John Cirket

A Family Tree

My mother, Sheila Drew, produced a number of family trees including this one which seems primarily designed to show the relationship between herself and Marilyn Seville. Marilyn was mum’s friend but they were also related. Marilyn’s grandmother, Bertha Seville nee Bowler (#5 in family tree below), was the sister of mum’s maternal grandmother, Jane Cirket also nee Bowler.

Cirket family tree that mum pulled together to show the relationship between her (#6) and Marilyn (#1), her second cousin (see Chapter 32). It shows John Cirket as the second son of Ray and Winnie (marked with a red circle).

Second Son of Ray and Winnie Cirket

That family tree shows grandma’s elder brother Ray, and his wife Winnie, having two sons, Kenneth and John.

Kenneth Cirket

I know a fair amount about their first son, Kenneth Cirket as he was mentioned fairly frequently in both grandad’s and mum’s diaries. He was born on 28 December 1930 so was almost four years older than mum (see Chapter 22). There were a number of photos of Kenneth among mum’s papers when she died including some of mum and Kenneth with their other cousin, Bert’s son, Peter Cirket (see Chapter 22). In May 1953, Kenneth married Pauline Knibbs and mum attended their wedding (see Chapter 47).

This photo was annotated by mum to say that the Parkins did not have a car but grandma’s brothers Ray and Bert both did and they used to take mum and grandma out. This photo shows Winnie, Kenneth, Ray, mum and grandma (see Chapter 18)
Mum with her two cousins Peter and Kenneth Cirket (see Chapter 22)
Wartime family photo showing Uncle Frank, Uncle Bert, Evacuee, Aunt Bertha, Uncle Jim, Uncle Ray (back row)  Aunt Edie. Kenneth (middle row) Marilyn, grandma, mum, Aunt Winnie (front row) (see Chapter 34)
Kenneth Cirket’s and Pauline Knibbs’ wedding in 1953 (see Chapter 47)

Corresponding About Family Trees

Among mum’s papers was also some correspondence between mum and Kenneth and Pauline Cirket concerning family trees.

A Visit to Bedford

In August 1999, mum made a trip to Bedford to see Auntie Dolly, Dorothy Rose, mum’s first cousin once removed. She had lunch with another cousin, Alan Cirket and his wife Nora. Alan was mum’s second cousin being the grandson of William Arthur Cirket, the older brother of mum’s maternal grandfather. In addition, Alan was a professional archivist. Alan had produced a Cirket family tree and he gave mum a copy. This copy passed to me when she died. The day after her visit mum wrote to Kenneth and Pauline asking specifically if they knew what had happened to Doris Cirket, the widow of grandma’s younger brother, Bert Cirket. She mentioned that she was also writing to Rita Cirket, Doris’s daughter-in-law.

Correspondence between mum and Kenneth and Pauline Cirket concerning family trees

Kenneth and Pauline Respond

About two weeks later, Kenneth and Pauline responded to mum’s letter. Although the letter is signed from both of them as “Pauline & Ken”, it appears to have been written by Kenneth. He explained that he did not know if Doris Cirket was still alive and he repeated a story he had told mum when they last all met at Marilyn Seville’s wedding which was in April 1960! (see Chapter 77) This related to when he and Pauline had been on holiday in Sussex. He had phoned Rita to see if they could visit Doris. He noted that he “was left in no doubt that it was not convenient to call“. Since then, he assumed that she had died. However, I do not think this was the case as I believe she died in June 2000.

Mum’s Later Letter

In his response to mum, Kenneth asked if she could let him have a copy of the family tree that Alan Cirket had given her. It appears that she finally sent this six years later in March 2005. Because of its large size, she had photocopied it in A4 chunks and then joined them together.

John Cirket

I know much less about John Cirket. Indeed, I initially doubted if Kenneth actually had a younger brother wondering if instead this was a mistake mum had made on the family tree.

Other Errors

I had found other errors.

