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    In reply to: The Sexy Wooden Leg

    When she’d heard of the miracle happening at the Flovlinden Tree, Egna initially shrugged it off as another conman’s attempt at fooling the crowds.

    “No, it’s real, my Auntie saw it.”

    “Stop fretting” she’d told the little girl, as she was carefully removing the lice from her hair. “This is just someone’s idea of a smart joke. Don’t get fooled, you’re smarter than this.”

    She sure wasn’t responsible for that one. If that were a true miracle, she would have known. The little calf next week being resuscitated after being dead a few minutes, well, that was her. Shame nobody was even there to notice. Most of the best miracles go about this way anyway.

    So, after having lived close to a millennia in relatively rock solid health and with surprisingly unaging looks, Egna had thought she’d seen it all; at least last time the tree started to ooze sacred oil, it didn’t last for too long, people’s greed starting to sell it stopped it right in its tracks.

    But maybe there was more to it this time. Egna’d often wondered why God had let her live that long. She was a useful instrument to Her for sure, but living in secrecy, claiming no ownership, most miracles were just facts of life. She somehow failed to see the point, even after 957 years of existence.

    The little girl had left to go back to her nearby town. This side of the country was still quite safe from all the craziness. Egna knew well most of the branches of the ancestral trees leading to that particular little leaf. This one had probably no idea she shared a common ancestor with President Voldomeer, but Egna remembered the fellow. He was a clogmaker in the turn of the 18th century, as was his father before. That was until a rather unexpected turn of events precipitated him to a different path as his brother.

    She had a book full of these records, as she’d tracked the lives of many, to keep them alive, and maybe remind people they all share so much in common. That is, if people were able to remember more than 2 generations before them.

    “Well, that’s set.” she said to herself and to Her as She’s always listening “I’ll go and see for myself.”
    her trusty old musty cloak at the door seemed to have been begging for the journey.


      Looking for Robert Staley


      William Warren (1835-1880) of Newhall (Stapenhill) married Elizabeth Staley (1836-1907) in 1858. Elizabeth was born in Newhall, the daughter of John Staley (1795-1876) and Jane Brothers. John was born in Newhall, and Jane was born in Armagh, Ireland, and they were married in Armagh in 1820. Elizabeths older brothers were born in Ireland: William in 1826 and Thomas in Dublin in 1830. Francis was born in Liverpool in 1834, and then Elizabeth in Newhall in 1836; thereafter the children were born in Newhall.

      Marriage of John Staley and Jane Brothers in 1820:

      1820 marriage Armagh



      My grandmother related a story about an Elizabeth Staley who ran away from boarding school and eloped to Ireland, but later returned. The only Irish connection found so far is Jane Brothers, so perhaps she meant Elizabeth Staley’s mother. A boarding school seems unlikely, and it would seem that it was John Staley who went to Ireland.

      The 1841 census states Jane’s age as 33, which would make her just 12 at the time of her marriage. The 1851 census states her age as 44, making her 13 at the time of her 1820 marriage, and the 1861 census estimates her birth year as a more likely 1804. Birth records in Ireland for her have not been found. It’s possible, perhaps, that she was in service in the Newhall area as a teenager (more likely than boarding school), and that John and Jane ran off to get married in Ireland, although I haven’t found any record of a child born to them early in their marriage. John was an agricultural labourer, and later a coal miner.

      John Staley was the son of Joseph Staley (1756-1838) and Sarah Dumolo (1764-). Joseph and Sarah were married by licence in Newhall in 1782. Joseph was a carpenter on the marriage licence, but later a collier (although not necessarily a miner).

      The Derbyshire Record Office holds records of  an “Estimate of Joseph Staley of Newhall for the cost of continuing to work Pisternhill Colliery” dated 1820 and addresssed to Mr Bloud at Calke Abbey (presumably the owner of the mine)

      Josephs parents were Robert Staley and Elizabeth. I couldn’t find a baptism or birth record for Robert Staley. Other trees on an ancestry site had his birth in Elton, but with no supporting documents. Robert, as stated in his 1795 will, was a Yeoman.

      “Yeoman: A former class of small freeholders who farm their own land; a commoner of good standing.”
      “Husbandman: The old word for a farmer below the rank of yeoman. A husbandman usually held his land by copyhold or leasehold tenure and may be regarded as the ‘average farmer in his locality’. The words ‘yeoman’ and ‘husbandman’ were gradually replaced in the later 18th and 19th centuries by ‘farmer’.”

      He left a number of properties in Newhall and Hartshorne (near Newhall) including dwellings, enclosures, orchards, various yards, barns and acreages. It seemed to me more likely that he had inherited them, rather than moving into the village and buying them.

      There is a mention of Robert Staley in a 1782 newpaper advertisement.

      “Fire Engine To Be Sold.  An exceedingly good fire engine, with the boiler, cylinder, etc in good condition. For particulars apply to Mr Burslem at Burton-upon-Trent, or Robert Staley at Newhall near Burton, where the engine may be seen.”

      fire engine


      Was the fire engine perhaps connected with a foundry or a coal mine?

      I noticed that Robert Staley was the witness at a 1755 marriage in Stapenhill between Barbara Burslem and Richard Daston the younger esquire. The other witness was signed Burslem Jnr.


      Looking for Robert Staley


      I assumed that once again, in the absence of the correct records, a similarly named and aged persons baptism had been added to the tree regardless of accuracy, so I looked through the Stapenhill/Newhall parish register images page by page. There were no Staleys in Newhall at all in the early 1700s, so it seemed that Robert did come from elsewhere and I expected to find the Staleys in a neighbouring parish. But I still didn’t find any Staleys.

      I spoke to a couple of Staley descendants that I’d met during the family research. I met Carole via a DNA match some months previously and contacted her to ask about the Staleys in Elton. She also had Robert Staley born in Elton (indeed, there were many Staleys in Elton) but she didn’t have any documentation for his birth, and we decided to collaborate and try and find out more.

      I couldn’t find the earlier Elton parish registers anywhere online, but eventually found the untranscribed microfiche images of the Bishops Transcripts for Elton.

      via familysearch:
      “In its most basic sense, a bishop’s transcript is a copy of a parish register. As bishop’s transcripts generally contain more or less the same information as parish registers, they are an invaluable resource when a parish register has been damaged, destroyed, or otherwise lost. Bishop’s transcripts are often of value even when parish registers exist, as priests often recorded either additional or different information in their transcripts than they did in the original registers.”


      Unfortunately there was a gap in the Bishops Transcripts between 1704 and 1711 ~ exactly where I needed to look. I subsequently found out that the Elton registers were incomplete as they had been damaged by fire.

      I estimated Robert Staleys date of birth between 1710 and 1715. He died in 1795, and his son Daniel died in 1805: both of these wills were found online. Daniel married Mary Moon in Stapenhill in 1762, making a likely birth date for Daniel around 1740.

      The marriage of Robert Staley (assuming this was Robert’s father) and Alice Maceland (or Marsland or Marsden, depending on how the parish clerk chose to spell it presumably) was in the Bishops Transcripts for Elton in 1704. They were married in Elton on 26th February. There followed the missing parish register pages and in all likelihood the records of the baptisms of their first children. No doubt Robert was one of them, probably the first male child.

      (Incidentally, my grandfather’s Marshalls also came from Elton, a small Derbyshire village near Matlock.  The Staley’s are on my grandmothers Warren side.)

      The parish register pages resume in 1711. One of the first entries was the baptism of Robert Staley in 1711, parents Thomas and Ann. This was surely the one we were looking for, and Roberts parents weren’t Robert and Alice.

      But then in 1735 a marriage was recorded between Robert son of Robert Staley (and this was unusual, the father of the groom isn’t usually recorded on the parish register) and Elizabeth Milner. They were married on the 9th March 1735. We know that the Robert we were looking for married an Elizabeth, as her name was on the Stapenhill baptisms of their later children, including Joseph Staleys.  The 1735 marriage also fit with the assumed birth date of Daniel, circa 1740. A baptism was found for a Robert Staley in 1738 in the Elton registers, parents Robert and Elizabeth, as well as the baptism in 1736 for Mary, presumably their first child. Her burial is recorded the following year.

      The marriage of Robert Staley and Elizabeth Milner in 1735:

      rbt staley marriage 1735


      There were several other Staley couples of a similar age in Elton, perhaps brothers and cousins. It seemed that Thomas and Ann’s son Robert was a different Robert, and that the one we were looking for was prior to that and on the missing pages.

      Even so, this doesn’t prove that it was Elizabeth Staleys great grandfather who was born in Elton, but no other birth or baptism for Robert Staley has been found. It doesn’t explain why the Staleys moved to Stapenhill either, although the Enclosures Act and the Industrial Revolution could have been factors.

      The 18th century saw the rise of the Industrial Revolution and many renowned Derbyshire Industrialists emerged. They created the turning point from what was until then a largely rural economy, to the development of townships based on factory production methods.

      The Marsden Connection

      There are some possible clues in the records of the Marsden family.  Robert Staley married Alice Marsden (or Maceland or Marsland) in Elton in 1704.  Robert Staley is mentioned in the 1730 will of John Marsden senior,  of Baslow, Innkeeper (Peacock Inne & Whitlands Farm). He mentions his daughter Alice, wife of Robert Staley.

      In a 1715 Marsden will there is an intriguing mention of an alias, which might explain the different spellings on various records for the name Marsden:  “MARSDEN alias MASLAND, Christopher – of Baslow, husbandman, 28 Dec 1714. son Robert MARSDEN alias MASLAND….” etc.

      Some potential reasons for a move from one parish to another are explained in this history of the Marsden family, and indeed this could relate to Robert Staley as he married into the Marsden family and his wife was a beneficiary of a Marsden will.  The Chatsworth Estate, at various times, bought a number of farms in order to extend the park.

      In the Parishes of
      Baslow and Chatsworth

      David Dalrymple-Smith

      John Marsden (b1653) another son of Edmund (b1611) faired well. By the time he died in
      1730 he was publican of the Peacock, the Inn on Church Lane now called the Cavendish
      Hotel, and the farmer at “Whitlands”, almost certainly Bubnell Cliff Farm.”

      “Coal mining was well known in the Chesterfield area. The coalfield extends as far as the
      Gritstone edges, where thin seams outcrop especially in the Baslow area.”

      “…the occupants were evicted from the farmland below Dobb Edge and
      the ground carefully cleared of all traces of occupation and farming. Shelter belts were
      planted especially along the Heathy Lea Brook. An imposing new drive was laid to the
      Chatsworth House with the Lodges and “The Golden Gates” at its northern end….”

      Although this particular event was later than any events relating to Robert Staley, it’s an indication of how farms and farmland disappeared, and a reason for families to move to another area:

      “The Dukes of Devonshire (of Chatsworth)  were major figures in the aristocracy and the government of the
      time. Such a position demanded a display of wealth and ostentation. The 6th Duke of
      Devonshire, the Bachelor Duke, was not content with the Chatsworth he inherited in 1811,
      and immediately started improvements. After major changes around Edensor, he turned his
      attention at the north end of the Park. In 1820 plans were made extend the Park up to the
      Baslow parish boundary. As this would involve the destruction of most of the Farm at
      Oxclose, the farmer at the Higher House Samuel Marsden (b1755) was given the tenancy of
      Ewe Close a large farm near Bakewell.
      Plans were revised in 1824 when the Dukes of Devonshire and Rutland “Exchanged Lands”,
      reputedly during a game of dice. Over 3300 acres were involved in several local parishes, of
      which 1000 acres were in Baslow. In the deal Devonshire acquired the southeast corner of
      Baslow Parish.
      Part of the deal was Gibbet Moor, which was developed for “Sport”. The shelf of land
      between Parkgate and Robin Hood and a few extra fields was left untouched. The rest,
      between Dobb Edge and Baslow, was agricultural land with farms, fields and houses. It was
      this last part that gave the Duke the opportunity to improve the Park beyond his earlier


      The 1795 will of Robert Staley.

      Inriguingly, Robert included the children of his son Daniel Staley in his will, but omitted to leave anything to Daniel.  A perusal of Daniels 1808 will sheds some light on this:  Daniel left his property to his six reputed children with Elizabeth Moon, and his reputed daughter Mary Brearly. Daniels wife was Mary Moon, Elizabeths husband William Moons daughter.

      The will of Robert Staley, 1795:

      1795 will 2

      1795 Rbt Staley will


      The 1805 will of Daniel Staley, Robert’s son:

      This is the last will and testament of me Daniel Staley of the Township of Newhall in the parish of Stapenhill in the County of Derby, Farmer. I will and order all of my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses to be fully paid and satisfied by my executors hereinafter named by and out of my personal estate as soon as conveniently may be after my decease.

      I give, devise and bequeath to Humphrey Trafford Nadin of Church Gresely in the said County of Derby Esquire and John Wilkinson of Newhall aforesaid yeoman all my messuages, lands, tenements, hereditaments and real and personal estates to hold to them, their heirs, executors, administrators and assigns until Richard Moon the youngest of my reputed sons by Elizabeth Moon shall attain his age of twenty one years upon trust that they, my said trustees, (or the survivor of them, his heirs, executors, administrators or assigns), shall and do manage and carry on my farm at Newhall aforesaid and pay and apply the rents, issues and profits of all and every of my said real and personal estates in for and towards the support, maintenance and education of all my reputed children by the said Elizabeth Moon until the said Richard Moon my youngest reputed son shall attain his said age of twenty one years and equally share and share and share alike.

      And it is my will and desire that my said trustees or trustee for the time being shall recruit and keep up the stock upon my farm as they in their discretion shall see occasion or think proper and that the same shall not be diminished. And in case any of my said reputed children by the said Elizabeth Moon shall be married before my said reputed youngest son shall attain his age of twenty one years that then it is my will and desire that non of their husbands or wives shall come to my farm or be maintained there or have their abode there. That it is also my will and desire in case my reputed children or any of them shall not be steady to business but instead shall be wild and diminish the stock that then my said trustees or trustee for the time being shall have full power and authority in their discretion to sell and dispose of all or any part of my said personal estate and to put out the money arising from the sale thereof to interest and to pay and apply the interest thereof and also thereunto of the said real estate in for and towards the maintenance, education and support of all my said reputed children by the said
      Elizabeth Moon as they my said trustees in their discretion that think proper until the said Richard Moon shall attain his age of twenty one years.

      Then I give to my grandson Daniel Staley the sum of ten pounds and to each and every of my sons and daughters namely Daniel Staley, Benjamin Staley, John Staley, William Staley, Elizabeth Dent and Sarah Orme and to my niece Ann Brearly the sum of five pounds apiece.

      I give to my youngest reputed son Richard Moon one share in the Ashby Canal Navigation and I direct that my said trustees or trustee for the time being shall have full power and authority to pay and apply all or any part of the fortune or legacy hereby intended for my youngest reputed son Richard Moon in placing him out to any trade, business or profession as they in their discretion shall think proper.
      And I direct that to my said sons and daughters by my late wife and my said niece shall by wholly paid by my said reputed son Richard Moon out of the fortune herby given him. And it is my will and desire that my said reputed children shall deliver into the hands of my executors all the monies that shall arise from the carrying on of my business that is not wanted to carry on the same unto my acting executor and shall keep a just and true account of all disbursements and receipts of the said business and deliver up the same to my acting executor in order that there may not be any embezzlement or defraud amongst them and from and immediately after my said reputed youngest son Richard Moon shall attain his age of twenty one years then I give, devise and bequeath all my real estate and all the residue and remainder of my personal estate of what nature and kind whatsoever and wheresoever unto and amongst all and every my said reputed sons and daughters namely William Moon, Thomas Moon, Joseph Moon, Richard Moon, Ann Moon, Margaret Moon and to my reputed daughter Mary Brearly to hold to them and their respective heirs, executors, administrator and assigns for ever according to the nature and tenure of the same estates respectively to take the same as tenants in common and not as joint tenants.

      And lastly I nominate and appoint the said Humphrey Trafford Nadin and John Wilkinson executors of this my last will and testament and guardians of all my reputed children who are under age during their respective minorities hereby revoking all former and other wills by me heretofore made and declaring this only to be my last will.

      In witness whereof I the said Daniel Staley the testator have to this my last will and testament set my hand and seal the eleventh day of March in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five.



        The Hollands of Barton under Needwood


        Samuel Warren of Stapenhill married Catherine Holland of Barton under Needwood in 1795.

        I joined a Barton under Needwood History group and found an incredible amount of information on the Holland family, but first I wanted to make absolutely sure that our Catherine Holland was one of them as there were also Hollands in Newhall. Not only that, on the marriage licence it says that Catherine Holland was from Bretby Park Gate, Stapenhill.

        Then I noticed that one of the witnesses on Samuel’s brother Williams marriage to Ann Holland in 1796 was John Hair. Hannah Hair was the wife of Thomas Holland, and they were the Barton under Needwood parents of Catherine. Catherine was born in 1775, and Ann was born in 1767.

        The 1851 census clinched it: Catherine Warren 74 years old, widow and formerly a farmers wife, was living in the household of her son John Warren, and her place of birth is listed as Barton under Needwood. In 1841 Catherine was a 64 year old widow, her husband Samuel having died in 1837, and she was living with her son Samuel, a farmer. The 1841 census did not list place of birth, however. Catherine died on 31 March 1861 and does not appear on the 1861 census.

        Once I had established that our Catherine Holland was from Barton under Needwood, I had another look at the information available on the Barton under Needwood History group, compiled by local historian Steve Gardner.

        Catherine’s parents were Thomas Holland 1737-1828 and Hannah Hair 1739-1822.

        Steve Gardner had posted a long list of the dates, marriages and children of the Holland family. The earliest entries in parish registers were Thomae Holland 1562-1626 and his wife Eunica Edwardes 1565-1632. They married on 10th July 1582. They were born, married and died in Barton under Needwood. They were direct ancestors of Catherine Holland, and as such my direct ancestors too.

        The known history of the Holland family in Barton under Needwood goes back to Richard De Holland. (Thanks once again to Steve Gardner of the Barton under Needwood History group for this information.)

        “Richard de Holland was the first member of the Holland family to become resident in Barton under Needwood (in about 1312) having been granted lands by the Earl of Lancaster (for whom Richard served as Stud and Stock Keeper of the Peak District) The Holland family stemmed from Upholland in Lancashire and had many family connections working for the Earl of Lancaster, who was one of the biggest Barons in England. Lancaster had his own army and lived at Tutbury Castle, from where he ruled over most of the Midlands area. The Earl of Lancaster was one of the main players in the ‘Barons Rebellion’ and the ensuing Battle of Burton Bridge in 1322. Richard de Holland was very much involved in the proceedings which had so angered Englands King. Holland narrowly escaped with his life, unlike the Earl who was executed.
        From the arrival of that first Holland family member, the Hollands were a mainstay family in the community, and were in Barton under Needwood for over 600 years.”

        Continuing with various items of information regarding the Hollands, thanks to Steve Gardner’s Barton under Needwood history pages:

        “PART 6 (Final Part)
        Some mentions of The Manor of Barton in the Ancient Staffordshire Rolls:
        1330. A Grant was made to Herbert de Ferrars, at le Newland in the Manor of Barton.
        1378. The Inquisitio bonorum – Johannis Holand — an interesting Inventory of his goods and their value and his debts.
        1380. View of Frankpledge ; the Jury found that Richard Holland was feloniously murdered by his wife Joan and Thomas Graunger, who fled. The goods of the deceased were valued at iiij/. iijj. xid. ; one-third went to the dead man, one-third to his son, one- third to the Lord for the wife’s share. Compare 1 H. V. Indictments. (1413.)
        That Thomas Graunger of Barton smyth and Joan the wife of Richard de Holond of Barton on the Feast of St. John the Baptist 10 H. II. (1387) had traitorously killed and murdered at night, at Barton, Richard, the husband of the said Joan. (m. 22.)
        The names of various members of the Holland family appear constantly among the listed Jurors on the manorial records printed below : —
        1539. Richard Holland and Richard Holland the younger are on the Muster Roll of Barton
        1583. Thomas Holland and Unica his wife are living at Barton.
        1663-4. Visitations. — Barton under Needword. Disclaimers. William Holland, Senior, William Holland, Junior.
        1609. Richard Holland, Clerk and Alice, his wife.
        1663-4. Disclaimers at the Visitation. William Holland, Senior, William Holland, Junior.”

        I was able to find considerably more information on the Hollands in the book “Some Records of the Holland Family (The Hollands of Barton under Needwood, Staffordshire, and the Hollands in History)” by William Richard Holland. Luckily the full text of this book can be found online.

        William Richard Holland (Died 1915) An early local Historian and author of the book:

        William Richard Holland


        ‘Holland House’ taken from the Gardens (sadly demolished in the early 60’s):

        Holland House


        Excerpt from the book:

        “The charter, dated 1314, granting Richard rights and privileges in Needwood Forest, reads as follows:

        “Thomas Earl of Lancaster and Leicester, high-steward of England, to whom all these present shall come, greeting: Know ye, that we have given, &c., to Richard Holland of Barton, and his heirs, housboot, heyboot, and fireboot, and common of pasture, in our forest of Needwood, for all his beasts, as well in places fenced as lying open, with 40 hogs, quit of pawnage in our said forest at all times in the year (except hogs only in fence month). All which premises we will warrant, &c. to the said Richard and his heirs against all people for ever”

        “The terms “housboot” “heyboot” and “fireboot” meant that Richard and his heirs were to have the privilege of taking from the Forest, wood needed for house repair and building, hedging material for the repairing of fences, and what was needful for purposes of fuel.”

        Further excerpts from the book:

        “It may here be mentioned that during the renovation of Barton Church, when the stone pillars were being stripped of the plaster which covered them, “William Holland 1617” was found roughly carved on a pillar near to the belfry gallery, obviously the work of a not too devout member of the family, who, seated in the gallery of that time, occupied himself thus during the service. The inscription can still be seen.”

        “The earliest mention of a Holland of Upholland occurs in the reign of John in a Final Concord, made at the Lancashire Assizes, dated November 5th, 1202, in which Uchtred de Chryche, who seems to have had some right in the manor of Upholland, releases his right in fourteen oxgangs* of land to Matthew de Holland, in consideration of the sum of six marks of silver. Thus was planted the Holland Tree, all the early information of which is found in The Victoria County History of Lancaster.

        As time went on, the family acquired more land, and with this, increased position. Thus, in the reign of Edward I, a Robert de Holland, son of Thurstan, son of Robert, became possessed of the manor of Orrell adjoining Upholland and of the lordship of Hale in the parish of Childwall, and, through marriage with Elizabeth de Samlesbury (co-heiress of Sir Wm. de Samlesbury of Samlesbury, Hall, near to Preston), of the moiety of that manor….

