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He changed his name!

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#1
My grandfather was born William Terrell in Bermondsey in 1875. I can track him as far as the 1901 census.
The next sighting of him is in 1906, when his first son was born. By that time he had changed his name to William Blake and was living in Leyton. Money was very scarce for the family so I don't imagine that he changed his name by deed poll but I'd really like to know WHY he changed his name. Anybody out there know anything about the Terrells of Bermondsey?
 

gibbo

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#4
Just posting for reference

1901 census

Name: William Terrell
Event Place: Newington Green, Middlesex, England, United Kingdom
County: London, Middlesex
Civil Parish: Newington
Ecclesiastical Parish: St Peters
Sub-District: St Peter Walworth
Registration District: St Saviour Southwark
Age: 26
Occupation: Fire Wood Cutter
Relationship to Head of Household: Brother
Birth Year (Estimated): 1875
Birthplace: Bermondsey, London
Schedule Type: 291 Page Number: 39

John T Terrell Head Male 33 Bermondsey, London
Elizabeth Terrell Wife Female 30 Plymouth, Devonshire
Charles Terrell Son Male 10 Walworth, London
Elizabeth Terrell Daughter Female 8 Lambeth, London
Albert Terrell Son Male 5 Lambeth, London
Alfred Terrell Son Male 4 Walworth, London
William Terrell Brother Male 26 Bermondsey, London
William Oliver Boarder Male 28 Bermondsey, London
Henry Terrell Son Male 0 Walworth, London
 

gibbo

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#5
1901 known under Terrell -- 1906 known under Blake.

Trying to narrow some years down to when he changed his name and see if the newspapers have anything in them.
 
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#6
Hi Gibbo
Thank you for taking an interest.
Yes, that's him living with his brother in 1901.
He married Alice Mimms (my grandmother) in June 1925 at Southwark Registry Office - after they had had six children together! Her previous husband had deserted her but was still alive so they were not able to marry earlier. He used his new name, Blake. As far as I know, he never used the name 'Terrell' after 1906.
The only thing of significance that happened at the turn of that century was that his parents (no marriage recorded) split up. Whether this caused him to change his name, I don't know. His siblings didn't change their's.
 

gibbo

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#7
Sometimes if there is a name change they will announce it in the papers, bankruptcy notices are also sometimes in papers.

I couldn't find anything in the newspapers. Nothing in the London Gazette neither.
 
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#8
No. I think he just decided on a new name and used it. That's perfectly legal - so long as it isn't done for an illegal reason.
I don't think bankruptcy would have come into it. He never had any money to begin with! He was profoundly deaf. That wouldn't have helped in getting a job.
He lived until he was 93.
 
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#10
I don't think that was it. He had no problem speaking. In fact, he was quite well spoken.
I think he had always been partially deaf. He tried to enlist in 1914 but they wouldn't take him because of his deafness. He kept trying and eventually, when things became really desperate, they did take him. He was a stretcher bearer at the front in France. Up where all the cannon were blasting. That made him completely deaf. I can find no military records. Apparently they were destroyed in WWll.
 
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#11
Very interesting. I just wondered if he could have had a falling out with his brother and wanted to disassociate himself from him? Extreme step to take but you never know.
 
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#13
Hi Sally
It's a bit of a teaser, isn't it?
It is known that he stayed in touch with his brother, John.
His mother's maiden name was Tapsell.
IF it was a falling out, I think it's more likely to have been with his father but I don't actually know.
 
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#15
Hi Peter
It's a long story. We knew certain facts, e.g. His exact birth date (there was no record of anyone with that name being born on that day). His eldest daughter remembered being taken, as a child, to meet an uncle who had a shop in Walworth. She remembered that the name over the shop was 'Terrell'. Sure enough, his brother, John, had such a shop. There had always been a story, in the family, that my grandfather's father, George, died in a traffic accident in Lambeth. We have George Terrell's 1921 death certificate and this is certainly the case. We also have my grandfathers birth certificate, in the name of Terrell, of course, with the exact date of birth that we always had. We are quite certain that he was born William Terrell and changed his name to Blake at some point between 1901 and 1906. But why?

I can't stress enough the importance of talking to family members, particularly the older ones. Without the help of my late aunt, we would never have discovered my grandfather's true identity.
 
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#18
Was Mimms your grandmothers maiden name or married name to the guy who abandoned her? Did she have any children from that marriage? Could her married name have been Blake and that was the name she was using when they met and only reverted to Mimms in 1925? Thinking along the lines of if William, knowing he couldn't marry Alice, changed his name to create the appearance that they were married and a family ? It's possible he thought that would never marry her. He might have put Blake as his father's name on the wedding certificate just to make it look correct. Some huge assumptions/questions here and all purely hypothetical!
 
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#20
Hi Sally
You've given this a lot of thought, haven't you?
I think some of your hypothesis is right and some is not......
My grandmother's maiden name was Walker. She married John Mimms and had three children by him. One died.
Then Mimms deserted the family. My grandfather must have met her at some time around 1904 ish and their first child, a son named William, was born in 1906. I have that birth certificate and it is my earliest piece of evidence of the name change.
I agree that he probably gave his father's name as Blake, on the marriage certificate, to make things look proper.

At that time and, indeed, well into my younger days (I'm nearly eighty), there was great stigma attached to 'living in sin' and having illegitimate children so it has occurred to me that the name change was simply a means to avoid bringing his Terrell family into disrepute. But other things were happening in the family too because my grandfather's parents separated at about the same time as the name change.
 

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