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).

 

Mysterious family and place names

When you start doing family history, sooner or later you come across mysterious names that crop up among family members, and you wonder where they came from and what their significance is.

Barlow-Jones

I was reminded of this when someone asked on the South African genealogy mailing list about the name Barlow-Jones.

I’m researching a family JONES who lived in Ladysmith, Natal.

They lived in a very big, beautiful house named Barlow House/Lodge.

Can anyone help me with history of this house/lodge. ‘Barlow’ played an important part in the family as 4 of their 13 children had Barlow as a second name.

Well we have a Barlow-Jones in our family tree, a Kerry Barlow-Jones who married a third cousin once removed named Beattie, who is related on the Crighton side. The person who asked about Barlow also had a Kerry Barlow-Jones, born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) but on a different date. No known connection between them, but one can’t help thinking that we may discover one one day. But if anyone knows about this name and its connection with the house in Ladysmith, please let us know, and we’ll put you in touch with the enquirer.

Wynn

That reminded me of a couple of other mysterious names in our family.

My grandfather was Percy Hayes, and at some point he began calling himself Percy Wynn Hayes, and he gave all his children Wynn as a middle name, and I got it too, though none of my first cousins on my father’s side did. My father’s death certificate shows his surname as Wynn-Hayes. The mystery is where the Wynn came from.

I’ve found no relatives with that name. When I was 7 we stayed at the Valley Inn, Ingogo, for a month, and it was run by some distant cousins of my father the Bradburys. There were two children there, Gillian who was about my age, and her brother Michael who was a few years older. We knew we were cousins of some sort, but did not know how. The name of the father was Wynn Bradbury, so I thought, when I became interested in family history, that if I found more about him I’d solve the mystery of where the Wynn came from. I looked up his death notice but discovered that he was actually Harry Winston Churchill Bradbury, Win for short, and that it was his wife Sheila (born Cottam) who was the relation. So the mystery of the Wynn remained unsolved, as it does to this day.

An interesting sidelight on this is where Harry Winston Churchill Bradbury got his moniker. There was, of course, a famous British Prime Minister named Winston Spencer Churchhill, though he wasn’t famous when Win Bradbury was born, back in October 1899. But October 1899 was the month the Anglo-Boer War started, and Win Bradbury was born in Ladysmith, which was almost immediately besieged by Boer forces, and Winston S. Churchill was there as a war correspondent, so perhaps he was known to Win Bradbury’s parents. And that brings us back to Ladysmith, where Barlow House was situated.

Esdaile

When thinking of names associated with houses, another name comes to mind: Esdaile.

My wife Val’s maiden surname was Greene, and a couple of generations earlier it was Green. You will find her great great grandfather Fred Green in Pioneers of Rhodesia by Edward C. Tabler, though erroneously recorded as Frederick Joseph Green. He was actually Frederick Thomas Green, but one of his daughters, I think, told Lawrence G Green (no relation) that his name was Joseph. Lawrence G. Green wrote books about African travel, several of which mentioned the Green family, and Fred Green in particular, among them Thunder on the Blaauwberg and Lords of the last frontier.

The Green family came from Canada, and spread all over the world, and
carried with them the legend that Fred Green’s father, William John Green, alias William Goodall Green, was a son of Edward, Duke of Kent, Queen Victoria’s father. Not true, of course, but his mother, Eliza Green (Fred Green’s grandmother), had two illegitimate children, one by William Goodall, a London businessdman, and the other by Marc Pictet, a Swiss army officer.

Eliza Green later married another London businessman, Thomas Esdaile, by whom she had no children, but he became the stepfather to her children by her earlier liaisons. And ever since then, throughout the world, Green descendants have named their houses, farms, and sometimes their children, Esdaile. So in our family history research the name Esdaile is an indicator of a possible relationship, even though there is no blood relationship with Thomas Esdaile.

So sometimes one discovers the story behind mysterious names, and sometimes one doesn’t.

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