Ellwood and Pearson Families

This past week, stimulated by the visit of Zania and Ian from Edinburgh,  I have been looking through boxes of old family photos and making scans.  Zania and I are “double-cousins” as our grandparents were brothers who married sisters, and that started us off talking about the older generations.  Our Grandfathers were the sons of Daniel William Pearson and his wife Sarah Walker.

daniel william pearson family

The family of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Walker

Daniel William Pearson,  the son of William Pearson and Sarah Johnson was born in 16 Nov 1855 in Whitehaven  he married  Sarah Jane Walker, born 10 Dec 1957, the daughter of William Walker and Agnes Duke.

Daniel William died on 26 Jan 1929

Obituary from the Whitehaven News

DEATH OF FORMER OFFICIAL

The death occurred on Saturday, after a long illness, of Mr D.W. Pearson, of Victoria Road, Whitehaven. Mr Pearson, who was well-known in the town and district, filled the position of sanitary and m,arkets inspector for 27 years, having been appointed in 1897, three years after the incorporation of the borough. He retired about four years ago, owing to failing health. Previous to his appointment as a council official, he carried on business in Duke Street, Whitehaven, as a butcher. Mr Pearson, who was 73 years of age, belonged to an old and respected Whitehaven family. He leaves a widow and grown-up family of six sons and one daughter.

He left school early, and was a butcher, and was appointed Sanitary Inspector for Whitehaven, a post he held for the rest of his working life.

They had nine children, eight sons and one daughter  (I have always loved this picture)

pearson family

from left to right:  William Walker Pearson, Edith Pearson, Henry Pearson, Charles Pearson, Frank Pearson, Ernest Pearson, Gilbert Pearson, John Pearson and Victor Octavious Pearson

My grandfather was William Walker Pearson, the eldest and Zania and Maxine are the granddaughters of Ernest, the fifth son.   Dear little Victor Octavious married the niece of our grandmothers ( the daughter of their eldest brother John)

Our  grandmothers were the daughters of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr, daughter of Ralph Carr and  Isabella Little, she was born 16 November 1847 in Whitehaven.

thomas ellwood 1845-1914

Thomas Ellwood  was born 17 March 1845 in Wingate Grange, County Durham, the son of John Ellwood and Bridget Anderson,

The Ellwood family moved to County Durham in about 1844 to work on the coal mines, and four of their children were born there. They returned to Cumberland about 1852, where Thomas worked with his father as deputy overman at Croft Pit, before going to sea in the 1860s.

Three of Thomas’s uncles also went to Durham, but they and their families did not return to Whitehaven. His uncle Thomas Saxon Ellwood went to America, while William and Isaac stayed in Durham.

Obituary notice in the Whitehaven News – 1914-12-10
DEATH OF MR T. ELLWOOD, WHITEHAVEN
The death was announced on Saturday of Mr Thomas Ellwood of Duke Street, at the age of 69 years. Mr Ellwood was a native of Whitehaven. He was the eldest son of the late Mr John Ellwood, Low Road, an overman and master wasteman at Croft Pit. The father used to be greatly interested in astronomy and other scientific pursuits, and the son inherited some of this intellectual bent and continued a long connection with the Whitehaven Scientific Association.

john ellwood 1819-1892

John Ellwood 1819-1892

Mr Thomas Ellwood began life by seafaring, in the Maiden Queen under Capt. Smith, of Parton. But he soon left this, and began again in the Whitehaven Colliery. After some years he obtained a manager’s certificate, and then went to a colliery at Dearham as manager, and subsequently to collieries at Wrexham and Workington. He then returned to Whitehaven, and retiring from mining, took over a pawnbroking business in Senhouse Street that had previously been carried on by Mrs Carr, he wife’ mother. This he continued to carry on until the time of his death.
He was twice married. His first wife was a daughter of the late Captain Carr. The Carrs were then living in Senhouse Street. By the first marriage there was a large family – twelve in all, of whom two died and ten survive, who are all grown-up. His second wife was Mrs Jackson, of Duke Street, who survives him.
At one time Mr Ellwood took a very great interest in party politics, and was an active and strong partisan on the Conservative side, in local as well as imperial affairs. In local affairs he used to be one of the foremost spirits in elections for the old town and harbour board; and in imperial affairs he was one of the original promoters of the Whitehaven Conservative Association. In those days Whitehaven Conservatism had no popular organisation, while Liberalism had; and a movement was taken up by twelve of them, who were at once dubbed the twelve apostles, to found an association, which resulted in the establishment of the Club in King Street.
Mr Ellwood also took a great interest in Odd-fellowship. He was a member and officer of the Whitehaven lodge, and has served as Provincial Master of the Whitehaven District.

 

Thomas Ellwood married Mary Carr, the daughter of Isabella Little and Ralph Carr (he died at sea in 1862).

isabella little carr and family

The Carr Family – taken 12 June 1874 (original on glass)   note on the back gives ages -Left to right top:  William Carr (14), Bessie Carr (17), Ralph Carr (23), Thomas Carr (12), Thomas Ellwood (30)  Sitting:   ?    , Isabella Little Carr (63),  Mary Carr Ellwood (31), Isabella Carr Ellwood (on lap), John Ellwood, Ralph Carr Ellwood.

