Friday, October 5, 2018

The Allery Clan

Colourful characters adorn our family tree! 
- the chapters for the family history story for our grandchildren

On my Dad's side, Cecil, our history stretches back in the streets of London as his ancestors plied their trade of tailoring for the gents of the time. There are stories hidden among their lives that have long been in shadows; stories of hardship, sorrow and pain; and stories of pride, achievements and promises of wealth. The most prominent of these include: 

  • Great Grandfather Samuel John Allery (Master Tailor), his two wives, Ann Hall and Jemima Blackburn and the Allery clan of sixteen children, the beginnings of the Tailoring empire
  • Great Uncle William Adrian Allery (Master Tailor & Genealogist) his search for ancestral inheritance and the early deaths of six of his siblings in Dartmouth, Devon
  • Grandfather Walter Frederick Allery (Tailor/Journeyman) and his wife Harriet Priscilla Wright and and the mystery of daughter Lily Wren and the tragic death of son Uncle Edward (Ted) 
  • Great Uncle Dave Bertie Allery, (House Decorator) his two wives Alice Maud Bohill and Lily Sarah Tomkinson, and the legacy of Tailoring wealth handed down
  • Great Uncle Frank Joseph Andrew Allery (Tailor)- his takeover of the Tailoring business and his military career
  • My Dad Cecil Henry Allery (Motor Mechanic/RAAF) and my Mum Winifred Edith Cutting - the story of their elopement and emigration to Australia
  • The early history of the Allery clan in Australia - from Moonee Ponds to East Oakleigh and the legacies handed down from my siblings: Pamela, John, Patricia and Michael & Brian.
On my Mum's side, Winnie, our ancestors originated in Wales and they were often found in service to landed gentry or became tradesmen with carpentry and plumbing skills. Their lives, beliefs and legacies have had impact on the characteristics of us, our siblings and extended family, and of course, our grandchildren. The most interesting of these include:
  • Grandmother Mary Jane Robinson married to Grandfather Charles Harry Newland Cutting (Plumber) - the legacy of multiple births and the Freedom of London
  • Great Grandmother Mary Ann Evans married to George Robinson (Railway Inspector), the beginning of the Welsh line and our links to Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire and Croydon, in Surrey
  • Great, great Grandmother Lettice Day married to David Evans (Carpenter), the potential link to white witchery in Treffgarne, Pembrokeshire
  • Great, great, great Grandmother Elizabeth Evans married to George Day (Ropemaker), the possibility of midwifery in South Wales
  • Great Grandfather Charles Harry Cutting (Carpenter) his wife Sarah Ann Newland, the legacy of carpentry and the link to the Wellbelove family
  • The Welsh links and the story of finding Eglyws Brewis
Alexander's family history is steeped in Scottish traditions and characteristics of his working class ancestors from Falkirk. A family of strong tribal connectedness throughout the generations, and of the call of the home country for these characters, in this story, include:
  • Alexander McCulloch, (MetalWorker) my father-in-law and Annie Robertson my mother-in-law - their emigration to Australia and how I met Alex.
  • Grandfather Alexander McCulloch (Soldier/Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) married to Helen Wright Fish and the legacy of the Fish family
  • Great Grandfather Alexander McCulloch (Coal Miner), his wife Jane Hodge Laird and the link to the Laird family
  • Great Grandfather James Cunningham Robertson, his wife Janet Walker Imrie and the legacy of the Cunningham name handed down
  • The history of the link between the Allery and the McCulloch Clan

    This is my exercise for this week as I begin to map out the Family History story for my own family and generations to come. The exercise is at the end of the chapter called 'Origins, Arrivals and Writing About Them' in the book "Writing Family History Made Easy" by Noeline Kyle, Allen & Unwin 2007.


    Draft a Table of Contents for your original Ancestors. Link the relevant categories, themes, topics and characters and other text to form intended chapters.

    Of course I have a wealth of research material right here in this blog, stretching back many years. I will draw on that as I begin this next story writing project:
    Allery and McCulloch Clans: our English and Scottish roots


    Friday, September 14, 2018

    It's in the Genes!

