Ethel's quest discovers a fortune teller

ETHEL Oxford's was a quest to find the truth, after a lifetime of not knowing. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING catches up with the pensioner - to find details flooded in from across the world after she appeared in The Evening Star.

By Tracey Sparling

ETHEL Oxford's was a quest to find the truth, after a lifetime of not knowing. Features editor TRACEY SPARLING catches up with the pensioner - to find details flooded in from across the world after she appeared in The Evening Star.

ONLY a few months ago 97-year-old Ethel Oxford did not know who her late mother was.

After the Evening Star featured her story, readers have helped her discover more about her mother, including links to a colourful fortune teller.

The Evening Star revealed in March how Ethel from near Bristol had finally discovered who her mother was, and seen her birth certificate for the first time. As a 13-year-old she was told that her mum' was in fact not her birth mother and struggled for a lifetime to discover the truth. It was through an internet search that Ethel with help from her daughter Mary, discovered a record that her mother Marguerite Oxford was born in Ipswich on July 19 1883, with Marguerite's parents listed as Charles and Mary Ann Oxford formerly Spearman) of 24 St Matthew's Street, Ipswich.

A feature in the Evening Star produced a host of emails and phone calls, from people trying to help them find any surviving relatives in Ipswich.

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Mary said: “We had a good response to the article. As a result of your coverage of my mum's story we have had several phone calls and e-mails including one from the USA, some from family members and some from people who were interested in the article.

“We now know that Marguerite's parents were Charles and Mary Anne Oxford who had a glove and legging factory in St Matthew St - several people mentioned the factory.

“Mary Ann's family were called Spearman and were dyers at nearby Spearman's Yard. Marguerite who was known as Daisy had eight brothers and sisters: Maude, Charles,George,Edward[Harry],Mary,Frederick, Archibald and Alonzo. It seems Maude was known locally as Madam Zeta and was a fortune teller and medium; brother George was a farmer in Essex; Alonzo was a lay preacher in Devon and other brothers were a fisherman in Yarmouth and the landlord of The Woodman's Arms in Stratford.”

She added: “We are now in contact with descendants of Maude and George in Ipswich and have received some family photographs, of particular interest are the ones of Marguerite's sister Maude and her brother George. We also have one, which we think is of her parents.”

Mary and Ethel still hope to hear from more family members in the quest to discover more about Ethel's mother Marguerite, and they still hope a family photo, or an individual photo of her may come to light.

Mary said: “Thank you again for your help in starting this off, quite a lot has emerged in a short time.”

If you have any more details, contact


If you want to trace an old friend or relative, fill in this form and we'll publish your appeal.

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Maude Oxford known as Madame Zeta was born in 1874 and was the sister of Marguerite, Ethel's mum.

Several people who rang Ethel spoke about her and her role as Madam Zeta and one sent this picture.

George Oxford was a farmer in Essex and maybe a horse dealer. News of the quest spread to Buckingham in Buckinghamshire, from where Mr A Grayston wrote to say his late grandfather Fred Grayston had a great friend in Ipswich called George Oxford a horse dealer who was from east London. But the Oxford family are dubious whether this George is related.

Is this a picture of him in his younger days when he was in the Army?

This could be Marguerite's parents, Ethel's grandparents George and Mary Ann Oxford the glovemakers. Mary said: “We have noticed a resemblance in the eyes of the lady, they look about the right period and their photo was handed down by Maude Oxford. Perhaps someone out there is able to confirm or deny this.”

Tracing your family tree is big business. Millions of people are logging onto the internet to tap into their ancestry and bring the past alive.

Now it's possible to look even further back in time without leaving the house, with the launch of a new online 1841 census on Researchers can flesh out their family tree, delve even deeper into the Victorian era and discover what Queen Victoria and Charles Dickens were doing on the night of the census. In November 2005, nearly 13per cent of the total UK internet audience visited a genealogy site, according to Dr Sarah Richardson, senior lecturer in history at the University of Warwick, said the 1841 census is a particularly handy tool in researching your genealogy: "Whilst earlier censuses returned aggregate population figures, the 1841 census gives information about each household in Britain including the ages, occupations, and birthplaces of each inhabitant.

"The 1841 census allows historians to track individuals and family groups more precisely and therefore it's an invaluable source for local and family researchers as well as academics exploring issues such as industrialisation, migration, occupational diversification and demographic trends.

Josh Hanna, managing director of, has these ten tips:

1 Start with yourself and work backwards

2 Interview your relatives - oldest first

3 Document and organise what you find

4 Use the internet - census and BMD (Births, Marriages, Deaths) records are a great place to start

5 Collaborate - use internet message boards

6 Be open minded about 'facts' and what you discover

7 Record siblings' and neighbours' names - you might see them again

8 Think laterally about names, spellings, places and dates

9 Don't trust everything you find - women rarely age as fast as men

10 Record your information in a collectable heirloom and enjoy the journey

If your family tree has stopped sprouting, you can always investigate the roots of where you live. Hunting down the history of an address can conjure up intriguing finds.

There may often be complaints in today's society about the unfair regional distribution of services in England but the difference in the level of provision was 10 times greater in 1841. unveils the best and worst places to live back 165 years ago.

:: Best place to live: London

:: Worst place to live: Rutland

:: Best police provision: London (One police officer for every 360 people)

:: Worst police provision: Dorset, Lincolnshire and Rutland (One police officer to more than 7,000 people)

:: Best medical provision: London (One doctor for every 400 people)

:: Worst medical provision: Cornwall (One doctor for every 1,900 people)

:: Best teaching provision: Surrey (One teacher for every 120 pupils)

:: Worst teaching provision: Hampshire (One teacher for every 880 pupils)