Henry has an anchor on his left forearm; a blue mark (a man’s head?); and the letters, H.D.
I’m full of cold, head-cold, with that accompanying slight delirium that feels like junior school.
At the start of Wednesday I know about Henry’s three convictions; by Thursday afternoon when the heating comes on I know there are at least sixteen. His mother and father are known to the magistrate too.
Henry’s assault on Eugene McCawley, a constable, in Doncaster ,1884, sends me off on one of those too-delicious ancestral asides, and I easily find the policeman’s file: his not knowing where he was born, nor his age; his rise through the ranks to detective sergeant – and the line ‘severely kicked in the privates in Heckmondwike’; resounding even at this distance, naturally.
During one prison stretch Henry’s wife dies, young. Henry marries again, a widow from Essex blown up country to Pontefract – a life event which seems to slip his mind, for he marries a third time; a widow in Hartlepool, while wife number two is still keeping the house.
Henry’s daughter, Maria, is drawn herself, it seems, to a drunk – though a more cosmopolitan one – marries him; and a more recent history happens with that.
The Mexborough and Swinton Times in South Yorkshire makes good copy of Henry and his younger brother Fred. Glassblowers In Trouble. Disorderly, riotous, swearing drunk and fighting. One report says the magistrates and court were amused by the brothers’ ridiculous behaviour.
No photo of Henry found yet. But one of his brother, in (what else?) Salvation Army uniform. I look into those hard eyes of Frederick and there’s Henry in there too. Five foot five of tattoo’d trouble.
I explain myself to him by saying ‘your granddaughter was my grandmother’. And in the mud of this unshiftable cold, dream of the drunken bugger.
Credits: Maria Day photo jjeffkirk (ancestry); Mexborough and Swinton Times articles http://conisbroughanddenabyhistory.org.uk ; Fred Day photo David Carpenter (ancestry)