Family history: Charles Douglass Waddell

For 100 years, my family gossiped about the identity of my great-great-grandfather. Presumably he was named Charles Waddell, since those two names were given to the child who took his mother’s surname (B) when he was born in 1860. According to lore, the erstwhile father was an officer in the military, based at Windsor Castle where the young mother (Emma Bailey) was a seamstress or laundress or something of that ilk. Emma died at the age of 25, when the baby Charles was only 3.

Again, family whispering indicated that the father was occasionally in the picture afterward and actually showed up in a fancy carriage and took the child away for visits upon occasion. Everything was very hush-hush.

Young Charles grew up in Henley-on-Thames, living with his aunt and becoming a publican. In the 1970s, my father hired a researcher to look for records of Charles Waddell. No luck. No Charles Waddell in the right time or place at all, let alone one connected to the military.

Enter the internet. Last year I received an text message from my sister saying “I think I’ve found Charles Waddell.” I immediately knew who she was talking about. (She’s a research librarian and knows how to do these things.)

Long-story-short… Until 1860 or so, the records of the British India Army were completely separate from the regular British army. The previous search didn’t check the British India Army. Now EVERYTHING is on the internet. Lo and behold, one Charles Douglass Waddell was in the Madras Artillery of the British India Army, on a 3-year leave in Britain during the time in question. He married a woman in Ireland (also named Emma) just a few months after the illegitimate Charles B was born. He returned to India with his new wife, had 4 children, retired to Britain and lived for a time within a carriage-ride of the child Charles, and finally retired to the ancestral home in Islandderry, County Down, Ireland.

We have decided that the circumstantial evidence is strong enough for a conclusion. It was very thrilling to solve a 100-year-old family mystery. Too bad Dad wasn’t around to appreciate it!

So, if there are any descendents of Charles Douglass Waddell out there, googling his name, it would be fun to exchange information. The British Library has extensive records and, apparently, even some drawings by him.

5 thoughts on “Family history: Charles Douglass Waddell

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  2. Helo – Charles Waddell went to Madras India and died of fever he left a son Charles Douglas Waddell who was a Colonel in India CDW had a son William George whose son Alexander Woddall Waddell was my father – Caraline Bingley

  3. What fun!

    My great-grandfather was Charles Waddell Bailey, and was born in 1860 near Beaconsfield. He was brought up in Henley by an aunt and uncle and the circumstances of his birth have been shrouded in mystery, largely due to the desire of his daughters to obscure the fact of his illegitimacy. A few clues have survived and after comprehensive searching by my late father, my sister and I identified Charles Douglas Waddell as the likely father. If that were so that would make you and my father second cousins.

  4. It is very exciting to have the blog world deliver these connections. In case anyone is confused, Phyllis is my (Clare’s) sister. Our father would have been thrilled to track down his cousins on the unknown side of the family. As it happens, his first cousin just died this month in England (Suffolk) at the age of 95. Caraline – you would be (half) second cousin to him as well.

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