) left his wife and children around 1927 and started a new family with another woman.

In my mother-in-law’s words:

George Ebbans married Sarah Ann Crossley. They had 2 children, Irene and George. For some reason, my mother-in-law says George spread it around and Sarah Ann (known as Sarann) was no angel.  George left their home and could not be traced for quite a few years. It later emerged that he had gone to live in Wolverhampton and lived with another woman (can’t find any record of a divorce or remarry). They raised a family, don’t know how many but one was christened George just to complicate matters. (It was also known that Sarann and her mother didn’t want George around so his reputation could well be made up).

Sarah Ebbans (nee CROSSLEY) in centre

This information seemed to come from family members who had first hand knowledge of the people, so I have no reason to doubt it.  However, I have also been unable to find any evidence of this desertion…

Until now.

Found in the Birmingham Daily Gazette, 25 November 1930, p3:

£174 ARREARS.

“I should have liked to give you another chance, but it is impossible; this has been going on for five years,” said the Mayor of Walsall yesterday in sentencing George Ebbans, aged 34, labourer, 35 Farringdon-street, to three months’ imprisonment for owing £174 maintenance arrears and costs due to his wife and two children.

Ebbans pleaded, “I have not been picking up a lot of money, and I have had to pay for my lodgings.”

The trail still ends there really.  Still no evidence of a second family in Wolverhampton – marriage or children – and I am yet to even find a death record for George himself.

But we now know that he did indeed desert his family and had done by at least 1925 – the same year his second child was born. It probably was hard for George to find enough money to support himself but I’m sure it was even harder for Sarah looking after two children and working as a hospital laundry maid (source: 1939 register).

National Registration Identity Card of George EBBANS (b.1922) showing his address listed as Farringdon Street

I’m a little confused by his address being listed as 35 Farringdon Street as his son lists it as an address on his National Registration Identity Card (c1945 – 1951) which leads me to believe it was actually the family address.  George mentions lodgings – presumably at a different address away from the family and therefore NOT Farringdon Street? Sarah (and I presume her 2 children – names currently redacted) are living on nearby Blue Lane in the 1939 register so this is unclear.

We may never know what really happened to George – the Ebbans name has been written in error and transcribed in so many different ways that it’s possible he’s hiding in the records under some alternative spelling I’ve yet to come across. But I’ll keep my fingers crossed…

Next Steps:

  • Find prison records/more details
  • Find George’s death record

 

Annie, are you okay?

Thanks to the free Fold3 access for this weekend, I’ve been able to pad out a bit of the extended EBBANS tree.

A blanket search for ‘Ebbans’ threw up the name of Annie Ebbans. It turns out she was listed as wife on the WWI military file of Edward Williams, which also gave their marriage date and place as well as their present address (33 Portland St, Walsall).  The file also listed names of nine children.  A goldmine, right? But was this Annie Ebbans actually linked to my focus Ebbanses?

Ebbans is a fairly uncommon name but is also very often recorded under a wide variety of spellings or just plain mistranscribed so can be difficult to research.  It has appeared as Ebbens, Ebbins, Ebans, Evans, Ettans, Hebbans, Ebbon and Ebben; to name just a few.

There was an Ann Ebbans, born circa 1874 on my tree who was a sibling of a more direct ancestor.  Until now I had been unable to find any info on this Ann Ebbans after she stopped appearing on her parents’ census records.  Now this military record led me to her marriage record where she had been recorded as Ann Evans.  Luckily ‘findmypast’ hold the Staffordshire parish registers which showed her father’s name, William and residence, 20 Augustus St.  These details both match information I hold so I can safely say this is indeed the sister Annie in my Ebbans tree and am able to trace her life further. Viva la free record weekends!

1894 marriage entry of Edward Williams and Annie Evans (EBBANS)

Buried Alive

hollybankcolliery
Holly Bank Colliery, Essington

One good thing about researching family with an uncommon name is that it can make trawling through newspapers a bit easier.  Such was the case, when I did a blanket search for EBBANS in the British Newspaper Archive.  Among the genealogical gems found (more on those in later posts), was a coal mining accident that killed a relative in 1909.

coalminingaccidentThomasEBBANScoalminingaccidentThomasEBBANS2

ESSINGTON MINER BURIED ALIVE.-An inquiry was held by Mr. T. A. Stokes (County Coroner) at Newtown, on Wednesday afternoon, concerning the death of Thomas Ebbans (31), lately residing at Walsall Road, Newtown, Essington, who was accidentally killed at Holly Bank Colliery on Monday, owing to a sudden fall of coal. – Mr. Felton, Deputy-Inspector of Mines, was present; and Mr. H. H. Jackson (Messrs. Stanley and Jackson) represented the widow. Mr. J. C. Forrest, manager of the colliery company was also present. – William Mitton, a miner, engaged at the colliery, said he was working with the deceased man when the accident occurred. He was loading, and deceased was working on the face of the coal. Deceased put a hole in the face in proparation [sic] for a shot to be fired, and then asked for a “sprag” to put into the coal. Before witness could hand over the “sprag” some tons of coal fell, and the man was buried. Witness had to jump away to save his life. An alarm was raised, and Ebbans was got out. Replying to the Coroner, witness said it was customary to undermine the coal in the way described. Everything was done in the usual way. – Questioned by the Deputy-Inspector of Mines, witness said he could not account for a pick which was found on the ground immediately after the accident. He did not see the deceased using a pick. -Edwin Thomas, night fireman, said he examined the district between five and six o’clock on Monday morning, and found everything in order. So far as his observations went the coal was then safe. -Police-constable Albert Buckham, stationed at Essington, said he examined the body after the accident, and found that the man’s right thigh and ribs were fractured, and the neck apparently dislocated. -The Coroner remarked that the deceased appeared to have taken every precaution. – “Accidental death” was the verdict returned.

Walsall AdvertiserSaturday 29 May 1909, p11

sprag
A sprag – a prop to support a mine roof.

As if the event wasn’t tragic enough, a little bit of research showed that his wife was left with at least one young child, possibly two, under 4 years of age. They had only been married 5 years.
The 1911 census had her and her young child staying with her parents.  Interesting to note that it says she had 3 children born alive – 2 still living. Had she been pregnant at the time of the accident?

Sarah EBBANS Dutton
1911 Census – Sarah EBBANS (widow of Thomas EBBANS)

I’m interested in what happened to Sarah Jane (nee DUTTON) and other wives who found themselves in similar tragic situations.  Did the coal companies look after them in any way?  Was the fact that Thomas’ widow had a solicitor usual in these cases?  Unfortunately, the fantastic ‘Coalmining History Resource Centre‘ didn’t seem to list this particular accident – although I may have searched it ‘incorrectly’ as the search function seemed a bit limited.  If you have coalmining ancestors, I recommend you give the site a look.  And if you know of any resources that might help me, please let me know.

Holly Bank brick
Holly Bank Colliery brick
sswl_map4
West Midlands Division Map 119 A & B