Entries in My family (9)

Wednesday
Apr272011

Aunt Carrie: School Mistress at Framlingham, civilian on the town memorial

Day three of my week of ancestor blogs brings me to my first foray into my maternal family history and a civilian on Framlingham’s war memorial, my Aunt Carrie.

Framlingham is close to my heart. It’s where I lived for the first two years of my life, where I went to high school and where I spent long summers ‘revising’ for exams with friends at the castle, overlooking the mere. It’s also where I have strong family roots and where my grandfather had his grain merchant business. 

Caroline Amelia Harvey was born in Liverpool in 1878 as her father James Harvey, although originally from a farming family in Stoke Ash, was part of the Liverpool Police Force from the early 1860s until 1891. She was the daughter of James’ second wife, Emma Blake, born in Thorndon, and the younger sister of Amy Eliza Harvey, my Great Great Grandmother.

Caroline came to Framlingham to teach at Sir Robert Hitcham’s School (the town primary school retains part of the name to this day) and after lodging locally for a while moved into the School House. Caroline was by all accounts a wonderful school mistress and I have seen numerous accounts from her pupils talking about how caring and kindly she was.

Aunt Carrie (as my grandmother calls her) was still at the School House when war broke out in 1939. A year later on 6th October 1940, Framlingham found itself drawn into the front line:

“I heard a sort of chatter of machine-gun fire. Looking up at the sky towards the east I saw a plane coming out of the clouds. After a few seconds I saw objects fall from the plane. They hung in the air like a string of sausages. I stood looking at them, wondering what was going on, until I realised they were bombs and they were in line with me….I heard a massive thud. Turning around I saw the School House go sky high”

Taken from a letter to the East Anglian Daily Press some years later.

An extract from the school log book the next day simply states:

“October 7th – School is closed today owing to the air raid on the town yesterday, in which Miss Harvey lost her life”.

Again on October 7th, a newspaper reported:

“Tip and Run Bombing by Day Raiders – Teacher Killed in East Anglia

German planes adopting ‘tip and run’ tactics bombed places in a wide area of South East England and the London district yesterday, lurking in the cover of clouds before dashing down to their objective and speeding away again. A few people were injured by a bomb in central Central London. Bombs were dropped in the East Midlands and East Anglia. In most places little damage was caused and the number of casualties was small…A schoolmistress Caroline Amelia Harvey (62) was the only casualty in the raid over an East Anglian town during the afternoon, She had departed her usual custom of leaving her house during the weekend. A demolition squad recovered her body from the debris.”

The plane was a lone Dornier 111/K76 medium bomber. Seven bombs exploded (some say eight were dropped) but Miss Caroline was the only person to lose her life.

The article referring to her ‘usual custom’ describes the fact that Miss Caroline generally went to the Larters' for her Sunday lunch – Isaac Larter married her sister Amy (Isaac and Amy are my Great Great Grandparents). For whatever reason - some say she felt unwell - Caroline did not go out to her sister’s for lunch after church that day, and stayed at home mending her stockings. Family tales say that she was found still with the needle in her hand when a fireman discovered her in the rubble.

Caroline was buried in Framlingham Cemetery and her name is recorded on the town war memorial, one of five civilians recorded alongside men from the forces, including my paternal Great Uncle, Sergeant Robert Neville Walne, an air gunner who was shot down over Berlin aged just 20. 

The site of the school house remained as a wild flower garden for several years before being redeveloped – now home, fittingly, to ‘Harvey House’.

I am very happy to share photos and memories of Miss Caroline and the school with any interested parties reading this blog, please just leave me a comment or send an email.

For more information about Framlingham's history, visit www.framlinghamarchive.org.uk/, a great website with a wealth of information and photographs.

 

Tuesday
Apr262011

Uncle Thomas: Legend of Happisburgh (in more ways than one)

For this, my second blog installment of the week denoting memorable ancestors, I turn to an uncle by marriage, Rev Thomas Lloyd. 

