Tuesday, 1 September 2015


Today commemorates the birth of my maternal grandfather, John Ronald MACKENZIE. Born in Fodderty Scotland on 1st September 1859 he was the third of five children of Ronald MACKENZIE and Janet (Jesse) INNES. When I told John’s story earlier (14th February) I mentioned that I was waiting for a copy of his Will and as I have now received this I’ll share what I have found here.

When John died in hospital on 14th February 1945 his Will was almost exactly 10 years old. This had been drawn up on 19th February 1935; several years after the death of his second wife Florence in 1931 and when all 5 of his children were still alive. Interestingly there was only one beneficiary of his estate.

At some time during the decade before his death John moved from his home in Welling to the Petts Wood home of his married daughter Mabel Tardiff and it is this daughter who inherited everything.

By 1945 Mabel had been married to solicitor Frederick Graham Charles Tardif for 20 years and had several children. Mabel’s younger sister Irene had been married for over 10 years and lived not far away in Welling with her husband Reginald Short. Of the three children of John’s first marriage, the two eldest were William and Ronald and I know they had been estranged from their father for many years. The youngest from this first family was my grandmother Jessie who was also well settled with her own family at the time.

So why was Mabel the sole beneficiary? Possibly simply because she had provided her father with a home in the years before he died. It may be that he had provided his other children with financial bequests during his life. It may be they benefitted when he sold his home and moved in with Mabel. We may never know.

Here is a copy of the Will –

The gross value of John’s estate was £107-14-9 which converts to about AU$8500 today.

Friday, 29 August 2014


Oh dear. I said it wouldn't happen again and it has. Another entire month in catch-up. Here's August from 1792 to 1918...enjoy!


This day marks the wedding anniversary of maternal grandparents, Percy and Jessie GALE. No ordinary wedding anniversary but the anniversary of their second wedding; the one at which I think they “officially” came out as a married couple. As mentioned earlier (back in 2009) I have not been able to find out for sure why they married in 1916 and then again on this day in 1918, and probably never will.

This second wedding was conducted at St Clement Danes Parish Church in London. Built in 1682 by Sir Christopher Wren, this famous church was completely gutted during the Blitz and evidence of WW2 bombing is still in evidence on the outer walls. It was restored in 1958 at which time it was adapted to serve as the Central Church of the Royal Air Force. St Clement is the patron saint of mariners

St Clement Danes - about the turn of the century http://www.vintagewings.ca/VintageNews/Stories/tabid/116/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/226/language/en-CA/For-God-and-Country--St-Clement-Danes--the-RAF-Chapel.aspx

This date marks the birth of my maternal Great-Great Uncle Donald MACKENZIE. Born in 1856 in Fodderty, Ross & Cromarty, he was the first son and second child of the five children born to Ronald MACKENZIE and Janet INNES.


On this day in 1900 my paternal grandparents married in Stockton-on-Tees. Ivor James MANSELL was a 24 year old Stockton born clerk; the eldest of 7 children of iron worker George MANSELL and Wales-born Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN. My grandmother, 20 year old Margaret SMALL, was one of 12 children of Scottish boiler maker Peter SMALL and Yorkshire born Margaret STEVENSON.

Exactly six months after their wedding, Ivor and Meggie welcomed their first child, a girl Margaret Lillian – my Auntie Madge. They had another 5 girls (Ivy Florence, Charlotte, Millicent, Coralinda and Rhoda) and 3 boys (Mornington, Ivor James and Peter) before their last child, my father, was born in 1919.

The family spent most of their life in the Stockton and Norton-on-Tees area through various levels of fortune. Throughout their marriage Ivor worked as a bookie, or turf commission agent and I believe his first son, Mornington, was named after the famous jockey Mornington Cannon. Ivor also worked for his builder brother in law, John SMITH as a watchman on building sites and at some stage, Ivor and Meggie also ran a small shop, possibly on Thorpe Street in Stockton .

After almost 60 years of marriage, Margaret passed away in October 1956. Ivor died just three years later. They are buried together in Thornaby Cemetery.


