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I ordered the will of my great-grandfather, William Darlington Asher, who died in 1930. It reads as expected, leaving his daughters £100 each and his brother £50. Then to a Miss Edwards £30, who may have well have acted as a domestic servant. What I did not expect, though, was that he left his house, furniture and £50 to a Mrs Gertrude Annie Lofthouse. And then a very short sentence, leaving the remainder of his property to his wife (not even mentioning her name), but there is no mention of what that might have been.

Who on earth is Gertrude Annie Lofthouse? Apparently she married a Stuart Lofthouse in Chorlton, Lancashire in 1919, her maiden name Clark. I have found no other information on her. I need a 1921 census. The 1939 register comes too late.

I feel aggrieved on Kate’s behalf. Why did this woman get the house and furniture and £50? Did that mean that Kate was turfed out of her home or did they have another property? Living with William D at the time of his death was a Bryce Eglington Ross, one of the executors. What’s going on?

He also asked that his executors destroy all his private papers as soon as possible after his death. Wow.

I have so many questions…

Thinking later, maybe she was a live-in carer if he was ill with cancer? Who knows. It still seems unfair to Kate.


Joseph Asher was born around 1790 in Barrow upon Trent in Derbyshire, and baptised on 7 March of that year in Swarkestone, Derbyshire.  You can see below that Barrow upon Trent (or Barrow on Trent) is just to the north of Coalville and Ibstock where the family settled in later years.


A quiet village, it was mentioned in the Domesday Book so has been around for a long time. The church of St Wilfred dates from the 13th century.  I can’t find much more about it. I assume it was an agricultural area.

Joseph was the son of Joseph Asher and Elizabeth Potter. He had two brothers and three sisters that I know of – William, Sarah, John, Ann, and Martha, who all lived to adulthood.

Joseph married Sarah Heap (daughter of Edward and Elizabeth of Smisby, Derbyshire) on 24 October 1811 in Netherseal, Derbyshire, to the south-west.

Their first son, Joseph (there are generations of Josephs), was baptised in Smisby on 12 December 1813. I found a daughter, Elizabeth, baptised to Joseph and Sarah in Smisby on 18 October 1812. Another daughter, Mary, was born in around 1815 in Smisby, baptised on either the 17 or 19 September. Then Hannah was baptised on 4 October 1819 in Measham, Derbyshire.  Thomas was then born in 1823 in Ibstock and the last apparent child of the marriage, John William, was baptised on 15 May 1826 in Measham.

Sadly, Sarah must have died sometime after John’s birth in 1826 and before 1832, when Joseph married widow, Mary Kirby (née Thomas), in December of that year. I have not been able to find a death record for Sarah. Mary had four children from her marriage to Richard Kirby (although one died as a baby).  Together Joseph and Mary had two more children – daughters Eliza in 1832 and Jane (the name of Mary’s deceased infant) in 1834. The youngest child of Mary’s first marriage, Caroline, was listed with the young family in the 1841 census. Joseph was listed as an agricultural labourer, but by 1847 he was a farm bailiff at Ibstock colliery.


Derby Mercury, 29 September 1847

In 1851, Joseph, Mary and Jane were living next door to Joseph’s son, Thomas and his family. Joseph was still a farm bailiff, while his son was a waggoner at the Ibstock colliery.

Joseph worked until his untimely death at the colliery in 1859.


Leicester Chronicle, 6 August 1859


Leicester Mercury, 6 August 1859


Sources: wikipedia; familysearch; findmypast; Google;; British newspaper archive

Samaria Johnson was born about 1827, but baptised on 23 September 1832 in Ibstock, Leicestershire. She was the second daughter of William Johnson and Lydia Pratt.  Samaria was one of nine children. I always thought that Samaria was an interesting name and it seemed strange combined with the common name of Johnson. Researching into her family, equally interesting names emerged such as Selina, Reuben and German, likely Jewish in origin. Her other siblings had the more common names of William, Samuel, Mary Ann, Ellen, and Eliza. Is there a Jewish connection? Samaria’s parents were both born in Leicestershire.

