Thanks for your reply on this involved mystery. My Great Uncle Silas Emanuel Wilkes was in his thirties when he disappeared from Portsmouth leaving his parents, a number of siblings and a wife of approx 13 years. They had one child, Silas who was born on 1911 and died shortly after. I also recently discovered they had another child in their care. I recently had a gentleman by the name of Wilkes in contacts go was the son of this man, who was orphaned and bought up by Silas and his wife, he took their surname.
Silas disappeared in mid 1923 and a pile of his clothes were found on Southsea Seafront, Portsmouth. Although no personal effects were left. It was initially assumed that he had drowned, but there were rumoured sightings of his after. Then nothing......
None of the family ever heard from him again and never knew what happened. Fast forward a hundred years and I found his name on the crew list of several crossings on the SS Oribita. He was listed as a scullion. I am guessing he got a job on the ships to get away from his life in Portsmouth. Prior to this he was a bootmaker! He did several crossing then was listed on the deserting crew list in NY on 1st Dec 1923. That is the last record I can find of him. Nothing else after this date in the UK or the US. I have tried several different spellings of his name to see if there were transcription errors, but to date have been unsuccessful.
Seen as he disappeared from the lives of his family in Portsmouth, I just assumed he must have stayed in the States after jumping ship there. That's why I was wondering what happened to illegal immigrants over there in the 1920s. I guess he could have applied to stay, but am still baffled as to why there would be no formal record of him anywhere. I also wondered if he may have changed his name.
Thanks, not sure if I've looked into Canada in any great depth. Will definitely have to explore that avenue. But if you had any ideas they would be very, very welcome as it would be lovely to solve the mystery.
Thanks for taking the time to reply