Have you ever wondered about the witnesses on marriage certificates of ancestors? The ones that are obviously not brothers or sisters of the happy couple? Just after I’d given a lecture at WDYTYALive, a woman from the audience presented me with a wad of paperwork including a copy of one of her ancestors’ wedding registrations. A witness at the marriage of boot finisher George Watson (aged 21), and Susannah Braham (aged 19) on the 22 September 1888 at St Jude’s Bethnal Green, was Anthony Emm. His signature, round, cursive, confident, bold as brass stared out at us across the centuries.
The woman had taken the time to investigate Anthony Emm and amongst her papers were printouts of an Anthony Emm born 1873, the son of John Hen(e)ry Emm. Sadly, this Anthony would only have been 15 at the happy couple’s wedding so I think it’s more likely to have been his uncle Anthony Thomas William Emm born 1828 in Bethnal Green baptised 23 November 1828 at St Matthew’s Church. This Anthony TW was a bootmaker and sexton in the 1851 census, recorded again as such in 1881. George Watson, living in Lark Row just five minutes’ walk from Minerva Street (where Anthony lived all his life) must have known Anthony both professionally and from church.
Anthony TW Emm’s family is a landmark amongst Emm family historians. His brother Walter Thomas was implicated in a celebrated murder in 1860 – Walter was acquitted. I have written extensively about this family so please contact me for further information.
Who Do You Think You Are/Live is the place to make new contacts, friends and discoveries about the world of genealogy. I had a wonderful day meeting up with the Guild of One Name Studies, Pen and Sword, the Society of Genealogists, Family Tree, and members of various family history societies. FHS are so helpful and informative, I wish I could join them all. As for their publications, check online for what’s available; FHS have transcribed some fabulous and often obscure archives.
I specifically want to thank the descendant of Susannah Braham and George Watson for giving me a few happy hours delving into both our family histories. I should have asked for your name!