I made another attempt today to discover where William ALDEN originated. In the 1881 census, he gives his birthplace as “Hornsey”, Yorkshire. I took this to be Hornsea. In 1891 he offers “Hatfield”, possibly Great Hatfield just four miles from Hornsea. In 1901 it is back to “Hornsey” and in 1911 “Hornsea”. Both William and Ann are wayward in giving their ages but a fuzzy search for William in Skirlaugh Registration District between the start of civil registration and 1843 doesn’t find him.
Looking again at the census, I was distracted by a William Alden working as a Carter in Skipsea with a calculated birth year of 1840, between one and three years older than Ann’s future husband may have been. He gave his birthplace as Thorpe, in Norfolk. The fact that Ann’s parents had married in Skipsea 29 years earlier gave me pause. (Perhaps she met him while visiting relatives and fell instantly in love.) After searching for this William in the Norwich area records, and coming up blank, I’m still wondering.
I also looked in newspapers for a Norfolk William who may have been driven from the county of his birth by a shameful deed. I found a William Alden, who could conceivably have been our man’s father, committing suicide by throwing himself from Whitefriar’s Bridge into the River Wensum. This was in 1856, the place of demise just a few miles from Thorpe. (It was suggested at the coroner’s inquest that “the deceased had suffered from a kind of religious fanaticism, and had also been much depressed in spirits”.)
I think I’ll let Ann’s William rest in peace, with his secrets buried with him in Filey churchyard.