My grandfather Henry Watts was born in 1866
and my father Frank was born in 1920, so I always
knew that tracing any of my family was not likely
to be easy. If I had realized quite how
complicated it was going to become five years
ago, then perhaps I might never have started (where
have you heard that before?). The fact that my
father, who was orphaned when he was six years
old, was eager to get any snippet of information
I could find, made me carry on. Also as there
didn't seem to be that many people living in
Reading in 1850 to 1870, I decided to start on
the trail. I have traced all Henry's siblings,
except his sister Hannah (Annie) Watts and it
seems that it was only Henry that had children.
So this part seemed easy.
It was when I started looking for his Henry's
father that the plot thickened. His father, Mark,
and his siblings seemed to use the surnames Watts
Hughes, Hughes Watts or any combination of these
names you can think of. Why, we are not sure, but
it may have had something to do with a William
Watts being transported to Tasmania in 1830 for
stealing £5 and breaking a threshing machine. I
cannot think why the family would use the name
Hughes because Mark's parents and grandparents
had the surname Garlick, White, Fidler and of
course Watts. They all seemed to come from humble
agricultural labouring stock, except for the
Fidler line, so why bother continuing to use the
names Hughes or Hughes Watts until 1931?
After wading through the Watts family, I
thought my grandmother's family would be easier.
No such luck. My great-grandmother Elizabeth
Archer has caused me many problems. Elizabeth
Archer, the daughter of Richard Archer and
Caroline (nee Shackleford) was born in 1855.
Elizabeth gave birth to my grandmother Caroline
in 1871 (clearly named after her grandmother). My
grandmother Caroline's birth certificate states
that her father is Edward Shackleford, whom I
have not been able to identify as yet. I have
photographs of many of their descendents: Joseph
Read, George William Dennis and Lilian Parsons.
Henry Watts and his brother John (Jack) seem to
have lived at Caversham and were in the Reading
Veterans Band. If anyone could help me in my
quest I would be glad of some assistance.