        * An oxgang signified the amount of land that could be ploughed by one ox in one day”

        “This Robert de Holland, son of Thurstan, received Knighthood in the reign of Edward I, as did also his brother William, ancestor of that branch of the family which later migrated to Cheshire. Belonging to this branch are such noteworthy personages as Mrs. Gaskell, the talented authoress, her mother being a Holland of this branch, Sir Henry Holland, Physician to Queen Victoria, and his two sons, the first Viscount Knutsford, and Canon Francis Holland ; Sir Henry’s grandson (the present Lord Knutsford), Canon Scott Holland, etc. Captain Frederick Holland, R.N., late of Ashbourne Hall, Derbyshire, may also be mentioned here.*”

        Thanks to the Barton under Needwood history group for the following:

        In 1509 it was owned and occupied by Mr Johannes Holland De Wallass end who was a well to do Yeoman Farmer (the origin of the areas name – Wales End).  Part of the building dates to 1490 making it probably the oldest building still standing in the Village:

        Wales End Farm


        I found records for all of the Holland’s listed on the Barton under Needwood History group and added them to my ancestry tree. The earliest will I found was for Eunica Edwardes, then Eunica Holland, who died in 1632.

        A page from the 1632 will and inventory of Eunica (Unice) Holland:

        Unice Holland


        I’d been reading about “pedigree collapse” just before I found out her maiden name of Edwardes. Edwards is my own maiden name.

        “In genealogy, pedigree collapse describes how reproduction between two individuals who knowingly or unknowingly share an ancestor causes the family tree of their offspring to be smaller than it would otherwise be.
        Without pedigree collapse, a person’s ancestor tree is a binary tree, formed by the person, the parents, grandparents, and so on. However, the number of individuals in such a tree grows exponentially and will eventually become impossibly high. For example, a single individual alive today would, over 30 generations going back to the High Middle Ages, have roughly a billion ancestors, more than the total world population at the time. This apparent paradox occurs because the individuals in the binary tree are not distinct: instead, a single individual may occupy multiple places in the binary tree. This typically happens when the parents of an ancestor are cousins (sometimes unbeknownst to themselves). For example, the offspring of two first cousins has at most only six great-grandparents instead of the normal eight. This reduction in the number of ancestors is pedigree collapse. It collapses the binary tree into a directed acyclic graph with two different, directed paths starting from the ancestor who in the binary tree would occupy two places.” via wikipedia

        There is nothing to suggest, however, that Eunica’s family were related to my fathers family, and the only evidence so far in my tree of pedigree collapse are the marriages of Orgill cousins, where two sets of grandparents are repeated.

        A list of Holland ancestors:

        Catherine Holland 1775-1861
        her parents:
        Thomas Holland 1737-1828   Hannah Hair 1739-1832
        Thomas’s parents:
        William Holland 1696-1756   Susannah Whiteing 1715-1752
        William’s parents:
        William Holland 1665-    Elizabeth Higgs 1675-1720
        William’s parents:
        Thomas Holland 1634-1681   Katherine Owen 1634-1728
        Thomas’s parents:
        Thomas Holland 1606-1680   Margaret Belcher 1608-1664
        Thomas’s parents:
        Thomas Holland 1562-1626   Eunice Edwardes 1565- 1632


          The Warrens of Stapenhill


          There were so many Warren’s in Stapenhill that it was complicated to work out who was who. I had gone back as far as Samuel Warren marrying Catherine Holland, and this was as far back as my cousin Ian Warren had gone in his research some decades ago as well. The Holland family from Barton under Needwood are particularly interesting, and will be a separate chapter.

          Stapenhill village by John Harden:



          Resuming the research on the Warrens, Samuel Warren 1771-1837 married Catherine Holland 1775-1861 in 1795 and their son Samuel Warren 1800-1882 married Elizabeth Bridge, whose childless brother Benjamin Bridge left the Warren Brothers Boiler Works in Newhall to his nephews, the Warren brothers.

          Samuel Warren and Catherine Holland marriage licence 1795:

          Samuel Warren Catherine Holland


          Samuel (born 1771) was baptised at Stapenhill St Peter and his parents were William and Anne Warren. There were at least three William and Ann Warrens in town at the time. One of those William’s was born in 1744, which would seem to be the right age to be Samuel’s father, and one was born in 1710, which seemed a little too old. Another William, Guiliamos Warren (Latin was often used in early parish registers) was baptised in Stapenhill in 1729.

          Stapenhill St Peter:

          Stapenhill St Peter


          William Warren (born 1744) appeared to have been born several months before his parents wedding. William Warren and Ann Insley married 16 July 1744, but the baptism of William in 1744 was 24 February. This seemed unusual ~ children were often born less than nine months after a wedding, but not usually before the wedding! Then I remembered the change from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Prior to 1752, the first day of the year was Lady Day, March 25th, not January 1st. This meant that the birth in February 1744 was actually after the wedding in July 1744. Now it made sense. The first son was named William, and he was born seven months after the wedding.

          William born in 1744 died intestate in 1822, and his wife Ann made a legal claim to his estate. However he didn’t marry Ann Holland (Ann was Catherines Hollands sister, who married Samuel Warren the year before) until 1796, so this William and Ann were not the parents of Samuel.

          It seemed likely that William born in 1744 was Samuels brother. William Warren and Ann Insley had at least eight children between 1744 and 1771, and it seems that Samuel was their last child, born when William the elder was 61 and his wife Ann was 47.

          It seems it wasn’t unusual for the Warren men to marry rather late in life. William Warren’s (born 1710) parents were William Warren and Elizabeth Hatterton. On the marriage licence in 1702/1703 (it appears to say 1703 but is transcribed as 1702), William was a 40 year old bachelor from Stapenhill, which puts his date of birth at 1662. Elizabeth was considerably younger, aged 19.

          William Warren and Elizabeth Hatterton marriage licence 1703:

          William Warren 1702


          These Warren’s were farmers, and they were literate and able to sign their own names on various documents. This is worth noting, as most made the mark of an X.

          I found three Warren and Holland marriages. One was Samuel Warren and Catherine Holland in 1795, then William Warren and Ann Holland in 1796. William Warren and Ann Hollands daughter born in 1799 married John Holland in 1824.

          Elizabeth Hatterton (wife of William Warren who was born circa 1662) was born in Burton upon Trent in 1685. Her parents were Edward Hatterton 1655-1722, and Sara.

          A page from the 1722 will of Edward Hatterton:

          Edward Hatterton 1722


          The earliest Warren I found records for was William Warren who married Elizabeth Hatterton in 1703. The marriage licence states his age as 40 and that he was from Stapenhill, but none of the Stapenhill parish records online go back as far as 1662.  On other public trees on ancestry websites, a birth record from Suffolk has been chosen, probably because it was the only record to be found online with the right name and date. Once again, I don’t think that is correct, and perhaps one day I’ll find some earlier Stapenhill records to prove that he was born in locally.


          Subsequently, I found a list of the 1662 Hearth Tax for Stapenhill. On it were a number of Warrens, three William Warrens including one who was a constable. One of those William Warrens had a son he named William (as they did, hence the number of William Warrens in the tree) the same year as this hearth tax list.

          But was it the William Warren with 2 chimneys, the one with one chimney who was too poor to pay it, or the one who was a constable?

          from the list:
          Will. Warryn 2
          Richard Warryn 1
          William Warren Constable
          These names are not payable by Act:
          Will. Warryn 1
          Richard Warren John Watson
          over seers of the poore and churchwardens

          The Hearth Tax:

          via wiki:
          In England, hearth tax, also known as hearth money, chimney tax, or chimney money, was a tax imposed by Parliament in 1662, to support the Royal Household of King Charles II. Following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Parliament calculated that the Royal Household needed an annual income of £1,200,000. The hearth tax was a supplemental tax to make up the shortfall. It was considered easier to establish the number of hearths than the number of heads, hearths forming a more stationary subject for taxation than people. This form of taxation was new to England, but had precedents abroad. It generated considerable debate, but was supported by the economist Sir William Petty, and carried through the Commons by the influential West Country member Sir Courtenay Pole, 2nd Baronet (whose enemies nicknamed him “Sir Chimney Poll” as a result).  The bill received Royal Assent on 19 May 1662, with the first payment due on 29 September 1662, Michaelmas.
          One shilling was liable to be paid for every firehearth or stove, in all dwellings, houses, edifices or lodgings, and was payable at Michaelmas, 29 September and on Lady Day, 25 March. The tax thus amounted to two shillings per hearth or stove per year. The original bill contained a practical shortcoming in that it did not distinguish between owners and occupiers and was potentially a major burden on the poor as there were no exemptions. The bill was subsequently amended so that the tax was paid by the occupier. Further amendments introduced a range of exemptions that ensured that a substantial proportion of the poorer people did not have to pay the tax.


          Indeed it seems clear that William Warren the elder came from Stapenhill and not Suffolk, and one of the William Warrens paying hearth tax in 1662 was undoubtedly the father of William Warren who married Elizabeth Hatterton.


            Looking for Carringtons


            The Carringtons of Smalley, at least some of them, were Baptist  ~ otherwise known as “non conformist”.  Baptists don’t baptise at birth, believing it’s up to the person to choose when they are of an age to do so, although that appears to be fairly random in practice with small children being baptised.  This makes it hard to find the birth dates registered as not every village had a Baptist church, and the baptisms would take place in another town.   However some of the children were baptised in the village Anglican church as well, so they don’t seem to have been consistent. Perhaps at times a quick baptism locally for a sickly child was considered prudent, and preferable to no baptism at all. It’s impossible to know for sure and perhaps they were not strictly commited to a particular denomination.

            Our Carrington’s start with Ellen Carrington who married William Housley in 1814. William Housley was previously married to Ellen’s older sister Mary Carrington.  Ellen (born 1895 and baptised 1897) and her sister Nanny were baptised at nearby Ilkeston Baptist church but I haven’t found baptisms for Mary or siblings Richard and Francis.  We know they were also children of William Carrington as he mentions them in his 1834 will. Son William was baptised at the local Smalley church in 1784, as was Thomas in 1896.

            The absence of baptisms in Smalley with regard to Baptist influence was noted in the Smalley registers:

            not baptised


            Smalley (chapelry of Morley) registers began in 1624, Morley registers began in 1540 with no obvious gaps in either.  The gap with the missing registered baptisms would be 1786-1793. The Ilkeston Baptist register began in 1791. Information from the Smalley registers indicates that about a third of the children were not being baptised due to the Baptist influence.


            William Housley son in law, daughter Mary Housley deceased, and daughter Eleanor (Ellen) Housley are all mentioned in William Housley’s 1834 will.  On the marriage allegations and bonds for William Housley and Mary Carrington in 1806, her birth date is registered at 1787, her father William Carrington.

            A Page from the will of William Carrington 1834:

            1834 Will Carrington will


            William Carrington was baptised in nearby Horsley Woodhouse on 27 August 1758.  His parents were William and Margaret Carrington “near the Hilltop”. He married Mary Malkin, also of Smalley, on the 27th August 1783.

            When I started looking for Margaret Wright who married William Carrington the elder, I chanced upon the Smalley parish register micro fiche images wrongly labeled by the ancestry site as Longford.   I subsequently found that the Derby Records office published a list of all the wrongly labeled Derbyshire towns that the ancestry site knew about for ten years at least but has not corrected!

            Margaret Wright was baptised in Smalley (mislabeled as Longford although the register images clearly say Smalley!) on the 2nd March 1728. Her parents were John and Margaret Wright.

            But I couldn’t find a birth or baptism anywhere for William Carrington. I found four sources for William and Margaret’s marriage and none of them suggested that William wasn’t local.  On other public trees on ancestry sites, William’s father was Joshua Carrington from Chinley. Indeed, when doing a search for William Carrington born circa 1720 to 1725, this was the only one in Derbyshire.  But why would a teenager move to the other side of the county?  It wasn’t uncommon to be apprenticed in neighbouring villages or towns, but Chinley didn’t seem right to me.  It seemed to me that it had been selected on the other trees because it was the only easily found result for the search, and not because it was the right one.

            I spent days reading every page of the microfiche images of the parish registers locally looking for Carringtons, any Carringtons at all in the area prior to 1720. Had there been none at all, then the possibility of William being the first Carrington in the area having moved there from elsewhere would have been more reasonable.

            But there were many Carringtons in Heanor, a mile or so from Smalley, in the 1600s and early 1700s, although they were often spelled Carenton, sometimes Carrianton in the parish registers. The earliest Carrington I found in the area was Alice Carrington baptised in Ilkeston in 1602.  It seemed obvious that William’s parents were local and not from Chinley.

            The Heanor parish registers of the time were not very clearly written. The handwriting was bad and the spelling variable, depending I suppose on what the name sounded like to the person writing in the registers at the time as the majority of the people were probably illiterate.  The registers are also in a generally poor condition.

            I found a burial of a child called William on the 16th January 1721, whose father was William Carenton of “Losko” (Loscoe is a nearby village also part of Heanor at that time). This looked promising!  If a child died, a later born child would be given the same name. This was very common: in a couple of cases I’ve found three deceased infants with the same first name until a fourth one named the same survived.  It seemed very likely that a subsequent son would be named William and he would be the William Carrington born circa 1720 to 1725 that we were looking for.

            Heanor parish registers: William son of William Carenton of Losko buried January 19th 1721:

            1721 William Carenton


            The Heanor parish registers between 1720 and 1729 are in many places illegible, however there are a couple of possibilities that could be the baptism of William in 1724 and 1725. A William son of William Carenton of Loscoe was buried in Jan 1721. In 1722 a Willian son of William Carenton (transcribed Tarenton) of Loscoe was buried. A subsequent son called William is likely. On 15 Oct 1724 a William son of William and Eliz (last name indecipherable) of Loscoe was baptised.  A Mary, daughter of William Carrianton of Loscoe, was baptised in 1727.

            I propose that William Carringtons was born in Loscoe and baptised in Heanor in 1724: if not 1724 then I would assume his baptism is one of the illegible or indecipherable entires within those few years.  This falls short of absolute documented proof of course, but it makes sense to me.



            In any case, if a William Carrington child died in Heanor in 1721 which we do have documented proof of, it further dismisses the case for William having arrived for no discernable reason from Chinley.


              The Rootians invaded Oocrane when everybody was busy looking elsewhere. They entered through the Dumbass region under the pretense of freeing it from Lazies who had infiltrated administrations and media. They often cited a recent short movie from president Voldomeer Zumbaskee in which he appeared in purple leather panties adorned with diamonds, showing unashamedly his wooden leg. The same wooden leg that gave him the status of sexiest man of Oocrane and got him elected. In one of his famous discourses, he accused the Rootian president, Valdamir Potomsky of wanting to help himself to their crops of turnip and weed of which the world depended. And he told him if he expected Lazies he would be surprised by their resolution to defend their country.

              By a simple game of chance that reality is so fond of, the man who made the president’s very wooden leg was also called Voldomeer Zumbasky. They might share a common ancestor, but many times in the past population records were destroyed and it was difficult to tell. That man lived in the small city of Duckailingtown in Dumbass, near the Rootian border. He was renowned to be a great carpenter and sculptor and before the war people would come from the neighbooring countries to buy his work.

              During the invasion, crops and forests were burnt, buildings were destroyed and Dumbass Voldomeer lost one leg. There were no more trees or beams that hadn’t been turned to ashes, and he had only one block of wood left. Enough to make another wooden leg for himself. But he wondered: wasn’t there something more useful he could do with that block of wood ?

              One morning of spring, one year after the war started. Food was scarce in Duckailingtown and Voldomeer’s belly growled as he walked past the nest of a couple of swans. He counted nine beautiful eggs that the parents were arranging with their beaks before lying on top to keep them warm. He found it so touching to see life in this place that he couldn’t bear the idea of simply stealing the eggs.

              He went back home, a shelter made of bricks, his stomach aching from starvation. Looking at the block of wood on the floor, he got an idea. He spent the rest of the day and night to carve nine beautiful eggs so smooth that they appeared warm to the touch. He put so much care and love in his work that the swans would see no difference.

              The next morning he went back to the nest with a leather bag, hopping heartily on his lone leg. The eggs were still there and by chance both the parents were missing. He didn’t care why. He took the eggs and replaced them with the wooden ones.

              That day, he ate the best omelet with his friend Rooby, and as far as one could tell the swans were still brooding by the end of summer.


                Jane Eaton

                The Nottingham Girl


                Jane Eaton 1809-1879

                Francis Purdy, the Beggarlea Bulldog and Methodist Minister, married Jane Eaton in 1837 in Nottingham. Jane was his second wife.

                Jane Eaton, photo says “Grandma Purdy” on the back:

                Jane Eaton


                Jane is described as a “Nottingham girl” in a book excerpt sent to me by Jim Giles, a relation who shares the same 3x great grandparents, Francis and Jane Purdy.

                Jane Eaton Nottingham

                Jane Eaton 2


                Elizabeth, Francis Purdy’s first wife, died suddenly at chapel in 1836, leaving nine children.

                On Christmas day the following year Francis married Jane Eaton at St Peters church in Nottingham. Jane married a Methodist Minister, and didn’t realize she married the bare knuckle fighter she’d seen when she was fourteen until he undressed and she saw his scars.

                jane eaton 3


                William Eaton 1767-1851

                On the marriage certificate Jane’s father was William Eaton, occupation gardener. Francis’s father was William Purdy, engineer.

                On the 1841 census living in Sollory’s Yard, Nottingham St Mary, William Eaton was a 70 year old gardener. It doesn’t say which county he was born in but indicates that it was not Nottinghamshire. Living with him were Mary Eaton, milliner, age 35, Mary Eaton, milliner, 15, and Elizabeth Rhodes age 35, a sempstress (another word for seamstress). The three women were born in Nottinghamshire.

                But who was Elizabeth Rhodes?

                Elizabeth Eaton was Jane’s older sister, born in 1797 in Nottingham. She married William Rhodes, a private in the 5th Dragoon Guards, in Leeds in October 1815.

                I looked for Elizabeth Rhodes on the 1851 census, which stated that she was a widow. I was also trying to determine which William Eaton death was the right one, and found William Eaton was still living with Elizabeth in 1851 at Pilcher Gate in Nottingham, but his name had been entered backwards: Eaton William. I would not have found him on the 1851 census had I searched for Eaton as a last name.

                Pilcher Gate gets its strange name from pilchers or fur dealers and was once a very narrow thoroughfare. At the lower end stood a pub called The Windmill – frequented by the notorious robber and murderer Charlie Peace.

                This was a lucky find indeed, because William’s place of birth was listed as Grantham, Lincolnshire. There were a couple of other William Eaton’s born at the same time, both near to Nottingham. It was tricky to work out which was the right one, but as it turned out, neither of them were.

                William Eaton Grantham


                Now we had Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire border straddlers, so the search moved to the Lincolnshire records.
                But first, what of the two Mary Eatons living with William?

                William and his wife Mary had a daughter Mary in 1799 who died in 1801, and another daughter Mary Ann born in 1803. (It was common to name children after a previous infant who had died.)  It seems that Mary Ann didn’t marry but had a daughter Mary Eaton born in 1822.

                William and his wife Mary also had a son Richard Eaton born in 1801 in Nottingham.

                Who was William Eaton’s wife Mary?

                There are two possibilities: Mary Cresswell and a marriage in Nottingham in 1797, or Mary Dewey and a marriage at Grantham in 1795. If it’s Mary Cresswell, the first child Elizabeth would have been born just four or five months after the wedding. (This was far from unusual). However, no births in Grantham, or in Nottingham, were recorded for William and Mary in between 1795 and 1797.

                We don’t know why William moved from Grantham to Nottingham or when he moved there. According to Dearden’s 1834 Nottingham directory, William Eaton was a “Gardener and Seedsman”.

                gardener and seedsan William Eaton

                There was another William Eaton selling turnip seeds in the same part of Nottingham. At first I thought it must be the same William, but apparently not, as that William Eaton is recorded as a victualler, born in Ruddington. The turnip seeds were advertised in 1847 as being obtainable from William Eaton at the Reindeer Inn, Wheeler Gate. Perhaps he was related.

                William lived in the Lace Market part of Nottingham.   I wondered where a gardener would be working in that part of the city.  According to CreativeQuarter website, “in addition to the trades and housing (sometimes under the same roof), there were a number of splendid mansions being built with extensive gardens and orchards. Sadly, these no longer exist as they were gradually demolished to make way for commerce…..The area around St Mary’s continued to develop as an elegant residential district during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, with buildings … being built for nobility and rich merchants.”

                William Eaton died in Nottingham in September 1851, thankfully after the census was taken recording his place of birth.


                  The Measham Thatchers

                  Orgills, Finches and Wards

                  Measham is a large village in north west Leicestershire, England, near the Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Warwickshire boundaries. Our family has a penchant for border straddling, and the Orgill’s of Measham take this a step further living on the boundaries of four counties.  Historically it was in an exclave of Derbyshire absorbed into Leicestershire in 1897, so once again we have two sets of county records to search.


                  Richard Gretton, the baker of Swadlincote and my great grandmother Florence Nightingale Grettons’ father, married Sarah Orgill (1840-1910) in 1861.

                  (Incidentally, Florence Nightingale Warren nee Gretton’s first child Hildred born in 1900 had the middle name Orgill. Florence’s brother John Orgill Gretton emigrated to USA.)

                  When they first married, they lived with Sarah’s widowed mother Elizabeth in Measham.  Elizabeth Orgill is listed on the 1861 census as a farmer of two acres.

                  Sarah Orgill’s father Matthew Orgill (1798-1859) was a thatcher, as was his father Matthew Orgill (1771-1852).

                  Matthew Orgill the elder left his property to his son Henry:

                  Matthew Orgills will


                  Sarah’s mother Elizabeth (1803-1876) was also an Orgill before her marriage to Matthew.

                  According to Pigot & Co’s Commercial Directory for Derbyshire, in Measham in 1835 Elizabeth Orgill was a straw bonnet maker, an ideal occupation for a thatchers wife.

                  Matthew Orgill, thatcher, is listed in White’s directory in 1857, and other Orgill’s are mentioned in Measham:

                  Mary Orgill, straw hat maker; Henry Orgill, grocer; Daniel Orgill, painter; another Matthew Orgill is a coal merchant and wheelwright. Likewise a number of Orgill’s are listed in the directories for Measham in the subsequent years, as farmers, plumbers, painters, grocers, thatchers, wheelwrights, coal merchants and straw bonnet makers.


                  Matthew and Elizabeth Orgill, Measham Baptist church:

                  Orgill grave


                  According to a history of thatching, for every six or seven thatchers appearing in the 1851 census there are now less than one.  Another interesting fact in the history of thatched roofs (via thatchinginfo dot com):

                  The Watling Street Divide…
                  The biggest dividing line of all, that between the angular thatching of the Northern and Eastern traditions and the rounded Southern style, still roughly follows a very ancient line; the northern section of the old Roman road of Watling Street, the modern A5. Seemingly of little significance today; this was once the border between two peoples. Agreed in the peace treaty, between the Saxon King Alfred and Guthrum, the Danish Viking leader; over eleven centuries ago.
                  After making their peace, various Viking armies settled down, to the north and east of the old road; firstly, in what was known as The Danelaw and later in Norse kingdoms, based in York. They quickly formed a class of farmers and peasants. Although the Saxon kings soon regained this area; these people stayed put. Their influence is still seen, for example, in the widespread use of boarded gable ends, so common in Danish thatching.
                  Over time, the Southern and Northern traditions have slipped across the old road, by a few miles either way. But even today, travelling across the old highway will often bring the differing thatching traditions quickly into view.

