Featured post

31 Mar 2022

Sisters: Week 13 52 Ancestors

Reed family, about 1891

The Reed sisters

My paternal grandmother, Granny Tucker was one of six daughters of Robert Henry Reed (1858-1915) who was born in Plymouth, Devon but grew up in Southampton where he moved with his mother and siblings in the 1860s. After marrying Harriett Rose (1859-1924), he became an ambitious master baker with three bakeries and a tearoom.  The family, although large like many Victorian families, was quite comfortable in the 1880s, 90s and pre-WW1.

The six girls had an older brother - George Henry Reed - born in 1877.  The photo on the left includes my only photo of him.  He was learning the bakery trade but married and moved to Canada in 1913. It is unknown whether he ever visited England again.

The first girl, Harriett Sophia Reed was born very soon after her brother but she died within a few months.  Her middle name was that of her eldest aunt and she was named for her mother and grandmother, both called Harriett.

Harriet Reed Yeoman's house in Southampton

Harriett Peirce Reed, the oldest surviving sister was born in 1878, again named after her mother, Harriet Rose Reed.  She became a schoolteacher in Southampton and did not marry until 1932.  Her husband, a widower was a master grocer.  Harriet survived him by a number of years, dying in 1953.  In about 1960, my father received a solicitor's letter stating she had left most of her property to him and his surviving sister Cecily Mary Tucker in Australia.  Again, I have no other photo of Harriet. Her middle name was her maternal grandmother's surname although it is usually spelt Pearse. She is the girl sitting with the stick on her lap.

Alice Reed Bayford & son Norman

The second daughter Alice Rose Reed was born in 1881. Alice is standing beside her father in the photo above. She married her first cousin James Bayford in 1910 and moved to Hammersmith in London.  James was the son of Sophia Pearse Reed, Robert Henry Reed's older sister.  She had one son, Norman Bayford.  

Unfortunately, her husband James Bayford died of malaria whilst serving in Thessalonika in Greece in 1918. He was an insurance agent before the war and Alice continued to run the business until her retirement, possibly in the 1940s.  She appeared to be a very practical woman and was the executor of her mother's will in 1924.  Additionally, she assisted her mother and two of her sisters trading out of debt left behind after their father's demise in 1915.

Minnie Reed Irvine/Young on right
Minnie Kate Reed was the third daughter, born in 1882.  She is sitting in the front middle of the photo. My father told me she "married poorly".  She was the first of the sisters to marry, doing so in 1905 in Southampton.  She married William Henry Irvine (1877-1944) in 1905.  Her oldest child Kathleen Minnie Irvine was born in 1906.  By 1910 at the latest, Minnie left her husband and Kathleen appeared to be left mostly with her aunts.  Minnie partnered with a Tom Young of Twyford, Hampshire, a bricklayer and had a child by him named Kate Young in 1910 in Maidenhead, Berkshire. After 1911, no further trace of Kate can be found. Two more children were born in Brentford, London in 1912 (Tom Stamford Young) and 1913 (Elsie Young).  Minnie appears on an electoral roll in 1921 still living with Tom Young, taking his name. Family lore suggests at least one of the children was sent to Canada as a British Home child.  Minnie kept in touch with her sisters but appeared to be a lost soul in her later life.  In 1949, Elsie's birth certificate was amended by Minnie, and witnessed by her sister Alice to remove Tom Young as her father.  However, no other father was stated.  Minnie is shown in photos in later life holidaying with her sisters, but she lived in London for the remainder of her life, dying in 1957.  Her oldest child Kathleen preceded her in death, dying of kidney disease in 1942.  William Henry Irvine remained in Southampton, with his occupation being a night watchman on his 1944 death certificate.

Edith Reed Tucker & son Bob

My grandmother Edith Annie (1884-1973) was the fourth surviving daughter. She was musical and started courting my grandfather Sydney George Tucker, the son of a prosperous music dealer aged sixteen.  They were engaged when she was 21 and married at 23 at Bovey Tracy in Devon.  Her uncle gave her away.  This appears strange.  Did her father not approve of her marriage?  Whatever the reason, they were very happily married, with daughters Jessie Agnes and Cecily Mary born in 1908 and 1910, followed by my father (pictured) in 1914.  Syd signed up as an aircraft gunner but suffered serious wounds, both physical and mental and died of his own hand in 1919, whilst in hospital.  My grandmother had a tough life thereafter since her father was deceased and her father-in-law had remarried a much younger woman who convinced him to change his will.  My grandmother was forced to send her daughters to Dr Barnardo's Homes whilst she worked in the confectioners' tearooms.

Tucker family in April 1917

In 1923, Dr Barnardo's Homes proposed sending one of the sisters to Canada and one to Australia, both as domestic servants.  The girls, just 13 and 15 insisted on going together and their mother supported them to do so if they were happy to. In January 1924 they were sent to Sydney, NSW and their mother and brother were facilitated by Barnardos to join them in 1925.  Whilst the children were happy, Edith never felt settled, had to take up domestic work to survive but never saw England again.  She remained a widow with my father supporting her by purchasing a house from his war savings.  She died in 1973, having spent long stretches dealing with and being treated for depression.

