Jennie Fairs

My interest in genealogy began 30 years ago after starting research into my family history. After becoming a professional genealogist 20 years ago, I put my skills to work researching for book authors while continuing my passion of genealogy and, eventually, my obsession with a surname study.
Alongside my Edenborough surname study, I have administered the North Antrim Local Interest List for the past 8 years and I am currently a supervisor for candidates of the Diploma in Family History Studies with the Society of Australian Genealogists. I have also started a second surname study being Dempsey's of County Antrim in Northern Ireland.

Jul 202015

A Look into Sir Michael Caine’s Ancestry

Sir Michael Caine

Sir Michael Caine

The actor, Sir Michael Caine, was born Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. Does that surname variant derive from Micklethwaite or from Micklewright? I set out to investigate.

Sir Michael Caine is the eldest son of Maurice Micklewhite (1899-1956) and his wife Ellen Burchell, according to civil BMD records on FreeBMD. Looking at the 1911 census, Maurice (senior) shows up as a 12 year old scholar, living at Amicable Row in Southwark with his parents Joseph and Hannah and 4 siblings. Usefully, Joseph misread the instructions and included on the census the names of his children who had died by 1911.

The 1901 census is more problematic. Maurice Micklewhite doesn’t show at all initially. By searching for variants of the surname, and using his parents’ Christian names, eventually Maurice Nicklewhite, son of Joe and Johanna, shows up in Southwark, living in Villa St, Newington. Joseph married Johanna/Hannah Regan in St Saviour Southwark Registration District.

Joe/Joseph has an age on the 1901 and 1911 censuses consistent with a birth in 1874/5 – and FreeBMD shows one in March Quarter 1875 in the Registration District of St Saviour Southwark. Joe Mickelwhite (another variant) aged 16 shows up in Southwark on the 1891 census living with his parents Joseph and Kate at Roberts Place, Clarendon St, which is close to Amicable Row.

Joseph and Kate/Catherine/Catharine can also be traced in Southwark on the censuses without too much difficulty:
1881 in Henry St Southwark
1901 in Falstaff Yard, Southwark
1911 in Falstaff Yard, Southwark

I still haven’t found the marriage for Joseph Micklewhite and Catherine/Kate Turner on FreeBMD, but not all events make it from the local record office to the GRO records. However, their banns can be found on Ancestry’s London parish records in Walworth in 1880 – some years later than their son Joseph’s age would suggest.

This elder Joseph shows up on the census in 1861, and 1881 to 1911. I haven’t yet found him in 1871 – I wonder what variant he goes by – although I did find his brother William in an Industrial School. On the later censuses, his surname is Micklewhite or similar, but on 1861 with his parents George and Emma, he’s a Micklethwaite. They’re living on Butcher Row in Southwark.

Joseph was born in 1854, and baptised Joseph William (all George’s sons had a second name of William except William!) It appears that he was the one who formalised the change from Micklethwaite (or similar) to Micklewhite.

George and Emma are transcribed on the 1851 census as Michlethwite. They have just the one young child which might suggest a recent marriage. In fact they married in 1859 by which time they already had 3 children – the marriage is on both FreeBMD and the Ancestry London PRs. The latter shows George’s full name as George Gilliam Scott Mickelthwaite, an unusual use of middle names at this time, and names his father as Joseph, a hair dresser.

The London PRs also show the baptism of George Gilliam Scott Mickelwait (yet another variant) in 1814 in Hornsey to Joseph and Phillis. Joseph and Phillis Price Wagner married at St Bride’s Fleet St in 1809, he was a widower. I think he had previously married Sarah Benson in 1797 at St Martin in the Fields. His parentage remains elusive. One branch of the Micklethwait tree uses St Bride’s about a century earlier than Joseph – I will have to wait until the intervening records are made more easily available. Joseph died in 1833.
And that’s as far as I can get at the moment. As Sir Michael said in one of his films: “Don’t worry lads – I’ll think of something”.

In his autobiography, Sir Michael says his father was a porter at the Billingsgate fish market, as were his ancestors before him. The censuses neither support nor contradict this. Both Josephs were recorded as dock labourers in the censuses, although the elder Joseph born 1856 is recorded in 1881 as a carman. This occupation is not that dissimilar to his father George, who was an ostler and horsekeeper. Joseph, father of George, was an Innkeeper at George’s baptism, although when George married he said his father was a hairdresser. So there is a variety of occupations all through the family.

Joseph and Phillis married North of the River, and their first daughter Emma Ann was baptised at St Clement Danes Westminster in 1810. However, in 1811 Eliza was baptised at St Mary’s in Lambeth. The next child, George, as mentioned above, was baptised in Hornsey, then 6 or 7 more children baptised in Lambeth. In 1911 both Josephs were living off Tabard Road in Lambeth. As I haven’t found parents for the Joseph born about 1771, it is not possible to say where Micklethwaites are related to this branch. Indeed, as DNA testing has shown there could be at least 3 different Micklethwaite branches, it would not be sensible for any Micklethwaite to claim a relationship to Sir Michael. On the other hand, most of the Micklewhites in London and the London area can claim descent from Joseph born 1854, so are related to Sir Michael.

In conclusion, I think I have shown that this Micklewhite branch is a variant of Micklethwaite – as Sir Michael is reputed to say “Not a lot of people know that” – or they didn’t until they read this article.

Summary Chart of Sir Michael’s line:

Full chart:

Andy Micklethwaite
Member 1027

Jun 082015

Around the end of December 2014 I decided to take on the 52 Ancestor Challenge looking at my 4x great grandparents as I had already proven all of my 3x great grandparents known to me. I knew a number of them fairly well because my parents talked about their ancestors many times when I was a child, plus my paternal grandfather lived with us and my maternal grandmother lived in the same city. Thus stories about my ancestors were often heard on a daily basis. Since three of my grandparents were born in England, and lived there into adulthood, that is the only way that I became familiar with my great grandparents and great great grandparents. My father was also born in England coming to Canada as a child of nine with his parents.

The choice of (Unknown) Buller for this particular 52 Ancestor Challenge was a novel thought. Initially, I had planned to leave him out of the Challenge since I really do not know anything about him, other than he “may” or “may not” have been the father of my 3x great grandfather – Christopher Buller. The “may not” could have occurred if Christopher was illegitimate, something of which I am still unaware of at this time of writing.

In 2013, I undertook some research at the London Metropolitan Archives, looking at one of the Parish Registers for St Olave Bermondsey not online at, but I wasn’t able to find a baptism for Christopher Buller although it was the same church in which he was buried. I then decided to follow a new path looking at this unknown 4x great grandfather. I know quite a bit about his son Christopher Buller, or Christy Buller as he was often referred to in various documents. Christopher was possibly born in London, or Greater London, but even that detail is hidden to me. I had found two burial records for a Christopher Buller – one at St Olave Bermondsey and the other at Saint Mary Magdalene Woolwich – and both in a time period to be my 3x great grandfather.

The first Christopher Buller died May 1832 at the Workhouse Infirmary in Bermondsey. This is not particularly unusual as there were hospitals in the Workhouses that people in the community used. I am not sure where he lived his last days but he is identified in the will of his step mother-in-law as living in Long Lane in Bermondsey in 1819. In this burial record for Christopher it states that he was 69 years of age when he died and the burial itself was at St Olave Bermondsey, 13 May 1832, thus giving him a possible birth year of 1763.

The second burial record for a Christopher Buller was at Bromley on 23 Nov 1839, and his age was listed as 82 in the burial record at St Peter and St Paul Woolwich, yielding a possible year of birth of 1757. I have the death certificate for this Christopher Buller and it states that he was 81 years of age and a decayed gentleman. It is possible that this certificate pertains to the Christopher Buller, married to a Jane (unknown), with sons Thomas Christopher and John Christopher. The baptisms for these two children were at Woolwich, Kent, where the Christopher Buller who died in 1839 was also buried. Thomas Christopher Buller was baptized 25 Sep 1814 at Saint Mary Magdalene Woolwich (although he was born at Charles Street, Bermondsey) and John Christopher Buller was born Jun 1819 at Woolwich and buried 21 Jul 1819 at St Mary Magdalene Woolwich. I believe I have managed to separate out these two burials and the second burial at Bromley is not my Christopher Buller since mine was living on Long Lane in Bermondsey in this time period.

Jane (Blakely) Beard, the step mother of Christopher Buller’s wife Mary (Beard) Buller, was buried 13 Jan 1819 at St Saviour Southwark having died at Crosby Row King Street Southwark. She had married Henry Beard, widower, on 8 Feb 1785 at St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey. My 3x great grandmother Mary was 18 years of age at the time of the marriage and her youngest sister Sarah was eight years of age. Their mother, Elizabeth (Hemsley) Buller, had been dead for about three and a half years at that time.

The author pointing to the area on Tooley Street, Bermondsey where Christopher Buller had his Slop Shop in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This is a set of large granite plaques in the walkway area under the London Bridge.

The author pointing to the area on Tooley Street, Bermondsey where Christopher Buller had his Slop Shop in the late 1700s and early 1800s. This is a set of large granite plaques in the walkway area under the London Bridge.

The will of Jane (Blakely) Beard mentions that Christy Buller was living at Long Lane in the Borough. We walked the length of Long Lane when we visited Bermondsey a couple of years ago. This area was heavily bombed and other than St Mary Magdalen Church there doesn’t appear to be many buildings left from the 1800s. At the time of Jane’s death, Henry Christopher Buller (son of Christy Buller and Mary Beard) would have been 14 years of age. Also at that time, he had three sisters living: Martha Sarah who married George Caswell, 29 Oct 1831; Elizabeth Jane who married Edward Churchyard, 31 Oct 1827; and Emma Hemsley who married Isaac Debnan in 1827 at the Independent Church and again on 2 Jan 1840 at the Anglican church Saint Dunstan.

The forenames of these siblings may or may not be helpful in my pursuit of the father of Christopher Buller. However, Elizabeth Jane’s forenames are the forenames of the two wives of Henry Beard. Obviously, in the case of my 2x great grandfather Henry Christopher, the forename Henry comes from Henry Beard and Christopher from Henry’s father. A brother to Henry Christopher, who had died, was named Robert Hemsley/Hucksley and could this be from Mary Beard’s family? Emma Hemsley carries the surname of Henry Beard’s first wife Elizabeth Hemsley but the Emma is a mystery. Martha Sarah I have not yet determined but could they be the forename(s) of Christopher’s mother/grandmother etc? Looking for a Buller marrying a Martha or a Sarah has not yet been productive. But I shall try again as one of the points of doing this 52 Ancestor Challenge is to look once again at these particular individuals to see if anything new has appeared in the records or been missed in prior searches.

