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Research brick wall - "father unknown" on documents. Please help!

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#1
Hello all!
I wonder if anyone can offer advice or help point me in the right direction please? I’ve been trying to trace my Gt Grandfathers biological parents for a while without much luck. On all records relating to him his father is listed as “unknown” His name was Robert William Ruffell and he was born in a workhouse in Islington, North London on 19th Feb 1882 to an Alice Eliza Ruffell born approx 1857. (I now believe Ruffell is her maiden name and on some records is also listed as just Alice Ruffell)
She is listed as being a servant to the Conquest family in Islington on the 1881 census and her admission to the Islington workhouse states she was brought in by the master and “in labour” for the reason. After a year another workhouse record states Robert William Ruffell was discharged at “mothers own request” although I'm not sure what happened to him after this, as there’s no record of him until he marries my great grandmother and they have a family of their own. Im also having trouble finding his Mum after this time too.

My questions are - will it be possible for me to ever find out who his biological father is if "father unknown" is written on all the documents?
Also, would there not have been a stigma attached to not listing a fathers name in 1882? What could be the reasons for this? Would it have been commonplace to make a name up instead? Perhaps not, but thought leaving it blank would be quite the scandal!

My Mum’s done a DNA test with Ancestry, but frustratingly a high proportion of people she matches with have not completed a tree and use a username instead of real name so it's difficult to work out from what lines they're are related. She also doesn’t have many high CM matches which makes the task more troublesome!
Any advice or pointers from fellow detectives would be greatly appreciated. I hope I can solve the mystery one day! Jen
 

Ladybird1300

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#3
Hello all!
I wonder if anyone can offer advice or help point me in the right direction please? I’ve been trying to trace my Gt Grandfathers biological parents for a while without much luck. On all records relating to him his father is listed as “unknown” His name was Robert William Ruffell and he was born in a workhouse in Islington, North London on 19th Feb 1882 to an Alice Eliza Ruffell born approx 1857. (I now believe Ruffell is her maiden name and on some records is also listed as just Alice Ruffell)
She is listed as being a servant to the Conquest family in Islington on the 1881 census and her admission to the Islington workhouse states she was brought in by the master and “in labour” for the reason. After a year another workhouse record states Robert William Ruffell was discharged at “mothers own request” although I'm not sure what happened to him after this, as there’s no record of him until he marries my great grandmother and they have a family of their own. Im also having trouble finding his Mum after this time too.

My questions are - will it be possible for me to ever find out who his biological father is if "father unknown" is written on all the documents?
Also, would there not have been a stigma attached to not listing a fathers name in 1882? What could be the reasons for this? Would it have been commonplace to make a name up instead? Perhaps not, but thought leaving it blank would be quite the scandal!

My Mum’s done a DNA test with Ancestry, but frustratingly a high proportion of people she matches with have not completed a tree and use a username instead of real name so it's difficult to work out from what lines they're are related. She also doesn’t have many high CM matches which makes the task more troublesome!
Any advice or pointers from fellow detectives would be greatly appreciated. I hope I can solve the mystery one day! Jen
Have you tried the name Russell?? My 4x g grandfather's first name was Russell often transcribed as Ruffell because the s was often written like an f is today.
If the father isn't named on the birth certificate then Robert was probably illegitimate

Amanda
 

gibbo

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#5
Sometimes the "master" of the house is the father or a son could be. It is hard to prove anything unless there is some sort of paperwork. My father was illegitimate [born 1937] My grandmother worked as a live in domestic and i suspect her boss was my grandfather but have never been able to prove it. Lots of coincidences that lead me to believe it is him but nothing on paper to prove it 100%. DNA is my next line to see if that might help clear things up. Have you looked at the names as sometimes they might have named their child with one of the fella's names included in it.
 

Ladybird1300

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#6
Sometimes the "master" of the house is the father or a son could be. It is hard to prove anything unless there is some sort of paperwork. My father was illegitimate [born 1937] My grandmother worked as a live in domestic and i suspect her boss was my grandfather but have never been able to prove it. Lots of coincidences that lead me to believe it is him but nothing on paper to prove it 100%. DNA is my next line to see if that might help clear things up. Have you looked at the names as sometimes they might have named their child with one of the fella's names included in it.
This is where a DNA test is useful, I've helped at least two people discover who their father's were. Their are many people on Ancestry who only have half their tree on there because they don't know anything about the other half.
 

gibbo

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#8
Just posting for reference.

1881 uk census
Name: Alice Ruffell
Event Place: Islington, London,Middlesex, England
Registration District: Islington
Residence Note: Carleton Rd
Age: 24
Marital Status (Original): Single
Occupation: Cook
Relationship to Head of Household: Servant
Birth Year (Estimated): 1857
Birthplace: Essex, England
Page Number: 30
Registration Number: RG11
Piece/Folio: 245/18
George Conquest Head 43 Middlesex, England
Lizzie Conquest Wife 49 Middlesex, England
Laura Conquest Daughter 18 Middlesex, England
Ada Conquest Daughter 16 Middlesex, England
Fred Conquest Son 10 Middlesex, England
Arthur Conquest Son 5 Middlesex, England
Alice Ruffell Servant 24 Essex, England
Louisa Pugh Servant 21 Middlesex, England
 

gibbo

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#9
Im wondering if this is Alice. IF so maybe she and Robert cant be found in the UK on the off chance they went back to USA??

From familysearch
Ship Italy Date 1880 [22 Jul 1880-26 Aug 1880]
Conquest family including a "maid servant" aged 22 [estimated year of birth 1858]

Under Gervant but on the actual listing it states maid servant.

Name: Gervant
Event Type: Immigration
Event Date: 1880
Event Place: New York City, New York, United States
Gender: Female
Age: 22
Birth Year (Estimated): 1858
Birthplace: England
Ship Name: Italy
 

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Ellie7

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#10
1857Baptism date 15 Feb 1857Residence Brightlingsea, Essex, EnglandPlace BrightlingseaCounty EssexCountry EnglandFather's first name(s) HenryFather's last name RuffellMother's first name(s) Ann
 
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