Those that have heard of Happisburgh (pronounced 'Hayes-brough') often first think about homes at the top of cliffs and coastal erosion. However, there is of course far more to the village. A couple of years ago, a simple search engine request threw up Thomas Lloyd as a central figure in the parish history and sent me on a path of discovery. Supposedly, I found, he is remembered for baptising an awful lot of children at once, and for holding a party for the occasion. 

The church at Happisburgh has one of the highest towers of any in Norfolk, and the graveyard overlooks the sea.

 The village sign, not far from the church, is pictured below.


At the top, a vicar is depicted, baptising a child. This vicar is Rev. Thomas Lloyd. While I was fairly sure there was some truth behind the legend of his throwing a party and baptising as many children as possible on Whit Sunday, 1793, I wanted to find out for sure. I consulted the original register and found the following - 

“Memorandum – Observing a great reluctance in the poorer inhabitants of the Parish of Happisburgh to give their children full baptism, most chiefly owing to their inability to afford their friends such little entertainment as they imagined to be suitable and necessary upon such occasions and being seriously convinced that to general a neglect of that ancient Rite, was become very detrimental to the principles and morals of the times; I invited all such as would bring their children and friends to receive full baptism on whitsonday 1793 to an entertainment; and baptised on that day one hundred and seventy persons. Thos Lloyd.”

So, if your ancestor was resident in Happisburgh in the late 1700s and you have no specific baptism record for them, maybe they were at the party! 

I know little about Thomas’ early life so far. He married my 5xGreat Grandfather’s sister Susannah Walne in Redenhall in 1782, shortly after he became vicar at Happisburgh and eleven years before the village’s memorable shindig – perhaps she helped with the catering! 

Rev Lloyd was similarly efficient with his own offspring who were both baptised within 24 hours. The couple had two sons, Thomas Henry, who followed his father into the clergy, and Randall Walne (yes, that’s two surnames as Christian names – his grandmother’s maiden name Randall, who hailed from a gentry family in the Hempnall area, and Walne for his mother) who became an Officer in the East India Army. 

Their baptisms appear in the North Walsham register, and it’s great to note the extras that you can’t get from transcriptions - if Susannah had given birth only a few days earlier they could have saved a few pence: 

“The New Stamp Duty began on the 1st Day of October 1783 for Births and Christenings, Burials and Marriages, at 3d Each- 

October 4th 1783 - Thomas Henry Lloyd, son of Thomas Lloyd Cl and Susannah his wife late Walne of N Walsham; paid 3d”

and

“Randall Walne son of Thos Lloyd Clk and Susannah his wife (late Susannah Walne) was born March 13th 1789, baptised privately March 13th 1789 and received into the church August 1792.”

The Stamp Duty Act 1783 imposed a charge on all baptisms, marriages and burials of 3d in order to pay for the American War of Independence. Because paupers were exempt, you may find a larger than usual amount of paupers in the registers between 1783 and 1794. 

Both also appear, together, in the register at Happisburgh out of order with the rest of the entries:

“Thomas Henry Lloyd (son of the Revd Thomas Lloyd, Vicar of this parish and Susannah his wife (daughter of Daniel Walne of Harleston in this County, Gent) was born Oct 3rd and baptised Oct 4th 1783. He was born at North Walsham. 

Randall Walne (son of the said Thomas and Susannah Lloyd) was born and baptised March 13th 1789. He was born at North Walsham.” 

A history of the family included a passage, written in Thomas’ hand, as follows:

“Susannah, the fourth child, married the Rev. Thomas Lloyd, Rector of Westwick and Vicar of Happisburgh in Norfolk, by whom she has two sons, Thomas Henry Lloyd of King’s College, Cambridge, and Randall Walne Lloyd, who completes his 15th year this 13th day of March 1804 and is far advanced in his classical studies under my own tuition.”

