An Explosive Find

Whilst the coronavirus pandemic has left few corners of our lives untouched, for many people it has also provided a great opportunity to progress activities that would otherwise have been neglected. In my case it has offered a chance to spend some quality time on further researching my family history, in particular using the Welsh Newspapers Online website to see what more I can discover about the Freers of Ruabon.

Welsh Newspapers Online is part of the National Library of Wales’ collection and includes some 15 million articles available for searching with the collection spanning from the early 1800s to the 1920s. The website is well-organised and searching is easy using the advanced search tab.

With a little bit of patience, I was able to find many interesting references to the family. Some of the articles are quite pedestrian, others sad and one or two quite amusing, but all of them have added some colour to what I already knew about the lives of my ancestors. Here is the earliest record – an interesting account of a very lucky escape by one Edgar Freer:

The Cambrian News and Merionethshire Standard, 22 May 1869

And a bit more information from another paper:

The Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser and Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales Register, 15 May 1869

Edgar Freer was born in Quorndon, in 1851, before the family moved to Ruabon, so would have been 18 years old at the time of the incident. Interestingly, Edgar was no longer living with the family in Ruabon in 1871 and I was unable to find an 1871 census record for him. The next trace of Edgar is his marriage in Worcester in 1875. What happened to Edgar in the intervening years remains a mystery.

Edgar continued to live in and around Worcestershire for the rest of his life and went on to have three children. Records show that he worked for much of his life as a gardener; so no more living dangerously!

The final interesting find in researching Edgar Freer is that the page from the census record for 1881, which shows Edgar and his young family living in Regent Place Worcester, also records the details of one George Appleyard and family living around the corner in Broughton Villas – George Appleyard being Colin, my husband’s, great-grandfather. Small world!

By Hanna Appleyard

Hanna Appleyard (née Nan Morris) is the granddaughter of Gladys Blacknell. Hanna has been very active in researching her family history especially along the Freer line.

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