More information about William Wane (died 1626)

Yesterday I noted that William Wane, my 10 x great grandfather, was ordained in 1598 in Chichester, when Lancelot Andrewes, the noted scholar and mentor of the poet George Herbert, was bishop. I’ve been trying to find out more about William, in the hope of extending this particular branch of my maternal family tree a little further back in time.

South Downs near Clayton, Sussex

South Downs near Clayton, Sussex

Firstly, though, a reminder of my connection to William Wane. He was the father of Anne Wane (1611 – 1661), whose third husband was Magnus Byne (1615 – 1671) – one of William’s successors as rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer in Sussex. Magnus and Anne Byne were my 9 x great grandparents: their son John (1651 – 1689), a London stationer, and his wife Alice Forrest (died 1738) were my 8 x great grandparents.

I owe my discovery of William Wane’s existence to Walter Charles Renshaw’s 1913 publication, Searches into the History of the Family Byne or Bine of Sussex, which has also been my source for much of the information about this branch of my family tree. Citing a Deposition Book of 1607/8, Renshaw claims that William Wane was born in 1561 in Westerham, Kent. However, this would mean that he was 37 when he was ordained in 1598, which seems rather old, given that ordination usually followed soon after graduation from Oxford or Cambridge. However, I’ve now found a reference in the International Genealogical Index to the licence for William’s marriage to Joan Kemp, which was registered at Lewes and dated 9th December 1601. The licence describes Joan as being of Albourne, Sussex (five miles or so north-west of Clayton), and as having been born in about 1580, which means that she was 21 years old when she married. As for William, he is said to be of Clayton, Sussex, and to have been born in about 1576, which would make him 25 at the time of his marriage, a much more believable age.

St Bartholomew's church, Albourne, Sussex

St Bartholomew’s church, Albourne, Sussex

According to Renshaw, William Wane’s wife Joan was the widow of Thomas Kempe of Albourne, a yeoman. Thomas’ will is dated 24th September 1601 and was proved on 31st October in the same year. William Wane was inducted to the rectory of Clayton-cum-Keymer on 1st January 1601/2, but it’s unclear whether this refers to the year before the death of Thomas Kempe and William’s subsequent marriage to Joan or after those events.

What else do we know about William Wane? We know that his first appointment was as curate in Wivelsfield, about five miles north-east of Clayton. Renshaw also offers the tantalising information that, in 1606 and 1607, William was ‘in trouble in the Court on account of his relations with a woman named Ellenor Poulter’.  Anne, daughter of William and Joan Wayne, was christened at Clayton on 2nd March 1602/3, so she was probably their first child. William died in 1626, at the age of 50, and was buried at Clayton on 22nd September.

Wivelsfield church, Sussex

Wivelsfield church, Sussex

Thomas Kempe’s will of 1601 and William Wane’s will of 1626 are held at the East Sussex Record Office in Lewes, and I am in the process of applying for copies of both. I hope they will shed more light on their lives and families, and enable me to trace William’s and Joan’s lines back further into the sixteenth century.

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My ancestors’ lives illuminated by recent reading

I’ve just finished reading Adrian Tinniswood’s The Verneys: Love, War and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England. It’s an absorbing account of one family’s story, based on an unusually comprehensive archive of letters, and an illustration of how family history can bring political and social history to life. Every family historian must wish they had access to similar records for their own ancestors, rather than the sparse supply of parish records and occasional wills from which we have to piece together the bare bones of their biographies.

View of Clayton, Sussex

View of Clayton, Sussex

Although the Verneys were more socially elevated than my own ancestors (Sir Edmund Verney, with whom the story begins, was King Charles I’s standard bearer and fell at the battle of Edgehill), Tinniswood’s book helped me to understand a number of aspects of my maternal family’s history. I was interested to read, for example, about the newly-appointed rector of their Buckinghamshire parish, who was unable to take possession of the rectory because the former incumbent’s widow refused to move out. After protracted but unsuccessful negotiations, he solved the problem by marrying her.

This reminded me of the experience of my ancestor, Magnus Byne, the rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer in Sussex. When he took up his appointment on 24th July 1640, the parish rectory was occupied by Anne Chowne, formerly Bantnor, née Wane, daughter of one previous incumbent and the widow of two others, together with at least one child. Magnus married Anne just over a fortnight later, on 12th August: they were my 9 x great grandparents. To what extent was their marriage, or indeed either of Anne’s previous marriages, a matter of simple convenience? Perhaps, given the prevalence of arranged marriages (Tinniswood relates many examples of protracted marital negotiations in the Verney family in this period), the question is simply anachronistic. We know, from contemporary letters and wills, that genuine conjugal affection often followed marriages arranged for financial expedience, even if it did not precede it.

Lancelot Andrewes (via wikimedia)

Lancelot Andrewes (via wikimedia)

Having finished the Verney book, I’m now reading John Drury’s new biography of George Herbert, one of my favourite poets. Again, his detailed description of the seventeenth-century context is helping me to understand my own ancestors’ experience.  One of the figures who looms large in the book is Lancelot Andrewes, the renowned bishop and scholar who oversaw the translation of the King James Bible. Herbert studied under Andrewes, who would also be a major influence on a much later poet, T S Eliot.

I discovered recently that Andrewes was bishop of Chichester when Anne Wane’s father William (my 10 x great grandfather) was ordained deacon there on 28th May 1598, though the ordaining bishop was actually John Sterne of Colchester.  When William was ordained a priest a month later, the diocesan bishop was said to be Samuel Harsnett and the ordaining bishop was once again John Sterne. William Wane was appointed rector of ‘Clayton with chapel of Keymer’ on 1st April 1601, a position that he held until his death twenty-five years later.

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Bynes and Mansers: brothers and cousins in seventeenth-century London

My 9 x great grandfather Magnus Byne was born in Burwash, Sussex, in 1615, in the twelfth year of the reign of King James I. He was the son of yeoman farmer Stephen Byne and his wife Mary Manser. In 1631, the year in which Magnus went up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, his cousin John Manser was born in Burwash. John was the second child and eldest son of Christopher Manser, who was the brother of Magnus’ mother Mary.

In 1639 Magnus was appointed curate in Wadhurst, not far from Burwash, and in the following year he became rector of the parish of Clayton-cum-Keymer, thirty or so miles to the west. Magnus married Anne, widow of two previous Clayton incumbents, and they had six children.