In 1841 the family of seven were living at Deacon’s Lane in Ibstock. Samaria’s older sister, Mary Ann, had died the same year she was born. Her father was a sawyer.

Samaria was pregnant when she married Thomas Asher on 5 February 1845 in Ibstock. She gave birth to John on 15 June 1845. A daughter, Louisa, was born between October and December in 1848. The next son, Thomas, was born on 28 February 1851. The family were listed in the 1851 census in Ibstock. Thomas senior worked at the colliery.


A son, William, was born between July and September, 1853, in Ibstock, then another, Samuel, between October and December, 1855, in Coalville. The last child, as far as I know, was Selina, born between July and September in 1858, in Coalville. As mentioned before, Louisa was not included in the 1861 census and I have been unable to find her, although she grew to adulthood and married.


Samaria did live to see one of her children marry, and became a grandmother. John married in 1864 and had twins in 1869 (having lost a baby girl).  She missed seeing Louisa married later in the year 1870.

Samaria (or “Mary”) died on 31 March 1870 at Church Coppenhall, Cheshire. Her age at death was given as 47 (which would mean a birth year of 1823), but according to census returns her birth year was 1827, which meant she was just 43 years old. She died of valvular disease of the heart and apoplexy.  She missed out on seeing the rest of her children get married, and on meeting her many grandchildren:

Louisa married William Turner in Cheshire and had five children.

William married Emma Guildford in 1875 in Staffordshire. They had nine children.

Selina married Thomas Snelson in 1877 in Cheshire.

Samuel married Lavinia Hall at the beginning of 1878 in Cheshire. They had four children.

Thomas married Elizabeth Gower in June of 1878 in Kent. They had a whopping 11 children, one of whom, sadly, died in Gallipoli in 1916.

Sources: findmypast; familysearch; family archives;; Ibstock Historical Society


Thomas Asher was born in about 1823 and christened on 12 October 1823 in Ibstock, Leicestershire. His parents were Joseph Asher and Sarah Heap. He had two brothers and two sisters, and two half-sisters from his father’s second marriage to Mary Thomas.

In the census of 1841 Thomas was 18 and at the colliery at Ibstock. The first coal shaft was sunk in Ibstock by William Thirby in 1825. In the beginning of the 1830s the colliery also began making bricks. In April 1846, the colliery was auctioned off. I thought the advertisement in the Aris’s Birmingham Gazette in March 1846 was quite interesting.

TO be SOLD by AUCTION, by B. PAYNE, subject to such conditions of sale as will be then produced, on Thursday the 2d day of April, 1846, at the Queen’s Hotel, adjoining the Railway Station, Birmingham, at two o’clock – all that valuable COLLIERY, in full working, called THE IBSTOCK COLLIERY, including an excellent Pumping Engine, with cylinder of 64 inches diameter, three Boilers, and 156 yards of Pump Trees. Clack-doors, Rods, and Iron-work complete [….]
And also 98 Acres of excellent Arable, Meadow, and Pasture Land, in fine condition with a Farm House in the centre, Barns, Stables, Sheds, and all the customary Buildings, in complete repair, situate at Ibstock aforesaid, contiguous to and now occupied in conjunction with the above Colliery.
The Colliery has been partially opened about twenty years, but has only been in full work for about ten years. The Estate contains several Seams or Beds of excellent Coal, the principal of which, so far as has yet been ascertained, are as follow: – the Five-feet or Top Seam, extending under 53 Acres, of which about 32 Acres have been worked out, and the Eight-feet or Bottom Seam, under 116 Acres of which about 23 Acres have been exhausted.
There is an abundance of Fire Clay, which may be turned to great advantage, and a good supply of Brick Clay, with a Brick-yard, Kiln, large Shed, &c. for its manufacture, now in full work.
A Branch Railway, of about a mile and a half in length, belongs to the Colliery Estate, and connects the same with the Leicester and Swannington Railway, at a distance of about eleven miles from Leicester, thus affording, in addition to the Home Trade, a ready market, with a priority in distance over other Collieries, for disposing of the excellent Coal at a moderate but remunerating price.
There are various Cottages and other Buildings and conveniences on the Estate, not only for the occupation of the Farm, but also for Colliery purposes, including new Offices and Store-room, capital Blacksmiths’ and Carpenters’ Shops.
>The Estate is tithe-free, with the exception of about 40 Acres, which pay a modus of £1.7s.6d a year.
The neighbourhood of Ibstock is thickly populated and wealthy, and the extensions of the Midland Railways now in contemplation will afford a new and very large market for the Coal towards Rugby and Northampton and other places, in addition to the present trade in the neighbourhood, and to the town of Leicester.
The Coal is particularly adapted for the working of steam engines, as it possesses great powers of generating steam.

