Family visiting and nostalgia trip

Yesterday we had to take our son Simon to work in Johannesburg, and as Val had a couple of days’ leave we decided to visit her cousin Margaret, who, we had recently discovered, lived much closer than we had thought. After catching up on family news we drove through Krugersdorp to Magaliesberg, where I went to school from age 9 to age 11.

I went to the Mountain Lodge Prep School, which was one of those private, for profit proprietary schools, and illustrated both the best and worst features of capitalism in education. The best was that we had small classes, and some interesting and exxentric teachers who might not fit in with all the rules and regulations of official government schools. The worst was that the school went bankrupt, and closed at the end of 1952, throwing the teacvhers out of work and the pupils out of school, amid rumours that the bursar/proprietor, Mr Burnford, had absconded with the funds. The school buildings are now used as a Salvation Army hostel, but there I a high wall, so it was hard to see whether there had been many changes in the buildings.

Some things had not changed much, though. The approach road was much the same.

The road to Mountain Lodge School, 58 years later

The trees may have been chopped down and grown again several times, and the three-phase electricity may not have been there, and there was probably a farm-line telephone wire there in its place, certainly the school was on a farm line, and the phone was a big wooden box fixed to the wall with two bells in front.

And the view was much the same as well.

Westen Magaliesberg

That was the view I saw most days for three years. The hill with the pimple on top is the western end of the Magaliesberg, and acording to my atlas is 1588 metres above sea level. And we used to ask each other what we would do if a hundred or a thousand or some number of fierce armed North Koreans appeared over the edge of it rushing towards us. The North Koreans were the foe du jour (that, like the hills and the trees, hasn’t changed much). as we learned from publications like Popular Mechanics, which showed by means of diagrams how the American air force dropped napalm bombs at each end of railway tunnels while a train was in the tunnel, thus suffocating or incinerating the people on the train. I later discovered that one of my Cottam relations was killed in the Korean War. He was John Frederick Oliver Davis, whose grandmother was Lily Cottam, sister of my great grandmother Maggie Cottam. He was in the No 2 Squadron of the South African Air Force (the Flying Cheetahs), and went missing on 10 March 1951.

Then we drove back to Pretoria, stopping at Catalino’s restaurant at Hartebeestpoort Dam for lunch, with the syringa trees all in bloom.

Hartebeestpoort Dam, west of Pretoria

Cottam, Bagot and Mashiter ancestors in Lancashire

John Bagot Cottam, my great great grandfather, came to Natal in 1863 with his wife Adelaide Herbert and three children. Several more children were born in Durban. We knew that his parents were Richard Cottam and Margaret Bagot, but only in the last few months did we find out who their parents and grandparents were, so here they are.

And we’re already beginning to discover new (well hitherto unsuspected) cousins, and we hope that anyone else related to this femily will get in touch.

Tombstone Tuesday: Hannan family in Girvan

In Girvan, on the west coast of Scotland, there are two tombstones for members of the Hannan family. They are made of sandstone, and relatively small compared with the surrounding tombstones.

The one on the left is the family of Thomas Hannan (c1830-1890) and his wife Janet McCartney (c1830-1915), my great great grandparents. I first saw it in May 1967, when my mother, Ella Hayes, and I visited her cousin Willie Hannan in Glasgow, and Willie took us to Girvan in Ayrshire, and showed us where the earlier generations of the family had lived. He said that they had had 9 children and the only one who didn’t die young was his and my mother’s grandfather, William Hannan (1856-1928). The names of the children who had died young were inscribed around the sides of the stone.

Thirty-eight years later we visited it again, and this time having a digital camera took more pictures of it.

Hannan tombstone in Girvan Cemetery

The children who died young were:

  • Jane (1847-1847)
  • James (1848-1849)
  • William (1852-1854)
  • John (1854-1855)
  • Thomas (1859-1866)
  • Samuel (1860-1864)
  • James (1864-1887)

But we quite recently discovered that there were actually two children who survived to adulthood and had children of their own. There was a second Jane (1850-1917). She married Samuel Kay, and they had nine children. Janet Ewing of New Zealand wrote to us in 2008 and said

I have been looking through some old e-mails and have
found that you and I have a relation in common. My gt
grandmother was a Jane Hannan. She married Samuel Kay
6 September 1872 at Girvan Ayrshire. She was 22. He
was 20. Her parents were Thomas Hanan (could have
been transcribed as Heenan) and Janet McCartney. Her
surname on the marriage certificate could have been
transcribed as Keenan. This has all been most
confusing in the past. However her death Certificate
(d 19 February 1917) shows that her parents were
Thomas Hannan and Janet McCartney. Does all this fit
into your tree? Janet

So there are a whole lot more cousins on the Hannan side that we didn’t know about.

