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

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.”


My maternal Great-Great-Great-Grandparents, William BALDOCK and Charlotte PATTMAN were married on 17th June 1822 in the Parish Church in Frindsbury Kent.

William and Charlotte had 9 children over the course of 20 years. William (1825), Mary (1828), Charlotte (1830) G-G-Grandma Sarah Ann (1832), Caroline (1835), Edward (1837) and John (1839) were all born in Kent. The final two children, Eliza Ann (1842) and James (1845) were born in Islington.

It is interesting that on each of the census returns for 1841 to 1861, William lists his occupation as labourer. Each of his childrens birth certificates also cite this as his occupation. However, as each child married they claim that their father was a brewer. Quite possibly William worked as a labourer for a brewer; we may never know.

I have been sent a photograph by an ancestor of Edward (born 1837) and I was told it is of William and Charlotte. As William died in 1870 it must have been taken close to the end of his life. The photo shows William and Charlotte with their daughter Eliza Ann (born 1842)

Sunday, 8 June 2014


On the 8th June 1798 my maternal G-G-G-G-Grandparents John WILSON, a weaver, and Mary SIMPSON were married in Kilmalcolm, Renfrewshire Scotland. I am descended from their daughter Ann, born in 1800. 

Saturday, 7 June 2014


A very brief entry today. Great-Great Uncle William GALE was born on this day in 1855. The second of 11 children of William and Sarah (nee BALDOCK) GALE he was born in Holloway and baptized 10 years later at St Mary Islington.  I have found him on the 1861 and 1871 censuses living with his parents and siblings but from then the trail is still to be investigated. 

Wednesday, 4 June 2014


Today is the birthday of my maternal Great-Great-Uncle from Kilmalcolm in Renfrewshire Scotland. He was born in 1823 to Alexander and Ann (nee WILSON) HAMILTON and was the elder brother of my G-G-Grandfather William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON.

Robert was a shoemaker who was married on 21 June 1851 to Margaret LYNCH in Largs Ayreshire. I do not know if this couple had any children together but Robert was left a widower when Margaret died in 1867. The following year he married Agnes SMITH in Port Glasgow and they had a daughter, Agnes Paul.

Robert died in 1898 of bulbar paralysis; a progressive motor neuron disorder. He was 75 years old. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

1st JUNE


My maternal grandfather, Percy Edwin GALE was born on 1st June 1886 in Aldershot. He was the eldest child of Edwin and Louisa (nee KENNETT) GALE and like his father, he was a military man.

Percy enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers in Newcastle on 11th July 1905 when he was just 19 year old. His enlistment papers show that he was 5ft 9 ¾ and weighed 138lbs, and he had brown hair and brown eyes.

From February 1906 to November 1913 he was stationed in India; probably in Sabathu where the 2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers had been stationed prior to the outbreak of WW1.

At the outbreak of war, Percy was with the 1st Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers which were based in Portsmouth. On 14th August 1914 the 1st Battalion landed in Le Havre and remained in France and Flanders for the duration of the war as part of the 9th Brigade, 3rd Division ending the war on 11 November 1918 at La Longueville.

 December 1915 saw Percy shipped back to Blighty where he remained until November 1916. I believe that this was the period he was hospitalised as a result of a gas attack. It was at the end of this period that he married Grandma Jessie MACKENZIE who was a nurse at the time. Family legend tells that Grandad was temporarily blinded as a result of the gas and he fell in love with Nurse Mackenzie’s voice as she tended to his wounds. When he regained his sight he saw how beautiful she was and asked her to be his wife. They married on 9th September 1916 – for the first time.

From 15th November 1916 Percy served with the 2nd Battalion Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry who were already serving in France as part of the 97th Brigade, 32nd Division. I don’t know for sure why he was transferred to this unit although it is probable that it was for reinforcement purposes. November 1916 was the end of the Battle of the Somme during which many Battalions suffered heavy casualties and soldiers were transferred to fill the many gaps until reinforcements could arrive.

By the 14th June 1917, Percy was back with the Northumberland Fusiliers. During WW1 the Northumberland Fusiliers raised a total of 51 battalions and as a result of this amazing contribution the regiment was granted the title Royal, becoming the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers.