Apparently the company went through several changes of ownership until 1875 when it was purchased by the Thomson family of mine owners.

But back to Thomas. He married Samaria Johnson on 5 February 1845 in Ibstock.  Samaria, it seemed, was already pregnant and gave birth in June to her first son, John. In 1848 they had a girl, Louisa, and then in 1851, a boy, Thomas.  All were listed in the 1851 census in Ibstock, and Thomas was a waggoner at the colliery (he pushed the underground tubs), age 28.

The couple had two more sons, William and Samuel, in 1853 and 1856, and then another daughter, Selina, in 1858.

At some stage the family moved to Hugglescote, just south of Coalville, not far to the northeast of Ibstock, and still part of the parish of Ibstock.


They were living there at the time of the 1861 census and Thomas was listed as a collier. All the children are listed except for Louisa, who I have been unable to find. (According to another researcher, she married in 1870, but I’ve been unable to find confirmation.)

Sometime between 1861 and 1870, the family moved to Cheshire to Monks or Church Coppenhall. “Monks Coppenhall was a township in Coppenhall ancient parish, Nantwich hundred (SJ 7056), which became a civil parish in 1866, and in 1877 became the Borough of Crewe.” (from Genuki)


Thomas’ wife, Samaria, died in March 1870 at Church Coppenhall. Between April and June that same year, Thomas married Catherine Garner! He didn’t waste any time. I don’t have the details about the marriage, so don’t know if Catherine was also widowed. According to the 1871 census she was born in Willaston, Cheshire in about 1820.  So, in the census for 1871, Thomas was a stationary engine driver (not a train engine driver). Living with him and Catherine were Thomas’ two younger children, Samuel and Selina, both teenagers. Samuel was a forger (eg blacksmith) at iron works (and something illegible in brackets, possibly a shortened form of apprentice).

Something happened to Catherine within the next seven years. I’ve been unable to find a death record, but Thomas married Jane Harris in 1878. In the 1881 census he was living with her at 61 Flag Lane in Monks Coppenhall, Crewe. Thomas was a labourer at the iron works at age 60. Jane was ten years younger.

Thomas and his wife moved again, to Northampton. In 1891 he and Jane lived at 31 St Peter’s Street in south Northampton. Thomas, at age 71, was working as a railway porter.

Thomas continued living there and working as a railway porter until his death in 1900. He died on 19th February of “senile decay”.

Sources: findmypast; familysearch; family archives;; British newspaper archives;  Google maps; wikipedia;; genuki

The wife of John Asher, Elizabeth Darlington, is not able to be traced through newspaper articles, so I have far less information on her life.

Elizabeth Darlington was born in Haslington, Cheshire on 25 October 1843.  She was the daughter of Matthew Darlington and Elizabeth Mallam, one of nine children including five boys.  Her father was a shoemaker.  In the 1851 census she, and five siblings, lived with Matthew and Elizabeth in Haslington but there is no address given.

