The probate calendar of 1954 includes an entry for one Daisy Eliza Gotham MARTIN. Was her third Christian name definitely Gotham and, if so, where did it come from?

When I first wrote this page I couldn’t answer either of these questions. It is now revised, as more information has become available online, and I think there is enough information to say the name was correctly recorded as Gotham (4 separate records have Gotham – probate calendar, banns, death registration and burial record).

The calendar entry shows that she did not leave a will, rather it was for a grant of administration to Daisy Naomi MILLARD, wife of Charles Herbert George MILLARD. It seemed likely Daisy Naomi was the daughter of the testator, and so it has proved.

The family were together at the time of the 1911 census, the older Daisy married to George MARTIN, and with three children, living in Sedlescombe in Sussex. From this we learn that Daisy was aged 35 and born Paddington (London).

The marriage registration index shows that they Daisy and George had married in Tenterden Registration District early in 1900 (GRO ref: Quarter 1, vol. 2a, p.1085). Daisy is listed as JOHNSON, Daisy Eliza G. At least the G means it is unlikely the Gotham in the probate calendar was a misreading of Cotham – but that was not very likely anyway, it is a surname mostly found in Yorkshire. More likely in the South East is confusion with the surname GORHAM (a much more common name than GOTHAM).

But to begin with, I investigated without making an assumption either way about the correctness of Gotham as a Christian name of Daisy.

The obvious thing now was to search for a birth of a Daisy Eliza Gotham JOHNSON in the Paddington area in about 1875.

Looking at Daisy JOHNSONs born a few years either side of 1875 there was none born in Paddington or with the middle initials E. G.

Since the index shows womens surnames at the time of marriage, not necessarily their maiden name I next looked for any Daisy E Gs. There was a Daisy Eliza G ADAMS born West Ham Registration District in 1874. Not Paddington, but the right part of the country and about the right age. This looked promising, especially as West Ham is close to where GOTHAMs from the Midlands moved a few years after this. It looked there might be an earlier link to the area. Might our Daisy have married before a marriage to George MARTIN? Apparently not. There was a marriage of a Daisy Elizabeth ADAMS in Pancras RD in 1896, but that was almost certainly a Daisy Elizabeth ADAMS born in Pancras in 1876. Perhaps Daisy Eliza G ADAMS also went by a different surname – e.g. that of a stepfather (or her biological father, if her mother was not married to him when she was born). The next thing was to look for this Daisy in the censuses. She was legitimate, with her parents in 1881, with her widowed mother in 1891. Had her mother then married a Johnson? No, in 1901 she was still a widow, and worse, Daisy was with her and single. Our Daisy was married by then. (Also, this family were consistently in West Ham, so no reason for Daisy or her husband to describe her as born Paddington). (And now the GRO online index allows the easy checking of middle names, it can be seen that Daisy ADAMS full name was Daisy Eliza Gordon ADAMS).

I now took a different approach, instead of looking for Daisy Es, looking for any Daisy JOHNSON with middle names similar to Eliza Gotham.

The only one, looking at a very wide range of years, seems to be a Daisy Alice G JOHNSON, born in Lambeth RD, so London at least, but not until 1884. It is easy to imagine a 16 year old might exaggerate her age at marriage to marry without parental consent, but would she keep up the pretence her whole life?

When our Daisy died in 1953 the death registration index records her age as 78, i.e. agreeing with the 1911 census that she was born in about 1875.

Looking for the Daisy born in Lambeth RD in 1884 in the 1901 census we can find a 16 year old Daisy A, born Brixton, still living there, which appears to confirm that she was not our Daisy, who was with her husband in Whatlington, Sussex at that time.

One obvious thing I haven’t mentioned is looking for a Daisy JOHNSON in the 1881 and 1891 censuses. The difficulty here is that JOHNSON is quiet a common surname. There is no obvious match on birth place and date. Possibly the closest in the 1881 census is a Daisy JOHNSON, born and living in Chelsea, about 2 and a half miles from Paddington, the daughter of Gustaf JOHNSON, a master tailor born in Sweden. I need to look into this family a little more.

Daisy married in Tenterden Reg District a Wittersham (near Tenterden) born George; had she moved there before 1891 with her parents? Looking for Daisy Johnson’s in Kent or Sussex in 1881 and 1891 I haven’t found any entry that looks like it could be this Daisy.

Otherwise, where can we go from here?

Probably the best bet is to look for the marriage details. This should indicate whether Daisy was single or a widow when she married George MARTIN, and give the name of her father (although if her origins are elusive due to her being illegitimate we may simply find a blank or, potentially more misleading, an invented father). Hopefully also the marriage certificate, or better the register entry, will show what ‘G’ stood for. (The original register entry, or an image of it, will probably have Daisy’s signature as well as her name written by the priest or other registrar, giving us two chances of reading it).

Her death was registered (GRO index): Martin, Daisy E G, aged 78, Hendon 5e 405, q3 1953; the GRO online index confirms her middle names as Daisy Eliza.

The GRO online index, new in 2016 (after the original research) also shows that Daisy’s childrens had their mother’s maiden name recorded as ‘Johnson’ when they were born. It’s not impossible that a Johnson had married a Johnson, but not likely – and since the only reason for thinking Daisy may have married George Martin as a widow was the lack of a birth registration as a Johnson it’s not really relevant to sorting out why I can’t find her birth. In addition, there is now an index on FMP which shows that Daisy married as Daisy Eliza Gotham JOHNSON (at least, banns have been indexed as Gotham, though marriage as Gilham) – full index entries not yet seen (on ‘to do’ list for when I next have a sub.).

This new information lessens the value of getting the marriage certificate, though it could still help by showing Daisy’s father’s name. (If, though, she was illegitimate, it is likely this field will be blank or the name made up, though if she was using a father’s / step-father’s name she wasn’t born with, she may have named them as father).

The most likely reason now would seem to be that Johnson was not her birth name. The most common reason for a name changing (other than marriage) was that the mother had married, and a child, often but not always illegitimate, took the name of her father / step-father after the marriage.

Another possibility is that Daisy was not born Daisy. There are a few women in the Go(a)thams ONS who altered their Christian names before marrying. If she had wanted a more fashionable sounding Christian name I can’t imagine she would have added Gotham (unless as a reference to New York). So can I find another Johnson whose 3rd name might have been Gotham? Although the original GRO index (as transcribed onto FreeBMD) does not contain 3rd Christian names (just an initial) and the online index cannot be searched without including the 1st name at least, looking on FreeBMD for * * G JOHNSON whose births were registered between 1860 and 1890 only finds a number of male birth registrations. I don’t think any of them would have become Daisy!

The death certificate is unlikely to help. I don’t think I have mentioned, but sometimes the order of names gets switched. I have looked for the birth of an Eliza Daisy G JOHNSON, without success.


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