One of the first people I spoke to when I started my research was my aunt, Joyce Booth. Before her marriage Joyce had been Joyce Barrett. Joyce told me quite bluntly that she would rather I did not look into the family story. Things could have ended there but luckily I knew the reasons for her apprehension and I was able to assure her that I would not be looking into the particular family secret that she was worried about. Oddly, the particular story that she was worried about was a very badly kept secret and I had been told it by my mother many years before and I was aware that at least two of my cousins knew the story having been told by their mother! Since then I have learned that others of my generation also knew. While, by today's standards, the story is not very scandalous, and personally I would happily reveal it now I promised at least one person I would not tell the tale while they lived and I have no intention of breaking that promise.
Once I had assured Joyce that I would not be following that particular path in my research she seemed happy to help me. The first thing I wanted to clear up was her father's real name. "Richard Barrett" she said. But hadn't he changed his name? "Yes", she explained, "his real name was Richard Parrott." My mother, Ethel, told me that when her mother decided to marry Richard she told him that there was no way she was going to be known as Mrs. Parrott! So the name was changed. This, along with the story that Richard had been teased about his name all his life and didn't want his own children to suffer in the same way, seems to be the truth of the matter. A couple of years back I uncovered another story which I initially felt might offer a more sinister explanation. I now believe this not was not the case but I will discuss it a bit later. Joyce announced that she had her father's birth certificate and got it for me so I could photocopy it. I immediately noticed hat the name on the certificate was not "Richard Parrott" but "Frederick Robert Parrott". Joyce was as surprised as I was but she was adamant that her father's name was Richard. I obtained a copy of Esther's marriage certificate and the name on it was certainly "Richard Barrett" although there was confirmation of the Parrott name in that one of the witnesses to the marriage was "A. Parrott". At this point I resisted any Monty Python jokes! Taking the age of Richard from the marriage certificate I checked the register of births for the year he should have been born but there was no record of a matching Richard Parrott or even a Richard Barrett. Uncle Dick was going to be difficult man to pin down. As the years went by I rather put the mysterious Richard on a back burner as more and more information became available of the Bayliss line.
In the end I came to the conclusion (sadly too late to share it with Joyce or either of her brothers) that Richard Parrott/Barrett was in reality the Frederick Robert Parrott on the certificate that Joyce had shown me. Once I realised that I began to piece together the story. One thing remained to be found. I wanted to know what "Uncle Dick" looked like. I was told by a member of the family that Richard's grandson, also Richard, had a photo. He flatly denied this although I was reliably (in my opinion) informed that the picture existed. It was only earlier this year in a conversation was cousin Alvin I learned that he had a picture. As soon as I saw it I realised I had seen it before, in my grandmother's home, many years before - which leads me to believe that there is at least one, possibly two, other copies in existence.
In the next post I will tell as much of the story of "Uncle Dick" as I am able and show the picture.
TO BE CONTINUED....