The will of Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst (1450 – 1525)

(Update 26th February 2014: for corrections to some of the information in this post, please see this post and those that follow.)

In the previous post I offered an overview of the Fowle family of Kent and Sussex, with whom I’m connected via my 11 x great grandfather Edward Byne of Burwash, who married Agnes Fowle, daughter of Magnus Fowle of Mayfield. I’ve managed to trace this branch of my maternal family tree back as far as Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst in Kent, my 15 x great grandfather, who was born in 1450 and died in 1525.  In some records Thomas’ name is preceded by ‘Sir’, but I’m not absolutely sure that he was a knight. We also know that his wife’s name was Ellen and that they had a son and heir named Nicholas, also of Lamberhurst – my 14 x great grandfather.

View from Lamberhurst church, via  news.bbc.co.uk

View from Lamberhurst church, via news.bbc.co.uk

So far, that’s all I’ve been able to find out about this ancestor of mine. However, I’ve now obtained a copy of his will, which casts a little more light on Thomas’s life and circumstances. I’m posting my transcription here, and I’ll discuss what the will tells us in another post. As always, I’ve kept the original spelling and punctuation as far as possible, and used question marks (?) where I’m uncertain about a word.

In the name of god amen This xviith day of the month of October. In the yere of our Lord god a Thousand five hundred and xxv And in the reigne of our sovereign lord king henry the viiith the xvi yere. I Thomas Fowle dwelling in the p[ar]ishe of Lamberest [Lamberhurst] in the countie of Kent doo make this my present testament and last will in this maner of forme. First I bequeath my soule to almighty god, to our blessed Lady and to all the saints of hevyn And my body to be buried within the church yarde of Saint Margaret in Southwerk. Item I bequeath to the high master of Saint Margaret xxv Item I bequeath to the churche of Saint Margaret xxv Item I bequeath to my gostely fader (? ) xii Item I bequeath to Elizabeth my daughter x marks to hir marriage The residue of my moveable goods not bequeathed that is to say my catall my corne and my appalls I doo give it only to my wife the which I doo make my chief executrix and she to se my detts paid And Master Geoffrey I doo make my overseer and he to help my wife in her besynes and so he to have for his labours xiii Willm Carnell p[ar]ishe priest and Curet of the foresaid Saint Margaretts Sir Richard Dawson morowe masse priest and Wm Mychell be records of this testament with other men (?) 

This is my last will made of my landes on the day of the month before rehersed First I will that my wife shall receyve yearly the profits of my landes  to sucour hir and hir children to the tyme and season that my sonne the which is my heire be xxi yere of age and then he to entre into his landes at that age with godds blessing and myn, the records of this will be in the foresaid testament. 

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The Fowle family

The other day I wrote about my 10 x great grandfather William Wane (1576 – 1626), the rector of Clayton-cum-Keymer in Sussex. His daughter Anne (1611 – 1661) married Magnus Byne (1615 – 1671), one of her father’s successors as rector at Clayton: they were my 9 x great grandparents. I’ve requested a copy of William Wane’s will from the Sussex Record Office and I’m hoping it will enable me to extend this branch of my family tree a little further back.

Burwash churchyard (via www.hebdens.com)

Burwash churchyard (via http://www.hebdens.com)

In the meantime I’ve been revisiting Magnus Byne’s own family tree. Magnus was born in 1611 in Burwash, thirty miles or so to the east of Clayton. He was the son of yeoman Stephen Byne (1586 – 1664) and his wife Mary Manser or Maunser, daughter of John Manser of Wadhurst. Stephen was the son of Edward Byne of Burwash (died 1611)  and Agnes Fowle (died 1626) – my 11 x great grandparents.

I’ve written briefly about the Fowle family before, but in this post I want to fill in some more details of their history. Agnes Fowle was the daughter of Magnus Fowle of Mayfield and his wife Alice Lucke, the daughter of Richard Lucke, also of Mayfield.  They were my 12 x great grandparents.  Magnus, who was born in about 1528 and died in 1593, was the son of Gabriel Fowle of Southover, near Lewes.

Countryside near Lamberhurst (via geograph.co.uk)

Countryside near Lamberhurst (via geograph.co.uk)

Gabriel Fowle, my 13 x great grandfather, was the Master of the Free Grammar School in Lewes. He died there in 1555, having made his will in the previous year. Born in 1507, he was the second son of Nicholas Fowle of Lamberhurst,  who was himself born in 1480, and his wife Joan Vince, born in 1485: they were my 14 x great grandparents. They probably married in about 1504 and their eldest son and heir was William Fowle (born 1505) of Riverhall in Wadhurst, Sussex. Nicholas and Joan Fowle had two more sons after Gabriel: Bartholomew, born in 1509, who was the last prior of St Mary Overy in Southwark before the dissolution of the monasteries, and Robert, born in 1511.

Riverhall, Wadhurst, in the 18th century, via theweald.org

Riverhall, Wadhurst, in the 18th century, via theweald.org

Nicholas Fowle was the son of Thomas Fowle of Lamberhurst who was born in 1450. He married Ellen, born in the same year. They were my 15 x great grandparents. Thomas died in 1525.

It might be helpful to put some of these dates in chronological order, and to look at them alongside national events during that turbulent period in English history:

1422 Henry VI becomes King 

1450 Birth of Thomas Fowle

1455 – 1487 Wars of the Roses

1471 Edward IV becomes King 

1480 Birth of Nicholas Fowle

1483 Richard III becomes King

1485 Henry VII becomes King 

1507 Birth of Gabriel Fowle

1509 Henry VIII becomes King 

1525 Death of Thomas Fowle

1528 (?) Birth of Magnus Fowle 

1531 Henry VIII assumes title of Supreme Head of Church of England

1533 Henry VIII excommunicated by the Pope

1536 – 1540 Dissolution of the monasteries

1547 Edward VI becomes King 

1550 (?) Magnus Fowle marries Alice Lucke

Birth of Edward Byne (?)

1551 (?) Birth of Agnes Fowle

1553 Mary Tudor becomes Queen

1555 Death of Gabriel Fowle

1559 Elizabeth I becomes Queen 

1564 Birth of William Shakespeare

1575 Agnes Fowle marries Edward Byne

1586 Birth of Stephen Byne

1588 Defeat of Spanish Armada 

1593 Death of Magnus Fowle

1603 James VI of Scotland crowned King James I of England

I’ve previously traced another branch of Magnus Byne’s family tree back to a similar point in history. Magnus’ mother Mary Manser or Maunser, my 10 x great grandmother, was descended from Robert Maunser of Hightown, Wadhurst, who was alive during the reign of Richard III and indeed was knighted by him. Like his contemporary Thomas Fowle, Robert was one of my 15 x great grandfathers.

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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 bandbchurchhouse.co.uk)

Countryside near Burwash (via bandbchurchhouse.co.uk)

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 www.hebdens.com)

Burwash churchyard (via http://www.hebdens.com)

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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