James Henry Ellis is my great-grandfather, through my mother and her father. He is my most resistant brick wall. The earliest end of the line in the whole Dearman/Mollett family tree.
We now think he was probably a gypsy - or at least if not actually romany, a traveller, which may well mean that we shall never find out more. He was a flower seller - my aunt recalls helping him sell his flowers in the Portsmouth market, late in his life.
In the few records that we have from his later life he is utterly consistent about his name - the Henry is always included, and his age - which would make him born around 1840 and his birthplace - Portsmouth. On his second marriage certificate, he also tells us that his father was another James Henry, a sailor. Of course these could all be lies, but at least they are consistent lies.
But we have nothing before the birth of his second child - my grandfather - Frederick John Ellis. His first child Ellen's birth certificate is missing. We do not have a marriage certificate for their mother Ellen Warne(s) 'late Cook, formerly Warne(s)' it says on at least one of the other birth certificates. And we have no census records before 1991.
I see that somebody has decided that his mother was Elizabeth Alce - but I sincerely doubt this. Do please leave a comment if you know more.