Errors in the Cirket Family Tree

For example, in the typed family tree mum produced showing the family of Charles and Jane Cirket (below), she annotated it to say that Bertha Dorothy Rita Cirket was Marilyn’s grandma and that she died in 1987. None of this is correct. Bertha Dorothy Rita Cirket was grandma’s older sister who died aged one, in 1897, that is before grandma was born. As seen in the family tree above, Bertha Seville nee Bowler was Marilyn’s grandmother and she was grandma’s maternal aunt not her sister. Bertha Seville died in 1975. There are more details on this in Chapter 16.

Family tree produced by mum showing the family of Charles and Jane Cirket, her maternal grandparents. The date of death for grandma’s sister Bertha Dorothy Rita is incorrect. She died in 1897 aged one. The annotation that she was Marilyn’s grandma is also incorrect. This was Bertha Seville nee Bowler, grandma’s maternal aunt. It is worth noting that this family tree shows Kenneth as Ray and Winnie’s only son.

Error in the Parkin Family Tree

I found another error in a family tree mum prepared showing grandad’s side of the family (see Chapter 1). This omits grandad’s elder brother James Henry Parkin who emigrated to Canada in the 1920s. It also shows Gordon as the son of Len and E(thel) whereas he was in fact James and Annie’s son.

Family tree produced by mum of grandad’s side of the family. It does not include grandad’s older brother James Henry who emigrated to Canada in the 1920s. It also shows Gordon as the son of Len and E(thel) whereas he was actually James and Annie’s son.

So Was this Another Error?

John Cirket does not appear consistently on the family trees available to me. For example, in the typed family tree of Charles and Jane Cirket that mum produced (see above), Kenneth is shown as the only son of Ray and Winnie Cirket. This typed family tree appears to be based on the one that Alan Cirket produced (see below). This also shows Kenneth as Ray and Winnie’s only son.

Extract from Cirket family tree given to mum by her cousin, Alan Cirket in 1999. It shows Kenneth as the only son of Ray and Winnie Cirket. The biro annotations look like mum’s writing.

Is John Cirket Mentioned in Grandad’s or Mum’s Diaries?

Initially, I did not find any reference to John Cirket in these family diaries, However, given that both grandad and mum tended to refer to people either by their first name only or by initials, it is very possible that I missed references to him, particularly given how common the name John is. I therefore carefully reviewed all entries where Ray, Winnie or Kenneth were mentioned to see if I could find any mention of John. Among more than 120 references to Ray Cirket, I did not find any mention of John. I found far fewer references to Winnie but again no references to John.

However, among the 27 references to Kenneth, I did find one that mentioned John. On 22 October 1941, grandad noted that “Kenneth and John came for dinner until Sunday included“. I am not exactly sure what this entry means. The day in question was a Wednesday. So, did Kenneth and John stay with grandma and grandad until Sunday or did they come each of those days for their dinner. While I do not know for certain, the latter seems more likely. When I initially catalogued these entries, I assumed this reference to John was to John Smith, grandad’s brother-in-law. While this is still possible, I think it is unlikely.

Grandad’s diary entry for 22 October 1941. This is the only diary entry I have found where Kenneth and John are mentioned together.

No Registered Birth

Given that the names Cirket and Swindell are both uncommon, I searched Free BMD for all births with surname Cirket and mother’s maiden name Swindell. I found only one, Kenneth’s. His birth was registered in the first quarter of 1931 which would fit with him being born in late December 1930.

Similarly, while a search for the birth of a John Cirket does find two, one was in 1885 so is not relevant. The second was in 1949 in Edmonton in Middlesex. However, in this case, the mother’s maiden name was Gerhard so, again, unlikely to be relevant.