                  Pear Tree Cottage, Bosworth Road, Measham. 1900.  Matthew Orgill was a thatcher living on Bosworth road.

                  Bosworth road



                  Matthew the elder married Frances Finch 1771-1848, also of Measham.  On the 1851 census Matthew is an 80 year old thatcher living with his daughter Mary and her husband Samuel Piner, a coal miner.

                  Henry Finch 1743- and Mary Dennis 1749- , both of Measham, were Frances parents.  Henry’s father was also Henry Finch, born in 1707 in Measham, and he married Frances Ward, also born in 1707, and also from Measham.



                  The ancient boundary between the kingdom of Mercia and the Danelaw

                  I didn’t find much information on the history of Measham, but I did find a great deal of ancient history on the nearby village of Appleby Magna, two miles away.  The parish records indicate that the Ward and Finch branches of our family date back to the 1500’s in the village, and we can assume that the ancient history of the neighbouring village would be relevant to our history.

                  There is evidence of human settlement in Appleby from the early Neolithic period, 6,000 years ago, and there are also Iron Age and Bronze Age sites in the vicinity.  There is evidence of further activity within the village during the Roman period, including evidence of a villa or farm and a temple.  Appleby is near three known Roman roads: Watling Street, 10 miles south of the village; Bath Lane, 5 miles north of the village; and Salt Street, which forms the parish’s south boundary.

                  But it is the Scandinavian invasions that are particularly intriguing, with regard to my 58% Scandinavian DNA (and virtually 100% Midlands England ancestry). Repton is 13 miles from Measham. In the early 10th century Chilcote, Measham and Willesley were part of the royal Derbyshire estate of Repton.

                  The arrival of Scandinavian invaders in the second half of the ninth century caused widespread havoc throughout northern England. By the AD 870s the Danish army was occupying Mercia and it spent the winter of 873-74 at Repton, the headquarters of the Mercian kings. The events are recorded in detail in the Peterborough manuscript of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles…

                  Although the Danes held power for only 40 years, a strong, even subversive, Danish element remained in the population for many years to come. 

                  A Scandinavian influence may also be detected among the field names of the parish. Although many fields have relatively modern names, some clearly have elements which reach back to the time of Danish incursion and control.

                  The Borders:

                  The name ‘aeppel byg’ is given in the will of Wulfic Spot of AD 1004……………..The decision at Domesday to include this land in Derbyshire, as one of Burton Abbey’s Derbyshire manors, resulted in the division of the village of Appleby Magna between the counties of Leicester and Derby for the next 800 years

                  Richard Dunmore’s Appleby Magma website.

                  This division of Appleby between Leicestershire and Derbyshire persisted from Domesday until 1897, when the recently created county councils (1889) simplified the administration of many villages in this area by a radical realignment of the boundary:



                  I would appear that our family not only straddle county borders, but straddle ancient kingdom borders as well.  This particular branch of the family (we assume, given the absence of written records that far back) were living on the edge of the Danelaw and a strong element of the Danes survives to this day in my DNA.



                    “AND NOW ABOUT EMMA”

                    and a mystery about George


                    I had overlooked this interesting part of Barbara Housley’s “Narrative on the Letters” initially, perhaps because I was more focused on finding Samuel Housley.  But when I did eventually notice, I wondered how I had missed it!  In this particularly interesting letter excerpt from Joseph, Barbara has not put the date of the letter ~ unusually, because she did with all of the others.  However I dated the letter to later than 1867, because Joseph mentions his wife, and they married in 1867. This is important, because there are two Emma Housleys. Joseph had a sister Emma, born in 1836, two years before Joseph was born.  At first glance, one would assume that a reference to Emma in the letters would mean his sister, but Emma the sister was married in Derby in 1858, and by 1869 had four children.

                    But there was another Emma Housley, born in 1851.


                    From Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters:

                    “AND NOW ABOUT EMMA”

                    A MYSTERY

                    A very mysterious comment is contained in a letter from Joseph:

                    “And now about Emma.  I have only seen her once and she came to me to get your address but I did not feel at liberty to give it to her until I had wrote to you but however she got it from someone.  I think it was in this way.  I was so pleased to hear from you in the first place and with John’s family coming to see me I let them read one or two of your letters thinking they would like to hear of you and I expect it was Will that noticed your address and gave it to her.  She came up to our house one day when I was at work to know if I had heard from you but I had not heard from you since I saw her myself and then she called again after that and my wife showed her your boys’ portraits thinking no harm in doing so.”

                    At this point Joseph interrupted himself to thank them for sending the portraits.  The next sentence is:

                    “Your son JOHN I have never seen to know him but I hear he is rather wild,” followed by: “EMMA has been living out service but don’t know where she is now.”

                    Since Joseph had just been talking about the portraits of George’s three sons, one of whom is John Eley, this could be a reference to things George has written in despair about a teen age son–but could Emma be a first wife and John their son?  Or could Emma and John both be the children of a first wife?

                    Elsewhere, Joseph wrote, “AMY ELEY died 14 years ago. (circa 1858)  She left a son and a daughter.”

                    An Amey Eley and a George Housley were married on April 1, 1849 in Duffield which is about as far west of Smalley as Heanor is East.  She was the daughter of John, a framework knitter, and Sarah Eley.  George’s father is listed as William, a farmer.  Amey was described as “of full age” and made her mark on the marriage document.

                    Anne wrote in August 1854:  JOHN ELEY is living at Derby Station so must take the first opportunity to get the receipt.” Was John Eley Housley named for him?

                    (John Eley Housley is George Housley’s son in USA, with his second wife, Sarah.)


                    George Housley married Amey Eley in 1849 in Duffield.  George’s father on the register is William Housley, farmer.  Amey Eley’s father is John Eley, framework knitter.

                    George Housley Amey Eley


                    On the 1851 census, George Housley and his wife Amey Housley are living with her parents in Heanor, John Eley, a framework knitter, and his wife Rebecca.  Also on the census are Charles J Housley, born in 1849 in Heanor, and Emma Housley, three months old at the time of the census, born in 1851.  George’s birth place is listed as Smalley.

                    1851 George Housley



                    On the 31st of July 1851 George Housley arrives in New York. In 1854 George Housley marries Sarah Ann Hill in USA.


                    On the 1861 census in Heanor, Rebecca Eley was a widow, her husband John having died in 1852, and she had three grandchildren living with her: Charles J Housley aged 12, Emma Housley, 10, and mysteriously a William Housley aged 5!  Amey Housley, the childrens mother,  died in 1858.

                    Housley Eley 1861


                    Back to the mysterious comment in Joseph’s letter.  Joseph couldn’t have been speaking of his sister Emma.  She was married with children by the time Joseph wrote that letter, so was not just out of service, and Joseph would have known where she was.   There is no reason to suppose that the sister Emma was trying unsuccessfully to find George’s addresss: she had been sending him letters for years.   Joseph must have been referring to George’s daughter Emma.

                    Joseph comments to George “Your son John…is rather wild.” followed by the remark about Emma’s whereabouts.  Could Charles John Housley have used his middle name of John instead of Charles?

                    As for the child William born five years after George left for USA, despite his name of Housley, which was his mothers married name, we can assume that he was not a Housley ~ not George’s child, anyway. It is not clear who his father was, as Amey did not remarry.

                    A further excerpt from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters:

                    Certainly there was some mystery in George’s life. George apparently wanted his whereabouts kept secret. Anne wrote: “People are at a loss to know where you are. The general idea is you are with Charles. We don’t satisfy them.” In that same letter Anne wrote: “I know you could not help thinking of us very often although you neglected writing…and no doubt would feel grieved for the trouble you at times caused (our mother). She freely forgives all.” Near the end of the letter, Anne added: “Mother sends her love to you and hopes you will write and if you want to tell her anything you don’t want all to see you must write it on a piece of loose paper and put it inside the letter.”

                    In a letter to George from his sister Emma:

                    Emma wrote in 1855, “We write in love to your wife and yourself and you must write soon and tell us whether there is a little nephew or niece and what you call them.”

                    In June of 1856, Emma wrote: “We want to see dear Sarah Ann and the dear little boy. We were much pleased with the “bit of news” you sent.” The bit of news was the birth of John Eley Housley, January 11, 1855. Emma concluded her letter “Give our very kindest love to dear sister and dearest Johnnie.”

                    It would seem that George Housley named his first son with his second wife after his first wife’s father ~ while he was married to both of them.


                    Emma Housley



                    In 1871 Emma was 20 years old and “in service” living as a lodger in West Hallam, not far from Heanor.  As she didn’t appear on a 1881 census, I looked for a marriage, but the only one that seemed right in every other way had Emma Housley’s father registered as Ralph Wibberly!

                    Who was Ralph Wibberly?  A family friend or neighbour, perhaps, someone who had been a father figure?  The first Ralph Wibberly I found was a blind wood cutter living in Derby. He had a son also called Ralph Wibberly. I did not think Ralph Wibberly would be a very common name, but I was wrong.

                    I then found a Ralph Wibberly living in Heanor, with a son also named Ralph Wibberly. A Ralph Wibberly married an Emma Salt from Heanor. In 1874, a 36 year old Ralph Wibberly (born in 1838) was on trial in Derby for inflicting grevious bodily harm on William Fretwell of Heanor. His occupation is “platelayer” (a person employed in laying and maintaining railway track.) The jury found him not guilty.

                    In 1851 a 23 year old Ralph Wibberly (born in 1828) was a prisoner in Derby Gaol. However, Ralph Wibberly, a 50 year old labourer born in 1801 and his son Ralph Wibberly, aged 13 and born in 1838, are living in Belper on the 1851 census. Perhaps the son was the same Ralph Wibberly who was found not guilty of GBH in 1874. This appears to be the one who married Emma Salt, as his wife on the 1871 census is called Emma, and his occupation is “Midland Company Railway labourer”.

                    Which was the Ralph Wibberly that Emma chose to name as her father on the marriage register? We may never know, but perhaps we can assume it was Ralph Wibberly born in 1801.  It is unlikely to be the blind wood cutter from Derby; more likely to be the local Ralph Wibberly.  Maybe his son Ralph, who we know was involved in a fight in 1874, was a friend of Emma’s brother Charles John, who was described by Joseph as a “wild one”, although Ralph was 11 years older than Charles John.

                    Emma Housley married James Slater on Christmas day in Heanor in 1873.  Their first child, a daughter, was called Amy. Emma’s mother was Amy Eley. James Slater was a colliery brakesman (employed to work the steam-engine, or other machinery used in raising the coal from the mine.)

                    It occurred to me to wonder if Emma Housley (George’s daughter) knew Elizabeth, Mary Anne and Catherine (Samuel’s daughters). They were cousins, lived in the vicinity, and they had in common with each other having been deserted by their fathers who were brothers. Emma was born two years after Catherine. Catherine was living with John Benniston, a framework knitter in Heanor, from 1851 to 1861. Emma was living with her grandfather John Ely, a framework knitter in Heanor. In 1861, George Purdy was also living in Heanor. He was listed on the census as a 13 year old coal miner! George Purdy and Catherine Housley married in 1866 in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire ~ just over the county border. Emma’s first child Amy was born in Heanor, but the next two children, Eliza and Lilly, were born in Eastwood, in 1878 and 1880. Catherine and George’s fifth child, my great grandmother Mary Ann Gilman Purdy, was born in Eastwood in 1880, the same year as Lilly Slater.

                    By 1881 Emma and James Slater were living in Woodlinkin, Codnor and Loscoe, close to Heanor and Eastwood, on the Derbyshire side of the border. On each census up to 1911 their address on the census is Woodlinkin. Emma and James had nine children: six girls and 3 boys, the last, Alfred Frederick, born in 1901.

                    Emma and James lived three doors up from the Thorn Tree pub in Woodlinkin, Codnor:



                    Emma Slater died in 1935 at the age of 84.


                    LOVING MEMORY OF
                    EMMA SLATER
                    (OF WOODLINKIN)
                    WHO DIED
                    SEPT 12th 1935
                    AGED 84 YEARS
                    AT REST

                    Crosshill Cemetery, Codnor, Amber Valley Borough, Derbyshire, England:

                    Emma Slater


                    Charles John Housley



                      From Tanganyika with Love

                      continued part 9

                      With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                      Lyamungu 3rd January 1945

                      Dearest Family.

                      We had a novel Christmas this year. We decided to avoid the expense of
                      entertaining and being entertained at Lyamungu, and went off to spend Christmas
                      camping in a forest on the Western slopes of Kilimanjaro. George decided to combine
                      business with pleasure and in this way we were able to use Government transport.
                      We set out the day before Christmas day and drove along the road which skirts
                      the slopes of Kilimanjaro and first visited a beautiful farm where Philip Teare, the ex
                      Game Warden, and his wife Mary are staying. We had afternoon tea with them and then
                      drove on in to the natural forest above the estate and pitched our tent beside a small
                      clear mountain stream. We decorated the tent with paper streamers and a few small
                      balloons and John found a small tree of the traditional shape which we decorated where
                      it stood with tinsel and small ornaments.

                      We put our beer, cool drinks for the children and bottles of fresh milk from Simba
                      Estate, in the stream and on Christmas morning they were as cold as if they had been in
                      the refrigerator all night. There were not many presents for the children, there never are,
                      but they do not seem to mind and are well satisfied with a couple of balloons apiece,
                      sweets, tin whistles and a book each.

                      George entertain the children before breakfast. He can make a magical thing out
                      of the most ordinary balloon. The children watched entranced as he drew on his pipe
                      and then blew the smoke into the balloon. He then pinched the neck of the balloon
                      between thumb and forefinger and released the smoke in little puffs. Occasionally the
                      balloon ejected a perfect smoke ring and the forest rang with shouts of “Do it again
                      Daddy.” Another trick was to blow up the balloon to maximum size and then twist the
                      neck tightly before releasing. Before subsiding the balloon darted about in a crazy
                      fashion causing great hilarity. Such fun, at the cost of a few pence.

                      After breakfast George went off to fish for trout. John and Jim decided that they
                      also wished to fish so we made rods out of sticks and string and bent pins and they
                      fished happily, but of course quite unsuccessfully, for hours. Both of course fell into the
                      stream and got soaked, but I was prepared for this, and the little stream was so shallow
                      that they could not come to any harm. Henry played happily in the sand and I had a
                      most peaceful morning.

                      Hamisi roasted a chicken in a pot over the camp fire and the jelly set beautifully in the
                      stream. So we had grilled trout and chicken for our Christmas dinner. I had of course
                      taken an iced cake for the occasion and, all in all, it was a very successful Christmas day.
                      On Boxing day we drove down to the plains where George was to investigate a
                      report of game poaching near the Ngassari Furrow. This is a very long ditch which has
                      been dug by the Government for watering the Masai stock in the area. It is also used by
                      game and we saw herds of zebra and wildebeest, and some Grant’s Gazelle and
                      giraffe, all comparatively tame. At one point a small herd of zebra raced beside the lorry
                      apparently enjoying the fun of a gallop. They were all sleek and fat and looked wild and
                      beautiful in action.

                      We camped a considerable distance from the water but this precaution did not
                      save us from the mosquitoes which launched a vicious attack on us after sunset, so that
                      we took to our beds unusually early. They were on the job again when we got up at
                      sunrise so I was very glad when we were once more on our way home.

                      “I like Christmas safari. Much nicer that silly old party,” said John. I agree but I think
                      it is time that our children learned to play happily with others. There are no other young
                      children at Lyamungu though there are two older boys and a girl who go to boarding
                      school in Nairobi.

                      On New Years Day two Army Officers from the military camp at Moshi, came for
                      tea and to talk game hunting with George. I think they rather enjoy visiting a home and
                      seeing children and pets around.


                      Lyamungu 14 May 1945

                      Dearest Family.

                      So the war in Europe is over at last. It is such marvellous news that I can hardly
                      believe it. To think that as soon as George can get leave we will go to England and
                      bring Ann and George home with us to Tanganyika. When we know when this leave can
                      be arranged we will want Kate to join us here as of course she must go with us to
                      England to meet George’s family. She has become so much a part of your lives that I
                      know it will be a wrench for you to give her up but I know that you will all be happy to
                      think that soon our family will be reunited.

                      The V.E. celebrations passed off quietly here. We all went to Moshi to see the
                      Victory Parade of the King’s African Rifles and in the evening we went to a celebration
                      dinner at the Game Warden’s house. Besides ourselves the Moores had invited the
                      Commanding Officer from Moshi and a junior officer. We had a very good dinner and
                      many toasts including one to Mrs Moore’s brother, Oliver Milton who is fighting in Burma
                      and has recently been awarded the Military Cross.

                      There was also a celebration party for the children in the grounds of the Moshi
                      Club. Such a spread! I think John and Jim sampled everything. We mothers were
                      having our tea separately and a friend laughingly told me to turn around and have a look.
                      I did, and saw the long tea tables now deserted by all the children but my two sons who
                      were still eating steadily, and finding the party more exciting than the game of Musical
                      Bumps into which all the other children had entered with enthusiasm.

                      There was also an extremely good puppet show put on by the Italian prisoners
                      of war from the camp at Moshi. They had made all the puppets which included well
                      loved characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and the Babes in the Wood as
                      well as more sophisticated ones like an irritable pianist and a would be prima donna. The
                      most popular puppets with the children were a native askari and his family – a very
                      happy little scene. I have never before seen a puppet show and was as entranced as
                      the children. It is amazing what clever manipulation and lighting can do. I believe that the
                      Italians mean to take their puppets to Nairobi and am glad to think that there, they will
                      have larger audiences to appreciate their art.

                      George has just come in, and I paused in my writing to ask him for the hundredth
                      time when he thinks we will get leave. He says I must be patient because it may be a
                      year before our turn comes. Shipping will be disorganised for months to come and we
                      cannot expect priority simply because we have been separated so long from our
                      children. The same situation applies to scores of other Government Officials.
                      I have decided to write the story of my childhood in South Africa and about our
                      life together in Tanganyika up to the time Ann and George left the country. I know you
                      will have told Kate these stories, but Ann and George were so very little when they left
                      home that I fear that they cannot remember much.

                      My Mother-in-law will have told them about their father but she can tell them little
                      about me. I shall send them one chapter of my story each month in the hope that they
                      may be interested and not feel that I am a stranger when at last we meet again.


                      Lyamungu 19th September 1945

                      Dearest Family.

                      In a months time we will be saying good-bye to Lyamungu. George is to be
                      transferred to Mbeya and I am delighted, not only as I look upon Mbeya as home, but
                      because there is now a primary school there which John can attend. I feel he will make
                      much better progress in his lessons when he realises that all children of his age attend
                      school. At present he is putting up a strong resistance to learning to read and spell, but
                      he writes very neatly, does his sums accurately and shows a real talent for drawing. If
                      only he had the will to learn I feel he would do very well.

                      Jim now just four, is too young for lessons but too intelligent to be interested in
                      the ayah’s attempts at entertainment. Yes I’ve had to engage a native girl to look after
                      Henry from 9 am to 12.30 when I supervise John’s Correspondence Course. She is
                      clean and amiable, but like most African women she has no initiative at all when it comes
                      to entertaining children. Most African men and youths are good at this.

                      I don’t regret our stay at Lyamungu. It is a beautiful spot and the change to the
                      cooler climate after the heat of Morogoro has been good for all the children. John is still
                      tall for his age but not so thin as he was and much less pale. He is a handsome little lad
                      with his large brown eyes in striking contrast to his fair hair. He is wary of strangers but
                      very observant and quite uncanny in the way he sums up people. He seldom gets up
                      to mischief but I have a feeling he eggs Jim on. Not that Jim needs egging.

                      Jim has an absolute flair for mischief but it is all done in such an artless manner that
                      it is not easy to punish him. He is a very sturdy child with a cap of almost black silky hair,
                      eyes brown, like mine, and a large mouth which is quick to smile and show most beautiful
                      white and even teeth. He is most popular with all the native servants and the Game
                      Scouts. The servants call Jim, ‘Bwana Tembo’ (Mr Elephant) because of his sturdy

                      Henry, now nearly two years old, is quite different from the other two in
                      appearance. He is fair complexioned and fair haired like Ann and Kate, with large, black
                      lashed, light grey eyes. He is a good child, not so merry as Jim was at his age, nor as
                      shy as John was. He seldom cries, does not care to be cuddled and is independent and
                      strong willed. The servants call Henry, ‘Bwana Ndizi’ (Mr Banana) because he has an
                      inexhaustible appetite for this fruit. Fortunately they are very inexpensive here. We buy
                      an entire bunch which hangs from a beam on the back verandah, and pluck off the
                      bananas as they ripen. This way there is no waste and the fruit never gets bruised as it
                      does in greengrocers shops in South Africa. Our three boys make a delightful and
                      interesting trio and I do wish you could see them for yourselves.

                      We are delighted with the really beautiful photograph of Kate. She is an
                      extraordinarily pretty child and looks so happy and healthy and a great credit to you.
                      Now that we will be living in Mbeya with a school on the doorstep I hope that we will
                      soon be able to arrange for her return home.


                      c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 30th October 1945

                      Dearest Family.

                      How nice to be able to write c/o Game Dept. Mbeya at the head of my letters.
                      We arrived here safely after a rather tiresome journey and are installed in a tiny house on
                      the edge of the township.

                      We left Lyamungu early on the morning of the 22nd. Most of our goods had
                      been packed on the big Ford lorry the previous evening, but there were the usual
                      delays and farewells. Of our servants, only the cook, Hamisi, accompanied us to
                      Mbeya. Japhet, Tovelo and the ayah had to be paid off and largesse handed out.
                      Tovelo’s granny had come, bringing a gift of bananas, and she also brought her little
                      granddaughter to present a bunch of flowers. The child’s little scolded behind is now
                      completely healed. Gifts had to be found for them too.

                      At last we were all aboard and what a squash it was! Our few pieces of furniture
                      and packing cases and trunks, the cook, his wife, the driver and the turney boy, who
                      were to take the truck back to Lyamungu, and all their bits and pieces, bunches of
                      bananas and Fanny the dog were all crammed into the body of the lorry. George, the
                      children and I were jammed together in the cab. Before we left George looked
                      dubiously at the tyres which were very worn and said gloomily that he thought it most
                      unlikely that we would make our destination, Dodoma.

                      Too true! Shortly after midday, near Kwakachinja, we blew a back tyre and there
                      was a tedious delay in the heat whilst the wheel was changed. We were now without a
                      spare tyre and George said that he would not risk taking the Ford further than Babati,
                      which is less than half way to Dodoma. He drove very slowly and cautiously to Babati
                      where he arranged with Sher Mohammed, an Indian trader, for a lorry to take us to
                      Dodoma the next morning.

                      It had been our intention to spend the night at the furnished Government
                      Resthouse at Babati but when we got there we found that it was already occupied by
                      several District Officers who had assembled for a conference. So, feeling rather
                      disgruntled, we all piled back into the lorry and drove on to a place called Bereku where
                      we spent an uncomfortable night in a tumbledown hut.

