Blog07 Feb 2012
Today is Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday and to mark the occasion, we’ve been investigating the records on findmypast.co.uk to see what they can tell us about Dickens’ life.
We feel like we know Dickens a little bit better following our research – read on to find out what our records reveal about this extraordinary man.
It seemed logical to start at the beginning, so our first stop was to search for Dickens’ baptism record. Dickens’ unusual middle name makes it easy to be sure that we’ve found the right man.
Dickens record shows that he was baptised in Portsea St Mary, Hampshire on 4 March 1812. We can also learn that Dickens’ parents are called John and Elizabeth:
Fast-forwarding a few years, we discovered the record of Dickens’ marriage to Catherine Thomson Hogarth. The pair married in Chelsea, Middlesex on 2 April 1836:
Dickens and Catherine lived in Bloomsbury where they went on to have 10 children. Sadly, the couple separated in 1858 but never divorced; this wouldn’t have been a socially acceptable action for someone as well-known as Dickens.
Dickens in 1861
By 1861, Catherine and her son, Charles Jr, had moved out of the family home and Catherine’s sister, Georgina, was living with Dickens and the rest of the children. Georgina took Dickens’ side in his rift with Catherine and took over the running of the household.
In the same year that ‘Great Expectations’ was published, Dickens’ 1861 census return provides us with a glimpse into his life at this time. Dickens is described as ‘married’, giving away nothing of his separation from Catherine.
Dickens’ occupation is listed as ‘Author Novelist Essayist & Editor’ and Georgina is recorded as ‘Servant Housekeeper’:
Next we found Dickens’ death record. He died on 9 June 1870 in North Aylesford, Kent – view the record here:
As well as this record, we unearthed a different record of Dickens’ death on findmypast.co.uk
Dickens was a shareholder in the Great Western Railway, which means that a record of his death appears in the GWR Shareholders Index.
The GWR recorded all transactions that related to shareholdings which changed hands due to an event other than a simple sale. The most common event recorded in the ledger was the death of the shareholder. When a shareholder died, their shares were passed to their beneficiaries and the executors handled the administration of the estate.
Displaying further evidence of his rift with his wife, Dickens’ record shows that his wife’s sister, Georgina, and friend, John Forster, were the executors. View this beautifully handwritten original document here:
We hope you enjoyed discovering what the records on findmypast.co.uk reveal about Charles Dickens’ life.