Thomas and Mary had twelve children two of whom died.  William born 22 Sep 1883 who died 5 Nov 1885 and William Edward born 4 Aug 1890 and who died 1 April 1891

thomas ellwood family

Back Left to Right,  Thomas Ellwood, Ralph Carr Ellwood,  Isabella Carr Ellwood, John Ellwood, Mary Carr Ellwood.   Middle L-R :  Elizabeth Renney Ellwood, Martha Ellwood, Margaret Ellwood, Thomas Ellwood.  Front L-R :  Bridget  Ellwood,  Mary Ellwood,  Robert Ellwood

My grandmother Martha (Mattie) was particularly close to her younger sister Margaret (Maggie) and as she left  Whitehaven for South Africa in 1913 to marry  William Walker Pearson, kept up a correspondence with her for the whole of her life.   Unfortunately I do not have portraits of all of her brothers and sisters but will go on searching through the old boxes in case I can find any of John and Mary  when they were young and of Thomas and Robert.

The portraits that I do have are:

ralph carr ellwood 1871-1957

 Ralph Carr Ellwood

born 28 Jan 1871, at New Yard, Workington, Cumberland and he died at 9 Scotch Street, Whitehaven on 18 May 1957

He was interred in Whitehaven Cemetery after a service in the Congregational Churchralph carr ellwood 29 jul1950

 

 

He was a well-known runner in his youth. He lived with Ernest and Maggie Pearson until he died. He had a superb collection of semi-precious stones which he collected on Fleswick Beach near St Bee’s Head.

Zania said that she remembered him as an old man,  at her grandmother’s house


isabella ellwood 1873-1958

 

 

Gran’s eldest sister was  Isabella Carr Ellwood   

born 29 Jul 1873 in Whitehaven and died in Whitehaven in 1958she was married to James Hurst,  they did not have children
As I was growing up I knew of her as “Aunty Belle”  she was a matron in a hospital, and lived in an old terraced house in New Road Whitehaven near the cemetery.     My gran used to tell us tales of Whitehaven and the family and my Mum and Aunty Molly used to say to her that she really should go on a trip and see them all, but she always had a reason why she could not go. isabella ellwood - 1873-1958 One year Aunty Molly had jaundice and Gran went and helped with the children while she was ill.   We had a wonderful old family doctor, the old fashioned kind, and Mum and Aunty Molly told him that they thought that Gran should go and see her sisters.  He then told her that she had been working so hard helping with the family that he thought she needed a trip and that the best thing would be for her to go overseas.  Lo and behold, she and an old friend were gone within 6 months and went again a couple of years later.  It was very good as she was able to see Aunty Belle before she died.


mary ellwood addison 1875-1964

Mary Ellwood 1875-1964 with Jonathan Addison

Mary Ellwood, born 20 May 1875 in Whitehaven, .  Mary died in Belfast on 9 July 1964.   She married Jonathan Addison in 1896 and they had 7 children.  The eldest, Mary was a great friend of my gran, in fact she was only 13 years younger than her.

martha and mary 1956

 

 

 

 

 

My gran managed to visit her in Belfast  when they were both old

 

bessie jupp - martha - mary - john hayes - mary addison hayes

Left to right: Elizabeth Addison Jupp,  Martha Ellwood Pearson, John Hayes, Mary Ellwood Addison, and Elizabeth Addison Hayes

 

 

Mary Addison (b 1898) married John Hayes (no relation to Steve)  and they visited us twice in South Africa.  They had no children of their own and travelled a good deal,  they were really great fun to be with.  John had the most remarkable memory for places. We would be travelling down a road and he would say, “sure and around that corner is ……”  and he was always right.  He had only been there once before!

martha with bessie and len jupp

 

Martha Ellwood Pearson with Elizabeth “Bessie” Addison Jupp and Len Jupp

 

 

When we went to the UK in 1971 we stayed with her sister Elizabeth (b1908) and her husband Len Jupp

(unfortunately the only picture I have is rather blurred)

 

 


elizabeth ellwood 1877-1968

 

Elizabeth Renney Ellwood

was born 26 Jul 1877 in Whitehaven,  she died in 1968

she married Isaac Nicholson (1874)  in Whitehaven on 6th August 1900.

( He was the brother of Catherine Nicholson (b 1871) who was married to John Ellwood the eldest of Thomas Ellwood’s children. (it was their daughter Edith who married Victor Octavious Pearson))

they had two children.  Doris Nicholson and John Ellwood Nicholson.

She married a second time to a man called Tom Caddy.


bridget - bessie - ellwood 1879-1959Bridget Ellwood

(known as Bessie)  was born 8 Aug 1879  in Whitehaven and died 11 Mar 1959

she left Whitehaven and moved to Liverpool in 1916 and lost contact with most of the family.  She married William Fee on 1 Jan 1907 and had two children  Leonard Fee (b1908) and Elsie Fee (b 1917)

she married a second time to   T.W Wilkinson

M4034S-4211

L-R:  Geraint Jones, Vivienne Hall Jones, Allison Jones, Val Hayes

 

Her daughter Elsie married Arthur Hall and they had a daughter Vivienne.  Vivienne married Geraint Jones and they live on a farm in Deiniolen, Caernarfon.  When we were in the UK in 1971 we visited them

 

 


Thomas Carr Ellwood was born on 17 Sep 1881 in Whitehaven.  He married Margaret McMeehan, who was born 25 Dec 1879 in Northern Ireland,  in 1902.  They had 6 children (two daughters and four sons).  We do not have a lot on this branch of the family.  We probably have not worked on it for nearly 40 years so we need to go back and do some more searching!