                      Before dawn next morning Sher Mohammed’s lorry drove up, and there was a
                      scramble to dress by the light of a storm lamp. The lorry was a very dilapidated one and
                      there was already a native woman passenger in the cab. I felt so tired after an almost
                      sleepless night that I decided to sit between the driver and this woman with the sleeping
                      Henry on my knee. It was as well I did, because I soon found myself dosing off and
                      drooping over towards the woman. Had she not been there I might easily have fallen
                      out as the battered cab had no door. However I was alert enough when daylight came
                      and changed places with the woman to our mutual relief. She was now able to converse
                      with the African driver and I was able to enjoy the scenery and the fresh air!
                      George, John and Jim were less comfortable. They sat in the lorry behind the
                      cab hemmed in by packing cases. As the lorry was an open one the sun beat down
                      unmercifully upon them until George, ever resourceful, moved a table to the front of the
                      truck. The two boys crouched under this and so got shelter from the sun but they still had
                      to endure the dust. Fanny complicated things by getting car sick and with one thing and
                      another we were all jolly glad to get to Dodoma.

                      We spent the night at the Dodoma Hotel and after hot baths, a good meal and a
                      good nights rest we cheerfully boarded a bus of the Tanganyika Bus Service next
                      morning to continue our journey to Mbeya. The rest of the journey was uneventful. We slept two nights on the road, the first at Iringa Hotel and the second at Chimala. We
                      reached Mbeya on the 27th.

                      I was rather taken aback when I first saw the little house which has been allocated
                      to us. I had become accustomed to the spacious houses we had in Morogoro and
                      Lyamungu. However though the house is tiny it is secluded and has a long garden
                      sloping down to the road in front and another long strip sloping up behind. The front
                      garden is shaded by several large cypress and eucalyptus trees but the garden behind
                      the house has no shade and consists mainly of humpy beds planted with hundreds of
                      carnations sadly in need of debudding. I believe that the previous Game Ranger’s wife
                      cultivated the carnations and, by selling them, raised money for War Funds.
                      Like our own first home, this little house is built of sun dried brick. Its original
                      owners were Germans. It is now rented to the Government by the Custodian of Enemy
                      Property, and George has his office in another ex German house.

                      This afternoon we drove to the school to arrange about enrolling John there. The
                      school is about four miles out of town. It was built by the German settlers in the late
                      1930’s and they were justifiably proud of it. It consists of a great assembly hall and
                      classrooms in one block and there are several attractive single storied dormitories. This
                      school was taken over by the Government when the Germans were interned on the
                      outbreak of war and many improvements have been made to the original buildings. The
                      school certainly looks very attractive now with its grassed playing fields and its lawns and
                      bright flower beds.

                      The Union Jack flies from a tall flagpole in front of the Hall and all traces of the
                      schools German origin have been firmly erased. We met the Headmaster, Mr
                      Wallington, and his wife and some members of the staff. The school is co-educational
                      and caters for children from the age of seven to standard six. The leaving age is elastic
                      owing to the fact that many Tanganyika children started school very late because of lack
                      of educational facilities in this country.

                      The married members of the staff have their own cottages in the grounds. The
                      Matrons have quarters attached to the dormitories for which they are responsible. I felt
                      most enthusiastic about the school until I discovered that the Headmaster is adamant
                      upon one subject. He utterly refuses to take any day pupils at the school. So now our
                      poor reserved Johnny will have to adjust himself to boarding school life.
                      We have arranged that he will start school on November 5th and I shall be very
                      busy trying to assemble his school uniform at short notice. The clothing list is sensible.
                      Boys wear khaki shirts and shorts on weekdays with knitted scarlet jerseys when the
                      weather is cold. On Sundays they wear grey flannel shorts and blazers with the silver
                      and scarlet school tie.

                      Mbeya looks dusty, brown and dry after the lush evergreen vegetation of
                      Lyamungu, but I prefer this drier climate and there are still mountains to please the eye.
                      In fact the lower slopes of Lolesa Mountain rise at the upper end of our garden.


                      c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 21st November 1945

                      Dearest Family.

                      We’re quite settled in now and I have got the little house fixed up to my
                      satisfaction. I have engaged a rather uncouth looking houseboy but he is strong and
                      capable and now that I am not tied down in the mornings by John’s lessons I am able to
                      go out occasionally in the mornings and take Jim and Henry to play with other children.
                      They do not show any great enthusiasm but are not shy by nature as John is.
                      I have had a good deal of heartache over putting John to boarding school. It
                      would have been different had he been used to the company of children outside his
                      own family, or if he had even known one child there. However he seems to be adjusting
                      himself to the life, though slowly. At least he looks well and tidy and I am quite sure that
                      he is well looked after.

                      I must confess that when the time came for John to go to school I simply did not
                      have the courage to take him and he went alone with George, looking so smart in his
                      new uniform – but his little face so bleak. The next day, Sunday, was visiting day but the
                      Headmaster suggested that we should give John time to settle down and not visit him
                      until Wednesday.

                      When we drove up to the school I spied John on the far side of the field walking
                      all alone. Instead of running up with glad greetings, as I had expected, he came almost
                      reluctently and had little to say. I asked him to show me his dormitory and classroom and
                      he did so politely as though I were a stranger. At last he volunteered some information.
                      “Mummy,” he said in an awed voice, Do you know on the night I came here they burnt a
                      man! They had a big fire and they burnt him.” After a blank moment the penny dropped.
                      Of course John had started school and November the fifth but it had never entered my
                      head to tell him about that infamous character, Guy Fawkes!

                      I asked John’s Matron how he had settled down. “Well”, she said thoughtfully,
                      John is very good and has not cried as many of the juniors do when they first come
                      here, but he seems to keep to himself all the time.” I went home very discouraged but
                      on the Sunday John came running up with another lad of about his own age.” This is my
                      friend Marks,” he announced proudly. I could have hugged Marks.

                      Mbeya is very different from the small settlement we knew in the early 1930’s.
                      Gone are all the colourful characters from the Lupa diggings for the alluvial claims are all
                      worked out now, gone also are our old friends the Menzies from the Pub and also most
                      of the Government Officials we used to know. Mbeya has lost its character of a frontier
                      township and has become almost suburban.

                      The social life revolves around two places, the Club and the school. The Club
                      which started out as a little two roomed building, has been expanded and the golf
                      course improved. There are also tennis courts and a good library considering the size of
                      the community. There are frequent parties and dances, though most of the club revenue
                      comes from Bar profits. The parties are relatively sober affairs compared with the parties
                      of the 1930’s.

                      The school provides entertainment of another kind. Both Mr and Mrs Wallington
                      are good amateur actors and I am told that they run an Amateur Dramatic Society. Every
                      Wednesday afternoon there is a hockey match at the school. Mbeya town versus a
                      mixed team of staff and scholars. The match attracts almost the whole European
                      population of Mbeya. Some go to play hockey, others to watch, and others to snatch
                      the opportunity to visit their children. I shall have to try to arrange a lift to school when
                      George is away on safari.

                      I have now met most of the local women and gladly renewed an old friendship
                      with Sheilagh Waring whom I knew two years ago at Morogoro. Sheilagh and I have
                      much in common, the same disregard for the trappings of civilisation, the same sense of
                      the ludicrous, and children. She has eight to our six and she has also been cut off by the
                      war from two of her children. Sheilagh looks too young and pretty to be the mother of so
                      large a family and is, in fact, several years younger than I am. her husband, Donald, is a
                      large quiet man who, as far as I can judge takes life seriously.

                      Our next door neighbours are the Bank Manager and his wife, a very pleasant
                      couple though we seldom meet. I have however had correspondence with the Bank
                      Manager. Early on Saturday afternoon their houseboy brought a note. It informed me
                      that my son was disturbing his rest by precipitating a heart attack. Was I aware that my
                      son was about 30 feet up in a tree and balanced on a twig? I ran out and,sure enough,
                      there was Jim, right at the top of the tallest eucalyptus tree. It would be the one with the
                      mound of stones at the bottom! You should have heard me fluting in my most
                      wheedling voice. “Sweets, Jimmy, come down slowly dear, I’ve some nice sweets for

                      I’ll bet that little story makes you smile. I remember how often you have told me
                      how, as a child, I used to make your hearts turn over because I had no fear of heights
                      and how I used to say, “But that is silly, I won’t fall.” I know now only too well, how you
                      must have felt.


                      c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 14th January 1946

                      Dearest Family.

                      I hope that by now you have my telegram to say that Kate got home safely
                      yesterday. It was wonderful to have her back and what a beautiful child she is! Kate
                      seems to have enjoyed the train journey with Miss Craig, in spite of the tears she tells
                      me she shed when she said good-bye to you. She also seems to have felt quite at
                      home with the Hopleys at Salisbury. She flew from Salisbury in a small Dove aircraft
                      and they had a smooth passage though Kate was a little airsick.

                      I was so excited about her home coming! This house is so tiny that I had to turn
                      out the little store room to make a bedroom for her. With a fresh coat of whitewash and
                      pretty sprigged curtains and matching bedspread, borrowed from Sheilagh Waring, the
                      tiny room looks most attractive. I had also iced a cake, made ice-cream and jelly and
                      bought crackers for the table so that Kate’s home coming tea could be a proper little

                      I was pleased with my preparations and then, a few hours before the plane was
                      due, my crowned front tooth dropped out, peg and all! When my houseboy wants to
                      describe something very tatty, he calls it “Second-hand Kabisa.” Kabisa meaning
                      absolutely. That is an apt description of how I looked and felt. I decided to try some
                      emergency dentistry. I think you know our nearest dentist is at Dar es Salaam five
                      hundred miles away.

                      First I carefully dried the tooth and with a match stick covered the peg and base
                      with Durofix. I then took the infants rubber bulb enema, sucked up some heat from a
                      candle flame and pumped it into the cavity before filling that with Durofix. Then hopefully
                      I stuck the tooth in its former position and held it in place for several minutes. No good. I
                      sent the houseboy to a shop for Scotine and tried the whole process again. No good

                      When George came home for lunch I appealed to him for advice. He jokingly
                      suggested that a maize seed jammed into the space would probably work, but when
                      he saw that I really was upset he produced some chewing gum and suggested that I
                      should try that . I did and that worked long enough for my first smile anyway.
                      George and the three boys went to meet Kate but I remained at home to
                      welcome her there. I was afraid that after all this time away Kate might be reluctant to
                      rejoin the family but she threw her arms around me and said “Oh Mummy,” We both
                      shed a few tears and then we both felt fine.

                      How gay Kate is, and what an infectious laugh she has! The boys follow her
                      around in admiration. John in fact asked me, “Is Kate a Princess?” When I said
                      “Goodness no, Johnny, she’s your sister,” he explained himself by saying, “Well, she
                      has such golden hair.” Kate was less complementary. When I tucked her in bed last night
                      she said, “Mummy, I didn’t expect my little brothers to be so yellow!” All three boys
                      have been taking a course of Atebrin, an anti-malarial drug which tinges skin and eyeballs

                      So now our tiny house is bursting at its seams and how good it feels to have one
                      more child under our roof. We are booked to sail for England in May and when we return
                      we will have Ann and George home too. Then I shall feel really content.


                      c/o Game Dept. Mbeya. 2nd March 1946

                      Dearest Family.

                      My life just now is uneventful but very busy. I am sewing hard and knitting fast to
                      try to get together some warm clothes for our leave in England. This is not a simple
                      matter because woollen materials are in short supply and very expensive, and now that
                      we have boarding school fees to pay for both Kate and John we have to budget very
                      carefully indeed.

                      Kate seems happy at school. She makes friends easily and seems to enjoy
                      communal life. John also seems reconciled to school now that Kate is there. He no
                      longer feels that he is the only exile in the family. He seems to rub along with the other
                      boys of his age and has a couple of close friends. Although Mbeya School is coeducational
                      the smaller boys and girls keep strictly apart. It is considered extremely
                      cissy to play with girls.

                      The local children are allowed to go home on Sundays after church and may bring
                      friends home with them for the day. Both John and Kate do this and Sunday is a very
                      busy day for me. The children come home in their Sunday best but bring play clothes to
                      change into. There is always a scramble to get them to bath and change again in time to
                      deliver them to the school by 6 o’clock.

                      When George is home we go out to the school for the morning service. This is
                      taken by the Headmaster Mr Wallington, and is very enjoyable. There is an excellent
                      school choir to lead the singing. The service is the Church of England one, but is
                      attended by children of all denominations, except the Roman Catholics. I don’t think that
                      more than half the children are British. A large proportion are Greeks, some as old as
                      sixteen, and about the same number are Afrikaners. There are Poles and non-Nazi
                      Germans, Swiss and a few American children.

                      All instruction is through the medium of English and it is amazing how soon all the
                      foreign children learn to chatter in English. George has been told that we will return to
                      Mbeya after our leave and for that I am very thankful as it means that we will still be living
                      near at hand when Jim and Henry start school. Because many of these children have to
                      travel many hundreds of miles to come to school, – Mbeya is a two day journey from the
                      railhead, – the school year is divided into two instead of the usual three terms. This
                      means that many of these children do not see their parents for months at a time. I think
                      this is a very sad state of affairs especially for the seven and eight year olds but the
                      Matrons assure me , that many children who live on isolated farms and stations are quite
                      reluctant to go home because they miss the companionship and the games and
                      entertainment that the school offers.

                      My only complaint about the life here is that I see far too little of George. He is
                      kept extremely busy on this range and is hardly at home except for a few days at the
                      months end when he has to be at his office to check up on the pay vouchers and the
                      issue of ammunition to the Scouts. George’s Range takes in the whole of the Southern
                      Province and the Southern half of the Western Province and extends to the border with
                      Northern Rhodesia and right across to Lake Tanganyika. This vast area is patrolled by
                      only 40 Game Scouts because the Department is at present badly under staffed, due
                      partly to the still acute shortage of rifles, but even more so to the extraordinary reluctance
                      which the Government shows to allocate adequate funds for the efficient running of the

                      The Game Scouts must see that the Game Laws are enforced, protect native
                      crops from raiding elephant, hippo and other game animals. Report disease amongst game and deal with stock raiding lions. By constantly going on safari and checking on
                      their work, George makes sure the range is run to his satisfaction. Most of the Game
                      Scouts are fine fellows but, considering they receive only meagre pay for dangerous
                      and exacting work, it is not surprising that occasionally a Scout is tempted into accepting
                      a bribe not to report a serious infringement of the Game Laws and there is, of course,
                      always the temptation to sell ivory illicitly to unscrupulous Indian and Arab traders.
                      Apart from supervising the running of the Range, George has two major jobs.
                      One is to supervise the running of the Game Free Area along the Rhodesia –
                      Tanganyika border, and the other to hunt down the man-eating lions which for years have
                      terrorised the Njombe District killing hundreds of Africans. Yes I know ‘hundreds’ sounds
                      fantastic, but this is perfectly true and one day, when the job is done and the official
                      report published I shall send it to you to prove it!

                      I hate to think of the Game Free Area and so does George. All the game from
                      buffalo to tiny duiker has been shot out in a wide belt extending nearly two hundred
                      miles along the Northern Rhodesia -Tanganyika border. There are three Europeans in
                      widely spaced camps who supervise this slaughter by African Game Guards. This
                      horrible measure is considered necessary by the Veterinary Departments of
                      Tanganyika, Rhodesia and South Africa, to prevent the cattle disease of Rinderpest
                      from spreading South.

                      When George is home however, we do relax and have fun. On the Saturday
                      before the school term started we took Kate and the boys up to the top fishing camp in
                      the Mporoto Mountains for her first attempt at trout fishing. There are three of these
                      camps built by the Mbeya Trout Association on the rivers which were first stocked with
                      the trout hatched on our farm at Mchewe. Of the three, the top camp is our favourite. The
                      scenery there is most glorious and reminds me strongly of the rivers of the Western
                      Cape which I so loved in my childhood.

                      The river, the Kawira, flows from the Rungwe Mountain through a narrow valley
                      with hills rising steeply on either side. The water runs swiftly over smooth stones and
                      sometimes only a foot or two below the level of the banks. It is sparkling and shallow,
                      but in places the water is deep and dark and the banks high. I had a busy day keeping
                      an eye on the boys, especially Jim, who twice climbed out on branches which overhung
                      deep water. “Mummy, I was only looking for trout!”

                      How those kids enjoyed the freedom of the camp after the comparative
                      restrictions of town. So did Fanny, she raced about on the hills like a mad dog chasing
                      imaginary rabbits and having the time of her life. To escape the noise and commotion
                      George had gone far upstream to fish and returned in the late afternoon with three good
                      sized trout and four smaller ones. Kate proudly showed George the two she had caught
                      with the assistance or our cook Hamisi. I fear they were caught in a rather unorthodox
                      manner but this I kept a secret from George who is a stickler for the orthodox in trout


                      Jacksdale England 24th June 1946

                      Dearest Family.

                      Here we are all together at last in England. You cannot imagine how wonderful it
                      feels to have the whole Rushby family reunited. I find myself counting heads. Ann,
                      George, Kate, John, Jim, and Henry. All present and well. We had a very pleasant trip
                      on the old British India Ship Mantola. She was crowded with East Africans going home
                      for the first time since the war, many like us, eagerly looking forward to a reunion with their
                      children whom they had not seen for years. There was a great air of anticipation and
                      good humour but a little anxiety too.

                      “I do hope our children will be glad to see us,” said one, and went on to tell me
                      about a Doctor from Dar es Salaam who, after years of separation from his son had
                      recently gone to visit him at his school. The Doctor had alighted at the railway station
                      where he had arranged to meet his son. A tall youth approached him and said, very
                      politely, “Excuse me sir. Are you my Father?” Others told me of children who had
                      become so attached to their relatives in England that they gave their parents a very cool
                      reception. I began to feel apprehensive about Ann and George but fortunately had no
                      time to mope.

                      Oh, that washing and ironing for six! I shall remember for ever that steamy little
                      laundry in the heat of the Red Sea and queuing up for the ironing and the feeling of guilt
                      at the size of my bundle. We met many old friends amongst the passengers, and made
                      some new ones, so the voyage was a pleasant one, We did however have our
                      anxious moments.

                      John was the first to disappear and we had an anxious search for him. He was
                      quite surprised that we had been concerned. “I was just talking to my friend Chinky
                      Chinaman in his workshop.” Could John have called him that? Then, when I returned to
                      the cabin from dinner one night I found Henry swigging Owbridge’s Lung Tonic. He had
                      drunk half the bottle neat and the label said ‘five drops in water’. Luckily it did not harm

                      Jim of course was forever risking his neck. George had forbidden him to climb on
                      the railings but he was forever doing things which no one had thought of forbidding him
                      to do, like hanging from the overhead pipes on the deck or standing on the sill of a
                      window and looking down at the well deck far below. An Officer found him doing this and
                      gave me the scolding.

                      Another day he climbed up on a derrick used for hoisting cargo. George,
                      oblivious to this was sitting on the hatch cover with other passengers reading a book. I
                      was in the wash house aft on the same deck when Kate rushed in and said, “Mummy
                      come and see Jim.” Before I had time to more than gape, the butcher noticed Jim and
                      rushed out knife in hand. “Get down from there”, he bellowed. Jim got, and with such
                      speed that he caught the leg or his shorts on a projecting piece of metal. The cotton
                      ripped across the seam from leg to leg and Jim stood there for a humiliating moment in a
                      sort of revealing little kilt enduring the smiles of the passengers who had looked up from
                      their books at the butcher’s shout.

                      That incident cured Jim of his urge to climb on the ship but he managed to give
                      us one more fright. He was lost off Dover. People from whom we enquired said, “Yes
                      we saw your little boy. He was by the railings watching that big aircraft carrier.” Now Jim,
                      though mischievous , is very obedient. It was not until George and I had conducted an
                      exhaustive search above and below decks that I really became anxious. Could he have
                      fallen overboard? Jim was returned to us by an unamused Officer. He had been found
                      in one of the lifeboats on the deck forbidden to children.

                      Our ship passed Dover after dark and it was an unforgettable sight. Dover Castle
                      and the cliffs were floodlit for the Victory Celebrations. One of the men passengers sat
                      down at the piano and played ‘The White Cliffs of Dover’, and people sang and a few
                      wept. The Mantola docked at Tilbury early next morning in a steady drizzle.
                      There was a dockers strike on and it took literally hours for all the luggage to be
                      put ashore. The ships stewards simply locked the public rooms and went off leaving the
                      passengers shivering on the docks. Eventually damp and bedraggled, we arrived at St
                      Pancras Station and were given a warm welcome by George’s sister Cath and her
                      husband Reg Pears, who had come all the way from Nottingham to meet us.
                      As we had to spend an hour in London before our train left for Nottingham,
                      George suggested that Cath and I should take the children somewhere for a meal. So
                      off we set in the cold drizzle, the boys and I without coats and laden with sundry
                      packages, including a hand woven native basket full of shoes. We must have looked like
                      a bunch of refugees as we stood in the hall of The Kings Cross Station Hotel because a
                      supercilious waiter in tails looked us up and down and said, “I’m afraid not Madam”, in
                      answer to my enquiry whether the hotel could provide lunch for six.
                      Anyway who cares! We had lunch instead at an ABC tea room — horrible
                      sausage and a mound or rather sloppy mashed potatoes, but very good ice-cream.
                      After the train journey in a very grimy third class coach, through an incredibly green and
                      beautiful countryside, we eventually reached Nottingham and took a bus to Jacksdale,
                      where George’s mother and sisters live in large detached houses side by side.
                      Ann and George were at the bus stop waiting for us, and thank God, submitted
                      to my kiss as though we had been parted for weeks instead of eight years. Even now
                      that we are together again my heart aches to think of all those missed years. They have
                      not changed much and I would have picked them out of a crowd, but Ann, once thin and
                      pale, is now very rosy and blooming. She still has her pretty soft plaits and her eyes are
                      still a clear calm blue. Young George is very striking looking with sparkling brown eyes, a
                      ready, slightly lopsided smile, and charming manners.

                      Mother, and George’s elder sister, Lottie Giles, welcomed us at the door with the
                      cheering news that our tea was ready. Ann showed us the way to mother’s lovely lilac
                      tiled bathroom for a wash before tea. Before I had even turned the tap, Jim had hung
                      form the glass towel rail and it lay in three pieces on the floor. There have since been
                      similar tragedies. I can see that life in civilisation is not without snags.

                      I am most grateful that Ann and George have accepted us so naturally and
                      affectionately. Ann said candidly, “Mummy, it’s a good thing that you had Aunt Cath with
                      you when you arrived because, honestly, I wouldn’t have known you.”


                      Jacksdale England 28th August 1946

                      Dearest Family.

                      I am sorry that I have not written for some time but honestly, I don’t know whether
                      I’m coming or going. Mother handed the top floor of her house to us and the
                      arrangement was that I should tidy our rooms and do our laundry and Mother would
                      prepare the meals except for breakfast. It looked easy at first. All the rooms have wall to
                      wall carpeting and there was a large vacuum cleaner in the box room. I was told a
                      window cleaner would do the windows.

