Fred & Mary Greene

One of the things that was missing from our family history was a picture of Val’s great grandparents, Fred and Mary Greene. A few weeks ago, however, Jean Mary Gray sent us one. Jean’s grandmother, Connie Semple, was the half-sister of Frederick Vincent Greene.

Frederick Vincent Greene (1868-1949) and his wife Mary Frances  Crighton (1868-1957)

Frederick Vincent Greene (1868-1949) and his wife Mary Frances Crighton (1868-1957)

Frederick Vincent Greene was the son of Frederick Thomas Green, the Canadian elephant hunter, trader and partisan leader in Damaraland in the mid-19th century. He was born at Ehangero, Damaraland, on 21 November 1868. His mother was Catherine Agnes Ann (Kate)  Stewardson, who was born at Rooibank, near Walvis Bay (now part of Namibia).

After Frederick Thomas Green died in 1876, his widow, Kate Stewardson, married George Robb. With her two husbands she had at least 17 children, of whom only five survived to adulthood. So Fred Greene (Junior) had two sisters, Mary Elizabeth Green (1865-1952) who married Frederick Thomas Abbott, and Alice Isabella Green (1871-1945) who married John Martin Cuthbert O’Grady.

He also had three half-sisters, one from his father’s earlier wife, and two from his mother’s later husband (it gets complicated).

The eldest half-sister was Ada Maria Green (1864-1926), born at Otjimboro, Angola, of Frederick Thomas Green’s second wife, Sara ua Kandendu (his first wife was a Dixon, name unknown). Ada, also known as Ida and Kaera, was the ancestor of Mburumba Kerina, the inventor of the name “Namibia” (“Kerina” was the Herero pronunciation of “Green”).

Frederick Vincent Greene’s other two half sisters were the children of his mother, Kate Stewardson, and her second husband George Robb. They were Agnes Mary Elizabeth Robb (1878-1959) who married Charles Ernest Peers, a Cape Town artist, and Constance Sweetingham (Connie) Robb (1889-1964) who married John Semple, and is the grandmother of Jean Gray who sent us the photo.

Frederick Vincent Greene was 7 years old when his father died, and was brought up by his mother and stepfather, who moved to the Cape Colony about 1881 or 1882, and later moved to Johannesburg. At some point he married Mary Frances Crighton — we don’t know when or where, but their first child, Frederick Alwyn Bartlett Greene, was born in Ladysmith, Natal, in 1890. His father, Fred Vincent, was shown in the Anglican baptism register there was a “mechanical engineer”.

Mary Frances Crighton was the daughter of William John Crighton and Anna Maria MacLeod of Cape Town, where the family were saddlers and leather merchants. On her mother’s side there were also Canadian links, as her grandmother, Mary Kerwick, like Fred Vincent Greene’s father, was born in Quebec. See here for more on the Crighton family.

They had eight children, but they are the generation we know least about.

  • Frederick Alwyn Bartlett Greene (1890-?)
  • Charles Stanhope Greene (1891-?)
  • Arthur Walpole Francis Greene (c1893-c1943)
  • Allan Dudley Greene (c1893-c1942)
  • Edward Lester Greene (1897-c1950)
  • Frank Henry Greene (c1899-?)
  • Royden Braithwaite Greene (1905-1971)
  • Gladys Winifred Greene (1907-1997)

Val’s grandfather was Allan Dudley Greene, but he died before she was born, and when her father was a prisoner-of-war in Italy. He died of TB, but Val’s grandmother Emma le Sueur couldn’t remember when it was. She was good at remembering what pills they took and what diseases they died of, but was rather vague about dates and places. But she thought he had died in the King George V Hospital in Sydenham, Durban. So we went there and asked at the reception if they could find the record of someone who had been a patient 30 years before. They found him in the index, and said that because it was so long ago, his admission card would be in the basement. It took them all of 10 minutes to find it. So we got his date of death. We were delighted, because we had just spent the morning hunting through the records of the Master of the Supreme Court in Pietermaritzburg (for which I had to get special permission from the magistrate, being banned at the time) and had found no death notice or any other estate files for him. And we still don’t know when or where he was born.

