Ellen Kearvell (1846-1919) and The 'Major' - Duplicity
Family connections in both England and NZ had given me information about Major Frederick
Egerton, widower and ex-Army, who married Ellen Kearvell. He was held in high esteem
by the Family and indeed there is an elderly grand-niece in NZ that still has Egerton
as her middle christian name. Ellen was one of the daughters from the large family
of Carpenter George Kearvell and his wife Eliza who lived at West Stoke Sussex.
Eventually I was able to track down a marriage for Ellen at Hanover Square Registry
Office in London in January 1874. She had indeed married a 50+ widower named Frederick.......but
with the surname of Beswick, not Egerton. The 1881 Census information in the name
of Egerton at Bathwick Somerset, the family information and, later, a copy of Frederick's
death certificate all pointed to the two Fredericks being one and the same person.
But why the change of name after the wedding, a change that did not appear to be
known within the family? My research met dead-ends but I left a couple of enquiries
on Internet genealogy websites in the hope that someone might have more information.
Months later I received a message from a family contact in NZ who had noted that
a Major Frederick Beswick had stood trial for forgery in 1869.
A search at the Public Records Office in London in the Times Newspaper for
11 June 1869 revealed the whole story and gave a probable reason for the
change of name. Major Frederick Beswick, the Chief Constable of Birkenhead
Cheshire and an ex-Army Officer of the 38th Regiment of Foot, decorated
during the Crimean War, was tried at the Old Bailey and found guilty of
forging a Power of Attorney in connection with trust funds held at the Bank
of England. Despite a plea of leniency from the jury Frederick was sentenced
to 5 years penal servitude.
As their marriage took place in January 1874 it seems likely that Frederick
received remission on his 5 year sentence. I wonder how and when the couple
met since before his arrest Frederick was living and working in Birkenhead,
although he had been stationed at Chichester, Sussex in 1861 with his family. In
the 1871 Census he is in Gillingham Prison in Kent and Ellen a Lady's Maid in
Eccleston Square, Westminster, London. Where did the assumed surname of
Egerton come from? Well during the Crimean War one distinguished army officer,
killed in action, was Colonel Egerton of the Middlesex Regiment. The name used
as a Christian name also for one of his own sons.
Whilst at the Public Records Office I was able to trace part of Frederick Beswick's
army record and see the details (he) recorded of his 1st marriage to Elizabeth Lobb
in Malta in 1844. Interestingly, the exact same marriage details are recorded twice
in the records. Once in May 1849 when Frederick was serving in Canada and again in
November 1849 when serving in British Isles. The only difference between the two
records is that the second entry is in the name of Frederick Bailey! .....such reports
were filed by the officers themselves and was he lining himself up for two pensions?
Frederick died of consumption in November 1882 at Bathwick, Somerset. By the 1891
Census Ellen is living at Station Villa, Slinfold, Sussex the home of her sister,
Caroline Harriet, and her husband, Albert Gander, a Farmer's Son. By the 1901 Census
we find widow, Ellen, working as a servant for a family at Crowlink Farm, Friston
near Eastbourne, East Sussex. By the 1911 Census Ellen is living in Park Street,
Slinfold, Sussex at the home of her sister, Eliza Read.
Ellen died in 1919.
Crimea 1855 Light Company of 38th Regt
Salt Print by Roger Fenton, world's first War photojournalist, at The Burns Gallery
New York. "Click" on photo to read more about Roger Fenton.