Frank Cartlidge and the Women He Loved

I have previously introduced you all to the wonder that was my husband’s great-grandfather, Ernest Arthur Cartlidge, and his foray into acting. He and his wife, Edith, had two children – one being my husband’s grandmother, Winifred Elizabeth Alice Cartlidge. This post is about her brother, Frank Alfred Cartlidge, and the ladies in his life ….

Whenever Frank is mentioned, two names always come along with him. The first is his wife, Peggy, who was twenty years his junior. The other is Zena, who always arrives with a raised eyebrow and … a tone. You know what I mean. There’s a small nod, a raised eyebrow, a sucking of air over teeth, knowing glances – and not a word is spoken to explain why.

Frank with his wife, Peggy

As mentioned in the previous post, Frank lost his father when he was barely 10 years old. He stayed living with his mother, stepfather and various step-siblings for many years – moving from Battersea out to Wimbeldon and then finally moving across the country to Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

However, before that final move he met Zena – or Dorothy Zena Martin nee Gough as she was at this point. I was always interested in her as I could never find a marriage between Frank and anyone other than Peggy (in Cheltenham in 1952). The family knew that they had had two children together (the first, a son, who sadly died shortly before his first birthday) and it was this information that told me her maiden name, thanks to both FreeBMD and the GRO online search index.

Had she died before his marriage to Peggy? What had happened to her? Further probing and digging has thrown up a few interesting titbits …

Dorothy Zena Gough was born in Wandsworth early in 1912, and aged 21 married Alfred George Martin. By 1939 they and their 3 year old daughter (named Zena Pamela) are living in south Wimbledon (Frank is living about 3 miles northeast, close to the border with Wandsworth).

At some point in the next few months, Dorothy and Frank pursued a relationship as by the final quarter of 1940 a son, Raymond, was born in Wokingham. Four years later a daughter was born – interestingly, she is double registered both as a Cartlidge (mother’s maiden name Gough) and as Martin (mother’s maiden name Gough). Without examining the certificate in question, this implies that the mother was already married (and not to the father) at the time of the birth.

One set of records that is often overlooked, especially for early 20th Century research, is that of the Electoral Registers.

It is in the above register of 1947 that we find Frank living with his ‘wife’ Dorothy Z. Cartlidge along with his mother, stepfather and married sister amongst others on Albert Road, Cheltenham, as can be seen below.

Two years later, Dorothy can be found living with a Gilbert Lloyd Griffin. Whether Gilbert was still married or not at this specific time isn’t known as he disappears from the register between 1939 and 1948 (where could he have been?!), but he and Dorothy married in 1949 (Gilbert’s ex-wife, Marion, would marry again in 1951 but the pair had obviously separated by the time the register was compiled). Frank is found in the same address on Albert Road with his mother and stepfather, where he remains for most of his life.

It’s worth noting that Dorothy and Alfred’s daughter, Zena, didn’t marry as Zena Pamela Martin, but as Zena Pamela Cartlidge. This actually isn’t uncommon in children raised by a stepfather from a very young age – after all, their ‘father’ is often considered to be the man who raised them (so if you can’t find a marriage for a daughter whose parents remarried, always check for a marriage under the stepfather’s name – in fact, Gilbert’s daughter with his first wife also married using her stepfather’s name!).

Now onto Peggy … She was born in early 1931 in Cheltenham, the second child and eldest daughter of Ernest and Margaret (nee Merrick) Walton. Ernest was a plasterer by trade, but signed up for WWII and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as part of the 3 Field Ambulance. His father, James Walton, had been a member of the Royal Engineers during WWI so it must have seemed a natural thing for him to do. Sadly, he died in Italy on 8 February 1944 and is buried at the Anzio War Cemetery in Italy.

Life must have been tough for his widow, Margaret, Peggy’s mother. She had five children to raise, but never remarried. Looking at the electoral registers, it can be seen that whilst initially she lived with – or next door to – at least one of her sons for many years, she later moved away from the family home on Moors Avenue in Cheltenham and lived alone. She didn’t pass away until 1997. One can only imagine the privations that 13 year old Peggy must have experienced, and she undoubtedly helped keep house and raise her younger siblings until she married the dashing elder Frank at 21.

Electoral registers are an often underutilised resource when it comes to tracing family – especially in the 20th Century and beyond. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to catch Zena’s full name or trace her back through other records. Using them I can also see that following Frank’s death in 1987, Peggy began living with a Frank Harrison (insert joke about not wanting to alter her “I heart Frank” tattoo) and used the surnames Cartlidge and Harrison interchangeably. The pair didn’t officially marry until 2001, and she remains living in Gloucestershire today.

As for Dorothy, she died aged 84 after what was, undoubtedly, a long and interesting life. I’m not so sure that she deserves the raised eyebrows any longer.

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