Parish church of St John the Baptist, Clayton, Sussex

Parish church of St John the Baptist, Clayton, Sussex

In 1647, in the fifth year of the English Civil War, Magnus Byne’s son Stephen was born and four years later he was followed by his brother John, my 8 x great grandfather. Between these two births, England witnessed the end of the Civil War, the execution of King Charles I and the inauguration of Cromwell’s republican Commonwealth. Stephen and John were Magnus and Anne Byne’s last two children: there were two older sisters, Mary and Anne, both of whom died young, and an older brother Edward. Magnus Byne’s wife Anne died in 1661 and in the following year Magnus married his second wife, Sarah Bartlett.

Some time in the late 1640s or early 1650s, when he was in his late teens or early twenties, John Manser must have moved from Sussex to London. We know that he worked there as an apothecary, and I assume that he would have served his apprenticeship in the city. We also know that he had married his first wife Sarah by 1652, when he was twenty-one years old. At least one of John’s siblings followed him to London: his younger sister Anne married Thomas Frith there in 1666 (the year of the Great Fire) and they had a son named John, who is mentioned in John Manser’s will. Over the next two decades, John and Sarah Manser would have six children that we know of, all of them christened at the church of St Botolph without Aldgate.

St Botolph without Aldgate

St Botolph without Aldgate

In 1660 the monarchy was restored in England and King Charles II ascended the throne. In 1665 the Great Plague struck London and in the following year the Great Fire destroyed much of the city. We have no way of knowing how these events affected John Manser and his family, though they appear to have moved from Tower Hill (which seems to have been badly affected by the fire) to the comparative safety of East Smithfield a few years earlier.

It must have been some time in the late 1660s that John Manser was joined in London by his second cousin Stephen Byne. Stephen would work as an upholder or upholsterer there, and I assume that he also served his apprenticeship in the city. We don’t have records for Stephen’s marriage to Rebecca, daughter of citizen and joiner Thomas Whiting, or for the birth of their son Thomas, but both events probably occurred around the year 1670.

Tower Hill in the late 17th century

Tower Hill in the late 17th century

1671 saw the death of my 9 x great grandfather Magnus Byne, father of Stephen and John. I believe that Magnus’ second wife Sarah died either before him, or shortly afterwards. Besides Stephen and John, who were aged twenty-four and twenty respectively, Magnus left a son Edward, aged twenty-eight, from his first marriage: he remained in Sussex and married there. From his second marriage to Sarah, Magnus was survived by his son Magnus junior, aged seven, and by his daughter Sarah, aged five. It appears that these two young children now became dependent on their older half-brother Stephen, and probably came to London to live with him, since he makes provision for them in his will of 1674.  Certainly, by the latter date Magnus junior would be enrolled in Merchant Taylors School in the city.

It’s reasonable to assume that my 8 x great grandfather John Byne also came to London at about this time. He would set up business there as a stationer, and I’ve speculated before that he might have been apprenticed to John Bartlett junior, his stepmother Sarah’s brother and son of the prominent Puritan stationer and bookseller of the same name. We don’t know for certain where the Byne brothers lived before their respective marriages, but there’s a good chance it was in the Tower Hill area, where they would later establish their families, and also where I assume John met his future wife, Alice Forrest, who had spent her childhood there.

Tower Hill and Little Tower Hill, from Rocque's London map of 1746

Tower Hill and Little Tower Hill, from Rocque’s London map of 1746

In 1672 John Manser’s wife Sarah died, leaving the widowed John with six children. Two years later, at the age of 43, he married his second wife Jane Sawen, who was originally from Little Hadham in Hertfordshire. They would have two daughters together. In the same year,  1674, John’s cousin Stephen Byne died, at the age of only 27.  He appointed his wife Rebecca as executor of his will and his father-in-law Thomas Whiting and ‘my cosen’ John Manser as joint overseers.

We don’t have a record for the marriage of my 8 x great grandfather John Byne to Alice Forrest, but it probably took place in 1675, the year after his brother Stephen’s death. Alice was the daughter of haberdasher Thomas Forrest. John and Alice Byne would have seven children together.

In 1681 John Byne’s cousin John Manser died at the age of 50. He appointed ‘my kinsman John Byne’ as one of the overseers of his will. The main beneficiary of John Manser’s will was his son Abraham, who would remain in East Smithfield and follow his father in working as an apothecary.

In 1685, King James II came to the throne, only to be deposed four years later and succeeded by William of Orange and his wife Mary. In that year of the so-called Glorious Revolution, 1689, John Byne died at the age of 34, leaving his wife Alice and five surviving children.

By this time, John’s younger half-brother Magnus was working as an apothecary, and in the following year, at the age of 26, he married Jane Dakin, daughter of Southwark cheesemonger Joseph Dakin.

John Byne’s widow Alice would remain at Tower Hill until her death in 1738. Her daughter Mary, who married Stepney-born goldsmith Joseph Greene in 1701, would also set up home in the area: she and Joseph were my 7 x great grandparents. The family’s tie to the parish of St Botolph, Aldgate, would continue for at least two more generations. Mary Greene, daughter of Joseph and Mary and my 6 x great grandmother, married John Gibson and kept a house at Tower Hill, while their daughter, my 5 x great grandmother Elizabeth Gibson, would live in Darby Street, off Rosemary Lane, during her first marriage to John Collins.

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Links between the Byne and Manser families: a recap

A few months ago I wrote about the connections between my 8 x great grandfather John Byne (1651 – 1689), a London citizen and stationer, and his Tower Hill neighbour, John Manser (1631 – 1681), a citizen and apothecary. In his will of December 1680, John Manser describes John Byne as his ‘kinsman’; in his own will written six years earlier, John Byne’s brother Stephen had described John Manser as ‘my cosen’.

In an earlier post I established that John Manser was actually a second cousin of John and Stephen Byne, but also that the connections between the two families were multiple and complicated, stretching back over a number of generations. I’ll attempt to summarise those connections in this post.

Countryside near Burwash (via

Countryside near Burwash (via

John and Stephen Byne were the sons of my 9 x great grandfather Magnus Byne (1615 -1671), rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer in Sussex, and his wife Anne (1611 – 1661). Magnus was born in Burwash, Sussex, the son of yeoman Stephen Byne (1586 – 1664) and his wife Mary Manser (born about 1590): they were my 10 x great grandparents. Mary was the daughter of John Manser of Wadhurst (died 1598), who also had a son named Christopher (born about 1580).