                      Well the first time I used the Hoover I nearly died of fright. I pressed the switch
                      and immediately there was a roar and the bag filled with air to bursting point, or so I
                      thought. I screamed for Ann and she came at the run. I pointed to the bag and shouted
                      above the din, “What must I do? It’s going to burst!” Ann looked at me in astonishment
                      and said, “But Mummy that’s the way it works.” I couldn’t have her thinking me a
                      complete fool so I switched the current off and explained to Ann how it was that I had
                      never seen this type of equipment in action. How, in Tanganyika , I had never had a
                      house with electricity and that, anyway, electric equipment would be superfluous
                      because floors are of cement which the houseboy polishes by hand, one only has a
                      few rugs or grass mats on the floor. “But what about Granny’s house in South Africa?’”
                      she asked, so I explained about your Josephine who threatened to leave if you
                      bought a Hoover because that would mean that you did not think she kept the house
                      clean. The sad fact remains that, at fourteen, Ann knows far more about housework than I
                      do, or rather did! I’m learning fast.

                      The older children all go to school at different times in the morning. Ann leaves first
                      by bus to go to her Grammar School at Sutton-in-Ashfield. Shortly afterwards George
                      catches a bus for Nottingham where he attends the High School. So they have
                      breakfast in relays, usually scrambled egg made from a revolting dried egg mixture.
                      Then there are beds to make and washing and ironing to do, so I have little time for
                      sightseeing, though on a few afternoons George has looked after the younger children
                      and I have gone on bus tours in Derbyshire. Life is difficult here with all the restrictions on
                      foodstuffs. We all have ration books so get our fair share but meat, fats and eggs are
                      scarce and expensive. The weather is very wet. At first I used to hang out the washing
                      and then rush to bring it in when a shower came. Now I just let it hang.

                      We have left our imprint upon my Mother-in-law’s house for ever. Henry upset a
                      bottle of Milk of Magnesia in the middle of the pale fawn bedroom carpet. John, trying to
                      be helpful and doing some dusting, broke one of the delicate Dresden china candlesticks
                      which adorn our bedroom mantelpiece.Jim and Henry have wrecked the once
                      professionally landscaped garden and all the boys together bored a large hole through
                      Mother’s prized cherry tree. So now Mother has given up and gone off to Bournemouth
                      for a much needed holiday. Once a week I have the capable help of a cleaning woman,
                      called for some reason, ‘Mrs Two’, but I have now got all the cooking to do for eight. Mrs
                      Two is a godsend. She wears, of all things, a print mob cap with a hole in it. Says it
                      belonged to her Grandmother. Her price is far beyond Rubies to me, not so much
                      because she does, in a couple of hours, what it takes me all day to do, but because she
                      sells me boxes of fifty cigarettes. Some non-smoking relative, who works in Players
                      tobacco factory, passes on his ration to her. Until Mrs Two came to my rescue I had
                      been starved of cigarettes. Each time I asked for them at the shop the grocer would say,
                      “Are you registered with us?” Only very rarely would some kindly soul sell me a little
                      packet of five Woodbines.

                      England is very beautiful but the sooner we go home to Tanganyika, the better.
                      On this, George and I and the children agree.


                      Jacksdale England 20th September 1946

                      Dearest Family.

                      Our return passages have now been booked on the Winchester Castle and we
                      sail from Southampton on October the sixth. I look forward to returning to Tanganyika but
                      hope to visit England again in a few years time when our children are older and when
                      rationing is a thing of the past.

                      I have grown fond of my Sisters-in-law and admire my Mother-in-law very much.
                      She has a great sense of humour and has entertained me with stories of her very
                      eventful life, and told me lots of little stories of the children which did not figure in her
                      letters. One which amused me was about young George. During one of the air raids
                      early in the war when the sirens were screaming and bombers roaring overhead Mother
                      made the two children get into the cloak cupboard under the stairs. Young George
                      seemed quite unconcerned about the planes and the bombs but soon an anxious voice
                      asked in the dark, “Gran, what will I do if a spider falls on me?” I am afraid that Mother is
                      going to miss Ann and George very much.

                      I had a holiday last weekend when Lottie and I went up to London on a spree. It
                      was a most enjoyable weekend, though very rushed. We placed ourselves in the
                      hands of Thos. Cook and Sons and saw most of the sights of London and were run off
                      our feet in the process. As you all know London I shall not describe what I saw but just
                      to say that, best of all, I enjoyed walking along the Thames embankment in the evening
                      and the changing of the Guard at Whitehall. On Sunday morning Lottie and I went to
                      Kew Gardens and in the afternoon walked in Kensington Gardens.

                      We went to only one show, ‘The Skin of our Teeth’ starring Vivienne Leigh.
                      Neither of us enjoyed the performance at all and regretted having spent so much on
                      circle seats. The show was far too highbrow for my taste, a sort of satire on the survival
                      of the human race. Miss Leigh was unrecognisable in a blond wig and her voice strident.
                      However the night was not a dead loss as far as entertainment was concerned as we
                      were later caught up in a tragicomedy at our hotel.

                      We had booked communicating rooms at the enormous Imperial Hotel in Russell
                      Square. These rooms were comfortably furnished but very high up, and we had a rather
                      terrifying and dreary view from the windows of the enclosed courtyard far below. We
                      had some snacks and a chat in Lottie’s room and then I moved to mine and went to bed.
                      I had noted earlier that there was a special lock on the outer door of my room so that
                      when the door was closed from the inside it automatically locked itself.
                      I was just dropping off to sleep when I heard a hammering which seemed to
                      come from my wardrobe. I got up, rather fearfully, and opened the wardrobe door and
                      noted for the first time that the wardrobe was set in an opening in the wall and that the
                      back of the wardrobe also served as the back of the wardrobe in the room next door. I
                      quickly shut it again and went to confer with Lottie.

                      Suddenly a male voice was raised next door in supplication, “Mary Mother of
                      God, Help me! They’ve locked me in!” and the hammering resumed again, sometimes
                      on the door, and then again on the back of the wardrobe of the room next door. Lottie
                      had by this time joined me and together we listened to the prayers and to the
                      hammering. Then the voice began to threaten, “If you don’t let me out I’ll jump out of the
                      window.” Great consternation on our side of the wall. I went out into the passage and
                      called through the door, “You’re not locked in. Come to your door and I’ll tell you how to
                      open it.” Silence for a moment and then again the prayers followed by a threat. All the
                      other doors in the corridor remained shut.

                      Luckily just then a young man and a woman came walking down the corridor and I
                      explained the situation. The young man hurried off for the night porter who went into the
                      next door room. In a matter of minutes there was peace next door. When the night
                      porter came out into the corridor again I asked for an explanation. He said quite casually,
                      “It’s all right Madam. He’s an Irish Gentleman in Show Business. He gets like this on a
                      Saturday night when he has had a drop too much. He won’t give any more trouble
                      now.” And he didn’t. Next morning at breakfast Lottie and I tried to spot the gentleman in
                      the Show Business, but saw no one who looked like the owner of that charming Irish

                      George had to go to London on business last Monday and took the older
                      children with him for a few hours of sight seeing. They returned quite unimpressed.
                      Everything was too old and dirty and there were far too many people about, but they
                      had enjoyed riding on the escalators at the tube stations, and all agreed that the highlight
                      of the trip was, “Dad took us to lunch at the Chicken Inn.”

                      Now that it is almost time to leave England I am finding the housework less of a
                      drudgery, Also, as it is school holiday time, Jim and Henry are able to go on walks with
                      the older children and so use up some of their surplus energy. Cath and I took the
                      children (except young George who went rabbit shooting with his uncle Reg, and
                      Henry, who stayed at home with his dad) to the Wakes at Selston, the neighbouring
                      village. There were the roundabouts and similar contraptions but the side shows had
                      more appeal for the children. Ann and Kate found a stall where assorted prizes were
                      spread out on a sloping table. Anyone who could land a penny squarely on one of
                      these objects was given a similar one as a prize.

                      I was touched to see that both girls ignored all the targets except a box of fifty
                      cigarettes which they were determined to win for me. After numerous attempts, Kate
                      landed her penny successfully and you would have loved to have seen her radiant little


                      Dar es Salaam 22nd October 1946

                      Dearest Family.

                      Back in Tanganyika at last, but not together. We have to stay in Dar es Salaam
                      until tomorrow when the train leaves for Dodoma. We arrived yesterday morning to find
                      all the hotels filled with people waiting to board ships for England. Fortunately some
                      friends came to the rescue and Ann, Kate and John have gone to stay with them. Jim,
                      Henry and I are sleeping in a screened corner of the lounge of the New Africa Hotel, and
                      George and young George have beds in the Palm Court of the same hotel.

                      We travelled out from England in the Winchester Castle under troopship
                      conditions. We joined her at Southampton after a rather slow train journey from
                      Nottingham. We arrived after dark and from the station we could see a large ship in the
                      docks with a floodlit red funnel. “Our ship,” yelled the children in delight, but it was not the
                      Winchester Castle but the Queen Elizabeth, newly reconditioned.

                      We had hoped to board our ship that evening but George made enquiries and
                      found that we would not be allowed on board until noon next day. Without much hope,
                      we went off to try to get accommodation for eight at a small hotel recommended by the
                      taxi driver. Luckily for us there was a very motherly woman at the reception desk. She
                      looked in amusement at the six children and said to me, “Goodness are all these yours,
                      ducks? Then she called over her shoulder, “Wilf, come and see this lady with lots of
                      children. We must try to help.” They settled the problem most satisfactorily by turning
                      two rooms into a dormitory.

                      In the morning we had time to inspect bomb damage in the dock area of
                      Southampton. Most of the rubble had been cleared away but there are still numbers of
                      damaged buildings awaiting demolition. A depressing sight. We saw the Queen Mary
                      at anchor, still in her drab war time paint, but magnificent nevertheless.
                      The Winchester Castle was crammed with passengers and many travelled in
                      acute discomfort. We were luckier than most because the two girls, the three small boys
                      and I had a stateroom to ourselves and though it was stripped of peacetime comforts,
                      we had a private bathroom and toilet. The two Georges had bunks in a huge men-only
                      dormitory somewhere in the bowls of the ship where they had to share communal troop
                      ship facilities. The food was plentiful but unexciting and one had to queue for afternoon
                      tea. During the day the decks were crowded and there was squatting room only. The
                      many children on board got bored.

                      Port Said provided a break and we were all entertained by the ‘Gully Gully’ man
                      and his conjuring tricks, and though we had no money to spend at Simon Artz, we did at
                      least have a chance to stretch our legs. Next day scores of passengers took ill with
                      sever stomach upsets, whether from food poisoning, or as was rumoured, from bad
                      water taken on at the Egyptian port, I don’t know. Only the two Georges in our family
                      were affected and their attacks were comparatively mild.

                      As we neared the Kenya port of Mombassa, the passengers for Dar es Salaam
                      were told that they would have to disembark at Mombassa and continue their journey in
                      a small coaster, the Al Said. The Winchester Castle is too big for the narrow channel
                      which leads to Dar es Salaam harbour.

                      From the wharf the Al Said looked beautiful. She was once the private yacht of
                      the Sultan of Zanzibar and has lovely lines. Our admiration lasted only until we were
                      shown our cabins. With one voice our children exclaimed, “Gosh they stink!” They did, of
                      a mixture of rancid oil and sweat and stale urine. The beds were not yet made and the
                      thin mattresses had ominous stains on them. John, ever fastidious, lifted his mattress and two enormous cockroaches scuttled for cover.

                      We had a good homely lunch served by two smiling African stewards and
                      afterwards we sat on deck and that was fine too, though behind ones enjoyment there
                      was the thought of those stuffy and dirty cabins. That first night nearly everyone,
                      including George and our older children, slept on deck. Women occupied deck chairs
                      and men and children slept on the bare decks. Horrifying though the idea was, I decided
                      that, as Jim had a bad cough, he, Henry and I would sleep in our cabin.

                      When I announced my intention of sleeping in the cabin one of the passengers
                      gave me some insecticide spray which I used lavishly, but without avail. The children
                      slept but I sat up all night with the light on, determined to keep at least their pillows clear
                      of the cockroaches which scurried about boldly regardless of the light. All the next day
                      and night we avoided the cabins. The Al Said stopped for some hours at Zanzibar to
                      offload her deck cargo of live cattle and packing cases from the hold. George and the
                      elder children went ashore for a walk but I felt too lazy and there was plenty to watch
                      from deck.

                      That night I too occupied a deck chair and slept quite comfortably, and next
                      morning we entered the palm fringed harbour of Dar es Salaam and were home.


                      Mbeya 1st November 1946

                      Dearest Family.

                      Home at last! We are all most happily installed in a real family house about three
                      miles out of Mbeya and near the school. This house belongs to an elderly German and
                      has been taken over by the Custodian of Enemy Property and leased to the

                      The owner, whose name is Shenkel, was not interned but is allowed to occupy a
                      smaller house on the Estate. I found him in the garden this morning lecturing the children
                      on what they may do and may not do. I tried to make it quite clear to him that he was not
                      our landlord, though he clearly thinks otherwise. After he had gone I had to take two
                      aspirin and lie down to recover my composure! I had been warned that he has this effect
                      on people.

                      Mr Shenkel is a short and ugly man, his clothes are stained with food and he
                      wears steel rimmed glasses tied round his head with a piece of dirty elastic because
                      one earpiece is missing. He speaks with a thick German accent but his English is fluent
                      and I believe he is a cultured and clever man. But he is maddening. The children were
                      more amused than impressed by his exhortations and have happily Christened our
                      home, ‘Old Shenks’.

                      The house has very large grounds as the place is really a derelict farm. It suits us
                      down to the ground. We had no sooner unpacked than George went off on safari after
                      those maneating lions in the Njombe District. he accounted for one, and a further two
                      jointly with a Game Scout, before we left for England. But none was shot during the five
                      months we were away as George’s relief is quite inexperienced in such work. George
                      thinks that there are still about a dozen maneaters at large. His theory is that a female
                      maneater moved into the area in 1938 when maneating first started, and brought up her
                      cubs to be maneaters, and those cubs in turn did the same. The three maneating lions
                      that have been shot were all in very good condition and not old and maimed as
                      maneaters usually are.

                      George anticipates that it will be months before all these lions are accounted for
                      because they are constantly on the move and cover a very large area. The lions have to
                      be hunted on foot because they range over broken country covered by bush and fairly
                      dense thicket.

                      I did a bit of shooting myself yesterday and impressed our African servants and
                      the children and myself. What a fluke! Our houseboy came to say that there was a snake
                      in the garden, the biggest he had ever seen. He said it was too big to kill with a stick and
                      would I shoot it. I had no gun but a heavy .450 Webley revolver and I took this and
                      hurried out with the children at my heels.

                      The snake turned out to be an unusually large puff adder which had just shed its
                      skin. It looked beautiful in a repulsive way. So flanked by servants and children I took
                      aim and shot, not hitting the head as I had planned, but breaking the snake’s back with
                      the heavy bullet. The two native boys then rushed up with sticks and flattened the head.
                      “Ma you’re a crack shot,” cried the kids in delighted surprise. I hope to rest on my laurels
                      for a long, long while.

                      Although there are only a few weeks of school term left the four older children will
                      start school on Monday. Not only am I pleased with our new home here but also with
                      the staff I have engaged. Our new houseboy, Reuben, (but renamed Robin by our
                      children) is not only cheerful and willing but intelligent too, and Jumbe, the wood and
                      garden boy, is a born clown and a source of great entertainment to the children.

                      I feel sure that we are all going to be very happy here at ‘Old Shenks!.



                        From Tanganyika with Love

                        continued  ~ part 4

                        With thanks to Mike Rushby.

                        Mchewe Estate. 31st January 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        Life is very quiet just now. Our neighbours have left and I miss them all especially
                        Joni who was always a great bearer of news. We also grew fond of his Swedish
                        brother-in-law Max, whose loud ‘Hodi’ always brought a glad ‘Karibu’ from us. His wife,
                        Marion, I saw less often. She is not strong and seldom went visiting but has always
                        been friendly and kind and ready to share her books with me.

                        Ann’s birthday is looming ahead and I am getting dreadfully anxious that her
                        parcels do not arrive in time. I am delighted that you were able to get a good head for
                        her doll, dad, but horrified to hear that it was so expensive. You would love your
                        ‘Charming Ann’. She is a most responsible little soul and seems to have outgrown her
                        mischievous ways. A pity in a way, I don’t want her to grow too serious. You should see
                        how thoroughly Ann baths and towels herself. She is anxious to do Georgie and Kate
                        as well.

                        I did not mean to teach Ann to write until after her fifth birthday but she has taught
                        herself by copying the large print in newspaper headlines. She would draw a letter and
                        ask me the name and now I find that at four Ann knows the whole alphabet. The front
                        cement steps is her favourite writing spot. She uses bits of white clay we use here for

                        Coffee prices are still very low and a lot of planters here and at Mbosi are in a
                        mess as they can no longer raise mortgages on their farms or get advances from the
                        Bank against their crops. We hear many are leaving their farms to try their luck on the

                        George is getting fed up too. The snails are back on the shamba and doing
                        frightful damage. Talk of the plagues of Egypt! Once more they are being collected in
                        piles and bashed into pulp. The stench on the shamba is frightful! The greybeards in the
                        village tell George that the local Chief has put a curse on the farm because he is angry
                        that the Government granted George a small extension to the farm two years ago! As
                        the Chief was consulted at the time and was agreeable this talk of a curse is nonsense
                        but goes to show how the uneducated African put all disasters down to witchcraft.

                        With much love,

                        Mchewe Estate. 9th February 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        Ann’s birthday yesterday was not quite the gay occasion we had hoped. The
                        seventh was mail day so we sent a runner for the mail, hoping against hope that your
                        parcel containing the dolls head had arrived. The runner left for Mbeya at dawn but, as it
                        was a very wet day, he did not return with the mail bag until after dark by which time Ann
                        was fast asleep. My heart sank when I saw the parcel which contained the dolls new
                        head. It was squashed quite flat. I shed a few tears over that shattered head, broken
                        quite beyond repair, and George felt as bad about it as I did. The other parcel arrived in
                        good shape and Ann loves her little sewing set, especially the thimble, and the nursery
                        rhymes are a great success.

                        Ann woke early yesterday and began to open her parcels. She said “But
                        Mummy, didn’t Barbara’s new head come?” So I had to show her the fragments.
                        Instead of shedding the flood of tears I expected, Ann just lifted the glass eyes in her
                        hand and said in a tight little voice “Oh poor Barbara.” George saved the situation. as
                        usual, by saying in a normal voice,”Come on Ann, get up and lets play your new
                        records.” So we had music and sweets before breakfast. Later I removed Barbara’s
                        faded old blond wig and gummed on the glossy new brown one and Ann seems quite

                        Last night, after the children were tucked up in bed, we discussed our financial
                        situation. The coffee trees that have survived the plagues of borer beetle, mealie bugs
                        and snails look strong and fine, but George says it will be years before we make a living
                        out of the farm. He says he will simply have to make some money and he is leaving for
                        the Lupa on Saturday to have a look around on the Diggings. If he does decide to peg
                        a claim and work it he will put up a wattle and daub hut and the children and I will join him
                        there. But until such time as he strikes gold I shall have to remain here on the farm and
                        ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’.

                        Now don’t go and waste pity on me. Women all over the country are having to
                        stay at home whilst their husbands search for a livelihood. I am better off than most
                        because I have a comfortable little home and loyal servants and we still have enough
                        capitol to keep the wolf from the door. Anyway this is the rainy season and hardly the
                        best time to drag three small children around the sodden countryside on prospecting

                        So I’ll stay here at home and hold thumbs that George makes a lucky strike.

                        Heaps of love to all,

                        Mchewe Estate. 27th February 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        Well, George has gone but here we are quite safe and cosy. Kate is asleep and
                        Ann and Georgie are sprawled on the couch taking it in turns to enumerate the things
                        God has made. Every now and again Ann bothers me with an awkward question. “Did
                        God make spiders? Well what for? Did he make weeds? Isn’t He silly, mummy? She is
                        becoming a very practical person. She sews surprisingly well for a four year old and has
                        twice made cakes in the past week, very sweet and liberally coloured with cochineal and
                        much appreciated by Georgie.

                        I have been without George for a fortnight and have adapted myself to my new
                        life. The children are great company during the day and I have arranged my evenings so
                        that they do not seem long. I am determined that when George comes home he will find
                        a transformed wife. I read an article entitled ‘Are you the girl he married?’ in a magazine
                        last week and took a good look in the mirror and decided that I certainly was not! Hair dry,
                        skin dry, and I fear, a faint shadow on the upper lip. So now I have blown the whole of
                        your Christmas Money Order on an order to a chemist in Dar es Salaam for hair tonic,
                        face cream and hair remover and am anxiously awaiting the parcel.

                        In the meantime, after tucking the children into bed at night, I skip on the verandah
                        and do the series of exercises recommended in the magazine article. After this exertion I
                        have a leisurely bath followed by a light supper and then read or write letters to pass
                        the time until Kate’s ten o’clock feed. I have arranged for Janey to sleep in the house.
                        She comes in at 9.30 pm and makes up her bed on the living room floor by the fire.

                        The days are by no means uneventful. The day before yesterday the biggest
                        troop of monkeys I have ever seen came fooling around in the trees and on the grass
                        only a few yards from the house. These monkeys were the common grey monkeys
                        with black faces. They came in all sizes and were most entertaining to watch. Ann and
                        Georgie had a great time copying their antics and pulling faces at the monkeys through
                        the bedroom windows which I hastily closed.

                        Thomas, our headman, came running up and told me that this troop of monkeys
                        had just raided his maize shamba and asked me to shoot some of them. I would not of
                        course do this. I still cannot bear to kill any animal, but I fired a couple of shots in the air
                        and the monkeys just melted away. It was fantastic, one moment they were there and
                        the next they were not. Ann and Georgie thought I had been very unkind to frighten the
                        poor monkeys but honestly, when I saw what they had done to my flower garden, I
                        almost wished I had hardened my heart and shot one or two.

                        The children are all well but Ann gave me a nasty fright last week. I left Ann and
                        Georgie at breakfast whilst I fed Fanny, our bull terrier on the back verandah. Suddenly I
                        heard a crash and rushed inside to find Ann’s chair lying on its back and Ann beside it on
                        the floor perfectly still and with a paper white face. I shouted for Janey to bring water and
                        laid Ann flat on the couch and bathed her head and hands. Soon she sat up with a wan
                        smile and said “I nearly knocked my head off that time, didn’t I.” She must have been
                        standing on the chair and leaning against the back. Our brick floors are so terribly hard that
                        she might have been seriously hurt.