William Hamilton MACKENZIE was my maternal Great Uncle and he was born on this date in 1888 in London. William was the middle child of Scottish parents, John Ronald MACKENZIE and Annie Wilson HAMILTON.

William married Ellen YATES in 1929 and they had three children. He died of influenza in 1943.


Three paternal ancestors share this date.

In 1844 my Great-Great Aunt Mary MANSELL was born. Mary was the fifth of nine children to William MANSELL and Elizabeth ARCHER of Ketley in Shropshire. Sadly Mary died at the age of 2 on 9th December 1846.

On this day in 1850 my Great Grandmother Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN was born to Thomas and Eliza LLEWELLYN of Whitchurch near Cardiff.
She was the youngest of their six children and their only daughter. At some time between the 1861 and 1871 census the family moved to Stockton-on-Tees and this is where Eliza was to meet her future husband. Eliza married widower George MANSELL at the Stockton Registry Office on 17th May 1874. They had 7 children before Eliza died at the relatively young age of 49, just 4 years after her husband.

Also on this date was William James MANSELL; my first cousin once removed who was born in 1868. William was the son of my Great-Grandfather George MANSELL and his first wife Elizabeth OGRAM.  When William was only 2 years old his mother died giving birth to a daughter who sadly did not survive. When his father remarried in 1874 (to Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN – see above) William was raised by his grandparents William and Elizabeth MANSELL. He lived with them until his marriage in 1890 to Jane BELL with whom he had 8 children. William died in 1953.


In 1915 my maternal first cousin once removed was born in Blackpool. John Ronald MACKENZIE was the son of my violinist Great Uncle Ronald MACKENZIE and his wife, the opera singer Annie WALKER.  John died in 2002 in London.


On this date we travel all the way back to 1792 to my paternal Great Great Great Aunt Euphemia NIVEN. All I know of Euphemia is that she was the second child born to William NIVEN and Jean EDWARD of Forteviot in Perthshire.


My maternal Great Great Great Great Aunt Ann BROWN was born on this day in 1825. Ann was the seventh child of Mathew BROWN, mason, and Mary KING who lived in Stewarton Ayreshire.

Saturday, 26 July 2014


Well, once again I am playing catch-ups and as it’s nearly the end of July I thought I’d do the whole month in one hit! I really must be better organised for August.

6th JULY
There are two distant ancestors to commemorate on this day; one maternal and one paternal.
In 1817 my G-G-G-Uncle George MANSELL was born to George and Mary (nee LEES) MANSELL. He was the third of their five children. Apart from his baptism in Ketley, Shropshire I have no further details. 
This day is also linked to my maternal line. In 1823 my G-G-G-G-Aunt Jean BROWN was baptised in Stewarton, Scotland; the sixth of eight children born to Matthew and Mary (nee KING) BROWN.

11th JULY
In 1816 Jean’s elder sister Marion was baptised in Stewarton. As another Marion was baptised to this couple in 1821 it is possible that today’s Marion did not survive infancy although I have yet to confirm this.

This day is also the birthday of my paternal Great-Grandfather Peter SMALL.

 Peter was born in 1850 in Dunbarney, Perthshire to David and Margaret (nee NIVEN) SMALL. One of 11 children, Peter had 8 brothers and 2 sisters although it is unlikely that all survived childhood.
By the age of 21, Peter had already left Scotland for England and was lodging in a house on Starkey Street in Stockton-on-Tees and was working as a boilersmith. He would remain in the steel industry all his life.
Just a few years later, Peter married my Great-Grandmother Margaret STEVENSON at the parish church in Richmond, YorkshireTheir witness, Francis Stevenson was Margaret’s elder brother. 

Peter and Margaret spent all their married life in Stockton on Tees, moving around from house to house. They had 10 children, losing only 2 in infancy.   
Peter died in 1918 and his widow survived him by nearly three decades. Margaret died in 1946.

14th JULY
In 1782, my paternal G-G-G-G-Uncle, Richard SKELTON was born. He was the third of eight children born to John and Mary (nee PASCALL) SKELTON of Preston-on-the-Weald-Moors in Shropshire. I never get tired of that place-name!