The family surname was Green and remained so until the First World War. The eldest son, Frederick Alwyn Bartlett Green, changed his name to Greene when he enlisted in the army, and someone said it was because he had had a fight with his father. But by the end of the war all the sons were using the Greene spelling, and the father was too.

Some members of the family refer to the eldest son as Fred Skelm, because there are all kinds of rumours about him. He was arrested in South West Africa in the 1930s for illegal diamond prospecting in the Kaokoveld, and banged up in Outjo for a while. He claimed that he was heir to the land on which he was prospecting because it had belonged to his grandfather Frederick Thomas Green. His story was perhaps not as far-fetched as it may have seemed to the magistrate at the time, because his aunt Ada (Kaera) had sued the South West Africa Company for a farm that the German colonial government had given to the Company, which she maintained that the Herero chief, Samuel Maharero, had given to her father for her. She won her case too, and the deed, signed by the Herero chiefs’ council, may perhaps be the first written title deed in Namibia.

Fred Skelm seems to have married several times, and may or may not have had children by some of his wives, One story was that he worked on a mine somewhere in America, murdered someone, and escaped on a railway handcranked inspection truck. Another said he was run over by a bus in Clairwood, Durban, and yet another that it was in London.

The second son, Charles Stanhope Green was baptised in Johannesburg in 1892 when he was a year old, but we don’t know where he was born. He disappears after that. Perhaps he died young.

Arthur Walpole Francis Greene, the third (or possibly fourth) son was married in 1915 to Margaret McLaren, who left him 2 days later. He was said to have been drowned when the ship he was travelling on was torpedoed in WWII. Edward Lester Greene had a son Lester Frederick, who went farming in Zimbabwe. Frank Henry Greene went overseas as a soldier in World War I, but while in England was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment for stealing articles from a house. He apparently committed suicide at about the age of 25.

Roydon Brathwaite Green changed all three of his names, becoming Royden Braithwaite Greene. He was born in Johannesburg and lived in Port Elizabeth.

The youngest child of Fred and Mary Green was Gladys Winifred Greene, who married twice. We found that she was living in Ixopo, and Val went to visit we with her father, who was thus meeting his aunt for the first time. She was the one who first told us about the Namibian connection, which enabled us to find Fred Green the elephant hunter in the history books, though several of them erroneously referred to him as Frederick Joseph Green instead of Frederick Thomas Green. Later we met Gladys’s daughter Dion Stewart, who lived in Empangeni when we lived in Melmoth, and she was the first one who told us about the family royal legend, which turned out to be false, but did put us on the track of the real Green family history.

So we were very glad to have the photo, which is the only one we have seen of Fred and Mary Greene.

Crighton family: 10 years ago

Ten years ago we met some Crighton relatives for the first time. Nita Harris (born Crighton), who lives in the USA, had lost touch with her brother Roger, but ten years ago the reestablished contact, and she came to South Africa with her son Roger Harris to see Roger, who was very ill. We arranged to meet between Johannesburg and Pretoria, at BJ’s Restaurant, built over the freeway.

Val Hayes, Walter Crighton, Nita Harris, Roger Harris, at BJ's Restaurant, Midrand, 11 December 2002

Val Hayes, Walter Crighton, Nita Harris, Roger Harris, at BJ’s Restaurant, Midrand, 11 December 2002

Walter Crighton is Roger Crighton’s son (and Nita’s nephew). The common ancestors are William John Crighton (1842-1886) and Anna Maria MacLeod (1849-1917). William John Crighton was a saddler in Cape Town, and died when fighting a fire on Table Mountain, when his horse apparently stood on a burning ember and threw him.