    How is it that my son is over six feet tall? Why is my granddaughter's hair is red?
    Where did I get my Celtic yearnings from? Why am I not able to tolerate lactose in my diet?
    Now that I have been sleuthing my ancestral tree for some decades now, I am finding reasons and answers to my questions!
    My son gained his height from his Scottish heritage - thanks to his Paternal great grandfather Alexander. He is comfortable in a kilt and brave enough to wear it in a traditional manner. Wedding photos prove that. He is blessed with a strength of character way beyond his years - the McCulloch influence.
    My daughter's daughter has deep red hair just like her and I. Although mine has faded to silver now, their's is lustrous and bright. Paternal Grandmother Priscilla handed down the genes for the red hair in my family - and in my brothers'. We all get our sewing abilities from this side of the family who were all tailors - the Allery impact.
    Mum's grandmother was of Welsh stock - strong ancestors from the south of Pembrokeshire - with special skills and knowledge. I learned my Celtic roots from her and I wonder if my lactose intolerance is from my Welsh ancestors? Is it from these forbears that I get my need to travel - the Evans trait?
    The story of my life has been shaped by what has gone before me - my ancestors call me from the past - and I seek the truth of my tribe. Perhaps I am a direct descendant of Charlemagne the Great. But then so are millions of others of European heritage. My brother believes in his Viking heritage but our ancestral tree does not yet stretch that far back in time.
    In his book "The Short History of Everyone who ever Lived" Adam Rutherford explains that our ancestral tree roots are entangled and that the only things we can be sure about, in considering the impact of our genes, is the colour of our skin and our ability to tolerate lactose.
    Oral History is a vital component in putting flesh on these skeletons in our trees - it is these that tantalise and draw you into the world of genealogy.

    Did you ever wonder why Grandma Mary Jane chased Grandpa Charles up the stairs, brandishing a kitchen knife? Sounds like infidelity back there in the 1900's - and he was caught out. Looking back I can see some tough times for Grandma Mary Jane - twins and triplets in her line.
    Letters and memorabilia also put context around family fractures - it is these that colour in the character of your ancestors. I wondered why my red-haired Grandma Priscilla did not send me gifts like other grandmothers did. The December letter from Gran and the death notice put everything in perspective for me - she was born in December, married in December, and died in December. Her death was just a few short years after our migration to Australia.
    As for my keen interest in Genealogy, I put that down to a collection of articles in the London Times in 1924, located in my late sister's diaries. The articles told me of Great Uncle William who thought he had found the evidence that the Allery's were the true heirs to the Angell Estate in Brixton. But he stretched the truth too far and his claim fell on deaf ears.
    My heritage will live on in the stories I tell my grandchildren. "Yes your height is influenced by genetics. Yes your hair and skin colour come from your blood line, and Yes, your children may well display an intolerance for milk." But don't blame it all on the genes - there's just too many of them for that - around 20,000 according to the Human Genome Project.

    Monday, March 26, 2018



    Frank Joseph Andrew Allery

    Rank: Private Regiment: East Surrey Regimental No. 19903

    I weep for my great grandparents whose lives were touched by loss and sorrow in the Allery family during 1914-1918. Four brave sons enlisted in WW1, three returned and one did not. Sadly, no family letters from the front have been archived from that era, but their stories of war time are etched on the hearts of their family and descendants.

    The exploits of my Great Uncles and the early days of WW1 had an enormous impact on my family. Cecil Henry Allery, my Dad, would listen to stories and news from the Western Front during 1915 and these persuaded him to enlist as a young Boy Artificer in 1917.

    Four brothers, Frank, Edward, Ernest and Henry Allery, enlisted for war duties as Riflemen in 1914. They were excited about the prospect of adventure and reacted without hesitation to the call to arms.
    Edward St Swithen served in the 298th Reserve Labour company. Henry John served as a private in the Labour Corps and was killed in action in 1918 – his grave is located amongst the thousands who gave their lives on Flanders fields. Ernest Alexander saw action at the Western Front and was awarded the British Victory Medal and the Star.

