Lilian May FRY 1896-1976 | Bristol

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Another piece of detective work sprang up on the Bristol & Avon Family History Society‘s Facebook page on Thursday evening, with a lady requesting help tracing the birth record of her great-grandmother Lilian May FRY:

“I am trying to find the Birth of my Great Grandmother Lillian May FRY. I have found her Baptism Record in the Parish of St. Stephen, on the 28th February 1899, where her father’s name is given as William George FRY (with wife Jane) & family living at 27 King Street. They are at the same address on the 1901 Census (age 4) & 2 Old Bread Street on the 1911 Census (age 15). Lillian married my Great Grandfather John WREN on 1st December 1917, they were living at 165 Pennywell Road & 35 Parson Street, Pennywell Road, respectively & both aged 21 years, however on both Census’ & Marriage Cert. her father’s name is given as George W.?
On the 1939 Register she is living at 51 Lockleaze Road, Horfield & her birth date is given as 30th April 1895 but I can’t seem to find her Birth Record anywhere or on the GRO Index? Any help would be very much appreciated.”

In 1901 the family were living at 27 King Street and George was working as a Corn Porter at the docks. There were three children listed: William (age 9), Lilian (age 4) and Edith (age 3). I later realised their daughter Florence was not present, with a possible match found as a patient at the Orthopaedic Hospital and Home for Crippled Children, 12 Grove Road in Bristol (age 7).

Daughters Florence and Lilian were baptised together in 1899 when they were aged 2 and 5, and the family were living at 27 King Street. Tracing the other baptisms, I found they moved around a bit, from St George’s Place in 1903, Frogmore Street in 1904 and Maddock Cottages in 1906. By 1911 the family were living at Old Bread Street and George was still working as a Corn Porter at the docks. The census stated that they had been married for 20 years (c.1891), and had eight children born alive with seven still living. Six of the children were at home, with Florence’s name added in but then crossed through. She was actually working as a general domestic servant for the Peters family in Knowle near Bristol at the time. George and Jane had lost their eighth child at age 2 shortly before the census was taken.

Of their eight children, I found five birth records and five baptism records (but not for the same five). The GRO Birth Index shows Jane’s maiden name to have been GRAY.

    • GRO Reference NOT FOUND: c.1892 Bristol
    • Baptism not found
    • GRO Reference: 1894 M Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 43 – Mother GRAY
    • Baptised 28 Feb 1899 at St Stephen’s Bristol; Age 5; William George & Jane; 27 King St; Docker
    • GRO Reference NOT FOUND: c.1896 Bristol
    • Baptised 28 Feb 1899 at St Stephen’s Bristol; Age 2; William George & Jane; 27 King St; Docker
  4. ***EDITH FRY
    • GRO Reference NOT FOUND: c.1898 Bristol
    • Baptism not found
    • GRO Reference: 1903 J Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 79 – Mother GRAY
    • Baptised 27 Mar 1903 at St. George’s Brandon Hill; William George & Jane; 4 St George’s Place; Labourer
    • GRO Reference: 1904 D Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 80 – Mother GRAY
    • Baptised 18 Nov 1904 at St. George’s Brandon Hill; George William & Jane; 55 Frogmore St; Labourer
    • GRO Reference: 1906 J Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 79 – Mother GRAY
    • Baptised 6 Apr 1906 (wrongly recorded as “Albert Robert”) at St. George’s Brandon Hill; George William & Jane; 3 Maddock Cottages; Labourer
    • GRO Reference: 1908 J Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 87 – Mother GRAY
    • Baptism not found
    • Died Jan-Mar 1911, age 2

I started to wonder if perhaps Jane had been married before which was why I couldn’t find a marriage of a FRY to a GRAY, and found that Jane GRAY had married John James WEBB on 28th Nov 1887 at St. George’s Brandon Hill. At the time of marrying, John was a Shoe Pincher and Jane a Boot Sewer and they were living at 56 College St and 4 Pump Court respectively. Jane’s father was Thomas GRAY, an engineer, and John’s father was Joseph WEBB, a Brewer.

Jane’s parents and siblings were all born in Bristol, but Jane was born in Deptford, Kent in 1867. George William FRY was also born in Deptford but I haven’t been able to trace him with any certainty. I looked again for a marriage for Jane to George, this time using the surname WEBB but still nothing turned up (for any year). I suspect they never actually married, as when looking for possible births for WEBB children with GRAY mother’s maiden names in Bristol I found four children, including the three missing children from above. In between the birth of William and Lilian came Florence, who was registered as FRY rather than WEBB. It would be very interesting to find out who the father was listed as on each of these children’s births. Lilian and Edith were baptised “FRY” with their father listed as “William George FRY”, and William was always recorded as William FRY, son of George on the census records. It is therefore likely that only Thomas b.1888 was the child of John James WEBB and all others that of George William FRY.

    • GRO Reference: 1888 S Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 37 – Mother GRAY
  2. ***WILLIAM WEBB (aka William FRY)
    • GRO Reference: 1892 M Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 40 – Mother GREY
  3. ***LILIAN MAY WEBB (aka Lilian May FRY)
    • GRO Reference: 1896 J Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 39 – Mother GRAY
  4. ***EDITH ALICE WEBB (aka Edith Alice FRY)
    • GRO Reference: 1898 J Quarter in BRISTOL Volume 06A Page 21 – Mother GRAY

John James WEBB was born in 1864 and was the only child of Joseph WEBB and Jane GREENWOOD. When his parents married in 1858, Joseph was a Soldier and 18 years Jane’s senior (38 and 22). In 1861 the couple were living in Bristol and Joseph where was working as a Porter and Jane a Laundress. In 1871 John and his mother were living with her parents in Weston Super Mare and Joseph was living on his own at 7 Pump Court (age 56 and a Brewer). Jane was widowed by 1881 and living at 5 Pump Court, and her son John was boarding with the SWEET family at 26 Morley Terrace working as a Boot & Shoe Maker (age 17).

John James WEBB and Jane GRAY married in 1887 but are nowhere to be found in 1891, together or otherwise (nor is George William FRY). Their first (and likely only) child together was born in 1888, but haven’t found any other trace of him either. Jane shows up again in 1901 “married” to George FRY, and John WEBB shows back up boarding with the SWEET family now age 37, noted as married, and working as a Railway Porter. He was still there in 1911, now noted as single. John was also listed then crossed through with his mother in 1911, who had remarried to Hiram Curtis in 1897 (her neighbour in 1881 at 4 Pump Court, which was where Jane was living when she married John) and were living at 64 College Street. Interestingly, they stated to have been married for 49 years (rather than 13) with one child born who was still living (with John’s name then written underneath).


I believe that only Jane’s first child (Thomas b.1888) was the son of her husband John James WEBB, with the following eight being the children of George William FRY. As John was still alive in 1911 and seems unlikely they divorced, it is fair to assume that George and Jane never married but lived as though they were from about 1891.

Daughter Lilian May FRY was registered at birth as Lilian May WEBB in the 2nd quarter of 1896, and although the 1939 Register recorded her date of birth to be 30th Apr 1895, it was actually 30th Apr 1896. Mistakes of this kind are quite common in this record set, but it wasn’t the only time Lilian’s year of birth was recorded wrongly, as when she died in 1976 at age 80 her date of birth was recorded as 30th Apr 1893.

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