Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Who was Lily Wren?

Lily Wren is listed as a daughter to Walter and Harriet Allery (my grandparents) in the 1911 census. A fact so curious as to lead me on a trail of discovery about this person and to document the journey in here.

Whilst searching for Lily Wren I got sidetracked in looking into the history of census reports that included my grandfather Walter Allery and found I could trace his whereabouts back to 1881.

Here in 1881 Walter was still a scholar along with his sister Rosina and brothers Henry and Joseph. His parents are both in the tailoring business and that is where Walter is also destined.

By 1891 Walter is listed as a tailor and his older sister Rosina and younger sister Jessie are all involved with tailoring. An important trade of the era - ranking second in the top 10 preferred occupations for people with the surname ALLERY in the whole of UK.

  • Scholar
  • Tailor
  • Dressmaker
  • Ag Lab
  • Carpenter
  • Tailoress
  • Servant General
  • Indoor Servant
  • Journeyman Tailor
  • Tailors Wife
Serpentine Worker
House Painter
General Servant (Dom)
Agricultural Labourer
Attending Board School
Boot Maker
Box Maker (Paper)
Coast Guard
Detained Under Industrial Schools Acts
Domestic Serv Unemployed
Dress Maker
General Serv (Domestic)
Upholsterer. Polisher

Tailoring and all of its associated trades were to feature in the choices made in my family for that era and made a lasting impression on me when I consider my own interests and talents in dressmaking.

By 1901 Walter had married my grandmother Harriet Priscilla and my Dad, Cecil Henry had been born. Tailoring skipped a generation here - my Dad could perform basic tailoring tasks, but preferred working with auto mechanics -  but passed on to me. A significant fact in the 1901 census is that my Uncle Joseph (aged 12 at the time) was visiting or living with my grandparents on census night. It is Joseph to whom the tailoring business is bequeathed when my grandfather dies and obviously there was a strong bond between the brothers who were both Master Tailors.

But where did Lily Wren feature in all of this? Who is she? Why is she listed as a daughter to my grandfather Walter in 1911, but never mentioned in any of our family stories. Could she be the child of a friend whom they had adopted? Was the census return incorrect - could she have been a domestic servant? Why is her name Wren? Was she married to a Wren?

Working out her birth date from the 1911 census, in which she is listed as 15 years old, I proceed to search for her in the Ancestry records. But so far can find but one Lily Wren, born in 1896 to the Wrens of Merthyr Tidfil, Wales. Is this another Welsh connection?

Maybe there is a Scottish connection too. The google search on Lily Wren came up with a reference to her marriage to one Robert Lamb in 1915, so it was worth doing some further searching for that marriage and any further details for Lily and Robert. The above picture was displayed in the article from the University of Glasgow. The following short epitaph for Robert appeared on that page:

Not a lot is known about his private life. He married Lily Georgina Wren (born in 1896 in Merthyr Tydfil) at Warminster in 1915. They had a child, born in Greenwich in 1914, but the marriage was probably short-lived and they were never part of the Lamb family circle. Robert returned to Glasgow after the war and became a schoolteacher. He lived at 262 Crofthill Road. He died of acute appendicitis and peritonitis on 30th December 1946 at the Victoria Infirmary.

Is this my Lily Wren? I now have a middle name and a marriage date, but it does not list the name of their child. Where is the child of Lily Wren?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tragedy at Brooklands

I have known for a long time that my Uncle Ted (Edward Lionel Allery) was killed at the age of 28 at the Brooklands Motor Course, Weybridge, Surrey on Friday, 9 May 1930. Edward was the second eldest son of Walter Frederick Allery and Harriet Priscilla Wright, and my Dad's brother. What I did not know were the circumstances of his death, the lead up to the crash, and the fact that it made headlines in all the major newspapers of the time.

Thanks to some family history writing from my cousin Trevor, I now have the story and copies of the newspaper articles that describe the tragic accident. Among the paper Trevor shared with me were pictures of the Allery brothers at a very early age; pictures I had never seen before.

Cecil, Ted, Bill and Reg (Cecil, Edward, William and Reginald) were motor car enthuisiasts and would often attend the car racetrack at Brooklands. Both Ted and Cec, (the Allery brothers as they were called) were both employed at the Fox and Nicholl Ltd, a motor car company situated at the Tolworth Roundabout on the newly built Kingston by-pass, in Surbiton, Surrey. They were both involved in the development of the new Talbot 90 racing car – the Talbot 70 Sports.

Fox and Nicholl entered three Talbot racing cars for the Double Twelve race at Brooklands on 9 May 1930. Arthur Fox chose a small team of mechanics to work on getting them ready for the race, including Ted and Cec, and Ted was chosen to ride as mechanic on car no. 22 in the race itself, and this was the beginning of the events leading up to his tragic death.

