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.  

Saturday, 29 March 2014


Mary HAMILTON was my maternal G-G-Aunt who was born in 1859 at Glen, Port Glasgow to William Cunningham Bontine and Janet Cochrane (nee SMITH) HAMILTON.

Port Glasgow was a dreary, overcrowded, impoverished place and life there was hard. Of 11 children to William and Janet six died of consumption, including Mary. At 16 she lived longer than many of her siblings but succumbed to phythis pulmonaris after an illness of 15 months. Sadly this was just 3 weeks after her 5 year old brother Alexander had also died of consumption.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

26th MARCH


Today we have a wedding anniversary to celebrate. Maternal Auntie Doris May GALE and Uncle Ernest Edward SOUTHGATE were married on this day in 1951

They were married in Market Rasen and lived all their married life in Lincolnshire. They had no children but played an active role in the lives of their nieces and nephews.


On this day in 1863 my maternal great grandmother was born to William Cunningham Bontine and Janet Cochrane (nee SMITH) HAMILTON.

Annie’s early years were spent around Port Glasgow and Greenock; areas of high poverty, overcrowding and unsanitary conditions. In fact Annie was one of only 4 of her 10 siblings fortunate enough to reach adulthood.

By the age of 18 Annie was working as a drapers assistant and three years later she married John Ronald MACKENZIE in East Greenock. When her first child was born 2 years later, Annie and John were living in Woolwich close to the Arsenal where John worked.

On the 1891 census Annie and John are living at Barking Road Plaistow and have 3 young children; Ronald 4, William Hamilton 2 and my 1 year old grandmother Jessie. Also living with them are Annie’s 2 younger brothers, William 18 and Stuart 15.

This was the last time Annie appeared on any census record. Four years later she succumbed to the tuberculosis she had carried within her from her life in Port Glasgow. Annie was buried in the Plumstead Cemetery on 17th September 1895.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Just a quick addition to the post on the 18th about Annie Maud MANSELL. Since posting her story I have found more details about her son, Harry.

Harry Ettress ABRAHAM enlisted in the Australian Army on 21 August 1943 in Peakhurst NSW. By the time he was discharged on 23 July 1946 he had achieved the rank of Sergeant and served in the 131 Australian General transport Company.  He married Nora O'TOOLE in 1936 and died in Penrith in 1962.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014


Great Aunt Annie Maud MANSELL was the youngest child of my paternal G-Grandparents George and Eliza MANSELL. Born on this day in 1892 she was largely reared by her elder siblings after her fathers death when she was 3 and then her mothers when she was just 7 years old. In fact by the time of her first census record in 1901 she was already without either parent and the head of her household at 13 Thorpe Street was her 23 year old sister Lizzie (Eliza Ann).

By the 1911 census Annie was living with her two older brothers, George and Tom at 28 Wynyard Street in Stockton. It seems they had left the Thorpe Street address which had been the family home since at least the 1871 census but whether this was due to the urban redevelopment that Stockton had undergone at the turn of the century or for purely economic reasons I have not been able to determine.

Two years later Annie married Harry ABRAHAM and later that same year their first child, Harry was born. It was six years before their next child; a girl named Annie Maud but called Nancy, was born. Their next child, Rose, arrived in 1921 but died at the age of 3. In 1923, they had Margaret and in 1925 Jean was born but sadly she died the following year.

By 1927 Annie and Harry lived at 64 Gladstone Street Thornaby. This was the address provided on the emigration papers when Annie and Harry and their three children, Harry Jnr, Nancy and Margaret emigrated to Australia. They travelled on board the P&O ship Beltana and settled in Sydney.

British migrants on the SS Beltana, Fremantle, Western Australia, circa 1925

I wonder if they chose Sydney because Annie had an older sister already living there. Rhoda MANSELL was 44, unmarried and working as a cook when she migrated to Sydney in 1923. She married George ANDERSON in North Sydney the following year and according to my Dad they ran a boarding house “somewhere” on the harbour. I remember Dad telling me also that he had a very early memory of waving off an Aunt who was heading for Australia – I wonder if this was Rhoda or Annie? UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 

When my cousin Eric met up with Annie in Sydney in the early 1970’s she told him she had had a hard life here in Australia. Her husband was “something” to do with the armed forces so was often away leaving her to raise their children alone. It seems it was not a happy marriage and Annie missed her family back in Stockton.