Haslington is a small village to the east of Crewe.  It was first mentioned, as Hesinglinton, in 1256 (possibly meaning “enclosure among hazel trees”).  In 1851 the population stood at 1153.  Apparently, Haslington was pillaged by royalist troops during the Civil War, around 1643.

In 1861, Elizabeth, at age 18, was a servant at Haslington Hall, in the employ of Joseph Woolf (1799-1865) and his sister, Ann.  Joseph was a farmer of 500 acres employing 12 labourers and three boys (as well as the house staff).


Haslington Hall

Interestingly, another servant, Esther Plant, went on to marry Elizabeth’s brother, Thomas.

A pouch belonging to Joseph Woolf went on sale recently.


Fascinating.  I wonder if it was sold and who bought it.

Elizabeth was pregnant when she married John Asher, a postal clerk, on 5 September 1864 at Haslington.  They married in the district’s chapel, which I assume is St Matthew’s in Haslington, or was it St Bertoline in Barthomley, which apparently also served Haslington.  Since the former became the district church for Haslington in 1860, I’ll assume it was that one.  Not a particularly attractive church in my opinion.


The couple moved to Worcester, where John had been living and working.  Sadly, Elizabeth’s firstborn, a girl named Elizabeth, died shortly after being born (three months after the wedding).  The couple were living in Claines in Worcestershire when Elizabeth gave birth to twin boys on 20 August 1869.  Claines is a small village just to the north of Worcester.  They lived there until 1872 when John was promoted to a position in Northampton and moved to 19 Somerset Street in Northampton.

Elizabeth fell pregnant again in 1883 at the age of 40, some 14 years after the birth of the twins.  Sadly, the boy, named Frank, died shortly after the birth.


Rhyl Advertiser, 9 June 1883

The family moved to Rhyl, North Wales, when John was made postmaster there.  The family contributed to community activities in Rhyl, including music and acting for the sons.

John got another promotion in 1890, replacing the postmaster in Camarthen, so Elizabeth, of course, joined him.  Her sons stayed on in Rhyl.  John married Amy Vaughan, fellow entertainer and daughter of a bathing machine proprietor, in 1894.  William married Kate Powell in 1892.

John’s health was failing so he retired in 1903 and the couple returned to Rhyl.  By this time, William and his wife had moved to Shrewsbury.

I have no more information on Elizabeth’s life.  She died on 7 January 1927 in Rhyl, age 83.



Sources: wikipedia; findmypast;; Welsh newspapers online; family archives

So, I was checking baptism records of the siblings of Catherine Jones and noticed I didn’t have the marriage of her sister Elizabeth to Thomas Mansell.  Also there were no children listed.  I had searched for the marriage before, I think, and not found any.

I checked the census record for 1851 in which Catherine is visiting her sister.  Three daughters of Elizabeth (Mansell) were listed but with the surname of Smith.  Aha!  Had she married a Mr Smith first?  Smith and Jones are common names so I wasn’t sure when or where the marriage could’ve taken place.  I searched for the birth or baptism of the eldest daughter and found her parents were Elizabeth and Samuel Smith in Hopton Castle, Shropshire.  So I then narrowed the search of the marriage and estimated when it could’ve taken place.  I finally found her marriage to Samuel Steedman Smith, and to confirm it, found a notice in the newspaper. He had obviously died some time before the 1851 census in order for her to remarry.  I found his death for 1849, so that meant she must’ve married Thomas Mansell between 1849 and 1851.  I finally found the registration for 1851!  Thomas also died early – before the 1861 census.

Another successful search resulted in a photo and illustration.  I hadn’t noticed before, or hadn’t specifically tried it, but Welsh newspapers online had an illustration search.  I didn’t expect any results but was surprised to find a line drawing of John Asher and, even better, a photograph of his son, John Darlington Asher.  Fantastic.  It’s an amazing feeling to finally see what a distant ancestor looked like.

