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Topics - ellenbrora

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United States of America / William Leader Massingham last seen Chicago 1918
« on: Friday 13 January 17 19:38 GMT (UK)  »
WARNING - long story!

I have finally uncovered most of the story of my aunt by marriage's grandfather. It is not what she was expecting (and I don't yet know if I will actually tell her the detail as she is 85 years old. Decision on that is on hold!) However, I can not yet gain closure and would appreciate thoughts:

OK - William Leader Massingham is born Dec Q 1865 Mutford (Lowestoft) Suffolk 4a.649 (and Bpt 1867) parents Robert and Elizabeth.

1871 and 1881 is in Lowestoft with parents, siblings and extended family.

Mar Q 1891 marries Helen Elizabeth O Gibbons in Norwich 4b.220.

1891 census is boarding, with wife Helen in John Street, Norwich.

Mar Q 1892 daughter Kathleen Elizabeth Massingham is born, Norwich 4b.163. mmn Gibbons

Mar Q 1894 daughter Maud Massingham is born, Norwich 4b.190. mmn Gibbons

Mar Q 1898 a daughter is born Croydon 2a.242, Elizabeth Leader Massingham. She is reg with mmn Gibbons, but I am almost certain (in absence of the actual certificate but going on aunt's family knowledge and further census evidence) that she is the daughter of William L Massingham and Ellen Booth nee Parker.

1901 census: William  Massingham (who says he is born Italy - where on earth that came from no-one knows!) is at 55 New Road, Southampton, a Clerk, with "wife" Ellen b. Ireland, and daughter Elizabeth age 2. He is a Furniture Shop Asst.

1901 census: Helen Massingham nee Gibbons is at 43 Warwick St, Norwich, married, with her widowed mother, a sister and the 2 daughters, Kathleen and Maud.

1911 things become interesting:

1. William Leonard Leader Massingham is now at 2 Princes Place, Oxford St, Portsmouth is supposedly Single, aged 41 (!) and a Chartered Accountant.

2. Helen Massingham nee Gibbons is still in Norwich, with her mother, a different sister, and her 2 daughters. Says married  20 yrs (correct), with 2 children, both living (correct).

3. Ellen, now reverted to married name of Booth, is boarding, along with daughter Elizabeth Massingham 12yrs with a single Irish Dock Labourer Peter O'Connor in Fleetwood, Lancs. She says she is married, 23 years (correct, she married (Adam) James Booth in 1888 in Farnborough) and 1 child (correct, she did not have any children of her legal marriage). BTW Ellen Booth's husband Adam James Booth lives to 1949 and dies in Camberwell - I think!

08 Apr 1911 - William Massingham leaves Southampton on the St Louis bound for New York.

17 Apr 1911 - Wm Leonard L Massingham, Accountant, age 41 (!), last residence Portsmouth arrives New York. Gives Next of Kin address in UK as 1 Meadow St, Portsmouth, with no name.

07 Sep 1915  William L Massingham (who has now aged to only 42yrs) marries Elise V Arnollin in Chicago, Cook Co, Illinois. She is 29yrs.

Dec 1918 - US Draft - William Leader Massingham is at 813 Rush Street, Chicago, with wife Elise. He is a  Book-keeper.

Feb 1925 - Elise Victorine Massingham applies for  US Naturalisation and states she is married to William, whereabouts unknown.

Dec 1927 - Elise Massingham completes her Naturalisation, stating that she is now divorced from William, whereabouts still unknown.

1930 Census - Elise Massingham is divorced, Shade Maker (Factory), living with 2 Roomers in Chicago.

So that is what I know so far, and have documentation to prove.

Can anyone fill in the gaps and/or tell me what happened to the cad William Massingham????


Scotland / A Scottish Policeman?
« on: Monday 07 November 16 13:46 GMT (UK)  »
I wonder if anyone can help to identify the uniform in the attached photo.

A friend's family believe(d) the chap in the photo to be James Patrick Sutherland, 1898 to 1923, in his "WWI uniform".

I'm pretty sure this is not an army uniform, although I am no expert! I reckon it to be a police uniform. The man spent his whole (sadly short) life around the Wick, Caithness area, and was a Printer to trade. I can find no WWI forces record for him so far. The family have no knowledge of him having been in the police.

So... is this a police uniform? If so, which police force? What time frame? Could it be a special constable's uniform?

Another family member was a police officer in Glasgow in the early 1900's, and it is possible that the photo is actually he.

Would appreciate thoughts and suggestions as to where to further research.


Attached photo may be of Alexander MacKay b.1867 in Talmine, Sutherland, Scotland.

Would be obliged if it could be approx dated, and if anyone has a clue as to the uniform.

Thanks for any help.


Armed Forces / Help with uniform identification please
« on: Saturday 03 October 15 06:20 BST (UK)  »
Hi folks

The attached photo is believed to be of Alexander MacKay, b.1867 at Talmine, Tongue, Sutherland, but the family are not sure.

