So, I’ve finally decided to post this. My research has been shaky, but I’ve found multiple sources that seem to support my theory, so to hell with it, I’m putting it out there. I know who Beth is.
So let me begin by talking about some of the things I got wrong. After reading the diary, I had assumed that T.B. and Beth were married. I guess I just assumed that two upper class people in 1887 would be married before they started having sex. But nowhere in the diaries does it say that they were married.
This preconception effected much of the research that I’ve done since then. And It kept me from finding the real Beth for quite a while. So when this thought came to mind, I decided to go back and look at all of the clues one by one, and here’s something I found. On the photo, I though one of the initials was “E.B.”, well I was wrong, I had just assumed that Beth and T.B. would share a last name and I had glanced over it (I was being a bad investigator basically). The initial actually reads “E.P.”.
And that reminded me of something. William Pearce’s wife was called “Dinah Elizabeth Pearce”. So I did a bit of looking around, and I hit something. Beth was Elizabeth Pearce. Born in 1862. Child of William Pearce.
But according to wikipedia, the Pearces only had one child, a son. Well, here’s where things get a bit less rooted in fact, and more into speculation. But in my opinion, there are too many coincidences to be ignored.
I found some information about Elizabeth Pearce. According to this web page, her parents were “unknown Pearce” and ” Elizabeth Dally”. When I first saw the mother’s name, I was disappointed, and I didn’t think that it was Beth, but having thought about it a bit more, I have two theories about how this could be Beth.
1. W.P. cheated on his wife, and had two illegitimate daughters. This could explain why his first name isn’t on the birth certificate, and it might explain why Beth seemed to be living in Glasgow while he was living in London.
2. And this one is really out there. I’m only really putting it here, so I’m not outright calling W.P. a cheater, to be honest. Dally is Dinah’s nickname, and somehow it was put down on the birth certificate incorrectly.
Yeah, it seems like W.P. was a cheater. But get this, so was Beth. According to that information, Beth married Albert Whitehead in 1887, and then had a daughter in 1888. So Beth could have been pregnant before she got married. Or she and T.B. could have been having an affair. Either way, Beth must have been seeing Whitehead for a while before they were married. So I believe that she and T.B. were having an affair.
So we don’t really know if Beth’s child (Elizabeth Whitehead) is T.B.’s daughter, or Albert Whitehead’s.
The thing that is bothering me the most isn’t anything to do with this however. Why would somebody send me a letter inviting me to investigate some Victorian love affair? I don’t yet see the purpose of all this.
But I’m not giving up. I plugged Elizabeth Pearce, T.B. and Sir William Pearce into my college’s library database, and they have a book that mentions all three names. I have it on order, and they’re bringing it out from storage for me as I type this. The book is called “Maritime Engineering; A History”.
I’ll find the relevant pages in the book, and hopefully I’ll know more by tonight, or tomorrow morning.
Wish me luck,
Until next time,