Saturday, 8 December 2018

FAMILY FOTO 35 - MURIEL FRANCES HOLMES (nee SEAMAN) (b.1920 - d.2006)

(Muriel Frances Seaman)


From today, the title of these posts are going to change. I'm moving the focus away from them being 'Friday' photos to 'Family' photographs instead. The past few weeks have been a bit frantic for me for a number of reasons, and I've found it impossible to keep to my weekly posting schedule. Hopefully, doing this now, I should be able to remove some of the pressure and leave me with a little less guilt than I have been feeling of late!     

The post today gives details of my great-aunt, Muriel Frances Seaman, who was related via my paternal side of the family.

1920 - Muriel Frances Seaman was born on 1 Nov 1920 in Liverpool, Lancashire. She was the fifth of six daughters born to Joseph Frederick Seaman and Sarah Ann Smith, my paternal great-grandparents. Only one of her sisters was younger than herself - Daisy - who was born in 1922.

1939 - In the 1939 register Muriel was found to be living with her parents, at their home in 4 Lily Grove, Wavertree. As well as Joseph and Sarah, her brother William and sister Daisy were also in residence. On the original register entry, her name had been given as Muriel F Seaman. This surname had been crossed out however, and the name 'Holmes' entered, with a date of marriage being written alongside of 3 January 1945. Muriel's occupation at the time that the register was taken was given to be a 'general office clerk'. 

1944 / 1945 - According to the marriage indexes, Muriel married Dennis E Holmes in the 4th quarter of 1944. This is contrary to the evidence of the note made on the 1939 register entry which states that their marriage date was 3 January 1945. This fact is also confused by the fact that she featured on the Electoral Register for 1945 by her maiden name of Seaman. The actual marriage certificate would need to be ordered to try and resolve this discrepancy.

1944 / 45 - The couple were reportedly married in St Cyprian's church, Edge Hill, Liverpool. The church itself is still standing, although it has now been converted into a modern block of flats for student accommodation.

1944 / 45 - Married Dennis Edwin Holmes in Liverpool on 3 January 1945 (evidenced by a note made in the 1939 register). The couple went on to have at least three surviving children.

2006 - Records were found in the Death indexes stating that Muriel passed away on the 13 November 2006. She was 86 years of age when she died.

Both Muriel and her sister Daisy were known to my father, Charles Seaman during his lifetime. He went to visit them on a number of occasions, although sadly I can't recall if he ever took my brother or I to meet them. I know that at least one of them used to live in Woolton village quite near to where we live now, in Cavell Close, which is off School Lane in the village, although unfortunately I now cannot be sure which sister it actually was.







Friday, 23 November 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 34 - MAL ERLIS & KING BILLY - THE ORANGE LODGE


This photograph shows Marion Erlis, centre-right, taking up her role as Queen Mary in one of the annual parades organised by the Orange Lodge in Toxteth.

Her 'husband' - William of Orange (or 'King Billy' as he was known) - is standing to her right holding up his sword.

The exact date the photograph was taken is unknown, but the parade's traditionally take place on or around the 12th July each year. Judging by Mal's apparent age, the year was potentially around the early 1950's. 

I personally recall the parades passing through Toxteth as being a grand spectacle, consisting of marching bands, decorated lorries used as floats, and members of the order marching in lines behind the Protestant King and Queen, all wearing the familiar orange sashes across their chests.

These were colourful, noisy, exciting events that we kids living in Toxteth would look forward to.

I remember well how my grandad, William John Welsh, would stand at the front door and listen out for the bands playing, then pick me up and run along to Park Street to watch the parade as it passed.

Looking at this photo brings back nice memories of both Mal and also the times when we were growing up in Toxteth.
   

Friday, 2 November 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 33 - LAURENCE D'ANNUNZIO - HMS DRAKE


My wife's grandfather - Laurence D'ANNUNZIO - seen here sitting second from left in the photograph, with his shipmates on the stoker training ship HMS Drake. The ship, previously known as HMS Marshal Ney, had been renamed 'Drake' in 1934 by the Royal Navy.

Laurence served in the Navy following his marriage to his wife 
Agnes SAUNDERSON in 1934. 