    Private Frank J A Allery, had enlisted at Camberwell, London in 1915, and saw action in the Battles of the Somme, Passchendaele, Cambrai and Epehy, in France, in 1917-1918.
    It is his war story that has impacted our family lives.
    Frank Allery lived from 13 October 1888 – January 1976.
    They say that a life is lived in the ‘dash’. What happened to him between 1914-1920?
    The British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 shows that at the time of his enlistment on the 7th March 1915, Frank Allery was 27 years of age with a declared occupation of Mantle Presser. [pressing clothes in the garment industry] Frank worked at Allery & Sons, Tailors of Oxford Street, owned by his father Samuel John Allery.

    Frank stood just 5 feet and 2.5 inches tall and was of fair complexion, according to his medical records listed in the Pension Records. He was unmarried with no dependents and lived with his parents and siblings at 196 Commercial Road, Peckham - according to the 1911 Census. He had received all his inoculations as an infant and he was required to wear glasses as his vision was slightly impaired. He received further inoculations in March and April 1915 and was deemed medically fit for duties.
    Frank joined the 13th Battalion of infantrymen - posted to the front and fought in the Battles of the Somme. It was the job of the 13th to break through enemy lines which were heavily fortified with barbed wire.

    The Forces War Gazette traces their journey from the Somme to Cambrai.

    As a private in a company, led by officers not much older than himself, and commanded by Generals he never saw, Frank realized that he was there to carry out orders. Life at the front was a bitter and hazardous experience and the daily conditions were abominable. Trench life was the worst a soldier could endure under heavy gunfire from the enemy. The mud, rain, cold and the tremendous assault on his ears from the shelling, tested his endurance.

    Commanding officers were charged with keeping a diary of all pertinent events every day during the Battles, and for the most part they consisted of the minutiae of everyday life, in times of calm and those of disaster. The diaries of the Commanders revealed that the British were not at all well prepared for trench warfare.

    Historical accounts of the Battle of Cambrai, November 1917, where Frank was stationed, uncovers a story about its importance and the futility of war.

    This theatre of war was every bit as bloody as that of Passchendaele, just 60 kilometres away. It is also a tale of great stupidity and stubborn intolerance on the part of the generals.
    Great War by Les Carlyon, 2006, MacMillan,

    Lieutenant-Colonel John Fuller requested the use of a Massed Tank attacks on the German barbed wire defenses strung across the fields outside the old textile town of Cambrai. Initially this was not received favourably by General Haig - stationed at Boulogne on the coast. Haig, a belligerent man, was well versed in Cavalry action and was not in favour of the attack by tanks. Brigadier-General Hughe Elles and General Julian Byng, were in favour, and expanded the scheme to emphasise breakthroughs of cavalry galloping through the gap opened by the tanks. General Haig was then excited and ordered Byng to start planning the attack on 20 November 1917, deploying 474 of the Mark IV tanks under his command.

    Cambrai was to be a surprise attack for the Germans, and it was. Within the first 90 minutes the Hindenburg Line was captured and hundreds, and later, thousands of Germans trudged into captivity. Unfortunately, due to miscommunications and further bungling by the generals, no British support troops were deployed to the town of Cambrai in time, and the German Army took the advantage. A small error of judgement (insufficient water supply for the horses of the cavalry) and the British cavalry were recalled. So many lives wasted in this war due to poor management by the generals. The fate of the 13th Battalion was sealed – and Frank was among the wounded in the 4000 casualties.

    Back home in London, news of the initial victory at Cambrai was celebrated with the ringing of the bells at St Paul’s Cathedral. It was the first time the bells had tolled out a victory. Some days later, when the real story of the Battle of Cambrai emerged, and the casualty lists rose to 45,000, families of the soldiers at the front became confused and angry.

    Families like the Allerys, would have been fearful for their son’s welfare. News from the troops in Cambrai were spasmodic at best and several days behind. Messages were often obscured by heavy censorship – and an inaccurate picture of trench war was received back home.

    The process of withdrawal of troops from Cambrai was confused and mismanaged and the adjutants were constantly seeking clarification from their superiors. These abound in hastily scribbled messages recorded in the War Diaries.

