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On 21st January 1911, a burial took place. It was the burial of a man I have become quite fond of. A man I have always felt a strong connection with. It’s hard to explain such connections to people who don’t get completely absorbed in the lives of their ancestors. I may never have met my great great grandfather, Joseph Bruce, but in a way I love him.
Joseph’s life started in 1862 in the small parish of Easton Neston to the south of Northamptonshire. He was the 10th and youngest child of James Bruce and Elizabeth Redley. He was baptised at the Church of St Mary in Easton Neston on 7th December 1862.
He grew up in Easton Neston, appearing there as an 8-year-old scholar on the 1871 census.
At the age of 17, he was fined alongside James Babbington for disorderly behaviour in Church.
He was employed as an agricultural labourer living in Hulcote at the time of the 1881 census, just like his father and brothers.
He was 24 when he married the 18-year-old Selina Haynes on 27th October 1886 in Easton Neston. Selina was born in Greens Norton and worked as a lace maker prior to her marriage.
It wasn’t long before Joseph and Selina started their family. Rosa was born in 1887, Rebecca in 1889 and Joseph in 1890. Following these, Sarah was born in 1892; Maude in 1894; James in 1896; Jane Elizabeth in 1898 and Frances Mabel in 1900.
The family were living in Hulcote until around 1901 when they relocated to Wood Burcote where their youngest 2 children were born: Phyllis in 1904 and Lizzie Mary in 1908.
Recently, I added more to the story of Joseph. It would seem that he was rather fond of a drink. With at least 3 fines for alcohol related offences from 1906 to 1909 (although I’m sure there are more I haven’t discovered yet).
The first of these was in December 1906 when he was fined for being drunk on the highway. He reportedly fell down and required escorting home.
The second occurred in May 1909 for being drunk and refusing to leave The Dolphin Pub in Towcester.
The third was for using foul language in Wood Burcote.
The second news piece revealed that Joseph also suffered with rheumatism and was unable to work because of this.
He died on 19th January 1911 and was buried 2 days later.
The man I had imagined in my head for so long, turned out to be completely different. I will never know whether he was the good father I imagined him to be… I have no idea if he treated Selina well. I do know, though, that he liked a drink. Perhaps I should add his death certificate to the list of certificates I need to purchase to finish his story.