Christopher Manser and his wife Anne had at least eight children, of whom John, the London apothecary, was the eldest son. This means that Mary Manser, who married Stephen Byne, was John’s aunt, and their son Magnus was his first cousin. So Magnus Byne’s children, including my 8 x great grandfather John and his brother Stephen, were John Manser’s second cousins.

The story is complicated by the fact that the maiden name of John Manser’s mother Anne (born 1605) was also Byne. She was the youngest daughter of John Byne of Burwash (1555 – 1615), whose precise connection to my other Byne ancestors is still uncertain – perhaps he was a cousin of my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne. Complicating matters even further is the fact that Anne’s sister Elizabeth married Abraham Manser, brother of John Manser of Wadhurst, and therefore the uncle of Anne’s husband Christopher. A final twist is provided by the fact that, when Abraham died in 1627, Elizabeth married for a second time to Magnus Byne – not my 9 x great grandfather, but his uncle Magnus Byne of Framfield, who was the brother of my 10 x great grandfather Stephen Byne.

The multiple connections between the two families are exemplified in a document in the National Archives dated 24th June 1630 and entitled ‘Bargain and sale for £200’. Its contents are summarised as follows:

Christopher Manser of Burwash, yeoman and his wife Anne to Stephen Byne of Burwash, yeoman

8 pieces of land ‘Woodlandes and Highlandes’ (40a); 6 pieces S: lands of John French gent and lands of Thomas Glyd gent ‘Wiverherst’; N, W: a whapple way from Halton house to ‘William Cruttendens of the greene’; E: land of Herbert Lunsford gent. Other 2 pieces W: land of HL; N: whapple way as before; S: land of TG ‘Wiverherst’, E: lands of John Dawe of Burwash ‘Hickmans’

This land lately occupied by John Byne of Burwash deceased, came to Anne Manser by partition of the property of Thomas Byne her brother by Nicholas Eversfield esq, sheriff [1620]

W: John Dawe, John Stoner, Magnus Byne, William Foster, Magnus Byne junior

What does this document tell us? Firstly, it provides solid evidence that Anne, wife of Christopher Manser, was the daughter of John Byne of Burwash. She inherited ‘the land lately occupied’ by this John Byne, after the death (in 1618) and partition of the property of her brother Thomas Byne, who was the heir to their father’s estate.

Burwash churchyard (via

Burwash churchyard (via

The Stephen Byne of Burwash mentioned here is my 10 x great grandfather, the husband of Mary Manser, sister of Christopher. So in this transaction Christopher Manser was selling ‘8 piece of land’ to his brother-in-law. Since these properties originally belonged to Anne’s father John Byne, perhaps the ‘bargain’ was simply a way of returning the land to the Byne family?

The Magnus Byne named as a witness to this transaction is almost certainly the second husband of Elizabeth, sister of Anne Manser née Byne (see above), and Magnus Byne junior was presumably his son. As well as being Anne Manser’s brother-in-law Magnus senior was, as already noted, the brother of Stephen Byne.

Having clarified the relationship between the families of John Byne and John Manser, in the next post I want to set down, in chronological order, what we know about their intertwined lives in London in the second half of the seventeenth century.

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A Seager family photograph?

Jill Hiam has contacted me from Melbourne, Australia, asking for help with identifying the people in an old photograph apparently taken at a golf club. Jill explains:

My Great Great Grandfather was Henry Fowle Seager, his daughter, Annie, my Great Grandmother, married James Aitken, and their daughter Marion Ena Lottie (known as Lottie) was my Grandmother.  Lottie married  Frank Robinson and they had 2 children – Lois Nancy & Gordon Blanchard.   Lois was my Mother.

I have a photo with some people I can name, but wondered if you had set eyes on any of the others.   They could be the Seager family or the Aitkens or could be just a group of people at a golf club.   

3rd from the left is my Grandfather, Frank Robinson & standing next to him is his wife, Lottie.  I think it’s Annie Aitken (Seager) who is seated & there are quite a few others that I have seen in the many photos I have, but have no idea of who they are.

The photo was taken in Reefton. 

I have sent the photo to many golf clubs, but as yet have had no reply. If you could shed any light on this photo, or how I could track down the people in the photo, I’d be most appreciative.

Born in 1821, Henry Fowle Seager, a printer, was the brother of my great-great-grandmother, Fanny  Sarah Seager (1814 – 1851), who was married to my great-great-grandfather William Robb (1813 – 1888). Like his brothers Samuel and Edward, Henry Seager emigrated to New Zealand in the 1850s. Jill adds the following additional information about her connection to the family:

I have a huge folder of photos that were my Grandfather Robinson’s.  He was born in South Australia and as a young boy moved to Broken Hill with his family.  Later in life he married Olivia Lord in Broken Hill and was employed at the South Mines as auditor.   His wife died giving childbirth after 1 year of marriage. My Grandfather then moved to New Zealand to work as accountant for the Gold Mines. He became auditor to the New Zealand Gold Mines and was also auditor for the Reefton Jockey’s Club.  He married Lottie Seager in 1916 and my Mother, Lois Robinson, was born in Wanganui in 1917.   The family moved back to Melbourne, Australia, when my Mother was 6 years old.  Lottie died (with one of the causes being listed as depression)  when my mother was 12 – 2 years after her Mother, Annie Seager died in NZ.   I’m finding it very difficult to source the Aitken side of the family, as there appear to be many James Aitkens in New Zealand.

I have Jill’s permission to reproduce the photograph here. If you can help with identifying one or more of the people in it, please leave a comment on this post and I will forward the information to Jill.

Seagers golf club photo

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Eliza Holdsworth (1801 – 1885): a life in service

In recent posts I’ve been exploring the lives of two of my maternal great-great-great-grandmothers, who happened to be first cousins. In the last post I wrote about Keziah Holdsworth, and this post I want to set down what we know about the life of her cousin, Eliza.

Birth and family background

Eliza Holdsworth was born three years before her cousin Keziah, on 19 April 1801, in the forty-first year of the reign of George III, the year in which the kingdoms of Britain and Ireland merged and the Union Jack became the flag of the United Kingdom. The month before Eliza’s birth, the first nationwide census had put the population of England and Wales at 9,168,000.

