Friday, 14 February 2014


Oh dear, I did say that I would keep up to date, but I have just received confirmation of this birthdate so thought I’d slip it in here rather than wait for next years anniversaries!

Great Uncle Ronald MACKENZIE was born on this day in 1887 to John Ronald MACKENZIE and Annie HAMILTON. He was their eldest child and the brother of Grandma Jessie MACKENZIE.

Most of the information I have about Ronald comes from his Army enlistment papers dated 7th December 1915. At the time he was described as 5ft 8 3/4 in, a Protestant with a 36 1/2 in chest. He has a wife, Annie, whom he married “by Scottish Law”; interesting as neither were born in Scotland. I suspect this was simply a polite form of de facto, or common law as I have not been able to find any official proof of marriage in either England or Scotland. Strangely Ronald declares on his enlistment that he was born in Aberdeen; perhaps to legitimize his marriage story. According to his birth certificate he was born at 54 Chauntler Road Plaistow and as far as I can gather, he had always lived in London - he was certainly there on the 1901 census as a 14 year old.

Ronald was a violinist and I believe his wife was Annie WALKER, a music hall singer although I am still waiting to confirm this, hopefully when the 1921 census is released in 2019! 

There is a family story about Ronald that he was something of a musical prodigy who later became a violinist with the Carl Rosa Opera Company. Sadly, this is not the case. There WAS an esteemed Ronald MACKENZIE associated with the Carl Rosa, but he was an older man and a composer, not a violinist. I have written to the Carl Rosa archivist to see if he actually was a member of the Company but they have no record of great uncle although they did say that their records are not complete.

The story that has been handed down also is that Ronald was killed in a motorcycle accident around the time of the second world war but so far I have not been able to find a record of his death anywhere.

I have a lovely telling of the family story in a letter from Auntie Pat from 2 June 1998:

"Uncle Ron was something of a musical child prodigy I think. Mum told me of a time Grandpa took Ron to some classical concert when he was only about 6 or 7 as he was so keen on music and played the violin even then. Apparently during the performance Uncle Ron whispered to Grandpa that someone had played some wrong notes. Grandpa hushed him up but to his amazement at the end of the piece the conductor apologised for the error that had been made!! I understand that Uncle Ron became leading violinist with the Carl Rosa Opera Company - one of the world's finest, so he must have been pretty good. I think he was killed at a fairly young age in a motor cycle accident."

Happy Birthday Great Uncle Ron!

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