    What happened to frank between November 1917 and September 1918?
    The British Army WW1 Pension Records 1914-1920 reveal that part of his story.

    Private Frank J A Allery was moved to the 8th Battalion in June 1918 and was stationed at Ronnsoy on the day of the Battle of Epehy. This battle was an Allied attack on the German Hindenburg line, on 18-19 September 1918.
    Sometime during that bloody battle, Frank was wounded by a gunshot to the left thigh whilst under heavy fire near Cambrai, on the 18th September 1918.
    “On this day in 1918, near the French village of Epehy, the British 4th Army, commanded by Sir Henry Rawlinson, attacks German forward outposts in front of the Hindenburg Line, Germany’s last line of defense on the Western Front during World War I.”
    The Germans referred to this part of the line as the Siegfried Line, and it was memorialized in a war time song by Arthur Askey in 1939.
    WE'RE GONNA HANG OUT THE WASHING ON THE SIEGFRIED LINE

    War Diaries and Gazetted notices claimed this day as a great victory. “The British-led assault went ahead on the morning of September 18, 1918, with a creeping artillery barrage from approximately 1,500 guns, as well as 300 machine guns. Although the Germans held steady on both flanks, they were soundly defeated in the center by the Allied advance, led by two Australian divisions under General John Monash.”

    Frank was evacuated by ship to England on 20 September 1918. His physical injuries were severe, BUT he endured, and after spending time in hospital, he was healed.

    Letters from the Generals were sent to families to notify of their wounded son’s return to England and admittance to a Dispersal Hospital. Frank was sent to the Western General Hospital in Manchester. He spent several months recovering from his wounds and only had infrequent family visits during that time. Frank’s Pension records reveal that his doctors declared him fit to return home and recommended a pension to support him during convalescence. This final discharge and demobilization came on 20 February 1919. 

    Only then could he return home to 196 Commercial Road, Peckham.

     In 1920 Frank was awarded a Military Medal for Bravery in the Field, the equivalent of the Military Cross awarded to commissioned officers.

    During the late part of the First World War the Army Medal Office began a system of making out an index card for everyone. This was done to create a record of every person's collective entitlement to campaign medals and gallantry medals.





    Frank married his sweetheart, Mabel Constance Bregenzer, in January 1921.
    By the end of March 1921, Frank’s medical pension ended. He was now fit to return to work and start a new life.

    Friday, June 10, 2016

    More about Grandmother Mary Jane

    One year ago I posted my knowledge of Grandmother Mary Jane Cutting. Some pieces of her puzzle were still not falling into place. My plan was to focus on her and use my new skills in creating a Family Group Sheet for her and to dig deeper. I listed all that I knew about her and realised something was wrong - her birth place did not seem right. Obviously confused my research by looking for the birth of Mary Jane Cutting, when it should have been Mary Jane Robinson, her maiden name.

    I followed the advice given in the Ancestry Academy and revisited my records for my maternal grandmother in the hope of uncovering further details of her family and life as a young woman and wife. My records were in a sad shape and needed work. Where to start? The Census is a good place to locate her as a child.

    I worked backwards from the 1881 census in which she was listed, as a 9 year old child, living with her parents George and Mary Robinson. Her brother George aged 19 and her sister Elizabeth aged 13 were also living at 180 Gloucester Road, Croydon. The 1881 census also listed a visitor at Gloucester Road, Elizabeth Evans aged 19 and a boarder, John Edser.

    Scrutinising the census I noticed Mary's birth place was listed as Croydon. This conflicted with what I had for her and launched into research to find her true birth place. First place to look, Baptism records in Croydon.  Success! Baptism records for St James in Croydon confirmed her baptism date as June 9, 1872. Back to Ancestry to add that new piece of evidence.

    Her life as a child of London in the 1870's would have been one of comfort and support. I was keen to know more about her school days and visited the Surrey Genealogy Resources & Parish Registers. I searched for her in the National School Admission Registers and Log Books and found that she had be admitted to the Sydenham Road Girls School in 1883.