William John Crighton was one of 10 children of Henry Crighton and Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme, and three of those children married members of the MacLeod family of Cape Town. Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme was the granddaughter of a slave, Francina van de Kaap.

When we first became interested in family history we asked Val’s grandmother about the Greene side of the family (her in-laws) and she said they were a Crighton family who were leather merchants in Cape Town. So in 1975 we looked them up in the Cape Archives, and in the files were found some correspondence from a Miss Nita Crighton (as she then was), who was interested in the same family, and had written from the USA asking for copies of the same records. We wrote to her at the address on those old letters, asking that they be forwarded if she had moved, and discovered that she had married William Harris and was living in California. So we corresponded for several years about the family history, and visited Nita’s mother and her aunt who were living in an old age home in Bertrams, Johannesburg, in 1986, but it was only 10 years ago that we met face to face.

There ia more information about the Crighton family on our family wiki here and in another post on this blog here.

Nita is Val’s second cousin once removed.

Swingewood family

This week we’ve been looking again at the Swingewood branch of the family, which we hadn’t looked at for many years, but it seems that quite a few members of that branch of the family have become interested in the family history, and have left messages on the Internet, so we hope to make contact with some of them and share family information.

The connection came about when Marian Winifred Crighton married Joseph Swingewood in Kenilworth, Johannesburg, in 1923.

Marian Winifred Crighton (1903-1967) was the daughter of  Frederick Crighton (1852-1916) and Helene Charlotte Ottilie Zeeman (1879-1929).

Frederick and Helene had four children, two of whom died fairly young. The remaining two, Arthur and Marian, married and had children. Marian married Joseph Swingewood and became Marian Swingewood, while Arthur married Marion Douglas who became Marion Crighton. Most of the information we have on the Swingewoods came from Marion Crighton (nee Douglas), who told us about her sister-in-law’s family, but that was 25 years ago now, so there’s a bit of catching up to do.

Helene Zeeman was Frederick Crighton’s second wife, and she was actually younger than his daughter by his first marriage (he was about 27 years older than she was). His first wife was Josephine MacLeod, and Josephine’s sister and brother also married into the Crighton family:

  • William John Crighton married Anna Maria MacLeod
  • Annie Crighton married Charles Augustus MacLeod
  • Frederick Crighton married Josephine MacLeod

The Crightons were saddlers and leather merchants in Cape Town.

For more about the Crighton family see our family history wiki here.

 

 

 

Trying to make contact with Sharon Gilmour nee Daniels

We recently received a message via our family tree on TribalPages:http://hayesstw.tribalpages.com/

to the effect that a Sharon Gilmour had visited the site and left a message saying the she was a granddaughter of George Emmett Brennan. We sent her an e-mail message, but unfortunately it bounced as follows:

On 9 Jan 2012 at 6:40, Mail Delivery System wrote:

> This is the mail system at host wblv-ip-mesg-1-3.saix.net.
> > I’m sorry to have to inform you that your message could not
> be delivered to one or more recipients. It’s attached below.
> > For further assistance, please send mail to postmaster.
> > If you do so, please include this problem report. You can
> delete your own text from the attached returned message.
> > The mail system
> > : host mx3.hotmail.com[65.54.188.94] said: 550
> Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable (in reply to RCPT TO
> command)

So now we have no way of making contact. I’m just hoping that Sharon herself, or someone who knows her, may see this to let her know that we tried to get in touch, but failed.
George Emmett Brennan (1905-1961) married Maude Florence Beatrice Crighton (1905-?) in 1928, possibly in Johannesburg. We visited her on 6 April 1986, when she was living in an old age home in Bertrams, Johannesburg, with her sister-in-law “Baby” Crighton.

Death of Ron Hickman, car designer and inventor

We have just learnt of the death of Ron Hickman, Val’s fourth cousin once removed, at the age of 78. Ron was a fairly distant relation, but what brought us together was an interest in family history, and when Ron came to South Africa to do some family history research he came to see us at the beginning, and then, after visiting various archives and family members, he came to see us again for a kind of debriefing session, and shared his notes and findings with us.