The driver of no. 22, Lieutenant-Colonel C.E.C. Rabagliati, took evasive action late in the first day of the Double Twelve Hour Race and in braking too hard, the Talbot skidded into the path of the other Talbot. Hebeler, driving the other Talbot, at a speed of 100 mph, hit the skidding Talbot broadside and sent it flying into the spectator's arena over iron railings. Ted Allery, flung half out of the car, had been impaled on the railings and killed instantly. Rabalgliati was badly injured and was taken to Webridge hospital where a silver plate would be inserted in the back of his head to repair a fractured skull. A spectator, F.C.Hurworth was also killed, and some twenty spectators suffered horrific injuries.

Several newspapers reported the tragedy in the May 10th editions, listing the dead and injured. A Daily Mail reporter interviewed my Dad, Cecil Allery, who was present at the Brooklands accident. He was reported as saying:

"I wish he had never gone in for motor racing. I had a premonition that something like this would happen. Ted and I started a little motoring business toegether a little while ago."
The Daily Mail reported that Mr Edward Allery, the mechanic who was killed, lived with his widowed mother, brothers and sister at a bungalow, where he had a 'workshop' in which he was nearly always engaged on motor engines. He was 28. A picture of Ted in Naval uniform featured in the article.

The Brooklands Race Crash made front page news in the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Daily Sketch and the Daily Express on Saturday, May 10, 1930. 

An account of the accident was written graphically in the book ‘Georges Roesch and the invincible Talbot’ by Anthony Blight. In this book a full history of the development of the Talbot at Fox and Nicholls is related in every technical and mechanical detail – a real good read for anyone ‘into car racing’. There is also some detail of the inquest and court case held soon after and how this accident at Brooklands changed the rules of racing forever. And, according to the author, ‘ the race marked the end of the golden era of motor racing, for from that moment onwards factory support began to dwindle and was never again to reach the same massive proportions.

Whilst searching for other details about Uncle Ted, I noticed at Ancestry.com a link to the England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1861-1941 record for Edward Lionel Allery.

ALLERY Edward Lionel of Rose Nook, Hook-road Surbiton, Surrey  died 9 May 1930 at Brooklands Motor Course Webridge, Surrey.  Administration  London  3 July to Harriet Priscilla Allery widow, Effect 1000 pounds. Resworn  Nil.

Interestingly, cousin Trevor relates that, ‘it was at Brooklands that Ted met Derrick Wilson, who also raced motorcycles at Brooklands. They became great friends and Derrick eventually married Ted’s sister Imee.  Trevor’s dad was William (Bill) Allery – Ted’s younger brother – and he regrets that he could no longer retrieve any further information from either Bill or Derrick, both now deceased. Trevor wrote his story in July 2005, as a tribute to Ted, a man he would have been proud to have known.

I am writing this story in honour of both Ted (an Uncle I never knew) and Cecil (my father) who was born on April 25, now commemorated as ANZAC day in Australia.

For a full account of the Tragedy at Brooklands visit: Daily Herald, Saturday, May 10, 1930 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

December Letter from Gran

A recent letter from my sister Pamela, sparked another episode in the Allery family history story. In it she enclosed a photocopy of an airmail letter from my Grandmother Harriet Priscilla (Gran) to her son Cecil (Dad) written on 1 December 1953. I was thrilled to get it and have read it several times over, deciphering the spidery handwriting of my Gran, who would have been 90 years old at the time of writing. Woven into her letter were her hopes, her disappointments and her love for her family.

Her letter started in a pleading manner asking this question:
"Dear Cecil, Why do you not write and let me know how you and the family are?"

This gave me a clue to her feelings at the time of writing and also to some faint ghost of a memory that all was not well between my Dad and his mother. We had emigrated to Australia in 1949 and were living at 10 Stanley Avenue, East Oakleigh where her special coronation stamped airmail reached us. Had he been in contact during those four years? Or was it just the forgetfulness of an old lady? I was only eight years old in 1953 and do not remember if my Dad had written back to confirm our address, and whether I or my brothers had received our promised
'... small gift of cash' .... 'a present from Gran' .... 
as she wrote in the letter.

I was intrigued and hooked once more to search the ancestry of my Grandmother Harriett Priscilla to find out more. This will only give me the facts not the 'story' of the relationship between Gran and my Dad. For that I'll need to find out more from my siblings - I would like to know more about this feisty red-headed Gran who was born in December, married in December, died in December and wrote this poignant letter in December.

Sadly I don't have any pictures of Gran as a child  - I just have this one as a young woman - sent to me by another UK genealogy enthusiast in our family.

At the age of 18, according to the 1891 census, Harriett was living with her parents Alfred and Eliza Wright at 5 Abbey Lane, Stratford, Essex and was employed as a machinist.She was the only daughter among six sons, so I imagine she had to hold her own among this male household - something I imagine gave her that stern outer exterior - the only thing I remember about Gran. Each of her two older brothers Alfred and Joshua were in employment at this time, whilst her four younger brothers Benjamin, Herbert, Albert and Isaac were scholars.

