A Large Family

I left sculptor Robert SMITH on Thursday with five children. I have added six more. You can find them on the Shared Tree.

On census night in 1881 Selina Hannah was in Arthur Road, Horsham, with seven of them. She had to manage on her own while her husband carved stone somewhere. Robert was alone in Beverley in 1901 but I haven’t located Selina that year. Neither would be visited by the enumerator in 1911.

 At least three of the Smith children died in infancy. Their mother was used to such departures. She had eight siblings and may have outlived them all. (One died before she was born.) The parents were not represented on the Shared Tree but now you can follow this link to William FARMER.  

Aaron, brother of Moses, dressed well and was hardly ever depicted without his “breastplate” studded with twelve jewels. A censer dangles from one hand and he holds his Rod in the other. At my father’s knee, I learned something about Aaron’s physiognomy. “God said unto Moses…” – I’m sorry, I can’t tell you the rest, but it still makes me laugh.

I continue to be amazed by Robert’s skill – but did he abandon his wife and children?

Water 36 · Glen Gardens

The boats have gone into hibernation

He Married a Sculptor’s Daughter

Robert SMITH (yesterday’s post) was “of a retiring disposition” according to his obituary in the Beverley and East Riding Recorder (29 May 1909). But he was not shy. He was nineteen-years-old when he married Selina Hannah FARMER on 17 June 1867. She was seventeen. The census enumerator found them in 1871 living at No. 81 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, “Sculptors Premises held by Farmer Prinsley”. They had three children – Ada Selina, 3, Ernest William, 2, and newborn Arthur George.

A few years earlier, Selina’s father, Sculptor William Farmer had entered into partnership with one of his former apprentices, William BRINDLEY. They would work successfully together on London landmark buildings such as the Natural History Museum, Albert Memorial and Holborn Viaduct. Find information about the company here. Some apprentices and employees are listed but Robert Smith isn’t one of them.

Arthur died the following year but in 1881, at 13 King Edward Street, Southwark, there are five Smith children, including Alice Edith, mentioned yesterday. Each child has a FamilySearch ID generated by a christening source. The parents have six IDs each – the sixth linked to their marriage. I can make a start on building Robert’s pedigree on the Shared Tree and hope to find some grandchildren. Here is another of his stone offspring – I don’t think he needs an introduction.

Water 35 · Glen Gardens

Connections Made, Not Made and Bungled

I found the following affecting story in the South London Press of 23 June 1883 while looking for Mary Ann O’Brien née HEMINGTON.

Attempted Suicide at London Bridge

Mary Ann O’Brien, a respectable-looking young woman, described as a domestic servant, was placed at the bar before Mr. Bridge for final examination, charged with attempting to commit suicide by throwing herself into the river Thames at London Bridge.

Francis Daly, a dock labourer, said that on the evening of the 14th he was about to cross London Bridge to the City, when he saw prisoner run down the steps screaming. When she got half way down, she pulled off her bonnet, and rushed into the river, which at that time was very high water. He ran after her, and succeeded in getting hold of her clothing, and with the assistance of 94M, pulled her out, and she was taken to the workhouse.

Police-constable 94M said that when they got her out of the water she was very ill. When before his worship last week she said she had been in service in Brixton, and was removed to the Lambeth Infirmary owing to illness, and on her recovery, and returning to her situation, she found that her master’s goods had been seized and sold, among which were all her clothes, and as she was not able to enter the convalescent home without clothing, she in a fit of desperation threw herself into the river. Since the last examination he made inquiries, and believed her statement to be true.

Mr. Bridge observed that he had received a letter from the chaplain of the House of Detention, stating that the prisoner had expressed great sorrow for the crime she had committed. He asked her if she had a home to go to if he discharged her.

She replied that they would receive her in the Convent, Camberwell New-road, provided she had a cotton dress, two caps and some under-linen.

Mr. Bridge directed the office-keeper to supply her with what was necessary, and discharged her with a caution.

Prisoner thanked his worship, and said as soon as she recovered her health she would be able to procure a situation.

I hoped to trace the narrative arc this Mary Ann subsequently followed but failed miserably. I couldn’t find the chivalrous Francis DALY either. Had he been given a name rather than a number, PC 94M would, I suspect, have been a fair cop.

