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Berkshire Family Historian
December 2000

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Main Page, December 2000 Contents

Help Wanted: WATTS family

Janet Crabbe, Southampton

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.

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updated 21st June 2001