                        However she was none the worse for the fall, but Heavens, what an anxiety kids

                        Lots of love,

                        Mchewe Estate. 12th March 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        It was marvellous of you to send another money order to replace the one I spent
                        on cosmetics. With this one I intend to order boots for both children as a protection from
                        snake bite, though from my experience this past week the threat seems to be to the
                        head rather than the feet. I was sitting on the couch giving Kate her morning milk from a
                        cup when a long thin snake fell through the reed ceiling and landed with a thud just behind
                        the couch. I shouted “Nyoka, Nyoka!” (Snake,Snake!) and the houseboy rushed in with
                        a stick and killed the snake. I then held the cup to Kate’s mouth again but I suppose in
                        my agitation I tipped it too much because the baby choked badly. She gasped for
                        breath. I quickly gave her a sharp smack on the back and a stream of milk gushed
                        through her mouth and nostrils and over me. Janey took Kate from me and carried her
                        out into the fresh air on the verandah and as I anxiously followed her through the door,
                        another long snake fell from the top of the wall just missing me by an inch or so. Luckily
                        the houseboy still had the stick handy and dispatched this snake also.

                        The snakes were a pair of ‘boomslangs’, not nice at all, and all day long I have
                        had shamba boys coming along to touch hands and say “Poli Memsahib” – “Sorry
                        madam”, meaning of course ‘Sorry you had a fright.’

                        Apart from that one hectic morning this has been a quiet week. Before George
                        left for the Lupa he paid off most of the farm hands as we can now only afford a few
                        labourers for the essential work such as keeping the weeds down in the coffee shamba.
                        There is now no one to keep the grass on the farm roads cut so we cannot use the pram
                        when we go on our afternoon walks. Instead Janey carries Kate in a sling on her back.
                        Janey is a very clean slim woman, and her clothes are always spotless, so Kate keeps
                        cool and comfortable. Ann and Georgie always wear thick overalls on our walks as a
                        protection against thorns and possible snakes. We usually make our way to the
                        Mchewe River where Ann and Georgie paddle in the clear cold water and collect shiny

                        The cosmetics parcel duly arrived by post from Dar es Salaam so now I fill the
                        evenings between supper and bed time attending to my face! The much advertised
                        cream is pink and thick and feels revolting. I smooth it on before bedtime and keep it on
                        all night. Just imagine if George could see me! The advertisements promise me a skin
                        like a rose in six weeks. What a surprise there is in store for George!

                        You will have been wondering what has happened to George. Well on the Lupa
                        he heard rumours of a new gold strike somewhere in the Sumbawanga District. A couple
                        of hundred miles from here I think, though I am not sure where it is and have no one to
                        ask. You look it up on the map and tell me. John Molteno is also interested in this and
                        anxious to have it confirmed so he and George have come to an agreement. John
                        Molteno provided the porters for the journey together with prospecting tools and
                        supplies but as he cannot leave his claims, or his gold buying business, George is to go
                        on foot to the area of the rumoured gold strike and, if the strike looks promising will peg
                        claims in both their names.

                        The rainy season is now at its height and the whole countryside is under water. All
                        roads leading to the area are closed to traffic and, as there are few Europeans who
                        would attempt the journey on foot, George proposes to get a head start on them by
                        making this uncomfortable safari. I have just had my first letter from George since he left
                        on this prospecting trip. It took ages to reach me because it was sent by runner to
                        Abercorn in Northern Rhodesia, then on by lorry to Mpika where it was put on a plane
                        for Mbeya. George writes the most charming letters which console me a little upon our
                        all too frequent separations.

                        His letter was cheerful and optimistic, though reading between the lines I should
                        say he had a grim time. He has reached Sumbawanga after ‘a hell of a trip’, to find that
                        the rumoured strike was at Mpanda and he had a few more days of foot safari ahead.
                        He had found the trip from the Lupa even wetter than he had expected. The party had
                        three days of wading through swamps sometimes waist deep in water. Of his sixteen
                        porters, four deserted an the second day out and five others have had malaria and so
                        been unable to carry their loads. He himself is ‘thin but very fit’, and he sounds full of
                        beans and writes gaily of the marvellous holiday we will have if he has any decent luck! I
                        simply must get that mink and diamonds complexion.

                        The frustrating thing is that I cannot write back as I have no idea where George is

                        With heaps of love,

                        Mchewe Estate. 24th March 1936

                        Dearest Family,
                        How kind you are. Another parcel from home. Although we are very short
                        of labourers I sent a special runner to fetch it as Ann simply couldn’t bear the suspense
                        of waiting to see Brenda, “My new little girl with plaits.” Thank goodness Brenda is
                        unbreakable. I could not have born another tragedy. She really is an exquisite little doll
                        and has hardly been out of Ann’s arms since arrival. She showed Brenda proudly to all
                        the staff. The kitchen boy’s face was a study. His eyes fairly came out on sticks when he
                        saw the dolls eyes not only opening and shutting, but moving from side to side in that
                        incredibly lifelike way. Georgie loves his little model cars which he carries around all day
                        and puts under his pillow at night.

                        As for me, I am enchanted by my very smart new frock. Janey was so lavish with
                        her compliments when I tried the frock on, that in a burst of generosity I gave her that
                        rather tartish satin and lace trousseau nighty, and she was positively enthralled. She
                        wore it that very night when she appeared as usual to doss down by the fire.
                        By the way it was Janey’s turn to have a fright this week. She was in the
                        bathroom washing the children’s clothes in an outsize hand basin when it happened. As
                        she took Georgie’s overalls from the laundry basket a large centipede ran up her bare
                        arm. Luckily she managed to knock the centipede off into the hot water in the hand basin.
                        It was a brute, about six inches long of viciousness with a nasty sting. The locals say that
                        the bite is much worse than a scorpions so Janey had a lucky escape.

                        Kate cut her first two teeth yesterday and will, I hope, sleep better now. I don’t
                        feel that pink skin food is getting a fair trial with all those broken nights. There is certainly
                        no sign yet of ‘The skin he loves to touch”. Kate, I may say, is rosy and blooming. She
                        can pull herself upright providing she has something solid to hold on to. She is so plump
                        I have horrible visions of future bow legs so I push her down, but she always bobs up

                        Both Ann and Georgie are mad on books. Their favourites are ‘Barbar and
                        Celeste” and, of all things, ‘Struvel Peter’ . They listen with absolute relish to the sad tale
                        of Harriet who played with matches.

                        I have kept a laugh for the end. I am hoping that it will not be long before George
                        comes home and thought it was time to take the next step towards glamour, so last
                        Wednesday after lunch I settled the children on their beds and prepared to remove the ,
                        to me, obvious down on my upper lip. (George always loyally says that he can’t see
                        any.) Well I got out the tube of stuff and carefully followed the directions. I smoothed a
                        coating on my upper lip. All this was watched with great interest by the children, including
                        the baby, who stood up in her cot for a better view. Having no watch, I had propped
                        the bedroom door open so that I could time the operation by the cuckoo clock in the
                        living room. All the children’s surprised comments fell on deaf ears. I would neither talk
                        nor smile for fear of cracking the hair remover which had set hard. The set time was up
                        and I was just about to rinse the remover off when Kate slipped, knocking her head on
                        the corner of the cot. I rushed to the rescue and precious seconds ticked off whilst I
                        pacified her.

                        So, my dears, when I rinsed my lip, not only the plaster and the hair came away
                        but the skin as well and now I really did have a Ronald Coleman moustache – a crimson
                        one. I bathed it, I creamed it, powdered it but all to no avail. Within half an hour my lip
                        had swollen until I looked like one of those Duckbilled West African women. Ann’s
                        comments, “Oh Mummy, you do look funny. Georgie, doesn’t Mummy look funny?”
                        didn’t help to soothe me and the last straw was that just then there was the sound of a car drawing up outside – the first car I had heard for months. Anyway, thank heaven, it
                        was not George, but the representative of a firm which sells agricultural machinery and
                        farm implements, looking for orders. He had come from Dar es Salaam and had not
                        heard that all the planters from this district had left their farms. Hospitality demanded that I
                        should appear and offer tea. I did not mind this man because he was a complete
                        stranger and fat, middle aged and comfortable. So I gave him tea, though I didn’t
                        attempt to drink any myself, and told him the whole sad tale.

                        Fortunately much of the swelling had gone next day and only a brown dryness
                        remained. I find myself actually hoping that George is delayed a bit longer. Of one thing
                        I am sure. If ever I grow a moustache again, it stays!

                        Heaps of love from a sadder but wiser,

                        Mchewe Estate. 3rd April 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        Sound the trumpets, beat the drums. George is home again. The safari, I am sad
                        to say, was a complete washout in more ways than one. Anyway it was lovely to be
                        together again and we don’t yet talk about the future. The home coming was not at all as
                        I had planned it. I expected George to return in our old A.C. car which gives ample
                        warning of its arrival. I had meant to wear my new frock and make myself as glamourous
                        as possible, with our beautiful babe on one arm and our other jewels by my side.
                        This however is what actually happened. Last Saturday morning at about 2 am , I
                        thought I heard someone whispering my name. I sat up in bed, still half asleep, and
                        there was George at the window. He was thin and unshaven and the tiredest looking
                        man I have ever seen. The car had bogged down twenty miles back along the old Lupa
                        Track, but as George had had no food at all that day, he decided to walk home in the
                        bright moonlight.

                        This is where I should have served up a tasty hot meal but alas, there was only
                        the heal of a loaf and no milk because, before going to bed I had given the remaining
                        milk to the dog. However George seemed too hungry to care what he ate. He made a
                        meal off a tin of bully, a box of crustless cheese and the bread washed down with cup
                        after cup of black tea. Though George was tired we talked for hours and it was dawn
                        before we settled down to sleep.

                        During those hours of talk George described his nightmarish journey. He started
                        up the flooded Rukwa Valley and there were days of wading through swamp and mud
                        and several swollen rivers to cross. George is a strong swimmer and the porters who
                        were recruited in that area, could also swim. There remained the problem of the stores
                        and of Kianda the houseboy who cannot swim. For these they made rough pole rafts
                        which they pulled across the rivers with ropes. Kianda told me later that he hopes never
                        to make such a journey again. He swears that the raft was submerged most of the time
                        and that he was dragged through the rivers underwater! You should see the state of
                        George’s clothes which were packed in a supposedly water tight uniform trunk. The
                        whole lot are mud stained and mouldy.

                        To make matters more trying for George he was obliged to live mostly on
                        porters rations, rice and groundnut oil which he detests. As all the district roads were
                        closed the little Indian Sores in the remote villages he passed had been unable to
                        replenish their stocks of European groceries. George would have been thinner had it not
                        been for two Roman Catholic missions enroute where he had good meals and dry
                        nights. The Fathers are always wonderfully hospitable to wayfarers irrespective of
                        whether or not they are Roman Catholics. George of course is not a Catholic. One finds
                        the Roman Catholic missions right out in the ‘Blue’ and often on spots unhealthy to
                        Europeans. Most of the Fathers are German or Dutch but they all speak a little English
                        and in any case one can always fall back on Ki-Swahili.

                        George reached his destination all right but it soon became apparent that reports
                        of the richness of the strike had been greatly exaggerated. George had decided that
                        prospects were brighter on the Lupa than on the new strike so he returned to the Lupa
                        by the way he had come and, having returned the borrowed equipment decided to
                        make his way home by the shortest route, the old and now rarely used road which
                        passes by the bottom of our farm.

                        The old A.C. had been left for safe keeping at the Roman Catholic Galala
                        Mission 40 miles away, on George’s outward journey, and in this old car George, and
                        the houseboy Kianda , started for home. The road was indescribably awful. There were long stretches that were simply one big puddle, in others all the soil had been washed
                        away leaving the road like a rocky river bed. There were also patches where the tall
                        grass had sprung up head high in the middle of the road,
                        The going was slow because often the car bogged down because George had
                        no wheel chains and he and Kianda had the wearisome business of digging her out. It
                        was just growing dark when the old A.C. settled down determinedly in the mud for the
                        last time. They could not budge her and they were still twenty miles from home. George
                        decided to walk home in the moonlight to fetch help leaving Kianda in charge of the car
                        and its contents and with George’s shot gun to use if necessary in self defence. Kianda
                        was reluctant to stay but also not prepared to go for help whilst George remained with
                        the car as lions are plentiful in that area. So George set out unarmed in the moonlight.
                        Once he stopped to avoid a pride of lion coming down the road but he circled safely
                        around them and came home without any further alarms.

                        Kianda said he had a dreadful night in the car, “With lions roaming around the car
                        like cattle.” Anyway the lions did not take any notice of the car or of Kianda, and the next
                        day George walked back with all our farm boys and dug and pushed the car out of the
                        mud. He brought car and Kianda back without further trouble but the labourers on their
                        way home were treed by the lions.

                        The wet season is definitely the time to stay home.

                        Lots and lots of love,

                        Mchewe Estate. 30th April 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        Young George’s third birthday passed off very well yesterday. It started early in
                        the morning when he brought his pillow slip of presents to our bed. Kate was already
                        there and Ann soon joined us. Young George liked all the presents you sent, especially
                        the trumpet. It has hardly left his lips since and he is getting quite smart about the finger

                        We had quite a party. Ann and I decorated the table with Christmas tree tinsel
                        and hung a bunch of balloons above it. Ann also decorated young George’s chair with
                        roses and phlox from the garden. I had made and iced a fruit cake but Ann begged to
                        make a plain pink cake. She made it entirely by herself though I stood by to see that
                        she measured the ingredients correctly. When the cake was baked I mixed some soft
                        icing in a jug and she poured it carefully over the cake smoothing the gaps with her

                        During the party we had the gramophone playing and we pulled crackers and
                        wore paper hats and altogether had a good time. I forgot for a while that George is
                        leaving again for the Lupa tomorrow for an indefinite time. He was marvellous at making
                        young George’s party a gay one. You will have noticed the change from Georgie to
                        young George. Our son declares that he now wants to be called George, “Like Dad”.
                        He an Ann are a devoted couple and I am glad that there is only a fourteen
                        months difference in their ages. They play together extremely well and are very
                        independent which is just as well for little Kate now demands a lot of my attention. My
                        garden is a real cottage garden and looks very gay and colourful. There are hollyhocks
                        and Snapdragons, marigolds and phlox and of course the roses and carnations which, as
                        you know, are my favourites. The coffee shamba does not look so good because the
                        small labour force, which is all we can afford, cannot cope with all the weeds. You have
                        no idea how things grow during the wet season in the tropics.

                        Nothing alarming ever seems to happen when George is home, so I’m afraid this
                        letter is rather dull. I wanted you to know though, that largely due to all your gifts of toys
                        and sweets, Georgie’s 3rd birthday party went with a bang.

                        Your very affectionate,

                        Mchewe Estate. 17th September 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        I am sorry to hear that Mummy worries about me so much. “Poor Eleanor”,
                        indeed! I have a quite exceptional husband, three lovely children, a dear little home and
                        we are all well.It is true that I am in rather a rut but what else can we do? George comes
                        home whenever he can and what excitement there is when he does come. He cannot
                        give me any warning because he has to take advantage of chance lifts from the Diggings
                        to Mbeya, but now that he is prospecting nearer home he usually comes walking over
                        the hills. About 50 miles of rough going. Really and truly I am all right. Although our diet is
                        monotonous we have plenty to eat. Eggs and milk are cheap and fruit plentiful and I
                        have a good cook so can devote all my time to the children. I think it is because they are
                        my constant companions that Ann and Georgie are so grown up for their years.
                        I have no ayah at present because Janey has been suffering form rheumatism
                        and has gone home for one of her periodic rests. I manage very well without her except
                        in the matter of the afternoon walks. The outward journey is all right. George had all the
                        grass cut on his last visit so I am able to push the pram whilst Ann, George and Fanny
                        the dog run ahead. It is the uphill return trip that is so trying. Our walk back is always the
                        same, down the hill to the river where the children love to play and then along the car
                        road to the vegetable garden. I never did venture further since the day I saw a leopard
                        jump on a calf. I did not tell you at the time as I thought you might worry. The cattle were
                        grazing on a small knoll just off our land but near enough for me to have a clear view.
                        Suddenly the cattle scattered in all directions and we heard the shouts of the herd boys
                        and saw – or rather had the fleeting impression- of a large animal jumping on a calf. I
                        heard the herd boy shout “Chui, Chui!” (leopard) and believe me, we turned in our
                        tracks and made for home. To hasten things I picked up two sticks and told the children
                        that they were horses and they should ride them home which they did with
                        commendable speed.

                        Ann no longer rides Joseph. He became increasingly bad tempered and a
                        nuisance besides. He took to rolling all over my flower beds though I had never seen
                        him roll anywhere else. Then one day he kicked Ann in the chest, not very hard but
                        enough to send her flying. Now George has given him to the native who sells milk to us
                        and he seems quite happy grazing with the cattle.

                        With love to you all,

                        Mchewe Estate. 2nd October 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        Since I last wrote George has been home and we had a lovely time as usual.
                        Whilst he was here the District Commissioner and his wife called. Mr Pollock told
                        George that there is to be a big bush clearing scheme in some part of the Mbeya
                        District to drive out Tsetse Fly. The game in the area will have to be exterminated and
                        there will probably be a job for George shooting out the buffalo. The pay would be
                        good but George says it is a beastly job. Although he is a professional hunter, he hates

                        Mrs P’s real reason for visiting the farm was to invite me to stay at her home in
                        Mbeya whilst she and her husband are away in Tukuyu. Her English nanny and her small
                        daughter will remain in Mbeya and she thought it might be a pleasant change for us and
                        a rest for me as of course Nanny will do the housekeeping. I accepted the invitation and I
                        think I will go on from there to Tukuyu and visit my friend Lillian Eustace for a fortnight.
                        She has given us an open invitation to visit her at any time.

                        I had a letter from Dr Eckhardt last week, telling me that at a meeting of all the
                        German Settlers from Mbeya, Tukuyu and Mbosi it had been decided to raise funds to
                        build a school at Mbeya. They want the British Settlers to co-operate in this and would
                        be glad of a subscription from us. I replied to say that I was unable to afford a
                        subscription at present but would probably be applying for a teaching job.
                        The Eckhardts are the leaders of the German community here and are ardent
                        Nazis. For this reason they are unpopular with the British community but he is the only
                        doctor here and I must say they have been very decent to us. Both of them admire
                        George. George has still not had any luck on the Lupa and until he makes a really
                        promising strike it is unlikely that the children and I will join him. There is no fresh milk there
                        and vegetables and fruit are imported from Mbeya and Iringa and are very expensive.
                        George says “You wouldn’t be happy on the diggings anyway with a lot of whores and
                        their bastards!”

                        Time ticks away very pleasantly here. Young George and Kate are blooming
                        and I keep well. Only Ann does not look well. She is growing too fast and is listless and
                        pale. If I do go to Mbeya next week I shall take her to the doctor to be overhauled.
                        We do not go for our afternoon walks now that George has returned to the Lupa.
                        That leopard has been around again and has killed Tubbage that cowardly Alsatian. We
                        gave him to the village headman some months ago. There is no danger to us from the
                        leopard but I am terrified it might get Fanny, who is an excellent little watchdog and
                        dearly loved by all of us. Yesterday I sent a note to the Boma asking for a trap gun and
                        today the farm boys are building a trap with logs.

                        I had a mishap this morning in the garden. I blundered into a nest of hornets and
                        got two stings in the left arm above the elbow. Very painful at the time and the place is
                        still red and swollen.

                        Much love to you all,

                        Mchewe Estate. 10th October 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        Well here we are at Mbeya, comfortably installed in the District Commissioner’s
                        house. It is one of two oldest houses in Mbeya and is a charming gabled place with tiled
                        roof. The garden is perfectly beautiful. I am enjoying the change very much. Nanny
                        Baxter is very entertaining. She has a vast fund of highly entertaining tales of the goings
                        on amongst the British Aristocracy, gleaned it seems over the nursery teacup in many a
                        Stately Home. Ann and Georgie are enjoying the company of other children.
                        People are very kind about inviting us out to tea and I gladly accept these
                        invitations but I have turned down invitations to dinner and one to a dance at the hotel. It
                        is no fun to go out at night without George. There are several grass widows at the pub
                        whose husbands are at the diggings. They have no inhibitions about parties.
                        I did have one night and day here with George, he got the chance of a lift and
                        knowing that we were staying here he thought the chance too good to miss. He was
                        also anxious to hear the Doctor’s verdict on Ann. I took Ann to hospital on my second
                        day here. Dr Eckhardt said there was nothing specifically wrong but that Ann is a highly
                        sensitive type with whom the tropics does not agree. He advised that Ann should
                        spend a year in a more temperate climate and that the sooner she goes the better. I felt
                        very discouraged to hear this and was most relieved when George turned up
                        unexpectedly that evening. He phoo-hood Dr Eckhardt’s recommendation and next
                        morning called in Dr Aitkin, the Government Doctor from Chunya and who happened to
                        be in Mbeya.

                        Unfortunately Dr Aitkin not only confirmed Dr Eckhardt’s opinion but said that he
                        thought Ann should stay out of the tropics until she had passed adolescence. I just don’t
                        know what to do about Ann. She is a darling child, very sensitive and gentle and a
                        lovely companion to me. Also she and young George are inseparable and I just cannot
                        picture one without the other. I know that you would be glad to have Ann but how could
                        we bear to part with her?

                        Your worried but affectionate,

                        Tukuyu. 23rd October 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        As you see we have moved to Tukuyu and we are having a lovely time with
                        Lillian Eustace. She gave us such a warm welcome and has put herself out to give us
                        every comfort. She is a most capable housekeeper and I find her such a comfortable
                        companion because we have the same outlook in life. Both of us are strictly one man
                        women and that is rare here. She has a two year old son, Billy, who is enchanted with
                        our rolly polly Kate and there are other children on the station with whom Ann and
                        Georgie can play. Lillian engaged a temporary ayah for me so I am having a good rest.
                        All the children look well and Ann in particular seems to have benefited by the
                        change to a cooler climate. She has a good colour and looks so well that people all
                        exclaim when I tell them, that two doctors have advised us to send Ann out of the
                        country. Perhaps after all, this holiday in Tukuyu will set her up.

                        We had a trying journey from Mbeya to Tukuyu in the Post Lorry. The three
                        children and I were squeezed together on the front seat between the African driver on
                        one side and a vast German on the other. Both men smoked incessantly – the driver
                        cigarettes, and the German cheroots. The cab was clouded with a blue haze. Not only
                        that! I suddenly felt a smarting sensation on my right thigh. The driver’s cigarette had
                        burnt a hole right through that new checked linen frock you sent me last month.
                        I had Kate on my lap all the way but Ann and Georgie had to stand against the
                        windscreen all the way. The fat German offered to take Ann on his lap but she gave him
                        a very cold “No thank you.” Nor did I blame her. I would have greatly enjoyed the drive
                        under less crowded conditions. The scenery is gorgeous. One drives through very high
                        country crossing lovely clear streams and at one point through rain forest. As it was I
                        counted the miles and how thankful I was to see the end of the journey.
                        In the days when Tanganyika belonged to the Germans, Tukuyu was the
                        administrative centre for the whole of the Southern Highlands Province. The old German
                        Fort is still in use as Government offices and there are many fine trees which were
                        planted by the Germans. There is a large prosperous native population in this area.
                        They go in chiefly for coffee and for bananas which form the basis of their diet.
                        There are five British married couples here and Lillian and I go out to tea most
                        mornings. In the afternoon there is tennis or golf. The gardens here are beautiful because
                        there is rain or at least drizzle all the year round. There are even hedge roses bordering
                        some of the district roads. When one walks across the emerald green golf course or
                        through the Boma gardens, it is hard to realise that this gentle place is Tropical Africa.
                        ‘Such a green and pleasant land’, but I think I prefer our corner of Tanganyika.

