A Yeo who was not a Yeo – Henry Albert Dunning (1843–1914)

Henry Yeo married Ellen Physic at Alphington parish church in Exeter in 1862. This record seemed straightforward enough, but there was no trace of Henry’s baptism.

Research by Sheila Yeo and Dee Reynolds revealed that Harry had been baptised at nearby Heavitree in 1843 (‘Henry Albert Dunning son of Mary Stoneman Dunning servant’) but that he changed his surname after his mother married James Yeo at St Mary Arches, Exeter in 1854.

The 1861 census records Henry in two households, probably because one of the households listed him even though he did not spend the night of the census there – this was a rare occurrence. In both households he is described as a merchant’s clerk.

In 1902 Henry was tried at the Old Bailey on two counts of perjury in connection with affidavits sworn while he was as an accounts clerk. He was found guilty but no sentence was imposed, suggesting that there were mitigating circumstances.

Perhaps this brush with the law led to Henry’s change of occupation. The 1911 census records him at 29 Salisbury Road, Walthamstow, a manufacturer of galvanized goods.

An inquest was held after Henry died in 1914 in the waiting room at Exmouth Station following a stroke. His address is given as 52 Waverley Road, Exmouth and his occupation as metal worker.

Henry’s wife Ellen Physic was born in 1843 to gardener William Benjamin Gribble Physic (1805–1889) and his wife Ann Bealey (1805–1873), and died in 1919 at the age of 76.

Martyn Yeo


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