Thursday, 10 May 2018

My Grandmother Charlotte Blakey and her Bigamist mother

Charlotte was born on the 14th of May 1889 in Preston, a small village north of Hull her parents were Joseph Fothergill Blakey and Maria Dalton, they were married on the 13th of November 1887 in Hull. Her father Joseph was originally from Leeds but was employed as a postman in Hull at the time of his marriage, when Charlotte was about 2 years old Joseph decided to leave his wife and child and return to Leeds, on the 1891 census he is recorded as living with his mother and other siblings in Holbeck near Leeds, he was then aged 27 and an unemployed postman. His wife Maria and daughter Charlotte were living in 1891 next-door to her parents at 49 Townside Road, Preston. I don’t know whether Maria expected Joseph to return or send for her to move to Leeds or whether their short marriage had been so incompatible that they no longer wanted to be together, in those days a divorce was only available for the rich. What I do know is that Maria eventually met and fell in love with someone else, that person being George Curtois who was a green grocer and had a shop on Porter Street in Hull when Maria first met him. In 1893 Maria became pregnant with George Curtois’s child; because she was still legally married to Joseph Blakey she was unable to marry George. On the 13th of September 1893 she gave birth to a daughter who was named Georgina, on her birth certificate her father is recorded as being George Blakey (a slight deviance from the truth), occupation grocer and her mother Maria Curtois Blakey formerly Dalton, they were residing at 31 Porter Street, probably above the grocery shop. By the spring of the following year Maria was once again pregnant, this time George must have wanted the child to legally have his surname because on the 27th of September 1894 George Cave Curtois and Maria Blakey were officially married in the Register Offices of Hull. At the time of her second marriage Maria would have just turned 30 but her age on the marriage certificate is recorded as being 36, the same age as George, she is also recorded as being a widow which is also false because Joseph Fothergill Blakey was still alive and living in Leeds. I can’t blame Maria for this deceit and her bigamist marriage, she obviously hadn’t heard anything from her first husband for many years and was about to give birth to the second child of George Curtois, if she had been found out and accused of bigamy she could have received a large fine or a prison sentence. On the 17th of December 1894 she gave birth to a son who was named after his father, George Curtois. Three years later, just before young George’s third birthday his father George  died of consumption, he was only 39 years old and at the time of his death they were living at 29 Buckingham Street, Hull and George had been a master grocer. By the time of the 1901 census Maria and her children had moved to 15 Ellis Street were Maria is recorded as being a widow living on her own means, her age is recorded as being 32 when she was in fact now 36, living with her were daughter Georgina Curtois aged 8, son George aged 6 and Charlotte Blakey aged 11 and recorded as being a niece, (it seems that Maria was still trying to cover up her past). Maria also had a boarder residing at her address, the 29 year old James C. Smith who was employed as a labourer at the Engine works. On the 11th of June 1903 Maria once again entered into a bigamist marriage with this selfsame James Coy Smith, this time Maria gives her age as being 33 when she was in fact 38, just less than a year later on the 21st of May 1904 Maria Smith died of consumption, her age is recorded as 33, she was in fact 39, her daughter Charlotte was 15, Georgina 10 and George only 9. Apparently Joseph Blakey received notification of Maria’s death and turned up one day by his sister-in-law Alice Dalton asking for information about his daughter Charlotte, Alice felt that he had left it a bit late to be showing concern for his daughter and told him that Charlotte had died. Joseph doesn’t seem to have remarried, in 1901 he was living in Armley near Leeds with a housekeeper and an adopted son called Percy Siddle, aged 2, Joseph’s occupation was painter. 
 I don’t know who looked after Charlotte and her siblings after her Mother’s death, possibly her aunt, but 5 years later she married Robert Strickland and they moved into their own little house, number 7 Lauriate Avenue, close by to the newly built Alexandra Dock where Robert was employed by the Hull and Barnsley Railway company as a coal tipper or heaver. 

