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Started by: david dunlop (131)

I hope all of you enjoy mysteries and can perhaps help me with any information regarding a family mystery we have been trying to sort out since the Summer of 1929.

My Mum was born and raised in Wigan, the eldest of four Ryan siblings, named Patricia, Belle, Terry and Kevin. Their father was William Charles Ryan, but he was known as Charlie Ryan. He was a Master Plumber who worked for Walkdens. Their mother, my maternal Grandmother, was Clara Ryan. Her Maiden Name was Clara Betton. They were married in 1922 and my Mum was born in 1923. The youngest child, Kevin, was born in 1927. They lived on Pagefield Street.

By all accounts, Charlie was a very good plumber, but he also drank to excess, on a near daily basis as he got older, and beat Clara almost as frequently. Sometime in mid-1929, Clara disappeared. We have always assumed Clara could no longer take the abuse and fled.

When Clara’s eldest sister, Nellie, passed in 1972, a photograph turned up in Nellie’s things. It was Clara with three boys we do not know. Interestingly enough, however, the eldest boy in the photo looks strikingly like Charlie when he was a young man. All the family could assume was that Clara had perhaps been pregnant in 1929 with a fifth child by Charlie, could not take her home life any longer and gone off. Subsequently, she had remarried and led a happy life.

Shortly after Clara left in 1929, Charlie went to Liverpool and had the four children committed to orphanages, claiming Clara was an adulteress and had run off with an unknown man. Mum and my Aunt ended up in an orphanage in Preston. My two uncles went to Billinge, which by all accounts was not a nice place. Charlie then came home and told Clara’s sisters, Nellie and Louise, they would never see their nephews and nieces again, unless they told him where Clara was hiding. Interestingly enough, in copies of the applications for orphanage we found, the interviewer/case worker had noted Charlie appeared to be of dubious character. Spot on!

After almost five years, Charlie reclaimed his children, took a new wife and started a second family in the same home on Pagefield, but did not change one bit.

Just recently, some new pieces of information have come to light that cast doubt on our assumptions all these years. It now looks like Clara was indeed planning to leave Charlie in 1929. With or without her children we do not know. She did, however, visit her sister, Nellie, in mid-summer 1929 to pick up a Diddlum her sister had been holding for Clara in the sum of 10 Pounds Sterling. Two months later she had vanished as per the story above, but we have now found several bits of information that provide a new twist. These pieces of information come from several independent sources that suggest, Charlie may have found out Clara planned to leave and he beat her senseless. He then took her to Haydock Lodge Asylum and had her put away. The other possibility is she was taken to the asylum in Preston. Both these options are being actively investigated at the moment. He then put the kids away to tidy up loose ends and wait for the dust to settle.

If this story were true, it would appear Clara made a full recovery and was able to be discharged. It is also possible she may have given birth to her third son while either at Haydock or Preston, or shortly after her release. Also under investigation.

I wanted to post this story in the event anyone recognizes Clara, or perhaps, somebody’s family history might remember this Ryan family and have any more information to add, however small, that would be of help to us. Please feel free to share with anyone you can think of who might be of assistance.

David

Replied: 15th Jul 2018 at 20:39

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