My beautiful picture

 

Martha Ellwood

was born 17 Nov 1885 in Whitehaven,  she followed her fiance William Walker Pearson to South Africa where they were married in St John’s Church, Pinetown, on 3 November 1913.

William Walker Pearson, the eldest son of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Walker was born 9 Dec 1883 in Whitehaven.

 

william walker pearson 1883-1956He  was a ship broker in Whitehaven, where he managed a fleet of five or six steamers. He came to Natal in 1909 and on 16 November began working for the forwarding office of the Natal Government Railways. When the forwarding office was closed in 1917 he was transferred to the Harbour Revenue Department and ten years later he was in control of shipping intelligence – allocating berths to the ships arriving in the port of Durban. After his marriage in 1913 he and his wife lived in Pinetown, and later at St Thomas’s Road Extension, in Durban. In 1923 the family moved to 315 Main Road, Escombe. He was a member of the United Grand Lodge of Free Masons of England, having been admitted to the Third Degree at the Temperatia Lodge No 2054 at Whitehaven.

Fleswick 315 main rd escombe c1947

“Fleswick”  –  315 Main Road, Escombe  c 1947    the home was named for the beach near St Bees where Martha and her sisters collected semi-precious stones as children.

William and Martha had four children,  William Ellwood Pearson  (1915-1984),  Mary “Molly” Pearson (1918-2003) and her twin Arthur, who died of diptheria, (1918-1919), and Dorothy (1923-1984).

pearson family - escombe boxing day 1935 - smaller


william ellwood pearson 1915-1984

 

 

William Ellwood Pearson  (Billy) –  Born 8  Aug 1915 in Durban, South Africa and died in England in 1984.

He married twice,  first at the Magistrates Court in Durban on 18 Jun 1939 at the age of 23  to Edith Marion Woods  – he is shown as a teacher and her as a music teacher.  This marriage ended in divorce.

 

Luigia Sonetti Pearson with Francis Alan and Rosemary 1952

Alan Pearson, Liuiga Sonetti Pearson with Rosemary Pearson, Francis Pearson,  at Escombe in 1952

On the 13 Jan1948  he married Liuiga (Louisa) Sonetti (b 1927 in Italy) in Cape Town.   They lived for some time in Nigeria, and also in Italy before settling in England, where he worked for Lever Brothers. They had three children,  Francis (1948), Alan (1951) and Rosemary (1952).  They visited William and Martha in Durban in 1952.

Billy spent some years in Guatamala and Belize prior to his final return to the UK.

 

 

 

The last time we met our Pearson cousins was in 1971 when Elaine and I went to the UK, and we have only recently made contact once again.  We are hoping to find out more about that side of the family again

salerno 1956

Sorrento 1956

 

francis alan and rosemary pearson

England 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Mary Pearson 1918-2003

 

Mary “Molly” Pearson

was born on 22 August 1918 in Durban and died in Pinetown on 13 December 2003

Molly married Sydney Weston Gammage who was born in Whetstone, Leicestershire, England on 2 July 1918.  Mary Pearson and Sidney GammageThey were married in  Durban on 16 Mar 1946.   and spent the early years of their marriage at Waschbank in the midlands of Natal, later moving to 35 Rycroft Avenue in Queensburgh, Natal where they spent most of their lives. Sydney died on 15 Jan 1997

Molly and Sydney had 4 children,  Enid, Arthur, Douglas and Margaret.

 

Gammage family

Left to Right:  Back – Douglas Gammage,  Sydney Gammage, Arthur Gammage ,                         Front:  Margaret Gammage, Molly Gammage, Enid Gammage

Enid Gammage Christmas 1974

Enid Gammage  b 1947 married to Justin Ellis with 2 Children Hugh and Bronwen

My beautiful picture

Arthur Gammage b 1951  married to Jennifer Caithness – they have three children,  Keith, Sonja and Hilda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Douglas Gammage and Margaret Gibb Nov 1979

Douglas Gammage  b 1953 married to Margaret Gibb, they had 4 children.  Kenneth,  Daniel (died young), Richard and Laura.

margaret foley 2003

Margaret Gammage b 1957 married to Douglas Foley,  they have two children, Candice and Dylan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Dorothy Pearson and Keith Greene

 

Dorothy Pearson

was born 10 February 1923 in Durban and died  on  9 Mar 1984

She married Keith Greene on the 23 June 1945 at St Paul’s Church, Durban.  (they were the first couple ever to have their wedding photographed inside the church)  Keith was born in Johannesburg on 4 July 1922.Keith and Dorothy Greene

 

They lived all their married life at 37 Seymour Road, Queensburgh.   Close to William and Martha’s home Fleswick at 315 Main Road

They had two daughters , Valerie and Elaine

 

Valerie Greene Hayes

Valerie Greene b 1948  married to Stephen Hayes in 1974 they have three children,  Bridget,  Simon, and Jethro.