                        Much love,

                        Mchewe. 12th November 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        We had a lovely holiday but it is so nice to be home again, especially as Laza,
                        the local Nimrod, shot that leopard whilst we were away (with his muzzleloader gun). He
                        was justly proud of himself, and I gave him a tip so that he could buy some native beer
                        for a celebration. I have never seen one of theses parties but can hear the drums and
                        sounds of merrymaking, especially on moonlight nights.

                        Our house looks so fresh and uncluttered. Whilst I was away, the boys
                        whitewashed the house and my houseboy had washed all the curtains, bedspreads,
                        and loose covers and watered the garden. If only George were here it would be

                        Ann looked so bonny at Tukuyu that I took her to the Government Doctor there
                        hoping that he would find her perfectly healthy, but alas he endorsed the finding of the
                        other two doctors so, when an opportunity offers, I think I shall have to send Ann down
                        to you for a long holiday from the Tropics. Mother-in-law has offered to fetch her next
                        year but England seems so far away. With you she will at least be on the same

                        I left the children for the first time ever, except for my stay in hospital when Kate
                        was born, to go on an outing to Lake Masoko in the Tukuyu district, with four friends.
                        Masoko is a beautiful, almost circular crater lake and very very deep. A detachment of
                        the King’s African Rifles are stationed there and occupy the old German barracks
                        overlooking the lake.

                        We drove to Masoko by car and spent the afternoon there as guests of two
                        British Army Officers. We had a good tea and the others went bathing in the lake but i
                        could not as I did not have a costume. The Lake was as beautiful as I had been lead to
                        imagine and our hosts were pleasant but I began to grow anxious as the afternoon
                        advanced and my friends showed no signs of leaving. I was in agonies when they
                        accepted an invitation to stay for a sundowner. We had this in the old German beer
                        garden overlooking the Lake. It was beautiful but what did I care. I had promised the
                        children that I would be home to give them their supper and put them to bed. When I
                        did at length return to Lillian’s house I found the situation as I had expected. Ann, with her
                        imagination had come to the conclusion that I never would return. She had sobbed
                        herself into a state of exhaustion. Kate was screaming in sympathy and George 2 was
                        very truculent. He wouldn’t even speak to me. Poor Lillian had had a trying time.
                        We did not return to Mbeya by the Mail Lorry. Bill and Lillian drove us across to
                        Mbeya in their new Ford V8 car. The children chattered happily in the back of the car
                        eating chocolate and bananas all the way. I might have known what would happen! Ann
                        was dreadfully and messily car sick.

                        I engaged the Mbeya Hotel taxi to drive us out to the farm the same afternoon
                        and I expect it will be a long time before we leave the farm again.

                        Lots and lots of love to all,

                        Chunya 27th November 1936

                        Dearest Family,

                        You will be surprised to hear that we are all together now on the Lupa goldfields.
                        I have still not recovered from my own astonishment at being here. Until last Saturday
                        night I never dreamed of this move. At about ten o’clock I was crouched in the inglenook
                        blowing on the embers to make a fire so that I could heat some milk for Kate who is
                        cutting teeth and was very restless. Suddenly I heard a car outside. I knew it must be
                        George and rushed outside storm lamp in hand. Sure enough, there was George
                        standing by a strange car, and beaming all over his face. “Something for you my love,”
                        he said placing a little bundle in my hand. It was a knotted handkerchief and inside was a
                        fine gold nugget.

                        George had that fire going in no time, Kate was given the milk and half an aspirin
                        and settles down to sleep, whilst George and I sat around for an hour chatting over our
                        tea. He told me that he had borrowed the car from John Molteno and had come to fetch
                        me and the children to join him on the diggings for a while. It seems that John, who has a
                        camp at Itewe, a couple of miles outside the township of Chunya, the new
                        Administrative Centre of the diggings, was off to the Cape to visit his family for a few
                        months. John had asked George to run his claims in his absence and had given us the
                        loan of his camp and his car.

                        George had found the nugget on his own claim but he is not too elated because
                        he says that one good month on the diggings is often followed by several months of
                        dead loss. However, I feel hopeful, we have had such a run of bad luck that surely it is
                        time for the tide to change. George spent Sunday going over the farm with Thomas, the
                        headman, and giving him instructions about future work whilst I packed clothes and
                        kitchen equipment. I have brought our ex-kitchenboy Kesho Kutwa with me as cook and
                        also Janey, who heard that we were off to the Lupa and came to offer her services once
                        more as ayah. Janey’s ex-husband Abel is now cook to one of the more successful
                        diggers and I think she is hoping to team up with him again.

                        The trip over the Mbeya-Chunya pass was new to me and I enjoyed it very
                        much indeed. The road winds over the mountains along a very high escarpment and
                        one looks down on the vast Usangu flats stretching far away to the horizon. At the
                        highest point the road rises to about 7000 feet, and this was too much for Ann who was
                        leaning against the back of my seat. She was very thoroughly sick, all over my hair.
                        This camp of John Molteno’s is very comfortable. It consists of two wattle and
                        daub buildings built end to end in a clearing in the miombo bush. The main building
                        consists of a large living room, a store and an office, and the other of one large bedroom
                        and a small one separated by an area for bathing. Both buildings are thatched. There are
                        no doors, and there are no windows, but these are not necessary because one wall of
                        each building is built up only a couple of feet leaving a six foot space for light and air. As
                        this is the dry season the weather is pleasant. The air is fresh and dry but not nearly so
                        hot as I expected.

                        Water is a problem and must be carried long distances in kerosene tins.
                        vegetables and fresh butter are brought in a van from Iringa and Mbeya Districts about
                        once a fortnight. I have not yet visited Chunya but I believe it is as good a shopping
                        centre as Mbeya so we will be able to buy all the non perishable food stuffs we need.
                        What I do miss is the fresh milk. The children are accustomed to drinking at least a pint of
                        milk each per day but they do not care for the tinned variety.

                        Ann and young George love being here. The camp is surrounded by old
                        prospecting trenches and they spend hours each day searching for gold in the heaps of gravel. Sometimes they find quartz pitted with little spots of glitter and they bring them
                        to me in great excitement. Alas it is only Mica. We have two neighbours. The one is a
                        bearded Frenchman and the other an Australian. I have not yet met any women.
                        George looks very sunburnt and extremely fit and the children also look well.
                        George and I have decided that we will keep Ann with us until my Mother-in-law comes
                        out next year. George says that in spite of what the doctors have said, he thinks that the
                        shock to Ann of being separated from her family will do her more harm than good. She
                        and young George are inseparable and George thinks it would be best if both
                        George and Ann return to England with my Mother-in-law for a couple of years. I try not
                        to think at all about the breaking up of the family.

                        Much love to all,



                          William Housley’s Will and the Court Case

                          William Housley died in 1848, but his widow Ellen didn’t die until 1872.  The court case was in 1873.  Details about the court case are archived at the National Archives at Kew,  in London, but are not available online. They can be viewed in person, but that hasn’t been possible thus far.  However, there are a great many references to it in the letters.

                          William Housley’s first wife was Mary Carrington 1787-1813.  They had three children, Mary Anne, Elizabeth and William. When Mary died, William married Mary’s sister Ellen, not in their own parish church at Smalley but in Ashbourne.  Although not uncommon for a widower to marry a deceased wife’s sister, it wasn’t legal.  This point is mentioned in one of the letters.

                          One of the pages of William Housley’s will:

                          William Housleys Will


                          An excerpt from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters:

                          A comment in a letter from Joseph (August 6, 1873) indicated that William was married twice and that his wives were sisters: “What do you think that I believe that Mary Ann is trying to make our father’s will of no account as she says that my father’s marriage with our mother was not lawful he marrying two sisters. What do you think of her? I have heard my mother say something about paying a fine at the time of the marriage to make it legal.” Markwell and Saul in The A-Z Guide to Tracing Ancestors in Britain explain that marriage to a deceased wife’s sister was not permissible under Canon law as the relationship was within the prohibited degrees. However, such marriages did take place–usually well away from the couple’s home area. Up to 1835 such marriages were not void but were voidable by legal action. Few such actions were instituted but the risk was always there.

                          Joseph wrote that when Emma was married, Ellen “broke up the comfortable home and the things went to Derby and she went to live with them but Derby didn’t agree with her so she left again leaving her things behind and came to live with John in the new house where she died.” Ellen was listed with John’s household in the 1871 census. 
                          In May 1872, the Ilkeston Pioneer carried this notice: “Mr. Hopkins will sell by auction on Saturday next the eleventh of May 1872 the whole of the useful furniture, sewing machine, etc. nearly new on the premises of the late Mrs. Housley at Smalley near Heanor in the county of Derby. Sale at one o’clock in the afternoon.”

                          There were hard feelings between Mary Ann and Ellen and her children. Anne wrote: “If you remember we were not very friendly when you left. They never came and nothing was too bad for Mary Ann to say of Mother and me, but when Robert died Mother sent for her to the funeral but she did not think well to come so we took no more notice. She would not allow her children to come either.”
                          Mary Ann was still living in May 1872. Joseph implied that she and her brother, Will “intend making a bit of bother about the settlement of the bit of property” left by their mother. The 1871 census listed Mary Ann’s occupation as “income from houses.”

                          In July 1872, Joseph introduced Ruth’s husband: “No doubt he is a bad lot. He is one of the Heath’s of Stanley Common a miller and he lives at Smalley Mill” (Ruth Heath was Mary Anne Housley’s daughter)
                          In 1873 Joseph wrote, “He is nothing but a land shark both Heath and his wife and his wife is the worst of the two. You will think these is hard words but they are true dear brother.” The solicitor, Abraham John Flint, was not at all pleased with Heath’s obstruction of the settlement of the estate. He wrote on June 30, 1873: “Heath agreed at first and then because I would not pay his expenses he refused and has since instructed another solicitor for his wife and Mrs. Weston who have been opposing us to the utmost. I am concerned for all parties interested except these two….The judge severely censured Heath for his conduct and wanted to make an order for sale there and then but Heath’s council would not consent….” In June 1875, the solicitor wrote: “Heath bid for the property but it fetched more money than he could give for it. He has been rather quieter lately.”

                          In May 1872, Joseph wrote: “For what do you think, John has sold his share and he has acted very bad since his wife died and at the same time he sold all his furniture. You may guess I have never seen him but once since poor mother’s funeral and he is gone now no one knows where.”

                          In 1876, the solicitor wrote to George: “Have you heard of John Housley? He is entitled to Robert’s share and I want him to claim it.”

                          Anne intended that one third of the inheritance coming to her from her father and her grandfather, William Carrington, be divided between her four nieces: Sam’s three daughters and John’s daughter Elizabeth.
                          In the same letter (December 15, 1872), Joseph wrote:
                          “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that”

                          However, Samuel was still alive was on the 1871 census in Henley in Arden, and no record of his death can be found. Samuel’s brother in law said he was dead: we do not know why he lied, or perhaps the brothers were lying to keep his share, or another possibility is that Samuel himself told his brother in law to tell them that he was dead. I am inclined to think it was the latter.

                          Excerpts from Barbara Housley’s Narrative on the Letters continued:

                          Charles went to Australia in 1851, and was last heard from in January 1853. According to the solicitor, who wrote to George on June 3, 1874, Charles had received advances on the settlement of their parent’s estate. “Your promissory note with the two signed by your brother Charles for 20 pounds he received from his father and 20 pounds he received from his mother are now in the possession of the court.”

                          In December 1872, Joseph wrote: “I’m told that Charles two daughters has wrote to Smalley post office making inquiries about his share….” In January 1876, the solicitor wrote: “Charles Housley’s children have claimed their father’s share.”

                          In the Adelaide Observer 28 Aug 1875

                          HOUSLEY – wanted information
                          as to the Death, Will, or Intestacy, and
                          Children of Charles Housley, formerly of
                          Smalley, Derbyshire, England, who died at
                          Geelong or Creewick Creek Diggings, Victoria
                          August, 1855. His children will hear of something to their advantage by communicating with
                          Mr. A J. Flint, solicitor, Derby, England.
                          June 16,1875.

                          The Diggers & Diggings of Victoria in 1855. Drawn on Stone by S.T. Gill:

                          Victoria Diggings, Australie


                          The court case:

                           Kerry v Housley.
                          Documents: Bill, demurrer.
                          Plaintiffs: Samuel Kerry and Joseph Housley.
                          Defendants: William Housley, Joseph Housley (deleted), Edwin Welch Harvey, Eleanor Harvey (deleted), Ernest Harvey infant, William Stafford, Elizabeth Stafford his wife, Mary Ann Housley, George Purdy and Catherine Purdy his wife, Elizabeth Housley, Mary Ann Weston widow and William Heath and Ruth Heath his wife (deleted).
                          Provincial solicitor employed in Derbyshire.
                          Date: 1873

                          From the Narrative on the Letters:

                          The solicitor wrote on May 23, 1874: “Lately I have not written because I was not certain of your address and because I doubted I had much interesting news to tell you.” Later, Joseph wrote concerning the problems settling the estate, “You see dear brother there is only me here on our side and I cannot do much. I wish you were here to help me a bit and if you think of going for another summer trip this turn you might as well run over here.”

                          In March 1873, Joseph wrote: “You ask me what I think of you coming to England. I think as you have given the trustee power to sign for you I think you could do no good but I should like to see you once again for all that. I can’t say whether there would be anything amiss if you did come as you say it would be throwing good money after bad.”

                          In September 1872 Joseph wrote; “My wife is anxious to come. I hope it will suit her health for she is not over strong.” Elsewhere Joseph wrote that Harriet was “middling sometimes. She is subject to sick headaches. It knocks her up completely when they come on.” In December 1872 Joseph wrote, “Now dear brother about us coming to America you know we shall have to wait until this affair is settled and if it is not settled and thrown into Chancery I’m afraid we shall have to stay in England for I shall never be able to save money enough to bring me out and my family but I hope of better things.”
                          On July 19, 1875 Abraham Flint (the solicitor) wrote: “Joseph Housley has removed from Smalley and is working on some new foundry buildings at Little Chester near Derby. He lives at a village called Little Eaton near Derby. If you address your letter to him as Joseph Housley, carpenter, Little Eaton near Derby that will no doubt find him.”

                          In his last letter (February 11, 1874), Joseph sounded very discouraged and wrote that Harriet’s parents were very poorly and both had been “in bed for a long time.” In addition, Harriet and the children had been ill.
                          The move to Little Eaton may indicate that Joseph received his settlement because in August, 1873, he wrote: “I think this is bad news enough and bad luck too, but I have had little else since I came to live at Kiddsley cottages but perhaps it is all for the best if one could only think so. I have begun to think there will be no chance for us coming over to you for I am afraid there will not be so much left as will bring us out without it is settled very shortly but I don’t intend leaving this house until it is settled either one way or the other. ”

                          Joseph’s letters were much concerned with the settling of their mother’s estate. In 1854, Anne wrote, “As for my mother coming (to America) I think not at all likely. She is tied here with her property.” A solicitor, Abraham John Flint of 42 Full Street Derby, was engaged by John following the death of their mother. On June 30, 1873 the solicitor wrote: “Dear sir, On the death of your mother I was consulted by your brother John. I acted for him with reference to the sale and division of your father’s property at Smalley. Mr. Kerry was very unwilling to act as trustee being over 73 years of age but owing to the will being a badly drawn one we could not appoint another trustee in his place nor could the property be sold without a decree of chancery. Therefore Mr. Kerry consented and after a great deal of trouble with Heath who has opposed us all throughout whenever matters did not suit him, we found the title deeds and offered the property for sale by public auction on the 15th of July last. Heath could not find his purchase money without mortaging his property the solicitor which the mortgagee employed refused to accept Mr. Kerry’s title and owing to another defect in the will we could not compel them.”

                          In July 1872, Joseph wrote, “I do not know whether you can remember who the trustee was to my father’s will. It was Thomas Watson and Samuel Kerry of Smalley Green. Mr. Watson is dead (died a fortnight before mother) so Mr. Kerry has had to manage the affair.”

                          On Dec. 15, 1972, Joseph wrote, “Now about this property affair. It seems as far off of being settled as ever it was….” and in the following March wrote: “I think we are as far off as ever and farther I think.”

                          Concerning the property which was auctioned on July 15, 1872 and brought 700 pounds, Joseph wrote: “It was sold in five lots for building land and this man Heath bought up four lots–that is the big house, the croft and the cottages. The croft was made into two lots besides the piece belonging to the big house and the cottages and gardens was another lot and the little intake was another. William Richardson bought that.” Elsewhere Richardson’s purchase was described as “the little croft against Smith’s lane.” Smith’s Lane was probably named for their neighbor Daniel Smith, Mrs. Davy’s father.
                          But in December 1872, Joseph wrote that they had not received any money because “Mr. Heath is raising all kinds of objections to the will–something being worded wrong in the will.” In March 1873, Joseph “clarified” matters in this way: “His objection was that one trustee could not convey the property that his signature was not guarantee sufficient as it states in the will that both trustees has to sign the conveyance hence this bother.”
                          Joseph indicated that six shares were to come out of the 700 pounds besides Will’s 20 pounds. Children were to come in for the parents shares if dead. The solicitor wrote in 1873, “This of course refers to the Kidsley property in which you take a one seventh share and which if the property sells well may realize you about 60-80 pounds.” In March 1873 Joseph wrote: “You have an equal share with the rest in both lots of property, but I am afraid there will be but very little for any of us.”

                          The other “lot of property” was “property in Smalley left under another will.” On July 17, 1872, Joseph wrote: “It was left by my grandfather Carrington and Uncle Richard is trustee. He seems very backward in bringing the property to a sale but I saw him and told him that I for one expect him to proceed with it.” George seemed to have difficulty understanding that there were two pieces of property so Joseph explained further: “It was left by my grandfather Carrington not by our father and Uncle Richard is the trustee for it but the will does not give him power to sell without the signatures of the parties concerned.” In June 1873 the solicitor Abraham John Flint asked: “Nothing has been done about the other property at Smalley at present. It wants attention and the other parties have asked me to attend to it. Do you authorize me to see to it for you as well?”
                          After Ellen’s death, the rent was divided between Joseph, Will, Mary Ann and Mr. Heath who bought John’s share and was married to Mary Ann’s daughter, Ruth. Joseph said that Mr. Heath paid 40 pounds for John’s share and that John had drawn 110 pounds in advance. The solicitor said Heath said he paid 60. The solicitor said that Heath was trying to buy the shares of those at home to get control of the property and would have defied the absent ones to get anything.
                          In September 1872 Joseph wrote that the lawyer said the trustee cannot sell the property at the bottom of Smalley without the signatures of all parties concerned in it and it will have to go through chancery court which will be a great expense. He advised Joseph to sell his share and Joseph advised George to do the same.

                          George sent a “portrait” so that it could be established that it was really him–still living and due a share. Joseph wrote (July 1872): “the trustee was quite willing to (acknowledge you) for the portrait I think is a very good one.” Several letters later in response to an inquiry from George, Joseph wrote: “The trustee recognized you in a minute…I have not shown it to Mary Ann for we are not on good terms….Parties that I have shown it to own you again but they say it is a deal like John. It is something like him, but I think is more like myself.”
                          In September 1872 Joseph wrote that the lawyer required all of their ages and they would have to pay “succession duty”. Joseph requested that George send a list of birth dates.

                          On May 23, 1874, the solicitor wrote: “I have been offered 240 pounds for the three cottages and the little house. They sold for 200 pounds at the last sale and then I was offered 700 pounds for the whole lot except Richardson’s Heanor piece for which he is still willing to give 58 pounds. Thus you see that the value of the estate has very materially increased since the last sale so that this delay has been beneficial to your interests than other-wise. Coal has become much dearer and they suppose there is coal under this estate. There are many enquiries about it and I believe it will realize 800 pounds or more which increase will more than cover all expenses.” Eventually the solicitor wrote that the property had been sold for 916 pounds and George would take a one-ninth share.

                          January 14, 1876:  “I am very sorry to hear of your lameness and illness but I trust that you are now better. This matter as I informed you had to stand over until December since when all the costs and expenses have been taxed and passed by the court and I am expecting to receive the order for these this next week, then we have to pay the legacy duty and them divide the residue which I doubt won’t come to very much amongst so many of you. But you will hear from me towards the end of the month or early next month when I shall have to send you the papers to sign for your share. I can’t tell you how much it will be at present as I shall have to deduct your share with the others of the first sale made of the property before it went to court.
                          Wishing you a Happy New Year, I am Dear Sir, Yours truly
                          Abram J. Flint”

                          September 15, 1876 (the last letter)
                          “I duly received your power of attorney which appears to have been properly executed on Thursday last and I sent it on to my London agent, Mr. Henry Lyvell, who happens just now to be away for his annual vacation and will not return for 14 or 20 days and as his signature is required by the Paymaster General before he will pay out your share, it must consequently stand over and await his return home. It shall however receive immediate attention as soon as he returns and I hope to be able to send your checque for the balance very shortly.”

                          1874 in chancery:

                          Housley Estate Sale


                            Murder At The Bennistons

                            We don’t know exactly what happened immediately after the death of Catherine Housley’s mother in 1849, but by 1850 the two older daughters Elizabeth and Mary Anne were inmates in Belper Workhouse.  Catherine was just six weeks old, so presumably she was with a wet nurse, possibly even prior to her mothers death.  By 1851, according to the census, she was living in Heanor, a small town near to Smalley,  with John Benniston, a framework knitter, and his family. Framework knitters (abbreviated to FWK should you happen to see it on a census) rented a large loom and made stockings and everyone in the family helped. Often the occupation of other household members would be “seamer”: they would stitch the stocking seams together.  Catherine was still living with the Bennistons ten years later in 1861.

                            Framework Knitters


                            I read some chapters of a thesis on the south Derbyshire poor in the 1800s and found some illuminating information about indentured apprenticeship of children especially if one parent died. It was not at all uncommon,  and framework knitters in particular often had indentured apprentices.  It was a way to ensure the child was fed and learned a skill.  Children commonly worked from the age of ten or 12 anyway. They were usually placed walking distance of the family home and maintained contact. The indenture could be paid by the parish poor fund, which cost them slightly less than sending them to the poorhouse, and could be paid off by a parent if circumstances improved to release the child from the apprenticeship.
                            A child who was an indentured apprentice would continue a normal life after the term of apprenticeship, usually still in contact with family locally.

                            I found a newspaper article titled “Child Murder at Heanor” dated 1858.