He was originally trained on HMS Eaglet, the shore-based training centre for the Royal Navy based at Salthouse Dock, Liverpool, before taking up his role as a wireless telegraphist, 1st class Petty Officer, as denoted by the ranked insignia on his uniform. 

Friday, 26 October 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 32 - TOXTETH, LIVERPOOL - WHERE I GREW UP

(Terraced houses in Hughson Street)

An official photo, taken around 1963 by the City Council, prior to the properties being purchased and subsequently demolished under a Compulsory Purchase Order.

Hughson Street in Toxteth, Liverpool was where I spent my formative years, up until the age of seven years old. 

Number 25 in the street had been the home of my grandparents, William and Elizabeth Welsh, prior to my birth. Following this, my parents, brother and I also lived in the same property, which only had two bedrooms - one front and one back - and a small back kitchen and front reception room on the ground floor. My aunt slept on a pull-out couch downstairs, while my grandparents had the front bedroom. My family, the four of us, all slept in the rear bedroom. 

There was no bathroom in the house, an outside WC being supplied instead which had been situated at the bottom of the back-yard. A large brick coal-shed also stood outside in the yard. This had formerly been built as a bomb shelter and used by our family during WW2 when German bombers attacked the city during the Liverpool Blitz of 1941. The gap between the two blocks of houses to the right of the photograph was where numbers 27 and 29 once stood. 27 took a direct hit from a bomb and 29 had to be demolished as it had been too badly damaged to repair. The subsequent 'bommie' which was created, (the bulldozed area of land where the houses had once stood), then became a play area for two generations of our family. 

This photograph brought back so many memories for me when I found it posted on one of the Liverpool Facebook pages, but it was to surprise me even further when I enlarged it and looked at the image more closely.

The front door of number 25, next to the bommie is open and there are children playing outside. The boy outside our home looks suspiciously like my brother Gary.  

Amazing to think that the official council photographer chose that particular moment to record the properties which were to be demolished in just a few years time, as well as recording my brother and his friends at play.     

Friday, 19 October 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 31 - HENRY & ROSE SEAMAN - THE CLASSIC BRICK WALL


For some time now I've been wondering what could be going on in this photograph.

It shows my great-uncle Henry Seaman, his wife Rose and some of his family. It would appear that they are enjoying a warm sunny afternoon in the back garden of their home with their two dogs. I only know the identities of the couple because of their names written on the rear of a couple of other photos I have of them. Of the boy and the woman drinking her beer straight from the bottle, I don't have a clue.

I have tried to find other information on them from time to time, but seem to draw a blank when I do. It is a classic 'brick wall' in our family tree. Perhaps it is. Or maybe it just means that I should do what a few of my teachers used to write on my school reports... 'must try harder'.

The fact is, this is what I like so much about family history research-- discovering the unknown details about our relations, checking out the facts, filling in the gaps. Playing the detective and bringing our forebears back to life again. But in the end, just keep in mind that there's no such thing as a brick wall. You only need the determination to keep looking and find the answers, with perhaps an element of luck being required along the way.

Oh... and maybe a large sledgehammer to knock the bricks out if they're stuck a bit too tightly might help from time to time as well!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 30 - A LIFETIME IN LIVERPOOL CINEMA


A tiny, grainy photograph of my father and a colleague in their 'office' - a cinema projection room in Liverpool.

Charlie Seaman (pictured left) spent his entire working life working in the cinema's of the North West, and I'm lucky to have a small selection of his photos in our collection to remember him by.

Dad was first employed as a trainee projectionist, aged only 16 years old. He worked initially in the Magnet cinema, which was situated in Picton Road, Wavertree and we have several photographs of him sitting on the roof of the cinema in the sunshine with some of his colleagues.

He went on to work in the Gaumont, Dingle-- along with my mother and aunt-- and I have many happy memories of attending the matinee shows which were played there.

He then went on to work at the Hippodrome in Everton and also the Odeon, Stanley Road, Bootle.

During one memorable Saturday, my father was full of flu and felt awful. He took me into work with him (I was around 16 years old at the time) so I could run the show for him, while he sat at the back of the projection room, reading his newspapers and drinking lots of tea.