Sadly to my knowledge (to date) neither son went on to marry or have children as both died young. In fact mother, father and sons all died within five years, and Thomas and his wife died 'within hours' of each other.

A large tablet in North Walsham Church reads as follows:  

“Near this place were interred the remains of the Rev’d. Thomas Lloyd, LL.B., Vicar of Happisburgh and Rector of Westwick, and an active intelligent magistrate for this County who departed this life November 26th, 1813; for Susanna his wife, who died a few hours before him, aged 62; for their eldest son, Rev. Thomas Henry Lloyd, A.B., Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge, bom October 3rd, 1783, died June 6th, 1808 ; also for Randall Walne Lloyd, their only other child, bom March 13th, 1789; died in the East Indies, May 23rd, 1808.” 

My next plans are to find out more about Randall Walne’s time in the East Indies (thank you to FIBIS who were very helpful at this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live) and also to follow up the rest of the Lloyd family. 

It seems Rev. Lloyd not only provided a legend, but potentially was a legend. As ever, if there are any family links reading this article, please feel free to contact me. I’d also love to hear about any other events like that at Happisburgh!

Monday
Apr252011

Cousin Albert Septimus: Queen Victoria's Consul in Cairo

To celebrate a few days of uninterrupted research, this week I hope to make up for a couple of weeks' blog absence with a series of posts about a few of my more intriguing ancestors. While I am fascinated by people of all places, occupations, walks of life and circumstances there are some that for whatever reason pique my interest more than others. So, tonight, I introduce you to Cousin Albert.

Even when I was little I was aware of having an ancestor who travelled further than most Walnes before or since. It made my lessons about the Egyptians from Mrs Ingate at Primary School even more enthralling, because I knew that somewhere I had an ancestor that had really been there. 

It is only more recently that I have begun to find out more about Alfred Septimus Walne. My first cousin, six times removed, he was born in Market Weston in Suffolk on 22 February 1806, the youngest child of Thomas Walne and Elizabeth Cole.

‘Ordinary’ records (by which I mean the census and parish baptisms, marriages and burials) give little away about his life abroad but give tantalising hints into his existence. The census for 1861 shows him staying at the White Lion Hotel, High Street, Bath, occupation “HM Consul Cairo”. Among the other guests are ‘gentlemen’ and a captain in the Bengal Artillary. Ten years later, he can be found at the United Hotel (19-25 inclusive Charles Street, St James Square) a similarly grand hotel, this time occupation “Landowner late HMC”. 

His lack of an appearance in earlier census’ is probably due to his being in Cairo at the time. In this post I can only scrape the surface of his life as Consul, but I hope to touch on a few of the things I have so far discovered about Cousin Alfred. 

It would appear that Alfred first ventured to Egypt not as Consul, but as a doctor, and specifically, an eye doctor. A book, online here, first published in 1837, entitled “Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petraea and the Holy Land” by John Lloyd Stevens (1805 – 1852) who travelled to Egypt in 1835, includes the following passage: 

“Nearly all the time I was at Cairo, Paul and myself were ill, and for a few days we were in a rather pitiable condition. Fortunately, a young English army surgeon [Dr Forbes] was there, on his way to India, and hearing there was a sick traveler in the house, he with great kindness called upon me and prescribed for our ailments….At that time there was no English physician in Cairo, and I believe none at all, except some vile Italian or French apothecaries, who held themselves fully qualified to practice, and were certainly very successful in relieving the sick from all their sufferings. On my return I found Dr. Walne, and though for his own sake I could wish him a better lot, I hope, for the benefit of sick travellers, that he is there still.

A post-script to the page adds:

“I have seen with great pleasure, in a late English paper, that Dr Walne has been appointed English vice-consul at Cairo. In the close relation now growing up between England and Egypt by means of the Red Sea passage to India, it is a matter of no small consequence to England to have at Cairo as her representative a man of character and talents; and I am sure I but express the opinion of all who know Dr. Walne when I say that a more proper appointment could not have been made.”