One interesting find was a transcription from Boyd’s Marriage Index. It is the marriage in 1794 of Christopher Buller and Sarah Beard (actual name was Mary). The marriage was celebrated at All Hallows Barking. The records are not available online at Ancestry and were only deposited at London Metropolitan Archives recently. I know Christopher and Mary were married by September 1795 because they are mentioned in the will of Henry Beard dated 19 Sep 1795.

The first child of Christopher Buller and Mary Beard was Elizabeth Jane who was born 13 Feb 1796 while they were living at St Thomas Street in Bermondsey. By 1 Dec 1797, when Elizabeth Jane had died, the family were living at Charles Street in Bermondsey. One can note that I mentioned earlier that Thomas Christopher Buller (son of the other Christopher Buller) was born at Charles Street, Bermondsey. This is somewhat of a confusion but I think I have successfully separated out the two Christopher Bullers. It is perhaps just a coincidence that they lived on the same street but 16 years apart. Since I know the age of both of these Christopher Bullers, in as much as one can know the ages, my Christopher Buller was born circa 1763 and the other Christopher Buller buried at Bromley was born circa 1758. They are not likely brothers but they could be cousins.

The next child born was Martha Sarah on 16 Aug 1797 at St Thomas Street. The third child, Elizabeth Jane, once again, was born 26 Apr 1799 at St Thomas Street. Emma Hemsley was born 21 Jul 1800 but no address given. Henry Christy Buller was born 16 Oct 1803 at Tooley Street but died mid November 1803 – no street address given. Then followed the birth of my 2x great grandfather Henry Christopher Buller on 30 Jan 1805 at Bermondsey Street. The last child born to this couple was Robert Hemsley/Hucksley Buller on 6 Nov 1806 with no address given. He died and was buried 18 October 1807. His mother had died shortly following his birth (14 Dec 1806) and was buried at St Olave Bermondsey as was Robert. Christopher Buller was buried 13 May 1832 also at St Olave Bermondsey. These graves would have all been moved to Bunhill because the grave yard at St Olave Bermondsey was closed and moved during the building of the ramps for the London Bridge.

Looking again at the marriage of Christopher Buller and Sarah Beard at All Hallows Barking, it is easily within walking distance of Bermondsey. None of the Beard girls married in their home parish (all run-away marriages?). I have had a glimpse of the Beard girls in the marriages that they made and they appear throughout their lives to have been comfortable for the times. They all left descendants with most remaining in England but a few ventured off to Canada, the United States, South Africa and Australia. Until my grandmother arrived in Canada her line had remained in England.

All of the children of my great grandfather Edwin Denner Buller. My grandmother is the first on the right and they are in decreasing order of birth. All of these pictures were taken in the 1916 to 1917 time period and I have produced the resultant image.

All of the children of my great grandfather Edwin Denner Buller. My grandmother is the first on the right and they are in decreasing order of birth. All of these pictures were taken in the 1916 to 1917 time period and I have produced the resultant image.

London was always a mix of people. I consider that my Buller family may have had links with Birmingham because Henry (Christopher’s son) appears there by 1837 as a provision dealer and then a restaurant owner on Bull Street. His first wife had died in 1836 in Lambeth and a daughter had died in the Covent Garden area in 1835, so one thinks perhaps they moved to Lambeth for better air. A son George had also died as an infant in the Covent Garden area. Henry continued to have a pork butcher shop in Covent Garden as he and his second wife lived there for about ten years although they travelled back and forth between London and Birmingham where Ann’s father was a restaurant owner. They were part of the slowly growing middle class of store owners in that time period.

But still Christopher Buller eludes me in terms of his parentage. I cannot find in the large Buller families in London a Christopher Buller although while researching at the London Metropolitan Archives (as mentioned the registers for St Olave from 1731 to 1778 are not on Ancestry) there was another Buller family at St Olave Bermondsey but their children did not include a Christopher and they were baptizing children in this time period.

The other item that comes to mind for the parents of Christopher Buller is the many emigrants to London from the Continent, particularly in the time of the King George’s of England. Many people came from the Germanic States and particularly in the confectionary industry. Eventually my Henry Christopher Buller also became involved in the confectionary industry. Is that a link that is significant? Add to that my atDNA results which, for me, show a northern continental European component both at Family Search and at Ancestry. Is that what is showing up for me – a German component? Is my Christopher Buller the son of a German emigrant at least on his mother’s side? Christopher is not a common forename in the Buller family. Perhaps his name is not Buller after all but Buhler or some other similar Germanic surname.

There are twelve results on Find My Past for a Christopher Buller born between 1723 and 1853. The first record is the burial of Christopher Buller at Bromley, Kent. The second is the Westminster Rate Books in 1786 for a Christopher Buller living at Cross Street South, St James Piccadilly. The third is the entry in Boyd’s marriage index of the marriage of Christopher Buller and Sarah Beard at All Hallows Barking in 1794. The fourth is another listing in the Westminster rate books at Cross Street South, St James Piccadilly in 1806. The fifth is a listing in the Westminster rate books again at Cross St South, St James Piccadilly. Numbers six and seven are a repeat of number 5 except Carnaby Street South, St James Piccadilly. Number eight is the death registration for Christopher Buller at Bromley, Kent. Number nine is the marriage of Christopher Buller in 1856 at Clitheroe, Lancashire. Number ten is the marriage of Henry Christopher Buller in 1838 and Ann Welch (my 2x great grandparents) at Kings Norton, Worcestershire. The eleventh is the marriage of John Christopher Buller in 1865 at Bermondsey. The twelfth is the marriage of John Christopher Buller in 1875 at St Olave Southwark.

Am I further ahead with the father of Christopher Buller? Perhaps, an answer from London Metropolitan Archives might just provide me with something to further my research. Finding this item on Boyd’s Marriage Index is certainly a step forward in that search. Has it crossed my mind that he could be illegitimate? Absolutely, but I did not find any Buller lines at St Olave Bermondsey that would have worked to have a Buller female having a child in that time frame (nor at St Mary Magdalen Bermondsey where he and his family worshiped). I have not found any illegitimate Christopher Buller children born in the London area in this time period so far. Who was the Christopher Buller living at Cross Street South, St James Piccadilly in 1786 and 1806? This is an area where the known Buller family of London was living. How does Christopher fit into this family or does he? The Christopher Buller living in 1786 could possibly be my Christopher Buller because he would be about 23 years of age but he could also be the other Christopher Buller who would have been 29 years of age. Interestingly, my 2x great grandfather was visiting in this same area when he died in 1862 (the home of Sarah Barnett who had been born in Staffordshire). I continue working on that possible connection.

Ancestry of (unknown) Buller:

1. Myself
2. Helen Louise PINCOMBE (b 18 Oct 1916) – Westminster Township, Middlesex County, Ontario, Canada
3. Ellen Rosina BULLER (b 20 May 1886) – Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
4. Edwin Denner BULLER (b 8 Apr 1850) – Birmingham, Warwickshire, England
5. Henry Christopher BULLER (b 30 Jan 1805) – Bermondsey, Surrey, England
6. Christopher BULLER (b c1763)
7. Unknown


Elizabeth Kipp, PLCGS
Member 1004

Apr 062015

When my in-laws retired, my wife and I suggested that my mother-in-law could look into her family history. This she did very successfully over several years. Then along came the internet revolution and, about 12 years ago, she decided to show me what she had found regarding my family. She discovered a pedigree file on FamilySearch which detailed the ancestry of my great-great-grandfather, Robert MIDGLEY, back to 1490. I was impressed but also intrigued – why was my humble ancestor’s ancestry recorded? A little investigation showed that while Robert’s uncle, Thomas MIDGLEY, was born and married in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, he died in Utah – he had apparently became a Mormon and emigrated. Then I found the entry for his wife, Ellen, nee HINCHLIFFE, which said: “Died 4 September 1855 crossing the Platte River, Wyoming. Buried 4 September by the side of the Platte River, Wyoming”. I had to find out more. I was hooked. Eventually I discovered that Ellen had been a midwife, so during her trek across to Utah she had cared for the sick and ill, and had picked up cholera from one of her patients – not an attack from Native Americans, or some other fanciful scenario!

andy micklethwaite

Grandfather, Harry, born 1880, and his father, John Hetherington MICKLETHWAITE, born 1858, taken c1900 (dog’s name unknown)

I naturally looked at my paternal line, and quickly worked my way back to my great-great-great-grandfather, John MICKLETHWAITE. The first sign of trouble was when I found he and his youngest son had died on consecutive days in Huddersfield. His death certificate revealed “Asiatic Cholera” as the cause of death (another one!). One of my mentors found an article in one of the local papers which described the unsanitary conditions in which the family was living at the time, and mentions John and his wife Hannah – Hannah, apparently, was also severely ill with cholera and for some considerable time was unable to move out of the bed in which she and her dead husband were lying. Hannah survived the cholera and died 16 years later. 

John died in 1849. That means I don’t have any information from the 1851 census which would have provided a clue as to where he was born. I searched the local church records in Huddersfield library and at the county record office for a baptism without success. So I started to look at other John MICKLETHWAITEs to see what became of them. My search initially concentrated on the area around Huddersfield. I found I was collecting information on all MICKLETHWAITEs, not just the Johns. This became quite addictive, and I expanded the search into the wider area around Huddersfield, and eventually into the whole of West Yorkshire. Then I added other spellings of the name and expanded into the whole of England. I’m now looking at MICKLETHWAITEs (including variants such as MICKELWAIT, MICKLEWHITE) across the world. I’m also running a DNA project and have undertaken several DNA tests.

I have a guest blog on which describes the origin of the surname:

My own occasional ramblings are blogged at:

My website, with details all the branches and places, is at and I have recently set up a closed Facebook group called Micklethwaite Family History.

Please do contact me if you want to know more about MICKLETHWAITEs or have your own stories to tell. And I still don’t know who John’s parents were!

Andy Micklethwaite

Member 1027

Mar 302015

Livingstone MURCH was the youngest of seven children born to Ebenezer MURCH and his wife, Sarah. (The unusual name of ‘Livingstone’ is easily explained: it was his maternal grandmother’s maiden name – Flora LIVINGSTONE.) He was born on 9 April 1895 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, and as a teenager worked for the Post Office as a telegraph messenger while living at home with his parents at 49 Collins Street there.

The Aberdeen Daily Journal of 19 June 1912 reports Livingstone, age 17, to be ‘defending his title’ as the champion of the swimming contest ‘Scottish 100 Yards Junior Championship’.  It seems only natural, then, that he should sign up for the Navy…

HMS_Flirt_(1897)_IWM_Q_021257 quarter

HMS Flirt

Three days before his 21st birthday in 1916, Livingstone signed up as a fitter.  Six months later, he was dead – drowned as his first (and only) ship went down.  HMS Flirt was sunk as a result of a raid by destroyers and torpedo boats from the German navy on the Dover Barrage.  Livingstone’s body was never recovered. He is remembered on Panel 15 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.  He was awarded the Victory medal and the British War Medal for campaign service, which were given to his family.