    Moving on I wanted to find out more about her as a young woman and once again went back to the Census to find her 10 years later.


    The 1891 census shows Mary Jane aged 19 as a servant at 45 Lower Kennington Lane, Lambeth. This property was and still is a Coffee House or Cafe and in 1891 was managed by Frances Rivers. In that year three boarders were listed as Policemen: Thomas Price 27, William Pettet 21 and William Saunders 30. Success once more!

    These facts were known but not scrutinised. So I searched for the property online to find it listed among the many pubs, hotels and coffee houses of that area of London.

    When Mary Jane was a Londoner in 1891, Waterloo Station was the city's central train terminal. Perhaps she used the train service to travel to and from her employment at weekends, and perhaps she was able to return to her parents' home in Croydon quite safely. The railways culture would have been in her blood, as her father was a porter and railway inspector during his working life. On such train journeys perhaps she, along with other commuters, enjoyed reading about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's masterful detective, Sherlock Holmes.

    It was an ever changing environment in London in the late 19th Century, and I wonder how safe she felt living and working in the 'pub' area, not far from East End. Some of the history of that era includes the beginning of the Whitechapel Murders, and London Dock Strikes. I am sure she would have been jubilant when in 1900 the Central London Railway (Tube line) was opened to the public. And she, like thousands of other Londoners, would have been devastated to learn of the death of Queen Victoria in January 1901.

    I cannot find any details of Mary Jane Robinson in the 1901 census for England and this makes me curious as to her whereabouts. Charles Harry Cutting is listed in the 1901 census living in Kingston, Surrey and working as a Plumber. But where did Mary Jane disappear to? Given that she was pregnant and still single, in April at the time of the Census, perhaps she was in hiding elsewhere.

    The next record I have for Mary Jane is her marriage to Charles Harry Newland Cutting on 16 June 1901. She was then aged 29.

    St Andrews Church, Enfield
    A huge leap from her humble beginnings as a waitress in 1891 to the wife of a young 23 year old Plumber. Mary Jane met Charles Cutting where she worked in the Kennington Lane Cafe. They were married  at the St Andrews Church, Enfield - in the county of Middlesex, far removed from their home in Croydon. I imagine that they married there, away from wagging tongues and prying eyes, as Mary Jane was already pregnant. I imagine that she did not know that she was expecting twins - a similar story to her own daughter Winifred in the 1940 whose twins were born during the London Blitz.

    It seems that Mary Jane had moved to live in Southbury Road, Enfield, during her pregnancy. When I looked further into the development of Enfield in Wikipedia, I noticed that its popularity had increased when the G.N.R. introduced a new Railway Line and cheaper tickets to London. A fact that would have been known by Mary's father, George Robinson, retired Railway Inspector. Perhaps he had found a place for her among the newer estates popping up there in 1901. Wikipedia also tells me that the population in St Andrew's Parish, where they were married, had doubled between 1871 an 1891. I imagine now a small cottage for the two of them and a small wedding in St Andrew's Church on June 16th 1901. The Southbury Road, Enfied address was also listed for Charles Cutting on the Marriage Certificate.

    On the certificate I noticed the occupations of Charles' father, Harry Cutting a builder, and Mary Jane's father, George Robinson as retired. Both Charles and Mary have signed their certificate legibly and their friends too. I get a real buzz out of viewing the actual handwritten documents carefully preserved in the archives of Ancestry.com

    The Parish Registers for the Baptisms of her children, provide clues as to where Mary Jane was living between 1901 and 1911.

    • In 1901 her residence is listed as Southbury Road, Enfield, Middlesex
    • In 1903 to 1906 her residence is listed as 7 Glenville Road, Kingston, Surrey
    On 17 November 1901 the twin boys, Charles Reginald and Frank George were born. They were both baptised at St James Church in Croydon. It would not have been easy for Mary Jane to look after her two babies; having most likely, prepared for just one. I imagine that she would also have needed to weather the barbed comments and disapproving looks from people back in her home town.

    I do remember Uncle Reg, as he emigrated to Australia with his wife Margaret Monk and their three children in the 1940's at the same time as my family. I do not have any memories of Uncle Frank, only second hand ones through the eyes of my siblings.