During his time working as firstly a projectionist, and then as Chief Projectionist in the cinemas, Dad covered work at several of the key cinemas in the north-west including the main Odeon branches of Liverpool, Southport and Chester.

After more than 25 years service he finally retired from working for the Rank Organisation and obtained a projectionist job in the newly built Studios 123 in Mount Pleasant, Liverpool during the early 1970's.

The picture featured above shows Dad and another operator, identified as Jimmie, standing alongside one of the big projectors used at the Trocadero, Camden Street, Liverpool.

Friday, 5 October 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 29 - WILLIAM HENRY LAITE - 'Uncle Bill'


William Henry Laite was born in Liverpool on the 11 December 1915. He was the brother of my grandmother, Margaret Eleanor Graham Laite.

William is seen here in his uniform when he was serving with the East Lancashire Regiment. The date on the rear of the photo is 11 February 1945, alongside a simple message - 'To My Darling Wife with Love - Love Bill'   

Uncle Bill, as I knew him, had married his wife Madeline Milne in 1939. The couple helped look after my Dad and his siblings following the early death of my grandmother in 1947.

I remember them as a lovely couple. They both had rather deep gravelly voices and also had a keen sense of humour and laughter.

Bill, in particular, had the most hearty chuckle on him - I can just hear him now as he shared a joke with my Dad during one of their visits!

Friday, 28 September 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 28 - ARTHUR & EDNA TEESE - OUT FOR A STROLL


Out for a stroll on an overcast Sunday afternoon perhaps?

I found this undated photo in the collection of my aunt, Elizabeth Welsh after she had passed away.

The young couple is Arthur Teese (b.1918) and Edna Irvine (b.1921) - and they are taking a walk through an unidentified park, possibly one of the local ones in Liverpool. 

The family connection to the two of them was through Edna, who was my mother's cousin.

I remember the couple fondly from when I was young, and I recall how my brother and I would need to be on our best behaviour during their visits. 

Edna would act as if she was a stern school-mistress. Gary and I would have to tidy the toys up in our bedroom prior to them arriving, just in case she decided to inspect our bedroom to see if it was untidy. Arthur, on the other hand, would follow along behind his wife... cheerily calling me 'Haircut' and showing me the hair-clippers which he had hidden away in his jacket pocket. He'd walk past us and give us a friendly wink, and then pull a face and throw us a gurning smile, leaving my brother and I doubled up in stitches laughing.

I can't recall seeing this photo prior to finding it in Betty's archive a couple of weeks ago, but I'm so glad I found it. It brought back nice memories for me of the couple - especially to see them so young and apparently carefree together.

A lovely couple... and a nice photo of them both to treasure.

Friday, 21 September 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 27 - FAMILY HEIRLOOM - GERMAN BEER STEINS



Focussing on examples of some of the family heirlooms this week. 

In the photo are two German beer steins given to me by my Dad before he passed away. 

He was left them by his uncle, William Laite, whom he became close to after his mother died. Bill was in the Army and the rumour was that he brought them home after a posting over there. 

They are lovingly kept as heirlooms pride of place in our french dresser now. 

#BeerSteins #SeamanFamilyHistory #FamilyHeirlooms

Friday, 14 September 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 26 - WEBSTER FAMILY WEDDING


This is the kind of photograph we each have in every family album. The wedding of my cousin, Michael Webster, at St Gabriel's church in Toxteth in the late 1960's. And as with many of those photographs, there are faces I remember and can identify, but also faces which I cannot.

In the shadows at the rear, I can see my uncle Arthur Teese and also my Aunt Betty, mum's sister. I can't identify the man standing at the back on the far right, although his face appears to be familiar. 

Moving forward is my grandmother Elizabeth Welsh (nee Englebretsen), standing toward the centre of the photograph. As to the elderly lady standing to her left or the taller gentleman on her right, I have no clue as to who they are.

The smiling man on the right wearing the glasses is my uncle, Johnny Erlis, who used to drive the goods trains up and down the Dock Road in Liverpool. The lady in white on the left of the photograph is again familiar to me, but I have no evidence of her actual identity.

And then comes the group I'm most sure about.