Mile End Road in 1798, a few years before Eliza was born

Mile End Road in 1798, a few years before Eliza was born

Eliza was born in Mile End Road, Stepney, the fourth of the six children of shoemaker William Holdsworth and his wife Lydia. William, who had been born in South Weald, Essex, in 1771, was the son of Yorkshire-born farmer Joseph Holdsworth and his London-born wife Elizabeth, formerly Collins, née Gibson. He had married Lydia, whose parents were Francis and Elizabeth Evans, at the church of St Botolph, Bishopsgate, on 26th November 1792. In the early years of their marriage, William and Lydia lived in Marmaduke Street, in the parish of St George-in-the-East. Contemporary maps, such as Horwood’s London map of 1792, remind us that at this time Stepney was still a semi-rural area, with open fields between the streets where the Holdsworths lived and the villages of Mile End Old Town and Stepney Green.

Marmaduke Street was the Holdsworths’ address when their sons Isaac and Samuel were christened at St George’s in 1794 and 1795 respectively, and when their daughter Phoebe was baptised in 1796. The latter event was also recorded in the Nonconformist register held at Dr Williams Library, suggesting that William and Lydia were already members of a dissenting congregation. The records of Little Alie Street Baptist Chapel in Whitechapel show that they were admitted to membership in the summer of 1798, when they were still living in Marmaduke Street. I’ve found no further records for Isaac Holdsworth, so it seems likely that he died in infancy, though we know that Samuel and Phoebe both survived, and would have been six and five years old respectively when their sister Eliza was born.

Birth record for Eliza Holdsworth

Birth record for Eliza Holdsworth

Like the birth of her older sister Phoebe, Eliza Holdsworth’s arrival in the world was recorded in the Nonconformist records. The register informs us that Eliza was born in Mile End Road, indicating that the family had moved by this date. There were two witnesses: Susannah McClatchie, the midwife, and Sarah Parker. The latter was almost certainly William Holdsworth’s sister: although she would not marry her second husband, William Parker, until 1803, Eliza’s birth was not actually registered until 1805.

Early life

In 1803, when she was nearly two years old, Eliza’s younger brother Edward Porter Holdsworth was born in Mile End Old Town and christened at St Dunstan’s church, Stepney. He might have been named after Sarah Parker’s first husband, Edward Porter, who had died in 1799, but it’s more likely that his name commemorated Sarah’s son from that marriage, Edward Parker Porter, who died in 1802 at the age of six. It’s probable that Edward Porter Holdsworth also died in infancy, since there are no further records for him. Three years later, in 1806, Eliza’s younger sister Sarah was born, though she would not be christened until she came of age. Later census records suggest that Sarah was born in Bethnal Green, and in fact the records of Little Alie Street Baptist Chapel indicate that by this time the Holdsworths were living in Wilmot Street, which ran south from Bethnal Green Road.

Bethnal Green and Mile End Old Town in Greenwood's 1827 map

Bethnal Green and Mile End Old Town in Greenwood’s 1827 map

In 1817, when Eliza was sixteen years old, her older brother Samuel married Lucy Roberts, a widow, at the church of St George the Martyr, across the river in Southwark. Three years later, in 1820, Eliza’s sister Phoebe married bricklayer Thomas Chamberlin at St John’s, Hackney. In 1821, Eliza’s younger sister Sarah married silk weaver Thomas Parker at the church of St George-in-the-East.

Bedfordshire and first marriage 

We can’t be sure when Eliza Holdsworth moved from London to Bedfordshire, or why. Given her later occupation, and that of other young women in her family (such as her cousin and namesake Eliza, sister of Keziah), one strong possibility is that she left London to work as a domestic servant. Another, not incompatible explanation, is that she went to live with relatives from her mother’s side of the family. The witnesses at Eliza’s wedding in 1825 were a certain Mary Evans and William Bowtell, the latter almost certainly the husband of Mary’s sister Martha. Mary and Martha were the daughters of Caleb Evans, a malt-maker and deacon of the Baptist meeting in Biggleswade. As I’ve noted before, Caleb’s wife Ann Marsom came from a long-established Bedfordshire Baptist family. Is it possible that Eliza’s maternal grandfather, Francis Evans, was related to this Bedfordshire branch of the family, and that this connection explains how Eliza came to be living there?

Blunham in about 1906

Blunham in about 1906

On 25th April 1825 Eliza Holdsworth married Daniel Roe in the parish church at Blunham, Bedfordshire. Daniel was a shoemaker, like Eliza’s father, whose family had roots in Bedfordshire and north Hertfordshire, though his precise origins remain obscure. I’ve speculated before as to why Eliza and Daniel were married at Blunham, given that the latter’s business was in the neighbouring town of Biggleswade, and why they returned there a year later for the christening of their first child. Did Eliza live and work in Blunham for a while before her marriage, perhaps in the household of the rector, the Rev Robert Porten Beachcroft (who officiated on both occasions), an evangelical who was known to be sympathetic to the local Baptist congregation? After all, Eliza would later work as a servant in another clerical household, that of Rev Robert Merry in nearby Guilden Morden (see below).

Daniel Roe’s shop was in Stratton Street, in the centre of Biggleswade, which is where he and Eliza were living when their daughter Anna (or Hannah) Maria was born early in 1826. In the next few years, the couple would have three sons – Richard was born in 1828, Daniel junior (my great-great-grandfather) in 1829 and Caleb (perhaps named after Caleb Evans?)  in 1833 – and a daughter, Eliza, born in 1833.

Biggleswade Old Town Hall

Daniel Roe senior seems to have died in about 1836, leaving Eliza a relatively young widow with five young children. In an earlier post I reported what seems to have been a case of double counting in the 1841 census, when Eliza and her children were still living in Biggleswade. They were either living in Sand Pitts, near the High Street and not far from the Evans and Bowtell families, or in a house in St Andrews Street to the west of the town. As I noted before, the duplicate entry might be explained by the fact that Eliza and her 15-year-old daughter Hannah or Anna, were working as servants for a family in the second location when the census was taken.

