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.

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