A different sort of journey

Since I have been writing here I’ve shared many stories about my family history. I only knew three of my grandparents, and all died when i was still a child, so although I have vivid memories of them, they are like little snapshots. At the beginning of December at the family Christmas party, my cousin gave me an amazing gift, the autograph book of my grandma Ida. I had a quick look through at the time, with all the cousins, children and grand-children busy enjoying themselves all around, and it’s sat beside me here ever since as I’ve waited for the right time, to begin to explore it.

Last week looked at the first pages… Ida P. Xmas ’05,, she was eighteen. It’s interesting that she gave her initial as ‘P’ – for Penney, her mother’s maiden name. Her birth certificate has her name as Ida isabella Penney Walford, pretty names. She was living at home in North London with her widowed mother, maybe in Windermere Avenue in Willesden, maybe at 27 Kilburn Priory… sometime in the early 1900’s the family moved from one address to the other, just over a mile apart.

The first inscription I come across, which sends a little shiver down my spine, is from reg, the man who was to become her husband, my grandfather. This page appears to be out of order, i’t’s loose and dated 1910., the 9th of February 1910. In a very strange coincidence, forty-eight years later my parents married on that date. I’m sure there is no significance it’s just curious.

I have no idea where or how Ida and reg met – she’d always lived in London, he was born and brought up as generations of his family before him, in Littlehampton. Somehow they met, and after a long engagement (said in the family to be seven years) they married in 1916.

So what does Reg write?

To Ida, May you have a happy time in the next three years till we meet again, is my sincere wish, Reg. 9.2.1910

The reason that they would be apart was that he went abroad. At some point he went to Brazil, to Manaus, 900 miles up the Amazon, as he described it, and he also spent time in the Cape Verde Islands. He was away sometime in 1919-20 and 1922-3, as well as this period from 1910-1913.. There is no-one left to ask… but maybe I can find some information in shipping records.

Seeing my grandparents handwriting moved me… I haven’t looked further in the little book… I want to take my time and think round their circumstances as far as I know them.


Later that same day i was beginning a process of throwing out rubbish – reusing, recycling, charity shops and only in the last resort throwing away. I have masses of paper, notes and jottings, cuttings, magazines, postcards, articles, pictures… I suppose the autograph album was in the back of my mind when I began to go through a box of random family history records I had acquire over many years. I came across a file of my aunty’s documents which was passed to me. I wasn’t going to trow anything here away, and really should have just put it aside but I couldn’t help but have a little peep…

The first document I came to were the details of Reg’s estate when he died. Ida had died on  1959, he died three years later; after a life of hard work, and after all expenses were deducted, he left just over seventy pounds which was divided between his four adult children. Out of the thirty odd pounds my mother received, she gave my sister and I £5 each… I spent mine on books, including a dictionary…

I wonder what else I will discover on my journey through the autograph album?

My featured image is of Reg and Ida and their four children.

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