Ros Haywood

Member 1324

MURCH One Name Study

Feb 232015

As an adoptee, I have concentrated my research over the years on my paternal adoptive line, although I have done a fair bit of work on my maternal adoptive line and just a small amount of research on my birth lines.

Albert Parrant

Albert (far right) and Jane Parrant nee Morris

This is about an ancestor from my maternal birth line: my great-grandfather, Albert Joseph Parrant. He was born in 1876 in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, and, according to family lore, he cycled all the way from there to South Wales to look for work in the mines. His first marriage was to Sarah Ann Davies but, just one month later, she sadly died due to a pregnancy-related condition and the baby did not survive either. By the end of that same year, Albert Joseph had married again, this time to his late wife’s sister, Margaretta Davies. More sadness ensued as she gave birth to their daughter but the baby (also Margaretta) died two days later. Just a fortnight after the baby’s death, Margaretta succumbed to pneumonia and died.

Albert Joseph picked himself up, dusted himself down and married yet again, this time to Jane Morris. They were married in the Register Office in Llandovery although both previous marriages had taken place in the Tabernacle Chapel there. He served as a Driver in the RFA during WW1 and came home safely from France.

Then we fast-forward to 1920, when we find Albert Joseph being granted Poor Person status, under the Rules of the Supreme Court 1914, in order to prosecute a suit for divorce. A year later, we have Albert Joseph’s divorce petition. Divorce is not a laughing matter by any means, and the sad result was that even though Albert Joseph was given custody of their five young children, he couldn’t possibly manage on his own in those days and they were placed in to a children’s home for a while. However, the printed divorce petition can be looked at in a far more light-hearted way, and here are two paragraphs from it:

That on the 2nd day of February 1919 at Hope Street, Pontardulais aforesaid the said Jane Parrant committed adultery with Eli Williams of Pontardulais in the County of Glamorgan.

That on the 15th day of October 1919 the said Jane Parrant committed adultery with the said William Pugh in a railway carriage of a train travelling between Gowerton and Dunvant in the said County of Glamorgan.

We would love to know who spotted this dastardly deed on a moving train – the ticket collector, a signalman, another passenger, perhaps? And who did they tell – the stationmaster, the police, poor old Albert Joseph? The story should have ended there, with us feeling sorry for cuckolded Albert Joseph who had to go through the humiliation of being granted ‘poor person’ status and then the divorce courts. However …

I haven’t done any work on this line for quite a few years so, whilst preparing this article, I opened up the tree in my family history software to check that everything I had quoted was factually correct. It linked up to Ancestry, and there were Albert Joseph’s WW1 Service Records – 36 pages of them! These had gone online since the last time I worked on Albert Joseph, and it was exciting to find such a big bundle. Contained therein were no less than three letters to the RFA Records Office in Woolwich from three different single ladies, during 1919, asking for the whereabouts of 112910 Driver A Parrant! There was also a letter to the same office from the aforementioned Mrs Jane Parrant. It was clearly in reply to a letter she had received, and although it’s quite a poor copy and difficult to read in places, it’s very easy to get the gist of what she was saying:

In reply to your letter of the 24th inst., the Officer Edwards is the one that put my husband in France, in the firing line, because I asked him to do owing to the letter I received from my husband, the time he was stationed in the Barracks in Leeds to ask me to Divorce him because he had a girl in trouble …

This puts a different slant on the story. Jane, the wronged wife, was obviously of the mind that ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander!’ And ‘poor’ Albert had obviously been having some fun whilst stationed away from home, elsewhere in the UK. So now my next task is to try and discover whether the ‘girl in trouble’ was one of the three ladies who were looking for his address and then to see if any of them had a child in the right place at the right time. There could be a whole new branch to add to this tree very soon!

Mandy Blake

Member 1007

Jun 292015

Emma Stribling

Looking towards Whitsand Bay Hotel

Looking towards Whitsand Bay Hotel

Near to Cornwall’s border with Devon sits the little coastal village of Portwrinkle, at the western end of Whitsand Bay. Although it was traditionally a fishing village, there was also a lot of farming. My 2x great-grandfather, William Stribling, was born in North Devon but moved south and settled in Portwrinkle after his 1851 marriage in Stoke Damerel.

One of William’s daughters was Emma, born in 1857. In 1877, Emma gave birth to an illegitimate son whose death was registered in the same quarter in which he was born. Emma then found employment as a domestic servant with a family in nearby Antony who owned a chemical manure factory in the area.

Emma is listed with them on the 1881 census, and it may be worth noting that the family had a son of a similar age to her…

Being unable to find Emma on subsequent censuses, or a marriage or death for her, I looked at other records and discovered her name on the Calendar of Prisoners Tried at the Assizes (via FindMyPast). The record showed that she had been taken into custody on 10 August 1881, held at HM Prison Bodmin, and tried on 2 November 1881. The charge read,”Wilfully and of her malice aforethought killing and murdering a certain child, whose name is unknown, at the parish of Antony, on the 21st July, 1881.” Most, if not all, genealogists find skeletons in their own cupboards, or black sheep in their families, but child murder was a bit of a shock!

However, when I saw that she had only been found guilty of concealing the birth of a child and sentenced to just one day without hard labour, I began to put two and two together. Was it possible that she had given birth, alone, to either a stillborn child or one who had not lived for long?

There were plenty of newspaper reports to read. From them, I was able to piece Emma’s story together. The mistress of the house had been away visiting friends for six months and, on her return, noticed that Emma didn’t look well and had put on some weight. She asked Emma if she was ‘in the family way’ but Emma insisted that she wasn’t. The mistress sent Emma to her room to rest and visited her several times, but found nothing amiss. The following day, the family’s char thought that Emma seemed unwell, even though she had swept the dining room and washed some sheets. The mistress of the house was still suspicious and sent Emma home to her parents in a trap. Among the belongings she took with her was a bandbox bound with cord and wrapped in her ulster (a thick, heavy overcoat).

On the journey home, Emma asked the driver to stop the trap as she had something to deliver to a nearby farm. She left the trap with the bandbox and returned without it, and continued her journey home. Sometime later, the police discovered the box, in fragments, covered with blood, and the body of a newborn baby nearby. The baby had some marks on her upper chest/lower throat area which could have been caused by fingers. The baby was full-term and, after conducting a post mortem, the coroner decreed that the child had breathed and had a separate existence from the mother. He also stated that the condition of the body was consistent with having been strangled. He had seen Emma recently, and noted that she looked pale and weak, as if she had recently been delivered of a child. So Emma was charged with the wilful murder of her child and held in custody for almost three months until the Assizes the following November.

The presiding Judge stated that if the mother was having a difficult birth – and particularly as she was alone at the time, scared and panicking – she could easily have made marks on the child while it was breathing but not yet fully born. He advised that the jury should not return a verdict of guilty on the charge of murder. Both the prosecutor and the defender agreed to leave the case in the Judge’s hands, and when the Judge summed up the case, he stated that the evidence was inadequate, and insufficient to convict Emma of wilful murder. However, he did say that the jury, if they saw fit, could find her guilty of concealing a birth.

This is what the jury decided and, because Emma had been in prison since the end of July, the Judge discharged her.

Bodmin Jail

Bodmin Jail

So what became of Emma? I have been unable to find out, as I can still find no trace of her after her court appearance in November 1881. I would assume that perhaps she changed her name; despite being found not guilty of child murder, the charge and her subsequent custody would certainly have brought shame on both her and her family. The birth of a second illegitimate baby would have been scandal enough, let alone without the added ignominy of a murder charge. With a surname like Stribling, Emma would be unlikely to fade into the background, and her character would be blemished despite being acquitted.

Sadly, there is still a blemish on Emma’s character to this day. I recently ordered a copy of her child’s death certificate and was quite outraged to discover that the coroner had supplied the cause of death as “Murder by Emma Stribling”. What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? In my humble opinion, Emma should not be noted on a legal document as the murderer of her own child when a Judge and jury found her not guilty. I would really like to clear Emma’s name in this respect and have written to the local Register Office (as advised by HM Government’s website) but, as yet, have not received a response. I’m not very hopeful because they have some strict requirements, including the current contact details for the coroner. As the event took place well over 100 years ago, I think perhaps the coroner may no longer be available!

If anyone reading this has any ideas of where I could look for Emma, they would be received very gratefully.


Mandy Blake
Member 1007

Jun 222015

Charles Alfred MARTIN, the son of a Battle of Trafalgar veteran, was baptised on 21 February 1824 in Frome, Somerset. His older sibling, James Charles MARTIN (my great, great grandfather) was a master cordwainer who remained his entire life in their home town of Frome. But what became of Charles Alfred?

A cousin traced him to London where he married Mary Ann FLATTERY in 1850 at St Martin in the Fields. The couple had four children and lived in Marylebone and Bermondsey according to the 1851 and 1861 Census. The trail then goes cold until, amazingly, I take receipt of an email from the Berkshire Record Office enquiring whether the Broadmoor Asylum records they now possess, might include my ancestor.

Broadmoor Asylum (above) courtesy of the Wellcome Library

Broadmoor Asylum (above) courtesy of the Wellcome Library

It was quickly confirmed on the basis that this Charles MARTIN had a brother James in Frome who had exchanged correspondence with the asylum regarding his brother.

The reason Charles had been incarcerated in 1869 was to be shockingly reported in numerous newspapers. The articles provided a brief insight into the then recent life of Charles, ‘a small diminutive man’, and his family, which was significantly enhanced by what was to be revealed in the Broadmoor records I was able to access at the Berkshire Record Office (BRO) in Reading. I must now tread carefully as not to infringe copyright. Charles had written a long letter regarding his life (and an all too brief mention of his father who died when he was an infant) to Dr Orange, Superintendent of Broadmoor, shortly before his release in 1879.

The most significant revelation was that his father was a man of colour and thought to be of African (my Y-DNA says otherwise) descent. (Charles’ mother was an English rose of Somerset). A photograph of Charles, taken sometime during his 10-year incarceration (which was initially at Fisherton House Asylum, Salisbury, Wiltshire), clearly reveals he is of ‘dark complexion’. (A recently deceased uncle bears a striking resemblance to Charles, albeit the generations since passed have lost all trace of this skin colour.)

Many of the newspaper articles found provide conflicting accounts of Charles’ origins such as having creole parents, being mulatto (I consider this an accurate description) and dispelling the notion he was Spanish. He was also named as Carlos MARTINI!

