So James and Ann were left with one son, John, no further children for them having been found. Instead, we know that Ann and Horatio were having children together between 1825 and 1834, despite their not marrying until 1840. The explanation for this apparently strange state of affairs can be found in a Will proved the 9th of January 1824 at Norwich. The Will was written by James ALDERSON, plumber, glazier and painter of Norwich, on the 30th of September 1823. James had been described as a ‘tailor’ at his marriage to Ann BAXTER in 1817. So is the Will by another James ALDERSON? Any doubt we might have in this respect is dispelled by the fact that James named his brother John Kemp ALDERSON as his sole Executor. James and John were the sons of John ALDERSON and Honour KEMP, Kemp being retained as a given name by later generations of the family. So even though James does not name his wife and children in his Will, there can be no doubt that this is Ann Baxter’s first husband. James was presumably very ill when he made his Will in 1823, because he was buried the 4th of January 1824, aged 33, in Norwich St. John de Sepulchre.

James’s Will is very straightforward, making provision for his children “during their minorities” and leaving “one equal half part of personal estate and effects….unto my said wife” and the “remaining half to my children then living….when the youngest attains his majority”. Now there was only the one surviving child, John, born 1818, who became 21, therefore, in 1839. These dates give us a completely plausible scenario as to why Ann did not marry Horatio until 1840. By remaining James’s legal widow, whatever else she might have said in connection with the registration of her children by Horatio, Ann very shrewdly protected her own inheritance and, more importantly perhaps, that of her son John. Had she married Horatio following James’s death, she would have exposed herself and John to a possible legal claim by Horatio on James’s estate. By acting as she did, she not only protected herself and son John, but she also provided John with a father figure and herself with the family that James’s early death threatened to deny her. She seems to have been a most resourceful woman, and it is not surprising that her son Horace wrote lengthy letters to her in later life. It might also be worth noting that son John not only attained his majority in 1839, and so inherited what remained of his father’s estate, but he also married in December of that year.

The mystery only deepens when the family is located in the 1841 census on Norwich St. Stephen. Here, as expected, are Ann aged 50, Robert 11 and Harriet 6. We know that Charlot(te), Mary Ann and Alfred had all died young. So this is unquestionably the family of Horatio and Ann. Yet the Head of family is listed as ‘Elijah’ aged 48, rope-maker, and the elder son as ‘Elizah’ aged 15, rope-maker’s apprentice. What is going on here? Did the census enumerator mishear the given names? Unlikely. They are too dissimilar in sound. By this time, too, Horatio and Ann were married, so that they had nothing to conceal on that front. What was the intention then? Some sort of deception had to have been involved - unless they were so drunk they said the first thing that came to mind. It remains a mystery. The 1851 census on Heigham, a hamlet of Norwich, lists Ann Aldis as the Head, married, aged 61, a nurse, born in Tharston, Norfolk. Unmarried son Robert, now aged 21, is a butcher, and daughter Harriet, 16, a dressmaker. But no mention of either Horatio father or son, who would have been aged, respectively, 55 and 26. In fact, the younger Horatio had enlisted in the army in 1842, and we can follow his military career both in England and America in some detail. His father is less easily accounted for. All we know for certain is that he died in the Norwich Workhouse on the 10th of December 1855 of chronic bronchitis. He was aged 62 and was buried in Norwich St. Andrew. The informant was Elizabeth Baker, a Workhouse official. We can only guess at what happened to the family following the marriage of Horatio and Ann in 1840. Did they abandon him - or had he already abandoned them?

By 1861 the family had moved to London. The 1861 census on Shoreditch lists son Robert, a shoemaker, as the Head, aged 31, his wife Elizabeth (BROWN) also 31, and his mother, a nurse, aged 72. Ann is described somewhat confusingly as Robert’s mother-in-law, and her surname is rendered ‘Aleters’; she is also said to have been born in Norwich. After an eventful life, Ann died of bronchial exhaustion the 24th of October 1868 in Hackney, London, aged 78. She is referred to as Ann ALDIS, the widow of Horace (sic) ALDIS, a boot manufacturer; and she was still living, apparently, with son Robert who was present at her death. Of the three children of Horace and Ann who survived infancy, Horatio who became Horace is the main focus of this narrative, and his life and career from 1842 will be detailed shortly. Robert married Elizabeth BROWN on the 16th of August 1852 at the Norwich Registry Office. Both were aged 22, single, and made a mark. He was a butcher, son of Horace(sic) ALDIS, rope-maker, while Elizabeth was a shoebinder, daughter of Samuel BROWN, a weaver. By 1871 Robert and Elizabeth have Margaret, aged 4, a visitor from Norwich, living with them; and in 1881, as Margaret TRIPP, aged 14, she is still with them. We believe her to be the Margaret TRIPP who married in 1890 in London, her father being Alfred TRIPP, brother of William TRIPP who married Robert’s sister Harriet in Hackney on the 19th of June 1853. The marriage was witnessed by John ALDERSON, Harriet’s half-brother, and his wife Mary Ann (MIDDLETON). William TRIPP, a shoemaker, was a widower, son of William TRIPP, also a shoemaker, while dressmaker Harriet ALDIS, a minor, was the daughter of Horatio ALDIS, a twine spinner. In the 1861 census on St. Leonards Shoreditch, William is aged 32 (so born c.1829), still a shoemaker, with wife Harriet, aged 26, their daughter Elizabeth, aged 8, and Sophia TRIPP, born 1850 and aged 10, the daughter of William’s first wife, Sophia DENNY, who died in 1852. Possibly there was a connection between this TRIPP family and the Elizabeth TRIPP (1770-1848) who married Francis ALDIS; if there is, however, it is beyond the scope of this enquiry.

Of the two sons of James ALDERSON and Ann BAXTER the second, William, as already noted, died in infancy. Their first son, John, born in 1818 in Norwich All Saints, married Mary Ann MIDDLETON the 10th of December 1839 in Norwich St. Stephen. Mary Ann, born in Cromer Norfolk in 1822, daughter of Matthew MIDDLETON, was under-age at marriage and signed the register. The marriage was witnessed by Maria WISEMAN. Now Ann BAXTER’s elder sister, Elizabeth, married Matthew WISEMAN in 1810 at Ashwellthorpe. If Maria WISEMAN was Matthew’s sister, or even mother, then there would have been a close family relationship between her and Ann’s son. We know that John and Mary Ann moved to London since they appear in the 1851 census on Bow. They had several sons, John who died in 1842 in Norwich St. Stephen, James born in 1842 in Norwich St. Stephen, Robert born and died 1850 in London, John born 1852 in London, Edward born 1856 and died 1857 in London, Horatio born 1858 and died 1809 in West Ham, and George born 1865 in London (alive 1911), and all named Kemp ALDERSON in memory of their great-grandmother, Honour KEMP. By 1871, and possibly earlier, John Alderson & Sons was an established rope and twine manufacturer with a factory in Marshgate Lane, Stratford.