    Mary Jane's eldest daughter Winifred was born in Kingston On Thames in 1903. Winifred Edith was my mother, and I have some very strong memories of her. My mother emigrated to Australia with her six children in 1949; following her husband Cecil Allery who had emigrated the year before.

    In 1906 Mary Jane gave birth to triplets; Harry, Ronald and Violet. Harry only survived for one year but Ronald and Violet lived on into their eighties. I do not have any memories of Uncle Ron. My Auntie Vi emigrated to Australia in the 1940's with her husband Harold Toft and their daughter.

    Mary Jane's last born daughter, Doris, also lived on into her eighties. She too emigrated to Australia with her husband George Dale and two children in the 1940's.

    I wonder how Mary Jane felt about so many of her children emigrating to another country. She would have been sad and lonely without them. There was a huge migration of people from Britain to Australia from 1948 and into the 1950's, escaping from the war ravaged country after WW2, and their reasons quite clear. However, being left behind would have been difficult to bear.

    I have no memories of this grandmother and will need to dig deeper into my photo troves and the memories of my own remaining siblings, for some glimpses of her as an older woman. There is a 43 year gap in my facts for Mary Jane, from 1911 to 1954. Space for another story!

    Grandmother Mary Jane Cutting died in June 1954 in Surrey Northern.

    Saturday, April 30, 2016

    .... from the Journal of William Adrian Allery ...


    An imagined piece of journalling from my Great Uncle, the first genealogist in our clan.

    Prologue

    As I entered Uncle William’s bedroom at Larkhall Crescent I could smell the decay! His poor old body was breaking down! He had been complaining of no feeling in his legs for weeks! They say you begin to die from the feet up! Of course I didn’t say any of that, I just kissed his clammy cheek and gently smoothed his bedcovers around him. A fluttering of that paper skinned hand and then a sound from purpled lips, no more than a small exhalation. His eyes beckoned me closer!

    “If I could go back … to Dartmouth … to the Church … I would die happy!” he whispered.
    “Do you mean you would be buried there?” I asked.

    “No I mean … if I had my time over … I might have been … I might have been right.”

    “Oh not that bloody business about the parish register! Let it go Uncle!” I sighed, a bit too heavily.

    “They were not truthful! You know! We are connected to the Angell Estate. I just cannot prove it again in my lifetime.” He managed these last words vehemently and fell back on his pillow gasping for breath.
    “Just you never mind now, Uncle, there are some who will follow in your footsteps.”

    In my mind I gathered all of those dusty docs into bundles– planning to sort them when William’s time was up. It was down to me. A long, long journey for a humble Tailor who sought to prove his inheritance.

