Saturday, September 8, 2012

In search of my Welsh Great Grandmother

Mary Ann Evans 

My great grandmother is the first real link to my Welsh heritage, being born in Haverfordwest, Wales in 1834. I thought I had found reference to her parents in one of the Parish record books in the Castle based Family History centre in Haverfordwest during my trip there in 2008. I had some mixed records of her ancestry before leaving for my holiday, so I wrote to a genealogist from that area who did some sleuthing for me. That information was quite useful and when I arrived at the history centre to research my great grandmother I had a couple of leads. There was indeed a baptism record for Mary Evans for 1834. Early days!

I need now to deepen that search and have once again engaged the services of a Genealogist in Wales, Welshroots. Together we narrowed down the search for source documents to the Marriage certificate between Mary Ann and George Robinson - the only fact for which I was reasonably confident was true.

We have now sent off for a copy of that certificate in the hope that we will discover the names and occupations of the parents of both George and Mary. These details will help with the next stage of the search - providing proof of parentage among the many Evans and Robinsons of the day. From these matches can be made to the Baptism records found in 2008. Then we can use the Census for 1851 and 1841 to further fine tune the residences and occupations for Mary prior to her marriage.

I am reasonably confident that Mary was in service and was employed as a House Servant at a wealthy Farmer's residence in Pembrokeshire in 1851.

What I now need to know is her exact birth date and birth place - was it Haverfordwest or Monkton, Pembrokeshire. Who were her parents and what is their heritage?

Once I receive the Marriage certificate some of those pieces of the jigsaw puzzle will be put in place and we can continue to dig a little deeper. I am keen to know what Mary's childhood was like in the 1830-1840 era and will look into the typical lifestyles of people who lived in Pembrokshire, Wales. The BBC British History Timeline will be one of the internet sources I will used for painting a picture of life in Victorian UK:

I am learning the importance of validating and citing evidence of each 'fact' in my ancestor's life before leaping to conclusions. I have enrolled in a Family History e-course and I'm using my new found research skills to ensure that I get the facts right for this ancestor - a gateway to my Welsh heritage.

So I must wait for that elusive Marriage certificate.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pam's Diaries: 1944

The Universal Diary for 1944
Pamela M. Allery
107 Hook Road, Surbiton
National registration No. CNHV 298 3
In case of emergency please phone:
Home: Elm 6355
Work: Oxshott 2436

(now at 4 North Road, Surbiton)
 "This is my first Diary I hope I shall keep it up!"

In 1944 Pamela (b. 9.03.1927 d. 27.01.2012) was just 17 years old with her future in front of her and the freedom to do mostly as she pleased. War time Britain had deprived her of a sheltered idyllic life in suburban London but she made the best of her lot as a young trainee Nurse in Surbiton, Surrey, England.

Pamela was working at the Oxshott Medical Practice in Holtwood Road, Oxshott, Leatherhead, Surrey and studying for her examinations for her Nursing Diploma, which she achieved in 1948 at the Kingston Royal Hospital. During 1944 she began her very first diary and kept track of her activities in that year. During this year Dad was away from home, serving in the RAF as Mechanical Engineers and John, aged 16, was training for the Navy.

She was living at the family home in Hook Road with Mum, Patricia aged 10 and the twins Michael and Brian aged 5. Later that year Pam went to live with Aunt Doris in North Road, Surbiton after having an altercation with Mum and showing the first signs of her rebellious nature and fierce independence.
  • Diary Note: Sat 29 Jan, Mum was a sow. I hate her.
  • Fri 5 Feb, Decided to leave home and try and get a flat or lodgings.
 Pam's social life was exciting and attractive to a young girl just tasting romance for the first time. She had many attentive young men who would take her to the pictures and her diary is sprinkled with notes about her boyfriends and the movies she saw. Pam begins to keep a detailed track of the films and the starring roles, along with who she went with in this 1944 diary. All is recorded in her neat and minute handwriting - sometimes in pen and sometimes in pencil. The pages are now quite fragile, showing their age, and in some places the pen's ink has not dried properly and stains obliterate some of descriptive words.