The BRO’s Senior Archivist produced an article for the November 2010 Who Do You Think You Are? magazine entitled “Beyond Broadmoor” which featured Charles.

Extract of the Dr Orange letter (above) courtesy of the BBC magazine Who Do You Think You Are?

Extract of the Dr Orange letter (above) courtesy of the BBC magazine Who Do You Think You Are?

A subsequent television programme entitled Inside Broadmoor could so easily have chosen Charles as their case study of an inmate who was successfully rehabilitated.

I and fellow cousins know little of Charles and Mary’s four children and their many descendants traced up to births in the 1920s. Most interestingly, at least one newspaper reported Charles as having five children.

Following Charles’ release from Broadmoor, into the care of his brother James in Somerset, he returned to London for the remainder of his life. He was living with his widowed daughter Rosetta COLES in Camberwell, London when he died age 93 (questionable) on 27 October 1913 and was buried in Camberwell Old Cemetery.

A recent search of the British National Archive found that James MARTIN (‘a little man’) was himself a victim of crime in 1857!

Member 1210

Aug 102015

This story begins with an old picture postcard.

Willard Memorial Library Battle Creek

Willard Memorial Library Battle Creek

I’d come across it while just browsing around, “the Willard Memorial Library, Battle Creek, Michigan” it said.[1]

The library itself is still an active institution and the very supportive staff helped me link the benefactor after whom it is named to a family already in my surname study:[2]

  • Charles Willard was the namesake of the library; he had a brother named George; they were sons of Allen.Charles Willard, born 24 April 1827 in Vermont USA – died 31 Jan 1897 in Battle Creek township, Calhoun county, Michigan USA. He was 69 and unmarried.
  • George R Willard, born 20 March 1824 in Chittendon county, Vermont USA – died 26 March 1901 in Battle Creek, Calhoun county, Michigan USA. He was 77, married twice with 4 children.
  • Allen Willard, born 10 Feb 1794 in Hartland township, Windsor county, Vermont USA – died 7 February 1876 in Battle Creek township, Calhoun county, Michigan USA. He was 81, married twice with only the two sons.

My study had quite a bit of detail on Allen and his son, George, but nothing beyond the bare “born April 24, 1827; died married January 31, 1897” for Charles.

From the library’s pamphlet file came a retrospective write-up on Charles:

“Charles Willard, bachelor-farmer, capitalist and public benefactor, whose name is perpetuated here in the Willard Library and Willard Park, was born 131 years ago today in Vermont.   

His parents, Allen and Eliza (Barron) Willard and their two children, George and Charles, in 1836 were among the earliest settlers at Goguac Lake. Their western trip was by way of the Erie Canal[3] and Lake Erie to Detroit and then to Battle Creek by ox team.

Erie Canal, 1840

Erie Canal, 1840


Allen Willard Migration

Allen Willard Migration

It was a highly cultured and literate family. The father had attended Dartmouth and before coming west had been a teacher, proficient in Latin and Greek and a lover of literature and the Bible. The eldest son, George, also a scholar of Latin and Greek, became an Episcopal rector and later the longtime publisher and editor of the Battle Creek Journal.

Charles Willard received his education from his father, which was equal to that of a college graduate. The mother of the two sons died on June 29, 1838, only two years after their arrival here. In 1842, Allen Willard married Mrs. Laura (Harris) Vedder, daughter of the pioneer pastor, the Rev. John Harris and the widow of another pastor, the Rev. Levi Vedder.    

After the family located on the valuable property along the eastern shores of Goguac Lake, Charles Willard lived on the farm and labored there for more than 60 years. There he won prosperity by old-fashioned industry, good judgment and stolid perseverance. He was recognized for years as a capitalist whose integrity, like that of his father and brother, was never questioned.

In his later years, Charles Willard took a great interest in the welfare of his home community. He had participated in various business enterprises which included the Advance Thresher Company in which he held $125,000 in stock and served as a director of the company.    

At the time of his death here at 69 on January 31, 1897, Mr. Willard left many sizable bequests in his will. Some of his benefactions had been bestowed previously, however. About a week before his death he had deeded 16 acres of woods on the eastern shore of Goguac Lake to the city for a public park.[4] This is the area, since expanded, which serves the community as a delightful outing place and includes Willard Beach.

Willard Park Battle Creek

Willard Park Battle Creek

Although Mr. Willard was not identified with any religious group, his benefactions included liberal gifts to the Baptist Church. Two years before his death, he was given a reception on November 6, 1895 at the First Baptist Church in recognition of his gift of the Willard Memorial parsonage… Mr. Willard’s benefactions included bequests to his family, $37,500 for the erection of a public library; $37,500 for a YMCA building in Battle Creek; $30000 for professorships in Latin and literature at Kalamazoo College and substantial gifts to the Michigan Baptist Association, and a fund to aid poor students attending college. His estate was estimated at approximately $250,000.”[5]

Very interesting material and I was glad to add it to my files. Exploring further, though, brought me a puzzle. Find-A-Grave has entries for Allen Willard and both his wives, and both sons. Allen and Charles are buried in Dubois Cemetery, southeast of where the farm on the shore of Lake Goguac was located. George R. Willard is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, in the city of Battle Creek.

The Find-A-Grave record for Allen Willard gives his father as “Levi Willard,”[6] which was a surprise to me. There is no indication of where this paternal name came from. Perhaps I had conflated two different Allen Willards?

Allen Hays Willard is to be found in two of the Willard genealogies[7] and they both show his father as Titus Willard (b. c1764-d. c1798) of Vermont and that he himself had two sons, George and Charles. I found Allen’s birth record,[8] which corroborates the two genealogies, and it asserts he was the son of “Leah and Titus Willard”. (This is the only record I’ve found with the interesting spelling “Allyn Hays Willard”.)

Sometimes Find-A-Grave contributors get their information from County History books. Because Charles’s brother George R. became involved in politics, there is a nice big write-up on his family in Charles Moore’s 1915 “History of Michigan”. Allen Willard’s grandfather (and other illustrious forebears) is named therein, but not his own father.[9] The other books I’ve seen go into less detail, naming only Allen, George, and Charles.

Most reassuring to me was the fact that the details given in the genealogies and the history books make it clear that the Allen Hays Willard in my study was the father of Charles Willard who helped establish the Battle Creek Library. And this was the same as the “Allen Willard” buried in the Dubois Cemetery.

Possibly the Find-A-Grave contributor was confused by the fact that Allen Hays Willard had a “brother” by the name of Levi, (according to the genealogies), who stayed behind in Vermont? In any case, I’m now confident that the lineage in my study is the correct one, that I had “not” conflated two men, and that the namesake for the library in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA is properly linked. And I’m extremely happy that a chance discovery of an old picture postcard resulted in a wealth of detail on a man of whom I’d hitherto known little.

Karen Willard
Member 1258


[2] email from George Livingston, Local & Family History Librarian, <> “The benefactor and namesake of our library is Charles Willard. He was the brother of George Willard… Their father [was] Allen Willard.”



[5] Enquirer and News, issue of April 24, 1958, held by the Willard Library-Battle Creek branch, Pamphlet File.

[6] Find A Grave Memorial #65763084 created 17 February 2011 by abs

[7] Charles Henry Pope, editor, Willard Genealogy; Sequel to Willard Memoir (Boston: Willard Family Association, 1915) p250 and, Lorene J. Lyon, compiler, and Ruth H. Willard, editor, Descendants of Henry-2 Willard of Still River, Massachusetts, Based on The Willard Genealogy, 1915 Edition of which this is the Second Supplement (Hartford: Willard Family Association of America, Inc., 1989) p139.

[8] Vermont Births and Christenings 1765-1908, consulted at

[9] Charles Moore, History of Michigan Illustrated, Volume III (Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1915) p1656


Apr 122015

The initial upload of data for the Society’s Church Marriage Finder is now live and can be found on the Society’s homepage. This database will be updated regularly and is available to both members and the public.

To compliment this, a Marriage Search facility is available to members only and can be found in the Members Area under Information.

Background information regarding both can be found in the recorded 11 April Hangout which is now available in the Member’s Area under You Tube.

Dec 212015

One of my guilty pleasures as a family history researcher is reading old newspapers looking for information about anyone with a SAGGERS or related surname. Several Saggers were cricketers and this is an Australian story I thought would interest other Surname Society researchers.

Harry Kneebone’s World of Sport1

Fourteen-year-old Max Pettitt, of 9 Gaol Reserve, Adelaide, writes to point out “a very funny thing”
he noticed in looking through Sheffield Shield records. Five of the wicket-keepers have a double letter
in their names:- Tallon and Siggs (Q), Maddocks (V), Kessey (WA), Saggers NSW). [sic]

Max, whose eye for the double letter may have been sharpened by the plurality of letters in his own
surname, noticed the same feature in English players’ names last year – Hammond, Gibb, Hardstaff,
Pollard, Hutton and Washbrook – and in several of the Australians who opposed them in Tests:-
Hassett, McCool, Miller, Dooland, Freer, Morris and Lindwall.

Of course, the sports journalist Harry (Henry William) Kneebone himself would have appreciated these double letter surnames as perhaps did his wife, Dorothy Joyce Hollow,2 and his parents, Harry (Henry) Kneebone and Henrietta Whitta.3


1. The Adelaide Chronicle, South Australia, Thursday, 26 February 1948, page 41. Accessed on Trove, Australian Newspapers On-line, the National Library of Australia:

2. Kneebone / Hollow marriage, Chronicle (Adelaide, SA) Saturday 24 March 1928, page 74:
and The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA) Monday 19 March 1928, page 9:

3. Henry Kneebone (1876–1933) entry, Biographical Dictionary of the Australian Senate, Online Edition: ;
Henry “Harry” Kneebone (17 March 1876 – 22 December 1933), entry, Wikipedia:

Some additional details available.

Submitted by M. Diane Rogers
Member 1069
SAGGERS surname family study:

Jan 272015

The Minutes of the monthly Committee Meetings are now available for reading or download from the Society’s website under Society Documentation.

Each month the Minutes will be uploaded for the previous month following agreement and signature at the next meeting, e.g., January Minutes will be posted to the website following the February meeting; February Minutes uploaded after the March meeting.

