Chance discovery uncovers love story
By Warren Nunn
Those who research family history love to collaborate with like-minded people because, as it is with so many other things in life, the more you give the more you get in return.
Without such widespread generosity, people who find items such as war medals, may never be able to reunite them with family members.
Such was the case in October 2018 when medals were left with a charity on Jersey in the Channel Islands.
The Jersey Evening Post put out a challenge for information about the World War 1 medals of one Jonathan Nunn in an article titled Can you help solve war medal mystery?
Within days, Dominic Butler, who is curator of the Lancashire Infantry Museum, helped identify Jonathan Nunn as having originated from Suffolk.
The Post followed up with a second article, Mystery of the First World War soldier is solved. Several weeks later, on 20 December 2018, the paper published another article about Jonathan Nunn’s son, David, who said he was thrilled to finally discover what happened to his father after his parents separated when he was about two.
As the details of Jonathan Nunn’s life are revealed, it confirms that he parted ways with his wife and young son and moved to Jersey where he co-habited with a nurse named Nancy Hambleton. They presented themselves as man and wife as their World War 11 Occupation cards show.
Jonathan earned his living as a boot repairer, a trade he would have learnt from his father, also named Jonathan, who was a shoemaker back in Stowmarket, Suffolk.
However, it is not until 1973 in Hertfordshire, that we find a marriage record for Jonathan and Nancy. The details are:
Name: Jonathan Nunn Registration Date: Apr-May-Jun 1973 Registration district: Hertford Inferred County: Hertfordshire Spouse: Hambleton Volume Number: 4b Page Number: 470
The following entry is for the 1916 marriage between Jonathan Nunn and Fanny Carr.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 Name: Jonathan Nunn Date of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec 1916 Registration district: Stow Inferred County: Suffolk Spouse: Fanny Carr Volume Number: 4a Page Number: 1854
Fanny did not re-marry and died in 1979 as follows:
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 Name: Fanny Nunn Death Age: 84 Birth Date: 1 Mar 1895 Registration Date: Mar 1979 Registration district: Sedgemoor Inferred County: Somerset Volume: 23 Page: 1434
It seems that Jonathan had died the year before, assuming the following entry is for the same person. A key piece of information is the matching birth date even though the entry is for John Nunn, not Jonathan:
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1916-2007 Name: John Nunn Death Age: 83 Birth Date: 18 Apr 1895 Registration Date: Sep 1978 Registration district: Stepney Inferred County: Greater London Volume: 15 Page: 0134
This extraordinary set of events started with a set of medals and ended with a man discovering various details about a father he never knew. When David Nunn asked his neighbour Elly Babbedge whether she could help him research his family, neither of them could have imagined the events that played out.
Along the way, several researchers applied their skills and what they discovered helped build a picture of a man who served in the First World War, and then also survived the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands.
FOOTNOTE: Jonathan’s war medals now have a permanent home at Suffolk Regiment Museum.