Frank's Birth Certificate names his father as John WARD, commercial traveller - although Frank himself had told his family various stories about his origins, this wasn't one of them (even though we know that he had obtained a copy of his birth certificate when aged just 12). However, given that his mother Mary Ann Kent gave her correct maiden name (though slightly exaggerated her marital status), it seems worth following up the possibility that Frank's father was indeed a John WARD, commercial traveller. The important information that is missing, is where Mary Ann was living nine months before Frank's birth - around Christmas time of 1879! Was she still working at her brother's Inn in Colerne, Wiltshire or had she already moved to Bristol to stay with her married sister Emily Brown and possibly work for Emily's husband Kennedy Brown (a draper)?
There were several men named John Ward, occupation commercial traveller, who could fit the bill in the 1871 and 1881 censuses - though none were from the Bristol or Wiltshire area. I am working my way through the list to find out more about each of them, and hoping that one day I will find an autosomal DNA match with a descendant of one of them, that could confirm Frank's father's identity. [Stupidly, I never took the opportunity to ask my father to take a yDNA test, as he was the ONLY surviving male direct line descendant of Frank]
Mary Ann Kent was christened on 5 feb 1843 in Marshfield, Gloucs (parish register). Her parents were Thomas Kent, saddler, and Harriet Howes. Mary Ann was the couple's second child and soon after her birth the family must have moved to Colerne in Wiltshire, where their next six children were born. After leaving school, Mary Ann worked as a dressmaker, but by 1871 she was the housekeeper at her brother's Inn - the Fox and Hounds (see image below). In 1881, shortly after Frank's birth, she was living in Bedminster with her married sister Emily Brown and her occupation is shown as 'dressmaker and milliner'. Mary Ann died on 3rd May 1887 in Colerne, the cause of death was pneumonia and pleuritis - she was only 44 years old (death certificate). Her mother Harriet died just six days later.
Mary Ann KENT in the census:
1851 and 1861 census - Mary Ann was living at home with her parents (see next generation)
1871 census: at the Fox and Hounds in Colerne -
Aram Kent, head, 25, inn keeper
Mary A Kent, sister, 27, housekeeper
Asenath Kent, sister, 17
John Woodham, servant, 18, inn servant
1881 census: at 25 Centre Redcliff Cres, Bedminster -
Kennedy Brown, head, 29, draper, (b. Scotland)
Emily A Brown, wife, 30, b. Colerne, Wilts
Emily K Brown, dau, 4, b. Bristol
Mary F Brown, dau, 3, b. Bristol
Hugh B Brown, son, 11m, b. Bristol
Mary A Kent, visitor, 35, unm, milliner and dressmaker, b. Marshfield, Gloucs
Robert Elliott, servant, 30, draper's asst, b. Scotland
William Thorne, servant, 20, draper's asst, b. Scotland
David Brown, servant, 13, messenger, b. Scotland
Laura Squires, servant, 17, dom.servant, b. Wick, Gloucs
Mary A Flower, servant, 13, dom.servant, b. Westbury on Trym
The Fox and House Inn .... oddly, there seem to have been two Inns with this name in Colerne in the 1871 census - the other one was called "The Old Fox and Hounds Inn" and seems to be on the other side of the village.