Nov 122014

Our Social Networking coordinator, Jennie Fairs, is interested in hearing from members of their experience and knowledge of surname studies to help us put together a Definitive Guide – To Surname Studies. The article is available in full (post #662)  here 

Mar 022015

John Furniss – b 1852 Carters Lane, Ecklington Ringinglow Derbyshire, d 1922 Rangiwahia New Zealand

George Pearson – b 1829 Totley Derbyshire

According to Edward Carpenter’s autobiography, “My Days and Dream”, (Sheffield Socialists, 1916, p133, George Allen and Unwin), John Furniss was a remarkable man and perhaps the very first to preach the modern socialism in the streets of Sheffield. A quarryman by trade, keen and wiry both in body and in mind, a thorough going Christian Socialist and originally a bit of a local preacher, he had somehow got hold of the main ideas of socialism and, in the 1880s, used to stride – he and his companion George Pearson – five or six miles over the moors, in order to speak at the Pump or the Monolith, and then stride back in the middle of the night. This he kept up for years and years and later, when he migrated to another quarry some distance from Chesterfield, he did exactly the same thing there for perhaps twenty years, with marvellous energy and perseverance. He must have kept up with this propaganda: and the amount of effective influence he must have exercised would be hard to reckon.

The Totley Colony and John Ruskin

In 1871, the visionary John Ruskin established the Guild of St George as a means of transforming a declining and corrupt Britain into a place of beauty and justice. His utopian vision involved working the land and encouraging traditional crafts. Ruskin was a hater of rapacious capitalism, modern technology and saved special invective for the railways.

An area of 13 acres was bought at Totley in 1877 by the Guild of St George. The land was first used as allotments for a group of Sheffield workmen. Ruskin must have been irritated when the 3.5 mile Totley tunnel was completed in 1892 for the main Manchester to Sheffield railway line.

Following the allotments, the land was run as a land colony with around 12 members. Edward Carpenter describes the men as Communists and great talkers. The installation of William Harrison Riley as custodian or Master of the Totley communitarian experiment was not a popular move and signalled the beginning of the numerous arguments and disagreements that finally sank the colony, though the severe weather, poor soil, the lack of mechanisation and the labourers lack of agricultural expertise must have contributed to the failure of the scheme.

St George’s farm was taken over by Ruskin’s own head gardener at Brantwood (David Downs) who set up “Mickley Botanical Gardens” to try to show the best methods of cultivating fruit trees as well as strawberries, currants and gooseberries. When this failed, even John Ruskin lost faith and could not wait to unload his 13 acres of poor land at Totley.

Edward Carpenter, George Pearson and the Totley Colony

Edward Carpenter, who stayed at St George’s farm for a few months in 1880, was philosophical about the failure of the Totley colony though appreciated the efforts of those involved, “They have kept the sacred fire alight through a long dark night”. Through the influence of Carpenter, George Pearson, a quarryman and a miner, was allowed to lease the land. Pearson’s father already farmed 100 acres at Totley. At this time George Pearson was aided by his friend John Furniss who had set up a small utopian community farm at Moor Hay farm Wigley near Chesterfield. In 1882, Carpenter moved to Millthorpe to set up a gardening business of his own.

John Furniss religious dissenter and roadside burials

Not everyone was allowed to be buried in a churchyard and a reference back to 1510 tells of quiet crossroads used for burials. This practice was banned by an Act of Parliament in 1823.

Even following this, the increasing intolerances of non conformists saw them carry out their own arrangements.

In 1888, John Furniss senior, of Moor Hay farm Wigley near Chesterfield, chose to bury his wife Elizabeth beneath a cairn of stones on the land where they had farmed rather than the parish church of St Peter and St Paul in Old Brampton.

Early life

John had an aunt and uncle who had a farm in the neighbouring Loxley Valley and as a relaxation in summer and autumn George Pearson and John Furniss would go to the farm at Broadhead Flats – and help with the hay making, harvest and milking.[1]

The farmer, name of Helliwell, had among his children, a daughter named Elizabeth. She eventually married George Pearson. Elizabeth’s mother was a Miss Furniss (now Elizabeth Helliwell). The Furniss line was descended from the Bagshawes of Hazelbadge Hall (1575) Bradwell, Derbyshire.

Elizabeth was probably John’s mother – John was born in 1852 – and the eldest Helliwell child was born in 1847. John was born out of wedlock and was to spend his childhood with aunts and uncles.

For the local Furniss family, Bastardy Accounts record George Furniss, 1828, a child with Sarah Helliwell, and Matthew Furniss in 1832, with Ann Grayson.

Census Years

In 1861, aged 9 yrs, John was living with his uncle Heald Unwin at a farm of 74 acres at Moor Side farm Dore with his cousins, Sarah, 7, and Ann, 13. Name spelt Furness.

In 1871, aged 19 yrs, he was living with his uncle George Furness and his cousins at Threebird Brampton. Name spelt Furness.

In 1881, aged 29 yrs, John was a lodger living at Cresswell Street, Nether Hallam, Sheffield with his friend George Pearson (b 1858 Baslow). Both title themselves Quarrymen.

In 1891, aged 39 yrs, he was living at Moor Hay farm Old Brampton with his family. He styles himself as a Farmer and Quarryman. John gives his birthplace as Ecklington, Derbyshire, and he is living with his wife, Mary Ann (b 1864 Sheffield) and two children – John Hoyle (b 1887 Wadsley Yorkshire) and James (b 1891 Brampton). John’s widowed sister Ann White (b 1848 Dore) and nephew George White (b 1879 Brampton) are also enumerated with the family. Name spelt Furniss.

In 1901, aged 49 yrs, John is still at Moor Hay Farm but he now styles himself as a farmer born Ecklington Derbyshire. Mary Ann is still alive and they have 7 children – all of whom were born at Brampton with the exception of John Hoyle, the eldest child. James b 1887, James b1 891, Annie b 1892, George b 1893, Mary Hannah b 1896 and Grace b 1898. Name spelt Furniss.

All of the children are entered in the Wigley school records with their birth dates. A final remark states all left England on 10.10.1902 for New Zealand where John established a homestead on virgin land, clearing trees and diverting waterways. The land was brought into cultivation and transformed into a thriving dairy farm.


John Furniss

Member 1211

Jul 062015

Edith Edenborough was the second daughter, and fifth child, of Henry and Margaret Edenborough (née Stedman) and was born 28 December 1846 at Wollogorang, New South Wales, Australia. In 1854 she travelled to the United Kingdom when her parents returned to England with their six children after selling their large pastoral property, Wollogorang, to John Chisholm. The first census to be held upon Edith’s arrival in England was that of 1861 where Edith, then aged 14, was living with her widowed mother at Kensington, Middlesex – her father Henry having died one year after his return to England.

1861 UK Census

1861 UK Census

Presentation of Prizes by Prince Teck at the South Kensington Museum

Presentation of Prizes by Prince Teck at the South Kensington Museum

In 1870 Edith’s talent as an artist saw her being awarded a silver medal at the South Kensington District Art School where she would also be introduced to Prince Teck, a member of German nobility and father of Queen Mary, the wife of King George V.

Edith was twice married: firstly to artist Arthur Murch (in 1873) with whom she lived with in Rome while working with Giovanni Costa – the Italian landscape painter and patriotic revolutionary; then in 1891, as the Widow Murch, she married Matthew Ridley Corbet, another landscape artist of some note. By this time Edith was an acknowledged landscape painter herself, closely associated with the Etruscan group, and who had previously exhibited many works at the Grosvenor and New Galleries of London. Following her marriage to Corbet she exhibited primarily at the Royal Academy, visiting Italy but living in London for the rest of her life.

Cicero's Villa and the Bay of Baiae painted by Edith Corbet in 1909

Cicero’s Villa and the Bay of Baiae painted by Edith Corbet in 1909


Edith Corbet (née Edenborough) died in 1920 aged 72.



Jennie Fairs
Member 1006
Edenborough Surname Study Worldwide
Dempsey Surname Study North Antrim

Nov 232015

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Ann MARTIN was baptised at St John the Baptist church, Frome, on Whitsunday 15 May 1853. Her parents were James Charles (occupation cordwainer [shoemaker]) and Mary MARTIN of Milk Street, Frome.1

Aged 17, Elizabeth gave her occupation as pupil teacher, of 81 Milk Street, in the 1871 UK census. A Frome vicar arranged for Elizabeth to be a nursery teacher in Folkstone.2

In 1877, Edward ASHLEY (age 23), a missionary teacher at the time, returned from the USA to marry Elizabeth Ann MARTIN (age 24), spinster of Milk Street on 4 October 1877 (following banns on 16 and 23 September) at St John the Baptist church, Frome. Witnesses were the bride’s father (shoemaker) and elder sister Lydia MARTIN.

Following their marriage, Edward and Elizabeth sailed from Bristol (near Frome) on the SS Arragon3 and arrived at the port of New York, New York on 23 October 1877. The immigration record (as advised by cousin Vicki) contradicts arrival as Castle Island, [South Boston, Massachusetts] with Elizabeth’s occupation recorded as pupil teacher.

The Western Times; Exeter, Friday, October 5, 1877.

The Western Times; Exeter, Friday, October 5, 1877.

Lizzie Martin 2Elizabeth is said by her family to have been a school teacher to the Native Americans and personally knew Chief Sitting Bull. Reverend Edward ASHLEY (1853-1931) also earlier knew General Custer.

The 1880 United States Federal Census4 records Edward ASHLEY, age 26, occupation divinity student, Elizabeth (age 26), occupation keeping house and Jessie H., age 1, birth year abt 1879 Dakota Territory, of Faribault, Rice, Minnesota.

No record has been found for this ASHLEY family in the 1890 United States Federal Census which is not surprising since many records were destroyed by a fire at the Commerce Department in Washington.

At some point, however,  Elizabeth sent home to Frome these Indian beeded gloves which are still in the family as a cherished reminder of our links with Dakota.

Lizzie Martin 3

The 1900 United States Federal Census records Elizabeth A ASHLEY, age 45, birthplace England, home in 1900 of Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, Dewey, South Dakota, race white, immigration year 1877, years married 23. Other Ashley household members were: Edward, age 45, immigration year 1873, birth date December 1854, occupation clergyman; CJW (female), age 21, born South Dakota in December 1878; Edward A., age 18, born South Dakota in December 1881; Martin A., age 16, born South Dakota in April 1883; William C, age 13, born South Dakota in February 1887; Robert L., age 9, born in South Dakota in July 1890.

Elizabeth died on 28 December 1915 and was buried at the Riverside Memorial Park, Aberdeen, Brown County, South Dakota, USA.

Lizzie Martin 4Winona (Elizabeth’s oldest child) is known to have corresponded with her cousins in Frome from at least 1918.

Although the originals of the letters sadly no longer exist, someone in the family in the US had the foresight to transcribe them to a typed version so they may be shared with future generations. This exchange of family news and current affairs, including the family’s participation in WWI, from across the pond continued until at least 1952, albeit the cousins changed over that time. That first letter from Frome did reveal that Elizabeth had visited her birthplace many years earlier with her youngest son Bob. These letters have, on occasion, given me a very personal insight into the lives of my own direct ancestors.