Returning to the Asher family…

John Asher was born on 15th June 1845 at Ibstock in Leicestershire, son of Thomas Asher and Samaria Johnson.  The birth certificate doesn’t give an address.  Thomas, a labourer, signed the certificate with an X.

Ibstock is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Ibbestoche (possibly meaning Ibba’s stockade).  It is in northwest Leicestershire, north-west of Leicester, close to the middle of England.  In 1846 the small, agricultural, village had a population of 1138.


John was the eldest of five siblings, including two sisters.

In 1851 the family of five were living in Ibstock (no address) next door to John’s grandfather, Joseph Asher.  John’s father was a waggoner at a colliery.

By 1861 the family had moved to nearby Coalville, Hugglescote.  Coalville, as you can guess, was a former coal-mining town developed in the 1820s.  Thomas and John were working as colliers (John was 16).

John must have decided that wasn’t for him and moved to Crewe where he got a job as assistant to the postmaster in 1862.  He became a “stamper” at the Crewe station post office in 1863, then in June 1864 was given a job as a third-class clerk at Worcester.

John met Elizabeth Darlington, who was a couple of years older than him and living in Haslington, Cheshire.  John married Elizabeth on 5th September 1864 at Haslington at the age of 19.  It appears Elizabeth was heavily pregnant as she gave birth to a girl in December, but the child died.

John was promoted to second-class clerk in 1868 at the Worcester post office. He was mentioned in a newspaper article in Worcester in May 1869.


Three months later, Elizabeth gave birth to twin boys, William and John.

In 1871, the family were living at 2 Bank Street, Claines, Worcestershire, John listed as a class 2 post office clerk.  In 1872 he became chief clerk at Northampton post office.

John Asher founded the United Kingdom Postal and Telegraph Service Benevolent Society in 1875.  It paid out benefits on the death of a post office employee.


Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 14 February 1885

In the 1881 census, the family were still in Northampton, living at 19 Somerset Street, John still chief clerk.

Then in April 1883, John was promoted to postmaster in Rhyl, a seaside town in North Wales, filling the vacancy caused by the death of the previous postmaster, Mr Thomas.


Northampton Mercury, 28 April 1883

There was some discussion about the suitability of a postmaster that could not speak Welsh.


… Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 23 June 1883

As for Rhyl itself, I recommend the Rhyl History Club blog for wonderful information and pictures about the town (eg Rhyl streets).

Elizabeth, meanwhile, gave birth to another son in between April and June in 1883, but sadly he died in June.

Rhyl got a new post office,


… (the article is a long one)

and a new lamp.


The post office continued to do well under John’s supervision.


Rhyl Record and Advertiser, 10 July 1886


Gifts of alcohol to the postmen, however, were not welcome.


With date typo…

Post office employees had an annual meeting and dinner on Boxing Day, presided over by John.


John’s sons were part of the entertainment.


In 1890, the postmaster of Camarthen Crown Post Office, Mr James, resigned to move to Stockport, leaving an opening for John.



A “toothsome repast” was taken to farewell John.


John’s son’s fiancées were mentioned (Miss K Powell and Miss A Vaughan).

And so, the 1891 census reflects John’s new position, living at “Long Acre Villa” in Camarthen, John listed as head postmaster, where he continued the good work.


South Wales Daily News, 30 November 1894


South Wales Daily News, 24 March 1900

John retired in 1903, at the age of 58, due to ill health.


And a lucky find in the Weekly Mail in 1903 reveals an illustration of the man.


Weekly Mail, 4 April 1903

After retiring, it appears that John and Elizabeth returned to Rhyl (where their son, John, was still living).  John was involved in an inquest as a witness.


John and Elizabeth lived in Palace Avenue in a house they named Ibstock, after John’s birthplace.


John took part in Empire Day in 1909.


In 1911 John and Elizabeth were living at the Palace Avenue address with a 38-year-old widow acting as servant.

In September, 1914, John and Elizabeth celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.


There is no further newspaper trail for John, even for a death announcement.

He died on 24 March 1932 in Rhyl.


