The Eleanor Snead Triangle

We need to remind ourselves that a lot can happen in the ten years between two censuses. Sometime it’s obvious. But sometimes it isn’t. For Ernest CADMAN and his wife Eleanor SNEAD (m 1897 in Haslington, Cheshire[1]), it seemed obvious. In the 1901 census, the couple are seen at 46 Kennedy St., Manchester, at which point they have no children[2]. Ten years later and they live in Crewe, Cheshire[3]. Their big change is that they have adopted three girls. Or at least, that’s the obvious change. What had actually happened is not clear but it would probably set tongues wagging even today.

The story started some years ago, when my mother was listing her Haslington relatives in the Cadman family. Winnie Cadman, daughter of Ernest Cadman, was clearly one of her favourites, though a lot older than Mum. I could find Winnie’s marriage (in 1939 at St. Barnabas, Crewe, as Edith W Cadman to Frederick LATHAM) but there was no sign of her birth. That was sorted out when the 1911 census appeared as it showed Ernest and his wife had adopted three girls: Eleanor, Edith Winifred and Roberta Mary EDISS, all born in Manchester in about 1904, 1906 and 1908 respectively.

I did wonder idly whether I could find out their real parents – adoption was still informal in England at this time. When the Ancestry collection “Manchester, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915” appeared, I entered their names just in case – and got baptisms for Edith Winifred[8] and Roberta Mary[9], along with one for a Tom Ediss[10]. All three children live at 30 Upper West Grove, Chorlton upon Medlock, and their parents are Edward Ediss, warehouseman, and Eleanor – except it’s Ellen on Roberta’s baptism. Fairly quickly I found Edward Ediss, warehouseman, in both the 1901 [4] and 1911 [5] censuses. A widower in both – oh, that’s sad, he’s lost his first wife before the 1901 census, married Eleanor, lost her and had to give the children up for adoption before the 1911.

In danger of getting confused between the two Eleanors, I looked for the marriage of Edward Ediss – but the only one in the area was to Eva BROWN in 1882 at Eccles. Some work on the censuses showed that this was our Edward Ediss, warehouseman, and it seems Eva had died in the first quarter of 1901. No marriage existed between our Edward Ediss and Eleanor. So was it the same Edward Ediss? Yes – Army records for two of Edward’s sons firmly established they had been at 30 Upper West Grove[6], the house in the baptisms.

I did wonder. And wondered a bit more. Until I clocked up £9.25 worth of wondering and sent for Edith Winifred Ediss’ birth certificate[7]. Born: 19th June 1906, 30 Upper West Grove, South Manchester UD – as per the baptism. Father: Edward Ediss, store-keeper (warehouse) – as expected. Mother: Eleanor Ediss, formerly Snead. Not even slightly obscured. Ernest Cadman’s wife and Edward Ediss’ “partner” have the same name. Edith Winifred’s foster-mother and birth mother have the same name. Were they the same person? Well, I suppose it’s vaguely possible that one Eleanor Snead has a cousin of the same name but when I looked in FreeBMD for her birth registrations, I couldn’t even find one in the Lancashire / Cheshire area, never mind two. Ernest’s Eleanor Snead is supposed to be born about 1877 in Longsight, near Manchester[2] [3], so it seemed reasonable to concentrate on Lancashire and the surrounding area. The name – and more to the point – variations on it, isn’t unique enough to be certain that she’s not there under another birthplace, but none seem plausible for her. And the census didn’t offer any alternatives, either. So, far from there being two Eleanor Snead mothers, I find it hard to believe there’s even one. So – I have to conclude that it’s the same Eleanor Snead throughout and she married Ernest Cadman and had children with Edward Ediss.

