Priest in shock wedding

Priest in shock wedding. So read the headline in the Natal Daily News the day after our wedding 40 years ago on 29 September 1974.

We were married in St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church in Durban North, where I was the assistant priest at the time. The “shock” was a bit of an exaggeration; “surprise” might have been more accurate. We were married at the regular church service on Sunday morning, and of the congregation of about 400 only about 10 knew beforehand that we were getting married. Not even the guest preacher that Sunday, Fr Michael Lapsley, SSM, knew, and so he too was taken by surprise at the announcement that followed his sermon.

The reason for the secrecy was that I was banned at the time, and was not allowed to attend any social gatherings, that is, gatherings at which the persons present also had social intercourse with one other. There was one exception to this: with the special permission of the chief magistrate of Durban, I was allowed to attend tea parties after regular church services at St Martin’s, provided that those at the tea party had also attended the service beforehand. That meant that our wedding had to be at one of the regular Sunday services that was followed by tea, which at St Martin’s was on the fourth Sunday of each month.

Wedding of Stephen Hayes and Valerie Greene at St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, Durban North. 29 September 1974

Wedding of Stephen Hayes and Valerie Greene at St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, Durban North. 29 September 1974

Issuing a public invitation to attend would be likely to attract the unwelcome attention of the Security Police, and we did not want them snooping around and recording the number plates of all the cars outside the church and things like that. In these days of freedom that may sound quite paranoid, but things were different back then. At that very time my cousin’s husband, who was also banned, was facing charges of having broken his ban by attending a friend’s wedding in Pietermaritzburg — he had chatted to a couple of people after the service, and the Security Police interpreted that as a “social gathering”, and subpoenaed a lot of people who were at the service to give evidence, including the Anglican suffragan bishop of Natal, Ken Hallowes.

Wedding of Stephen Hayes & Valerie Greene, 29 Sep 1974. The officiant was the Revd Arnold Hirst

Wedding of Stephen Hayes & Valerie Greene, 29 Sep 1974. The officiant was the Revd Arnold Hirst

It so happened that on Sunday 29th September the choir of the Northlands Girls High School was singing a special musical setting of the service, called “The Mass of St Francis” (by aniticipation, St Francis was actually commemorated on 4 October). This provided a suitable excuse: we invited our friends and acquaintances to come to church that Sunday to hear this special choir, so we weren’t actually inviting them to attend a wedding or a gathering afterwards that could possibly be interpreted as a “social gathering” as defined in the Suppression of Communism Act (as amended). So we told our parents, and swore them to secrecy. And the parish priest, Arnold Hirst, knew, of course, and the head server, Richard Girdwood, and Ian Bastable, who had arranged the visit of the choir, and that was about it.

Going into the vestry after the service to attend to the legal bits.

Going into the vestry after the service to attend to the legal bits.

So after the sermon by Father Michael Lapsley, which went on for about 45 minutes, we were married.[1] And, despite the Mass of St Francis, the day was actually the Western feast of St Michael and All Angels.

With the preacher at the service, Fr Michael Lapsley, SSM

With the preacher at the service, Fr Michael Lapsley, SSM

Thirteen years later, on the Orthodox feast of St Michael and all the Bodiless Powers of Heaven, on 8 November 1987, we were received into the Orthodox Church, and since then we have observed the 8th November as our Slava and wedding anniversary. Slava is a Serbian Orthodox custom. All Orthodox Christians celebrate their name day, the day of the Saint whose name they were given in baptism. A Slava is a kind of family name day, celebrating the day of the Saint on which the first members of that family were baptised. In the case of most Serbs, that would have been several centuries ago, but in our case it is in living memory. It also seemed to be a good custom to adopt in Africa, where ancestors have played a significant role in culture.

Val Hayes, formerly Greene

Val Hayes, formerly Greene

As our actual wedding had to be “secret”, in the sense that we couldn’t invite anyone to it, we would like to celebrate our 40th anniversary by issuing an open invitation to friends and family to attend our Slava and anniversary celebrations. With the blessing of the Archbishop of Johannesburg and Pretoria, Metropolitan Damaskinos, and the parish priest, Father Athanasius Akunda, it will take place at Vespers at the Church of St Nicholas of Japan, 156 Fulham Road, Brixton, Johannesburg, at 6:30 pm on Saturday 8 November 2014. As they say in the funeral announcements: friends kindly accept this intimation.

