my maternal grandad joe wilkes was a character. he was a foundling left on the steps of the bluecoat school in st philips square birmingham in the early 1880's. the circumstances of his birth were a mystery.
was he the result of an upstairs downstairs liason? mmm, am i related to the windsors... i hope not .
joe was sent to an orphanage in marston green and when he was twelve he was told he was going to be sent to australia, as part of a government policy to populate there and presumiably cut the cost of rearing him, brave joe ran away and spent 2 years living on the streets in birmingham untill he was taken in by the wilkes family in williams st ladywood.
he served in the boer war and the great war then inthe 20's and 30's made a living selling tips on race courses, the family lived from hand to mouth but if he had a good day on the horses the family shared his success. my dad saw him once walking up broad st followed by 3 railway porters carrying a barron of beef and crates of beer and fruit.
legend has it he could swear for 10 minutes without repeating himself, he was known as foul mouth wilkes. he died in 1940 the same year as my other grandad lev davidivotch bronstein (see pic)