On that summer night in California, I had no reason to question the story of my grandfather's split from his family. I knew that, even today, people of different faiths often face such family difficulties when wanting to marry.

I accepted the story as true and began to wonder - did my grandfather have any brothers and sisters? Did those people marry and have children? Do we have living relatives in Scotland that we have never known about?

The questions were intriguing and I decided then that someday I would set out to find the answers.

In the spring of 1987 I left California to return to my native Toronto, and began to prepare for my first trip to Great Britain.

I spoke to my Aunts, Kay Hunt and Dorothy Partridge - my father's sisters - who confirmed much of what my dad had told me about their father.

Apparently, in about 1953 my grandfather was retiring from his job in Toronto and needed a copy of his birth certificate. They wrote to the Registrar's Office in Scotland and received a reply that no such record existed. The Scottish authorities suggested they try England, which they did, and a few weeks later they received the document.
Detail from Birth Certificate
The family immediately noticed that, according to his birth certificate, granddad's name was Richard James - not Richard Joseph and that he was born on the 19th of January - not the 17th of June 1888. Even more surprising was that he had been born in Woodplumpton, Lancashire - not Glasgow, Scotland.

No one knew why the facts on this certificate differed from what had always been understood. Granddad apparently looked at the document and accepted it - although he continued to insist that he was born in Glasgow. He also complained that, if his birthday was in January, he could have started collecting his pension 5 months earlier.

Despite these discrepancies the certificate - warts and all - was accepted as genuine.


Table of Contents Continued

Surname Index Family History Files Back to Top Home


IMAGE NOTE: Detail from Birth Certificate of Richard James Swarbrick, born: 19 January 1888