Percy must have been sent back to England again late in the war as he and Jessie married again on 3rd August 1918! Once again I rely on family legend for the reason for their second ceremony; of which there are two theories. One was that Jessie did not want to give up nursing while there was a war on and as a married woman she would not have been permitted to keep working. The second story is far more romantic. Jessie’s father, John MACKENZIE, did not approve of Percy as a suitable husband and so refused to give permission for them to marry in 1916, prompting Percy and Jessie to marry in secret. Only when John relented did they marry with his blessing in 1918. This story may have some credence to it as John is not a witness to their first marriage at Trinity Church St Marylebone but he is a signatory at their wedding in St Clement Danes Church in 1918.

Percy was discharged from the army in August 1928 but re-enlisted in the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Special Reserve Territorial Army as a Trooper in April 1934. He attended Annual training camps over the next few years and was ready for active duty again at the outbreak of WW2.

From January 1940 to May 1941 Percy served in Palestine as part of the 52nd Training Regiment of the Royal Armoured Corps.

Grandad was finally discharged from the Army in October 1943 due to ill health. He was awarded the India General Service Medal 1908, the 1914 Star, British War Medal 1914-1918, Victory Medal 1914-1918 as well as Long Service and Good Conduct medals.

Grandad was a proud member of the Old Contemptibles. This name was coined by the members of the original British Expeditionary Force which crossed to France in August 1914 under the command of Sir John French. As large parts of the British Army were stationed in all corners of the Empire at the outbreak of war, this BEF was a relatively small fighting force; especially compared to the German Army. Apparently the Kaiser was particularly scathing in his assessment of the British Army calling it “General French’s contemptible little army” and so the name was adopted with pride.

The “Old Contemptibles” covered themselves in glory during the early days of the war when they took part in the Battle of Mons, the Retreat from Mons and the First Battle of Ypres. They were entitled to the 1914 Star; a medal reserved for those who fought in the first months of war.

After he retired Percy and Jessie managed a number of hotels, the George in Market Rasen and the Welland Inn in Spalding.  Percy died on 3rd April 1955.


This date is also the anniversary of the marriage of my paternal G-G-G-G-grandparents, John SKELTON and Mary PASCALL. They were married in Shifnal in Shropshire and spent all their married life in the area. Their first three children, Mary, John and Richard were baptized in Preston-on-the-Weald-Moors and their final 5 children, Catherine (my G-G-G-Grandmother), Elizabeth, Fanny, William and Mary Ann were baptized in Wellington Shropshire. 

Friday, 30 May 2014


This date is one that always makes me think of Mum. As it approached each year she would recite the names of family in England for whom she had to remember to buy birthday cards. It would usually go something like this: “Pat, of course; then there’s Peggy’s Margaret and Percy’s Glynnis and Margaret’s Stuart but I don’t bother sending a card to him”. What Mum didn’t know is that the 28th May is also the anniversary of her G-G-Grandparents marriage.

Richard KENNETT and Louisa FOREMAN

            G-G-G-Grandparents Richard and Louisa were married in Lyminge, Kent on 28th May 1825. I know very little about this couple and am only certain about two children born to them. A son, Richard, was baptised in Lyminge in 1826 and my G-G-Grandfather William who was baptised in 1827.
It is interesting that on their marriage the registers show that both Richard and Louisa were able to sign their own names. The same cannot be said of their son, G-G-Grandfather William who “made his mark” when he married Ann ELLENDER in 1853.

Sunday, 25 May 2014


A sad and brief story today. The 25th May 1865 was the birth day of my maternal Great-Great-Aunt Isabella. She was the 7th child and 6th daughter of William Cunningham Bontine and Janet (nee SMITH) HAMILTON and the older sister of my Great-Grandmother Annie Wilson HAMILTON.

Like six of her siblings, poor Isabella did not survive childhood. She died at just 8 months on 2nd February 1866. Her death certificate provides the heartbreaking information that she had suffered scarlet fever for 16 days, the final 10 days enduring convulsions. 

Monday, 19 May 2014


Happy 184th birthday today to my maternal Great-Great-Grandfather, Ronald MACKENZIE. Born on the 19th May 1830, Ronald was baptized at the parish Church in Urray on the 28th May 1830.

The middle child of 5 children of agricultural labourer Donald MACKENZIE & his wife Mary (nee MCLENNAN), Ronald rose from humble beginnings to become a man of some substance.