    The Journal of William Adrian Allery
    December 1924
    I was tired and dusty from the long train ride from London to Dartmouth. The station platform was almost empty, except for a few porters vying for business among the meagre crowd. Spotting a large white card with the word ALLERY in large letters held by a tall, thin man wearing a pinstripe suit and bowler hat; I pushed my way through the milling porters to reach my guide. Black clouds were brooding over the township and I was glad to be heading to Townstal, the countryside of my birth.
    As we drove to the parish church of St. Clement, Townstal, my pin-striped guide gave the history of the old 12th Century building which had served the small village for centuries. Irritated with his diatribe, I sat silently nodding. I knew St Clement’s history already, I was back in my home town.
    “After the Reformation years it is difficult to find reference to St. Clement’s beyond the list of successive Vicars and the record of Baptisms and Burials. We do know, however, that the church must have formed a valuable strong point commanding the only route down to Hardnesse, our present main road not then existing.” He continued to babble on. I wished I had not hired him at all.
    “I am only interested in the parish registers and any references to marriages between my ancestors in the 18th century”, I said, rather too loud. After that, all was silent in the cab.
    On arrival at St Clement’s, I hastily paid the cabbie and the guide and jumped from the cab. Rushing through the iron gates, I reached the entrance and pushed open the carved wooden doors. The feel of the wood made my fingertips tingle. I gazed down the nave to the beautiful stained glass window and walked forward to the altar, peering from left to right.
    As I reached the altar, memories from my childhood came flooding back. I remembered my own cold words the last time I had stood here with Sam, and the funerals of our lost siblings and the six headstones, all in a row!
    December 1854
     ‘Another cold, grey weeping day!’ ‘Mother is too weak to attend this time!’
    ‘Poor little bugger, never stood a chance. Just one day in this world and he’s off to another!’
    My Dad and I, we heft that sad little coffin easily onto our shoulders, and together we walk the nave of St Clements, again. Down the black mile to the cemetery. It doesn’t take long to gently lay James Frances Allery in his grave! All is quiet!
    Six headstones now, stand neatly in a row in the cemetery plot. Elizabeth 1847-1849; Alice 1849-1851; Louisa 1851; Henry 1852; Frances 1853 and James 1854.
    Rain has gathered in puddles and the wind has whipped the tears from our faces. Young Samuel and me, we just stand and watch as our weeping Dad kneels in the mud with his head bowed. I show Sam how to throw small clods of freshly dug earth onto the coffin; and we listen as it scuds and thuds across the shining lid.
    ‘I’m never going to bring a child into this dreadful world!’ I whisper to Sam. He just huddles closer to me and shrugs his coat close around himself. His face is grey and he is colder than sorrow.
    ‘You’ll be going back to St Mary’s tomorrow!’ I say to him as I take him squarely by his thin shoulders and look hard into his reddened eyes.
    ‘Me, I’m going into town and find me a job!’ …

    “The Altar is unique. It dates from James I and may have replaced an older one dedicated in 1318 AD by Bishop Stapledon of Exeter, on his only visit to Dartmouth”, said the Vicar
     “Are you the gentleman who wishes to view the Parish Register?”
    I was startled out of my reverie. “I am indeed”, I said eagerly, turning around in surprise to see the vicar standing right behind me.

    “Are you interested in the baptismal records too?” asked the vicar, pointing to the ancient stone font. By then I was beaming with great excitement.
    “Come, let me show you where the ancient registers are kept, in the crypt.” Said the vicar.
    Finally, back in St Clements, there’s more to the Church than I remembered. The vicar was striding ahead of me, looking over his shoulder and beckoning me to follow him down a stone staircase.
    All I could do was whisper “Yes”!

    My eyes grew accustomed to the gloom of the crypt as I walked all the way to the bottom. We were in a large marble pillared room in which I could see several ancient tombs and effigies of people past. I had never ventured this deep into the Church. It was like stepping back in time.
    To my left, a sliver of yellow light billowed out as the vicar turned an ancient handle and opened the door to the Chapelry. I smelled the faint odour of mildew and dust; as I peered at the many shelves of old registers. The faded titles spanned the centuries; marking the passage of souls in St Clements.
    In the middle of the room was a small raised dais on which was a reading lectern with a small lamp. One 1700-1710 register was already on the lectern, dusted and opened at a page with a small white bookmark.

    My blood was thumping in my temples and I felt clammy and faint.

    “I believe you will find what you are looking for on this page,” said the vicar leading me to the dais. 
    The ancient pages were filled with rows of faded ink inscriptions; the marriage dates and names of many parishioners. I scanned the chronological list following it all with the tip of my finger, until the name ALLERY almost leapt off the page. 

    The second last entry!
    24/1/1710: Samuel ALLERY & Elizabeth BENADICT
    The missing piece of evidence!


    Requiem for Harriet Priscilla Allery


    Requiem for Harriet Priscilla Allery: an assessment piece from Writing Family History eportfolio

    Harriet Priscilla Allery:
    Death 21 December 1953 in Mount Alveria, Stawey Rd,
    Guildford, Surrey, England

    Funeral service at St Saviour’s, Southwark on December 24.
    Cecil was not there that day but he sent this story along with his condolences to his sister.
    Dear Imee,
    I weep for the loss of our mother and am in anguish that I cannot attend the funeral. My finances just won’t stretch to a journey home from Australia. Such a poignant time to say goodbye, right on Christmas. So sorry that you have to bear the brunt of it.
    I have sent money to help with the funeral costs and hope that you can send me a photo of the casket and flowers. I have also put together a potted history of Harriet and I hope that you might read it out to the congregation.

