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Subject: Birth of Charlie Chaplin - I find a record!
Date: Tue, 15 Oct 2013 10:25:23 +0100

I simply had to share this with the list!

I found this morning while trawling through the British Newspaper Archive
online a record of the birth of Charlie Chaplin. I am rather intrigued by this
discovery because it may be a significant find. No-one has ever traced Charlie
Chaplin's birth certificate or a record of his birth and this is the first time
I've come across any mention of it. This is from The Era, a prominent show
business newspaper, of Saturday 11 May 1889.

The record is just one paragraph at the very bottom of a long column and it
reads:"BIRTH. - April 15th, the wife of Charles Chaplin, nee Lily Harley, of a
beautiful boy. Mother and son both doing well."

There isn't the slightest doubt that this is a record of Chaplin's birth since
his father was Charles Chaplin senior and his mother Hannah was also on the
stage under the name of Lily Harley.

There are various versions of where Chaplin was born but most accounts give his
birth as 16 April 1889 at Walworth, Surrey. However, this cutting shows the
birth as being a day earlier. He appears with his mother Hannah in the 1891
census, which gives his birth place as Walworth. If you look at my blog on
Chaplin at:
you will find other versions of his birth.

One story has it that he was born in a gypsy encampment at Smethwick,
Birmingham, and papers released from The National Archives last year offered
the bizarre story that the Americans in the 1950s, when Chaplin was under
suspicion of being a Communist, asked MI5 to look into their belief that he was
born a Jew in Paris. It turned out to be total nonsense! My own theory is that
Hannah simply forgot to register him because she was already somewhat "flakey",
having marriage problems with her husband Charles Chaplin senior and had had
three sons all by different men. Later she was incarcerated in an asylum and
Charlie and his half brother Sydney went into a workhouse for a time. It's a
great shame the paragraph in The Era didn't say where the birth took place.
Lily Harley was Hannah's stage name, not her real birth name which was Hill.
Roy Stockdill
Genealogical researcher, writer & lecturer
Famous family trees blog:

"There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about,
and that is not being talked about."

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