The second tombstone is larger, and a generation later:

Stanley Livingstone Hannan (1891-1917)

There are several interesting things about this. One is that Tom Hannan, Stanley Hannan’s older brother, was jailed as a conscientious objector during the First World War. For more on this see this earlier entry, and also the Hannan family pages on Wikispaces.

More Cottams in Lancashire

When we first started researching our family history 35 years ago, we made rapid progress. Every couple of months we discovered an earlier generation on one or other branch of the family. But then we got stuck. And so it was with the Cottam family. But now we have discovered two new generations going backin as many months. First was my great great great grandfather Richard Cottam — I discovered his parents, John and Mary Cottam, of Oxcliffe Hall in the village of Heaton with Oxcliffe near Lancaster, as described here.

Yesterday Rick Cowey, of the Cottam Connections mailing list, sent me a copy of the 1851 census page for Oxcliffe Hall, showing that John Cottam was born in Kellet in Lancashire. I’d already copied records from the Cottams there (in the parish of Bolton-le-Sands), thanks to the hard work of the Lancashire Online Parish Clerks (OPCs), and so once the link was clear, bang, instant family. John Cottam was clearly the son of Thomas and Isabella Cottam

Baptism: 27 Jul 1777 Holy Trinity, Bolton le Sands, Lancashire, England
John Cottam – Son of Thomas Cottam & Isabel
Abode: N Kellet
Register: Baptisms 1737 – 1812, Page 42, Entry 16
Source: LDS Film 1849647

and it looks as though the Henry Cottam, also found in Heaton with Oxcliffe, who married Alice Edmundson, was probably John’s brother:

Baptism: 7 May 1775 Holy Trinity, Bolton le Sands, Lancashire, England
Henry Cottom – Son of Thos Cottom & [Isabel]
Abode: Nether Kellet
Register: Baptisms 1737 – 1812, Page 39, Entry 19
Source: LDS Film 1849647

Unfortunately Henry decided to annoy future generations of the family by inconsiderately dying in 1848, before the 1851 census, so it isn’t possible to confirm this, but it seems likely.

Then yesterday I went to the Mormon family history library in Johannesburg and looked at the films for Overton, and especially for the period 1800-1812, looking for the baptism of an Isabella Cottam. I had one who had died young — born in 1809, daughter of Henry and Alice Cottam, and she died in 1818 at the age of 9. But there was another one who married a John Bagot, who was a brother of the Margaret Bagot who married Richard Cottam, my ggg grandfather.

There were two films, one the actual register of St Helen’s, Overton, and the other a copy that was sent to St Mary’s, Lancaster, of which St Helen’s was a chapelry, so I compared both. The copy had an Elizabeth Cottam at about the right period , daughter of John and Margaret Cottam, coming immediately after an Isabella Mashiter. I checked the original and found that it was what I was looking for — Isabella Cottam, daughter of John and Mary, only it was very faint, so I had missed it the first time.

So a Cottam brother and sister had married a Bagot brother and sister.

So two Cottam family mysteries were solved on the same day.

Of course it also produces more mysteries. Just as Cottam families suddenly appeared in Heaton-with-Oxcliffe towards the end of the 18th century — and we now know they came from Kellet — so they suddenly appeard in the parish of Bolton-le-Sands in the middle of the 18th century, and apparently came from somewhere else. That’s the thing about family history. You never finish.

The Fifties

In 1956 I got my first colour film for my camera.

Back then colour film was rare and expensive. I was 15, and my mother let me use her camera, a 1936 model Exakta VP single-lens reflex. It was made in Nazi Germany. It took 8 pictures 6,5 x 4 cm on 127 film, and had an f4.5 lens.

My aunt gave me a Ferraniacolor reversal film for my 15th birthday. I took a photo of my mother with our new car, which she had got about the same time.

