Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

When Henry Robert Field CANHAM filled out the 1911 Census form in The Vicarage, Muston, he noted his marriage of 33 years and the production of 11 children with Emma Maria née JAMES, three of whom had died. Three unmarried daughters were resident at the Vicarage, Mary Lilian, 27, Maybell Beatrice Constance, 21, and Ellen Mary, 15.

Ten years earlier, Reverend Henry was away from home, enjoying a busman’s holiday at Hackthorn Vicarage in Lincolnshire, 45 miles from his responsibilities in Bourne, where 9 of his eleven children came into the world. Emma Maria headed the household in the Villa Brunne, in the company of son Ernest G, and daughters Lilian M, Mary B and Ellen M.

Mary B is clearly enumerated as a CANHAM but I can’t find a birth registration for her. She would be the twelfth child if born to the Vicar and his wife. As a result of her appearance in this Census, she has a place in the family on the FamilySearch Tree.

“Lilian Mary” is 7 at the 1891 Census but was registered at birth as Mary Lilian. She is Lilian Mary in the GRO Death Index and Mary Lilian on her headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard. It would appear that she lived most of her life with her dear sister, Ellen Mary – witness the touching “reunited” on the stone.


The pedigree of “Mary B” remains a mystery. My guess is that she may have been a “waif and stray” taken into the Canham family, formally adopted perhaps and her birth surname changed.

At the time of his induction as Rector of Hatch Beauchamp in Somerset, Ernest Grey CANHAM, older brother of contrary Mary Lilian, told the gathering he could trace his family tree back to the time of Edward III. Contributors to FamilySearch haven’t managed to take the direct male line quite that far, but other branches lead to Welsh Lords and Ladies, and to 5th century Kings of the Franks and Burgundy.

I have found just one mark of the existence of the true Marys in Muston and Filey. From October 1917 to March 1919, Ellen worked 1,940 hours for a shilling a day in the kitchens of the British Red Cross VAD Hospital in Filey.

I think the hospital was located in Osborne House on The Crescent but have been unable to confirm this. Find more information about Voluntary Aid Detachment Hospitals here.

Osborne House (left), The Crescent, Filey