1 Frome Hundred CMBs 1846-1864
2 Corresponding Cousins letter dated 24 November 1920
3 New York, Passenger Lists 1820-1957 (c/o Ancestry UK)
4 All US Federal Census records obtained from Ancestry Library Edition

Gordon Martin
Member 1210

Apr 272015

Emily was born on 2 December 1837 in Ottery St Mary, Devon, England to Samuel MURCH and his wife, Joanna YATES. The MURCH family have so far lived, worked and died in the same small Devonshire town, but gradually, the outside world and its inventions have entered their sphere and impacted their lives, with the advent of the railway in 1844 and the many developments within the textile industry. Emily was my 2 x great-aunt.

She began as a lacemaker, as the rest of her sisters did when they were small, but is listed as a ‘silk weaver’ in the 1851 census when only 13. She departed from the silk-and-wool trades of her ancestors, and in the 1861 census she is described as ‘Upper Nurse’ in the prestigious boarding school in West Teignmouth – Thorn Park School. Previously known as Hillford House School, it had 24 students, not just from Devon but also faraway India and Ireland. Since Emily was the head nurse there, this stood her in good stead when she was looking after her aged father in the 1881 census up until his death in 1887 from heart disease. At the same time, Emily was working as a dressmaker, and is listed in White’s trade directory of 1878 among many other dressmakers, straw bonnet makers, drapers, and tailors in Ottery St Mary.

But in 1884 this clipping from The Western Times of 12 April shows how Emily had risen; she was then a Court Dressmaker:

Miss Murch begs to announce

Ros Haywood

Member 1324

MURCH One Name Study

Jul 132015

Fales Rumours pic 1

In 2004, an article appeared in a family tree magazine entitled “False Rumours – A Wartime Tragedy” being an account of the tragic death of William Smith, headmaster of Henham and Wangford School in Suffolk. Unfortunately, I missed it and had I been reading it that year, the words would have leapt off the page, as this was a story about people in my family tree.

Alma Morse born 1863 in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, was my grandmother’s cousin. I had been researching the Morse family in this area for many years and had found Alma in the 1881 census as a pupil teacher residing at Yorkley with her parents Edmund and Theophila Morse. Unlike most girls in the Forest who usually went into service, Alma went into teaching and, in 1886, married a fellow teacher, William Smith, a blacksmith’s son from Okehampton in Devon. After their marriage the couple ran the village school in Henham, three miles from Southwold, on the east coast. I imagined their lives in an idyllic part of the country to be happy but uneventful. However, I was curious enough to post a message on to the Curious Fox website, in case anything was known about them but was not hopeful of a response, especially with a name like Smith.

How wrong I was. I received a reply from Angela Lawrence from Woodbridge in Suffolk. She was not related but had some shocking news to impart. This information had also been seen by Mary Wilson who had been inspired by a headline in the Halesworth and Southwold Times of 1914 which read “Tragic death of William Smith, Headmaster of Henham and Wangford School.” A phone call to Angela revealed the full extent of the tragedy that had also prompted her to delve into the story, which would form the basis of a book that she had started to write.

On 4 November 1914, at the age of 52, William Smith was found dead in a shed at the rear of his house with his throat cut. What was the reason for this tragedy? An article in the East Anglian magazine in 1954 said that “William died as a result of village gossip, of idle tittle-tattle nothing more.”

As the story unfolded I could not believe it. Several years before WW1 William had visited his son Ted, who was living at Aachen in Germany to study the language. In the past they had had at least two German girls to stay with them on exchange visits and the 1911 census shows a student from Lubeck in the Smith household. Nothing very remarkable in that but this was the start of WW1 and anti- German feeling at the time helped to fuel vicious rumours. It was alleged that William had spoken out against the war and even suggested that his son-in-law was German, which was completely untrue. Even the fact that he didn’t speak with a Suffolk accent went against him; when he replied that he was born in Devon, he was told that he didn’t sound like a Devonian either.

False Rumours pic 2

School group c1909 with William and Alma Smith

False Rumours pic 3

Wangford School









William had been headmaster of the school, along with his wife, for thirty years and took a leading part in village life, he was a parish councillor and involved in many church activities. As he was such a popular and well respected figure it seemed strange that such a pillar of the community would be driven to take his own life. At the inquest into his death the evidence against him was of village gossip and rumours which had been reported to the police.

On 31 October he had been served with a notice to quit the area under War Office Regulations, Defence of the Realm Act passed in August 1914, which stated that “His Majesty had power during the continuance of the present war to issue regulations for securing the public safety. And whereas an order dated 30 October 1914 has been made by the competent authority under the regulations, you, your wife and family (if any) are hereby required to cease to reside in the county of Suffolk, or in any proclaimed or prohibited area, and to report your departure to the police before you leave and your arrival to the police at the place to which you go.”

Five days after receiving this notice, William took his own life. In her article, Mary Wilson describes how she found another shocking headline “Henham Tragedy” dated 19 January 1915. William’s widow, Alma had also committed suicide less than three months after her husband’s death.

After William’s funeral, Alma visited her in-laws in Devon, accompanied by her son Ted, who had recently returned from Guatemala. Ted had gone to collect their luggage from the station in a pony and trap but on his return he found the schoolhouse locked, his mother nowhere to be found. He broke into the house and to his horror discovered his mother hanging from the bannisters. I was astounded by this and wondered if my grandmother, Alma’s cousin who would have been aged 34 in 1915, had known about this?

The cause of Alma Smith’s death was “Suicide by hanging herself while of unsound mind caused by excessive worry in connection with the tragic death of her husband and the circumstances in connection therewith.”

In 2007, I contacted Angela Lawrence and she arranged for me to not only visit Henham School, now a private dwelling, but introduced me to a local historian who showed us the grave of William and Alma in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul, Wangford.

False Rumours pic 4

Grave of William and Alma Smith in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul, Wangford

The inscription read:
This memorial was erected by their scholars and friends in the Wangford and Henham parishes in testimony of appreciation of their valuable services for over 25 years, schoolmaster and schoolmistress of the above parishes.

The funeral held at this church for William was attended by a large gathering. The school children all carried chrysanthenums which they placed on the coffin. On the following Sunday many tributes to William’s work were paid in the neighbouring churches. The East Anglian Times reported that “the one thought uppermost in the minds of many was regrets that they were unable to show their confidence in Mr Smith and thus to save his life.”

Angela completed her book “Rumours” based on this true story and it was published about five years ago. I am the only relative that Angela has traced. William and Alma’s daughter Gladys, who was blind and epileptic, died in 1909 and is also buried in the churchyard. Another daughter Evelyn Edith died in 1988. Ted, who was a teacher of foreign languages, after serving as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Service Corps during WW1, died in Maidenhead, Berkshire in 1953.

In conclusion, I am lucky that someone from outside the family brought it to my attention. It has been a fantastic, if sad, journey of discovery and is especially poignant in this centenary of the outbreak of the First World War.

Janet Rigby
Member 1314

Oct 192015

From Gloucester to the Gold fields

Frances Jane Morris Morse Frances Jane Morris Morse was the second daughter of Richard and Ann Morse and was born in 1846 in Gloucester, a city in the south west of England about twenty miles from the Forest of Dean, where her father had originated. In 1862 her eldest sister Emily Anne had married and soon after emigrated to Australia with her new husband Charles Jennings. Three years later, in 1865 at the relatively young age of nineteen, Frances took the bold step of following her sister to Australia. She sailed alone on the Montmorency intending to stay with Emily in Sydney but disembarked at Bowen, thinking she was in Sydney. Realising her mistake she had no option but to stay there. Luckily she had met a family on board who had befriended her and they offered her a job as governess to their children.Montmorency The Montmorency was the first official immigrant ship to sail to the new state of Queensland in 1860 and did four other voyages.

This was to change the whole course of her life down under as it was in Bowen that she met a young American, Richard Bradby. Richard was originally from Virginia, in the United States of America but was now resident in Australia and a year later they were married. Frances went on to have several children but family rumour, which has not been proved, is that three of them, Roynon, Sterling and Florence, who died as an infant, were fathered by Richard but another child, Joseph Nash Harland, was given away and raised by his father of the same name. He was said to have returned to the family when he called himself Ryan, the surname of his stepfather David Joseph Ryan. It is of course possible that not all the children were illegitimate and Frances put them down as such to keep Richard’s whereabouts hidden and only Vida was David’s. Joseph may have been adopted because of financial difficulties and the Harlands had no children of their own.

Richard Bradby known as “Black Jack Bradby”, was an inveterate gambler who turned to horse stealing amongst other things to pay his debts. Disaster was to strike the family when Richard upped and left and no more was seen or heard from him again. The family was left to survive in the goldfields, a truly desperate time and it was a full seven years before he was declared dead and Frances could marry again.

It is possible that Richard Bradby, who was born in 1830 in Virginia, USA was linked to a Richard Bradby entered in the 1870 USA census as living on an American Indian reservation with a Frances E Bradby (widow of a Sterling Bradby (1825-1864) and her children, Charles and Virginia.

There were many inhabitants on this reservation with the name of Bradby, and it is interesting to note the Christian name of Sterling which is the name also given to Richard and Frances’s son, Sterling Etheridge Bradby – the Etheridge refers to the mining area near Chillagoe in North Queensland where they lived. Sterling drowned in the Tate River whilst attempting to cross it on his way home for Christmas in 1917 at the age of 46. His brother Roynon also came to grief in a flooded river. Although rescued, he died of pneumonia a few weeks later, in 1899 at the age of thirty one.

A condition of the 1870 US census was that Indians resident on a reservation had to be present at the time of the census if they wished to retain their right to land ownership. This could be a possible explanation for Richard’s disappearance. The husband of Frances Bradby, Sterling Bradby, was killed by his brother William Terrill Bradby supposedly in a drunken fight. Richard may well have taken up with Sterling’s widow when he returned to America. As for William Terrill Bradby, who was in the Union Army when he killed his brother, he was subsequently court-martialed and received a light sentence. Richard’s exact relationship to him is still not certain.

James Mooney of the Smithsonian states that the numerous Bradbys of Pamunkey and Chickahominy tribes all have descent from a white man, William Terrill’s great grandfather who about the time of the Revolutionary period married a Chickahominy woman. It is quite possible that Frances might not have known Richard was a native American.

In 1887 Frances married David Joseph Ryan and by this time they had had three children, Alice Mary Frances, William Patrick Francis, and Vida Emily. Alas, history was to repeat itself as David Ryan, a heavy drinker, also disappeared around 1887 in the Palmer river goldfields, with speculation that he may have been killed by Aboriginals. This part of the world was definitely frontier country, a tough place for a woman to survive with a family and no reliable partner.