Throughout her writings we are reminded that this is war time and air raids and bombings are a frequent occurrence for residents of London. The March entries paint an interesting picture of the times and of Pam's emotional feelings, all jumbled together.
  • Diary Note: Fri 24 Mar, Going out with John. Lovely time with John, his kiss was the longer than usual
  • Fri 31 Mar, Dad came home 3 am. Air Raid at 3.40 am. Awful day. Pat leaving today. Feel rotten now Pat's gone.
  • Tues 4 Apr, Pat sent me four bars of chocolate and a sweet little note.
I begin to piece together the fragments to get an insight into how life evolved for Pamela in the year before I was born. I am intrigued with the delights she held for her frequent social nights at S. B. (not sure what the initials stand for, surmise its a dance hall) where she went dancing. After my exploration of the diary, I now realise that Pam was a real party girl and looked forward to these events as the highlights of her week.
  • Diary Note: Sat 6 May, Went to S.B. Party night - it was lovely. Embarkation dance. 4 kisses !!!!
By June it was clear that war torn London was not the place to be! Pamela writes in her diary about the events that bring us back to reality.
  • Diary Note:Tues 6 June, D Day
  • Thurs 8 June, First flying bomb over this country
  • Tues 13 June, All this week Buzz bombs have been falling. They are really frightening.
  • Fri 23 June, Mummy and Babies and Pat went to Wales.
Pam's life revolves around her work her studies and her many boyfriends. First we hear about John, then Alan, then Pat, then finally Doug. Doug was one of the three soldiers from the Welsh Guards who started up a conversation with Pam and her friend Frances, on the grass outside the dance hall. According to the diary note on Sat 5 July, Frances was trying to fight her for Doug's attention. "But I needn't have bothered. He loved me from the first day he met me"! July to September is a whirlwind romance between Pam and Doug. 
  • Diary Note: Mon 7 Aug, I love him so very, very much. Nothing can equal the feeling I have for him.
  • Sun 13 Aug, Doug held my hand.
  • Wed 16 Aug, Doug put his arm around me and we had our first kiss.
  • Aug 21-27, Doug showed me how to do a certain kiss (It was a bit horrible). But he said:'Why didn't you stop if you didn't like it?' I said, 'Because I love you so much. I do I do so very much.' And he said, 'I love you very much.' Oh joy, my happiness was complete. We caught the last train home and we kissed again and again.
  • 28 Aug, Dad came home!!!! He wanted me to pack some things and come back to Wales with him. Of course I can't. Still saw Doug (I love him). He gave me a really big kiss 'to last for two weeks', he said. He will ring me on Monday. We might get married after the war.
  • Sun 3 Sept,  Come back all I said about Doug. He doesn't love me any more. I think my heart is breaking... I still love him, but I shall never believe in another man again, never.
Such passion and hope is portrayed in the August writings, in love with Doug, but it was inevitable that this war time romance was doomed and by September it was over. No explanation of why Doug leaves her is given in the diary, but I imagine that he was sent elsewhere and had duties to attend to. (see the PS below).

Diary entries become sporadic from September through October; then nothing from November 14 to December 18. Her passion has dimmed and Pam begins to show depression about her life and love lost - such bitter sweet sorrow - at the tender age of 18. Pamela applies for a posting at the Kingston Hospital and started preparation for Christmas in Wales with the family. I don't think she ever knew that Mum was expecting me at that time, and given her focus on herself and the good times she wanted with the boys from the RAF, Navy or Army I don't think that such news would have had much impact.

This poignant 1944 diary ends with some short notes about her trip back to London from Wales and her farewell from Dad at Cardiff railway station. Pamela returned home to the Bungalow in Hook road by December 27 and got ready for her work. Life for Pam was returning to normal and the pictures featured again for her on Friday nights - everything settling down after Christmas. Her family remains in Eglys Brewis, Wales until the end of the War, and Pam is alone once more.


Douglas Humphreys, Welsh Guard (my heart is broken, I just can't bear it, Over Douglas)
John Denney,  Surbiton
Pat Barnett, Oxshott
John Drudge, Hampton
John Grant, Surbiton

Today's story was prompted by the discovery of this 1944 diary in the boxes of memorabilia I brought home from the unit where Pam, my sister, used to live. There are many, many more diaries and scrapbooks to explore another time.

Post Script

A search for details of the Welsh Guard in their website history and their part in the latter part of World War 11, provides the following information.

Meanwhile, the 1st and 2nd Battalion formed part of the Guards Armoured Division - the 1st Battalion as infantry and the 2nd Battalion as an Armoured Battalion. The two Battalions working together were the first troops to re-enter Brussels on 3 September 1944 after an advance of 100 miles in one day, in what was described as "an armoured dash unequalled for speed in this or any other war".

A search for details of Douglas Humphreys of the Welsh Guards at Ancestry provides this poignant post script for the brief love affair he had with Pamela:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Grandfather Walter Frederick Allery

According to and records I have sleuthed there, Walter was born in 1871 - over 140 years ago - and two lifespans away from me.