Sunday, 15 April 2018

My Dad the Magician

I grew up with a Dad who was a magician, he told us children that he had special gifts because he was the seventh child of a seventh child. I remember thinking that when he looked at me through his rear view mirror of the car that he could maybe read my thoughts, so you always had to watch out what you were thinking.
It was also dangerous to pick up a coin laying around on the coffee table because you might just get an electric shock, Dad liked practical jokes.
Dad was a member of the magic circle and when he and Mum where just married he would often do magic shows for local events or parties and Mum would be his assistant. So as any good magician he also had his own white rabbit which he could of course pull out of his hat and astound his audience with. Unfortunately  Dad came home from work one day and found the rabbit dead with a carrot and lettuce stuffed in it's mouth, and since that time poor Mum was accused of killing the rabbit with kindness, those of you who know my Mum can understand how this happened.
Dad would often perform magic shows for church activities and I am sure that many members can remember having to put their finger in the guillotine just after witnessing how a carrot was chopped in half, luckily nobody lost a finger.
Dad was especially good at card tricks and even in his later years would amaze his grandchildren and great grandchildren with his tricks and sleight of hand, how many children were amazed to have him produce a ball out of their ear.
When I was about 11 and living in California my Dad enrolled me in a magic school, I don't think that I attended for long, probably because we moved to Canada, but I did learn the rope trip and also that magicians never reveal the secret of how a trick works.
Last October me and my husband were in Hull and were able to visit Dinsdale's Joke shop, this is an amazing little shop full of all sorts of tricks and treats. I was amazed that the man working in the shop remembered my Dad so well and had so many fond and funny memories of him.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

The Del Monte man

I grew up with Del Monte canned peaches and pineapples, this was because during most of my childhood my Dad worked for Del Monte Foods.
In the early sixties he helped to set up the company in Great Britain and in 1965 he traveled to the U.S. to study the latest sales and merchandising techniques being used by supermarkets in New York, Kansas City, Salt Lake City and California. After his tour he attended a two week sales training session from Del Monte in San Francisco both as a student and as an instructor and then he travelled back to New York to attend Cornell University's annual National Sales Trainers' conference.
In 1967 Dad became the Regional Sales Manager for Scotland and Northern Ireland so we moved to East Kilbride, near Glasgow. Dad was very successful in Scotland and was able to increase sales of Del Monte in this area, as well as playing lots of golf.
Whilst sorting through papers and photos belonging to my parents I found a couple of letters congratulating my Dad on his good work as well as some photos of him giving training sessions and a newspaper article about his trip to the U.S. which was featured in the Grocer of October 1965.
Dad was a great salesman and could sell anything, in fact later in life he worked for awhile for a cemetery selling grave plots.
In the 1980's there was a commercial for Del Monte - " The Del Monte man says yes", for me Dad was the Del Monte man.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