    Harriet buried 3 children and a husband. Now she is at rest.

    Harriet was employed as a machinist in the Allery Tailoring business during the 1890s. Work as a machinist did not pay well then. Many unmarried young women had little choice of occupation in Edwardian times (domestic service, prostitution, shop work, the stage or dressmaking). Harriet continued to live at home bringing into the household her meagre income of a few shillings; making shirts at 7 pence a dozen. She worked from seven in the morning to eleven at night. My father, Walter, commissioned the construction of shirts from her for his private tailoring business, and that is how they first met.

    They were married on December 27 in 1896 in West Ham, Essex. They were both hard working in the Tailoring trade, a trait passed down from their ancestors.

    By 1901 Harriet and Walter were living at No. 28 Elton Parade, Kingston on Thames, Surrey. They had one child, me, Cecil Henry, then aged 11 months. Walter Frederick was an Employer and his occupation was Tailor/Journeyman – he was working from home. His younger brother Joseph was staying with them on the night of the 1901 census, a frequent occurrence for young Joseph, who much later, was to inherit the tailoring business from Grandfather Walter.

    Harriet was still mourning the loss of her first child Walter Frederick Jr. and valiantly trying to raise her second born to be healthy and strong. There was no counselling for young bereaved mothers then - infant mortality was high in Edwardian times. As her own mother Elizabeth, had already passed on in 1894, at the age of 51, Harriet had no support. She needed all her strength to weather the turmoil and tragedy in her own life. She buried her pain along with her child.

    Their first born son, Walter Frederick Alfred Joshua, born in 1898, died in 1900 from Gastro Enteritis. His death was extremely hard to bear for Harriet as she was pregnant with another child at that time, me. Tragically, her first son died one month to the day, prior to my birth on the 25th April 1900. April events had even more poignant significance for Harriet throughout her life.
    By 1911 the family had grown and had moved again to live at London House, Coombe Lane, Norbiton. Walter was then a Master Tailor, and Harriet was now mother to four young boys. Cecil aged 10, Edward aged 9, William aged 5, Samuel aged 1, and one little girl, Imee aged 3. I remember the night of the 1911 census, it lists the number of live births for Harriet as 7 and 2 dead. Sad statistics for a mother to have recorded for her in such archives. Walter filled in these details himself in his neat and precise handwriting.

    Harriet's sad story gets worse when she loses her husband Walter Frederick on the 5th of April in 1915. He had been a soldier in World War 1 and had finally succumbed to his war wounds on his return to England. In 1915, there was time prior to his death for Walter to plan for the care of his family and his Tailoring business. Uncle Joseph purchased the business premises from him and took on the running of Allery and Sons, in Coombe Lane, Norbiton. A substantial sum of money, over 2000 pounds, was left to his widow, Harriet. She was able to be self-sustained throughout her 40 plus years without him, raising her family alone – she never remarried!

    In 1930 Harriet learned of the horrific death of her son Edward Lionel - it was all over the newspapers at the time - a tragic motor racing accident at the Brooklands Raceway took the life of her 28-year-old son. Another April tragedy. I cannot imagine how she felt on hearing the news. I do know how this tragic accident affected me. I blamed myself for encouraging Ted to become a mechanic and to be there, that day, at the raceway. Perhaps Harriet also blamed me for her loss. This is why I was reluctant to encourage my own twin sons to become motor mechanics or to enter the motor racing industry.

    Life was not all tragic; there were the brighter aspects. Harriet passed on her dressmaking skills to her daughter Imee, who later specialised in ‘haute couture’ and earned her income by working from home. As far as I know Imee is still making dresses for the wealthy. You may like to know that my own daughter Carole has inherited Harriet’s red hair.

    Harriet is now at rest, to be buried with her beloved son, Edward Lionel in the Guildford cemetery. A fitting resting place.

    Farewell to Harriet Priscilla.