After the service, in the wedding garments Val had made

After the service, in the wedding garments Val had made. Unfortunately our negative scanner doesn’t cope too well with Fujicolor film, so the colours are a bit off

Unlike the original wedding, therefore, we are inviting people to join us. But, like the original event, and in memory of it, the refreshments will be of the “tea after church service” variety”.

It might have been better to plan such a thing for our 50th anniversary, in 2024, but who knows if we’ll survive that long in this world, so perhaps we’ll save that one for the next.

—-
Notes
[1] Actually if the Security Police had been alerted, they would probably have classified the whole thing as a “political gathering” (another type of gathering banned people were not allowed to attend), since Fr Michael pulled no punches when he said what St Francis would probably have thought of the contemporary political situation in South Africa (a “political gathering” was one at which any principle or policy of a state or of the government of a state was discussed). One woman walked out in the middle of the sermon, though whether because of political objections or because she thought it had gone on too long, we never discovered. She missed the fun afterwards, though she might also have disapproved of that too.

Val Hayes retires

Today my wife Val retired from her job as accountant with the South African Medical Association (SAMA), after a long and varied career. She probably won’t write about it, but I think it’s worth recording as part of our family history, and she can add to it or correct it later.

Val Hayes when I first knew her in 1972/73, and she was working for Stafford Mayer in Durban

Val Hayes when I first knew her in 1972/73, and she was working for Stafford Mayer in Durban

When I first met Val in 1972 she was working as a bookkeeper for the Stafford Mayer company in Durban, mainly looking after their pension fund, so my knowledge of her career before then was hearsay only. She attended high school at Pinetown Convent, and when she left the nuns wanted her to do maths, but she was only interested in accounting (she has the calculating mind in the family) and she went to the Natal Technical College for a year, and then started work. I know she worked for Clover Dairies, and for the distributors of Mercedes Benz cars, but I’m not sure for how long.

After we were married she continued to work at Stafford Mayer, which was taken over by a big company, and then she worked for another subsidiary, SA Board Mills, for a few months, and resigned when we went to live in Utrecht in September 1976.

Val Hayes in 1978, when we were living in Melmoth, Zululand, and she was running the Diocese of Zululand book store.

Val Hayes in 1978, when we were living in Melmoth, Zululand, and she was running the Diocese of Zululand book store.

In 1977 we went to Melmoth, were I was to be Director of Training for Ministries for the Anglican Diocese of Zululand. There was a part-time bookkeeper-secretary, Edna Cooke, looking after the the books of the Christian Education and Training for Ministries departments, and when Edna moved to Johannesburg Val took over, and developed the diocesan book agency, selling books at most events that took place at the diocesan conference centre at KwaNzimela, 10km away. Most of the clergy bought quite a lot of books, and we hoped to encourage the habit of reading. Val used the profits to buy more stock, so we were able to offer a larger variety of books as time went on.

At the end of 1982 we moved again, this time to Verwoerdburg, which is now Centurion and part of the City of Tshwane. I was to be Director of Mission and Evangelism for the Anglican Diocese of Pretoria. Our children were ready to start school, and were offered places in the local Anglican church schools, where Val drove them to school each day. She was offered a job as assistant to the bookkeeper at St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls, where our daughter had just started Grade I. It didn’t pay very much, but not having to travel twice a day to tke the children and fetch them again was a saving in itself. The idea was that when the bookkeeper retired Val would take over.

But then a new headmaster appeared on the scene, darkly muttering the then-fashionable mantra “excellence”, and it seemed that our family did not fit his criteria for “excellence”, and Val left at the end of 1987, and began looking for a full-time job, not sure that it would be too easy to find one after not having worked full time for 12 years, and also with computerised bookkeeping beginning to make its appearance, which Val had no experience of.

But Val got a job with Galvadip, a galvanising firm in Waltloo — a much better-paid and more responsible job than the DSG one. She bought a computer and taught herself to use spreadsheets, and began to computerise the books of the company. After a year, however, there were some ethical problems, and she began to look for another job.