A year after his meeting with John Stephens, Alfred appears in the Gentleman’s Magazine, volume 5, online here, in June 1836:

 

At the time, Alfred must have been relatively new in post. As a little girl, the thought that a cousin of mine had been involved in investigating such things long before Howard Carter would have been astonishing. Today, I find it a little more difficult to be as excited, as I’m not so sure that at the time the excavations were handled as modern day ethics might require. Still, it is fascinating nonetheless to find an ancestor mentioned as such - ancient Egypt still hold me in some kind of enchantment which adds a magic of sorts to the connection. 

The Literary Gazette, Volume 20, also of 1836, contains the following article: 

“Egyptian Society – The Augsburg Gazette states, that a scientific society under this name has been formed at Cairo, by a British physician, Mr Alfred Walne, long resident in Egypt, and a zealous student of hieroglyphic and Coptic literature. The Society has hired a house for he reception of travellers, and are collecting a library of books likely to be useful to such as explore the Egyptian provinces in Africa and Asia. One Turk has subscribed, but the members are chiefly English, with some French and German.” 

One of my favourite discoveries to date has been a portrait, sold at Sotherby’s, which can be viewed here. The painting, by David Roberts, depicts an ‘Interview with the Viceroy of Egypt at his Palace in Alexandria’ and the inscription on the reverse states that one of the men is Alfred. The meeting took place on 12 May 1839. Alfred is the only Englishman ancestor I have yet found a portrait of (even indirectly!), my Bermudan and Belgian ancestors usually being those with the money and tendencies to indulge in such things. 

Another book, “State and Society in Mid-Nineteenth Century Egypt” by Ehud R. Toledano, first published in 1990, also has references to Alfred. At a meeting with other acquaintances on 1 February 1856 at his ‘country house near Cairo’ he was quoted as saying: 

'Abbas’ refers to Abbas I of Egypt, who had died a year and a half earlier, murdered by two of his slaves. Alfred was certainly involved in important circles, and must have been embroiled in all aspects of Egyptian, Indian and English politics for the whole of his time abroad, including outbreaks of violence as well as historical discoveries. It boggles my mind to try and imagine what his life must have been like in an era where so many things were so markedly different from today (and so many tensions are still unresolved?). 

A couple of years later, The London Gazette made a couple of puzzling announcements about Alfred’s career. On 9 February 1859, the Foreign Office, in Issue 22229 published that: 

“The Queen has also been pleased to appoint Alfred Septimus Walne Esq. now Her Majesty’s Consul at Cairo, to be Her Majesty’s Consul at Alexandria” 

This was swiftly followed by another on 2 May 1859, in issue 22229: 

“The appointment of Alfred Septimus Walne Esq. to be Her Majesty’s Consul at Alexandria, which was notified in the Gazette…is cancelled; and Mr Walne retains his appointment as H.M. Consul at Cairo”. 

This is just one of things I intend to investigate when I get my hands on the “Letterbooks of Walne, agent at Cairo, 1838-59” in IOR/G/17 at the British Library. The dates I believe are probably significant as I know he was awarded a parting gift in 1861 on his resignation of office. Amongst the dedication (painstakingly copied out by me as a little girl) are mentions of his involvement in the construction of the railway between Alexandria and Cairo in 1851, increased public security, the first regular conveyance of Indian Mail between Alexandria and Suez in 1853 and his appointment as Her Majesty’s Commissioner for the affairs of Guddah after June 1858 (nb I think possibly this refers to the Jidda Massacre?). He was certainly a busy man. 