My Auntie Ann - Hannah McAulay (nee Irvine) - is in her trademark 'ocelot' hat and coat and has her hand on the shoulder of my brother, Gary Seaman. The woman standing next to her in the trendy 60's hat and coat is my Mum Joan Seaman (nee Welsh), while my Father, Charles Seaman, is standing on the right. Finishing the list off is my younger cousin, Tracey McAulay, who is standing between my brother and myself.

The church and doorway are still there to this day, as evidenced in the photograph from Google Streetmap below. Indeed the church doorway showed up on television relatively recently as a couple of scenes in the popular television biopic 'Cilla', starring Sheridan Smith, were filmed nearby on the steps in Yates Street. Knowing the area relatively well I recognised it at once.  


Hopefully, there will be a postscript and an update to this story at some point, as I intend to take the photo down to show my Mum when I visit her later today. I have all my fingers crossed that she will be able to identify a couple of the other people featured in the photograph. 

For me, this is not just another photograph of an ordinary family wedding. I see it as an opportunity to possibly fill in some gaps in our family tree and maybe expand, even just a little, on the story of how we all grew up in Toxteth in Liverpool.   


Friday, 31 August 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 25 - MRS ERLIS & THE KIDS OF GASKELL STREET



The above photograph, specifically set up by the photographer, shows Frances Midwood Erlis (nee Walter), pictured in a street in Toxteth with a group of the local children. Frances is the older lady standing on the back row holding a small child, near to the centre of the window. Frances was born with the surname Walter in 1880 in Liverpool. She married her husband Thomas Erlis, on 5th August 1901 in St Gabriel's church, Toxteth Park. The couple went on to have 10 children together.

At least three of the youngsters pictured in the photo can be said to be members of the Erlis family, identified from other photographs we have of them in our possession. 

Someone has written on the base of the picture 'Kids of Gaskell Street'. Gaskell Street was situated between Park Road and Mill Street in Toxteth, just north of Essex Street. The couple's home was near Hughson Street where I lived with my own grandparents in my formative years (see map below).




There is no date on the photograph of the children itself, but we can estimate that it was taken at some point during the mid-1930's, just prior to the second world war breaking out in 1939. 

Following the outbreak of the war, the Erlis family were living at their home in number 12 Gaskell Street. This property was damaged after it sustained a direct hit from a German bomb on the 6th May 1941, and Mrs Erlis lost both her legs during the attack. She was to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair until she finally passed away in 1950.

Tragically, their daughter Lilian Midwood Erlis (b.1923) was killed during the same air-raid. She was just 18 years of age at the time. Lilian is pictured in the above photograph standing on the back row of the children, second girl from the left. 

Further details of Lilian's story can be found on a separate post <here>.  

Friday, 24 August 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 24 - BETTY & LIL IN HUGHSON STREET


A photo, taken on my Grandad's Kodak 'Brownie' camera, of my aunt Betty and cousin Lilian in Hughson Street, Toxteth.

Taken in the mid-1950's, it shows the two of them standing in the sunlight outside my Gran and Grandad's house at number 25. I lived in the house up until the age of seven and I remember both it, and the surrounding area, very well indeed.

To the left of the photo are the remains of a coal merchants property; the large 'court' properties which used to stand along here had now been demolished to make way for new housing to be constructed.

In the background stands a large warehouse on Northumberland Street. The docks were not very far away from Hughson Street, and this type of warehouse was a common sight around the local area. Some of the warehouses still remain to this day but are now being used for other purposes, such as up-market apartments, gyms, restaurants and nightclubs.

Just to the right of my cousin's head is Prophet Street, again featuring the same two-up, two-down houses similar to the ones we lived in on the right of the photo. This was where Lilian lived with her parents - John and Martha Erlis - in number 13, opposite the sweet shop on the corner of Prophet and Fernie Street.

Apart from the people, lots of good memories of growing up in that street come flooding back to me when I look at this photo. For example, I used to have races with my mates around the blocks of houses on my first two-wheeler bike. I also recall the sound of the horse and cart of the rag and bone man-- his voice calling 'any old cloth, any old iron!' as they trundled along the cobbled street at walking pace, a group of kids running along behind. 