On 2 May 1989 Val started working for Wormald, the fire protection engineers. It was an international company, based in Australia. They used the Accpac accounting system, which Val learned, and became something of a fundi in. But that was also the time when overseas firms were disinvesting in South Africa, and the South African branch of Wormald decided to go it alone, and became Republic Automatic Sprinklers (Rasco), and did not prosper as much as they had hoped. After working there for five years, Val left at the end of September 1994.

Val also used the experience she had gained of running a church book store in Zululand to run an Orthodox book store in Johannesburg for the Orthodox Society of St Nicholas of Japan. She took over the running of it with  R600.00 worth of stock, and by the time we had to close it in 1999 the stock was worth more than R40000.oo.

Her next job was with Levenstein’s, which were an accounting firm, and her job was to travel around to the various clients with a laptop computer, troubleshooting their accounting problems. That entailed buying a new car, and after comparing fuel consumption figures, and testing how well our growing children fitted into the back seat of various models, we bought a Mazda 323 Sting, because Val had to travel to the office in Johannesburg every day. But that proved to be a problem. The new democratic South Africa had nine provinces instead of the old four, and the capital of Gauteng (then called PWV) was moved to Johannesburg. That meant that civil servants who had previously worked at the Transvaal Provincial Administration in Pretoria were now also on the road to Johannesburg at the same time, and the newly enlarged freeway was unable to cope. It was stop-go traffic all the way, 70 km each day, five days a week.

Then a bloke at Applico, who were agents for Accpac software, offered Val a job as a teacher/troubleshooter for Accpac users, and she worked there for a few months, but found it a bit frustrating. She preferred to be in control of her own set of books, and in June 1995 she started working at Echo Prestress Concrete at Cloorkop. It was only half the distance she had had to travel to Levenstein’s in Berea, Johannesburg, but it was still a long drive in heavy traffic, so she began looking for a job closer to home again.

She got a job as a kind of assistant to the financial manager of a security firm, Astron-Bexforce. They installed and monitored burglar alarms and provided security guards and things like that. It seemed that with the coming of the democratic South Africa there was no need for a large standing army, and so lots of ex-soldiers and their dogs set up security firms, which worked fine until they had more clients than they could handle and the administration got too much for them. So they began to amalgamate, and Val’s job was to integrate the books and accounting systems of the smaller firms that were taken over. Then Astron-Bexforce was itself taken over by Sentry Security (which had itself started as a small neighbourhood security operation called Sandton Sentry). The financial manager of the Pretoria branch left, and Val applied for, and got, his job. That meant working long hours, and running the whole Pretoria accounting office, and it continued growing.

Then Sentry Security was itself taken over by an overseas firm, Tyco, which was the British arm of an American company, ADT. The work load increased even more, because the American headquarters wanted timely reporting, which meant that the British branch had a deadline, and the South Africans had an even tighter deadline  to meet the British deadline. But they were reluctant to employ new staff to meet these requirements. Eventually they decided to centralise things at the head office in Johannesburg, and Val had to move there, and travel 50km each way again — the very thing that she had hoped to avoid by taking the job in the first place.

Val Hayes, on her 65th birthday (25 Nov 2013). She planned to retire at the end of the month, but SAMA asked her to stay on until the financial year end.

Val Hayes, on her 65th birthday (25 Nov 2013). She planned to retire at the end of the month, but SAMA asked her to stay on until the financial year end.

So Val left ADT at the end of July 2006 and found another job, closer to home, with a start-up company called Telezero. It was at much lower pay, but Val reckoned that if she carried on with ADT until she retired she would have spent a year of her life sitting in traffic jams. Telezero sold international telephone cards, and it had grown so rapidly that the guy who ran it had lost track of who owed him money, and wanted Val to set up the books for him properly. She did, but she not only gave him the welcome news of how much money people owed him, but also the unwelcome news of how much he owed to the tax people, in VAT, employees tax and more. So she left after barely six months, as did most of the rest of the staff.

And so in April 2007 she started working at the South African Medical Association, as her last full-time job, and retires from there today. We’re looking forward to having more time together.

Val Hayes in her office at the South African Medical Association (SAMA)

Val Hayes in her office at the South African Medical Association (SAMA)

A new home for our family web pages

Our family web pages, which have been inaccessible for more than a year, are now back on line, and you can see our main family history page at:

http://www.khanya.org.za/famhist1.htm

We have had some family web pages since 1996, long before we started this blog, At first they were hosted by Geocities, but then Geocities was taken over by Yahoo! and killed off. We moved the pages to Bravenet, but that died about a year ago, and when it was clear that there was no hope of it’s being  rescuscitated, we’ve moved the pages to this site.

