Coleman Family History

Inventing the Colemans

Unfortunately, the only census reference I can find for Henry Frederick COLEMAN (originally Henry Frederick KALNUNG from Germany !) is in the 1901 census, and there, he gives his place of birth as ...... wait for it !! ..... Stepney, London !

I can't find him in the 1891 census; Rose and the 9 day old Dora are in the Queen Charlotte Hospital, but there is no sign of the the 3 year old John Henry or his father .. Another possibilty may be the 1911 census, but we need to wait till 2011 for that.

So what is the true story ? I believe we will never know. According to the 1901 census details and his death certificate, he was born around 1863. So in 1881 he would be about 18 and probably still on a ship somewhere, sailing the seven seas ....

We know he married Rose Elvina Breeze in 1887, so if we assume he came to England in his early twenties, and took a couple of years to pick up the language and settle in, then he probably entered his new homeland between 1883 and 1886.

So, why Stepney as birthplace on the 1901 census ?

This is conjecture, but one thought I had, was that he "jumped ship" in the early 1880's and didn't want any "official" attention i.e. no naturalisation papers at the National Archives in Kew, no mention of Germany on any official document.
Place of birth ?? the place where his "new" life started, the docks of Stepney !

Or it could just be that Anti-German feeling was running high in 1901 and he did't want to draw attention to himself ?


By the way, KALNUNG ?? ... I can't find any references to KALNUNG or KALLNUNG on any german web-sites or directories !

And his father ?? ... On his marriage cert. his father is given as Henry Frederick Coleman (deceased). Suspicious, or what ?
You try saying Heinrich Friedrich in german -- it's a bit of a mouthfull !
Another case of "Think of a name, any name ...." ??

Remember that phrase:
" ... and if there hadn't been one already, they would have just had to invent it" ?

I think that's just what he did, he invented himself !!


I wanted to find out more and decided to post a query on the Discussion Forum, RootsChat. There was a "fast and furious" hunt for several hours, which, unfortunately, didn't find him, ... but RootsChatters found these "definite maybes":

KOHL Heinrich boarder U 26 - [ letter Z - presumably unknown or none?] - Werkel Kurhessen
John KOHL(U) from Berheim Darmstadt
COLEMAN Heinrich (Harry) B 1860 Germany, boarder. Occupation sugar baker (refiner)

and then, suddenly, knowing from Dora's birth certificate, that the family were living at 97 Southam Street, M. popped back and said, "Guess what I found ? You won't like it ...."
97 Southam Street, Kensington Town
3 rooms
Gawd knows how they have transcribed this Huh
Hdoryn Collman Head M 35 Railway Goods P something born SOMERSET BATH
Jane Wife M 33 London Kensington
Esther daur 10 Scholar " Marylebone
George Son age overwritten, can't read " " "
Frederick " 5 " " "
Thomas Son 4 " "
Annie A daur 9 months " Padd

Told you, you wouldn't like it and my feet are killing me, why did they have to live right down the bottom end of the street.
"... my feet are killing me .." ??
Well, in her own words:
Oh it's definitely the right number alright, I chased them all the way down the street, house by house, me shoe leather is worn right through
After looking at the images, we decided that was Harry Coleman. So now we have a Coleman family family at 97 Southam Street,

BUT ..... it's not my family !!!


I can't begin to describe the excitement and the fun of the chase here, but you can get some idea of it, from the original discussion on
RootsChat.com / Inventing the Colemans: 1891 Henry Frederick COL(E)MAN
Many, many thanks, to all of you who took part !