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.

 

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.

 

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.

UK trip 11 May 2005: Girvan to Edinburgh

Continued from UK trip 10 May 2005: Whitehaven to Girvan | Notes from underground

We left Girvan after breakfast, and drove to Maybole, where the McCartneys had come from. My maternal great great grandparents were Thomas Hannan and Janet McCartney, who were married in Maybole and lived in Girvan, so we wondered if there might be some McCartney graves in Maybole cemetery, but did not see any.

Maybole, Aryshire

Maybole, Aryshire

We looked at the old cemetery there, where there was a plaque saying that the parish church had been founded in the 11th century, and there was a ruined church across the road. It was interesting to see the different styles of inscription, though some, particularly the sandstone ones, were badly weathered. The 18th century and earlier ones had large writing, and sometimes Celtic designs on the back, while the early 19th century ones were smaller, with some parts in italic. About the mid-19th century the favoured style switched to sans serif, and sometimes later inscriptions on the same tombstone were in a diffferent style. There were lots of broken bottles in the cemetery too.

Maybole Cemetery

Maybole Cemetery

We by-passed Ayr, and stopped at Kilmarnock to change traveller’s cheques, and bought a couple of CD WORM discs to back up some of the pictures we had taken. In some of the pedestrian streets there were strange statues buried in the streets, and we took photos of them.

In the streets of Kilmarnock. 11 May 2005

In the streets of Kilmarnock. 11 May 2005

Kilmarnock was quite a pleasant town, and the biggest town we had seen in Scotland so far.

In the streets of Kilmarnock

In the streets of Kilmarnock

From there there was a new motorway to Glasgow, which we covered quite quickly, and drove through Maryhill and Bearsden to Milngavie to see Ria Reddick. She was my mother’s cousin, and the only one of that generation of the Hannan family who was still alive, as far as we knew. She was out, however, and a woman in charge of the subsidised housing where she lived said she had gone on a bus trip, so we left a note for her with our cell phone number (see here for more on the Hannan family). We drove on to Edinburgh through Falkirk, and went to John and Maxine Wincott’s place in Fairmilehead, but they were out, and then to Maxine’s sister Zania’s house, but they were out too, so we went for a drive around the town, though it was peak hour traffic.

M4034S-4211

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But we managed to catch glimpses of the castle and Holyrood House, which was at least more than I had seen on my previous visit in 1967, when I had changed trains at night at Waverley station at night. We got stuck in very heavy traffic waiting to cross the Forth Bridge, and went back to the bypass road to try to find a way out of town, and went east to Dunbar, and were about to book into a bed and breakfast place when Zania rang, and so we went back to her place for coffee. Zania McKenzie and Maxine Wincott are sisters, daughter of Nora Pearson, whom we had seen in Whitehaven two days before. They are Val’s double second cousins, being related on both the Ellwood and Pearson sides of the family, making them genetically equivalent to first cousins.

Cousins: Maxine & John Wincott, Val Hayes, Ian & Zania McKenzie. Edinburgh, 11 May 2005

Cousins: Maxine & John Wincott, Val Hayes, Ian & Zania McKenzie. Edinburgh, 11 May 2005

We spent the night with John and Maxine Wincott, and walked up to a local restaurant for supper, and I drank a local beer recommended by John, and then some Newcastle brown ale, and had spaghetti and meatballs for supper, as they didn’t have any fasting food on the menu. Afterwards we went back to the house, and looked at some of our family photos, and some that Maxine and Zania had. Zania’s husband, Ian McKenzie, joined us.

Continued at UK trip 12 May 2005: Edinburgh to Stockton-on-Tees | Khanya

Index to all posts on our UK trip here UK Holiday May 2005

UK trip 9 May 2005: Gobowen to Whitehaven

Continued from UK trip 8 May 2005: Davies family at Gobowen | Khanya

We spent the light with John and Shirley Davies at Gobowen, near Oswestry. I woke up at about 2:00 am, and caught up with writing my diary and made family history notes. Later at breakfast Shirley told us more about their lives since I had last seen them 35 years before.