He was 87 – a good age.


Sources: family archives;;; findmypast; British newspaper archive; Welsh newspapers online; probatesearch



William Darlington Asher (along with his twin brother, John Darlington) was born on 20 August 1869 at Bank Street in Claines, Worcestershire, to John Asher and Elizabeth Darlington.  John was a Post Office clerk.  There only appears to be a “New Bank Street” in Claines, but I can’t find any information about whether it’s the same street renamed.  The picture below is of New Bank Street from one end.


The family were still living there in 1871 and John is listed as a Class 2 Post Office clerk.

I have not been able to find any other siblings apart from Elizabeth who was born and died in 1864 and Frank Darlington who was also born, and died the same year, in 1883, quite a long period after the twins.

Ten years later, 1881, the family had moved to Northampton, and lived at 19 Somerset Street.



Still no other children, which is unusual for 19th century families.

In 1883 the family had moved to Rhyl in North Wales.  William and his brother were involved in entertainment, taking part in various performances, acting and singing.


The above mentions WD and JD Asher and JD’s future wife, Amy Vaughan

There was another YMCA performance in October of that year:


Rhyl Advertiser, 31 October 1885

I also found William mentioned in a newspaper article about the performance of “The Trial of John and Jane Temperance” at the Rhyl Town Hall in February 1886.

In 1886 William was working as a Post Office sorting clerk and telegraphist (following his father’s footsteps).


Entry from British Postal Service appointment books

William was also a bellringer at St Thomas’ church in Rhyl.



St Thomas’ church, Rhyl

I found this treasure at the Rhyl history club blog.


Next to William is John Phillips Powell, brother of his future wife, and further along is the brother of John Darlington Asher’s future wife, Amy Vaughan.


JP Powell and WD Asher

I found articles about three concerts in 1889 in which William performed (example below).


William also participated in debates!


Another concert in 1891:


By the 1891 census, William was lodging at New Street, Frankwell in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, employed as a Post Office sorting clerk and telegraphist.


New Street, Shrewsbury

I also found him listed in the British Postal Service appointment books for 1892,


but he received a promotion.


In September of that year, William married Kate Powell.


William and Kate continued living in Shrewsbury for a while.  Kate had two daughters in that time: Gwendoline in 1894 and Dorothy in 1895.  The last daughter, Winifred, was born in Crewe, Cheshire in 1897 but the family returned to living in Shrewsbury by 1901 at Delamere, North Hermitage, Belle Vue.  William is listed as a civil servant, travelling clerk, Surveyor’s department, GPO.

In August 1901 William visited Conwy.


Weekly News and Visitors’ Chronicle, 9 August 1901

Ten years later the family are living at the same address in Shropshire and William holds the same position.

During the war William became a food control inspector.


Lancashire Evening Post, 2 March 1917

Then in 1919 William became the new postmaster for Ilford (north-east of London).


Chelmsford Chronicle, 7 March 1919

William’s youngest daughter got married in 1919 and the eldest in 1921.  Dorothy married in 1927.  William’s mother died in January of that year.  I found no more entries in newspapers until 1928.


Chelmsford Chronicle, 1 June 1928

The online newspaper search went cold, but I had three obituaries in the family archives, cut out and kept from 1930.


Ilford Recorder, 26 September 1930

SelborneRd, Ilford

Possibly no. 6 Selborne Road, Ilford (next to no 4)

And lastly, a very brief entry under Wills and Bequests in the Essex Newsman, 24 January 1931.


The probate entry is more revealing.


John Wotherspoon was a son-in-law.

In the excitement of finding so many newspaper entries, I had forgotten family photos of the man, with and without a moustache.





Sources: Google; family archives;; Welsh newspapers online;; British newspapers at;


Last week I focussed on Chas Rose.  This week I turn to his wife, my maternal grandmother, Gwendoline Powell Asher.