George Robert Strickland - Eulogy 19th December 1927 - 18th December 2017

George Robert Strickland or Bob as he was more familiarly known was born on the 19th December 1927 in Hull, East Yorkshire, England. He was the youngest of 7 children having 4 elder sisters and two brothers. Bob's father was badly injured during the first world war and was unable to work so their family had to live off of his war pension.
Less than a month after Bob's 12th birthday on a cold January morning Bob's elder brother Fred came downstairs to find his father dead. The 2nd World War had just broken out a few months before and both Fred and Norman had joined the navy.
Bob's elder sisters were either married or living away from home so it was up to 12 year old Bob to help look after his mother who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. A year later on the 8th April 1941 Bob's mother also passed away, Bob was 13 years old and an orphan.
After his mother's funeral he was taken up to South Shields to live with his father's sister Annie. He wasn't happy there so after a year he decided to return back to Hull.
Hull was an important port, and because of this it was regularly bombed so when he arrived back at his old home everything was dark because of the blackout. Bob found his way to his married sister's Lilly's home and was able to live with her for awhile.
During this time Bob did all sorts of jobs, he learnt to drive whilst delivering laundry in an old ambulance and he even worked at Hull Fair on the dodgem cars.
Bob was 17 at the end of the 2nd World War but still had to go into military service, after military training in England he and his fellow comrades were shipped off to Egypt, during his time in Egypt Bob learnt a little bit of Arabic, even if it was only swear words.
After returning home from Egypt Bob decided to attend a school to learn typing and shorthand. It was here that he met his sweetheart and wife of more than 67 years, Doreen.
Bob and Doreen were married on the 25th March 1950 at St. Peters Church Anlaby.
A year and a half later their first child was born, John Robert Strickland, then two years later they were blessed with a baby girl Denise Violet Strickland.
For a while it seemed as if their family was complete, then in 1960 two LDS missionaries knocked at their door and were able to answer questions that no one else had been able to answer. Bob and Doreen and their two children were baptised and became members of the West Hull branch. A year later in 1961 they were once again blessed with a daughter, Debra Anne Strickland.
Shortly after Debra's birth Bob's work necessitated that he would have to move away from Hull, first to Little Neston in the Cheshire Peninsular and then to Sutton Coalfield near Birmingham. Bob began work with Del Monte (canned peaches etc) who had just begun to open up their offices in Great Britain. After another move to Sunbury on Thames Bob was eventually promoted to regional manager of the company in Scotland and Northern Ireland and the family moved up to East Kilbride in Scotland.
During all of these moves Bob and Doreen lost touch with the church and became inactive, during a business trip to the States Bob was able to visit Salt Lake City and writing home to Doreen he said - "There is something about this city that makes you feel different. We must attend church when I get back and start living a better life, one that makes your family better." Close quote.
Even though he said this it wasn't until they were living in Scotland and two Jehovah Witnesses knocked on their door, that the ball was set in motion, Doreen told them that they didn't go to church but that they were LDS, and these two Jehovah witnesses then rang the doorbell of a neighbour a few houses further along and she also told them that she was LDS, they told her that they had spoken to a neighbour who was LDS. This good sister quickly came around to our house and invited our family to a fireside and from that moment on we became reactive in the church.
On the 8th November 1969 our family travelled down to the London Temple and we were sealed together for time and all eternity.
After several business trips to the States Bob had developed a great desire to emigrate to the United States. In 1971 the opportunity arose, Bob sold his house and gave up his job and he and Doreen, who was 7 months pregnant at the time, and their three children moved to California to follow the American dream. Three months after arriving their 4th child Kim Doreen Strickland was born in San Pedro. What a blessing was that latecomer to Bob and Doreen in their later years.
Things didn't turn out as planned in America and Bob returned to work for Del Monte and they eventually moved him to Toronto, Canada. Both John and Denise remained in California and Denise met and married her husband Mario Gomez.
After a year in Canada, Doreen returned to Great Britain with Debra and Kim and Bob returned about a year later. Eventually Bob and Doreen were able to emigrate back to the USA with Kim, first to California and then to Arizona.
During his life Bob served faithfully in the church in many callings, he was Branch President in Scotland and Bishop of the Bedford ward in England. He has touched many peoples lives for good and shared his British humour. Even in his last week he was able to bare his testimony to his family.
Bob loved to play golf and he was also a wonderful magician a member of the magic circle. In his younger years Doreen was his assistant though he always accused her of killing his white rabbit with kindness by over feeding it, those who know Doreen can understand how this happened. Bob could perform marvellous tricks with cards but he also loved practical jokes and as a child we quickly learned never to pick up a silver coin laying on the table or you might just get an electric shock.
Bob was also a wheeler and dealer and was always buying and selling cameras or watches etc. Even as a young boy of about 5 his mother caught him outside trying to trade his grandfather's silver watch for some marbles.
Bob had a full life, he almost reached his 90th birthday but died just a few hours before, I like to think that his parents and siblings wanted to celebrate this birthday with him. His body was worn out but his spirit lives on.
He will be missed greatly by us his family, he was a loving husband to his wife Doreen, after 67 years of marriage and the ups and downs that every marriage has they still held hands. It was very emotional last week to witness how tenderly Mum and Dad said goodbye to each other.
Dad was also a great father to us four children, I can remember as a child feeling safe and protected on his knee, I loved to give him big kisses which he would give names to such as a smasher, or a smacker.
Dad has also left a great legacy of grandchildren and great grandchildren -  John and Joan's children Richard, Tracy, Lorna and Rachel. Denise and Mario's children Mark, Nathalie and Matthew, Kristin and Susan. Debra and Leen Arie's children Esther, Arjen and Laura and Kim and David's children Breanna, Aaron and Kelsey.Dad was very proud of each of his grandchildren and what they have accomplished in their lives and they also have fond memories of a fun Grandad who taught them to play cards or allowed them to decorate his face with flowers.
From these 12 grandchildren have come up to now 20 great grandchildren, Dad's memory will live on in these children.
I am so thankful for the knowledge that we have that this life doesn't end with death, a few days ago my sister Kim rang me up crying, she was feeling very strongly the miss of her Dad. I told her that for me it was different because I have lived far away from my parents for 36 years and that each goodbye at separation from them during all those years was like a death, but they were still there, just far away. I said to Kim that Dad is still here, he is just far away in another place where the internet connection isn't so good or is maybe just one way.
Dad we love you and will miss you but we know that you are close by and will keep an eye on your family. Love you Dad!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Memories in stone