So if you had links to any of our pages are one of the old sites, please move them to this one!

It will take some time before we get everything working again, and some links are still broken, but the main family history page seems to be working OK for now.

 

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.

Visiting family in Durban, July 2012

After spending a few days in Pietermaritzburg at the Aberfeldy B&B in Scottsville (which we can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone), we came down to Duban and visted Val’s aunt, Pat van der Merwe, formerly Terblanche, born Greene.

Val Hayes, Jared Alldred, Pat van der Merwe, 14 July 2012

We saw aunt Pat when we went to the Western Cape on holiday last year, but had not seen Jared since he was 9 months old, and now he is 12, so perhaps that warrants a special picture.

Jared Alldred, aged 12

Pat is Val’s father’s sister, and Jared is her great grandson (and Val’s first cousin twice removed). Pat is staying with her youngest daughter Edwina (Jared’s great-aunt) in Durban.

While visiting them we warched rugby, the Sharks playing the Cheetahs in the Super-15 tournament, and the Sharks won by a big enough margin to move on to the nextr stage in the competition.

On Sunday morning we went to church at St Nicholas Church in Durban North, and then went down to the Pirates Lifesaving Club to meet some Hannan cousins I do not think I had met before.

Bill Hannan was the son of Duncan McFarlane Hannan, the youngest brother of my grandmother Janet McCartney Hannan, and we met him and his two sons Shawn and Clyde, and had lunch with them at the lifesaving club. Shawn and Clyde are my second cousins, and our great grandparents were William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane of Glasgow in Scotland. William and Ellen had seven children, four of whom came to Southern Africa.

Bill Hannan, Val Hayes, Clyde & Shawn Hannan, at Durban, 15 July 2012

The children who stayed behind were the eldest son, Tom, a daughter Maria, and a son Stanley Livingstone Hannan, who was killed in the First World War.

Bill Hannan

Those who came to Southern Africa were Emily (or Amelia), who married first Charlie Mould and then Arthur Sharp; Janet (my grandmother), who married George Growdon; David, who married Agnes Irvine and lived in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), and Duncan (Bill’s father) who married Margaret Helen Bain.

Earlier in our holiday we visited Peter Badcock Walters, who is descended from David and Agnes Hannan, and another of their descendants is Clyde Alexander Hannan, now an archiect in Mthatha in the Eastern Cape. Bill said that his Clyde was named after the other one, because they thought it was a nice name, and Shawn commented that it was a bit wet, since it was a river, but that was probably the origin, since the Hannans lived at Clydeside in Scotland.

We had not known that Clyde and Shawn were married, and Clyde’s wife and daughter are now living in Shropshire, UK, on the Welsh border, where Clyde hopes to join them , and Shawn’s daughters, Giorgia and Maxine are very active in sports, and Giorgia has played hockey for South Africa.

Clyde Hannan

Clyde and Shawn grew up at Scottburgh on the Natal South Coast, and swimming and lifesaving were very much part of their lives on the coast.

It was good to make contact with another branch of the Hannan family, one that we had had little contact with before.

We’ve had a fair bit of contact with the descendants of Tom Hannan, most of whom remained in Scotland. My mother told me about her uncle Tom, who was a conscientious objector in the First World War, and spent two years in jail for it. In my youth this made him something of a hero in  my eyes, even though my mother also told me that uncle Tom Hannan wasn’t a pacifist, but was a conscientious objector because he was a socialist, and she said he sent his children to the socialist Sunday School.

When I went overseas to study I met Tom’s son Willie Hannan, who was MP for Maryhill in Glasgow, and my mother’s Rhodesian cousin Betty regarded him as a terrible man, proposing sanctions against Rhodesia after UDI, so before I met him I pictured him as a wild-eyed Che Guevara-type revolutionary, but was slightly disappointed to find thad he wasn’t at all like that, but was very respectable and rather conservative.

Shawn Hannan

But he was very kind to me, and when my mother travelled to the UK he introduced us to the other members of the family, his sisters Ella, Tilda and Ria, and took us to see the small town of Girvan, where the Hannans had originally lived before they went to Glasgow. I’m still in touch with some members of that branch of the family on Facebook.