Gwen was one of three girls born to William Darlington, and Kate Asher (née Powell).  She was the eldest, born 25 June 1894 at 1 Alton Terrace, Belle Vue in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.  It’s difficult to pinpoint on Google streetview exactly where that is.  Perhaps it’s now a block of flats.  Gwen’s sisters were Dorothy (born about 18 months later) and Winifred (born about 3 years later in Cheshire).   Gwen’s father was a post office clerk.  I’m told that Gwen was baptised at the church of Holy Trinity in Shrewsbury.

Gwen and her younger sister, Dorothy, started school at the same time (Gwen age five and Dorothy age four) but only went to school in the mornings.  In the afternoons they did painting and drawing.

In the 1901 census they are living at North Hermitage, Delamere, Belle Vue, Shrewsbury.  This might not be the exact house but it gives you an idea. Gwen’s father was now listed as a civil servant, travelling clerk, Surveyors Department, GPO. Ten years later they are living in the same place.

The following information comes from my mother who told it to me when I was about 10 years old, and from my mother’s cousin some years later.  I was told that Gwen never went to school but it seems she did, according to Dorothy’s daughter.  However, their father didn’t think they were getting on well enough, so he pulled them out of school and got private teaching – they had a governess, and were taught music, English literature, art, and arithmetic.  She liked music and art and used to sneak away to paint.  (She was a good artist.  I have a few of her paintings.)  Instead of doing homework she would write short stories or draw.  She didn’t need to work but Gwen was a “bit of a rebel” and went away to the East End to study nursing.  (My mother told me at a later stage that she was a midwife.)  In 1921 a fellow nurse (C. J. Lorden?) at Rotherhithe hospital wrote a poem in Gwen’s autograph book:  “A kiss is a noun, given standing up or sitting down, singular number, present tense, given by a man with common sense”.  Gwen was also a suffragette.  She liked going for long walks and walked very quickly.  This makes sense as my mother also walked quickly (probably to keep up, as I had to with my mother).

According to my mother, Gwen met Chas Rose during the First World War (as I suspected in my previous post and had forgotten).  Gwen was a nurse and Chas worked in the Field Ambulance so it makes sense.


However, according to Dorothy’s daughter they met in Ipswich, where Gwen was working in munitions where Chas was the foreman.  I can find no information on Gwen’s nursing career or even who wore that exact uniform.

Gwen was living at 3 Durham House, Dartmouth Park Hill, Islington in London at the time of her marriage to Chas.  They married on 10 September 1921.  I had noted Harwich in Essex but the marriage certificate just says Tendring district in Essex (which does include Harwich).  Gwen, my mother told me, did not believe in getting married in church when you were not a christian, and indeed they got married in the Register Office, witnessed by Gwen’s sister, Dorothy, and Chas’ brother, Alfred (and nearly missed a boat to get there).  I had grown up believing that they married at Maiden Hall in Belstead Road, but this could be Belstead Road, Maidenhall in Ipswich.  Perhaps they just had a reception here, or just that Gwen stayed there.  It’s all very confusing.


A house in Belstead Road where I believed Gwen and Chas got married or that Gwen was staying at.


No-one in Gwen’s family met Chas until after the wedding (except for Dorothy).  There was no honeymoon.  The day after the wedding all the family went to Felixstowe for the day.

According to my notes as a child, Gwen and Chas “liked adventure” and decided to emigrate to Australia (where Chas’ brother Edward was living).  (As stated in my previous post, they left from London on 4 January 1922 aboard Demosthenes.)  Also, apparently, they wanted to go somewhere warmer, not liking cold weather.  They bought five acres of land west of Sydney at Pendle Hill (in Greystanes Road), which they had to clear for themselves, Gwen killing snakes in the process.  There was no transport but horse and sulky.  Apparently the horse was very bad-tempered and often bucked.  They established a poultry farm (in a region known for poultry farms).  Gwen served as midwife in the region (although this is not noted in any electoral rolls that I have).  Gwen created a flower garden and sold her wares in Market Place, Sydney, where there are still flower stalls.


