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Sunday, 12 July 2015

Can you identify this mystery family member?


I have recently found records of the release from Winchester Prison of George Cox alias Alfred Titheridge who was born in 1831 in Portsmouth and was released from Winchester Prison on 5 July 1881.  So “is this a Titheridge who called himself Cox?” or “is this a Cox who called himself Titheridge?”.  I think the former is more likely.  However, I have no record of an Alfred Titheridge born in 1831, so who is this mystery man?
The prison release records show the following information about Alfred (alias George).  He was single, a mariner with dark complexion, greyish hair and hazel eyes.  He was 5foot 7inches tall of stout build with an oval shaped face.  His distinctive marks and peculiarities are described “as man, house, fish, ship and wreath on right arm, man, G.C., star and crucifix on left arm, bracelet on each wrist, flower and pot on right hand, man and flag on left hand, D.D on left side”. On leaving prison he was heading back to sea.

I followed up this record by searching local papers to see if I could find out more.  I found a report of Alfred Titheridge appearing at the quarter session in 1877 at Portsmouth, a labourer aged 48.  He was charged with stealing from the house of William Francis Butler on 27 September; items stolen were one waistcoat, one silver watch, one gold albert, one locket, one key, in all goods to the value of £7 10s.  He was also charged with stealing a coat, property of George Tucker, on 28th September.  Alfred pleaded guilty of larceny and was sentence to 4 months imprisonment with hard labour for each offence.
The second record I found was George Cox alias Alfred Titheridge a mariner aged 50  who was tried on 6th January 1880.  He was charged with stealing from the house of William Press at Curdridge on 20th October 1879. He stole one silver watch, one gold chain and two penny postage stamps to the value of six pounds and two pence.  He was found guilty of larceny and having  two previous convictions he was sentenced to 18 calendar months imprisonment with hard labour.  His release from this sentence corresponds to the records mentioned above. 

The 1881 census records shows no prisoner called Titheridge in Winchester prison, there is however a prisoner called George Cox a 50 year old mariner from Portsmouth, sounds like Alfred under his alias.
There is no sign of Alfred Titheridge on any census before 1881 but on the 1891 census an Alfred Titheradge who is single, aged 60, born in Portsmouth and working as a hospital nurse in Portsea Island Union Workhouse.  In 1893 at Portsmouth the death of Alfred Titheradge aged 64is recorded.

Knowing that Alfred was a mariner I searched the naval records and found Merchant Navy records for an Alfred Titheridge born 1 August 1836.  He is described as 5foot 7inches, dark complexion, black hair, grey eyes with tattooing on both arns. Alfred had worked on HMS Princess Royal from 12 November 1853 to June 1856, he moved to HMS Royal Albert on 19 June 1856 as an ordinary seaman.  On 26 March 1857 Alfred signed up for 10 years continuous service
So is Alfred on your family tree? Do you know who he is? His inconsistent age would suggest he was born in Portsmouth area between 1829 and 1836? Who are his parents? Why did he call himself George Cox?  If you can answer any of these questions please leave a comment or send an email.