Hannah or Anna Maria Roe died in 1844, at the age of 18, and was buried in the Baptist burial ground in Biggleswade. Shortly afterwards, Eliza and her surviving children began their exodus from the town. I suspect that Eliza, Daniel junior and the younger Eliza  moved to Stepney shortly after Anna Maria’s death, perhaps living with their Holdsworth relatives in the William Street / Marmaduke Street area.  Caleb would stay behind in Biggleswade for a time, working as a servant in a solicitor’s household in Stratton Street, before moving to Stepney. His brother Richard also remained in the area, being apprenticed and then married in the village of Barkway.

Second marriage

The parish register of the church of St George-in-the-East, Stepney, notes that on 11th September 1845 Eliza Roe, a widow, married John Sharp, a widower. The witnesses were Sarah and Thomas Parker, Eliza’s sister and brother-in-law, who lived in nearby Bethnal Green, where they worked together as silk weavers. Both bride and groom gave their address as 16 Chapel Street, which was not far from the area where various members of  the Holdsworth family had been living half a century before.



John Sharp was a carpenter in Barkway in north Hertfordshire and it seems almost certain that he had been married previously to Martha Roe, who may have been Daniel Roe senior’s sister. Martha had died in May 1845, four months before John’s marriage to Eliza. So this may have been a case of a recently bereaved brother-in-law and sister-in-law coming together, perhaps for economic and social convenience.

Two years after marrying Eliza, John Sharp paid a fee of £20 which enabled his stepson Richard Roe to be apprenticed as a carpenter and builder for a period of three years to Nathan Warren of Buntingford. John is described as a publican in nearby Barkway, the village where he had lived with his first wife Martha Roe. This suggests that Eliza’s return to Stepney was brief and that she and John returned to his home in Barkway soon after their marriage.

In July 1848, three years after his mother’s second marriage, Daniel Roe junior married Mary Ann Blanch at the church of St Anne’s, Limehouse, a favourite family location. As I noted in the last post, Mary Ann was Daniel’s second cousin, the daughter of Eliza’s cousin Keziah Holdsworth and John Blanch, another shoemaker. It’s possible, as I’ve suggested before, that Daniel, who would also work as a shoemaker, was apprenticed to his future father-in-law.

In March 1851, Richard Roe married Fanny Elizabeth Debney, daughter of currier William Debney and his wife Ann. Despite the fact that Fanny’s parents William and Ann Debney were from Layston, not far from Barkway and Buntingford, the marriage took place at the church of St George, Hanover Square, in London’s West End. As was the case with his mother Eliza’s marriage to John Sharp six years earlier, the witnesses were Thomas and Sarah Parker, Richard’s uncle and aunt.

At the time of the 1851 census Richard and Fanny were living with the latter’s parents in High Street, Layston. Richard was working as a journeyman carpenter and Emily as a dressmaker, and they had a 10-month-old daughter Emily Anne Eliza. Some time in the next two years, Richard and Fanny would emigrate to Australia; their second child, Frederick William, would be born there in 1853, and they would eventually have six more children.

Parish church, Layston

Parish church, Layston

Meanwhile Richard’s brother Daniel and his wife Mary Ann were living in Bethnal Green with their six-month-old daughter Keziah Eliza. The census record describes Daniel and as bootmaker and Mary Ann as a bootbinder. As we have seen, Caleb Roe was still in Biggleswade, working as a servant. His younger sister Eliza was also in service, in the Tulse Hill home of Clarissa Clark, a merchant’s widow, and her family.

As for Eliza Sharp, formerly Roe, née Holdsworth, the 1851 census also finds her working as a nurse or nursery servant, in the home of the Walbey family, wealthy farmers and landowners in the village of Nuthampstead. Meanwhile, Eliza’s husband John Sharp, described in the census as a master carpenter (did he combine this with his role as a publican?), was living in the High Street in nearby Barkway. In fact, as will be seen, we have no evidence from census or other records that Eliza and John ever lived together. Perhaps theirs was a marriage purely of convenience, or perhaps there was an early separation? Either way, Eliza would spend much of the rest of her life in domestic service away from home.

In April 1853 Eliza Roe the younger married her cousin Thomas Parker junior, son of her mother’s sister Sarah and husband Thomas. By this time Thomas Parker senior was no longer a silk weaver but a licensed victualler, while his son was working as a baker. The wedding took place at the church of St George-in-the-East; bride and groom were both living in Chapel Street at the time, Thomas at No. 2 and Eliza at No. 9. Three years later, in July 1856, Eliza’s brother Caleb Roe, now working as a carpenter like his brother Richard and stepfather John, was married at the church of St Jude, Bethnal Green, to dressmaker Sabina Collinson, daughter of journeyman carver and gilder Enoch Collinson. Both parties gave their address as 10 Albion Buildings.

Eliza Holdsworth was nearly 60 years old when the next census was taken in 1861. She was still living away from home and working as a domestic servant, but by now she had moved to the household of Rev Robert Merry, vicar of Guilden Morden, just across the county border in Cambridgeshire. Interestingly, the abbreviation ‘m’ for married has been crossed out and ‘u’ for unmarried appears to have been substituted, thus casting further doubt on the status of Eliza’s marriage to John Sharp. Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to find John in the census, though I believe that he was still alive at this date.

St. Mary's church, Guilden Morden

St. Mary’s church, Guilden Morden

Meanwhile, Eliza’s son Daniel, his wife Mary Ann and their children were living in Soho, where they had moved with Mary Ann’s parents from Bethnal Green (see my last post). Richard Roe and his family were now settled in Australia, while Eliza’s other son Caleb, his wife Sabina and their three children were living in Shoreditch. Her daughter Eliza, husband Thomas Parker (now working for the Indian Military Stores) and their children could been found in Walworth in south London.

Old age and death

Ten years later, Eliza was still with the Merry family, but Rev. Merry had died in the interim and his widow had moved with her children to Braganza Cottage in Tormorham near Torquay. Mary Ann Mary took Eliza (as well as a number of other servants) with her, promoting her from nurse to housekeeper. The most curious fact about the 1871 census record is that Eliza, now 69, has reverted to her previous married name of Roe, although I believe that John Sharp was still alive and living in the workhouse at Bassingbourn. It appears that he died there later that year.