Ella Hayes with 1956 Wolseley 4/44

The car was quite pleasant , and had all kinds of fashionable features that were abandoned a year or two later, but in 1956 they seemed like an advance on our previous car, a 1948 Wolseley 8. My mother was then working for an estate agent, Arthur Meikle, and was taking a client to see a house when the car suddenly swerved off the road and hit a culvert in Athol Oaklands Road. The external damage was not much, but the chassis was bent (yes, it had a separate chassis) and it was uneconomical to repair. So when she got the insurance money she went to John B. Clarke Motors in Eloff Street and bought its successor, the Wolseley 4/44.

She brought it to school to show it to me, slightly giddy from standing on the revolving platform in the showroom while the salesman explained all the advanced features of the car. There were things like a split-bench front seat and steering column gear change, which meant that you could have three people in the front seat if necessary. A year or two later I and my friends would covet cars with bucket seats and floor gear levers — just like the old Wolseley 8. It made sense, too. The workshop manual for the 4/44 showed an exploded diagram of the gear-change mechanism, with its rods and levers, with 74 separate parts, from the knob at the end of the gear lever to where it entered the gearbox. The left-hand drive model was worse, because this all had to cross over to the other side of the gearbox.

The Wolseley 4/44 was also rather under-engined. It had a 1250 cc engine, a detuned version of one that had been designed for MG TD two-seater sports cars. The MG version had twin SU carburettors, whereas the Wolseley had only one, and far more weight to lug around, especially when fully loaded. To compensate for these disadvantages, it had an elegant interior, with real walnut dashboard and real leather seats. Unlike the Wolseley 8, it had a heater though it lacked the sun roof of the Wolseley 8.

So the picture was taken when it was new and before it acquired many scratches and dents.

Then I got my mother to take some pictures of me with my horse Brassie. He was called Brassie because of his chestnut coat, and the way it shone like polished brass when the sun caught it. I hoped that the colour film might capture that.

Stephen Hayes and Brassie

I had been told, or read in a book somewhere, that a colour photo should always have some red in it somewhere, hence the blanket on his back. Unless I was going a long way, I usually rode Brassie bareback, as soon as I was tall enough to be able to mount him without the aid of stirrups.

The pictures were taken in winter, which is why the grass was dead and brown.

They were taken in Sunningdale. The road is now called Ridge Road, and a little way to the right it crosses what is now called Long Avenue, along which I used to walk a mile along a rutted track to Fairmount School. The track had no name back then but there was a broken down barbed-wire fence somewhere along it with a bit of flattened corrugated iron on which was painted “Pad Gesluit” (Road Closed), so that was what i called it. On the corner corner of Ridge Road and Long Avenue now stands the Yeshiva College. Back then it was vacant. The Van der Merwe’s lived there in a thatched house, which bornt down one day when the paraffin stove caught fire, and they came and stayed with us for a few days.

The land behind in the picture, which was lined by pine trees on the frontage on Long Avenue and Ridge Road, used to belong to Mr & Mrs Groos, who ran a riding school and nursery school, but when the photo was taken the land was vacant and the house had been demolished. The Grooses had moved away to Bramley because their boreholes ran dry. Later their land was subdivided and houses were built there, and I think it is now called Glenhazel Extension something-or-other.

Stephen Hayes and Brassie

We used to live around the corner in what was later called Ridge Road, and the house is still there, though it now has a thatched roof, and when we lived in it it had a corrugated iron roof. It was a 5-acre smallholding, and we had cows and chickens and in school holidays I used to accompany my mother on delivery rounds in the old Wolseley 8. She used to deliver eggs, butter and cream to housewives in the nearby Johannesburg suburbs of Fairmount, Sydenham and Sandringham. Sunningdale was outside the Johannesburg municipal area then, and so did not have municipal light and water. At the time the photos were taken, however, we had moved to a flat in Sandringham, and the hourses were boarding with out former next door neighbours. In 1956 the place was rented by Howard Leslie, an amiable con man, who lived it up, threw wild parties to entertain the neighbours, and scarpered one night when the creditors got too hot.

Desperately seeking Susan

No, not that Susan!

The one I’m looking for is my great grand aunt, Susan Greenaway, who was born at Lanteglos-by-Camelford in 1844, and yesterday I confirmed the relationship when I found the baptism record for Susanna Greenaway, baptised on 26 January 1845, the daughter of Richard and Mary Ann Greenaway.