When he visited he was a big hit with our youngest child, Jethro, then aged 7 going on 8, and crazy about cars, and Ron Hickman was a car designer, having designed the Lotus Elan sports car.

Val Hayes & Ron Hickman; Simon, Jethro & Bridget Hayes, Feb 1989

We learnt of Ron Hickman’s death through the alt.obituaries newsgroup, where someone posted an obituary from The Independent, and there are several others, including this one: Ron Hickman obituary | The Guardian:

The prolific designer and inventor Ron Hickman, who has died aged 78 after a long illness, made his fortune from an idea for a simple but multifunctional bench with a gap down the middle to grip wood. The Workmate enabled DIY enthusiasts to saw through pieces of timber without using the edges of chairs and tables for support. The idea had come to him in 1961 when he accidentally sawed through the leg of an expensive Swedish chair while making a wardrobe. Nearly 70m Workmates have been sold since Black & Decker put Hickman’s design into mass production in 1973.

and this one: Ron Hickman – Telegraph:

After spending three years as a styling modeller with Ford, Hickman moved to the Lotus company, run by Colin Chapman, and quickly became its design director. He headed the team that designed the trendsetting Elan sports car, with its fibreglass body and retractable headlights. This was followed by the Lotus Cortina, Lotus Europa and Elan Plus 2, a design of which he was especially proud.

Others were published on web sites that were linked to Ron’s interests, such as the Club Lotus one, which said:

It’s our sad duty to report that Ron Hickman died in a Jersey hospital on Thursday morning, 17th February. He was 78 and had been unwell since suffering a fall last autumn and his health sadly deteriorated in recent weeks.

Lotus sports car designed by Ron Hickman

Ron will probably be best known to Lotus enthusiasts as the man who created the legendary Elan but he also played a key role in designing the revolutionary Type 14 Elite. The Elite’s glassfibre monocoque was a groundbreaking piece of design and established Lotus Cars as manufacturers of world beating sports racing cars.

Colin Chapman originally wanted the Elan to have a glassfibre monocoque as well, but Ron knew this could not work in an open top car.  Ron therefore rapidly designed the backbone chassis for the Elan and this became the standard Lotus chassis design until Elise with its aluminium monocoque was launched in 1996.

The common ancestors were Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme (1780-1832) and Johanna Sophia Breedschuh (1782-1836).

J.F.W. Flamme was born at Twiste in Hesse-Nassau, Germany, and came to the Cape Colony as a soldier in the Waldeck Regiment. He was captured during the British occupation and confined in Fort Amsterdam. He may have worked as an assistant to John Martin Durr, butcher, who gave surety for him in 1806. In 1817 he applied for citizenship.

Johanna Sophia Breedschoe was the daughter of another German soldier, Johan Christoph Franciscus Breitschuh, and Francina van de Kaap, a slave of Pieter Hacker. Johanna Sophia and her sister Dorothea Francina were thus born into slavery, and manumitted by their father in 1787.

JFW Flamme and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe were married on 1 January 1809 in Cape Town, and had 11 children (that we know of). One of them was Petronella Dorothea Francina Flamme (1822-1893), Val’s great great great grandmother, who married Henry Crighton. Another was Johanna Louisa Christina Flamme (1814-1880), Ron’s great great grandmother, who married Samuel Beningfield.

The Beningfields moved to Durban and had eight children, one of whom, Johanna Dorothea Beningfield (1838-1900), Ron’s great grandmother, married Edward Hoste Hickman (1834-1901). One of the Beningfield sons, Reuben Widdows Beningfield, married his cousin Martha Crighton of Cape Town, and so that branch of the Beningfields is more closely related to us than the others.

This was the bare bones of the genealogy we were able to give Ron Hickman, and when he visited the Cape Archives he photocopied enormous quantities of documents to fill out the family story, with lots of biographical information on Sam Beningfield and some of the others.