Torquay in the 1890s

Eliza’s daughter Mary Ann had died of tuberculosis by this time, and it’s likely that the latter’s husband Daniel also died at around the same period, leaving Mary Ann’s mother (and Eliza’s cousin) Keziah Holdsworth to look after their orphaned children. Caleb Roe and his growing family (there would eventually be a total of nine children) were still living in Shoreditch, while Thomas and Eliza Parker were now in Camberwell with their two daughters, and were also looking after Daniel and Mary Ann Roe’s youngest child, eight-year-old Joseph Priestley Roe, my great grandfather.

A photograph believed to be of Eliza Roe in old age

A photograph believed to be of Eliza Roe in old age

Ten years later, the census of 1881 would find Eliza Roe née Holdsworth living at the same address in Camberwell with her daughter and family. Presumably she retired from a life of domestic service some time in the intervening period. She would die there four years later. She was 84 years old.

Update: 6 November 2013

I’m grateful to my fellow researchers – and distant relatives – Julie Campbell and Ron Roe for providing additional information and pointing out mistakes in this narrative of our ancestor Eliza’s colourful life. See the comments below for Julie’s clarification about the photograph of Eliza. As well as correcting the date of Eliza’s second marriage (now amended in the above post), Ron also reminds me that when Richard Roe and Fanny Debney’s were married at St George, Hanover Square, the register gave their address as nearby Hanover Street, rather than Barkway. Was this simply an address of convenience, to allow them to be married at the church, or were they actually living in London at the time – and if so, why? I should perhaps have acknowledged in this post, as I have on previous occasions, that we owe much of what we know about Eliza’s, her husband Daniel,  their life in Biggleswade, and their connections with the Barkway/Buntingford area, to Ron’s pioneering research.

Posted in Blanch, Evans, Gibson, Holdsworth, Parker, Porter, Roe | 4 Comments

Keziah Holdsworth (1804 – 1881): from Oxford to Ealing via Stepney and Soho

In the previous post I wrote about two of my maternal great-great-great-grandmothers who were first cousins: Keziah and Eliza Holdsworth. In this post I want to tell Keziah’s life story, and in another post I’ll set down what we know about Eliza’s life.

Birth and early life in Oxford

Keziah Holdsworth was born in St Clement’s, Oxford, in about 1804. We know this from later census records. Although the 1841 census claims that Keziah was born ‘in county’ – i.e. in Middlesex (she was living in Stepney at the time) –  the 1851, 1861 and 1881 records clearly state that she was born in Oxford, while the 1871 census gives her birthplace more specifically as ‘Oxford St Clements’ – a district to the east of the city, its main street linking the centre with Headington Hill.

As I noted in the last post, Keziah was the daughter of Essex-born carpenter John Holdsworth (born 1765) and Mary Webb. It’s not entirely clear how many siblings Keziah had, though we know that her parents had at least two children before Keziah, when they were living in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire: Eliza in 1798 and William in 1800. No further records are available for William, who may not have survived, but later census records confirm the date and place of Eliza’s birth. She would have been about six years old when her younger sister Keziah was born. The Holdsworths, who must have moved to Oxford some time between 1800 and 1804, remained there until at least 1809, when their youngest son, Joseph, was born in the city. This was also the year when Keziah’s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Holdsworth, died in Stepney, and the event may have prompted the family’s move to London. Family records also suggest that John Holdsworth had another daughter, named Ann, who remained in Oxfordshire, marrying a Mr Morley or Mosley.

A Stepney childhood

We know that John Holdsworth and his family were in the Stepney area by 1812, when he began to pay land tax on a property in William Street, which appears to have been the family home for a number of years after this.  Contemporary maps remind us that Stepney was still a semi-rural suburb at the time, though it would grow rapidly in the ensuing decades. When the family moved to the area, Keziah would have been surrounded by aunts, uncles and cousins. Her uncle Joseph, a cordwainer or shoemaker and later a tallow chandler, was still living in William Street in 1809 and may even have shared a house with his brother John.  By 1812 Joseph and his wife Margaret had at least four children: Sarah, Elizabeth, Godfrey, and Joseph. As for Keziah’s uncle William, another shoemaker, he had once lived with his brother Joseph in nearby Marmaduke Street, but was now living a short distance away on the borders of Mile End Old Town and Bethnal Green. By this time he and his wife Lydia had five children: Samuel, Phoebe, Eliza, Edward and Sarah. A third uncle, Godfrey Holdsworth, worked as a plumber, and he and his wife Diana were living in Mile End Old Town with their eight children: Joseph, Sarah, John, Godfrey, Diana, Edward, Elizabeth and Charles.  Finally there was an aunt, Sarah, also living in the Mile End area, with her second husband, William Parker.

Mile End Old Town, from Horwood's map of 1792

Mile End Old Town, from Horwood’s map of 1792

We don’t have any other records that throw light on Keziah’s childhood and youth in Stepney. Does her Christian name suggest that her parents were Dissenters, and did they belong to one of the Nonconformist areas in the Stepney area, like her Baptist uncle William?  As a young woman, did Keziah work as a domestic servant, like her sister Eliza  and so many other female members of the Holdsworth family? 

Marriage to John Blanch

The next definite date we have for Keziah is that of her marriage.  On 5th July 1827, when she was about 23 years old, Keziah Holdsworth married 25-year-old John Blanch at the parish church of St Anne, Limehouse. Both bride and groom appear to have signed their own names in the register. It’s not clear why this church was chosen, given that Keziah lived in the parish of St George-in-the-East and she and John would live in Mile End and then Bethnal Green. But it seems to have been a favourite in the family: their daughter Mary Ann would marry Daniel Roe there in 1848, and their son Joseph Priestley Roe, my great grandfather, would marry my great grandmother Eliza Bailey there in 1883.

John Blanch was a shoemaker, like two of Keziah’s uncles, and perhaps that explains how she came to meet him. Perhaps he was apprenticed to one of those uncles? We don’t know where John had been living before his marriage, but it’s probable that his family had moved to Stepney from their home in the Holborn area, where John had been born in 1802. John’s mother Sophia had died in Mile End Old Town six years before his marriage. As I noted in the last post, John was the son of Bristol-born patten maker James Blanch, from an old west-country Quaker family, and his second wife Sophia Atkins. John’s older brothers owned a coach-making business in Soho in the West End of London. His half-brother James, a customs officer, had been convicted of theft and transported in 1814 to Australia, where he became a successful and wealthy maker of mathematical instruments.