After breakfast Shirley did some spinning, and it was the first time I had ever seen a spinning wheel in action. I’d only ever seen them used as decorations before, starting with the people who bought our old house in Westville, and made it into the homes and gardens pages of one of the Natal papers, which featured a picture of a spinning wheel.

I’d also read about spinning wheels in Grimm’s fairy tales, and still had no idea of how they worked, and pictured someone with a fat thumb pressing raw wool on to the big wheel and somehow manipulating it into thread. The name of their house, Nyddfa, means “place of spinning”. The house was interesting — a compact single storey, with a nice back garden; no TV, but a computer, which Shirley worked on often. She said, “What did you do when you woke up early before you had a computer?” and I was at a loss to tell her. She wakes up before John, as I do, and John, she said, sleeps nearly 12 hours a night now. But as I get older I wake up earlier, and find the computer provides plenty to occupy me with in the early hours
of the morning. They had good furniture, and everything is neat and clean and comfortable, with ornaments, and such a contrast to their life in South Africa, where the furniture was makeshift, and
everything simple, the garden a jungle, especially at 11 Queens Road Parktown. Shirley said she hated living there, because she felt boxed in, but it held good memories for me, because that was where they lived when I knew them best.

Shirley Davis spinning at Nyddfa, Gobowen. 9 May 2005

Shirley Davis spinning at Nyddfa, Gobowen. 9 May 2005

We left just after lunch, at 1:30, heading north, and re-entered Wales, going in to Wrexham to cash a travellers cheque at the Nat West Bank, and then going on to the M6 motorway and driving as fast as the traffic and speed limit would allow. We stopped at one of the services places after we had passed the Liverpool-Manchester conurbation to buy sweets and a Coke and a Sunday paper, the Independent. While my Cottam ancestors had lived in Manchester and in the Lancashire area, we did not have time to go and look for the places where they had lived, and so stuck to the motorway through the urban areas.

I noticed a change there from when I had lived in the UK in the 1960s. Then I had been struck by how orderly and polite British drivers had been compared to South African ones, who tended to be aggressive. Back then British motorists would flash their headlamps to say “After you,” while South African motorists would flash their headlamps to say “Get out of my way.” Now it was the other way round.

I recalled a visit from Val’s second cousins a couple of years previously, John and Maxine Wincott. I took them on a tour of Tshwane, and John was amazed at the behavious of drivers at four-way stop steets and places where the road narrowed, how they filtered in, taking it in turns. On the busy motorway junctions in the Liverpool-Manchester area, however, if anyone tried to filter in from an acceleration lane there would be angry light flashings and sometimes hooting from other vehicles. I wondered if it was a change in culture brought about by Maggie Thatcher.

We turned off the motorway to drive to Windermere, where I had once visited the home of a college friend, Craufurd Murray, in 1967. Then it had been cold and overcast, and the lake had looked grim and grey and cheerless. Now it looked a bit brighter.

Lake Windermere, Cumbria, 9 May 2005

Lake Windermere, Cumbria, 9 May 2005

We drove round the northern end of Lake Windermere, through Ambleside, and then over the Wrynose and Hardknott passes, which were reminiscient of the mountains of Lesotho, though of course they were much lower and closer to the sea.

The Wrnose Pass, looking back East towards Windermere. 9 May 2005.

The Wrynose Pass in the Cumbrian fells, looking back East towards Windermere. 9 May 2005.

The roads were narrow and winding, and we saw lots of sheep. The young lambs were black, and the older sheep brown with white faces. Seeing them reminded me of Rebecca West’s book Black lamb and grey falcon, describing travels in the Balkans in the 1930s, and indeed the Cumberland fells looked a lot like the mountains of Albania too. The Hardknott Pass was even steeper than the Wrynose Pass, but we were going downhill over the steepest bits, down into Eskdale.

skdale, Cumbria, from the Hardknott Pass. 9 May 2005.

Eskdale, Cumbria, from the Hardknott Pass. 9 May 2005.

We drove in to Whitehaven, where Val’s Pearson and Ellwood ancestors had come from (see The Pearson and Ellwood families of Whitehaven | Hayes & Greene family history). We looked for somewhere to stay,
and also for a loo, but could not easily find either.