In my last blog that I wrote about my great grandmother Rose Tozer, I mentioned that her father William Frederick Tozer died when she was only two years old.
When I first started researching my family history about 40 years ago Rose Tozer's birth certificate was one of the first documents that I ordered, at the time I was living with my parents in Bedford, England. All of my grandparents were from Hull in East Yorkshire so I was surprised to discover that Rose was born in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire. Since Wellingborough is located quite close to Bedford we decided to visit the cemetery there on a Sunday afternoon on the off chance that maybe we might find a gravestone of one of Rose's family.
It was quite a large cemetery so when we arrived we spread out in different directions, to be honest I didn't even know whether the Tozer family had lived in Wellingborough for long and whether they were living there when William Frederick died, in fact I didn't know at the time when he had died.  It was a lovely surprise then, when after only ten minutes of searching my Dad and younger sister Kim called over that they had found a grave stone of William Frederick Tozer!
William had died in 1872 so it was just over a hundred years after his burial that his great Grandaughter, my mum, and his great, great granddaughters were able to stand before his grave. It was a lovely grave, with the words " In affectionate remembrance of William Frederick Tozer who died 15 May 1872 aged 32 years."
Underneath were written the words " Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord"
William Frederick was a painter and decorator so I always wondered whether he had fallen off his ladder or something but after ordering his death certificate I found out that he died of Otitis (an ear infection) of two weeks which had then spread to the brain. This was in the days long before antibiotics and must have been excruciatingly painful.
In my next blog I will share more about William Frederick Tozer, his family and his occupation.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Rose Tozer - my great grandmother