Just five years later, at the age of 23, Harriett married Walter Frederick Allery, (my grandfather) on 27 December; clearly December is an important month in Gran's life. Perhaps she was employed by my Grandfather in his Tailoring company as a machinist - this I will have to imagine too.

I have yet to find any census details for the year 1901 but did find details of the family 10 years later living at London House Coombe Lane Kingston where Walter ran a tailoring business. Here's the details from the 1911 census that I included as a short story in Walter's files on Ancestry.com:

At the time of the 1911 Census Walter Frederick was listed as a Master Tailor working from home at London House Coombe Lane Kingston.  Listed in residence with him are his wife, Harriet Priscilla aged 38 - they were listed as being married for 14 years. Harriet has seven children born alive, five still living and two have died. Her first born, Walter Frederick junior lived only for two years, and Ivy Dorothy lived only for two months.
Five of their children are listed as living in this residence at the time of the census:
  1. Cecil Henry aged 10 Schoolboy; 
  2. Edward Lionel aged 9 Schoolboy; 
  3. William Francis aged 5 infant; 
  4. Imee Priscilla aged 3 infant;
  5. Samuel John Reginald aged 1 infant.
Along with these children is listed Lily Wren aged 15 domestic and also listed as a daughter.Now that's a curious fact that bears looking into. I do have a picture of the family taken around this time and share it with you here.

William, Imee, Samuel, Walter, Edward, Cecil and Harriet

I noticed in this picture that my Dad (Cecil Aged 10) is standing right behind his Mum (Harriet aged 38) with a hand on each shoulder of his parents. Perhaps it was a pose prescribed by the photographer - a common family grouping of the era - but I like to think that he had a special place in his heart for his parents. Walter died just 5 years after this picture was taken and Harriett lived on into her 80's - spending the greater part of her life without a husband. I imagine that her children were of great comfort to her and that she was especially close to each of them. Gran mentions Imee in her December letter - she reminds Cecil that a tenant of Imee's receives many letters from abroad

 ".. it would be a pleasure if the Post had one for me ..
I am your mother and I like to hear news from you...."

I wished I had been able to return to England to visit my Gran before she died - it seems that there had been hope of that in the letter.

... "You said Carole & yourself would be coming here but that seems to have been put on the shelf'"...

I would have loved to have met my Aunt Imee who it seems inherited her seamstress skills from her parents. Her talents are mentioned in Gran's letter too:

..."wishing you all a Happy Xmas & think of your Mother who will be alone... my life is a lonely one .. now it is all Bis with Imee's making dresses for the Court Ladies." ...

Gran's letter holds such a rich picture of this feisty but lonely lady who I did not really know, but wish I had. She signs off:

...."All the Best from your Mother give my love to all and yourself."

Senders name and address: Mrs H. P Allery, 3 London Road, Guildford, England.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Welsh Connection

Great Grandmother Mary Ann Francis Evans was born in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1834. I have been researching her life to build a picture of this welsh washerwoman with whom I instinctively feel connected. My own birth place was Cardiff, Wales and in 2005 I travelled back to visit the town and the welsh countryside in search of my own beginnings. My very early childhood was spent in Eglwys Brewis near St Athan in South Wales in a modest but comfortable house - so I was told.

In stark contrast the childhood environment for Mary Evans was bleak - the 1841 census reveals that Mary, aged 8, was living at a Workhouse. A workhouse was the worst possible accommodation for a person in that era let alone a small girl. I wonder why she was in the workhouse and not living with her family and I can find no clues as yet to the reasons.

Her family background is confusing at Ancestry.com - according to years of research I find that her father David Evans was married several times and I don't know which wife was her mother:  Elinor Nathan, Gwenllian Davies, Esther Jones or Elizabeth Rowlands. In the 1861 census we find David at home at No 6 Goose Road, St Peters, Carmarthen, with Elinor and his youngest child and his occupation is listed as Tanner.

After searching in vain for more details of Mary I resort to researching her name and birth place. I recently received a little story of the history of the Evans name from a fellow Ancestry.com genealogist - here it is:

Evans is of Welsh origin. In its anglicised form the name means "son of Evan". Regarding its Welsh roots, it is a derivative of the name Ifan, a cognate of John.[2]

It is a misconception that the name Evans is a patronymic name. The name does refer to Evan-S, meaning son of John, however, in this case the name refers to the fact that many Welsh were late converts to Christianity and around the 3rd Century AD a huge evangelical conversion began. Converted followers took the name of Son of John (the Baptist), in reference to the John the Baptist as the baptiser of Jesus Christ and considered a cornerstone of Christian conversion. It is possible that later some did take it as being the son of their father called Evan (John), but the extended use of religious forenames being converted into surnames by the addition of "s" of Son (Jackson, Johnson etc) does not account for the huge popularity of this name in this part of the world (South Wales).