My post back on the 28th March covered the married life of Ronald and Janet (nee INNES). In this story I tracked his progress through the census returns from his beginnings as a farm labourer on the Coul of Fairburn Estate to his situation at the age of 50 where he was Manager of the Railway Hotel in Dingwall.

When Ronald passed away in October 1887 he was only 57 years old. It’s quite ironic that as a publican he died of liver and heart failure. The final official document I have for Ronald is his will in which he leaves quite specific bequests to his widow and children.

Sunday, 18 May 2014


Back on the 28th April I wrote about the birth of an ancestor who had always interested me. Today is the anniversary of his second marriage to my G-Grandmother Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN.

George and Eliza married on 17th May 1874 at the Stockton Registry Office. It was the second marriage for George whose first wife, Elizabeth OGRAM had died four years previously. The only surviving child of this marriage, William James, was being raised by his grandparents William and Elizabeth MANSELL.

A family story passed down to a second cousin in Stockton, Pam LEWIS, was that Eliza had fallen in love with George who was the foreman at the iron works where her father was employed. She apparently married him against her parents wishes and she and George had run away together to get married. I find this story unlikely. For a start, they would hardly have eloped to the nearest registry office. Secondly, Eliza’s older brother David had married George’s younger sister Martha only two years earlier so the families already knew each other.

The first of George and Eliza’s 7 children was born the year after they married; my grandfather Ivor James in October 1875. It was three years before their next child arrived; a daughter Eliza Ann; and then another daughter, Rhoda Louise, was born in 1879. This fledgeling family was enumerated in 1881 living on Thorpe Street where they would remain all their married life.

Ten years later and their family was almost complete with the arrival of three more children. George was still working at the mill and young Ivor had already entered the workforce. At this time, children from the age of 5 through to 13 received an elementary education and we see on this 1891 census that Eliza Ann had completed her school years but was not yet employed. Rhoda, George, Tom and Lillie (Lily) however, are still listed as scholars.

This was the last time the family was all documented in the same place. George and Eliza’s final child, Annie Maud was born the year after census and George died in 1895. He was buried at the Oxbridge Lane Cemetery in Stockton on 16th December 1895.

Monday, 12 May 2014


Just a brief biography today to commemorate the birth of my maternal Great-Great Uncle, William. The tenth of eleven children to William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON and Janet Cochrane SMITH, William was the younger brother of Great grandma Annie Wilson HAMILTON.

At some time between 1881 and 1891 William and younger brother Stuart moved from Glasgow to Plumstead to live with Annie and her husband John MACKENZIE. It is quite possible that the move was prompted by the promise of employment as William worked at the Woolwich Arsenal with his brother-in-law for many years.

In 1901 William married Agnes Catherine MYERS and they had four children; John Greig born 1903, Ronald Stuart born 1904, Edith Greig born 1906 and Dorothy May born 1909. 

William died in Plumstead on May 2nd, 1954. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014


My paternal Great-Great Aunt Margaret was baptised on this day in 1824 in Great Smeaton in Yorkshire. Margaret was the youngest child of my G-G Grandparents, tailor George and Jane (nee BLENKINSOP) STEVENSON and the sister of my Great grandfather Henry.

At some stage Margaret married William ROUSON as she was enumerated as his wife on the 1891 Stockton on Tees census at 2 Nolan Place. I have not been able to find any record of her marriage or indeed anything of her between the 1841 census when she was enumerated as a 15 year old (ages were rounded up or down to the nearest 5) and 1891 when she was 67. Also living with Margaret and her husband is Margaret’s 93 year old mother Jane.

I have not found any record of Margaret’s death. 

Friday, 2 May 2014

1st MAY


On the 1st May 1800 my maternal G-G-G-G-Grandmother was born in Kilmalcolm, Scotland. Ann Wilson was the daughter of John WILSON and Mary (nee SIMPSON) and in 1820 she married Alexander HAMILTON by Banns in Kilmalcolm.

Ann had four children with Alexander; the youngest of these was William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON, my G-G-G-Grandfather. Alexander was a weaver by trade and on the 1861 census Ann declared herself to be a “silk tambourer” which essentially meant that she embroidered with silk on a tambour, or circular frame.

Ann died of typhus at the age of 64 on the 9th February 1865.


