Fred’s your uncle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective once suggested that once one had eliminated all other possibilities, what remained must be the truth.

Undoubtedly, there is a philosophical term for such a process of logic, something in Latin that is a pithy statement of a complex thought process. It is a process that seems to have brought an unexpected outcome in my genealogical searches.

Since my father’s death last year there seems to have been a greater sense of urgency in assembling the family tree, a greater feeling of need to find the names of forebears who had either long been forgotten or had never been known to exist.

Ellen Miriam Poolton, my great grandmother, had a long relationship with Frederick Robert Stratton. Ellen had three children of whom we knew, Sidney Herbert, whose father is unnamed, and George Stanley and Ida Frederica, for whom Fred Stratton seems to be the father (to the extent that he is named on Stanley’s birth certificate).

However, there remained questions arising from Ellen’s death as a twenty-three year old in March 1912. Under “Cause of Death,” her death certificate states, “Pelvic cellulitis (originally puerperal June 1910) Septic peritonitis.”

A puerperal infection occurs after childbirth, Ellen had concluded a pregnancy in June 1910, but it could not have been any of her other three children who were born in 1906, 1908 and 1909.

A search for Poolton connections in the south London area that was home to Ellen’s family produced the name of Frederick S. Poolton. At the time of the 1911 Census on 2nd April that year, Frederick Poolton was a nine month old baby in the Western Fever Hospital on the Seagrave Road in Fulham. The hospital was under the management of the Metropolitan Asylums Board, it was an institution for poorer Londoners.

Assuming Frederick S. Poolton had become nine months old in the days prior to the census, he would have been born in June 1910. Information about his life is scarce. There are entries regarding the registration of his birth, marriage and death and electoral registers showing his full name, Frederick Stanley Poolton, and his various addresses up to the time of his death at the age of forty-five in 1955. His wife was Ellen Lucy Wall. They do not seem to have had children.

Pooltons are not common, and the only candidate to be his mother in Wandsworth seems to be Ellen Miriam, who had a baby in June 1910, whose partner was called Frederick, and who had already shown a fondness for Stanley as a middle name.

By a process of elimination, Frederick S. Poolton would seem to be a grand uncle. Unless it is a possibility that itself can be eliminated.

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