I have added a few people to the Hemington line so that the family now connects to George Toyn COLLEY, Charlotte WARLEY and others who have featured in recent posts. If you follow this link you should find Rosina Hemington in a pivotal position. She was a niece of “our” Mary Ann.

Extend the WARLEY line (if necessary) to reveal Charlotte’s grandfather George DOVE, a man of several FamilySearch IDs and a lot of forebears. He made the mistake of being born within a few miles of a namesake at about the same time. Both men married a Rachael/Rachel and, perhaps not surprisingly, have swapped wives on the Shared Tree. I will attempt to reunite them with their true loves over the next few days.

Mary Ann Still a Mystery

A couple of weeks ago, in A Passage to India?, I expressed doubt that “Mary”, daughter of Edward HEMINGTON and Mary Ann EAST,  had married Daniel McCarthy and borne a child in Poona.


I messaged a contributor who I thought might help, and on Tuesday received a welcome reply. Mary, though still without a family name, has been unlinked from the Hemingtons. (You can see her current status here.)

This departure left a space in the Hemington household to be filled by Mary Ann.


Placing Mary Ann with her birth family has been straightforward. I found she had two IDs that I had previously missed. I also discovered that her youngest sister Emily, missing from the list above, was also represented on the Shared Tree.

Mary Ann’s marriage to Frederick George O’Brien on 23 March 1863 in Lambeth looks solid. (Edward Hemington is named as her father.)

The bride was either very heavily pregnant at her wedding or had already given birth to Emily Bertha. This child’s birth was also registered in the March Quarter of 1863 – and her death aged 2 in 1865, around the time that second child Sophia Mary Ann was born. Sophia fared better, living long enough to marry and have three children, but dying in 1902 aged 36. Frederick and Mary Ann’s third daughter, Martha Margaret, didn’t quite make it to her second birthday.

Uncertainty surrounds Mary Ann’s death. The 1881 census enumerator found only Frederick George and his 15-year-old daughter Sophia at home in Sumner Street, Southwark, and the Find My Past transcription describes him as a widower. From the birth of her last child to the spring of 1881, I couldn’t find a death registration that was a close time and space fit for Mary Ann. In the final quarter of 1883, a Mary Ann O’Brien died in Lambeth aged 45, giving a calculated birth year of 1838. I couldn’t find any newspaper reports of this Mary’s passing and forking out for a speculative death certificate isn’t an option. Before giving up, I had a look at the 1881 CEB page image. For Frederick’s status, the enumerator had written “Mar Widower”.  It is possible that the couple had separated, with Sophia choosing to stay with her father. Frederick may have taken up with another woman – and he married her as soon as he was free to do so. His marriage to Jessie McKAY was registered in the same quarter as best-fit Mary Ann’s death.

Perhaps a close reading of local newspapers not yet available online would solve the mystery. Find Mary Ann on the Shared Tree but more work has to be done to connect her to the Skipsea/Filey Colleys.

A Passage to India?

Alan, great-grandson of George Toyn COLLEY and generous supplier of family information and photographs to LaFREDUX, has a second great-grandaunt on his mother’s side called Mary Ann HEMINGTON. She is a mixed-up lady, through no fault of her own. She married Frederick George O’BRIEN in Lambeth on 23 March 1863, almost three years after she supposedly gave birth to a daughter in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh. That child, Mary Ann Conway McCarthy, married John Henry SUBRITZKY, bore him eleven children and died in New Zealand in 1932.


Mary on the Shared Tree doesn’t have a family name, though you would reasonably expect her to be a Hemington. Perhaps she was born a CONWAY? She has seven duplicate IDs. One HENNESSEY, one WELTON, three RYANs, one RAGAN and one QUESTIONMARK.

In the first quarter of 1859, Mary Ryan married a Daniel McCarthy in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Just Mary has three sources attached to her record on FamilySearch. One is the 1861 England & Wales Census, placing her in London, aged 22 and single, with her parents and six siblings. It doesn’t make sense to have shipped her out to India.

Sources neatly fit marriage to Frederick George in Lambeth, the birth of a daughter, Sophia Mary Ann in 1865, and death aged 45 towards the end of 1883.

A very different life to the one currently portrayed on the Shared Tree.

Penny Farthing Thoughts


George Toyn COLLEY is a first cousin once removed to Anne Elizabeth GRAINGER (Wednesday’s post), and the only one of George Colley and Sarah TOYN’s children to live longer than five weeks.