Another celebration on this date is the birth of my paternal G-G-G-G-Aunt in Wellington Shropshire in 1791. Fanny was one of eight children of John SKELTON and Mary (nee PASCALL) and the younger sister of my G-G-G-Grandmother Catherine. 

Thursday, 1 May 2014


A few days ago I looked at the life of Great-Grandad George MANSELL. Today it is the turn of his father, William. The eldest son of George and Mary (possibly nee LEES or EVANS – I have two contenders here), Great-Great-Grandfather William was baptized on this day in Wellington, Shropshire in 1815.

I should clarify here that before civil registration was introduced in the UK in 1837, records were kept by the Church. The purpose of these registers was to record the date of baptism of a child, not its birth date. Sometimes you will find that the date of birth has also been mentioned, but this was purely arbitrary. This can be confusing when several children in the family were baptized together; unless the parish clerk has been thoughtful enough to also include dates of birth it can be difficult to work out the birth order in the family.

When he was 21 William married Elizabeth ARCHER on 16 October 1836 in Eyton Upon the Weald Moors and they had 9 children together. Census returns for 1841-1891 give a quite clear picture of what was happening during the course of Williams life.

For the first two decades of their married life William and Elizabeth lived in Ketley and raised their 9 children on the income William earned labouring in the coal and iron works nearby. As soon as their sons were old enough, at the age of 12, they too began labouring at the iron works.

At some stage between 1861 and 1868 the Mansell family moved across country to Stockton on Tees as the iron industry there exploded in the second wave of the industrial revolution.

For the next 20 years, William continued labouring to support himself and his family. After the death of their daughter-in-law in 1870 and their son George’s subsequent remarriage in 1874 to G-Grandma Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN, William and Elizabeth raised their grandson William James.

William died at the age of 79 and was buried in the Oxbridge Cemetery in Stockton on 18th December 1894. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

28th APRIL
I have found that some ancestors seem to have more of a fascination for me than others and I don’t always know why. They do not always have the most interesting stories to tell, nor are they necessarily the ones with full and varied paper trails to follow. They are my flights of fancy; the ones I really want to have a picture of or find an as yet undiscovered diary. They can be as near in time as two generations or as far back as a 5th or 6th. There is no rhyme or reason to this but I accept that it is so, find out what I can with the resources available to me and assume that one day a time machine will be invented and I can go back and meet them. That is my dream

Today is one such ancestor, my paternal Great Grandfather.


George was born on the 28th April 1839 in Ketley, a small village just outside of Wellington in Shropshire. He was one of nine children of William and Elizabeth (nee ARCHER) MANSELL and he went on to have eight children with two wives.

George was from a family strongly tied to the iron and steel industry in Shropshire. It is probable they were all employed by the Ketley Company which had been in operation since 1818 (although a mill had operated on this site since 1757). On the 1851 census return 12 year old George was already working at the mill. As a “forge labourer” he could have done anything from tending the furnace to helping the forge master change the presses.

Ten years later and George is still in Ketley but is not at home with his parents. He is boarding at the home of Edward PRICE, the watchman at the ironworks.

Some time between 1861 and 1871, all the Mansells shift from Shropshire to Stockton-on-Tees. It is not difficult to imagine why this move would have been contemplated by the family. Iron production in Shropshire was past its heyday. In fact, the Ketley Company which employed the Mansell males closed in 1876 and even by 1861 the writing must have been on the wall. The lure of better and more reliable wages would have been very tempting.

As the industry ground down in Shropshire, it took off in the North-East. The area was rich in the resources required for iron production (ie coal nearby) and there was a burgeoning railway industry which demanded an increasing supply of steel. As well the demand for steel from the shipping sector helped lead the second phase of the industrial revolution in NE England.

After he arrived in Stockton, George married Elizabeth OGRAM. I have not found a record so far of this marriage but in 1868 their son William James was born. When their daughter Martha was born 2 years later she unfortunately died shortly after birth, as did Elizabeth. George was left a young widow with an infant son.

Four years later and George married again; to Eliza Ann LLEWELLYN. The new bride did not take on George’s son though, as William James was raised by his Mansell grandparents.

When the 1881 census was taken George and Eliza were living in Thorpe Street in Stockton with their three young children, Ivor, Eliza Ann and Rhoda and George was still working in one of the steel mills in Stockton.