Of the Flamme family, only the daughters married and had children, and most of the sons died young (one while a student at Heidelberg University in Germany) so there are no descendants with the surname Flamme. But some of the daughters were prolific, and, in addition to the Beningfields, Crightons and Hickmans, their descendants include members of the Mechau and Burnard families, who in turn married into the Enslin, Haupt, le Roux and de Villiers and von Backstrom families, and many more, far too many to list here.

We’ve met some of them, and corresponded with some, but Ron Hickman was the one who was most interested in the family history, and he also met many others on his visits home to South Africa, and we first came to know of many of the later generations of the Beningfield and Hickman families through him.

December birthdays

There is a genealogy blog carnival, in which people are asked to blog on family members who have birthdays in December, so here are some of  our family members with December birthdays:

Ralph Carr (1818-1862)

Ralph Carr was Val’s great-great grandfather, born in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England on 19 December 1818, the son of Ralph Carr and Mary Walsh. He was baptised on 24 January 1819 at Holy Trinity Church, Whitehaven.

Like his father, he was a seafaring man, and in those days Whitehaven was quite a busy port.

He married Isabella Little at St Bees, Cumberland, on 20 August, 1846. They had six children, Mary, Ralph, Edward, Elizabeth Renney, William Edward and Thomas. Mary Carr (1847-1897), the eldest, who married Thomas Ellwood, was Val’s great grandmother.

Ralph Carr died on 4 May 1862 on board the schooner Hematite of Whitehaven during the passage to Oporto in Lat 43 2 N Long 9 4 W, in the 42nd year of his age. He was buried on the west side of the harbour at Corunna, Spain, near to the grave of the celebrated General Sir John Moore who was killed during the retreat of the British Army to that place during the Peninsular War against Napoleon, which is the subject of a well-known poem by Charles Woolfe.

William John Crighton (1842-1886)

William John Crighton was Val’s great great grandfather. He was born in Cape Town on 25 December 1842, the son of Henry Crighton and Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme. The family were saddlers and leather merchants, and William followed in the family business. They lived in Woodstock, a couple of miles out of Cape Town.

William John Crighton married Anna Maria MacLeod (1849-1917), daughter of William James MacLeod and Mary Kerwick, in January 1866. They had eight children: Mary Frances, Isabel, William John, Frank Percy, Daniel Jhon, Charles Joseph, James Percival and Percival.

The eldest, Mary Frances, was Val’s great-grandmother, who married Frederick Vincent Green.

George Coenraad Behr (1846-1902) and Charlotte Christiana Johanna Behr (1851-1944)

Not an ancestor, but the double brother-in-law of William John Crighton, George Coenraad Behr was born on 23 December 1836 in Cape Town, the son of George Hendrik Behr and Maria Magdalenia Steinhobel. He married Harriet Crighton (1851-1919), the sister of William John Crighton, and they had ten children.

George Behr’s sister, Charlotte Christina Johanna Behr (1851-1944) married Henry Joseph Burnard Crighton (1845-1887), the brother of William John Crighton and Harriet Crighton. They had no children. She also had a December birthday, being born on 21 December 1851.

Beningfield family

A Beningfield family group has recently been started on Facebook.

This is interesting to us because many of the South African Beningfields are related to us (though we are not descended from Beningfields) through Louisa Flamme, who married Samuel Beningfield in Cape Town in 1833.

In the early 1840s the family moved to Durban, and Samuel Beningfield became a well-known auctioneer, and some of his sons followed him in that occupation, and their descendants are cousins in varying degrees.

Some are more closely related than others, because Samuel and Louisa Beningfield’s son Reuben Widdows Beningfield married his first cousin Martha Crighton, whose mother, Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme, was Louisa Beningfield’s sister.