Elaine Greene Machin

Elaine Greene  b 1951   married to John Machin in 1973.  They have three children, Gregory, Alan and Lesley.  (seen in this picture with her granddaughter Abby, daughter of Gregory)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

greene and gammage descendants 1978

Greene and Gammage families in 1978.     Left to right:  Top – John Machin,  Douglas Gammage, Doug Foley, Arthur Gammage, Sydney Gammage, Enid Ellis holding Hugh, Keith Greene, Stephen Hayes,  Ella Hayes (his mother)  Front:  Margaret Foley, Elaine Machin holding Gregory, Molly Gammage holding Simon Hayes,  Dorothy Greene holding Bridget Hayes and Valerie Hayes.  This was the last time that we were all together for a very long time.


margaret ellwood pearson 1892-1958

 

Margaret Ellwood

the youngest child of Thomas Ellwood and Mary Carr was born in Whitehaven on 23 Apr 1892 and she married Ernest Pearson, the fifth son of Daniel William Pearson and Sarah Johnson in 1916.   She died in 1958

After her death Ernest remarried in 1961 to May Smith,  he died in 1975

 

Ernie and Maggie had four children,  Gilbert (b 1917),  Ralph (b 1920),  John (b 1923) and Margaret (b 1929)


gilbert pearson 1917-1944 - June 1942

Gilbert Pearson June 1942

 

Gilbert Ellwood Pearson

was born in Whitehaven 17  Dec 1917.  He was killed in a munition accident right at the very end of the war, in Burma  on 5 June 1944

he is buried at IMPHAL WAR CEMETERY

 

 


Ralph Pearson

was born at 60 Victoria Rd,  Workington.  He was educated in Whitehaven. Served in Royal Air Force in Second World War, mainly in personnel management. After the war spent most of his working in Navy, Army & Air Force Institutes (NAAFI), in Egypt, Middle East and Singapore. Retired in 1983.

He married Jean Mary Bearn (b 1921)on  9 Aug 1952,  and they had three children, Joseph, Susan and Gordon.

jean and gordon pearsonLike us Ralph was extremely interested in the Family History and did an enormous amount of research.  We corresponded regularly.  We are still looking for a photo of Ralph (anyone in the family who has a good one, it would be most welcome)

In 1996 I won  a ticket to the FA Cup Final between Manchester United and Liverpool and was in London for a week.  I went to Berkhamstead visit.  Ralph had died  about 4 months before but I met Jean and the family.  We are in touch with Gordon.


john pearson sept 1941 aged 17

John Pearson June 1942 aged 17

 

John Pearson

born 30 Oct 1923 in Whitehaven.  He married Christiana Rose Nora Lees on 4 Aug 1947.   We knew her as Nora and corresponded for many years.  We were able to visit her in 2005, she gave us a lot of information on the family and told wonderful stories.  John died on 12 March 1984 and Nora on  1 February 2017,  we are so glad to have known her.

John and Nora had two daughters Maxine and Zania.

 

maxine nora and zania 90

Nora Pearson celebrating her 90th birthday with Maxine and Zania

maxine

Maxine Pearson b 1948 married to John Wincott,  they have two children,  Emma and Paul

zania mckenzie

Zania Pearson b 1953  married to Ian McKenzie,  they had three children,  Twins Litza and Alexander ( Alexander died at birth) , and Andrea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a wonderful visit with them in 2005 in Edinburgh and have been lucky that both Maxine and John  and Zania and Ian have been able to visit South Africa, and spend an hour or two with us

with maxine and zania in edinburgh

Left to right:  Maxine, John, Val, Ian, Zania,  in Edinburgh  2005


is this Margaret Pearson Worsley 6 jun 1949

 

Edith Margaret Pearson

the youngest child of Ernest Pearson and Margaret Ellwood was born on 15 Sep 1929

she married Edward Worsley on 4 April 1943

They had two children,  Caroline b abt 1954  and Michael born 24 Oct 1957

We had very little contact with her side of the family.

So this is just a little bit of the Pearson/Ellwood tree – mostly that which links the two families.  Anyone who has anything further to add we would love to hear from you.

 

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Visiting Pearson/Ellwood cousins

Last week we had visits from two cousins on the Pearson/Ellwood side of the family that we hadn’t seen for a long time.

On Tuesday 24 October we went to the Balalaika Hotel in Sandton to meet Ian and Zania McKenzie from Edinburgh. They were on a tour that had begun in the Western Cape, and gone along to the Eastern Cape. They had visited the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, and were about to go to the Kruger National Park, then to the Victoria Falls and home.

Zania McKenzie & Val Hayes, Balalaika Hotel, Sandton 24 Oct 2017

We had last seen them 12 years ago, when we visited Scotland in 2005. Zania is Val’s double second cousin — her grandfather Ernie Pearson was the brother of Val’s grandfather William Walker Pearson, and her grandmother Margaret Ellwood was the sister of Val’s grandmother Martha Ellwood.

Zania & Ian McKenzie

It was quite interesting to me to see the Balalaika Hotel, a large multistorey affair in a cobbled street (where some clown tried to run us over when we were going to the hotel), and a row of tall trees. In my youth the Balalaika was more of a nightclub than a hotel, s single-storey building with coloured lights in the garden in Sandown, which was then the heart of Joburg’s “mink and manure” belt, where people used to go to watch polo and gymkhanas. Now it is full of high-rise buildings, mostly office blocks.