I also remember playing with those gas pipes which entered the houses alongside the front door. They were bound in black cloth tape and sealed with a tar-like paint which used to melt in hot weather. We'd sit outside in the sunshine, pulling and twisting the tape into sticky shapes with our fingers. Nearly always receiving a telling off from the adults when they saw we had sticky tar all over our fingers and clothes!

These small memories of happy times were all triggered by looking at that photo.

Even the simplest photograph from a family album should be treasured, because behind each one of them is a story just waiting to be told...

Friday, 17 August 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 23 - SPACE ROCKET AT THE GAUMONT - 1950's

Gaumont cinema, Princes Park

This tiny photograph, heavily underexposed and covered in scratches, gives a view of the Gaumont cinema on Park Road, Princes Park.

Dingle Lane lies off to the left, while Gredlington Street separates the cinema from the advertising boards in the right of the photograph. Part of the Salvation Army hall can be seen to the far right. The Dingle tram/bus sheds stand off to the right of the photograph.

The photo was taken by my father, Charles Seaman, during the period when he was working in the building as a cinema projectionist, employed by the Rank Organisation who owned the cinema itself.

As well as the tram lines set into the road and the black and white 'Belisha' crossing pole to the left, the photo is notable for a large 'space rocket' which has been fitted to the roof of the canopy over the main doors. Above the rocket is suspended something which looks suspiciously like a TV satellite dish, but if one remembers that the photo was taken during the 1950's, this explanation would be highly unlikely. I believe it is more credible that the round object is part of the advertisement package and represents the Moon, or a planet such as Mars or Venus, to tie in with the space rocket which stands beneath it.

As I mentioned in one of my other posts on the blog, it was common for the film companies to advertise their productions by sending out items which tied into the films they were about to show. Unfortunately, the wording on the posters around the building in this photo are unclear, but it is likely that the two items had been placed there to advertise one of the big technicolour science-fiction feature films which were coming to the Gaumont. 

Several likely movies can be brought to mind - 'Destination Moon' (1950), 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' or 'Flight to Mars' (1951), 'War of the Worlds' (1953), 'This Island Earth' (1955), 'Forbidden Planet' (1956), 'From the Earth to the Moon' or 'Missile to the Moon' (1958). I'm thinking that it could even be an advert for 'Have Rocket, Will Travel'-- a 1959 comedy film featuring three of my childhood favourites; Curly, Larry and Moe-- the Three Stooges. Perhaps not. But unless someone else can come up with a positive answer for us, then this might forever remain to be a cinematic mystery for the family.

I'm just thankful that the Rank Organisation wasn't advertising 'Attack of the Giant Leeches', 'Attack of the Crab Monsters' or 'Attack of the 50 Foot Woman'... 

The canopy probably wouldn't have been big enough and they would all have had to be tied onto the roof!    
    


Friday, 10 August 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 22 - ELIZABETH RICHARDSON - DAMAGED DURING AN AIR RAID


This is the one and only photograph of my g/g-grandmother, Elizabeth RICHARDSON, who had been born in Barony Parish, Glasgow in 1838.

Elizabeth was the daughter of David RICHARDSON, a shipwright by profession, and Victoria VERUE (also referred to at times in certain records by the surnames VALUE and VEVIESER).

The photograph, approximately six inches tall, has been coloured by hand and is mounted on a stiff cloth backing. 

According to information from my aunt who gave me the image some years ago, originally it had been much larger and was mounted in a dark wooden oval frame. She recalled it being a head and shoulders portrait which had hung on the wall of my grandmothers home in Hughson Street, Toxteth.

Unfortunately, during WW2, the terraced house next door took a direct hit from a German bomb during an air raid. Luckily our family remained safe, tucked away in the brick and concrete air raid shelter which had been built in the rear yard of their house. But their home itself did not escape unscathed. Its windows were blown out and the photograph and its frame were blown off the wall by the blast. Other possessions of my grandparents were either damaged or looted from their home after they had been forced to move out while the house was being repaired.

Years afterwards, my aunt cut away the damaged parts of the image-- trimming the photo down to its current size with a pair of dressmakers pinking shears-- leaving it decorated with a serrated edge.

Of course, I would have loved to have seen the full portrait of my great-grandmother in all its glory, but considering what had happened to it following the air raid, I consider myself extremely lucky that we have any of it left at all.          


