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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.

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