I needed the confirmation because I couldn’t find a census where she showed up with the family.

I first found her in the 1851 census, aged 6, where she was listed as the niece of William and Mary Tilley. The 1841 census shows a William and Mary Tilley, children of John. Then Mary Ann Tilly, daughter of John, married Richard Greenaway at St Breward in 1842. So the baptism is pretty convincing evidence that 6-year-old Susan is the daughter of Richard and Mary Ann Greenaway (nee Tilly), and that William Tilley is Mary Ann’s brother.

In the 1861 Susan Greenaway shows up again, but still not with her family. This time she’s a servant with another family.

But there are TWO of them, both shown as born at St Breward!

And FreeBMD shows:

Surname First name(s) District Vol Page

Births Dec 1843   (>99%)

Greenaway Susan Camelford 9 56

Births Mar 1845   (>99%)

GREENAWAY Susanna Camelford 9 57

Well, St Breward is in the Camelford Registration District, as is Lanteglos. And by then the rest of the Greenaway family was living at St Breward anyway, so her boss could easily assume that she was born there and tell the census enumerator so.

But that raises another question — if there were two Susans in 1861, where was the other one in 1851?

And in 1871 there were none.

The simplest explanation for that is that the must either have married or died between 1861 and 1871.

But there were no Susan Greenaways who married or died in that time. Nor were there any under the alternative spelling of Greenway.

But there was a Susan Greenway, aged 26, a cook in the household of a Fanny Little at Maker in Cornwall. And this Susan was shown as having been born at Nantaglas, which could be the census enumerator’s interpretation of Lanteglos.

And that is the last sighting of Susan Greenaway.

But there is a follow-up.

In the 1881 census Mary Ann Greenaway, born Tilly, is shown as a widow, aged 63, living at East Stonehouse in Devon. With her are her youngest daughter Rebecca, unmarried, aged 21, and a granddaughter, Ellen L. Chapman, aged 6, born in Bodmin, Cornwall.

Could Susan Greenaway have married a Chapman and lived in Bodmin?

But there’s no sign of such a marriage.

And there’s no sign of an Ellen Chapman, aged 16, in the 1891 census either.

So I’m wondering what happened to them.

Surname Saturday: Cottam, Bagot, Mashiter

For the last few weeks I’ve been concentrating my genealogy research on my Cottam, Bagot, Mashiter and related surnames in and around Lancaster in Lancashire, so I thought I would mention them today for Surname Saturday.

My great great grandfather John Bagot Cottam married Adelaide Herbert in Manchester in 1858, and in 1863 they emigrated to Durban with their three daughters, Maggie, Ada and Jessie. In Durban they had another five children.

John Bagot Cottam was the son of Richard Cottam and Margaret Bagot, who came from around Lancaster, in the north of Lancashire. I’ve been going through the microfilms of parish registers to try to find their origins, together with the registers that have been transcribed by the Lancashire Online Parish Clerks.

I note each instance of records of the surnames of interest in a database, whether known to be related or not, and then try to connect them into families with the help of census records. FreeCEN has relatively complete records for the 1861 census, and FamilySearch has for the 1881 census. This also helps to get the names into families, which I keep in a lineage-linked database in the Personal Ancestral File (PAF) program, which is free. I have a separate database for Lancashire research, and throw everything in, whether the people are related or not. When I think there is enough evidence of a confirmed relationship, then I transfer them to my main database in Legacy.

The Cottam surname goes back to the mid-18th century in Heaton-with-Oxcliffe, just west of Lancaster, but before that they seem to have come from somewhere else. The Mashiter surname goes back a bit further. Heaton-with-Oxcliffe was in the parish of Overton, but Lancaster was almost as close as Overton, so some members of the families were baptised, married or buried there. Using Lancaster as the centre, I am working outwards and checking other parishes to see if I can find where the Cottams came from.

Here are some of the other surnames in the area that members of my families have married into:

Lord, Barnet, Parker, Atkinson, Richards, Monks.

Variant spellings include Cotham, Cottom, Bagott, Baggot, Baggott and Masheter.

Some of the related places mentioned in the register and census entries are Poulton-le-Sands and Bare (now Morecambe), Heysham, Sunderland, Scotforth, Ellel, and Skerton.

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