This is Odd

A search of births, marriages and deaths for John Cirket shows that both of the people identified above died in the same quarter they were born. But, what is odd is that, in addition to these two, there was a John Cirket who married Anne E Scrivener in Bedford in the third quarter of 1965 and a John Cirket who died in Bedford in the third quarter of 1979. I have assumed that these were the same person. The death record gives John Cirket’s date of birth as 29 January 1944. What is odd is that I have been unable to find the corresponding birth record. This made me wonder if there was some kind of transcription error to explain this.

An Adopted Son?

I looked for John Cirket among the public family trees on Ancestry using 1944 as year of birth and 1979 as year of death. I found him in five family trees and, in three of those, it was mentioned that he was adopted. In two of the family trees, his original name was given as John Lacey.

John Lacey

I therefore returned to FreeBMD and searched for a John Lacey born in the first quarter of 1944. I found two. Fascinatingly, one of them, born in Derby had the mother’s maiden name as Swindell.

Vera Lee/Lacey nee Swindell

Two of the family trees in which John Cirket appears note that he was the son of Winnie’s younger sister, Vera Swindell. Vera was born in around 1909 so was some 11 years younger than her sister Winnie. She married Joseph H Lacey in 1933. In the 1939 Register, they are recorded as living at No 2 Back of Party Nook Lane, Raynesway (transcribed as Bank of Park Nook, Roynlsway), Derby .

I am grateful to Col Weightman on the Derby Past and Present Facebook Group for guiding me to a 1914 Ordnance Survey map. This shows Party Nook Lane but it seems it is no longer there, having been demolished as part of the development of Derby’s Ring Road. It seems to have been roughly where Lidl is now.

In the 1939 Register, Joseph is described as a house painter. Her date of birth is given as 5 February 1908. No-one is listed as living with them and they appear to have had no children until John was born in the first quarter of 1944.

A Complication

One complication is that Joseph H Lacey appears to have died in the fourth quarter of 1941 and John was not born until three years later based on available records of births and deaths.

Reconciling the Diary Entry and Public Records

The public records appear to be clear that Joseph H Lacey died in 1941 and that John Lacey was recorded as his and Vera’s son but he was only born three years later. How can these findings be reconciled and how does the diary entry related to Kenneth and John in October 1941 fit in?

Perhaps the obvious answer is that John was not Joseph’s biological son and that Vera was involved with someone else following Joseph’s death. Presumably, she was still using the Lacey surname so gave that name to the son. If this was the case, this might explain why Ray and Winnie subsequently adopted John. It does not, however, explain the reference to Kenneth and John in grandad’s diary in October 1941. One possible explanation is that the date of this entry was wrong. However, given that he had separate diaries for each year, it is highly improbable that an error of a year or more could occur. Perhaps more plausible is the explanation that this entry was referring to a different John and potentially a different Kenneth. When I originally read this entry, I assumed it referred to John Smith, grandad’s brother-in-law. However, it is unclear why he and Kenneth Cirket would have their dinners with grandma and grandad for five days.

Perhaps more plausible is that this did in fact refer to Kenneth and John Cirket as this is around the time that Joseph Lacey died. It would seem plausible that John might have gone to his aunt and uncle’s if his father was very sick or had just died. However, for that explanation to be true the dates of both birth and death registration would need to have been wrong and this seems unlikely.

Vera Lacey Remarries

It appears that Vera Lacey married Ronald Lee in the first quarter of 1953. It is possible that this wedding had some influence in Ray and Winnie adopting John. The precise date on which Ray and Winnie adopted John is unknown.

Seeking Confirmation

In order to try to confirm what I discovered about John Cirket, I wrote to Pauline Cirket, his sister-in-law. I am extremely grateful to her for confirming the basic facts.

Joseph Lacey died of pneumonia early in the second world war having been called up for the navy. Pauline also confirmed that she thought John had been born later in the war around 1944. She confirmed that he married in the mid-60s and that he died in his early thirties. She noted that his marriage had not worked out and that he had suffered from alcoholism. She also noted that his ashes were buried in Elstow churchyard with other family members.


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