Stooke family of Dawlish

I haven’t posted much in this blog for a while, and so was rather puzzled by a sudden flurry of new visitors yesterday, more than twice the daily average.

The reason I haven’t posted much is that we haven’t made any startling new discoveries in our family history recently, but have just been plodding along. At around this time of the year (December-January) we seem to get back to the Stooke family, and this time around seem to have been adding to the descendants of John Stooke and Mary Barter of Kingskerswell in Devon.

This is a bit peripheral to our interests, because I’m not 100%, or even 90% sure that they are related.

John Stooke of Dawlish married Mary Barter at Kingskerswell in 1808, and they had 10 children (that we have been able to trace), and we have been able to trace at least some descendants of five of those children.

John Stooke was apparently born in Dawlish in 1784, the son of James Stooke and Mary Bargeron or Barjeron or Baragon or Barrigan (there seem to be a number of ways of spelling it), who were married in Dawlish on 28 October 1771.

What is not clear is where this James Stooke came from. Some family trees identify him with James Stooke of Trusham, the son of Edward Stooke and Elizabeth Dingley, who was baptised in Trusham on 28 June 1742. While this is possible, it also seems that there were other Stooke families living in Dawlish at the time of the marriage of James and Mary, so it would be useful if we could see the Dawlish parish registers and do a reconstruction of all the Stooke families there. Unfortunately the Dawlish registers do not appear to be available online, either on FreeReg or anywhere else, nor do they appear to have been filmed by the LDS, so it would mean travelling to the Devon Record Office in Exeter to try to find them.

I’ve also been scanning some old negatives, and came across some photos taken when we lived in Utrecht briefly. When we were living there we travelled actoss to Paulpietrersburg, some 70 km away over gravel roads. I knew that my grandfather, Percy Hayes (whose mother was Mary Barber Stooke) had lived there until he died in 1948, and he is buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery there. He used to be the secretary of the Dumbe colliery, so we had a look at it, though in his day it was at the base of the mountain, and when we visited, nearly 30 years later, it was near the top. So we drove up the mountain, and took some photos of Paulpietersburg from there.

Paulpieterburg, Natal, from Dumbe mountain, 12 April 1977

Paulpieterburg, Natal, from Dumbe mountain, 12 April 1977

 

 

My grandfather, Percy Hayes

When we were on holiday recently we stopped at Paulpietersburg to visit my grandfather’s grave. It is unmarked, but I know where it is, because back in 1977, when we were living in Utrecht, we went with my mother to  Paulpietersburg. When we got there we had lunch in the hotel. Then we went to the municipal offices, and asked if they had a plan of the graves in the cemetery, and the man who was probably the parks and gardens department came along to the cemetery with us, bringing the town traffic cop with him, and together we located the grave of my grandfather, Percy Wynn Hayes. He was buried next to Dr Lipscomb, who had treated him in his last illness, and was a great buddy of his, coming from Devon. Mum said that when they came for his funeral, they said he and a lot of old men used to meet and put their stamp collections together. We returned via Bivane and Viljoenspos, after going up the mountain to look at the Dumbe mine. We asked to look at the staff records, but the office was closed by the time we got there.

Paulpietersburg cemetery: Percy Hayes’s grave is just to the left of the two Lipscomb graves in the picture, which belong to Dr Lipscomb and his wife (who died a few months before my grandfather).

Percy Hayes died on 6 May 1948, and I remember travelling to his funeral from Ingogo via Utrecht and Vryheid. I was 7 years old at the time. We asked about the location of his grave nearly 30 years later, and that seemed an impossibly long time ago. Yet 1977 is now longer ago than 1948 was back then.

Lipscomb graves and Percy Hayes’s grave with Dumbe mountain in the background

Paulpietersburg is at the foot of the Dumbe mountain, and Percy Hayes was mine secretary of the Dumbe Colliery there. In earlier years, between the Anglo-Boer War and the Second World War, he had been a stockbroker in Johannesburg. There is more information about him on our Family Wiki here.

 

Frank Wynn Hayes (my father) with his father, Percy Wynn Hayes (my grandfather)

One of the minor mysteries of this branch of the family is where the name Wynn came from.

My mother told me it was an old family name, and very important. My father, Frank Hayes, and his sisters Vera and Doreen all had Wynn as a middle name. So did Percy — when he died. My father, when he died in 1989, had even taken to hyphenating it, and called himself Frank Wynn-Hayes.

But on his birth certificate Percy Hayes is listed as plain Percy Hayes. He was born in Bedminster, Bristol, England on 4 August 1874, and I’ve been looking, so far without success, for his baptism in Bedminster or Bristol churches. Not that it will help much, because English Anglican baptism registers, unlike South African ones, do not record the names of the sponsors (godparents). I wonder if one of his godparents might have been named Wynn, or if it was someone he had encountered whom he particularly admired. Certainly we have not discovered any earlier member of the family who bears that name. He grew up in Axbridge, Somerset, where his parents ran the Red Lion Hotel, and came to South Africa shortly before the Second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).

 

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