The other cousin we saw was Sonja Gammage, who had been attending a Classics Colloquium in Centurion. She had spent a couple of years at Oxford in England doing her Masters, and is now completing her doctorate at UKZN. I was fascinated to learn that her thesis is on Atticising tendencies in Greek novels of the 2nd Century AD. I hadn’t known that novels as a literary genre went back that far, and as they would all have had to be hand copied, they must have been pretty expensive.

Sonja Gammage and Val Hayes at Hawk Lake Spur, Centurion. 28 October 2017

It was even longer since we had seen Sonja — 14 years. We had last seen her at the funeral of her grandmother Mollie Gammage, who was Val’s aunt.

 

Gravestone of Gladys Nourse

Recently a picture of the gravestone of my great-aunt Gladys Nourse popped up on FamilySearch, with no indication of its location. It solved one family history mystery for me, because for over 40 years I had been looking for her date of death, but had been unable to find it.


The inscription reads:

In loving memory
of
Gladys Nourse (nee Vause)
Born 10th June 1891
Died 27th February 1964
Loving mother of Joy Gazzard and
Peggy Kyle

I had had a rough idea of when she had died because in January 1963 my mother and I had taken by grandmother Lily Hayes to tea at the Pepperpots in Kloof, then a pleasant country tea gardsn, but the site is now in the middle of a car park for a shopping mall. While we were having tea and cream scones, and warding off the bees that wanted to share it with us, my gran told us something of the family history — about her grandfather who was mayor of Durban. Afterwards we took her to see her sister Gladys, who was ill. And that was the last I ever heard of great-aunt Gladys while she was alive. I don’t recall ever meeting her in person, though I may have done when I was much younger (about 4 or 5).

I had heard snippets about her at various times. My father had once told me my uncle was a famous cricketer, Dudley Nourse. Much later, when we started doing family history, I discovered that Dudley wasn’t really an uncle, but was great-aunt Gladys’s stepson, from her husband Dave Nourse’s first wife. But Dave Nourse was a cricketer in his own right, having played for Natal for many years, and closing his first-class career by scoring 55 for Western Province against Australia at the age of 58, and at age 55 he scored 219 not out for Western Province against Natal (his old team).

When I was 12 I went to spend a holiday with some friends at the sugar experiment station at Mount Edgecombe, and my father told me that his uncle named Wilkinson owned a large house at Ottawa nearby. My friend and I rode over to Ottawa on bicycles to see it, and we saw it beyond a river, but we would have had to climb a steep hill through the bush to reach it. Perhaps it was just as well we didn’t, because I later learned that great-aunt Gladys had had a rather acrimonious divorce from Gilbert Wilkinson, her first husband, before marrying Dave Nourse.

Much later, in 1987, we spent some time with a cousin of my father’s, Don Stayt, who was also interested in the family history, and we spent a pleasant few days swapping floppy disks on our Osborne portable computers to share our discoveries. He was able to tell me more about great-aunt Gladys’s side of the family, but we still did not know when she had died.

Now I’m in contact with some cousins from that side of the family on Facebook, which does make it easier for family members to stay in touch.

So here’s the family, as we have it now:

Family Group Report
For: Richard Wyatt Vause  (ID=  232)
Date Prepared: 28 Sep 2017
NAME: VAUSE, Richard Wyatt, Born 10 Feb 1854 in Durban, Natal,
Died 28 May 1926 in Durban, Natal at age 72; FATHER: VAUSE,
Richard, Born 2 May 1822, Died 29 Aug 1886 at age 64; MOTHER:
PARK, Matilda, Born 29 May 1828, Died 12 May 1881 at age 52

MARRIED 3 Feb 1881 in St Paul's, Durban, to COTTAM, Margaret
Ellen, Born 25 Apr 1860 in Manchester, Died 7 Aug 1891 in
Pietermaritzburg at age 31; FATHER: COTTAM, John Bagot, Born
30 Jul 1836, Died 3 Jun 1911 at age 74; MOTHER: HERBERT,
Adelaide, Born 10 Oct 1831, Died 10 Aug 1909 at age 77

CHILDREN:
1. M VAUSE, Richard John Wyatt, born 23 Mar 1882 in
Pietermaritzburg, died 19 Aug 1924 in Bloemhof, Transvaal;
Married 7 Jul 1920 to HOOLE, Mabel; 1 child
2. F VAUSE, Ruby Wyatt, born 21 Mar 1883 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 7 Jun 1961 in Durban; Married 28 Apr 1904 to STAYT,
John; 3 children
3. F VAUSE, Lilian Wyatt, born 18 Sep 1884 in Pietermaritzburg,
died 9 Jan 1971 in Durban; Married 9 Jun 1904 to HAYES,
Percy Wynn; 3 children
4. F VAUSE, Kathleen Wyatt, born 30 Apr 1887, died 13 Aug 1887
in Pietermaritzburg
5. F VAUSE, Violet, born ??? 1888, died 4 Jun 1889 in
Pietermaritzburg
6. F VAUSE, Gladys Vere Wyatt, born 10 Jun 1891 in Natal, died
27 Feb 1964 in South Africa; Married 15 Feb 1911 to
WILKINSON, Gilbert Anthony Marshall; 2 children

Michell family of Cornwall

We haven’t made any startling family history discoveries for a while, and recently I’ve been working on the Michell family of Cornwall. My great great great grandmother Mary Michell (1791-1873) married Richard Greenaway at Blisland, Cornwall in 1812, and they had nine children.