On resignation from his post in 1861, Alfred returned to England and seems to have spent much of the remainder of his life in gentleman’s clubs, grand hotels, and on his country estate. He died twenty years later, his probate calendar entry stating: 

“Walne Alfred Septimus Esquire Personal Estate £70,486 7s 10d 20 August. The Will with three Codicils of Alfred Septimus Walne formerly of the Union Club Trafalgar Square but late of 72 Guilford Street Russell Square both in the County of Middlesex Esquire who died 17 June 1881 at 72 Guilford Street was proved at the Principal Registry by John Henry Hill of 39 Old Broad Street in the city of London solicitor Amelia Elizabeth Gimingham of Broomfield Villa Weston-Super-Mare in the County of Somerset spinster and Thomas Walne of Pulham St Mary in the County of Norfolk Esquire the Executors” 

Although Alfred died in London, he was laid to rest in Brockdish in a handsome red tomb, not far from the family vault containing several more of my ancestors.

The Grove estate in Brockdish, one of several owned by the family at the time, was passedfrom Alfred to Thomas Alfred Walne (known as Alfred), his cousin’s grandson and his own adopted son (the latter according to a stone in Brockdish churchyard). 

When I come to write my first book, I think Alfred would be a wonderful candidate for research. I would welcome comments from anybody that can provide more leads, or help fill in my knowledge of Egypt in the 19th Century which I am very willing to admit is somewhat limited to date. 

I can’t imagine many places more different than Brockdish, a leafly little village of just 434 souls in 1881, and the rapidly growing city of Cairo upstream of the Nile delta. Alfred must have seen incredible things, both good and terrible. I am sure there is an enormous amount waiting to be discovered on a spectrum from the deep to the more mundane – why did he go to Egypt in the first place? What were his political views? Why didn’t he marry? How did he cope with the heat?! What drove him to take on his career? What was he like as a man? 

I hope over time, these, and other questions, will begin to reveal their answers.

 

Wednesday
Mar022011

The Walnes and Warnes of Kirby Bedon

One parish in Norfolk was home to two very different lines of my family. These lines didn’t connect - at least to my knowledge to date - for nearly 200 years and finally converged when my paternal grandparents married (via Bermuda, Shropshire and Rutland!).  The parish in question was Kirby Bedon. The village is known for its two churches – St Andrew, in use today, and St Mary, already out of use by the early 1700s. The churches are opposite each other; square towered St Andrew hosting the baptisms of my ancestors while round-towered St Mary was at the time already falling into disrepair and today is an interesting ruin.  

 

 St Andrew on the left and St Mary on the right. Taken last summer. 

The Walne family were local gentry in Norfolk, albeit arguably not in the ‘big league’. Still, they married into several other influential local families and owned some fairly large estates in the County. They traced their heritage back to the Pulham St Mary where they had been resident ‘as long as the parish was a parish’ according to a genealogy written by an ancestor of mine 300 years or more ago, and were granted arms in neighbouring Brockdish. During the last two decades of the 1700s, my 5x Great Grandparents William Walne and Jane (nee Johnson) had several children baptised in Kirby Bedon. They were resident in nearby Whitlingham, but the church there had fallen into ruin many years earlier, providing a romantic spot for walks during the 18th century rather than a location for affairs of the church. Whitlingham is now known for it’s modern broad and Trowse's ski slope. Goodness knows what they might of thought. Perhaps that the lake was wonderful (provided it was for the estate’s use) but that the ski-ing was a little off the wall?!

Meanwhile the Warnes family (to my knowledge the similarily of the names is a coincidence) were agricultural labourers in the village - for all I know, toiling on the land belonging to the Walnes. Another pair of my 5 x Great Grandparents, Phillis Warnes and William Coman, were having children baptised during the same years at the same church at Kirby Bedon. Their son, Stephen Coman, left the village to become a weaver in Wymondham some time between his birth in 1790 and marriage in 1815. Other members of the Warnes family remained, as we shall see later. The Walnes meanwhile continued to live locally but resided outside the parish. 

I wanted to find out more about the village to get an understanding of who lived there, where they hailed from and what they did for a living. Although it was taken several years after the time of my 4x Great Grandparents’ births, I decided to use the 1851 census to do a little digging into the lives of the village’s inhabitants. The census enumerated nearly 300 people that year (the 2001 census showed a population of 186), and some of my analysis appears below. 