The 1891 is the last census on which George is found. As a 52 year old mill furnace man he has put in 40 years in the steel industry doing hot and heavy work. His children are not likely to follow in his footsteps though, education is more freely available opening up far more opportunities for them.

George died in December 1895 and was buried in the Oxbridge Lane Cemetery in Stockton on 16th December 1895.

Sunday, 27 April 2014


Today marks the birth of my maternal Great-Great-Aunt, Hilda. She was the youngest of 11 children of William & Sarah GALE (you can find their story back on Sunday, 25 August 2013). Hilda was baptized at St Mary’s Islington on 11th September 1878 and married Arthur Ernest HALLETT at this church on 23 December 1902. Hilda died in Hendon in June 1949.


My maternal Great-Great Aunt Helen MACKENZIE was born on this day in 1840. She was baptized in the parish of Urray, Ross & Cromarty Scotland on the 22 May and she was the youngest sibling of my Great-Great Grandfather Ronald MACKENZIE. 

Friday, 25 April 2014


Well today commemorates the marriage of my paternal 4XGreat-Grandparents, John Archer and Catherine SKELTON who married on this day in 1808 in Wellington, Shropshire. I would like to say I have more information but all I have gathered so far are possibilities.

This couple possibly had up to 7 children one of which was my G-G-G-Grandmother Elizabeth ARCHER born in 1815. Other possibles are James (1811-1882), Mary (1811), Emma (1817) John (1819-1899), William (1821-1822) and William (1824). 

Thursday, 24 April 2014


My paternal Great-Great-Great-Uncle was baptized on this day in 1803 in the Church of Scotland in Forteviot, Perthshire. He was the seventh of 9 children born to William and Jean (nee EDWARD) and the place of residence of his parents is shown as Braefoot, a farm just south of Forteviot.   I have no further information on Thomas.

Monday, 21 April 2014

A bit of a catch-up story today


On this day one hundred and ninety-four years ago my great-great-grandparents George and Jane were married at the church of St Eloy in Great Smeaton, Yorkshire. George was the son of Ann Stevenson and a so far unidentified father and was born about 1798; probably in Great Smeaton. Census records tell me that Jane was born in Birtley, County Durham in about 1799.

George and Jane can be found on the 1841 census in Appleton upon Wiske with three of their children; 20 year old Henry (my great-grandfather), 18 year old George and 17 year old Margaret. George is the only tailor in a village full of agricultural labourers and linen weavers. Like many parts of Yorkshire in the 19th century, Appleton upon Wiske was involved heavily in the production of linen, from the growing of flax to the manufacture of the cloth & clothing. At the peak of the industry in 1850, there were up to 200 looms operating in Appleton.

By the 1851 census George and family have moved 3.5 kms to the village of Hornby where George is now a “tailor employing one man”. All three Stevenson children have left home but George’s widowed mother Ann has joined the household. Also in the house on census night was Jane’s married sister Susan Addison and George and Jane’s grandson, George.

Ten years later and the census once again finds the Stevensons in Hornby Village. George now employs 2 men and grandson George is an apprentice tailor. George’s mother Ann had died some time between the censuses and another grandson, 11 year old Frank, has joined the household.

When George died in 1865 he was buried in the churchyard at St Eloy in Great Smeaton on 8th June 1865. He left a modest will.

Jane lived on for at least another 25 years as she is on the 1871 census living alone in Hornby and working as a laundress. By 1881 she is 82 years old and described herself as a tailors widow and is visiting the home of George Pamley in Hornby. Surprisingly she is still alive in 1891 where she has moved to Stockton on Tees and is living with her daughter Margaret and her husband William Rouson. So far I have not found an entry for the death of Jane.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014


Today marks the anniversary of the birth of my paternal Great-great-great-Aunt Elizabeth SKELTON. One of 8 children she was born on this day in 1788 in Wellington, Shropshire to John SKELTON and Mary PASCALL. Her older sister Catherine was my G-G-G-Mother.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Today celebrates the birth of my maternal Great-great-Uncle Alex. Born in 1826 Alexander was the elder brother of my Great-great-grandfather William Cunningham Bontine HAMILTON.

In 1846 Alexander married Isabella SUMMERS and they made their home in Kilmalcolm not far from both sets of parents. Through census records from 1851 to 1881 it can be seen that Alexander was a stone mason and became a father to 5 children; Alexander, James, Barbara, Mary Ann and another Alexander.

