|Joyce Barrett, William Barrett, Esther, Derek Bayliss|
outside the Canvey Island bungalow.
We have seen that Frederick Robert Parrott probably met Herbert Bayliss during the Boer War and as both lived in Islington it is more than likely that the two men stayed friends. How close he was to the rest of the Bayliss family is not known. My mother, Ethel, Herbert's daughter told me that she has no recollection of Frederick before his marriage to her mother. When Herbert Bayliss died in November 1918 Esther must have wondered what she was going to do as the Army pension was minuscule and she had seven children - the oldest being 15 year old Bert and the youngest the recently born Stanley. It was quite common at the time for both men and women with children who had lost their spouses to remarry fairly quickly but for women it was often a matter of financial necessity. According to Ethel, one day in October (we know it was the 25th) she and some of her siblings had been to Finchley and when they came home their mother simply announced that she had a new husband! I find it hard to believe it was as simple as that and that the new stepfather had not been around before that. Whatever the truth of the matter it is certain that on that day Esther Bayliss was married at Islington Registry Office. One of the witnesses was Arther Parrott, brother of the groom. But the groom's name was not Frederick Robert Parrott! At some point Frederick had decided to change his surname from Parrott to Barrett.
The reason for the name change remains a mystery even today, not only to our family but to other researchers looking into the history of the Parrott family. The story that was accepted in the family for many years was that Esther simply refused to be "Mrs.Parrott". Another version, which came to me from Frederick's daughter Joyce via her daughter Carol was that when Frederick had been young he had been so teased about his name that he swore that if he married his children would never have to suffer a similar fate. Having now dismissed the other theory that Frederick changed his name after appearing as a witness in a murder trial at the Old Bailey, giving evidence against a rather notorious character who subsequently was acquitted, I think the truth is probably a combination of the first two reasons given above - sometimes the simplest solution is the right one. Yet, a nagging doubt still lingers because not only did Frederick change his surname - he changed his first name from Frederick to Richard!
What was Richard Barrett (as I shall know call him) like? Well, we honestly don't know. To my mother he was somebody who rep laced her father which I always felt she rather resented. Although details of Esther and Richard's marriage are no longer available to us they were together (with one hiccup which I will come to later) for twenty-three years. From 1919 until they moved to Canvey Island in Essex the couple continued to live in Windermere Road. The move to Canvey Island probably came in the early 1930's by which time the couple had three children, Richard Frederick (known as "Nibo") born 1924, Joyce Elizabeth born 1925 and William Edward born 1929. We will return to Nibo and Joyce at a later date but it is worth mentioning the circumstances surrounding the birth of William Edward (Billy).
|On the beach at Canvey Island : Left to Right - Nibo Barrett, unknown man,|
Joyce Barrett, Ada Bayliss, Esther, Derek Bayliss, Ernest Harris.
For unknown reasons about 1928 Esther and Richard separated for a while. I can't even begin to speculate on the reasons but Esther moved into rooms in Colebrooke Row which runs parallel with Islington High Street - one side of the street is Colebrooke Row and the other, separated by public gardens is called Duncan Terrace. Esther's eldest daughter, Florence (Cis) had in 1925 married Fred Abbott (we shall return to them in a future post) and Fred had a half-brother, a merchant seaman, named William Long who, being recently divorced, had nowhere to stay. It was suggested that as Esther could probably do with the extra money William Long should lodge with her during his stay in London. Esther and William had a brief affair and Esther found herself pregnant. Interestingly, Esther and Richard solved whatever problems they were having and got back together. It seems unlikely that Richard did not realise that Esther's new baby was not his but, whatever, he brought little Billy up as his own and treated him no different from his older children.
As I've said, from talking to Billy I'm pretty sure he knew nothing of his true origins and he certainly adored Richard Barrett as a great father. My own opinion of Richard Barrett is that he was a good father to not only his own children but to the Bayliss children (to whom he was "Uncle Dick" as well - and it says something about his character that back in 1919 he was prepared to take on another man's seven children.
Soon after Billy's birth Ethel remembers that she accompanied her mother with baby Billy to a little bridge in Sussex Way, Upper Holloway, where they met Bill Long for a few moments - perhaps the only time Billy met his real father. During his younger days Richard had worked as a fishmonger's porter but in later life he earned his living as a carman (a horse and cart delivery driver) and later a steam lorry stoker. By the time he was living on Canvey Island his health had deteriorated. How long they stayed on the island is uncertain. My next record of them is in 1936 when they are living at 9 Hargrave Road, Upper Holloway with daughter Esther Bayliss at the same address. Until finishing this article I was sure I knew the date of Richard's death but new evidence has just come to light to disprove third. Hopefully more information will emerge.
In the next post we will begin to look at the individual Bayliss children.