Frances’s eldest child by her second husband, Alice Mary Francis Ryan was born in 1880 and at the age of nineteen (the same age as when her mother had emigrated from England) married Frank Armstrong Hargreaves, an Englishman from Congleton in Cheshire, who had arrived in Cairns in 1892 at the age of seventeen on the Jeluga.

Alice Mary Francis Ryan

Alice Mary Francis Ryan

Frank Armstrong Hargeaves

Frank Armstrong Hargeaves

It is believed that his uncle (Captain A Mann from London) captained the ship. Frank supposedly got off the ship without his uncle’s permission on Thursday Island (situated at the top of old Queensland) and swam to the Jardine river where the Jardine family took him in. He got a job with the legendary stage coach firm Cobb and Co. and eventually got a coach of his own, carrying supplies to mining settlements in Outback Queensland. He became a cattle grazier with a large property (147 square miles) called Amber Station in Fossilbrook, described as the wildest country imaginable. Frank and Alice reared a large family of five sons and four daughters. The running of Amber Station was a family affair, Alice’s sons were all stockmen there. Two of his sons predeceased him, Francis Roynon died in 1942 and William Henry in 1922 at the young age of seventeen.

Alice’s sister Vida Emily was living with her husband John William Leonard and family at Sunnymount, Chillagoe until the 1930s, when they took over the Espanol Hotel at Lappa Junction.

Vida’s husband died in 1937 so she earned her living as a hotel proprietor right until her death in 1969.

Joan Bell (nee Broadley) in front of Auntie Vida's hotel in the late 1990s

Joan Bell (nee Broadley) in front of Auntie Vida’s hotel in the late 1990s

The following is an extract from the Cairns Post, Saturday, 20 October 2001.

The timber and corrugated iron pub was built in 1901 by a Spanish teamster known only as Mr Barbra, whose love of his homeland is reflected in the hotel’s name. Espanol is Spanish for Spaniard. The pub must have seemed like a little slice of luxury for the miners and their wives from the local mining camps. Their tough homes consisted of a bit of tin perched on top of a few kerosene drums with hessian bags for walls. People would come to the Espanol for their honeymoons. It must have been pretty flash – good beds with mosquito nets and all the meals provided. For any woman out here at that time, not having to cook or carry water would have been a big treat. As well as the miners, Barbra’s pub catered for the 500 or more railway workers who serviced the Mareeba line, which reached Lappa in 1900 and the copper rich nearby town of Chillagoe the following year. In 1902, Lappa became an important rail junction when a branch line was built south to Mt Garnet to service its new copper smelter. The town’s mineral rush was short lived and the line was eventually removed in the 1960s.

Lappa takes its name from nearby Lappa Lappa Creek (Aboriginal for permanent water) where famous Afghan cameleer Abdul Wade watered his camels as he hauled minerals out of Chillagoe and Mt Garnet. In its hey day in the early 1900s, Lappa was home to about 1000 people, with the hotel the centre of the town’s social life and the venue for all the local weddings, parties and dances.

In 1923, the Espanol was bought by William and Vida Leonard who built an adjoining house in the 1940s and ran the pub until Vida’s death in 1966, when the licence was surrendered. One of the highlights of this period was during World War 2, when the Leonards ran tearooms next to the railway station to cater for the 30,000 allied troops using the line. Anyone in uniform scored a free cuppa. The Lappa Leonards also built an air raid shelter under the big mango tree behind the hotel. The Leonards were forced to grow all their own food as the road to Mareeba was so rough. What is now a forty minute journey used to take six hours and was impassable in the wet season. The Leonards kept chickens, cattle, goats, pigs and horses and had a large vegetable garden. Tobacco was also grown near the creek until the crop was washed away by floods.

The “William” referred to is John William, “Willie”, eldest son of William Leonard, the storekeeper at Sunnymount, not far from Lappa Junction on the Mt Garnet line.

Built in 1901 the Espanol Hotel served the travellers and locals until 1966. It was constructed of round bush timber and galvanised iron, the Lappa (bring your own) bush pub still remains as the only example of a once common mining town building. It still survives as a museum and BYO and advertises itself as “a century old tradition of bush hospitality amongst the stark beauty of the outback.” A real wild west town.

Despite its remoteness the Cairns Post regularly reported functions held “at the residence of Mrs V E Leonard at Lappa Junction. In 1935 a dance was held in aid of the Petford Cricket Club and described as “A Happy Occasion” and “A dainty supper was supplied by Mrs Leonard” and the description of the beautiful dresses worn and waltzes to the music of violins, concertinas and flageolet paints a picture far removed from the harshness of the outback.

The Australian media in the first half of the twentieth century regularly reported the social activities and comings and goings of the ordinary citizen much as they do for celebrities nowadays. Visits between the Hargreaves and Irwin’s Amber Station and Kuranda (Frank Hargreaves’s daughter Minnie Jessie and her husband Joseph Nicholas Irwin.) were a regular feature of the gossip columns. In 1937 the Cairns Post reported that “Mr & Mrs R Hargreaves who were married at Amber Station last week, spent a few days with Mr & Mrs Irwin, Kuranda and left by Tuesday’s boat from Cairns for Magnetic Island, where they will spend part of their honeymoon.” 

Grace Hargreaves

Grace Hargreaves

Even visits to hospitals were recorded; the Cairns Post reporting in 1948 that “Mrs F Hargreaves of Amber Station, Fossilbrook, leaves by this afternoon’s plane for the south to seek medical attention. She will be accompanied by her son Norman, who will return by tomorrow’s plane.” Five years previously, in 1943, it reported that “Miss Grace Hargreaves of Amber Station, Fossilbrook left last Wednesday for Brisbane where she will visit her sister, Mrs Kelvin Grainger-Smith who has been seriously ill in a private hospital for some weeks”. Frances Vida Grainger-Smith at one time ran a beauty salon in Darwin called Valmae Frocks and Beauty Salon.

Weddings and funerals were also widely reported, because of the vastness of the country and communications in those days, the newspapers would perhaps be the only source of information for local inhabitants.

As well as losing children in their infancy, Frances lost two children in adulthood. Roynon Morris Bradby her first-born died at Irvinebank in 1899 at the age of 31 leaving a wife and two children. Another son, Sterling Etheridge Bradby died on 1 December 1917 drowned in the Tate River at the age of thirty six.

Frances died in 1922 at the age of seventy six at the home she had lived in for most of her married life with her large family, children and grandchildren around her. She had had a life tinged with sadness but was evidently a strong yet loving woman, a pioneer in every sense of the word choosing to spend her life in the Australian outback, far removed from her home city of Gloucester in England. It is not known whether she had any contact with Emily before she and her husband W J Holloway retired to England or her younger sister Maria Margaret who came to Australia towards the end of the nineteenth century and married an ex pat Englishman, before herself returning to England for the rest of her life. One thing is certain Frances adapted herself to life in the Australian outback, never venturing out of the country of her adoption again.

Janet Rigby
Member 1314

Dec 282015
Gloucester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

My previous study stories have outlined the extraordinary lives of members of the Morse family who originated from Gloucestershire, England. We have looked at the lives of the two elder daughters of Richard and Ann Morse of the city of Gloucester and followed them as they left the shores of England for Australia in their twenties. Emily was the first to leave in 1863, with her husband Charles Jennings, followed by younger sister Frances on the Montmorency two years later. Frances had planned to join Emily in Sydney but disembarked at the wrong port and spent the rest of her life in the outback while Emily sought fame in the cities of with her second husband, William Holloway, established the famous Holloway Theatre, and whose daughter, Essie Jenyns, was the esteemed Australian Shakespearian actress of her day.

Frances and Emily Morse

Frances and Emily Morse

The younger sister of Emily and Frances was Maria Margaret and, after the departure of her sisters, was living with her parents and brother, Roynon, at 7 Bedford Place, Bristol. In 1867, Maria married a Worcester born man almost twenty years older than her, Gulson Burlingham, who was from a Quaker family. They had eight children and settled in various parts of the country, moving from Bristol to Birmingham, Nottingham and Hereford.

In 1881 they are resident at Wells Road, Nottingham with children, Ethel Ann and Roynan Richard. Their other three children, Gulson, Edward and Margaret are boarders at a school in Grantham, Lincolnshire, a long way from Gloucestershire. In 1891 Gulson is ‘living on income’ at 25 Chandos Street, Hereford, but there is no sign of Maria. The reason was that she was probably on the other side of the world. From 1886 to 1888 for example she was regularly in the passenger lists sailing around Australia, usually with her sister Emily Holloway and family, and sometimes with her niece, Essie Jenyns, and her maid. They travelled saloon class and on 6 February 1886 she sailed on the Pateena with the Holloway Dramatic Company which included Mr and Mrs Holloway, Mr and Mrs Charles Holloway, Maria and two of her children and Miss Jenyns.

Whether Gulson and Maria had actually separated is not known but on Saturday 27th February 1892 the Queenslander newspaper reported that “Mrs Roy(sic) Burlingham, sister of Mrs W J Holloway and aunt of Mrs Woods (Essie Jenyns) is now in Melbourne again. Her sojourn in New Zealand has greatly benefitted her health.” It would seem that Maria was enjoying the high life in the company of her famous sister and family. Her husband Gulson died in Hereford in 1893 aged sixty three years.

While in Australia, Maria had met an English born man called Walter Sully who, since 1885, ran a large emporium at Broken Hill, New South Wales. On his retirement he decided to return to his roots after marrying Maria in 1898. The 1901 census shows them living in style at Teddington Hall, near to the Thames, in Surrey. Also with them is Maria’s daughter Ethel. They appear to be quite comfortably off, as the household consists of a parlourmaid, housemaid, cook and gardener.

rigby d

They did not actually own the property but rented it and the Kelly’s Trade Directories show them as being resident at the Hall from 1900 – 1908. Teddington Hall is described as “one of Teddington’s foremost period landmarks and boasts a quite exquisite Gothic style façade of red brick with stucco dressings, a crenellated parapet and a stone knight in armour in a first floor niche above its magnificent entrance.” The property is Grade II listed denoting it to be of special architectural and historical importance. Dating from about 1860 the house had several owners but gradually fell into disrepair and was later used as government offices. In 2004 it was restored to its former glory.

They later settled in London but there is evidence from the passenger lists that Walter travelled extensively to Canada, New York and Madeira and on 28th October 1907 the Brisbane Courier stated:-

“Mr and Mrs Walter Sully and Miss Sully of Broken Hill, South Australia and Teddington Hall, Middlesex are at present the guests of Mr and Mrs Ralph Clifton, Benyarra, River Road. They will leave today for Japan.” This indicates that they still had interests in Australia.