Monday, 7 April 2014



Paternal Auntie Charlotte was born on the 7th April 1906. One of six girls and 4 boys she was the fourth child of Ivor James and Margaret (nee SMALL) MANSELL.

Charlotte married Robert FRYERS in 1935. They moved to London soon after and settled in Chelsea where their three children, Eldon, Eric and Lenore were born. After only 16 years of marriage Uncle Bob died.

At the grand age of 70, Auntie Charlotte decided to migrate to Australia to be close to her son Eric and his family who had emigrated in 1966. Charlotte lived in Gilgandra NSW and died in 2004.


My maternal great-great-Uncle William was born in Urray, Ross & Cromarty Scotland on this day in 1824. He was the eldest child of Donald MACKENZIE, an agricultural labourer and Mary nee MCLENNAN.

Sunday, 6 April 2014


On Monday 6th April 1874, my paternal Great Grandparents Peter SMALL and Margaret STEVENSON were married at the Parish Church in Richmond Yorkshire. Peter was the youngest of 11 children of David and Margaret SMALL and was born in Dunbarney in Perthshire, Scotland. Margaret was the third child of Henry and Ann STEVENSON of Hornby, North Yorkshire.

By the 1881 census Peter and Margaret were living in Thorpe Street in Stockton-on-Tees and Peter was working as a boilersmith to support his growing family. So far the couple had 5 year old Sophia, 3 year old John Henry, 2 year old Elizabeth and Euphemia who was just 9 months old.

Ten years later and the family had moved to Oxford Street in Stockton and Peter was now employed as a marine boiler plater. Sophia had taken up a dressmakers apprenticeship and as well as Elizabeth and Euphemia, the family also had my future grandmother Margaret, Jane, Alexander, Isabella, Charlotte and Emma. Poor John Henry – at 16 he is to be found on the 1891 census at the North East Reformatory for Boys near Newcastle. I think I need to investigate him further!

Between the 1891 and 1901 census, the SMALL family celebrated several weddings. Eldest child Sophia married Charles CRAGGS in 1893, Euphemia married Alfred DOWSE in 1898, and in 1900 Elizabeth married Charles GIBBONS and grandma Margaret married Ivor MANSELL. John Henry spent this decade both at the Reformatory and then the Army from 1897; seeing service in east India in 1897/99.

The 1901 census shows that the family were still at 10 Oxford Street. Peter was still working as a boilersmith/plater and there were 6 young children at home.

By the time the next census was taken in 1911 Jane was no longer at home as she had married William ARMSTRONG in 1904. Only 17 year old Peter and 14 year old Alice were still at home. Alexander was working in Sheffield, Charlotte was living with her Uncle Alexander and Aunt Sophie SMALL in Leeds and Emma was a domestic servant at the home of her married sister Margaret – my grandmother. In an email from a second cousin, David Small in Stockton, I get the information that Alice may have been “retarded” and stayed with her parents for life. Sadly, although the 1911 census has an Infirmity column this information is not publically available so I cannot verify if indeed Alice was not able to be independent.

After 44 years of marriage, Peter SMALL passed away at the age of 68 in 1918. Margaret lived for another 28 years as a widow. She passed away in 1946 at the age of 89.

Monday, 31 March 2014


Paternal Auntie Linda was born on this day in 1911. She was the seventh child of Ivor James and Margaret (nee SMALL)MANSELL and my Dads older sister.

Although Linda was only a couple of days old when the 1911 census was taken she was not included on the household schedule. In the column headed “Particulars as to Marriage” you can quite clearly see that Ivor has stated that 6 children have been born so far to the couple. I’m not sure why he left out Linda; perhaps he filled the form in ahead of time.

When she was 26 years old, Auntie Linda married John HUMPLEBY in Norton and they had two daughters, Judith and Margaret.

Auntie Linda died in 1988. She was 77 years old.

Happy birthday Auntie Linda.

