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.