Mary Michell herself was the daughter of Benjamin Michell (1767-1848) and Elizabeth Lego (1762-1837) — I wonder if there is a rich relative somewhere who made a fortune out of children’s toys! I’ve been following up some of Mary’s siblings, and quite a number of their descendants seem to have emigrate to Ontario in Canada and then skipped over the border to Michigan in the USA. Several branches of the family seem to have changed the spelling of the surname to Mitchell, and even those who didn’t often had it recorded with that spelling by census takers and the like, so Michell was probably pronounced the same as Mitchell, with the emphasis on the first syllable.

So quite a number of Michell descendants ended up in Osceola County, Michigan.

Osceola County, Michigan, was originally called Unwattin, and is shown as such on this 1842 map.
By Henry Schenck Tanner – File:1842 A new map of Michigan with its canals roads distances by H.S. Tanner

The US and Canadian branches of the Michell family lived about 320 miles apart, though both were quite a lot further from Cornwall.

Heirlooms and other family news

An heirloom is an article or object that has been in a family for several generations. Most objects that might become heirlooms don’t, because they are broken, thrown away, stolen or destroyed or lost (by fire, flood, earthquake etc). So in the end, only a few may survive to be passed on from one generation to another.

bell01Those that do survive, however, often have stories attached to them, and the stories are often forgotten, so we’re recording the story of one such heirloom — a measuring tape in the shape of a china fisherwoman. It was made in Germany, and belonged to Auntie Belle.

Auntie Belle was Val’s great aunt, Isabella Carr Ellwood (1873-1958), who was Matron in a hospital in Whitehaven, Cumberland, England. She was married to Jim Hurst, and they had no children. Val’s grandmother, Mattie Pearson (née Ellwood), who was living in a granny flat with Val’s parents in Escombe, Natal, travelled to the UK about the time that Auntie Belle died, and brought back the measuring tape, and gave it to Val, who was then about 9 years old.

Mattie Pearson wrote regularly to her brothers and sisters in England, and especially to her younger sister Maggie, who was married to Ernest Pearson, Mattie’s late husbands brother, which made him a double brother-in-law. The family tried in vain to persuade Mattie to make the journey home to England to see her brothers and sisters. When Mattie’s daughter (Val’s Auntie Mollie) was ill with jaundice, Mattie stayed with them to look after the children. When Mollie recovered, the family primed the family doctor, Doctor Rosenthal (who was well-known and well-loved in Escombe and vicinity) to tell Mattie that she needed a rest, and that a trip to England to see her family there would do her good. What Dr Rosenthal suggested was tantamount to a command.

Mattie Pearson and her sisters when she visited the UK in 1939, bust before WW2. Mattie is on the front right. Behind her at the back right is Maggie. Bessie was at the top left. We think the other two are Belle and Lizzie -- can anyone identify them?

Mattie Pearson and her sisters when she visited the UK in 1939, just before WW2. Mattie is on the front right. Behind her at the back right is Maggie. Bessie was at the top left. We think the other two are Belle and Lizzie — can anyone identify them?

So Mattie booked a trip on the Southern Cross, a three-week relaxing voyage in company with her old friend Mrs Mitchell who had been glad to join her on her trip, and saw her brothers and sisters. Auntie Belle died either while she was there, or shortly before, and so she brought the fisherwoman measuring tape back for Val.

Mattie Pearson (on the left) at dinner on the ship, with her friend Mrs Mitchell on the right.

Mattie Pearson (on the left) at dinner on the ship, with her friend Mrs Mitchell on the right.

The time for such sea voyages has passed; air travel is quicker and cheaper, but far less relaxing, and if you want to go by sea, for the most part you can only take cruises to nowhere. The days of passenger ships was dying by the early 1970s.  The ship that took Mattie and Mrs Mitchell to England was the Southern Cross.  When Val and her sister Elaine travelled to England in 1971 they went on the very last voyage of the Arawa and came back in September on the very last trip of the Southern Cross.

banana1Now here’s another family artefact that will never become an heirloom because we’ve already eaten it. Our son Simon saw a food programme on TV where the presenter said that food should be artistically presented, so Simon made this artistic arrangement of bananas in the fruit bowl. But the photo might last a bit longer than the bananas.

Mention of the Ellwood family, and the fact that Mattie Pearson kept in touch with her siblings by letter for almost 60 years reminds me of changing patterns of communication. When our daughter Bridget went to Greece 20 years ago, we kept in touch by snail mail, writing almost every week. When Bridget got e-mail, it should have been easier to communicate, but it actually wasn’t. E-mail messages were much less frequent and much less informative. Now there is Facebook, but Facebook, though it allows one to share photos, lends itself to textbites rather like soundbites. You see a photo of a place and realise that whoever posted it might have visited it, but there is little description of the when, where and how, or who they were with, or what they did there.

