When we were children we never called grown-ups by their first name, they were always Miss, Mrs, Mr or ‘aunty’ and ‘uncle’. I was clear who my real aunties and uncles were, my parents’ brothers and sisters, and more distant relatives who were aunty or uncle and yet technically a cousin. However with my parents’ families, especially my mum’s, there were people who now I think may not have been relatives at all, although I’d assumed they were.

My grandma’s name was Ida, and there was someone connected with her family called ‘Aunty Ida’ which we thought was funny, having two Idas. I must admit, despite all my genealogical research, I didn’t really think very much of it. Yesterday I started a massive sort out of all my bits of paper – it really is time to get things sorted and catch my actual family tree up to date, and I came across a little handwritten note from my aunty, my mum’s eldest sister. It was a about a tea-set ‘given by great-grandmother Lois Walford to “Auntie” Ida Frost, probably some time after 1920‘. It was a note to me, as Lois Walford is my great-grandmother.

So who was Ida Frost… I have no idea, but I remember her often being talked about, and talked about fondly and affectionately. I may even have some photos of her… I must check… There was one auntie we went to visit when I was a child. We went by train and passed through fields of cabbages and cauliflowers – we could smell them! – and we went and had tea with ‘auntie’. I sat on the floor playing with something while mum chatted, but I have no idea who our hostess was… Maybe Ida? Or maybe Auntie Lottie? Another name I remember from my childhood…

So I began to search for Ida Frost. Frost is not a name which occurs in any branch of our family as far as I know, and I can’t find a related Ida anyone who might have married a Mr Frost. So how old would she have been… I guessed she might have been a similar age to great-grandma Lois, so I began to trawl through Ida’s born around the 1850’s… then had a thought that when Lois was living in London in the 1890’s, she may well have become friendly with a woman who was younger, so I looked at possible Ida’s born in the 1860’s or 70’s… I looked at census material, I looked at marriage data – Ida anyone marrying a Mr Frost… I did find one, but she didn’t seem right somehow… so I finished my research for the moment, and went back to writing.

Coming to the puzzle this morning I had a sudden thought… how popular was Ida as a name? To have two people who knew each other both with the same name… If Ida Frost was a similar age to Lois would she be easier to find, and would that explain why grandma Ida got her name, did her mother name her only daughter after a close friend? Ida was someone Lois was close too after her split with her family when she moved to London – the only connection Lois had to her past (as far as I know) was her sister Sarah. I looked up the name Ida, it seems to peak in popularity when my grandma Ida was born – maybe Ida Frost was grandma’s friend, not great-grandma’s?

This is an impossible puzzle, isn’t it? I will persevere and ask my cousins… but I think I’ve asked them before and had no luck Giving a gift of a tea-set, even not an expensive one, and one which was manufactured after 1910 is generous… why such a gift? Most likely a wedding… was it a wedding gift when Ida Frost married? Or a gift when Ida married Mr Frost? If it was sometime after 1920 that does give a clue when the marriage might have taken place (I don’t know why the date is significant) – Ida Frost stayed in touch with our family, and when she was very old, she gave the service back to my Aunty – maybe she had no children to pass it on to – and now it has come to me…

I don’t think I will find the answer… but I will keep looking

My featured image is of grandma Ida’s marriage to Reg Matthews, her nephews Eric and Howard Walford are page boys, along with another young man whose name I can’t remember!

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