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MY SEARCH FOR CECIL BARTON


ACTOR: TANSHELF, PONTEFRACT 1914
by WENDY McCOIST (nee Barton)

Actor Cecil Barton

Cecil Barton
photograph submitted by Wendy McCoist (nee Barton)

Sadly, my mother passed away a year ago, which prompted me – like many others – to try and trace my family tree, especially as she had told me some very intriguing tales about my family’s past. Unfortunately, my mother was the last in my family above me and there is no-one else to ask. My mother was a very imaginative woman, and was prone to "embroidering" stories, so it would be nice to sort out fact from fiction!

So here goes; firstly, the story as told by my mother, and secondly the facts as I know them!

MY MOTHERS ACCOUNT:

Mum told me that my grandmother, Florence Maria Blanche Gull, came from a wealthy family of physicians and barristers, and that there was a connection to the Jack the Ripper Case. She studied at the London Academy of Music and obtained a medal for playing the violin in July 1902.

However, her privileged lifestyle supposedly came to an end when she met an actor by the name of Cecil Barton and became pregnant, was disowned by her family, and my father, Derek Cecil Barton, was born in Pontefract, Yorkshire, in September 1914.

I don’t know whether they married or not, but mum told me that they were in Scotland at some point. Cecil Barton deserted my grandmother when my father was very young, and possibly went away to America.

Florence eventually ended up working as a ‘downstairs maid’, somewhere in Wimbledon, and one day, whilst sitting on Wimbledon Common with my young father, she met Joseph Dunn, who took my father on as his own and the family moved to Snodland in Kent, where they ran a small general stores until the end of their lives.

Cecil Barton as a baby Florence Gull and her parents

(left) My father Derek Cecil Barton as a baby
(right)Florence Gull and her parents

THE FACTS:

From Florence Gull’s Death Certificate, dated 16th February 1962:

Died: 16th February 1962, Snodland, Kent.
Name: Florence Blanche Marie Dunn
Female, aged 77
Wife of Joseph Redmund Dunn, Shopkeeper (General Stores)

From Florence Gull’s Birth Certificate, dated 17 July 1884:

Born: 4th June 1884
Name: Florence Maria Blanche Gull
Father: Joseph Gull, Solicitors Clerk
Mother: Charlotte Blanche Gull (nee Hertslet) 79 (or 19) Cowley Road, North Brixton

From Derek Cecil Barton’s Birth Certificate, dated 19th September 1914:

Born: 11th September 1914 in Watergate, Tanshelf, Pontefract
Name: Derek Cecil Barton
Father’s Name: Cecil Barton (an Actor)
Mother’s Name: Florence Blanche Barton, formerly Gull

THE POSSESSIONS!

Postcard depicting Cecil Barton Cecil Barton postcard
Above: The reverse of a postcard signed ‘Kind Regards to Mr & Mrs White
Left: The postcard depicts Cecil Barton and is signed ‘Yours Faithfully Cecil Barton.’
Photographs submitted by Wendy McCoist.

I have in my possession the medal obtained by Florence at the London Academy of Music. The inscription on the reverse reads ‘Florence Gull, July 22nd 1902". The box containing the medal has in its lid the inscription ‘J A Bestall, Jeweller, Birmingham.

The two photographs are the only ones I have of Cecil Barton, both of which are undated.

You will see that the photograph from Cecil Barton, with the inscription on the back "Kind regards to Mr & Mrs White", and signed on the front "Yours faithfully, Cecil Barton" was taken by ‘Rowland King, Photographer, Printer, Framer, Local View Publisher, of Earlestown.'

I would be very interested to hear from anyone who has any information regarding the actor Cecil Barton or Florence Gull. I can be contacted by e-mail at w.mccoist@btinternet.com .

Wendy McCoist (nee Barton)


 

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