                            Heanor baby murder

                            A 23 year old lodger at the Bennistons, Hannah Cresswell, apparently murdered a new born baby that she gave birth to in the privy, which the midwife took away and had buried as a still birth. The baby was exhumed after an anonymous tip off from a neighbour, citing that it was the 4th such incident. Catherine Housley would have been nine years old at the time.

                            Heanor baby murder 2


                            Subsequent newspaper articles indicate that the case was thrown out, despite the doctors evidence that the baby had been beaten to death.

                            In July 1858 the inquest was held in the King of Prussia,  on the Hannah Cresswell baby murder at the Bennistons.

                            The King of Prussia, Heanor, in 1860:

                            King of Prussia Heanor


                              Gladstone Road

                              My mother remembers her grandfather Samuel Warren’s house at 3 Gladstone Road, Stourbridge. She was born in 1933, so this would be late 1930s early 1940s.

                              “Opening a big wooden gate in a high brick wall off the sidewalk I went down a passage with a very high hedge to the main house which was entered on this side through a sort of glassed-in lean-to then into the dark and damp scullery and then into a large room with a fireplace which was dining room and living room for most of the time. The house was Georgian and had wooden interior shutters at the windows. My Grandad sat by the fire probably most of the day. The fireplace may have had an oven built over or to the side of the fire which was common in those days and was used for cooking.
                              That room led into a hall going three ways and the main front door was here. One hall went to the pantry which had stone slabs for keeping food cool, such a long way from the kitchen! Opposite the pantry was the door to the cellar. One hall led to two large rooms with big windows overlooking the garden. There was also a door at the end of this hallway which opened into the garden. The stairs went up opposite the front door with a box room at the top then along a landing to another hall going right and left with two bedrooms down each hall.
                              The toilet got to from the scullery and lean-to was outside down another passage all overgrown near the pigsty. No outside lights!
                              On Christmas day the families would all have the day here. I think the menfolk went over to the pub {Gate Hangs Well?} for a drink while the women cooked dinner. Chris would take all the children down the dark, damp cellar steps and tell us ghost stories scaring us all. A fire would be lit in one of the big main rooms {probably only used once a year} and we’d sit in there and dinner was served in the other big main room. When the house was originally built the servants would have used the other room and scullery.
                              I have a recollection of going upstairs and into a bedroom off the right hand hall and someone was in bed, I thought an old lady but I was uncomfortable in there and never went in again. Seemed that person was there a long time. I did go upstairs with Betty to her room which was the opposite way down the hall and loved it. She was dating lots of soldiers during the war years. One in particular I remember was an American Army Officer that she was fond of but he was killed when he left England to fight in Germany.
                              I wonder if the person in bed that nobody spoke about was an old housekeeper?
                              My mother used to say there was a white lady who floated around in the garden. I think Kay died at Gladstone Road!”

                              Samuel Warren, born in 1874 in Newhall, Derbyshire, was my grandmothers father.  This is the only photograph we’ve seen of him (seated on right with cap).  Kay, who died of TB in 1938, is holding the teddy bear. Samuel died in 1950, in Stourbridge, at the age of 76.

                              Samuel Warren Kay Warren

                              Left to right: back row: Leslie Warren. Hildred Williams / Griffiths (Nee Warren). Billy Warren. 2nd row: Gladys (Gary) Warren. Kay Warren (holding teddy bear). Samuel Warren (father). Hildred’s son Chris Williams (on knee). Lorna Warren. Joan Williams. Peggy Williams (Hildreds daughters). Jack Warren. Betty Warren.


                                William Marshall’s Parents

                                William Marshall  1876-1968, my great grandfather, married Mary Ann Gilman Purdy in Buxton. We assumed that both their families came from Buxton, but this was not the case.  The Marshall’s came from Elton, near Matlock; the Purdy’s from Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

                                William Marshall, seated in centre, with colleagues from the insurance company:

                                William Marshall



                                William and all his siblings were born in Fairfield in Buxton. But both Emma Featherstone 1847-1928, his mother, and John Marshall 1842-1930, his father, came from rural Derbyshire. Emma from Ashbourne (or Biggin, Newhaven, or Hartington, depending on what she chose to put on the census, which are all tiny rural places in the same area).

                                Emma and John Marshall in the middle, photo says “William Marshall’s parents” on the back:

                                Emma and John Marshall


                                John Marshall was a carter, later a coal carter, and was born in Elton, Derbyshire. Elton is a rural village near to Matlock. He was unable to write (at least at the time of his wedding) but Emma signed her own name.

                                In 1851 Emma is 3 or 4 years old living with family at the Jug and Glass Inn, Hartington. In 1861 Emma was a 14 year old servant at a 112 acre farm, Heathcote, but her parents were still living at the Jug and Glass. Emma Featherstone’s parents both died when she was 18, in 1865.
                                In 1871 she was a servant at Old House Farm, Nether Hartington Quarter, Ashborne.

                                On the census, a female apprentice was listed as a servant, a boy as an apprentice. It seems to have been quite normal, at least that’s what I’ve found so far,  for all teenagers to go and live in another household to learn a trade, to be independent from the parents, and so doesn’t necessarily mean a servant as we would think of it. Often they stayed with family friends, and usually married in their early twenties and had their own household ~ often with a “servant” or teenager from someone else’s family.

                                The only marriage I could find for Emma and John was in Manchester in 1873, which didn’t make much sense. If Emma was single on the 1871 census, and her first child James was born in 1873, her marriage had to be between those dates. But the marriage register in Manchester appears to be correct, John was a carter, Emma’s father was Francis Featherstone. But why Manchester?

                                Marshall Featherstone marriage

                                I noticed that the witnesses to the marriage were Francis and Elizabeth Featherstone. He father was Francis, but who was Elizabeth? Emma’s mother was Sarah. Then I found that Emma’s brother Francis married Elizabeth, and they lived in Manchester on the 1871 census. Henry Street, Ardwick. Emma and John’s address on the marriage register is Emily Street, Ardwick. Both of them at the same address.

                                The marriage was in February 1873, and James, the first child was born in July, 1873, in Buxton.

                                It would seem that Emma and John had to get married, hence the move to Manchester where her brother was, and then quickly moved to Buxton for the birth of the child.  It was far from uncommon, I’ve found while making notes of dates in registers, for a first child to be born six or 7 months after the wedding.

                                Emma died in 1928 at the age of 80, two years before her husband John. She left him a little money in her will! This seems unusual so perhaps she had her own money, possibly from the death of her parents before she married, and perhaps from the sale of the Jug and Glass.

                                I found a photo of the Jug and Glass online.  It looks just like the pub I’d seen in my family history meditations on a number of occasions:

                                Jug and Glass


                                  The following stories started with a single question.

                                  Who was Catherine Housley’s mother?

                                  But one question leads to another, and another, and so this book will never be finished.  This is the first in a collection of stories of a family history research project, not a complete family history.  There will always be more questions and more searches, and each new find presents more questions.

                                  A list of names and dates is only moderately interesting, and doesn’t mean much unless you get to know the characters along the way.   For example, a cousin on my fathers side has already done a great deal of thorough and accurate family research. I copied one branch of the family onto my tree, going back to the 1500’s, but lost interest in it after about an hour or so, because I didn’t feel I knew any of the individuals.

                                  Parish registers, the census every ten years, birth, death and marriage certificates can tell you so much, but they can’t tell you why.  They don’t tell you why parents chose the names they did for their children, or why they moved, or why they married in another town.  They don’t tell you why a person lived in another household, or for how long. The census every ten years doesn’t tell you what people were doing in the intervening years, and in the case of the UK and the hundred year privacy rule, we can’t even use those for the past century.  The first census was in 1831 in England, prior to that all we have are parish registers. An astonishing amount of them have survived and have been transcribed and are one way or another available to see, both transcriptions and microfiche images.  Not all of them survived, however. Sometimes the writing has faded to white, sometimes pages are missing, and in some case the entire register is lost or damaged.

                                  Sometimes if you are lucky, you may find mention of an ancestor in an obscure little local history book or a journal or diary.  Wills, court cases, and newspaper archives often provide interesting information. Town memories and history groups on social media are another excellent source of information, from old photographs of the area, old maps, local history, and of course, distantly related relatives still living in the area.  Local history societies can be useful, and some if not all are very helpful.

                                  If you’re very lucky indeed, you might find a distant relative in another country whose grandparents saved and transcribed bundles of old letters found in the attic, from the family in England to the brother who emigrated, written in the 1800s.  More on this later, as it merits its own chapter as the most exciting find so far.

                                  The social history of the time and place is important and provides many clues as to why people moved and why the family professions and occupations changed over generations.  The Enclosures Act and the Industrial Revolution in England created difficulties for rural farmers, factories replaced cottage industries, and the sons of land owning farmers became shop keepers and miners in the local towns.  For the most part (at least in my own research) people didn’t move around much unless there was a reason.  There are no reasons mentioned in the various registers, records and documents, but with a little reading of social history you can sometimes make a good guess.  Samuel Housley, for example, a plumber, probably moved from rural Derbyshire to urban Wolverhampton, when there was a big project to install indoor plumbing to areas of the city in the early 1800s.  Derbyshire nailmakers were offered a job and a house if they moved to Wolverhampton a generation earlier.

                                  Occasionally a couple would marry in another parish, although usually they married in their own. Again, there was often a reason.  William Housley and Ellen Carrington married in Ashbourne, not in Smalley.  In this case, William’s first wife was Mary Carrington, Ellen’s sister.  It was not uncommon for a man to marry a deceased wife’s sister, but it wasn’t strictly speaking legal.  This caused some problems later when William died, as the children of the first wife contested the will, on the grounds of the second marriage being illegal.

                                  Needless to say, there are always questions remaining, and often a fresh pair of eyes can help find a vital piece of information that has escaped you.  In one case, I’d been looking for the death of a widow, Mary Anne Gilman, and had failed to notice that she remarried at a late age. Her death was easy to find, once I searched for it with her second husbands name.

                                  This brings me to the topic of maternal family lines. One tends to think of their lineage with the focus on paternal surnames, but very quickly the number of surnames increases, and all of the maternal lines are directly related as much as the paternal name.  This is of course obvious, if you start from the beginning with yourself and work back.  In other words, there is not much point in simply looking for your fathers name hundreds of years ago because there are hundreds of other names that are equally your own family ancestors. And in my case, although not intentionally, I’ve investigated far more maternal lines than paternal.

                                  This book, which I hope will be the first of several, will concentrate on my mothers family: The story so far that started with the portrait of Catherine Housley’s mother.

                                  Elizabeth Brookes


                                  This painting, now in my mothers house, used to hang over the piano in the home of her grandparents.   It says on the back “Catherine Housley’s mother, Smalley”.

                                  The portrait of Catherine Housley’s mother can be seen above the piano. Back row Ronald Marshall, my grandfathers brother, William Marshall, my great grandfather, Mary Ann Gilman Purdy Marshall in the middle, my great grandmother, with her daughters Dorothy on the left and Phyllis on the right, at the Marshall’s house on Love Lane in Stourbridge.




                                  The Search for Samuel Housley

                                  As soon as the search for Catherine Housley’s mother was resolved, achieved by ordering a paper copy of her birth certificate, the search for Catherine Housley’s father commenced. We know he was born in Smalley in 1816, son of William Housley and Ellen Carrington, and that he married Elizabeth Brookes in Wolverhampton in 1844. He was a plumber and glazier. His three daughters born between 1845 and 1849 were born in Smalley. Elizabeth died in 1849 of consumption, but Samuel didn’t register her death. A 20 year old neighbour called Aaron Wadkinson did.

                                  Elizabeth death


                                  Where was Samuel?

                                  On the 1851 census, two of Samuel’s daughters were listed as inmates in the Belper Workhouse, and the third, 2 year old Catherine, was listed as living with John Benniston and his family in nearby Heanor.  Benniston was a framework knitter.

                                  Where was Samuel?

                                  A long search through the microfiche workhouse registers provided an answer. The reason for Elizabeth and Mary Anne’s admission in June 1850 was given as “father in prison”. In May 1850, Samuel Housley was sentenced to one month hard labour at Derby Gaol for failing to maintain his three children. What happened to those little girls in the year after their mothers death, before their father was sentenced, and they entered the workhouse? Where did Catherine go, a six week old baby? We have yet to find out.

                                  Samuel Housley 1850


                                  And where was Samuel Housley in 1851? He hasn’t appeared on any census.

                                  According to the Belper workhouse registers, Mary Anne was discharged on trial as a servant February 1860. She was readmitted a month later in March 1860, the reason given: unwell.

                                  Belper Workhouse:

                                  Belper Workhouse

                                  Eventually, Mary Anne and Elizabeth were discharged, in April 1860, with an aunt and uncle. The workhouse register doesn’t name the aunt and uncle. One can only wonder why it took them so long.
                                  On the 1861 census, Elizabeth, 16 years old, is a servant in St Peters, Derby, and Mary Anne, 15 years old, is a servant in St Werburghs, Derby.

                                  But where was Samuel?

                                  After some considerable searching, we found him, despite a mistranscription of his name, on the 1861 census, living as a lodger and plumber in Darlaston, Walsall.
                                  Eventually we found him on a 1871 census living as a lodger at the George and Dragon in Henley in Arden. The age is not exactly right, but close enough, he is listed as an unmarried painter, also close enough, and his birth is listed as Kidsley, Derbyshire. He was born at Kidsley Grange Farm. We can assume that he was probably alive in 1872, the year his mother died, and the following year, 1873, during the Kerry vs Housley court case.

                                  Samuel Housley 1871


                                  I found some living Housley descendants in USA. Samuel Housley’s brother George emigrated there in 1851. The Housley’s in USA found letters in the attic, from the family in Smalley ~ written between 1851 and 1870s. They sent me a “Narrative on the Letters” with many letter excerpts.

                                  The Housley family were embroiled in a complicated will and court case in the early 1870s. In December 15, 1872, Joseph (Samuel’s brother) wrote to George:

                                  “I think we have now found all out now that is concerned in the matter for there was only Sam that we did not know his whereabouts but I was informed a week ago that he is dead–died about three years ago in Birmingham Union. Poor Sam. He ought to have come to a better end than that….His daughter and her husband went to Birmingham and also to Sutton Coldfield that is where he married his wife from and found out his wife’s brother. It appears he has been there and at Birmingham ever since he went away but ever fond of drink.”

                                  No record of Samuel Housley’s death can be found for the Birmingham Union in 1869 or thereabouts.

                                  But if he was alive in 1871 in Henley In Arden…..
                                  Did Samuel tell his wife’s brother to tell them he was dead? Or did the brothers say he was dead so they could have his share?

                                  We still haven’t found a death for Samuel Housley.




                                  Ay, the framework knittin’ were ‘ard work, but it were our own, and better by a mile than what come next. We ‘ad the frame in our home and all the family helped, the girls’d be the seamers and the spool threaders and many a fine stocking we made in our cottages, until those industrialists and capitalists came to our fair dales with their factories and such and took our livelihoods from under our noses.

                                  We ‘ad a needle maker in our village, a miller and a baker, and a dressmaker. We ‘ad farms and a dairy and a butcher, and all the old families in our parish ‘ad their place. There’s always those that find work hard, and those that find it rewarding, but even them as found the framework knittin’ ‘ard soon changed their tune about the framework knittin’ being hard when they was doubled over under gods green earth all the day long in the coal mines.

                                  Ay, the changes wrought upon our fair parish wreaked an unholy disruption upon the face of village life.  It were the inclosures act what started our downfall, when our common land was took from us, that were indeed the beginning of the end of our fine community of largely honest souls, and even the good nature of the gent from the hall and the Parish poor fund couldn’t halt the downfall.

                                  Ay and I’ve traveled to the future and seen the ungoldy sight of it now. The old farm on the turnpike road surrounded now by house upon house and not an onion nor a carrot to be seen growing in their gardens, and the fronts all hardened floors for those contraptions they move around in, and empty all day long with not a sign of life until nightfall when they all come home and go inside and shut the doors, and never a one passing the time of day with their neighbours over the garden fence, and not a chicken or a cow in sight.

                                  There’s no needlemaker now, and the mill’s been knocked down, and there are painted lines on all the hard roads, although I will say that ugly as they are they don’t get near so rutted and muddy when the weather’s bad.

                                  I can’t stay long when I visit the future with that woman who comes to call upon us asking questions. I can’t stay long at all.


                                  Nora moves silently along the path, placing her feet with care. It is more overgrown in the wood than she remembers, but then it is such a long time since she came this way. She can see in the distance something small and pale. A gentle gust of wind and It seems to stir, as if shivering, as if caught.

                                  Nora feels strange, there is a strong sense of deja vu now that she has entered the forest.

                                  She comes to a halt. The trees are still now, not a leaf stirs. She can hear nothing other than the sound of her own breathing. She can’t see the clearing yet either, but she remembers it’s further on, beyond the next winding of the path. She can see it in her mind’s eye though, a rough circle of random stones, with a greenish liquid light filtering through. The air smells of leaf mould and it is spongy underfoot. There’s a wooden bench, a grassy bank, and a circular area of emerald green moss. Finn thinks of it as place of enchantment, a fairy ring.

                                  Wait! Who is Finn? Where is this story coming from that whispers in her ear as she makes her way through the woods to her destination, the halfway point of her clandestine journey? Who is Finn?

                                  She reaches the tiny shivering thing and sees that it is a scrap of paper, impaled on a broken branch. She reaches out gently and touches it, then eases if off the branch, taking care not to rip it further. There is a message scribbled on the paper, incomplete. meet me, is all it says now

                                  The crumpled up paper among the dead leaves beside the path catches her eye.  No, not impaled on a branch but still, a bit of paper catches her eye as the mysterious  ~ ephemeral, invisible ~ story teller continues softly telling her tale

                                  Finn feels dreamy and floaty. She smiles to herself, thinking of the purpose of her mission, feeling as though it is a message to her from the past. She is overwhelmed for a moment with a sense of love and acceptance towards her younger self. Yes, she whispers softly to the younger Finn, I will meet you at the fairy ring. We will talk a bit. Maybe I can help

                                  But wait, there is no meaningful message on the crumpled paper that Nora picks up and opens out. It’s nothing but a shopping receipt.  Disappointed, she screws it back up and aims to toss it into the undergrowth, but she hesitates.  Surely it can’t have no meaning at all, she thinks, not after the strange whispered story and the synchronicity of finding it just at that moment.  She opens it back up again, and reads the list of items.

                                  Olive oil, wine, wheat, garum…. wait, what? Garum? She looks at the date on the receipt ~ a common enough looking till roll receipt, the kind you find in any supermarket ~ but what is this date? 57BC?   How can that be?  Even if she had mistranslated BC ~ perhaps it means British Cooperative, or Better Compare or some such supermarket name ~  the year of 57 makes little sense anyway.  And garum, how to explain that! Nora only knows of garum in relation to Romans, there is no garum on the shelves between the mayonaisse and the ketchup these days, after all.

                                  Nora smooths the receipt and folds it neatly in half and puts it in her pocket.  The shadows are long now and she still has some distance to walk before the halfway village.  As she resumes her journey, she hears whispered in her ear: You unlocked the blue diamond mode. You’re on a quest now!

                                  Smiling now, she accelerates her pace.  The lowering sun is casting a golden light, and she feels fortified.


                                    “What’s with the lucha libre mask, Bronkel?” Godfrey asked as he ushered the short tense man in the living room. “I’m not sure that’s very sanitary… Protects everything but the mouth…”

                                    Bronkel didn’t feel like answering and at once asked for Elizabeth Tattler.

                                    “… and don’t tell me she’s got another pitiful excuse for not delivering! Listen, she’s just the worst! And let me tell you that I’m not exaggerating. I’m also managing GRRAOU —yes, George fucking R.R.A.O. Urtin, and this guy’s been at his pentalogy since 25 years. So, I got my fill about lame excuses.”

                                    “Her readers are devotees, you know. They know hers is a difficult craft. Warping and woofing words around like she does, so gloriously. Everybody but you Bronkel seem to understand that it’s not commonplace, it’s a treasure earned with patience and devotion.”

                                    “Devotees for sure. They have a saint’s patience I can grant you that, and luckily for her!” Bronkel drank the inch of gin bottoms up. “And where is she, by the way? Will she not deign face me?”

                                    “Oh, I think she’s err… busy at the moment. She’s rehearsing a scene from her last book for accuracy… with the gardener.”


                                    I’ve been up since god knows what time. Got up for the loo and couldn’t face going back to the awful nightmares.  That girl that came yesterday said she’d been having nightmares, she said it was common now, people having nightmares, what with the quarantine. I think I might have just snorted at the silly girl, but when I woke up last night I wondered if it was true. Or maybe I’m just a suggestible old fool.

                                    Anyway, I stayed up because lord knows I don’t want to be in a city in America at night, not waking and not dreaming either. I’ve had a feeling for a long time, and much longer than this virus, that it was like a horror movie and it would behoove me not to watch it anymore or I’d be having nightmares.  I didn’t stop watching though, sort of a horrified fascination, like I’d watched this far so why stop now.

                                    In the dream I was on a dark city street at a bus stop, it was night time and the lights were bright in a shop window on the other side of the sidewalk.  I had a bunch of tickets in my hand all stapled together, but they were indecipherable. I had no idea where I was going or how to get there.  Then I noticed the man that was by my side,  a stranger that seemed to have latched on to me, had stolen all my tickets and replaced them with the rolled up used ticket stubs.  I made him give me back my tickets but then I knew I couldn’t trust him.

                                    Then I realized I hadn’t finished packing properly and only had a ragged orange towel with bloodstains on it.  So I go back home (I say home but I don’t know what house it was) to pack my bags properly, and find a stack of nice new black towels, and replace the bloody orange one.

                                    I’m walking around the house, wondering what else I should pack, and one room leads into another, and then another, and then another, in a sort of spiral direction (highly improbable because you’d have ended up back in the same room, in real life) and then I found a lovely room and thought to myself, What a nice room! You’d never have known it was there because it wasn’t on the way to anywhere and didn’t seem to have a function as a room.

                                    It was familiar and I remembered I’d been there before, in another dream, years ago.  It had lovely furniture in it, big old polished wooden pieces, but not cluttered, the room was white and bright and spacious. Lovely big old bureau on one wall, I remember that piece quite clearly. Not a speck of dust on it and the lovely dark sheen of ancient polished oak.

                                    Anyway in the dream I didn’t take anything from the room, and probably should have just stayed there but the next thing I know, I’m in a car with my mother and she races off down the fast lane of an empty motorway. I’m thinking, surely she doesn’t know how to take me where I have to go? She seemed so confident, so out of character the way she was driving.

                                    I got up for the loo and all I kept thinking about was that awful scene in the  city street, which admittedly doesn’t sound that bad. I won’t bother telling the girl about it when she comes to do my breakfast, it loses a little in the telling, I think.

                                    But the more I think about that lovely room at the end of the spiral of rooms, the more I’m trying to wrack my brains to remember where I’ve seen that room before.  I’ve half a mind to go back there and open that dark oak bureau and see what’s inside.

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