|“Perhaps there are those who are able to go about their lives unfettered
by such concerns.
But for those like us, our fate is to face the world as orphans,
chasing through long years the shadows of vanished parents.
There is nothing for it but to try and see through our missions to the end,
as best we can, for until we do so, we will be permitted no calm.”
Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans
It seems quite strange that the one descendant that could be classified as an orphan, and who grew up in an Orphanage at 51 Avon St. in Stratford, Ontario, arriving in 1888 at the tender age of four years old, was not strictly an orphan, AND that this information was not known until she was seventy-nine years old in 1963. So really, in her mind and the minds of her family she was an orphan all those years.
She had randomly given herself a birthday of May 1883 just so she could say she had a birthday. Annie Dorothy (called Dolly then) Frampton suddenly, in 1963 knew her mother and father’s name, where she was born and what her address was in Hackney. On February 14, 1964 the family held her official eightieth birthday party. She died a year later.
At the tender age of fifteen she married her one love, James Henry White, who was nineteen at the time, on December 20, 1899. The marriage was held at the orphanage, the Annie MacPherson Home at 51 Avon St. in Stratford Ontario. Annie went on to have fourteen pregnancies, eight of which lived to adulthood.
I knew nothing else and had no idea how to find out more about her parents, and the “why’ of her apparent abandonment. I mean how does a child be born into a family and four years later be one of the British Home Children living in Canada?
Of course there was much speculation, especially by Annie herself as she grew. As human beings we try to make sense of who we are and where we are and how come we are. Annie had told my sister more than forty years ago that she thought she remembered her father’s body lying in the parlour. I was pretty sure that might have been something her young mind wanted to remember.
Having no idea how to go about finding out information I reached out to the Divine Ms M I mentioned the other day. Not THE Divine Miss M of course. So a half world away, a cousin who is experienced in genealogy came to my rescue and what a wonderful job she did.
So as Paul Harvey used to say, “Here is the rest of the story.”
It turns out that Annie had not just a mother and father but a sister, a brother, and a half-brother. Her father had been married and widowed before he wed Edith Davies Frampton, and had produced a son named William Francis Frampton who was born in 1871, thirteen years before Annie’s birth.
Tomorrow I shall go into detail on the who, and a bit of the what, and why of it all. It is exciting, sad, heartwarming, and reassuring. Annie died in 165 not knowing any of this and all of her children are now gone, but our generation and those that follow will finally know.