So, in summary, her story is:

  •  Eleanor Snead born about 1877, Longsight, Lancs[2] [3]. Her father is supposed to be Thomas Snead, a publican[1];
  • 7 August 1897, Eleanor Snead marries Ernest Cadman at St. Matthew’s, Haslington, Cheshire[1];
  • 31 March 1901, Ernest and Eleanor Cadman are at 46 Kennedy St., Manchester[2];
  • 19 June 1906, Edith Winifred Ediss born to Edward Ediss and Eleanor Ediss, nee Snead, Chorlton-upon-Medlock[7] [8];
  • 30 December 1907, Roberta Mary Ediss born to Edward Ediss and Eleanor Ediss, nee Snead, probably Chorlton-upon-Medlock[9];
  • 11 March 1909, Tom Ediss  born to Edward Ediss and Eleanor Ediss, nee Snead, probably Chorlton-upon-Medlock[10]. Tom dies during Q2 1909;

In addition, Eleanor Ediss, b Q3 1904, is probably Edward and Eleanor’s, as is an Albert Ediss (1903-1903). The three baptisms above are all in different churches, as if the parents didn’t want to risk a second appearance, with any consequent questions.

  • 2 April 1911, Eleanor is back with her husband, Ernest Cadman, at 92 Sydney Road, Crewe, Cheshire, along with her three surviving daughters, young Eleanor, Edith Winifred and Roberta Mary, who are all described as adopted[3].

So the really big change for Ernest and Eleanor Cadman between the 1901 and 1911 censuses was hidden: Did Eleanor walk out on Ernest Cadman? In which case, some years later, he took her back, with her three daughters. Did Ernest go off and Eleanor find solace in the arms of Edward Ediss? In which case they seem to have made their peace with one another. Or was it even more fantastical? Did Eleanor and Ernest realise they couldn’t have children and was there a sort of ménage à trois to give her those children?

Going on further – why can’t I find any birth details for Eleanor Snead? The closest I can get is an Ellen Snead born Liverpool 1874. Well, I’m guessing that Snead wasn’t her birth name. But somehow, I’ve had enough digging for a while!


[1] St. Matthew’s (Haslington, Cheshire), marriage of Ernest Cadman and Eleanor Snead, 1897 (Microfilm Copy of Parish Register).

[2] General Register Office (England & Wales), schedule for Cadman, Ernest & Eleanor, 1901 ( website – UK Census collection), RG13, Piece 3748, Folio 136, Page 17.

[3] General Register Office (England & Wales), schedule for Cadman, Ernest & Eleanor, 1911 (Web-site: 1911, 2009), RG14, Piece 21780, Schedule 58.

[4] General Register Office (England & Wales), schedule for Edward Ediss & family, 5 Deane St., Broughton, Salford, 1901 Census (digital image of original published in “1901 England Census [database on-line]”).

[5] General Register Office (England & Wales), schedule for Edward Ediss & family, 8 Hullard St., Old Trafford, Manchester, 1911 Census (digital image of original published in “1911 census” online database and index).

[6] Royal Regiment of Artillery, British Army, service records from Pensions Claims for Arthur Ediss, 48710, Royal Horse & Royal Field Artillery, commencing 1907 (digital image of original published in “British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 [database on-line]”; citing The National Archives of the UK “War Office: Soldiers’ Documents from Pension Claims, First World War (Microfilm Copies)”, (TNA reference WO364)).

[7] General Register Office (England & Wales), birth certificate for Edith Winifred Ediss, 19 June 1906, Chorlton district (This is a certified facsimile copy, made 26 February 2013), 1906 Q3, Chorlton District, Vol 8c, p.879.

[8] St. Matthew (Ardwick, Lancashire), entry for Edith Winifred Ediss, 4 July 1906; Register of Baptisms (digital image in “Manchester, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915” [database on-line], Ancestry), original reference Manchester Archives GB127.M352/2/1/4

[9] St. Benedict (Ardwick, Lancashire), entry for Roberta Mary Ediss, 16 January 1908; Register of Baptisms (digital image in “Manchester, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915” [database on-line], Ancestry).

[10] St. Matthew (Ardwick, Lancashire), entry for Tom Ediss, 6 June 1909; Register of Baptisms (digital image in “Manchester, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1915” [database on-line], Ancestry).

About brucefuimus

Retired IT professional; family historian and mathematician by training.
This entry was posted in Cadman, Ediss, Family history, Haslington, Manchester, Snead and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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