In the Welsh language the patronymic "ab Evan", results in the surname "Bevan", which is also common in Wales.

There is little to tell of Mary Ann Francis Evans between the 1841 and 1861 census except for her whereabouts and her occupations in and around Pembroke. It seems that at the age of 17 she was employed as a washerwoman and I fancy that she was employed at one of the castles.  According to Wikipedia, Pembroke literally means lands end. The main point of interest in the town is the magnificent Pembroke Castle, the remains of a stone mediƦval castle which was the birthplace of King Henry VII of England.Is this where Mary did the washing.

Mary is later recorded in the 1861 census as an unmarried visitor at 60 Black Horse Inn, in St Michael's, Pembroke.  Could this possibly be the place where she met my Great Grandfather, George Robinson? My imagination now creates a picture of such a meeting and begins to fill in the missing pieces of the history puzzle.

George Robinson is employed as a Railway Inspector for Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate according to the 1871 and 1881 census records. More details about the men and women employed by the Imperial Railway can be located online but I need to know which company. More resaeach!

The marriage date for George and Mary is September 1862 in Bermondsey, Surrey; the 1871 census reveals Mary aged 37 living in Croydon with George aged 32 and it lists their children as follows: George aged 9, Elizabeth aged 3 and Edith Mary aged 1. My Grandmother Mary Jane was born the year after this census was taken, in 1872.

So putting that all together I see that my great grandparents lived a prosperous and comfortable life in Croydon between 1862 and their deaths in 1908/09. I see a rescue from poverty for Mary Ann Francis and happiness for George. According to his 1908 will George Robinson of 185 Hessle Road, Kingston-upon-Hull left to Mary Ann Robinson a sum of 3021 pounds, no shillings and 9 pence. Obviously a much better life style for Mary Ann since her early years in Wales - and a small legacy to pass on to her children at the end of her life in 1909.

What I don't see yet is her early Welsh history and I am now researching the details of the lives of her parents. 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Grandmother Legacies

The Allery Clan 

Here's the stories of a few of my father's female ancestors:
  • Grandma Harriet Priscilla Wright who married Walter Frederick Allery
  • Great Grandmama Mary Anne Hall who married Samuel John Allery
Shotgun Marriage?

Turning my attention now to the women of our ancestry, first I wanted to know more about my Great Grandmother Mary Ann Hall who was born in 1848. She married my Great Grandfather Samuel John Allery on the 2nd of December in 1867 at St John's Church, Waterloo, Lambeth. She was just 19 years old and he just 21. When I looked closely at the birth dates and ages of her children I realised with a bit of a jolt that Samuel and Mary got married at this time principally because she was pregnant with her son Henry John who was subsequently born on 31 Dec 1867.  It can happen!

Mary Ann gave birth to 8 children, six survived and two died. The third eldest of her children was Walter Frederick my grandfather. I knew little of Mary Ann and her children so I did some research to find out.  Mary Ann was a tailoress by occupation - no doubt the reason why she met and married my grandfather who was a tailor. Her father before her was a sailmaker - this is stated on her marriage certificate. In 1881 she was living at 26 Crown Street, Camberwell, London with her six children. One of the daughters who died was Louisa Maud B. 1874 D. 1874 - and I imagine that she died during birth. The second of Mary Ann's daughter's to die was Jennie Selina B. 1880 D. 1881. Her death is recorded alongside that of her mother Mary Ann on the same day. I wonder what happened - was there an accident in which they both died? A sad little mystery!

The following is the handwritten details of the marriage between Mary Ann Hall and Samuel John Allery.

The I wanted to know a little more about our red-headed Grandma Harriett Priscilla. Through the census lists I was able to determine that she was a Machinist - this fact probably being pertinent to meeting and marrying Walter the Master Tailor - and was the daughter of Alfred Thomas Wright a Shoemaker. Harriett seems to me to be a very strong character in my ancestors - I remember thinking that she might have been a bit scary to a 4 year old little girl who just wanted to smell the roses in her garden. That is my only memory of her - but I do have a legacy from her - my own red hair.

In the 1911 census she is living at London House, Coombe Lane, Norbiton with Walter and the chidlren and this document tells us that there is a female child, Lily Wren, living with them. Her relationship to the head of the household as 'girl' has been crossed out and the word 'daughter' written in red. Another little mystery - Who was Lily Wren?

Harriett was left almost 3000 pounds in my grandfather's will and I wonder how she was able to put that towards bringing up her children single handedly - during the years after Walter's death in 1915 and before her own in 1955. As far as I can tell she never married again. If you recall in a previous posting, Harriett's strength was tested in 1904 with the loss of a daughter, and again in 1930 when her son Edward Lionel was killed. I am immensely proud of her courage and I am glad that she has passed that onto to us through her son Walter.

The Welsh Connection!