We went to see Nora Pearson, the widow of Val’s mother’s double-first cousin John Pearson (and the mother of Maxine Wincott, mentioned earlier), and had coffee with her, and showed her photos of the
family. She had been ill, and was only now able to walk around again. She had a cat which she kept a prisoner and would not allow to go outside, though she had a fairly big garden and lived in a quiet cul-de-sac. We had corresponded with her for about 30 years about the family history, but this was the first time we had actually met her face to face.

Val Hayes and Nora Pearson, Whitehyaven, 9 May 2005

Val Hayes and Nora Pearson, Whitehyaven, 9 May 2005

We phoned one of the bed and breakfast places on our list, at Lowca, and went out to stay there, and returned to Whitehaven for supper in a Chinese restaurant, one of the few open and serving food as it was after 9:30 pm. We were the only ones there, and an excessively polite and smiley waiter persuaded me to try Chinese beer, which wasn’t bad. We had eggs foo yong which was good, and sweet and sour pork, but that was not up to our benchmark of the Phoenix restaurant in Point Road in Durban, which was the standard by which we evaluated all Chinese restaurants.

We looked at books on old Whitehaven that the people in the B&B place had lent us, and there was one on Lowca Engineering, which had made steam locomotives, where Ernest Pearson (Nora’s father-in-law)  had worked. He was originally an acetylene welder at Lowca Engineering Works, near Whitehaven. He served in the 1914-1918 War in the Royal Flying Corps at Halton, Bucks and at Blandford, Devon. About 1923 the Lowca Engineering Works closed down, and he went to work for his brother-in-law’s company, John Ellwood & Co, as a plumber and electrician, and remained there for the rest of his working life.

Death of Joan Pearson (1924-2014)

The other day we were heir-hunted, by two firms that specialise in tracing relatives of people who died without leaving a will, and so learned of the death of Joan Pearson, Val’s first cousin once removed. In the 40 years of doing family history we had not been able to find her address, and so contact her directly, and so we only learn something about her after she died.

Joan Pearson was the daughter of Gilbert Pearson, a watchmaker of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England, and part of a fairly large family of Pearsons. Gilbert Pearson married Maud Dixon in 1922, and they had two daughters, Joan and Barbara, neither of whom married or had any children.

As far as we know, Joan and Barbara Pearson worked in the civil service. Joan worked in the Colonial Office and is said to have spent some time in Uganda, where her great-uncle, Charles Pearson, had been a pioneer missionary in the 1880s.

So, having learned of her death, we found this:

PEARSON Joan OBE formerly of 13 Wharf Mill. Died peacefully on 3rd September 2014, aged 89. Sister of the late Barbara. ———- Funeral service at Basingstoke Crematorium on Thursday 16th October at 11.45am. Flowers welcome or donations, if desired, to Alzheimer’s Society (Winchester Branch) c/o Richard Steel & Partners, Alderman House, 12-14 City Road, Winchester, SO23 8SD or via http://www.rsponline.co.uk (Hampshire Chronicle, 9 Oct 2014)

The OBE was presumably for her work in the civil service, and I also have a vague memory that she or her sister Barbara were involved in secret intelligence work during the Second World War.

The nice thing about being contacted by heir-hunters (whose activities have been documented in several TV shows) is that it provides an opportunity for members of different branches of the family to get in touch with each other again. The rather worrying thing is, when someone dies intestate, and apparently in an old age home, whose living relatives have to be told of her death by specialist firms of heir-hunters,  what happens to her stuff. I don’t mean her money — I doubt there will be much of that, since she was presumably living on a civil service pension, much of which would probably be going to her care in an old age home.

But what happens to family photos and papers? Will they just be tossed out by someone who doesn’t care, and doesn’t care whether anyone else cares? Perhaps there are letters and diaries documenting her time in Uganda, or some interesting information about the family history. Maiden aunts and uncles are usually good sources of such things.

The good thing is that it has got members of the scattered Pearson clan communicating with each other again. The sad thing is that one learns more about a relative after they have died than when they were alive.