The biggest remaining mystery of the seven children of William Hannan and Ellen McFarlane is Maria (Ria) Hannan, born about 1893, and said to have married a Jack Cochrane, but we don’t know if they had any children, or what happened to them at all.

After lunch with the Hannans we then visited Frank and Erna Vause in Durban North. Their main hobby is the collecting of Royal Doulton China, and family history takes second place to that. They have a most amazing collection, which occupies many of the rooms of their house.

We spent quite a bit of time discussing a Vause family tree, which many different members of the family have variants of, which traces the origin of the family to Vaux, De Vaux, or De Vallibus families, but always shows a gap of a couple of hundred years between them and the known ancestors. Different branches of the family have slightlky different versions of this family tree, but I believe the original was drawn up by one Arthur Wyatt Ellis, son of Henry Vause Ellis, who was born about 1880 in Reynoldston, Glamorgan, Wales.

Frank & Erna Vause, Steve Hayes

 

More family holiday visits

On our holiday travels we have turned homewards again. On Thursday 12 May we left Cape Town and travelled to Knysna, where we visited my cousin Glenda Lauwrens (nee Growdon) and her husband Brian. We also saw Glenda’s daughter Joanne and her children John, 8, and Kate, who is nearly 6. We hadn’t seen Glenda, Brian and Joanne since they moved to Knysna 21 years ago, and had not met Joanne’s children at all. Glenda’s father, Stanley Growdon (1918-1995), was my mother’s youngest brother.

Glenda Lauwrens, John Tanner, Steve Hayes, Kate & Joanne Tanner; Knysna, 12 May 2011

The next day we went to Sedgefield see Val’s dad’s cousin, Patrick  Clark, and his wife Carol. They are related on the Greene side; Patrick’s mother, Gladys Clark (1907-1997), born Greene, was the younger sister of Val’s grandfather Allan Dudley Greene (1893-1942).

Carol & Patrick Clark and Val Hayes; Sedgefield, 13 May 2011

On Saturday 14 May we travelled to Port Elizabeth, where we visited Val’s aunt Nat Greene, the widow of her uncle Roy Greene (1923-1975). Nat gave us the news that her granddaughter Samantha Greene had married Wayne Greenhaigh on 22 Apr 2011 at Cambridge Methodist Church in East London, but Nat had been unable to attend, as she had flu at the time.

Nat Greene and Val Hayes, nee Greene; Port Elizabeth 14 May 2011

Today we’re planning to leave Port Elizabeth for Stutterheim, where we hope to see another cousin on the Growdon side of the family, Hamish Scott.

Looking for Franca Greene, nee Bladezki

Have you ever watched Heir Hunters on the History Channel? We have had heir hunters looking for the heirs of Ignat Bladezki. Two different lots of heir hunters in the UK have contacted us in the last couple of weeks, looking for the heirs of Ignat Bladezki, who died in Coventry, England, in May last year.

Our connection is that a daughter of Ignat Bladezki, Franca, married Val’s dad’s cousin, Errol Royden Norman Greene. We met Franca Greene once, about 18 years ago, when she was living in Bryanston with her daughter Courtney, who was then about 14. Errol Greene died in 1980, when Courtney was less than a year old. We chatted about family history, and Franca gave us some details for the family tree. She said her father, Ignat Bladezki, was born in Russia, but had deserted from the Red Army and gone to live in England, so it may not even have been his real name, and he spoke very little about family connections. He married Yola Conti, who died some years before he did, and, according to the heir hunters, he himself died in a nursing home and no one on the staff knew who his relatives were.

We’ve lost touch with Franca, and Courtney, who must be about 30 now, may have married and changed her name. But we’d like to get in touch with Franca again, to let her know that her father has died, and also that she probably stands to inherit a sum large enough to make the heir hunters think it worth their while to try to trace the next-of-kin (they make their money by taking a commission).

Franca was Errol Greene’s second wife. He had two daughters by his first wife, Dionne and Tracey. They don’t stand to inherit anything, but if they can be traced they may help us to find Franca. Franca told us that Tracey had married a Grant Stack. So if anyone reading this knows where Franca or Courtney are, please ask them to get in touch with us.


Errol Greene ran an air-conditioning business in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, before his death in 1980.

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