Names of Interest, The Lives of the Tree

The Skeleton In My Closet – Charles Newman

Skeleton in my closet, Charles NewmanI expect that everyone has a family member that they are not allowed to talk about.  Whether that person was the black sheep and their name was to never be mentioned.  Or a specific characteristic, event, or action of a person that isn’t allowed to be discussed.  Some stories are kept hush hush, you hear a whisper here and there before uncovering the full story.  Often, as genealogists, we discover some dirt as we dig deeper and deeper into our history.  This is the story of the skeleton in my closet – Charles Newman.

I do not know if anyone knew the history of Charles when he was alive, but I suspect not.  He probably kept his secrets close to his chest.  He certainly did a lot to hide it.  There is now only one person alive, that I know of, who would remember him – my great-uncle Fred.  He indirectly cracked open the story of Charles Newman, my great-great-grandfather.  Thanks to great-uncle Fred and his daughter, my first cousin once removed, the case was cracked.

We will start this story in the middle and work forward. Then we’ll return to the beginning at the end.  It is the only way to tell this story.




St. Jude's Church, Carlton, Victoria
St. Jude’s Church, Carlton, Victoria


Charles Newman married Minnie Elizabeth Stockwell on 29 August 1887 in St. Jude’s Church, Carlton, Victoria.  At the time of their marriage, Charles was a 30-year-old bachelor, a bricklayer from Coventry, England.  He was the son of Henry Newman, a gentleman, and Emma Hunt.1

Minnie was a 23-year-old spinster from Prahan, Victoria.  She was the daughter of James William Stockwell, a photographer, and Sarah Harriet Chambers.1










Genealogy documents, search, family history, family documentsTheir first son, James William Newman, was born 11 May 1888 at 23B Bridge Road, Richmond Victoria.2   Henry Newman was born 18 April 1890 at 2 Adolph Street, Richmond, Victoria.3 George Newman was born 26 August 1892 in Richmond, Victoria but sadly died of bronchitis on 4 September 1892 at 10 days of age at their home 97 Cremorne Street, Richmond, Victoria.4  Ruth Newman was born 10 June 1894 at 226 Lygon Street, Carlton, Victoria.5 Their final child, Frederick Charles Newman, my great-grandfather, was born 28 September 1897 in Perth, Western Australia.6



Coventry or Cockney

For years I had searched for Charles in Coventry, England but was never able to find a record of him.  When my cousin and I were finally in contact she told me that her dad, my great-uncle Fred (Frederick Charles’ youngest child) was adamant his grandfather, Charles, had a Cockney accent. This was interesting given he had said he was from Coventry on his marriage certificate.1  My cousin decided to trawl through all the certificates she had pertaining to Charles. She discovered each time he had stated he was from Coventry except for James’ where he had stated he was from London, England.2 Was this a mistake?  Or was Charles actually from London?  Given great-uncle Fred’s insistence his grandfather had a Cockney accent, his daughter went hunting.

United Kingdom, Birth, Marriage, Death, Genealogy

We weren’t to know it at this stage but this one bit of information was to blow the story right open.


The Skeleton in my Closet

Charles Newman was born 22 April 1855 at 34 Medway Street, Westminster, Middlesex, England to Henry Newman, a public- house keeper, and Emma Hunt.7  At the time of the 1881 England Census, Charles was a gardener living at 5 Livingstone Terrace, Wandsworth, London.  Now here is the interesting bit – Charles was living with his wife, Edith and their daughter, Edith who was born in 1878.8  Charles had been married before.  Charles Newman, a 25-year-old bachelor, working as a seaman, married Edith May Davis, a 25-year-old spinster, on 25 December 1880 at St. Saviour Church, Battersea, London.9  The signatures on all the documents – both marriage certificates and the children’s birth certificates – are the same.



Edith and Edith

To date, we have been unable to establish what happened to the two Edith’s after Charles left for Australia.  I have been unable to find a death, census, or immigration record. The last we know of them is the 1881 Census.  We have surmised, without any concrete evidence, that Charles got Edith pregnant and then he went to sea.  Upon his return, he married Edith and was working as a gardener at the time of the Census in 1881.  However, by 1887 he was living in Australia and remarried (as a bachelor) to Minnie.

We would love to find what happened to the two Edith’s, however, we would need to find a descendant of young Edith to know what happened to them.  One can only assume that Charles left them behind, given his attempts to cover his tracks – saying he was a bachelor from Coventry.

The only details we have for them are:

Edith Davis born C.1855, Surrey, England – her father was Robert Davis, a watchman.

Edith Newman born C.1878, Surrey, England.

Are you related to Edith Davis or Edith Newman?  Have you ever wondered what happened to Charles and why they were left alone? I would love nothing more than to know what happened to his first family.  It would be so exciting to find someone who knows!


So that is the skeleton in my closet – do you have any skeleton’s in your closet?

Please leave me a comment below as I would love to hear about them.