For the last 3 weeks our internet connection has been faulty. I’ve been able to download e-mail (after 5-20 attempts), but the replies are all queued, waiting to be sent when the line is repaired (for more on this problem and the reasons for it, see Incommunicado). But in these 3 weeks there have been almost no personal messages from friends or family. There was one very welcome message from a cousin whose existence I was quite unaware of — Roxanne Williamson, née Dryden — and I’ll reply to that more fully when our internet service has been restored (if you are reading this, then it will have been restored). But apart from that all the genuine mail has been in two mailing lists, one from the Orthodox Peace Fellowship, and the other the Legacy User Group – a support service for a genealogy program I use. Two-thirds of the mail that we have downloaded with such difficulty is spam — things like discount offers from shops I’ve never heard of (which country is “Macy’s” in? Or “Everest Windows” or “Takahashi?).

But that’s what the state our communication has been reduced to, in spite of, or perhaps because of, all the marvellous technological aids. I can receive and send email without moving my bum from this chair, whereas to send a snail-mail letter I have to go 2,6 kilometres to the nearest post box, a 40-minute walk one way. Yet Mattie Pearson managed to write to her sister Maggie once a week, and at less frequent intervals to her other siblings, and her letters were probably far more informative.

When we first started doing family history just after we were married back in 1974 we tried to re-establish contact with those relatives, and Maggie’s daughter-in-law, Nora Pearson, wrote to us by snail mail once a month or so, long chatty letters telling about her children (Val’s double second cousins) and grandchildren, what was going on in the town, and in their church (she and her husband John had just joined St Begh’s Roman Catholic Church). Now we are “friends” with her children on Facebook, but Facebook censors the communication so we only see about 10% of what they post 10% of the time, and in spite of the wonders of modern technology, we are less in touch with that side of the family than we were by snail mail 40 years ago.

King Solomon’s mines revisited

King Solomon's MinesKing Solomon’s Mines by H. Rider Haggard
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I’ve read this book before, as a child. I certainly saw the film as a child. The only scene I remember from my first reading of the book was Captain Good going around for half the story with a half-shaven face. For the rest of the story it was like reading it for the first time.

But re-reading a book after a lifetime of experience and acquisition of knowledge makes a difference to what you notice, and the significance of things that passed you by when reading it as a child. For a child, it was a straightforward adventure story; the heroes got into difficulties and dangers, and they got out of them. Reading it as an adult, the historical and political background moved to rthe foreground.

Richard Vause, Mayor of Durban 1883-1885

Richard Vause, Mayor of Durban 1883-1885

The book was published in 1885, and the action of the story seems to have taken place in 1883-84. The protagonist and narrator, Allan Quatermain, was living on the Berea in Durban then. And my great great grandfather, Richard Vause, was also living there, and was mayor of Durban at the time — he died the following year, in 1886. That gives a new and personal interest to the story. I didn’t know that when I first read the book. Yes, I knew I had an ancestor who had been mayor of Durban at one time (acually five times), but had little idea of the dates until I began researching family history.

Quatermain also mentioned fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879, and escaping from the Battle of Isandlwana (which the Zulus won pretty decisively) because he was sent back with some wagons — precisely what happened to my great grandfather, Wyatt Vause. Perhaps H. Rider Haggard himself lived on the Berea, heard the story from my great grandfather, and decided to incorporate it into his book;

Allan Quatermain also mentions having been an elephant hunter, and describes in some detail how elephant hunters travelled in those days — the kind of wagons they used, the features they looked for in buying them, and how they travelled. That sort of thing is rarely mentioned in contemporary primary sources — letters and diaries and news items and the like. The people who wrote those things assumed their readers knew about them. But a writer of fiction, who knew most of his readers would be in the UK and would be unfamiliar with them, takes care to describe them in some detail. My wife Val’s great great grandfather, Fred Green, was an elephant hunter in what is now Namibia and Botswana, and so those little details throw light on his life too.

In many ways the story is fantasy. It describes a country unknown to outsiders. In the 20th century, when most of the world was mapped, it was no longer possible to do that, and so such fictional countries were moved to other planets and other galaxies and became science fiction. But in other ways the story is not like that — the people in the strange country are hypothetical relatives of the Zulus, and speak a dialect of Zulu, so the travellers are able to communicate with them.

It is also a typical fairy story — the exiled prince who returns to overthrow the wicked usurper and reestablish justice in the land.

And there is also a darker side to the story, which takes place on the cusp of the New Imperialism and the Scramble for Africa. From about 1880 onwards the New Imperialism gave rise to an ideology of imperialism, which was racist at its root. While racism was not unknown before, it became much more ideologically driven after the rise of the New Imperialism, and a consciousness of ethnic superiority was actively promoted in the imperialist powers. Children’s literature abounded with it, and it was taught in schools.

There are some echoes of this in King Solomon’s Mines. Allan Quatermain disapproaves of the budding romance between one of his white companions and a young black woman. While in Natal, Quatermain is upset and annoyed when “natives” speak in a too-familiar manner with white men. In the fictional African kingdom they travel to, he describes the local inhabitants in terms of a somewhat grudging equality. At times I wondered whether Haggard was doing this consciously or unconsciously. Could he be consciously trying to show the changes in Quatermain’s attitude to black people the further he travelled from colonial Natal, as part of his character, and as a result of the influence of his less racist companions? But what is certain is that after 1885 there was a sharp increase in racism as part of the ideology of British Imperialism.