First, I looked at the age profile for the village. The census notes children from a month all the way up to the eldest man in the village, aged 88. In general the profile shows a large amount of children and gradually fewer and fewer in each group as the decades go by. Not unexpected given the birth and death rates of the time. However, it is interesting to note the dip in both men and women in their 20s and 30s. Perhaps, like my ancestor Stephen, young workers left the parish to get jobs in nearby towns and cities such as Norwich and Wymondham.

I didn’t chose to analyse Kirby Bedon as a ‘typical’ village but rather as one that held an interest to me personally. However, I think in many ways it displays a familiar profile to other rural Norfolk villages of the time. In fact, if I asked you to guess the most likely occupations recorded for the residents, you’d probably be able to guess most (if not all!) of them - and you’d likely get the proportions about right too.

The vast majority of the working population were agricultural labourers. The second most popular 'occupation' was scholar, but more of those under 16 were already working the land than at school – the youngest boy noted as an ag lab was six years old. Most of those that were at school were taught by a governess at one of the more wealthy households. Several women also worked in the fields. The paupers, the third most populous group (although only seven, such was the dominance of agriculture) were all elderly. 

The rest of the occupations recorded appeared no more than six times each. Most were connected to farming – gamekeepers, grooms, farmers (also farm bailiffs and farmer’s sons etc), team men and a cattle dealer for instance. Women, again as expected, tended to do the stereotypical female jobs – mainly housekeeping, domestic service and cookery. 

The village had a rector (for St Andrew) who employed most of the domestic servants in the village, and whose son was a civil engineer. Kirby also had a pub, a wheelwright, a carpenter, a tile maker, a shoe maker, a blacksmith, a school master and some wherrymen (in case you were in doubt this was in Norfolk!). Where working women were concerned there was just the one governess, and one dressmaker. The final occupation mentioned was for an elderly Chelsea Pensioner. But for the wherrymen, and the lack of a post mistress, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was something a little Lark Rise to Candleford about the parish!

I also looked at birthplaces. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of the children were born in the village but it was interesting to see that more than twice as many men were born in the village than women. It seems the men stuck to their villages and swapped their sisters for girls from neighbouring parishes! 

Other than Kirby Bedon itself, neighbouring parishes such as Framlingham Earl, Bramerton, Ashby, Rocklands and Poringland appear as relatively frequent birthplaces. I was amazed to find a total of 75 different birth locations amongst less than 300 inhabitants. The rest of the villages read like an index to a map of the south eastern side of Norwich - most of the places mentioned being south of Kirby Bedon rather than crossing the river valley to the north. Only six non-Norfolk places were mentioned and two of these were in nearby Suffolk. Three children were born in Cumberland but their parents were local and returned after five years. One wife came from Cornwall, a husband from London and another gentleman all the way from Ireland, marrying a Kirby Bedon girl and settling in the village.

Finally, I looked at the surnames in the village, intrigued to see how many already appeared in my family tree.  I had no idea until I completed this exercise that the Warnes name was the most numerous in the parish in 1851. It seems much of the family didn’t move away with Stephen at the turn of the century. The name Howes, another on my direct line, also appeared, although in lesser numbers. The Comans were nowhere to be seen. I am now expecting South, Adams, King and Bidwell to appear on the branches sooner rather than later: 

A total of 65 surnames showed up in the census including some I had not come across before in my local research - including Gillenwater, Varwell and Barnado. (Please forgive any mistransciptions).

To conclude, my research has been useful to understand the context of Kirby Bedon as a village and given an insight into the sort of community that once operated there. Of course the census can only reveal so much and as family historians it would be wrong to suggest paper records are the be all and end all. I would love to know more about the characters that appeared on the schedule - whether the Chelsea Pensioner regailed stories of distant battlefields, whether the Irish labourer was singled out by his accent and most of all, if the Warnes’ knew of the Walnes - and if so, whether they thought much of them! 

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