Here's the stories of a few of my mother's female ancestors:
  • Grandma Mary Jane Robinson who married Charles Harry Newland Cutting
  • Great Grandmama Mary Ann Francis Evans who married George Robinson.
My grandmother Mary Jane Robinson was born in Bath, Avon, Somerset in 1872, daughter of George Robinson and Mary Anne Francis Evans, the most recent Welsh connection for the family. George and Mary are my mother's grandparents. The family was located in Croydon at the time of the 1881 census.Closer to the birth place of her father George Robinson who was a Railway Inspector.
Mary Jane's mother Mary Ann Evans was born in Haverford West, Wales - the only piece of family history known of her.

My Welsh ancestry begins with grandmother Mary Jane who was the daughter of Mary Anne Francis Evans, herself the daugher of David and Gwenllian Evans and born in Haverfordwest, Wales. (Note: I had a great deal of fun searching the physical records at Haverfordwest on my journey there in 2009, and finding a missing piece of the puzzle, her parents' names. I'll need to dedicate another posting to Great Grandmama Mary Ann Evans when I know more of her life.)

Mary Jane Robinson was born in Bath, Avon, Somerset (see map above). This area of England is famous for its main city of Bath an elegant and much sought after residential area in modern times. The circus at Bath, a semi-circular row of terraced apartments, feature often in the TV program, Location, Location, Location. At the time of the 1891 census Mary Jane was employed as a servant (a lady's maid) in a boarding house in Lambeth Parish. I have an image of what the working day of a maid would have been in the late 19th century - I've watched 'Upstairs and Downstairs' on TV. However to get a better image of what my Grandmother Mary Jane would have been doing as maid in Walcott, Bath I will need to do some further history research.

Mary Jane married Charles Harry Newland Cutting, a plumber, on the 16 June 1901 in Enfield. Enfield Town used to be a small market town on the edge of the forest about a day's travel north of London. As Greater London has grown, Enfield Town and its surrounds have become a residential suburb, with fast transport links into central London. The following is the coat of arms for Enfield.

Mary and Charles had seven children, one of the whom, the second eldest was my mother, Winifred Edith Cutting born in 1903. Mary also gave birth to triplets Violet, Ronald and Harry. Sadly Harry died at the age of 2 from pneumonia.

I don't remember anything of my grandmother Mary Jane; we immigrated to Australia in 1948 and I had no contact with her. I imagine my mother wrote to her on occasions but none of this was shared with me, the youngest of her six children. There are no records of her life other than memories, so I have written to my brother and sister to get their memories of  Grandmother Mary Jane Robinson.

Mary Jane died at the age of 82 in 1954 in Kingston, Surrey. A fact I was vaguely aware of as a child of 9. Our family had emigrated to Australia 10 years earlier and as I was only 4 at the time sailing, I have no memories of her. In her lifetime, Mary Jane, would have witnessed some amazing industrial changes in England and lived through two World Wars. I wonder what life was like for her in the late 19th century while she was growing up, and then during the 47 years she was married to my grandfather, Charles Harry Newland Cutting. He died in 1950 so she would have spent the last four years of her life grieving for him.

If it wasn't for these three ladies, Great Grandmama Hall, Grandma Wright and Grandma Robinson then the rest of our recent history would not have happened. I am also grateful to these three in particular for their strength of character, their courage and the care they shared for their families.

Carpenters, Heroes and Plumbers

Carpentry in the Victorian Era

Getting back to the Cutting side of the family I wanted to find out a little more about Charles Harry Cutting (great grandfather) and his son Charles Harry Newland Cutting (grandfather on my Mother's side.) The records show the Charles Harry came from a line of carpenters - all of whom would have been in great demand for their skills in the building industry in the Victorian era. It is possible that Charles and his father Thomas before him practised as Village carpenters.

The definition of Village carpentry as it was practiced in Victorian times covered practically all the woodworking done except wheelwright's work. There are several types of carpentry work but it is not yet revealed which type Charles Harry was skilled at. (thanks to the Witheridge site for this information: http://www.witheridge-historical-archive.com/carpenter.htm)
The Cuttings resided originally in Hampshire but moved to Kingston-on-Thames and were living there by the 1881 census. By then Charles Harry Newland Cutting was already married and would have been supporting his family from his chosen trade - Plumbing. I am not sure how or why CHN Cutting chose a plumber's trade but it too would have been in demand in the latter part of the 19th Century.

Freedom of the City of London

The episode in our family history in which CHN Cutting appears as a hero is a much more interesting story.

CHN Cutting served as a soldier of the City of London Imperial Volunteers in the second Boer War in 1899 and was awarded the Freedom of the City, a document that is now proudly displayed in the homes of his descendants.

