Q and A
WHERE WAS HE THESE TEN YEARS?
William Howard WITHERS was born in Walsall on 24th June 1887. We are trying to account for a window of time between 1904 and 1914, before he married in 1915. We only have some slivers of information, including copies of two postcards given to us, which at some point Howard had sent to his relatives.
We believe that the attached photo was taken on board the Rotorua, as marked on one of two postcards. At some stage he ‘worked on ships’ but we do not think he enlisted.
We think that Howard went to Australia in 1910 for a company called CEPEA selling fabrics, before returning to England a few years later. His older brother had already established himself as a tailor/draper, and we think Howard originally spent some time with him learning and building his knowledge of fabrics.
My first port of call (pun intended) was to look at the Passenger Lists Outwards, leaving the UK 1890–1960. The originals are held at The National Archives (TNA) in BT 27, but digitised images are available at www.findmypast.com. BT 27 contains the names of people leaving the UK from ports within the British Isles for final destinations outside of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. Some vessels dropped off and picked up passengers in European or Mediterranean ports en route, and these entries can be found in the records. The information given usually includes age, occupation and, from 1922, a UK address for each passenger.
I couldn’t find William Howard WITHERS listed between 1910 and 1914. However, I did find two entries for him leaving the UK. Firstly: Wm Howard WITHERS, of 19 Woodsome Road W8, left London aboard the Moldavia on 1st August 1924 bound for Sydney; his occupation is given as ‘traveller’. Accompanying him were Gertrude WITHERS, aged 32; Cecil, eight; and Dorothy, seven.
Then, on 16th July 1926 Wm Howard WITHERS left London for Sydney, again aboard the Moldavia. His occupation was now ‘agent’ and he was accompanied again by Gertrude (still 32), Cecil, ten, and Dorothy, nine. Their address in the UK was given as c/o CPA Manchester; could this be CEPEA?
The inward passenger lists 1878 to 1960 (BT 26) have already been put out to tender for indexing and digitalisation by TNA, so watch out for news on these.
Your next step is to look at trade directories for Manchester for around 1925/1926 to see if you can discover any information about CPA/CEPEA. These may be found at the large genealogy libraries in NSW or online. Also search on www.a2a.org.uk (Access to Archives), which currently contains over 10 million catalogue entries from 414 record offices and other repositories across England.
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