Gwen had two children (including my mother), born in 1924 and 1926.  In 1930, Gwen’s “much loved” father died but she could not attend the funeral.

Gwen fell ill with leukemia and travelled to England for treatment at Christie hospital in Manchester in 1948.  She left with her daughter on 5 August 1948 aboard the “Maloja”.  The ship sailed from Sydney, travelling via Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Colombo, Bombay, Aden, Suez Canal, Marseilles, and London, ultimately arriving in Epsom, 20 September 1948.


The “Maloja” leaving Sydney

Gwen lived in a hillside cottage at Llanfairfechan in North Wales, taking the train to Christie hospital when needed.

My father travelled across to join my mother (presumably they were engaged) and they married in 1949 in London, then lived near Gwen for a time.


Gwen loved gardening and was often working in an allotment growing vegetables, even when she shouldn’t have been, due to her health.  She also painted and read books, listened to the radio, and went to evening classes to learn Welsh.

Sadly, Gwen caught pneumonia, and died at Osborne House, Llanfairfechan (where my parents were living) on 1 November 1953.  She was just 59 years old.

[My father wrote of their lives in England about this time, but it is hidden in a box somewhere and I can’t locate it.  When I do, I’ll edit this post at a later date.]

Sources: family archives, Google, Gwen’s 1952 diary; Pamela Gwynne




I received the death certificate for Thomas – died at age 80 in Northampton of “senile decay”.

I also received the birth certificate of his son, John, who was born in 1845.  Nice to have a firm date instead of “about 1846”.

Not knowing what to do next, I waited until I had membership of the state library to search their British newspaper database.  Unfortunately it’s not the same database as the British Newspaper Archive, which is brilliant.  The search engine for the library database isn’t great so I used the above archive website to search, got details, then tried to find the article on the library newspaper database.  They have a limited number of newspapers which don’t appear to include Suffolk newspapers or such newspapers as the Hampshire or Shropshire Chronicles.  Damn.  Welsh newspapers are useful but only for a handful of ancestors who lived in and around Rhyl.

In the newspapers I searched for Powell (Richard and his children), Kercher, Rose in Mendlesham, and Bromleys.  I found nothing of interest except for Richard P Powell listed as a wine merchant.  While searching for Richard P, I found his mother, Catherine, mentioned in a case of theft from a neighbour.  Luckily this was in a Welsh newspaper, so I retrieved it from the Welsh newspapers online website.

I tried to search for Charlotte and Fanny Bromley, wondering if they were related at all.  Charlotte had a sister but her name was Alice.  I did a search for them on familysearch and found Charlotte and Alice in census returns staying with their grandmother, Maria Deakin.  I figured that was their mother’s mother.  I then found them staying with Mary Meredith.  Husband, John, listed the girls as stepdaughters, so Mary must’ve been their mother, who remarried after the early death of Penry.  The girls also stayed with their uncle, Francis Bromley, who was a farmer.  That was all useful but I still didn’t find anything on Fanny Bromley (to find out who her parents were).

Funnily enough, I remembered there was a Deakin mentioned in my grandmother’s handwritten family tree, so went back and had a look at it… and talk about confusing.  There seem to be Bromleys and Deakins all over the place.  She had a Bromley married to a Deakin who then had Frank, Richard, Edward and Penry.  Well Penry and Frank (Frances) were brothers and a Richard Bromley turns up in the articles about Richard P Powell.  But for Penry, she had the offspring as Dick and Lilian, not Charlotte and Alice.  She also had a Deakin married to a Jones who in turn had Richard Jones, father of Catherine who married Richard Powell.  And Catherine had a brother, Richard, who apparently married a Sarah Bromley.  And if that wasn’t enough, my grandmother’s tree also had a Jones of Upton Magna who had a daughter who married an Edward Bromley (the same Edward as above?).  Oh dear!  I think my next move will be to try and find as much as possible on all the individuals mentioned to see how they tie up.