Walter Sully’s store in Broken Hill

Walter Sully’s store in Broken Hill

In 1900, two of Maria’s sons from her first marriage set sail for Australia but in May 1901 tragedy struck, which was reported in the Adelaide Advertiser:-

“Mr Edward Gulson Burlingham, stepson of Mr Walter Sully, died of pneumonia at the hospital this morning after only two days illness. Deceased arrived from London in July of last year to gain colonial experience. He was about 24 years of age. His brother with whom he came to Australia, is now in Melbourne, attending the celebrations there.”

Walter died first in 1924 and probate was granted as follows:-

Sully Walter of the Constitutional Club, Northumberland Avenue, Middlesex, died on 20 June 1924 at 115 Ashley Gardens, Westminster, Middlesex. Probate was granted to Maria Margaret Sully, widow and Frank Carlisle, Luxton, Gentleman.
Effects £25,7692.13s.4d.

Maria died in London in 1931.

Maria’s son Gulson junior returned from Australia in 1922 and he died on 26th October 1929 at 102 Ashley Gardens, Westminster, Middlesex, near to his mother.

All three of the Morse sisters lived unusual lives, and it is thanks to the wonderful free Australian Trove newspaper site and its social and gossip columns that reports the comings and goings of its “celebrities”, the “Hello” magazine of its day, that we can get an insight into their lives. I am so proud of these pioneering women.

Janet Rigby
Member 1314

Aug 032015

The Hyde family lived in Dyers Court, which was once part of Deansgate, Manchester. The earliest Hyde that appears in my tree is that of John Hyde, who was born in Manchester in 1811. In 1830 he married Sarah Lewis at Manchester Cathedral Church and John carried out his trade of hatter and dyer. They had a total of nine children, the eldest of which, Elizabeth was my great-great-grandmother.

Elizabeth Hyde was born in 1831 in Manchester and was christened on 11 June in Manchester Cathedral Church. On 13 June 1852 she married Charles Bradshaw, a cork cutter, in Cathedral Parish Church, Manchester. They had ten children.

Joshua Hyde, born 1834, was also a hatter in Dyers Court and later moved to Preston, eventually ending up in Ashton under Lyne, where he carried on his trade. He married Sarah Beswick who was a hat stitcher and felt hat trimmer. Then came James born in 1836, followed by Thomas in 1837, who was a clogger and married Elizabeth Johnson in 1864 in Ulverston where he carried on his trade. In 1911 he was a widower and was an inmate at a workhouse in North Manchester, where he died in 1913. William was born in 1839; Edward in 1841 and only lived a few months; Mary Jane in 1843; Hannah in 1845; and, finally, Sarah in 1849.

mary jane hyde

Mary Jane Hyde

Mary Jane, who was born on 7 January 1843 in Manchester, and baptised on 16 April at Manchester Cathedral Church, seemed to have lived a life of mystery, especially her ‘marriages’. According to information on Family Search, Mary’s husband was Robert Vicars Whitehead although no official marriage has been found. Robert died in Ordsall Lane, Salford, in December 1864. Their son George Edward Whitehead was born on 23 April 1863.
In the 1871 census Mary is classed as a ‘widow’ living in Chester Street, Manchester; has had four further children (Matilda, Louisa, Florence and Richard) and their surnames are all stated as ‘Whitbread’ or ‘Whitehead’, although Robert Vicars Whitehead had died before any of them were born! Robert had died of typhus fever and the informant on the death certificate was a Mary Jane Bushell, present at the death. Probate was not granted until 1875 eleven years after his death and, when probate was granted, it was to an Ann Jane Clough, wife of Edwin Clough, and his effects were valued at under £600. It was then discovered that Robert Whitehead had married Ann Jane Gorman on 12 March 1864 at St John’s Church, Manchester, and she had then married Edwin Clough two years after Robert’s death.

So we have a situation where Robert Vicars Whitehead married Ann Jane Gorman on 12 March 1864 but was said to be the father of George Edward Whitehead, who was born on 23 April (a little over a month later) to Mary Jane Hyde, although the father’s name was blank on George’s birth certificate. Then Robert dies at the end of that same year.

The IGI states rather misleadingly that Mary had married in 1864 to a Richard John Mincher, but no record has been found of such a marriage. By 1881 Mary, the four children which appeared in the 1871 census and yet another three children (William J, Walter and Leonard) were living at 60 Warder Street, Hulme. But now their surname seems to have reverted to ‘Hyde’ and looking at the birth entries for five of Mary’s children they were registered as ‘Hyde’, although the IGI records of these children gives two alternatives – ‘Hyde’ and ‘Mincher Hyde’.

Living with the family as a boarder in 1871 was a William Johnson – 41 – Mechanic Labourer – Widow. The first son Mary has after she changes the name to Hyde is named William J, so possibly she had the three sons with this boarder, although they were never married, and then either he left her or died prior to 1891. There appears to be no civil registrations for William John Hyde or Walter. In the 1891 and 1901 censuses the family is again referred to as Hyde and there is no trace of Richard Mincher. Mary Jane Hyde did, however, marry a Richard Judd in Chorlton, Manchester in 1908, aged 65 so the death entry on Family search is incorrect as her death was registered under the name of Mary Jane Judd on 2 March 1919 in Manchester. Richard Judd also died that year.

Birth certificates:
The birth certificates of Matilda Hyde born 17 June 1866, that of Florence born 17 October 1869 and Richard Hyde on 4th February 1871 show the father’s name as blank.

The LDS information is thought to have been submitted by Janet Marie Jacobsen Hyde who put the information into Ancestral File. Unfortunately the lady has since died and on writing to three other submitters to AF only one, Donna McNab replied and she did not have much more information to offer. In fact some of her information is definitely flawed.

One of the American descendants thought that Robert Vicars Whitehead was married to someone else and this has proved to be right when the marriage to Ann Jane Gorman was found at the beginning of 1864.

The life of Mary Jane Hyde was certainly a complicated one and I suppose we will never know the intricate details. The life of her son George Edward Hyde has been well documented from American sources because of his achievements, graduating as a doctor and one of the many English emigrants who converted to the Mormon faith. We are indebted to the LDS church for their dedication to genealogy and to Marcia Nelson, the granddaughter of George Edward Hyde whose family tree on Ancestry, of the Farr family, from which we learn so much of this very interesting family. This family are chronicled on Ancestry as the Farr family.George emigrated to the USA and married Lucretia Rosabell Farr and the following is an extract from the ‘Farr family tree’ on Ancestry which tells us much about George’s life as a convert to the Church of the Latterday Saints and his life thereafter.


George Edward Whitehead (Hyde)

Lucretia Rosabell (Rose) Farr

Lucretia Rosabell (Rose) Farr


Lucretia Rosabell (Rose) Farr was born August 17, 1866 in Ogden, Weber, Utah. The last child of Aaron Freeman Farr and Lucretia Ball Thorp.
    When she was 19, she met George Edward Hyde. They courted for a year and then were married October 15th 1886 in the Logan Temple. George was born in Manchester England on April 23, 1864. His father died when he was very young and he changed his last name from Whitehead to Hyde, which is his mother’s maiden name, for inheritance purposes. When he was nineteen he came to America as a convert. He landed in New York City. He came to Salt Lake and worked for Z.C.M.I’s for nine years.
    After their marriage they lived for a little while in part of the Farr house, then they moved to the house next door.

    Rose and George welcomed the birth of their first born July 7, 1887, Vida Florence. They then had the following children all born in Ogden, Myrtle Cordelia b. April 1, 1889, George Aaron on August 12, 1891, and Charles Lyman b. November 28, 1892 (he died three years later December 15, 1895).
    After Rose and George were married, he decided that he wanted to go into medicine so he went to the University of California and John Hopkins and graduated in 1895. He would come home for summer vacations. Rose took in boarders and her parents helped out.
    George practiced in Ogden for a little while, after which he had a friend in Rexburg, Idaho, who told him they needed a Doctor in the Snake River Basin in Idaho. He and Rose decided to move there to practice medicine. Dr Hyde went first to find a place for the family to live. The train did not go through to Rexburg, so when Rose and the family arrived, George met them at Market Lake in a white top buggy. It was quite a long and rugged trip.
    George had found them a three-room house where they lived until a new home could be built. Many hardships were encountered during the first year. The winters were extremely cold and Dr Hyde and only one other doctor were available in the valley. This meant that he had to travel throughout the area in those early days. He used horses and in the winter he went by sleigh. Rose would go with him sometimes. She would see to it that his feet were kept warm by heating bricks and wrapping them and placing them at this feet.
    Here Afton Rose was born August 26, 1896. Followed by Clarisse born on August 1, 1899, Harold on June 1, 1902 (died same day) and Melba Estell on March 1, 1905.
    George Hyde loved music and was an accomplished musician. He wanted his family to enjoy the arts, because he was the doctor for the railroad, they gave him rail passes and he would take the family to Salt Lake to see the opera and musical productions.
    While in Rexburg the Hyde residence was the place Church authorities stayed and music lovers met. He was interested in Government affairs. George would bring everyone home to Mama for a good meal. Rose was lucky as she had a hired girl who could always help get a good meal available for visitors on quick notice. “Mama” is what George always called Rose.
    Rose and George lived in Rexburg for 17 years. They moved to Blackfoot State Mental Hospital.
    Their next move was back to Salt Lake when he was asked to be director of the Utah Mental Hospital in Provo. The family lived in the institution and have taken some joking about that. They were all involved in the working of the hospital. George was very interested in trying to help the mentally ill patients and he was successful. They named a building after him.
    George went to Canada to give a paper on his treatment and ideas, Rose had gone with him. On the train during the return trip he had an appendicitis attack and waited until he returned to Salt Lake to have it taken care of. He died during surgery.
    Rose moved in with her daughter Clarisse and helped raise Gloria. Gloria remembers being able to talk to her grandmother about anything. Rose made Gloria doll clothes. My father George Aaron Hyde returned from Idaho to be close to his mother. I remember staying overnight with Grandmother. Marian my sister recalls toast and jam in the morning. In her later life, her doctor advised that she take a little whiskey for her heart.    Rose refused to drink it, but would take it in a teaspoon like medicine. She was always loving and caring. She died at the age of 91 on September 25, 1957. She was the last surviving child of Aaron Freeman Farr.

Two more of Mary’s children were to emigrate and live in Utah. Leonard emigrated in 1898 and appeared in the USA Federal census in 1900 in Ogden Ward 2 Weber at the home of his sister Louisa who had emigrated to Utah with her husband from England, Arthur E Cutting. He died in Salt Lake City in 1966.

Another son, Walter, also emigrated to the States, lived in Idaho and died in Los Angeles, California in 1948. On his death certificate his father’s last name is stated as being Mincher.

If the story of Mary Jane Hyde sounds complicated it is probably because it is. If any further information comes to light, there will be yet another revision.

Janet Rigby
Member 1314