Kate Rose Reed was born on Christmas Day, 1885.  She married Sidney Bellenger, a printer with whom she worked in 1909.  The couple had no children but together with her oldest sister, teacher Harriett supported Edith's children in practical ways such as warm clothing and shoes after Edith became widowed. My dad and other family members called the couple Steak and Kidney, behind their backs presumably.  Kate often wrote to her sister Edith and to my parents in Australia. She died in 1971.

A son was born in 1887 and named after his father, but died within 12 months.

Molly and Jean Kennedy before parting in 1927

The youngest daughter, Jessie was born on 24th June 1989.  She married a professional cricketer, Alexander Stuart Kennedy in April 1910 and their older daughter Mary (Molly) Stuart Kennedy was born later that year. I was told that Jessie perfected her cake decorating skills whilst working with her mother and sisters post-WW1.  Alex represented England in five test matches against South Africa and in the early 20s, the family migrated to Cape Town, South Africa where Alex became a cricket coach. Another daughter Jean was born in 1923 but the marriage was already in jeopardy.  

Jessie Reed Kennedy/Davies

Alex initiated divorce proceedings on the grounds of adultery, finalising the case in 1925 and by 1927, Molly Kennedy accompanied her father back to England, leaving baby Jean with her mother.  Jessie then married Charles Davies in Cape Town and had three more children by him.  The family later migrated to Rhodesia where Jessie died of cancer in 1957. 

Jessie and my grandmother Edith corresponded for the rest of their lives. My father remembers meeting the family with his mother in Cape Town in 1925 on his way to Australia.

Descendants of the four sisters who had children are now scattered over four continents: England, Australia (including some from South Africa and Zimbabwe), South Africa and America (Florida). Since 2008, I have met three out of four cousins in England, seven in Florida and two in Australia (both born in Africa).

My father particularly remembers being surrounded by kindly aunts in England and later receiving care packages and letters from them during his WW2 service in New Guinea and Bougainville.

19 Mar 2022

Joined together - Week 12: 52 Ancestors


Bob, Freda & Margaret in 1949

As one of the first baby boomers (born in 1947), I was a product of a post-war marriage.  My parents had re-met (long story) during one of my dad's army leave's in 1943-44.  He had been fighting the Japanese on the Kokoda Track with the 2nd/14th Australian Infantry Battalion.

Many marriages were performed in Australia in 1946, as they probably were in the UK and America, Canada and New Zealand as allied troops returned from Bougainville (where my dad completed his service) and overseas and were slowly demobilised.

This resulted in a huge enrollment in school classes by 1952.

Bob & Freda Tucker 23 March 1946

Many weddings were austere in those early post-war years with a shortage of materials and wedding frippery.  I imagine many brides with a talent for dressmaking refashioned their mother's wedding dress if it had been saved.  My mother wore a frock and hat she could wear again. 

My sister and I followed in her footsteps - my sister in 1975 and me in 1983 and 2006.  Neither of us could see ourselves in white with a veil.

Apart from my mother's biological and foster mothers, I have no photos of any of my other ancestor's weddings.  This does seem a bit strange.  I wonder if there were no cameras at the wedding or the photos were sadly thrown out.  I shall likely never know.

14 Mar 2022

Flowers - Week 11: 52 Ancestors


Grevillea - one of many
A few years ago, after I retired from full-time work and became passionate about genealogy I undertook the UK based Family History Skills and Strategies (Intermediate) course with Pharos Tutoring.  I finished it in 2014 and almost immediately began the Diploma of Family History at the University of Tasmania.

I was particularly interested in the Pharos Tutors courses because although I was born in Australia to an Australian mother and an English father, all four of my biological grandparents were English from the south of England.

I loved both courses equally and I could undertake each of them online.

In 2010, my husband John and I sold our four-bedroom house in Western Sydney and moved into a three-bedroom unit in a retirement village nearby.  It is a large village and each complex is a cluster of units set in beautiful gardens. Most of the complexes are named after flowering plants, mostly Australian natives.  Our 49-unit complex is called Grevillea.

Grevilleas, of which there are many varieties and colours are found Australia wide.  They grow nicely in Australian gardens, as shrubs or groundcovers.

So it seemed natural to me to call my little hobby/business Grevillea Genealogy.  I have a website with a linked Google Blog, a Facebook page and an associated email address linked to my Gmail account.  I do not charge for labour - that's the hobby part.  I charge enough to cover my other costs such as database subscriptions.

I've been undertaking family history research since 2014 for friends and acquaintances, particularly residents in our retirement village.  The projects have been quite varied.  One resident wished to find the truth about their inlaws' tales of a coachbuilding business, another about what her English father did in World War 1 and yet another about whether two families with the same surname were connected.  Some were amazed to find convicts in their families, another was surprised that she was a distant cousin of one of our recent prime ministers.  Many simply wanted to extend their family trees back as far as they could, or to discover when their ancestors came to Australia.