So re-reading the book was interesting for various reasons — as filler material for family history, but also as a mirror reflecting changing attitudes in the British colony of Natal in the 1880s.

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Family links with Cecil John Rhodes

I’ve just been reading about the (largely posthumous) cult of Cecil John Rhodes (1853-1902), the former Prime Minister of the Cape Colony who made his fortune in diamonds.

RhodesBkI was interested in the book for several reasons — first, as a background to the #RhodesMustFall movement, which is a kind of countercult or anticult movement. Secondly, because of the rise of Donald Trump, another unscrupulous businessman turned politician, who is in the news right now, and thirdly because of our interest in family history, and several members of our family had links with Rhodes. I’ve already written a review of the book and dealt with the first two points in a post on my other blog  – see  The Cult of Rhodes. In this one I just want to point out some of the family connections.

C.J. Rhodes wasn’t related to us in any way that we know, but he came to southern Africa for his health at the age of 17 and, like many others, was drawn to Kimerley by the discovery of diamonds there in 1868.

A member of our family who was also drawn there was Henry Green, brother of Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green. The Green brothers came to the Cape Colony in about 1846, and Henry, like his father William Green, was in the commissariat department of the British army, in which capacity he accompanied the Cape Governor and High Commissioner Harry Smith to the Battle of Boomplaats, which established the present Free State as the Orange River Sovereignty. Henry became the British Resident of the Sovereignty, and after it was abandoned, went to England, and married his cousin Louisa Margaret Aitchison. He then went to Colesberg in the Cape Colony and became magistrate and civil commissioner. His wife died on the road to Cape Town, and became the family ghost. Henry married again to Countess Ida Von Lilienstein, and they had several children.

Henry Green and several associates formed the South African Diamond and Mineral Company, and when he was suspended as magistrate over some missing money, he became a diamond digger, first at Pniel and then in 1872 Henry Green moved to Kimberley and entered into a partnership with George Paton on the diggings of Colesberg Kopje. They worked claim 144 for a long time.

George Paton and Henry Green lived for a while at the Boarding House – or rather Boarding Tent — called ‘The 12 Apostles’. It was there that they got to know Cecil Rhodes who had just come out as a young lad from England for health reasons. Rhodes had a contract to pump out water that flooded the claims. The friendship seems to have continued even after Rhodes bought out all the other claim holders and established his company, De Beers, as a virtual monopoly in the diamond business.

One of Henry Green’s daughters, Ida Margaret Catherine Green, married George Arthur Montgomery Tapscott (see The Tapscott Family), and their great-granddaughter Burnett McMillan Milne recently wrote on Facebook “Henry Green’s daughter, Ida Margaret Tapscott, was a great admirer of Cecil Rhodes — the feeling was mutual, they had quite a voluminous correspondence and in one of his letters he refers to her as ‘The cleverest women in the Cape Colony’. He gave her a magnificent diamond brooch which is still in possession of the family.”

Then there was Henry Green’s nephew, Arthur Walpole Francis, son of Henry’s sister Agnes. Arthur was born and educated in Sydney, New South Wales. He came to South Africa in 1880 and farmed at Harts River, Griqualand West. He went to the Transvaal in 1886 and took up Botha’s Reef on behalf of a Kimberley syndicate and Cecil Rhodes. He was involved in the purchase of Luipaardsvlei for £60000 and a load of poplar poles. Perhaps he was introduced to Cecil Rhodes by his uncle Henry. He later went back to farming and died of bladder stones in Mariental, Namibia, in 1921. His eldest son was named Cecil.

Henry Green’s niece (Fred Green’s daughter), Alice Elizabeth Green, married John Martin Cuthbert O’Grady in Johannesburg in 1893, and they named their second son John Rhodes O’Grady, and he was known as Rhodes. They probably didn’t know Cecil Rhodes personally, but would have known of him though Alice’s cousin Arthur Walpole Francis, and perhaps admired him from afar.

The last instance I can think of is probably getting back to the cult, which is the main topic of the book. My mother’s cousin Betty Hannan married John Christian Fowler in Lusaka, Northern Rhodesia, in 1935, and their eldest son was named Brian Rhodes Hannan Fowler. I think by then the cult of Rhodes was in full swing.

Willie Hannan, MP for Maryhill, Glasgow. 1966

Willie Hannan, MP for Maryhill, Glasgow. 1966

I liked cousin Betty, and I think she was my mother’s favourite cousin, but we didn’t see eye-to-eye politically, not at all. In 1965, just after the Rhodesian UDI, Betty wrote to my mother and mentioned a mutual cousin, Willie Hannan, who was at that tome a Scottish Labour MP, and, according to Betty, “a one-man-one-vote bastard and a sick leftist”. A few weeks later I skipped South Africa to escape the clutches of the SB, and had a brief stopover in Salisbury, so I phoned Betty from the airport and she brought some of the family out to the airport to say hello. We chatted for a bit, and as we said goodbye and I was going out to the plane Betty fixed me with a beady eye and said fiercely “We’re determi9ned to see this thing through” (meaning UDI). Shortly after that I met cousin Willie at the Houses of Parliament in London, expecting, from Betty’s description, to meet a revolutionary Che Guevara-like figure. Instead he turned out to be mild and inoffensive, and indeed, very conservative (with a small c).

That was probably my closest brush with the Rhodes cult.