Annie died in 1976 in Sydney. She was 84.

Thursday, 13 March 2014


Today marks the birth of my paternal first cousin once removed who was born on this day in Stockton on Tees in 1912. George was the fourth child and only son of Great Aunt Eliza Ann MANSELL and James CANAVAN. Sadly, poor little George died when he was only 5 years old.

Monday, 3 March 2014


Great-great uncle David Llewellyn was born on the 2nd March in 1848 in Whitchurch Glamorganvale Wales. He was the son of Thomas & Eliza LLEWELLYN and had 4 brothers and one sister.

By 1871 David has relocated to Stockton-on-Tees where he continues his work as a roller in an iron mill. In 1874 he marries Martha MANSELL; just two years before his sister Eliza marries Martha’s brother, George. He and Martha have at least 3 children; two girls and a boy.

David continues his work at the steel mill until his death in 1890 at the young age of 42.

The Iron Rolling Mill as painted by Adolph Menzel, 1872-1875.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Well here I am playing catch-up again. Here's a few stories to wrap up February


Grandma Jessie MACKENZIE was born on 21 February 1890 in Plaistow, the first daughter and third child of John MACKENZIE and Annie HAMILTON. Sadly, when Jessie was only 5 years old her mother died and then when Jessie was 11 her father remarried. Soon, Jessie had two new much younger half-sisters; Mabel and Irene. 

By the time the 1911 census was taken 21 year old Jessie was still living at home and was working as a shop assistant to a baker. At some time after this however, Jessie makes a career change and takes up nursing. So far I have not been able to find a record of her nursing training as until 1919 there was no centralised registration of nurses, rather individual training hospitals retained their own records. It is also possible that Jessie did not take up nursing until after the outbreak of war in 1914. Certainly both her older brothers, William and Ronald, had enlisted so perhaps Jessie felt she was doing her bit for the war effort. The large majority of nurses who took up nursing during WW1 did their training under the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service and the Territorial Force Nursing Service but I have failed to find Jessie’s details in this record collection as well so perhaps she had already commenced or completed her training before war broke out. We do know that Jessie was nursing by at least 1916 as this is when she married grandad Percy GALE and they had apparently met when she nursed him when he was sent back to London after being gassed.

The only clue I have are the two photos of grandma in her nursing uniform. I have sent copies to the Nursing Museum hoping this may provide some clues.

 Intriguingly, grandma and grandad married again in 1918 and there are two possible theories. I had always been told by Mum that Jessie’s father did not approve of Percy as a husband for Jessie so they married in secret. This is plausible as her father was not a witness to the first marriage but was when the wed in 1918. Cousin Jo told me that her Mum believed that they married in secret the first time because Jessie would have had to give up nursing once she was married and she did not want to do that while the war was still raging. Whatever the truth is we may never know but both these reasons appear to my sense of romance!

After a relatively mobile life and a long marriage, Jessie died in 1971 at the age of 81 leaving behind 4 daughters and 9 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. She is buried at the Brant Road Cemetery in Lincoln.

Happy birthday Grandma Jessie!


Today is the anniversary of the births of twin sisters, Jane and Eliza GALE born on this day in 1867. They were my maternal great-great-aunts as they were the children of my g-g-Grandparents William and Sarah GALE, of whom I have written earlier.

Sadly these little girls did not survive long. Janes’s death is recorded in the June quarter of the same year while Eliza lived a little longer, dying during the September quarter.

 London Metropolitan Archives, Islington St Mary, Register of Baptism, p83/mry1, Item 1185


On this day in 1913, my first cousin, once removed was born. Irene was the daughter of the sister of my grandfather Ivor MANSELL. The eldest of three girls born to Lillie MANSELL and John Albert SMITH, Irene went on to marry Arthur HUNTER in Stockton on Tees and have at least one child.