Here is the wording from that document:


Charles Harry Cutting of "The City of London Imperial Volunteers" was admitted into the Freedom aforesaid and made the Declaration required by Law in the Mayoralty of Alfred James Newton Esquire Mayor and Sir William James Richmond Cotton Knt. Chamberlain and is entered in the booked signed with Letter M1 relating to the Purchasing of Freedoms and the Admissions of Freemen (to wit) the 17th day of January in the 63rd Year of the reign of Queen Victoria And in the Year of our Lord 1900
In Witness whereof the Seal of the Office of Chamberlain oft he said City is herunto affixed Dated in the Chamber of the Guildhall of the same City the day and Year abovesaid. 

Honorary Freedom is the highest honour the City of London can bestow. Honorary freemen do not apply for but are invited by the Court of Common Council to take the Freedom. The presentation ceremony usually takes place in the Great Hall of the Guildhall before the Lord Mayor, Aldermen, Common Councilmen and invited guests. The presentation on these occasions is made by the Chamberlain of London, and is usually followed by a Guildhall or Mansion House banquet.
Famous Honorary freemen include The Queen, Princess Diana, Nelson Mandela, Florence Nightingale, General Eisenhower, Theodore Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. For more information about the Freedom of the City visit wikipedia at:

Over the last 300 years, about 300,000 ordinary people have been made Free of the City of London. Even today, many men and women continue to be admitted to the City Freedom, although most of the privileges and practical reasons for doing so have now disappeared.

Thanks to our cousin Sally for tracking that down the actual document for our very own Freeman, Charles Harry Newland Cutting and for arranging for it to be framed. It was a chance remark made by my brother Michael recently, when asked about the possible reason for this particular award that sparked my research into the records from the Boer War. If I have the facts correct then this image shows the official record of Charles H N Cutting as a Private soldier number 760 in the Boer War.

It is not clear what role Private Cutting played in the Boer War, but obviously he earned his award and we are immensely proud of this achievement - to us he is a hero.

A Plumber in the family

The 1911 census shows that CHN Cutting was a plumber and now living at 6 Borough Road, Kingston Hill. The significance of his location will become more obvious as we now trace the family history surrounding the Cutting line.

In particular you can see in this image of the 1911 census, with the handwritten signature of my grandfather Charles HN, that the first of the six children were living at this address, but what we cannot see are the names of the youngest of the tribe, the triplets, who were born to Mary Jane in 1909. Note that of the six births for Mary Jane, five were live births and one has died. I shudder to think of such anguish and pain, the suffering and the sorrow of her child's death.

My mother would always tell me about the multiple births in her family and how this set of genetics would be passed on to her children and grandchildren. Indeed - twin boys were born to our mother in 1940. Twins, boy and a girl, were born to our brother John and twin girls to our sister Patricia. But I was always a little unsure of who were the triplets amongst Mum's siblings and which of them survived, and now I wonder where were they on the night of the 1911 census.

The story now takes on another aspect - that of family links between the Cuttings and the Allerys.
Location, location, location! The importance of Kingston-upon-Thames becomes clearer as we now explore the relationships and stories surrounding our parents, Winifred Edith Cutting and Cecil Henry Allery. The 1911 census above shows my Mum aged 8 living at 6 Borough Road, Kingston Hill - a suburb of Kingston-on-Thames. The 1911 census below shows my Dad aged 10 living at London House, Coombe Lane, Norbiton - a suburb of Kingston-on-Thames.

In this census you can also see that grandmother Harriett Priscilla had seven births, five of whom lived and two who died. I know that childbirth and childhood illnesses accounted for the loss of many children in the early part of the 20th century, but I can understand what heartaches Harriett would have experienced then on the death of one of her two daughters. Ivy Dorothy B. 27 Jan 1904 D. 4 Apr 1904). There was more agony in store for her, but she did not know it then.It was in May of 1930 that she lost another child, my uncle Edward Lionel, aged 28, who was killed at Brooklands in a tragic car racing accident. (more about that in another episode as I explore the lives of these brave women in my ancestry)

I wonder at the way in which history repeats itself - my mother lost her first born child and I don't think she ever got over that. I imagine that she received some comfort from her mother and mother-in-law in 1925 - two other brave women who also lost their babies.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Properties, Mortgages and Burials

Its amazing what you can find on the Internet once you start asking the right questions and looking in the right places for the answers. My sleuthing about my clan and their assets takes a different slant now as I ask about their places of residence and workplace. I was intrigued with the legacies left by my tailoring ancestors and I wanted to find out more about how they came to live where they lived; so I googled my grandfather Walter Frederick's name and came up with some very interesting data from the National Archives and the


Walter Frederick Allery

Whilst residing at 53 Chatham Road, Kingston he acquired and mortgaged his business property of 23, 25 and 27 Washington Road, Kingston - this was in 1906 - to The Reliance Permanent Building Society. I imagine that business was not brisk and that cash flow was an issue for him, so mortgaging the substantial property in Washington Road, was the answer at the time. On the other hand perhaps Tailoring had picked up in the early 20th century and Walter was expanding the business. This property was in a prime position in the business district of Kingston-on-Thames and no doubt afforded him the convenience of passing trade.