On this birth record Walter is shown as having been baptised on 31 Dec 1871 at St Bride Fleet Street. His parents were Samuel John Allery and Mary Ann Hall who were shown as living at 26 Crown Street, Camberwell and displayed in the Parish Register for the city of London, St Bride Fleet Street parish.

Walter's father was a tailor and his mother was a tailoress - a pathway to his own tailoring expertise later in life. The next record I have for 9 year old Walter is the census 1881 which shows him living with his parents and siblings (he is one of 6 children of this marriage) - still at 26 Crown Street, Camberwell in the borough of Lambeth.

Tailor is listed as his profession in the 1891 census and his parish is listed as St Andrew by the Wardrobe. By this date he is 19 years old and his two sisters, Rosina and Jessie are both listed as tailoresses. I have now subscribed to The Genealogist online to enable clarity of searching and the transcipt of the 1891 census shows some interesting details of what has happened since the last census in 1881. Walter's mother Mary is no longer on the scene (Mary Hall d. 1881 at the early age of 35) and his father Samuel is now married to Jemima Blackburn, mispelled in this census as Emma.

Walter's widowed grandmother Mary Allery is living in this house and it seems that Samuel now owns several properties in Fleur De Les Court - nos 38 - 42. Later with the census for 1901, I locate great great grandmother Mary Allery living with another son, Albert Allery, a Fish Buyer, at Rea Barn Road, Brixham, Devon.

By 1901 census Walter has become a Tailor - Journeyman, and  is now married to Harriet Priscilla has lost one son (Walter b. 1898 d. 1900) and now has another son Cecil Henry b. 1900, my dad. I wonder how Harriet could bear such tragedy and joy in one year - the death of her first born (25 March 1900) and the birth of her second son (25 April 1900).

In the 1901 census is also listed Joseph A Allery, a brother. I believe that he is the son of Samuel and Jemima - so really a step-brother to Walter - nevertheless an important sibling as I was later to find out. Joseph inherited the Tailoring premises on the death of Walter in 1915. What I now need to find out is what happened in this tumultuous period of time when so much happens in the life of Walter Allery - 1891 to 1901. His mother moves in and out again, a daughter is born and not living with him, a son is born and dies, another son is born and it seems he is looking after his step-brother Joseph.

Curiously the name Allery is mispelled in this census record as Allerly, making it difficult to trace accurately in other sites.

The mystery daughter (Lily Wren b. 1896 ) is still to be accounted for - she is listed as a daughter in the 1911 census for my grandfather. By this census the details are now hand recorded by the head of the household, so I doubt my grandfather would make an error of this magnitude in such a document. Perhaps she was a child born illegitimately and later claimed by Walter and Jemima. On this record we can now see that Walter's profession has escalated to Master Tailor. Sadly we note that two of his children have died and from my other records that would be first born Walter Frederick who lived from 13 September 1898 to 25 March 1900 and Ivy Dorothy who lived from 27 Jan to 5 April 1904.

I am also seeking the cause of death of my grandfather - he died in 1915 at the early age of 43 when my dad was still a boy of 15 years. Curiously Lily Wren appears again in the same death register for June 1915 as Walter but her surname is now recorded as Lilian M Allery. She died in Shoreditch at the age of 15 - according to this register. But what day of June did she die? Did this so greatly affect my Grandfather that he too died?

His burial record came to surface whilst I was googling his name and the following is from the burial register at Kingston Cemetery, London. I note here that his death date is 5 April

His register number is 32102 and his private burial plot number is C Class 3472. He was buried at 4pm on Saturday 10th April 1915.

I believe that Walter knew he was dying, otherwise why would he have sold the tailoring premises to his step brother Joseph (Frank Joseph Andrew Allery) in September 1914. This information came to light when googling his name again.

In the above record it also notes that Walter had moved from number 53 to 'Endora" 51 Chatham Road, Kingston. I wonder if he owned both of those properties too and if no 51 offered him some respite for the last months of his life.

I also located a record of the movement of the property 23, 25 and 27 Washington Road, Kingston.

It seems that Walter had amassed a small fortune (2,952 pounds) that he left to his widow Harriet and I imagine that much of that was derived from his tailoring business and his many properties. He had suffered many set backs in his life including the death of two children, the death of his mother and, I suspect, some illness, tragedy or sadness that caused his own death.

So onward and backward in time to discover the story of the life of my grandfather, Walter Frederick Allery.