There were two witnesses to the marriage of John Blanch and Keziah Holdsworth: Thomas Harrison, who would marry John’s half-sister Mary Ann in the following year, and Thomas Howard junior, who seems to have been the son of a well-to-do carpenter in Bethnal Green. If the parish records are correct, there were barely five months between John and Keziah’s marriage in July 1827 and the baptism of their first daughter in December. Perhaps this was a shotgun wedding? Mary Ann Blanch was christened at the parish church of St Dunstan and All Saints, Stepney, the location for countless baptism, weddings and funerals in my maternal family tree, stretching back to at least the seventeenth century. The parish register gives John’s occupation as ‘cordwainer’ and the family’s address as ‘MEOT- Mile End Old Town.

Mile End Old Town and Bethnal Green

It seems odd that there is no record (or certainly not any that I’ve come across) of other children being born to John and Keziah in the intervening six years. The next child for whom we have a christening record is Joseph James, who was baptised at the same church in 1833. The family’s address was as before, and they were still in Mile End Old Town when their daughters Keziah Sarah and Eliza Maria were christened in 1837, though there is a suggestion that the former may have been born some three years earlier. Another daughter, Sophia Holdsworth Blanch, was baptised in 1839.

Sophia appears not to have survived, since the 1841 census finds John and Keziah Blanch living in Wellington Street (which had been perhaps been their address since their marriage) with their children Mary, (Joseph) James, Keziah and Eliza, as well as an eighteen-year-old apprentice named James Woodwell, suggesting that John Blanch was now a master shoemaker. In the same street, though in the household of midwife Sarah Eliot, we find a 75-year-old carpenter named John Holdsworth. The details certainly match those of Keziah’s father, who presumably a widower by now: perhaps he was actually living with his daughter and her family, and merely visiting a neighbour when the census was taken?

Keziah’s younger brother Joseph had married  Eliza Cuzens at the family’s favoured church, St Anne’s, Limehouse, in August 1835. Keziah’s husband John Blanch had been one of the witnesses. In 1841, Joseph, Elizabeth and their sons Joseph and John, were also living in Mile End Old Town. The census record describes Joseph as a builder and his wife as a haberdasher.

Keziah’s older sister Eliza remained unmarried and in 1841, at the age of 43, she was living in Cottage Grove in Mile End Old Town, where she was a servant in the household of Joseph Fletcher, described in the census record as a ‘dissenting minister’ . He was, in fact the minister of the Stepney Independent Meeting, and perhaps Eliza’s occupation is evidence of a family connection with this, one of the oldest congregational assemblies in the country? (I believe that my Greene ancestors had been associated with this congregation since its beginnings in the seventeenth century.)

Keziah and John Blanch would have two more children. Emma Louisa was born in 1842, but not christened until 1858, when she was 16, and John Holdsworth Blanch in 1844. By the latter date, the family was living in Bethnal Green.

Bethnal Green in 1827: from Greenwood's map

Bethnal Green in 1827: from Greenwood’s map

In July 1848, the family returned to the parish church of St Anne, Limehouse, for the wedding of John and Keziah’s eldest child, Mary Ann, now aged 21, to her second cousin Daniel Roe. As I explained in the last post, Daniel was the son of Keziah’s cousin Eliza (not to be confused with her sister of the same name), the daughter of her now-deceased uncle William Holdsworth. Daniel and Mary Ann were my great-great-grandparents. Eliza’s husband, Daniel Roe senior, had died in 1836 and by the early 1840s she had moved back to London from Bedfordshire, with three of her four children. Eliza had herself remarried in 1845, to John Sharp. Since Daniel Roe junior was (like his father) a shoemaker, I’ve always thought it likely that he was apprenticed to, or at least worked alongside, his father-in-law, John Blanch.

In October 1850 Daniel and Mary Ann Roe’s first child, and John and Keziah Blanch’s first grandchild, was born. Named after her two grandmothers, Keziah Eliza Roe was born in St Thomas Square, Hackney (see these posts) and christened in January 1851 at St Dunstan’s in Stepney, by which time Daniel and Mary Ann were said to be living in ‘Green Street Globe Lane’. This was, in fact, the home of Mary Ann’s parents: John and Keziah Blanch can be found living there at the time of the census later that year. John is described in the record as a boot and shoemaker, while Keziah is working with him as a boot binder and their son Joseph, now 20, is employed as a carpenter. Also still at home are Emma, 9, and John, 7. The final member of the household was one Mary Ann Ellis, aged 2, described as a ‘nurse child’. I’ve written elsewhere about Mary Ann, her parents, and their ties with the Blanch family. At the very least, this indicates a close relationship between the Stepney and Soho branches of the Blanch family.

John and Keziah’s other daughter, Keziah Eliza, now 16, was working as a housemaid alongside her aunt Eliza. The latter was still working for the Fletcher family, as a cook, though Rev Fletcher had since died and his widow Mary and son John were living in Regents Terrace, near Regents Park. As for Keziah’s younger brother Joseph, he and his wife Margaret and their children were now living in Devonshire Street, Stepney, which was not very far from Green Street, though the family would soon emigrate to Australia.

In 1852, John and Keziah Blanch’s son Joseph married weaver’s daughter Eliza Philpot; their first daughter, another Eliza Keziah, was born in Green Street in the following year. Joseph and his family would remain in the East End, though after Eliza died in 1879, Joseph remarried and moved to West Ham and later to Bognor.


It’s not clear why John and Keziah Blanch, together with their daughter Mary Ann and her family, moved west to Soho. We know there was a family connection with the area: John’s brothers had maintained their coach business in Ham Yard off Great Windmill Street, though by the mid-1840s they had moved to Kensington. However, we know that John and Kezia Blanch, as well as Daniel and Mary Ann Roe, must have moved westwards by 1853. Daniel Ellis Roe was born on 7th March 1853 at 8 Crown Court, Soho. There are land tax records for John Blanch at this address from 1855, but it’s possible he was there two years earlier, initially as a sub-tenant perhaps, so that his name does not feature in the records. John paid land tax on this property every year from 1855 to 1870, at the rate of £1 2s 6d until 1865, and £1 3s 4d thereafter.