This is also the birth date of my paternal G-G-Grandmother Margaret NIVEN. Born in Forteviot, Perthshire in 1805 she was the eighth of nine children – 6 boys and 3 girls - to William and Jean (nee EDWARD) NIVEN. 

At the age of 20, Margaret married David SMALL and they had 11 children together.

17th JULY
My paternal Great-Great-Great-Grandfather George MANSELL was born on 17th June 1791 in Wellington, Shropshire. I believe his parents were George and Elizabeth but I have yet to corroborate this information.
George was a labourer who spent all his life in the Ketley/Wellington area of Shropshire. He ventured into Wrockwardine in 1812 when he married Mary LEES on 29th June that year but they soon settled back in New Town Wellington where all their five (known) children were born.
George died on 30th October 1846 and was buried at All Saints Ketley on 4th November. There is actually a monumental inscription on the grave which reads:
                “Sacred to the memory of George Mansell who died 31/10/1846 in the 55 year of his age.           Also James son of the above who died 6/11/1846 age 19”

Also on this day is the anniversary of the marriage of maternal Great-Great-Grandparents William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON and Janet Cochrane SMITH. They married in Kilmalcolm, Renfrewshire in 1855 when William was 23 and Janet was only 18. Their first child, daughter Janet, was born 5 months after the wedding so it’s easy to see why she may have married so young. 

Port Glasgow where the family lived was very poor. Houses were small and crowded, sanitation was very basic and with a baby born almost every two years, times were tough for the family. William was a joiner and later a machinist at the shipyards while Janet worked as a dressmaker to help make ends meet. In total they had 11 children but almost all died in infancy and all of these died from consumption. Their sixth child, Annie Wilson, was my Great-Grandmother and she too succumbed to consumption was she was only 32. The only other children who survived into adulthood were William (born 1873) and Stuart (born 1876), both of whom moved to London as young adults.
William CB died at the age of 53 on 21 June 1885 “after 2 months illness of consumption”. His widow Janet then moved to London to live with son William and his family. She died there in 1902 and was buried at the West Ham Cemetery Newham on 12 September 1902.

19th JULY
Maternal Great-Great-Grandmother Janet (or Jessie) INNES was born on this day in Dingwall in 1833 and was baptised in the Parish Church 11 days later. 

When she was 20 years old, Janet married Ronald MACKENZIE, a farm labourer, in the Parish Church  Contin on 28th March 1854. Ronald and Janet had five children; Margaret (1854), Donald (1856), John Ronald (1859-1945), Mary Ann (1862) and Janet (1867).
After the death of her husband in 1887 Janet when to live with her daughter Margaret where she stayed until her death on 27th August 1895.

20th JULY
Another wedding anniversary today. Caroline BALDOCK was the younger sister of my maternal Great-Great-Grandmother Sarah. She was born in 1835 and married William Barwick on this day in 1851 at the Parish Church Hackney.

22nd JULY
Another maternal Great-Great Aunt was born on this day. Janet MACKENZIE was the youngest sister of my Great-Great Grandfather John Ronald MACKENZIE and she was baptised in Lochbroom, Ross-shire in 1867.
23rd JULY
Andrew SMALL was my paternal Great-Great-Uncle and he was baptised on this day in 1847 in Dunbarney, Perthshire. One of 11 children of David and Margaret (nee NIVEN) SMALL he was the older brother of my Great-Great-Grandfather Peter.

24th JULY
My maternal G-G-G-G-Uncle Mathew BROWN was born in Stewarton, Ayreshire on this day in 1831. One of 8 children he was the youngest brother of my G-G-G-Grandmother Mary and the youngest of eight children of Mathew and Mary (nee KING) BROWN,

Stuart HAMILTON was my maternal Great-Great-Uncle who was born in 1876. He was the youngest of the 11 children to William Cunningham Buntine  and Janet Cochrane HAMILTON.