I believe that the years between 1906 and 1914 were marred by ill health for Walter and that he began to 'take care of his affairs' in 1914 - just six months before his death. He sold the Washington Road properties to his step brother, Frank Joseph Andrew Allery who was then living at 196 Commercial Road, Peckham, the home of their father, Samuel John. Frank was then only aged 26 and not yet married - so once again I imagine that he began to 'look after the business'.

I want to find out what my Grandfather Walter Frederick Allery died of, so I will need to send for a copy of his death certificate. I do know where he is buried, thanks to the Burial Registers available online at:

One day I would like to visit this grave site or ask someone to visit on my behalf and take a digital photo of any headstone that remains there for Walter Frederick. He is buried in Grave 2188 in Section N, Richmond Cemetery.

My grand Uncle Frank married Isabel Constance Bresenzer on 9 Jan 1921 at Camden Church in Camberwell and moved to 21 Brayards Road, Peckham. I imagine that his father Samuel John and mother Jemima Mary Ann would have been at the wedding - oh what I would give for some photos of that.

As yet I have no records of his children as there are no census records available online yet for 1921 or 1931. I will have to rely on my online connections now to fill out his family data. I do know, however, that on 17 March 1925 grand Uncle Frank mortgaged the Washington Road properties once again to The Reliance Permanent Building Society - obviously this firm has done well out of this property over the years. It was subsequently sold on 29 June 1926.

Uncle Frank died in 1976 so I'm curious now to investigate further and see if he left any estate in a will made at the time. Perhaps I can also find out where he is buried and who his children were. The hunt continues....

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Will of a Tailor

Samuel John Allery of 196 Commercial Road, Peckham SE, Tailor retired, died on 28 June 1922 and left to his widow Jemima Mary Ann and his son Dave Bertie, the princely sum of 9, 826 pounds, 13 shillings and 3 pence.

That was quite a substantial legacy for the times and one that would have provided well for Jemima and the boys. Dave Bertie was the eldest of the sons born to Jemima Mary Ann, second wife of Samuel John, and in this photo you can see Samuel John and Dave Bertie visiting Samuel's daughter, RosinaTerry (Allery) and her family. No doubt the photo was taken by George Terry, Selina's husband. Notice that the eldest of Rosina's boys was named after his grandfather.

Tailoring goes back a long way in the Allery family - Samuel's own father William was a Master Tailor and employed several people in his day. According to the 1871 census these employees were also accommodated at 19 Berwick Street, Westminster along with several other lodgers. I now imagine that life for his wife Mary was a busy one but assisted by rentals from boarders and service from domestic servants. I wondered what sort of legacy was left by an affluent tailor such as William Allery - but it seems that by the time of his death on 7th July 1887 there was just 41 pounds to distribute. I have no doubt though, that the tailoring business was inherited by his eldest sons William Adrian and Samuel John.

I have not discovered any will for William Adrian but seeing that there was a will for Samuel John I was interested to know the extent of wealth he had accumulated. I wondered why there was no mention in Samuel's will of his first born son, Walter Frederick, from his first marriage. Then I realised that Walter had died in 1915, before his own father's death - a sad fact! Of course I'm sure that Jemima would have shared this inheritance with Samuel's remaining children and that is helped her to live on for another 20 years - on easy street as they say. Perhaps she chose to contribute some monies to the tailoring business of Walter Frederick Allery.

It is interesting to note that Walter Frederick went on to make a decent living in Tailoring and upon his death in 1915, left to his own widow, Harriett Priscilla, another princely sum of 2,932 pounds, 15 shillings and 9 pence.

At the time of his death my father, Cecil Henry was only 15 years old so he would not have been mentioned in the will as a benefactor.  He was then to become the eldest male provider in this household. Cecil did not follow in the ancestor's occupation of tailoring and there the tailor's links ends. Instead Cecil entered the world of work as a mechanic and a profession in the RAF.

Unfortunately there was no great wealth to distribute from my father's estate but a legacy of another kind - but that's another story.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Tailor's Tale

In the mid 19th Century  the evolution of clothing English Tailors, particularly those in London, dominated the male fashion scene. The male style was a clever combination the sporting attire preferred by the gentry and the business clothing of the newly rich industrialists. The fit now rather than decoration became the fundamental rule for male clothing. English Tailors experts at their craft and trained to use woollen cloth over time developed the art of "molding" cloth close to the body without duplicating the exact body form of the wearer. The keywords for the gentlemen of the nineteenth century were discretion, simplicity, and the perfection of cut. It was at this point that modern Tailoring as we know it had it arrived.

My great grandfather Samuel John Allery and his brother William Adrian Allery were both Master Tailors and William had his own tailoring business at 63 Oxford Street, London. Not much has been recorded of Samuel John's exploits, other than his two marriages and a tribe of children, - or at least none that I have uncovered so far.