It’s not clear whether Mary Ann Blanch was staying with her parents temporarily when Daniel Ellis was born, or whether 8 Crown Court was also home to the Roe family at this stage. Certainly, when their daughter Mary Ann Blanch Roe was born, on 23rd October 1856, Daniel and Mary Ann were living at 4 Herberts Passage, on the south side of the Strand. There are land tax records on this property in Daniel’s name for the years 1858 and 1859.

I don’t know where the Roes were in 1860, but certainly by the next year, when the census was taken, they had joined Mary Ann’s parents in Crown Court, Soho – though at No 2, rather than No 8. Daniel was a sub-tenant of greengrocer Richard Brown, who paid the land tax of 16s 6d on the property. In addition to Brown and his wife and children, as well as Daniel and Mary Ann and their four children, the property was also home to porter William Lee and his wife, broker Stephen Shuffle and his wife and son, groom Charles Rees and his wife and son, and whip-mounter William Gregory and his wife and five children.

Part of Westminster, from Horwood's 1792 map

Part of Westminster, from Horwood’s 1792 map

Meanwhile, at No. 8, John Blanch, his wife Keziah and their three children, all of them of working age – Eliza 23, a shoe binder, Emma 20, a needlewoman, and John,16, a shop lad – shared their property with clothes salesman Michael Thomas Fitzgerald and his wife and three children, and a number of lodgers – widower William Faringdon, a bootmaker, and his son Charles, 12, shopman George Strange, tailor Daniel Gearson and his wife, and bootcloser George Dowden, his wife and six children.  It’s a reasonable assumption that at least some of these were employees of John Blanch in his bootmaking business.

John and Keziah Blanch remained at 8 Crown Court throughout the 1860s. In 1866 their son John married Elizabeth Brooks at St Anne’s, Limehouse, though by 1871 they too would be living in Soho, in Great Poulteney Street. In July 1869 John and Keziah’s daughter Emma married carpenter Walter Trader, also in Limehouse; they would live in Stepney, then Shoreditch, and later West Ham.

Deaths in the family

According to General Register Office records, John Blanch died in the parish of St James, Westminster, in the last quarter of 1869, at the age of 69. Nevertheless, he was still registered to pay land tax of £1 3s 4d for 8 Crown Court in the following year, suggesting that his widow Keziah remained there after his death, at least for a time. Curiously, another Blanch (no first name given) was paying tax on No. 4 at the same date. However, by the time of the 1871 census, No 4 was occupied by bootmaker Charles Richardson and his family, while No 8 was the home of two other bootmaking families and a master carpenter.

Keziah’s daughter Mary Ann Roe, my great-great-grandmother, died from phthisis or tuberculosis at the age of 34, on 7th September 1870, at 10 Dufours Place, off Broad Street, Soho. According to the land tax records for that year, the tenant at No 10 was William Otto.  However, he was not mentioned in the census of 1871, and indeed by that date there are no familiar names to be found at No 10. The house seems mostly occupied by tailors and their families.

The date of Daniel Roe’s death remains a mystery, and no record of it has yet come to light. Mary Ann’s death certificate describes her as his wife, but does not say that her husband was deceased, though perhaps significantly it was their 19-year-old daughter Keziah Eliza who registered Mary Ann’s death.

At the time of the 1871 census the orphaned Keziah Eliza and three of her younger siblings were to be found living with their grandmother, the widowed Keziah Blanch, and her unmarried daughter Eliza, a laundress, at 52 Broad Street, Soho, another building occupied mainly by tailors and their families. Keziah Eliza Roe,19, was working an ironer, her sister Mary Ann Roe, 15, as a laundress, and her brother Daniel Ellis Roe, 17, as an engineer; while the youngest sibling present, John Richard Roe, was only 12 years old.  (Daniel and Mary Ann Roe’s youngest son, my great-grandfather Joseph Priestley Roe, now 8, was living with his aunt Eliza Parker in Camberwell.) Also living with Keziah was another granddaughter, two-year-old Flora Blanch, the daughter of John Holdsworth Blanch and his wife Elizabeth.

My widowed great-great-grandmother Keziah Blanch née Holdsworth was now 67 years old. By this time her brother Joseph Holdsworth and his family were living in Australia, while her unmarried sister Eliza Holdsworth was still working for the Fletcher family: in 1871 she was a nurse in the Hampshire household of Joseph Fletcher junior, a Congregational minister like his late father.

What of Keziah’s other children? Her son Joseph James Blanch had lost his first wife Elizabeth and married a second wife, Ann, with whom he was now living in West Ham. Another son, John Holdsworth Blanch, a carpenter like his older brother, and his wife Eliza and their children, were in Poultney Street, Soho. Keziah’s daughter Keziah Sarah Blanch, still unmarried at 34, was still in service, working as a housemaid in the home of landowner George Pollock in Grosvenor Street off Hanover Square. As for Emma Louisa Blanch, she had married butcher Walter Trader in 1869 and they were now living in Shoreditch.


Some time in the next ten years, Keziah Blanch moved from Soho to Ealing. The census of 1881 finds her, now 77 years old, living at 11 Cumberland Terrace. Her daughter Eliza, now 44, is still living with her and still working alongside her as a laundress. For some reason, Keziah’s granddaughter Flora, now 12, was also still with them, as were her great grandchildren Leonard and Ruth Kew, children of Mary Ann Blanch Roe (daughter of Daniel and Mary Ann Roe) and her husband Leonard Kew, who were travelling the country as entertainers.

Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway

What was it that brought my great-great-great-grandmother to Ealing? Perhaps it was the fact that Leonard and Mary Ann Kew had been living there, and Keziah came to look after the house and children while her daughter and son-in-law were away? Perhaps it was the fact that her daughter Eliza was now working as a servant in the house of Mary Combe in Sandringham Gardens, Ealing, where her aunt (and Keziah’s sister) Eliza Holdsworth, now 83, was a visitor at the time of the census. Ironically, this was the part of London, then semi-rural, where Keziah’s father-in-law James Blanch had owned property during his first marriage, before the later decline in his fortunes.

Whatever the reason, this would be the last move that my 3 x great grandmother would make. She died in Ealing in September of the same year. Born in the year before the Battle of Trafalgar, Keziah died in the month that the first electricity supply was installed in an English town. Both her sister Eliza and brother Joseph outlived her, the former dying in Ealing in 1890 and the latter in South Yarra, Melbourne, Australia, in 1905.

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