Auntie Linda and Uncle John. Photo dated June 1967.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Well, another catch-up today:

G-G-Grandparents married on this day in Contin, Ross & Cromarty Scotland in 1854. Ronald was the son of agricultural labourer Donald MACKENZIE and his wife Mary MCLENNAN and was 24 years old when he married Jessie, about whom I know very little.
 At the time of their marriage, Ronald was a farm servant at the Coul of Fairburn, one of the farms on the huge Fairburn Estate in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. He had worked there since at least 1851 when he was enumerated along with 4 other farm servants under the stewardship of Thomas CAMERON.
Map of the Fairburn Estate
Almost exactly 9 months to the day their first child, Margaret, was born.
It is clear that Ronald was ambitious and learnt his trade well as on the 1861 Census he was a farm manager at Kinnattes not far from Fairburn. He and Jessie now also had two sons – Donald age 4 and my great grandfather John who was then just a bit over a year old. I am not yet sure where Margaret was on the night of the census but she was not at home with her parents.
By the 1871 census the family had made quite a move away from home and were found about 45 miles north west in Lochbroom. Here Ronald is now the Farm Grieve at Little Strath on the Dundonnell estate, owned since 1835 byMurdo Munro-Mackenzie of Ardross. Ronald and Jessie had lived here for at least 3 years as this is the birthplace given for their youngest child Jessie.  
The 1881 shows that once again the family have moved. This time it is back to Jessie’s birthplace of Dingwall and Ronald has had a change of career. From farm labourer, to farm manager, Ronald is now the Hotel Keeper of the Railway Hotel at 1 Waterloo Place.

This picture from Google Earth shows where Waterloo Place was. The following description is from a local Dingwall resident who kindly researched the likely location of the Railway Hotel for me.

"I checked in person this afternoon, and Waterloo Place is a 5 foot wide alley between the Job Centre and the Newsagents on the High Street in Dingwall. The only address in it is No 5, a flat (apartment) in the building occupied by the newsagents. Neither building gives the impression of having been a hotel, though on the 1904/1906 1:2500 Ordnance Survey map the building located where the Job Centre is now is marked P.H., which very probably means Public House. In other words this was probably a pub with a few lodging rooms, rather than a real "Railway Hotel" in the sense of a hotel run by the Railway. I am not clear from a cursory inspection to what extent the Job Centre building has been rebuilt. The Newsagents' building is pretty old. Both go quite a long way back from the High Street. On the 1904/1906 map Waterloo Place appears pretty much the same as now, except that because of a small building at the rear it had then no outlet at the end away from the High Street, whereas in the present day up until recently (when the Job Centre put a gate up), one could walk or cycle through to Mansefield Road behind." 

Helping in the Hotel are the three MACKENZIE girls, 24 year old Maggie (Margaret), 17 year old Mary Ann (Margaret the younger) and 13 year old Jessie. The following year Maggie marries local excise officer Joseph DAVIES and settles down in the village with him to raise their family. When Ronald died of chronic heart and liver disease in October 1887 he left an estate worth over £155 and the Hotel was left in the hands of his widow Jessie. 
Ronald left very clear instructions in his will. Jessie is to carry on the running of the hotel under the supervision of the trustees. Sons Donald and John do not receive an inheritance; “considering that my two sons are well established in business, and do not require any immediate assistance”. Similarly daughter Margaret receives nothing as she received her portion at the time of her marriage. Of daughters Mary Ann and Jessie, Ronald has quite specific instructions. If they marry before the death of his widow, they shall receive £50 out of the capital funds on their marriage. However, if they choose to claim wages while working in the hotel then these wages are to be paid out of their £50 portion and the amount of the deduction they take shall be divided equally among his other children “share and share alike”. Ronald explains this generous bequest:
“And I declare that I make these provisions to my said daughters Mary Ann and Jessie in respect that they have rendered constant and valuable services to me for many years in connection with my business as Hotel Keeper without any remuneration”
I have not yet been able to find out what happened to the Hotel after Jessie took over its running. I do know that by the 1891 census she was living with her son-in-law Joseph DAVIES. Also in the household was Mary Ann and Jessie as well as the young son of Margaret & Joseph. Although I’ve not confirmed this as yet, I believe that Joseph was widowed and his mother and sisters in law moved in with him after the Hotel was sold.

In August 1895, Jessie MACKENZIE died of a heart attack. A witness on the death certificate was son John MACKENZIE who had travelled all the way from London to be at his mother’s funeral. Tragically he must have left a very ill wife behind as three weeks after his mother’s funeral, he buried his wife, Annie.