The photograph, kindly supplied by Alan Hardcastle, (George Toyn’s great-grandson), is undated but was probably taken in Wandsworth or Lambeth in the mid to late 1880s. Reaching the age of 21 in 1883, George had received a bequest from his father and used the money to start a bicycle business in London. High wheelers were all the rage in that decade but, as you can easily imagine, were somewhat dangerous to ride in competitive races. The introduction of “safety bicycles” in the 90s saw the penny-farthing go out of fashion.

George apprenticed in Beverley as a bricklayer. The 1881 census caught him there aged 19, living with cousin Robert PAPE. Ten years later he is a married man in Wandsworth with two infant children – and working as a bricklayer. His bicycle business had failed.

Considering his reasons for leaving a steady trade to speculate in a new-fangled and fast-moving business (sorry, couldn’t resist), I thought of Filey’s World Champion racing cyclist, Herbert Liddell CORTIS. He was “at his zenith” in the years 1878 to 1880, riding in 128 races, winning over half, and amassing trophies valued at £1500 (about £140,000 today). On the 2nd of August 1882, aged 25, he had his last race, breaking several distance records on the way to becoming the first man to ride twenty miles in an hour.

Did Herbert’s renown encourage the Filey born bricklayer to sell bicycles? For a short time, the Colley and Cortis families had been near neighbours in Filey, the one at Cliff Terrace and later 6 North Street, the other on the corner of North and John Streets. George was only three when his father died, and four when he was orphaned. Soon after, the Papes in Beverley took him in as one of their own. Herbert was five years older and the two may never have met but news of the champ would surely have reached George by the early 80s, and perhaps influenced his move to London and the career change.

George reached his majority on 17 August 1883. Two weeks earlier, and the day after his Final Race, Herbert had married Mary BRUCE. Four days after George’s 21st, Herbert and Mary set sail for Australia on the Carlisle Castle. Herbert died just over three years later in Carcoar, New South Wales.

George Toyn married on 26 December 1885 and had four children with Charlotte WARLEY. The “Spanish ‘flu” took Charlotte in 1918 and George died in Croydon in July 1940.

You can find George and Herbert on the Shared Tree. Herbert has a blue plaque on the Evron Centre wall in Filey.


Gone For Soldiers, Almost Every One

The 1871 Census found George TAYLOR in Main Street, Seamer, a short distance away from his parents and siblings. He was 16 years old, serving an apprenticeship with Master Boot and Shoemaker John RHODES. About 250 miles away, 14-year-old Ellen TUCKER was enumerated in Philadelphia Terrace, Lambeth, with her mother Elizabeth née HARRIOTT, three sisters and a brother.

Ten years later George and Ellen were in Filey; a shoemaker and a domestic servant. Had they already met? Were they courting? They married in the spring of 1883 and brought six boys into the world. It wasn’t a good time to be a parent in a war-mongering nation.

One boy died before his first birthday, four joined Kitchener’s Army and three were killed.


Photographer unknown, c. 1914, courtesy Keith Taylor


Silas, the youngest of the brothers, was the first to be killed – near Auchonvillers in the Somme region of France, on the 3rd February 1917. He was serving with the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

In the photograph, Silas is standing behind Fred. To his left are William, Herbert, and Ernest.

Herbert, the eldest, didn’t enlist. Perhaps he wanted to but was already married, with a three-year-old son at the start of the ‘Great War’. Perhaps the authorities thought four Taylor boys were enough and gave him a pass. He would live to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Ernest may also have had a stroke of luck – he was captured by the Germans. I don’t know how long he was a prisoner of war but he eventually came back home. At the beginning of the next war, aged 50, he was a salesman down in London, not far from where his mother, Ellen, had been raised. He was married to Lilian, her maiden surname not yet discovered.

The TAYLORs were not on FamilySearchTree. I had to go back to the grandfather of Herbert’s wife, Lily, to pick up an ancestral thread to which they could all be attached.

Ellen, George and their slaughtered lambs are remembered on a headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.


In Loving Memory of GEORGE, beloved husband of ELLEN TAYLOR, died Jan 9th 1928, aged 73.

‘He fought a good fight

He kept the faith’

Also of his wife ELLEN TAYLOR, died Jan 16th 1942, aged 85 years.


Also FRED, WILLIAM and SILAS, sons of the above who fell in action in France, 1917-1918.