I am not undertaking nearly as much research now since my husband, spinal cord injured since 1970,  has recently damaged his shoulder badly and is much less independent than he'd like to be.  A former amateur racing-car driver, he cannot drive at the moment.

So here I am, undertaking a blog challenge for Amy Johnson Crow's  Generations Cafe. To kickstart my weekly blogging challenge, I signed up with Stickk.com, a behaviour changing campaign.  It worked!  I had to report weekly whether I had uploaded a blog post and my husband had to verify it.  I linked it to an "anti-charity", an organisation for which I had no time.  My chosen "anti-charity" was the National Firearms Association.  It was one of a dozen choices, mostly American.  There was no way I wanted my money to go to the NRA.

7 Mar 2022

Worship - Week 10: 52 Ancestors

St Mary's Church, Southampton

None of my grandparents - all born in England - nor their parents and grandparents in the 19th century appeared particularly religious.  They were certainly protestant and generally used the Church of England for their hatch, match and despatch customs. However, this was common practice because during most of the Victorian era and earlier the Church of England parishes throughout England carried out these functions in the absence of civil registration, certainly prior to 1837.

Parishes were also responsible for many other functions now carried out by the UK government.  These included welfare subsidies for the poor and tithes instead of taxation to pay for road maintenance and other public functions.

My favourite ancestor is my 3 x great grandfather John Rose 1804-1884 of Southampton. Through researching various family trees, 

I made contact with a fourth cousin Moira, who I later met in Dorchester in 2012.

In 1836 England introduced the Tithe Commutation Act which replaced the ancient system of payment of tithes in kind (for example, produce) with monetary payments.  So the issue of the fairness or otherwise of tithes was a significant issue in 1839 when this incident took place.

By 1839, John Rose had sired ten sons by his wife Isabella, and no daughters.  Only one had died in early childhood.  He named his 10th son, baptised on 9th September 1838 at St Mary's Church: Guilford North Rose, after the church rector, Francis North, 6th Earl of Guilford.

The rector, Francis North was the formal rector of a number of churches in Hampshire and was in the habit of giving an annual sermon once a year, where he collected the tithes due to him.  For the rest of the year, the church was left in the hands of a curate who was paid a pittance.

On the appointed day, John Rose approached the rector with his tenth son in his arms, handed him to the Earl and suggested he take the child as John Rose's tithe.  The Earl had been fussing over the babe, but upon hearing John Rose's request, promptly handed him back.

John Rose later wrote a poem, which he sold very successfully as a pamphlet.  Here it is:

A letter to the Hon. And Rev. the Earl of Guil(d)ford (sic), Wiltshire Park, Dover

I’m certain your Lordship would hardly suppose
You’d receive an Epistle in verse from JOHN ROSE
Well-known in Southampton, while courting the muse,
As Father of Children and Vendor of News.

Ah, hinc illoe Lachrymoe! One thing is sure.
Though in young ones I’m rich, in the pocket I’m poor.

Sad drawback it is on connubial joys
Ten bantlings to rear – and the whole of them boys,
Everyone of them hearty, my Lord, and no question
With appetites keen and unfailing digestion;
And who, as to eating, though not over-nice,
Would make a sirloin disappear in a trice.
Your feelings, my Lord, I had no wish to shock
When I offered you lately a TITHE OF MY FLOCK –
A fine chubby lad which, as flower of the crew.
Guildford North I have christened him, in honour of you.

And I fervently hope, though the last of the race,
That – much honoured name he will never disgrace.
Now, My Lord, it would make my paternal heart glad
If you’d kindly consent to provide for the lad,
And to the rich bower, where your lordship reposes,
Would transplant this fair sample, the Flower of the ROSES.

But your Lordship may say: “Now my feelings you touch,
And truly John Rose, you are asking too much.
Were I to provide for each brat that is born,
Every ROSE in the lot would be turned to a thorn,
And the whole of the wealth of the County of Hants,
Would be quite insufficient to cover their wants.

Please note that the punctuation and spelling were John Rose's.  As a larger than life and very opinionated working man, he had his own printing press and immediately published and sold the verse in pamphlet format throughout Southampton.

The doggerel and covering story were provided to the Southern Daily Echo by Mrs Frederick (Amy) Walbridge, a daughter of Guil(d)ford North Rose 1838-1900 in the 1930s.  She well remembered her grandfather John Rose and her father having a chuckle about this story, especially when a discussion of tithes arose.                         

When my Southampton friend and distant cousin Ange took me to visit the church in 2012, we were astonished that this church was not completely destroyed in the 1940 blitz of Southampton.  It is surrounded by buildings dating from the 1960s, a sure sign of the extensive bombing in that area. In fact, the church was badly damaged and restored.

John Rose's father Simon Rose who died in the Southampton Workhouse was buried in the churchyard in 1820, but no graves could be found.