1. Marriage Certificate for Charles Newman and Minnie Elizabeth Stockwell, No.547/1887 (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Births Deaths and Marriages Victoria, 2019), accessed March 20, 2015,
2. Birth Certificate of James William Newman, born 11 May 1888, Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, No.9935/1888,
3. Birth Certificate of Henry Newman, born 18 April 1890, Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, No.12350/1890,
4. Death Certificate of George Newman, died 4 September 1892, Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, No.10828/1892,
5. Birth Certificate of Ruth Newman, born 10 June 1894, Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages Victoria, No.48315/1894,
6. Birth Extract of Frederick Charles Newman, born 28 September 1897, Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages Western Australia, 2813/97.
7. Birth Certificate of Charles Newman, born 22 April 1855, General Register Office, England, No.275/1855,
8. 1881 Census England, Wales & Scotland, Charles Newman Household, 5 Livingston Terrace, Wandsworth London, Surrey, England, Archive Ref.RG11, Piece no.658, Folio 25, P.41, (Online digital image at Findmypast of original records held by The National Archives) (Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives, 2017), accessed June 27, 2017,
9. Marriage Certificate of Charles Newman and Edith May Davis, married 25 December 1880, General Register Office, England, No.411/1880,

18 thoughts on “The Skeleton In My Closet – Charles Newman

  1. Megan, you created my interest in Genealogy. In my own family history are some facts hidden in ‘the closet’ as you lined out. Your blog reads almost like a thriller. Hope you may find out the last secrets! I will for sure pursue my family’s history.
    Thanks for reminding me of putting it all together can be quite satisfying.

    1. I am so glad my website has inspired you to looking into your genealogy.  It is interesting what we can uncover when we start researching.  Please come back and let me know about any skeletons you find!



  2. As usual, your writing drew me into the story. Yes, there are some family things I found out later years that I never knew growing. I am convinced all families have something (or someone) that is not spoken of for one reason or another. I do hope you are able to find out the mystery in your family. I wish you well as you continue your search. Please continue to share your stories.


    1. Hi Yvette

      I’m so glad you enjoy the stories I tell on here. I was always drawn to finding out about Charles and why he was so elusive and now I know why. It is so interesting finding stories that were never meant to be discussed – I have found a convict, alcoholics, a bigamist – I wonder what I’ll find next? Please keep coming to enjoy the stories I find out!


  3. Another great post Megan, You got a knack for this genealogy stuff. Interesting family this Newman family was. The one thing I can keep remembering about it is, that Henry Newman was born on my daughters birthday April 18.

    1. Hi Fred

      I’m glad you enjoyed reading about Charles – he was an interesting character wasn’t he? It’s always fun to discover someone born on a date significant to you – it sticks in your mind!


  4. Megan, your story reads like a book, and I found myself longing to know the fate of the two Edith’s! If you ever find out, you have to finish the story. What a great article! Thank you,


    1. Hi Clay

      I really want to find out what happened to the two Ediths, however, with such a common names I don’t hold out much hope. Although with the power of the internet at work I could be pleasantly surprised! I am so glad you enjoyed reading the story.


    1. Hi Lane

      Confusion is welcome! The two women, Minnie and Edith, were spinsters – unmarried women – when they married Charles. The interesting thing to note here is that on marrying Minnie, Charles declared he was a bachelor – an unmarried man – yet we know that he was already married to Edith. If Edith had died before he married Minnie he would have been a widower, however, we do not believe this was the case making him a bigamist.


  5. Oh man – this is a fun topic. What I’ve learned in my DNA/bio family adventure is that BOTH OF MY MOTHER’S PARENTS were their family’s black sheep.

    My grandmother was the menopause baby who never quite fit in, in her large group of much older brothers and sisters. She had five children and gave four away for adoption. Several marriages, addiction, died young. Beautiful.

    My grandfather spent his entire youth impregnating multiple women simultaneously. Most of his children hate him, and his final set refuse to acknowledge the existence of all the ones who came before (because grandpa settled down and raised those ones). He was also an alcoholic, also dead.

    I would have NEVER had all of this information had I not done the test.

    1. Wow Penelope! What a find in your history. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Charles Newman had done that as well – a woman in every port – until he finally setted down with Minnie! Such a tragic story for your family that so many refuse to acknowledge each other and children separated by adoption. Maybe your generation can bridge the gulf between you all!


  6. Your recollection reads like a novel. Whatever happened to the ladies? Is there more to this story?
    Our family skeleton is someone we can not find. He was maybe a horse thief that left town and changed his name leaving no breadcrumbs to follow.

    1. Hi Sylvia

      I’ve based it off the records we’ve found. Some of the situations are speculation as we do not know what happened to the two Edith’s. I would love to find out so I hope one day one of their ancestor’s contact me! It was much easier to disappear in those days without all the checks and balances that we have these days.


  7. Hi Megan,

    I got engrossed when reading your article, it is definitely true that everyone has a skeleton in the closet, a few years ago I discovered I had a half sister, what a surprise.

    She was born and raised in the US, where I was born and raised in Ireland. It was my half sister who went searching for her birth mother and found her and of course me and my siblings.

    As with your story Megan it is difficult to trace people because this information is well hidden and in our situation it was no different as it took a lot of work and effort for my sister to actually track us down.

    keep up the good work,


    1. Hi Dave

      Wow!  A half-sister – so glad she found you.  Have you met in person yet?

      I’m pleased that you enjoyed this post about Charles, he was a naughty boy!  



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