Though you will not find any descendants of the Flamme family with the Flamme surname, we have managed to record 1683 descendants of Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme (1780-1831) and Johanna Sophia Breedschoe (or Breitschuh) (1782-1836). Those on our side of the family are Crightons, but there are many descendants with other surnames as well, some of the most common (apart from Crighton and Beningfield) being Mechau/Michau, Haupt, Enslin, and von Backstrom.

Johan Friedrich Wilhelm Flamme came from Twiste in Hesse-Nassau, Germany. Johanna Sophia Breetschoe was the daughter of Johan Christoph Franciscus Breidschuh, a German, and Francina van de Kaap, a slave owned by Peter Hacker. Johanna Sophia Breedschoe and her sister were born in slavery, and were manumitted by their father. And they are the ancestors we have in common with the Beningfields.

Among the descendants of the Natal Beningfields are the Hickman, Grice and O’Flaherty families.

The 1683 Flamme descendants (565 of whom are Beningfield descendants) are only the ones we know about. We haven’t been able to trace the others yet. But we hope that some of them will be interested enough to help us add to the family history.

Robert Laing of Colington

The Scotsman Mon 19 Mar 2007 carries an obituary for a South African genealogist, Robert Laing of Colington, who died on 12 March, 2007, in Johannesburg, aged 58.

Robert Laing was sometime chairman of the Genealogical Society of South Africa, and was an enthusiastic researcher into genealogy and heraldry, though rather given to claiming dubious and even outright spurious titles for himself, though his friends and fellow genealogists usually good-humouredly granted them to him, and he was referred to in the Genealogical Society’s publications as Chevalier Robert Laing, and Robert Laing of Colington.

We had some common research interests as Dorothea Wilhelmina Katerina FLAMME (1816-1858) married Peter LAING in Cape Town in 1836, and they had three children, who went to Scotland with their father. Robert Laing never managed to establish the connection between himself and this Peter Laing, but he did spend quite a lot of time researching it. Dorothea Wilhelmina Katerina FLAMME was the sister of my wife Val’s ancestor Petronella Francina Dorothea FLAMME, who married Henry CRIGHTON.

Crighton or Creighton

When we started doing family history, soon after we were married, one of the first things we did was to ask Val’s grandmother, Emma le Sueur, (formerly Greene, formerly Chelin, born Decker), about the family. Val’s grandfather was her second husband, Allan Greene, and she couldn’t remember very much about her in-laws, other than that their name was Creighton, and they were leather merchants in Cape Town.

Creighton was the name of a small village in Natal, so we looked in the Natal archives, but none of the Creightons we found seemed to fit. Then we went to Cape Town, and looked in the archives there, and found that the spelling of the name was Crighton, not Creighton (with an exception to be noted below). Henry Crighton (1815-1870) was a saddler in Cape Town (Gran’s “leather merchant” came close enough), and there was even a newpaper obituary, though like many Victorian obituaries, it was full of padding and no substance. His wife was Petronella Francina Dorothea Flamme, whose grandmother was a slave, and probably the most indigenous South African ancestor we have between us.

The eldest son, William John Crighton (1842-1886), married Anna Maria MacLeod (1849-1917), and their eldest daughter Mary Francis Crighton (1868-1957) married Frederick Vincent Greene (1858-1949), and they were the in-laws.

At least three of the Crightons married into the MacLeod famioly, and we have quite a lot of information about the descendants of both families, so if anyone reading this is linked to any of these please get in touch, or at least leave a comment. There were numerous descendants of Charles Augustus MacLeod (1838-1909) and Annie Crighton (1850-c1934).

Both Henry Crighton and his son William John had several children, and so the Crighton family was quite numerous in South Africa. One of William John Crighton’s sons was Daniel John (1880-1939), and in the archives we found correspondence with his granddaughter, Nita Crighton, who lived in America, and was researching the family history too. We were able to make contact with Nita (now Nita Harris of California), and met her when she visited South Africa a couple of years ago.

Daniel John Crighton’s brother Frank Percy (1876-1953), however, adopted the Creighton spelling.

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