I've had to convert it to pdf to make it small enough to upload, and the original scan is of a photocopy in the first place, so the quality is not great I'm afraid.

Any help in identifying the approx date and the regiment would be immensely useful.

Many thanks in advance.


World War One / William Ewart Thornber WW1 Medal
« on: Tuesday 12 May 15 11:48 BST (UK)  »
Hi Everyone.

My friend is in possession of a WW1 medal which does not belong to her family, so we want to try to get it to its rightful owners/descendants. We have no idea of any connection to my friend's family, so will give none of those details for now as probably irrelevant.

The medal is 1914-1918 Victory Medal inscribed: W E Thornber 267325 Ches.R.

I now have the Medal Card from A******y - gives a little more detail:  christian name (s) William.E. and an additional service no: 470932, Labour Corps. There is no 1914 or 1915 Star, so likely that he served from 1916 or later.

I also have the medal roll, which gives his christian names as William Ewart (surname still Thornber). No sign of anything on CWGC, so looks likely he survived the war.

Have also done a check on Forces War Records with no obvious results.

So far so good.

I can find only 2 births of William Ewart Thornbers in England/Wales of an age to have served.

A) William Ewart Thornber, b.Sep Qtr 1896 Burnley, son of Wilfred E E Thornber and his wife Emma Wilkinson.
I don't think this is the chappie, as it looks as though he is the one who served in the Royal Marines, service no 955, who signed up 20 July 1915. His birth date of 08 July 1896 is two days out (should be 10 July) on the Marines record from F*P, but it gives next of kin as mother Emma, so it looks like him.

B) William Ewart Thornber, b. Jun Qtr 1876 Burnley, son of Caleb Thornber and his wife Martha Ingham. There is no evidence as yet that this is NOT the guy, BUT, he is from a prominent and wealthy family. His father Caleb was Mayor of Burnley twice, and bequeathed the cash for Burnley War Memorial and various Trusts in the town. This William Ewart Thornber died on 21 Mar 1923 and left over 118,000 in his will. His youngest sister was married to a Lt Col Cecil Gustaves Bradley, DSO. It seems highly unlikely therefore that William (who was also a married man with a child and approaching 40 years of age) would have served as a private in the war.

All thoughts on progress so far very welcome.

I think I'm going to have to start on all the William E Thornber and William Thornber births - of which there are a substantial number!

All help to get this medal home would be appreciated.  (I'm from the north of Scotland btw, so not   local to Lancashire/Cheshire)


Europe / Searching Polish (Warsaw) Archives in person
« on: Sunday 13 June 10 07:52 BST (UK)  »
Hi all

I am travelling to Poland at the end of the month, and armed with some definite and some possible birth and marriage dates of a friend's ancestors in the period c1870-1904) am planning to visit the archives in Warsaw.

Has anyone any experience of searching there in person? I'd really appreciate any advice or tips. eg. should I hire a translator; how helpful are the staff; can one purchase document copies on the spot; should I take a letter of authorisation from my friend as they are not my ancestors; etc.

Many thanks in advance for any reponses.


New Zealand Completed Requests / Joseph Packman, Otago.COMPLETED
« on: Monday 16 June 08 13:51 BST (UK)  »
Hi all

I am trying to place a Joseph Packman who shows in the Otago area from around 1868 to at least 1885. I think he may be an ancestor who disappeared from Scotland sometime between 1859 and 1861.

He is showing on the Otago Nominal Index 1868-1876 at Naseby, and 1876-7 at Eweburn.

There is also a mention of him importing a horse from Melbourne in the North Otago Times on 20 Nov 1885.

If anyone can help in any way ie; how old he was, married? where he came from, went to!! I'd be very much obliged.



Lanarkshire / 1841/1851/1861 Census look up please
« on: Sunday 23 October 05 13:11 BST (UK)  »
I'd be eternally grateful if anyone could find the following family somewhere in Glasgow on 1841/1851/1861 censuses please.

George Sommerville  (all sorts of spellings!), age unknown, a Bookbinder
Helen Sommerville nee Gowans, b. 1810 in Edinburgh (but age varies enormously in 1871/1891 censuses and death cert)
son John Sommerville b. 1835 in High Church Parish, Glasgow
son George Sommerville b. 1839 in Glasgow

Helen and son John at least moved to Aberdeenshire. Helen first found there on the 1871 as a widow.  John marries there in 1855 and again in 1862.
My gg grandmother Helen (daughter of the above George & Helen) claims she was born in Gartly/Huntly, Aberdeenshire around 1845 ish, so they may have all moved north after the 1841.

Father George is named as John on both of young John's marraige certs. Noted as alive on the 1855 one, but deceased on the 1862 one.

I believe there is a connection to a firm of Bookbinders, Sommerville and Aitken, in Trongate/Saltmarket, Glasgow, around 1815-1820.

Any help would be very greatly appreciated.



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