William Park of Bath, Belfast and Quebec

My great-great grandmother was Matilda Park (1828-1881). She was born in Belfast, Ireland, and married Richard Vause in Bath, Somerset, England, in 1852 and they emigrated to Natal in the following month.

Richard Vause was born in Hull, and grew up there, and so one of the mysteries of our family history is how he met and married a girl who lived in Bath. He did work in shipping for a while, and that may have led him to travel, but Bath was not exactly a major port.

Matilda was the youngest daughter of William Park (c1780-1844) and Mary Martin (c1784-1851).Her death announcement in The Times (Jun 17, 1881) reads:

On the 12th May, at her residence, Bellevue, aged 52, deeply lamented,
MATILDA, the much-loved wife of RICHARD VAUSE, of Robinson, Vause, and Co.,
Durban, Natal, youngest daughter of the late William Park, Esq., of Bath,
Somersetshire (formerly of Belfast and Quebec, Canada), and granddaughter of
the late John Martin, Esq., of Messrs. John Martin and Co., Belfast,
Ireland. Friends at a distance will kindly accept this intimation.

Also in The Times (Mar 5, 1855) appears this death announcement:

On the 1st inst., in his 35th year, Samuel Martin Harrison, Esq., youngest
son of the late John Knox Harrison, Esq., and grandson of the late John
Martin, Esq., of Belfast.

So Samuel Martin Harrison was possibly a first cousin of Matilda Park, and John Knox Harrison may have married a sister of Mary Martin.

Mary Martin is described as the daughter of John Martin of John Martin & Co, Belfast.

Matilda Park and Richard Vause were married in a double wedding ceremony, along with Matilda’s sister Octavia. The Bath Herald of 10 Jan 1852 carried the following marriage announcement

Jan. 6, at St Saviour’s, in this city, by the Rev. Dr. Stamer, Rector, Frederick Robert Hawkins, esq., of Trowbridge, to Octavia, daughter of the late William Park, esq., of Belfast.
At the same time Richard Vause, esq., of Hull, to Matilda also daughter of the late William Park esq., of Belfast.

The name Octavia could imply that she was the eighth child in the family (making Matilda the ninth), and there were certainly other siblings.

A death announcement in the Natal Mercury reports that Annie G. Barrett (born Park) sister of Matilda Vause died 19 Aug 1871 New York, aged 52. Another death announcement in the Natal Mercury noted that Alice Bruce, wife of John Bruce of the Surveyor General’s Department, niece of Matilda Vause (born Park) died 21 MAR 1877 at Rosehill, Port Louis, Mauritius aged 28. Another announcement in the same paper noted that William Bruce of the Storekeeper General’s Department died at Port Louis, Mauritius on 3 June 1885, and that he was a nephew of Matilda Vause.

A marriage register entry shows that Margaret Martin Park married James Drake in Bath in 1848.

I’m interested in finding out more about William Park, and his connections with Belfast and Quebec. There is some more about him on our family Wiki pages. We’d also like to know more about his children, and descendants of his other children, and more about the Martin family of Belfast. There is more information about Matilda Park and her husband Richard Vause here.

Death of Canadian author Mollie Gillen

Mollie Gillen, who died recently at the age of 100, was not a relative, as far as we know, but she made an enormous contribution to our family history research into the Green family.

As her obituary in the Toronto Globe & Mail puts it

Born and educated in Australia, married to a Canadian sergeant in wartime England, Mrs. Gillen lived and worked here for most of her very long life. No more than 5-foot-2, with bespectacled hazel eyes and curly brown hair – which eventually turned into a snowy crown – she was the author of several acclaimed biographies, including an early study of Lucy Maud Montgomery…

She published The Masseys: Founding Family in 1965; The Prince and His Lady, an intrepidly researched study of Queen Victoria’s father, Edward Duke of Kent, and his mistress, Madame de St. Laurent, in 1970; and in 1972, The Assassination of the Prime Minister, a biography of Spencer Perceval, who was shot through the heart in the lobby of the British House of Commons during the Luddite riots of 1812.

Ir was The prince and his lady that put us on the track of the history of the Green family.

Val went to see her great-aunt Gladys Clark, who lived in Ixopo, to ask about the Green family, and she said that her grandfather was “General Green”, who had lived in South West Africa (now Namibia). Reference to history books, such as Vedder’s South West Africa in early times showed that he was Fred Green, an elephant hunter.

A few years later, when we lived in Zululand, we visited Gladys Clark’s daughter, Dion Stewart, who lived in Empangeni, and she told us that Fred Green’s father or grandfather was the Duke of Kent. That sent us back to the library, looking for books on the Duke of Kent, one of which was Mollie Gillen’s The prince and his lady, which refuted the family legend of royal descent, but in the course of doing it showed the actual ancestry of Fred Green’s father, William John Green, alias William Goodall Green, who was the illegitimate son of William Goodall, a London merchant, and Eliza Green, the daughter of a Quebec butcher.

We wrote to Mollie Gillen, and she very kindly sent us copies of her research materials, including the baptism records of William Goodall Green and other members of the Green and related families, and his will, and that of Thomas Esdaile, his stepfather, who later married Eliza Green.

So thanks to Mollie Gillen’s research we were able to trace more of the early history of the Green family. She was a careful researcher who documented every one of the claims she made in her book, as the material she sent us showed.

See here for more on the early history of the Green family.

So we salute Mollie Gillen. She may not have had formal qualifications, but she was a careful and diligent historian, and we owe her a great deal.

Surge of interest in Wiki pages

There’s been a sudden surge of interest in our family history Wiki pages, with over 70 visitors last Monday, according to the statistics., most of them from South Africa and the USA.

I’m not quite sure what brought that on, but so far there haven’t been been any contributions of information from anyone other than me. I wish a few other people would at least add a sentence or two here and there. It’s really quite easy to do, and there’s more information on how to do it here.

We recently got an e-mail from Caitlin Green, so I added a page of information about the Green family, which has spread to just about every continent from Quebec, which is the first place we’ve managed to trace it to, though it probably to there from somewhere else.

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