Thursday 30 August 2012, 11:08
After the reunion film was broadcast the production team were inundated with pleas for help finding people from all over the world and so I was asked to help make three more reunion films.
The second reunion film was broadcast last night and I expect that, once people have dried their eyes, many will also ask for help in trying to find someone they’ve lost touch with. If you haven’t already then why not get in touch with the programme?
Jane Goffin contacted The One Show back in April as she wanted me to help her mother Joyce, who was adopted shortly after her birth in 1931. Joyce already had a copy of her birth certificate and, while there was no father’s name given, her mother was named as Evelyn Annie Branson. Her place of birth was 100 Scartho Road in Grimsby.
I contacted the local county archives for North East Lincolnshire and they were able to confirm that 100 Scartho Road was previously a workhouse. Incredibly they also held the admissions and discharge records for that time period; while these documents are closed to public access Joyce could request any information that related specifically to her.
In the meantime I conducted a quick search of the birth indexes online and found that although there were 10 people with the name of Evelyn Branson born between 1890 and 1915 - therefore aged between 15 and 40 at the time of Joyce’s conception - there was only one person called Evelyn Annie Branson, who was born in 1906 in Grimsby.
I paid the £9.25 and sent off for her birth certificate. When it arrived it revealed that Joyce’s mother Evelyn Annie Branson was born on 26 February 1906 at 9 Lovett Street in Cleethorpes. Her parents were Joseph Charles Branson, a fisherman, and Elizabeth Jackson.
Exploring the 1911 census
Knowing that Joyce’s mother Evelyn was born in 1906 the first place to look was the 1911 census. Having her parents’ names should have made it easier to cross-reference the details but unfortunately the family’s surname had been mis-transcribed and so finding the right family took a bit longer than expected.
The 1911 census shows that Evelyn was living with her mother Elizabeth while her father was away at sea at 9 Lovett Street in Cleethorpes. Also living at that address were several siblings for Evelyn: Joseph, 11, Mabel, nine, Charles, seven, Florence, three and Cyril, one.
Discovering that Joyce’s mother Evelyn had siblings massively increased the chances of finding their respective marriages and any subsequent children, who would be first cousins for Joyce. So I set about searching the internet to see whether Joyce’s aunts and uncles had married and had their own children, who should be alive and easy enough to trace.
Branson family trees
At the same time I also emailed other family historians who had posted Branson family trees online. If they replied I knew that this would be the first time Joyce had known blood relatives in her whole life: such a huge responsibility but also such a huge privilege.
One of the replies suggested that I should contact a lady called Lavinia, who was a descendant of Joseph Charles Branson.
Lavinia confirmed that Evelyn Annie Branson went onto have another four children after Joyce called June, Robert, Peter and Malcolm. All had died except for June and she was able to provide a photograph of her mum, Evelyn Annie Branson.This is the first photograph that Joyce had seen of her mother Evelyn Annie Branson
After giving them the news and some time to consider their emotions Joyce and June were united for the first time at a hotel in Grimsby in July and the sisters have kept in contact.
Unique issues relating to adoption
Remember though that when researching stories like this, which involve adoption, there can be specific and unique issues, which may create varied emotional responses from all the parties concerned. So it is always advisable to seek professional advice from an intermediary adoption support agency and to ensure that you receive counselling where appropriate.
If you misssed last night's programme you can watch it on the BBC iPlayer. Part one starts just after three minutes and 15 seconds, and the second part can be seen at 49 minutes and 40 seconds.