30th JULY
My paternal Great-Great-Uncle Andrew NIVEN was baptised on this day in 1807.  The youngest of 9 children of William and Jean (nee EDWARD) NIVEN of Forteviot, Perthshire, Andrew was the youngest sibling of my Great-Great-Grandmother Margaret.
Also on this day we celebrate the birth of my paternal Great-Great-Uncle John SMALL. Born in Dunbarney Perthshire in 1839 he was the older brother to my Great-Great-Grandfather Peter SMALL.

31st JULY
The final entry for July celebrates a wedding. On this day in 1825 in Dunning Perthshire, my paternal Great-Great-Grandfather David SMALL married Margaret NIVEN. David was an agricultural labourer who can be found on the 1841 census working on the Kilgraston Estate in Dunbarney and in 1851 the family are living in Brickhill Cottages with their six children 

David and Margaret had 11 children in total; James (1825), David (1827), William (1829), Jane (1831), Euphemia (1834), Andrew (1836), John (1839), Thomas (1841), Andrew (1847), Alexander (1849) and finally Peter in 1850.
David died in 1866 and although Margaret must have passed away prior to this, I have found no record yet of her death.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

27th JUNE


My maternal Great-great Uncle Alexander was born on this day in 1870. Like almost all of his siblings, poor Alexander did not live long. Alexander died of consumption on 21st August 1875.


My paternal Great-great Aunt Martha was also born on this day. Martha was the 8th of nine children of William and Elizabeth (nee ARCHER) MANSELL and she was born in Ketley, Shropshire in 1852. Interestingly, later in life Martha married David LLEWELLYN; the elder brother of Eliza Ann who married my Great-grandfather George MANSELL – Martha’s elder brother.


Paternal Great-great-great-Grandparents George and Mary were married on this day in Wrockwardine in 1812. George was a labourer from Wellington and he and Mary spent all their married life in Ketley. They had 5 children; two girls and three boys. The eldest of these boys was my Great-great-grandfather William.

George is rare among my ancestors because not only was he given a gravestone, but I have a transcript of the monumental inscription:

“Sacred to the memory of George Mansell who died 31/10/1846 in the 55 year of his age. Also James son of the above who died 6/11/1846 age 19”

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


On the 21st June 1823 my maternal G-G-G-G-Grandparents were married at the parish church in Urray, Ross & Cromarty, Scotland. Donald was an agricultural labourer from Urray and was 30 years old when he married Mary; a 21 year old from nearby Fodderty.

Donald and Mary had 6 children; William (1824), Alexander (1826), G-G-G-Grandfather Ronald (1830 – see story 19th May), Janet (1833) and Helen (1840).

I have only been able to find this family on the 1841 census where they are listed as living at “Moy” where Donald is an agricultural labourer. Moy can be found just south-west of Loch Ussie which is west of Dingwall.

Twins Ann and Alexander were born on 20th June 1861 in Glen Bridge near Port Glasgow. Ann was the eldest by 20 minutes and they were the 4th and 5th children of my maternal G-G-Grandparents William Cunningham Bontine and Janet Cochrane (nee SMITH) HAMILTON.

Sadly, Ann died 17 days later and Alexander followed 2 days after his sister. Their cause of death was listed as “weakness of constitution

On this day in 1929, my maternal Great-Uncle William Hamilton MACKENZIE married Ellen YATES at St Alfege Church in Greenwich. He was the brother of my grandmother, Jessie MACKENZIE and was 41 years old when he married.

William and Ellen had 3 children; Alexander (1930), Alan (1932-2008) and Joan May. I have exchanged several emails with Alexander & this is what he tells me about his father William:

                           “The reason I have so few memories of dad was that dad would leave home for work before we got up in a morning and we would be in bed before he arrived home at night. Then at the outbreak of the war in 1939 my mother packed us three children off to stay with her mother in  Pontefract, Yorkshire. My brother Alan and I stayed with my grand parents until April 1943 and in all that time I never saw my father. In May 1943 Dad got a bad cold which developed in to Pneumonia and he died on 11th May 1943. I vaguely remember Granddad John came to the funeral and some weeks later mother took us to his home at Shooters Hill Plumstead, but after that we never heard from them again.”