However what I can tell you is the story of the Allery claim to the Angell Estate in Brixton, a tale of mystery, intrigue, missing documents and an illegitimate child. It is a story within a story - how William Adrian tells of another Samuel in our ancestry, and his marriage to the heir to the Angell Estate. This has become quite a famous story in our family, snippetts of William's exploits in 'genealogy detective work' and 'claims to the estate' being handed down by generation of his kin. The story also made the newspapers of the time and add a little more intrigue to this tale.

William Adrian Allery had become quite well known in the town of Clapham for his eccentricities and his claim to the Angell Estate.

The Evening Standard of March 1928
“Mr William Adrian Allery an old-age pensioner, who is in his 84th year has seized two houses in Brixton – and declares he intends to seize many more – in an attempt to make good his claim to the Angell Estate…Behind the door he had pinned the parchment showing his family tree…some friends in the city advanced him the money to go to Devonshire, which is his family home. There he found in Townstall Church Dartmouth, what he claimed was the missing link for which he had been searching. This was the marriage certificate of Elizabeth Benedict Angell who married Samuel Allery in 1711…He used to bring out the document containing his whole pedigree. The parchment would cover this large drawing room table.”

The old gentleman would regale his own children, nephews, and grandchildren, those who would take the time to listen, with his stories of searching in the parish records and countless visits to the old cemeteries in and around Brixton and Dartmouth. William’s decades of searching had taken him back in time, reviewing the Allery Family heritage, in the counties of Devon and Surrey, England as they were recorded from 1600 to 1900.

William Adrian did not live to enjoy his ‘entitlement’ - he died on the 12 March 1929, just one year later after his bold attempt to claim it.

The full history of the Angell Estate can be located here:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Gathering the Clan

Who are we?
My clan is a mixture of the Allery's and the Cutting's - ancestors who began our heritage in several English and Welsh counties. Let me introduce you to the central characters of this first blog entry and we can then listen to them recount the history of their lives, their occupations and their stories - they are my great grandfathers, Charles Harry Cutting and Samuel John Allery.

Charles Harry Cutting

1835 was the year my mother's grandfather was born - Charles Harry in the Cutting line. Charles Harry Cutting was born in Thruxton, Hampshire, son of Thomas Cutting (Carpenter) and Lucy Colebrook.

According to the 1871 census Charles was also a carpenter at the time he married his wife Sarah H Newland. They married at Strand in Hampshire in June 1856 - he being only 21 and Sarah being two years older at 23.
Together they had four children, and bestowed the name of Harry as a second name for three of them. The middle son, Charles gained his mother's maiden name as well, giving him the grand name of Charles Harry Newland Cutting; he was my grandfather. His older brother Harry Newland Cutting lived only to the age of three; he probably died of a childhood disease, a common occurrence in families of this era. 

The 1911 census shows both Charles and Sarah living at their six roomed house at 11 Wyndham Road,  Kingston-on-Thames, they are now aged 75 and 77 respectively and have been married for 43 years.They lived longer than the average age expectancy for the era: Life expectancy was then 54 years for women and 50 for men.

Their location at Kingston-on-Thames was indicative of their standard of living. Kingston a well-to-do area of Greater London is to feature in the weaving of my family history in the 19th Century - a joining of the Cuttings and Allery's.

Samuel John Allery

In September 1847 my father's grandfather was born - Samuel John of the Allery line. Samuel John Allery was born to William Allery (Tailor) and Mary Newth, in Newington, Devon.

Samuel obviously had a great capacity for life and children as he married twice and fathered 15 children. His first marriage to Mary Ann Hall, my great grandmother, took place on the 2nd December 1867 in Lambeth, Surrey. They were aged 21 and 19 and were supported by both their fathers on their wedding day at St John's church - both having signed the marriage certificate at the time. Samuel's father William and Mary's father Henry Hall (Sail maker). Together they had eight children, one of whom was my grandfather, Walter Frederick Allery born in 1872. Walter also took on the Tailoring trade and became a Master Tailor. His mother, my great grandmother Mary Ann, died in 1881 - I suspect that she had complications with the birth of her last child Jennie Selina, who was born in 1880 but lived only for one year. Perhaps Mary Ann died of a broken heart after the loss of such a small child.

Samuel was later to marry Jemima Blackburn in 1884 and together had another seven children - all sons - many of them living into the 20th century. According to the 1911 census they had been married for 26 years. The census also showed that all the sons of working age had a trade associated such as Decorator, Printer, Labourer but only one followed his father into the Tailoring industry. In this year they were living at 196 Commercial Road, Camberwell, London.

Location was important for the trade of Tailoring and Samuel John Allery made a good living - being able to support two wives and a tribe of children. His son Walter Frederick Allery chose this up and coming location for his Tailoring business.

Location near London would also have been important for the trade of carpentry and Charles Harry Cutting was able to afford to live in Kingston-on-Thames - an area where his son Charles Harry Newland Cutting was to make his small fortune.