 

Chasing Namibian families

Next week we hope to travel to Namibia to see friends and family, and do some historical research — family, church and general history. We’ll try to update our blogs with our progress if we have internet access: this one for family news and family history; Notes from underground for general observations, photos and chit-chat; and Khanya for general history, church history and more serious observations. It used to be possible to keep in touch with all of them by following Tumblr, but Tumblr doesn’t seem to work as a blog aggregator any more.

It’s more than 20 years since we last visited Namibia, and more than 40 years since I lived there, so we expect to see many changes. We plan to go first to Windhoek, where we hope to stay with Val’s cousins Enid and Justin Ellis. Enid is a cousin on the Pearson/Ellwood side of the family.

We also hope to see Mburumba Kerina, a more distant cousin on the Green side of the family. “Kerina” is the Herero form of  “Green” and Mburumba Kerina is descended from Val’s great great grandfather Fred Green through his second wife, Sarah Kaipukire (Val is descended from his third wife, Kate Stewardson). We also hope to find out something about Fred Green’s first wife, who was a Dixon, and died about 1860. We don’t even know her name. There’s more on this in the earlier article Gunning for the Dixons. On the Stewardson side of the family, there are several descendants in Namibia, mainly of the Lindholm, Dennewill and Jeske families. We don’t have any current addresses for them, but we may be able to make contact with some of them while we are there.

HiskiaUOne of the friends we hope to see is Hiskia Uanivi. When I lived in Windhoek he was a student at the Paulinum, the Lutheran theological seminary then based at Otjimbingue. In early 1971 my friend and colleage Dave de Beer and I went on a holiday trip to see friends and family in South Africa (rather like the trip we are planning now, but in reverse).

Hiskia had never been to South Africa, and the Paulinum was closed for the Christmas holidays, so he came with us, travelling via Keetmanshoop, Vanzylsrust, Hotazel and Kuruman to Johannesburg (about a 22-hour drive). There we were joined by my cousins Jenny and John Aitchison, and we travelled to Nqutu in Zululand, staying at the Charles Johnson Memorial Hospital (then an Anglican church hospital), and then via KwaMagwaza and Mphumulo to Pietermaritzburg, where John and Jenny Aitchison lived. We left Hiskia at the Mapumulo Lutheran Seminary for a couple of days, as he was curious to see how it compared with the Paulinum, and one of the old Paulinum teachers, Dr Theo Sundermeier, was then teaching there.

We spent a couple of days with the Mnguni family in the foothills of the Drakensberg, helping them to erect a chicken run that would gather manure for fertilising the crops, and then went on to Umtata, Alice, Grahamstown and Cape Town, and from there back to Namibia. At that time there were Anglican theological colleges in Umtata, Alice and Grahamstown, and we visited them, so Hiskia was able to make more comparisons.

With the Mnguni family at Stepmore, near Himeville. Hiskia Univi on the left, Mr & Mrs Mnguni on the right, Chris Shabalala in the middle, flanked by Dave de Been and Steve Hayes, Jenny Aitchison in front, and other members and neighbours of the Mnguni household. 16 Feb 1971

With the Mnguni family at Stepmore, near Himeville. Hiskia Uanivi on the left, Mr & Mrs Mnguni on the right, Chris Shabalala in the middle, flanked by Dave de Beer and Steve Hayes, Jenny Aitchison in front, and other members and neighbours of the Mnguni household. 16 Feb 1971

Now we are planning, for the first time, to travel to Namibia via Botswana on the Trans-Kalahari route. Back then it was not possible, as one needed passports to cross Botswana, and the South African government, which then ruled Namibia, would not give passports to people it regarded as politically unreliable. We also hope to visit the Etosha Pan Game Reserve, and Ovamboland, and return via the Okavango and following the course of the Taokhe River to Lake Ngami, which in Fred Green’s day was navigable by boat, though getting a boat there by ox wagon must have been quite a feat.

So, if the opportunity arises, we hope to blog about our trip as we go. You’ll find the first instalment of our travelogue here.