Edward/Ernest/ Edwin John Flint, the Police Photographer with three names

It is not clear when, or indeed where Ernest John Flint was born, but it was likely between 1872 and 1878 in London or possibly Manchester. The most credible birth record is from the last quarter of 1873 in Camberwell, London. He seems to have been born as Ernest John Flint, to Samuel Taysum Flint a Mercantile and Commercial Clerk and his wife Harriett Flint. In 1881 the three of them lived together at 9 Dundas Road, Peckham in Camberwell, London. By the time Ernest married Emily Wakefield in 1899, in Camberwell, he was a Mercantile Clerk like his father before him. Emily was from Manchester, where Ernest would later claim to be born. It is likely that Samuel Taysum Flint had died two years too early to see his son marry. By 1901 Ernest was an Insurance Agent, still living in Camberwell. The couple had their first child that year, Reginald W Flint. The W may have been short for Walter after Emily’s father. Emily’s widowed mother, Mary Wakefield lived with them, she is listed as a nurse so probably helped to care for Reginald.

Between 1901 and 1911 Ernest’s life changed radically. He changed his name, his profession, he moved across the country, even claimed he was a different age. So how can we be sure that Edward Flint is the same man? Well it is not absolutely certain that he was, but there enough commonalities between the two men that a coincidence would seem even less likely. For one in 1911 Edward was married to an Emily Flint born in Manchester, whose mother was a Mary Wakefield, and together they had a son Reginald. Strangely all their ages had changed from the earlier records, except for Reginald. The altered ages even made them older, so it was not a matter of vanity! Edward claimed to have been born in Manchester like his wife, but Reginald’s birth in Peckham offers an important clue. However unlikely, it is possible that Emily had remarried to another man named Flint, except that the period they claimed to have been married matches her original marriage to Ernest.

By 1908 Ernest, Emily, Mary and Reginald had moved to Doncaster. That same year Ernest and Emily had twins, Muriel Mary Flint and Frank Edward Flint. In 1910 they had a fourth child, Clifford Norman Flint. By 1911 Ernest had changed professions completely to photography, and he was going by Edward. He lived and worked at 38 Printing Office Street, Doncaster as a self-employed photographer. His wife was his assistant. A 1912 school record for Muriel and Frank lists their father’s name as Edwin, which in this case may be attributable to a mistake. It still seems like an odd coincidence, to find another alias. In 1918 he was still named as Edward Flint in forms he submitted to the Clerk of the local tribunal. He was living at 9 Cartwright Street, Doncaster and was employed as a police photographer, which allowed him to be exempted from active duty.

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