Back to 1842.

Over the years, I ordered his will and found his death notice placed by Hannah in the Greenock evening paper in 1918 but I was not satisfied that I really knew where he came from. His early life had certainly been spent in Auchtermuchty; he was living there in 1871 with his parents but I could not find out if his father had been born there. His mother, Christiane or Christina Johnstone certainly had because her parents were easy to find from rgisters and Parish Records but Francis' father, Francis Edward showed no birth entry for Auchtermuchty.

 I  spent hours searching the site that became Scotland’s People Online and I did discover that Francis had been the first of many brothers and sisters. Auchtermuchty had been left behind and they had moved to Glasgow according to the census of 1881. They were living at 556 New City Road and Frances Edward, the father, had changed professions. He had been a publican in Auchtermuchty but had become a joiner in Glasgow. I counted eleven children born to the family.  Some disappeared between censuses - they had evidently died and later children had been given the same or similar names as their deceased siblings. I found that quite unnerving and for a while I felt it was easier to move on to other people in our tree who were more accessible, whose records were easier to find and whose lives seemed easier to recreate. I don't know why but I found it difficult to imagine a young mother losing a child and then having another baby in grief just a few months later and giving that one the same name as its deceased sibling. I felt so sorry for her and worried that she had lived some poverty stricken life in a freezing cold tenement, constantly pregnant and completely miserable.

I kept going back over the years, finding a little something and then giving up until a couple of years ago when I had a breakthrough. Genealogy is very strange. Once I start looking for someone, I find it impossible to stop until I place them securely and firmly in their space in their time and so it proved to be the case with Francis Edward, my great, great grandfather.

One day I sat staring at the family's census declaration for 1871. I kept looking at a 28 year old publican living in Auchtermuchty when I realised with a burst of clarity - the declaration clearly stated he had been born in England and  it came to me, of course that was the reason why I could never find him in any Scottish birth records. I had been so taken up with  all the Scottishness that I believed was my family's true heritage and then great grandfather turns up in the English census records for 1851.

According to the declaration for that year, he was 9, living in Gloucester Square in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire and he had a profession; even by Victorian standards, a nine year old with a profession seemed somewhat unusual.

My search had revealed Francis Edward Bullen, born in 1842, publican, joiner and now  the record stated he was a nine year old comedian and not only that, he had an older brother and sister who were also comedians and his mother, Catharine was  a comedian too. I had swung from being totally frustrated to totally excited and puzzled in about ten minutes. The personal circumstances described the family members as lodgers at their residence. There was also a three month old baby brother (not yet a comedian!) but no mention of a father.

 What did it all mean? If 'comedian' meant what I thought it did, I couldn't wait to find out more. (Note the mis-spelling of the family name)

Francis Bullin
Age: 9
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1842
Relation: Lodger
Gender: (Male)
Where born: Deeping, Northamptonshire, England
Civil Parish: Wellingborough
Ecclesiastical parish: Peterborough
Town: Wellingborough
County/Island: Northamptonshire
Country: England