Of course we can't know all the facts of our ancestor's lives, but as we put together the puzzle pieces of the information that we find we begin to get a small glimpse into their life.
My great grandmother's life began with sadness and ended in tragedy and in between she had more than her fair share of trials.
Rose Tozer was born on the 9th October 1871 in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire , the third child of William Frederick Tozer and Eliza Lowman Challis. Her father had his own prosperous painting and decorating business and was even chosen to decorate the interior of the new Corn Exchange in Wellingborough.
Sadly just seven months after Rose was born her father contracted an ear infection which without antibiotics spread to his brain and caused his death, he had just turned 32. William left a Testament bequeathing all his household goods, furniture books etc and the sum of twenty five pounds to his dear wife and his three children.
Even though Rose's mother Eliza was from Ramsgate in Kent she had a younger brother Joseph Robert Challis who was living in Hull, East Yorkshire. Possibly Joseph heard about someone who needed a housekeeper and recommended his sister, because in 1881 Eliza and her three children were living in Hull where she was working as a housekeeper for Prussian born merchant Solomon Henry, Rose was 10 years old. I don't know in which year Eliza and her three children moved up to Hull, if they were living by Solomon Henry in 1874 then they would have been present when a fire broke out in Solomon's warehouse next to his house on Gibson street which was stocked with Russian yarn, hemp, flax and rope. I also wonder whether Solomon was a friendly man to work for because I found an article in the Hull Daily Mail of January 1866 in which he was charged with brutally assaulting his wife and was in prisoned for 21 days. Solomon died on the 16th December 1881.
Rose's mother Eliza remarried on the 14th December 1889 to grocer and widower George Dunn, Rose would have been 18 and was probably living and working elsewhere. In the 1891 census she is recorded as being a domestic nurse and was visiting with her brother Frederick Tozer and his young family at 5 Sydenham Terrace, Hull. In March 1899 Rose was working as a domestic servant and she was lodging at 27 Strickland Street. It was here that she admitted to stealing a gold ring from one of the other lodgers but thankfully she was given a second chance as it was said that she had borne an excellent character previous to the event.
A year later on the 2nd of June 1900 Rose married a young man from Batley, West Yorkshire, his name was Harry Popplewell. Harry was 23, and 5 years younger than Rose, he had been working down a coal mine since at least the age of 14. I don't know what had brought him to Hull and how he met Rose but I remember my Nana telling me that his parents weren't happy with the marriage and resented Rose.
They married in Hull at St. Silas Parish church and Rose's brother William Henry Tozer was one of the witnesses. After their marriage they moved to Harry's home town of Batley and 6 months later Rose gave birth to their daughter, my grandmother Violet Popplewell on the 12th December 1900, maybe this was the reason that Harry's parents weren't so happy about the marriage.
Two years and two months after the birth of daughter Violet, Rose's husband Harry died of silicosis, a disease of the lungs caused by his many years of working in the coal mines, he was only 25 years of age.
As a young widow and mother Rose seems to have followed the path of her mother and taken up a job as a housekeeper to a recently widowed father of 6 daughters living in Bridlington on the East Yorkshire coast. Before the year was out on the 30th January 1904 she was married to this widower whose  name was William Whiting.
It was a busy life for Rose, not only had she her own daughter Violet but 6 headstrong step daughters ranging in age from 3 to 13 years to raise and she also had three more children to William Whiting, Ivy Maud in December of 1904, William Lloyd George in 1910 and Hector in 1914.
According to my Nana, Rose also helped to run a small Bed and Breakfast at the house they were living at, number 40 Quay Road, with all the extra work that it entailed. At the beginning of the 20th Century trips to the sea side were becoming ever more popular and Bridlington was becoming a favorite holiday address.
Rose's marriage to William was not very successful, it had obviously began as a marriage of convenience and apparently William was a ladies man and probably had some affairs, and I am sure that Rose must have felt that she was being used as a free child minder and housekeeper. Rose probably had her faults as well as I have heard from one of William's granddaughters that Rose drank and once she was so angry with one of her step daughters that she cut off her hair.
On the 25th of April 1917 William Whiting sent in a petition to divorce his wife Rose, accusing her of committing adultery on several occasions with a certain William Henry Wood. William was awarded custody of his two eldest children to Rose, Ivy aged 12 and William Lloyd George aged 6, Hector aged 2 was allowed to remain with his mother. It must have been heartbreaking for Rose to leave her children but in those days women didn't have any rights, Rose moved back to Hull with my Nana, Violet and young Hector, I have no idea whether she was allowed to have contact with her other children though I do know that my Nana kept in contact with her step sisters in Bridlington and would often visit them. William Whiting remarried shortly after the divorce came through but that marriage wasn't very successful either and didn't last long.
Rose lived the rest of her life in Hull where her mother and brothers were living, daughter Violet married in 1922 and had three children who Rose was able see. In 1927 her mother Eliza died at the age of 85 and just three years later on the 5th of December 1930 Rose decided to end her own life by putting a cushion in her gas oven and turning on the gas. She had been feeling depressed and young Hector who would have been 16 at the time had borrowed her last bit of money. At the time of her death my Nana, Violet who was at home with her three young children remembers seeing a silver rainbow on the Christmas tree, Nana would often cry around Christmas time, thinking of her mother. 
Rose was only 59 when she died maybe if she had lived I would have met her, my Nana gave me a small cut glass perfume bottle with a silver lid that was from her mother, when I open the lid I can still smell her perfume. 

Friday, 10 February 2017

Lightening and Windmills

This newspaper article is from the West Kent Guardian and is dated 5th September 1835

William Freeman was my 4th great grandfather, he was born around 1772 and died on the 19th May 1841 in Upnor, Frindsbury, Kent.