Friday, 3 August 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 21 - LILIAN WELSH, TOXTETH, LIVERPOOL

(Lilian Welsh - b.1927 / d.1928)

Unfortunately, Lilian Welsh was the aunt I never knew.

She died when only an infant and the only information I had received previously about Lilian's death was that she had fallen in the street, hit her head and subsequently died of meningitisIt was also believed that she had died while in Myrtle Street Hospital, Liverpool.

This information had been passed to me from Lilian's older sister, Betty (Ellen Elizabeth Welsh), but I had no way of substantiating the data until I recently obtained the child's death certificate. However, this record proved that the original information from Betty had been in error.

Lilian had actually passed away on the 22 September 1928 aged only 20 months old. She died while resident at Alder Hey Hospital, in the West Derby district of Liverpool. 

The death was reported by her father William John Welsh on 24 September 1928. William was working as a labourer in the Liverpool docks at the time of his daughter's death. 

Lilian's cause of death was reported to be by her becoming ill with gastroenteritis, the death being certified by Doctor M.Gudwin.

I can't say for sure how my aunt had apparently misremembered the information regarding her sister's unfortunate death. But Betty had been only three years old when Lilian died, so it is unlikely that she had been aware of the event at all herself. More likely that the details of the death had become blurred for her over time, understandable perhaps when considering that it had been around eighty-one years since Lilian had passed away.

Lilian's death was undoubtedly a sad loss for all our family, but speaking as a family historian her story is also perhaps a prime example of why one should never accept such information as true fact, and should take it at face value only-- at least, until such time as there is hard documentary evidence to support it.  

Friday, 20 July 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 20 - A NEW WORLD (Leaving Norway)

My post this week is not a single family history photograph, but rather a video made up of a selection of photos which we have in our family archive.


(click above for video)

I have already written a couple of posts here on the website about my great-grandparents, Peder Ingebretsen and Elizabeth Douglas, featuring a couple of photos we have of them in our possession.

This video is an attempt to tell Peder's story in greater detail; pulling together photographic resources from our collection and also using other material freely available off the Internet.

For my 50th birthday I was taken by family members on a five-day Norwegian cruise holiday, making my first visit to the beautiful homeland of my ancestor. During this visit I saw first-hand the type of community he would have grown up in; seeing for myself the mountains and fjords, together with the types of towns, villages and farms with which he would have been familiar. I have used some of the photographic and video footage I shot during that visit to illustrate this video.

The video attempts to recount a short version of Peder's story; presenting images of what his life would have been like growing up within his Norwegian homeland, and his subsequent journey to England. 

Working as a mariner on ships which regularly sailed between Great Britain, Europe and the America's during the late 1880's, my great-grandfather found himself in Glasgow, Scotland. It was here that he first met my great-grandmother, Elizabeth Douglas, and her family who resided within the city.

The family eventually moved to Liverpool in England, and the couple were married in the city in 1890 and ended their lives here-- but not before founding the family groups from which myself and some of my cousins are descended.

The soundtrack is the beautiful ballad 'Into The West', as featured in the movie 'Lord of the Rings: Return of the King'. The music was written by Howard Shore with lyrics by Annie Lennox and Fran Walsh. I've always loved this song above all the others which appeared in the film series, and at the time I was putting this video together, I felt that the majority of the lyrics seemed to fit the story I was trying to tell.    

     

Friday, 13 July 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 19 - ROBERT LAYTE BURIAL PLACE - 1785




Combining a business trip with family history research, a few years back I made a visit to St. Mary's church in Haughley, Suffolk as I'd discovered that my great-grandfather (x6) had been buried here on 11 December 1785. 

Robert Layte was born in 1708 in Suffolk, England.  

He married his wife of German descent, Sarah Kurtz, in 1732 and seems to have lived in the small village for the majority of his life as most of their children were born in the area.

In total, the couple had at least 11 children-- with our immediate family being descended from their sixth-born child Timothy, who was born in 1742.

Over the years, the surname of the family was altered slightly-- either by choice or by it being transcribed incorrectly. Early iterations of the family name used by the branches who lived within the Suffolk and Norfolk areas, were spelt either Layte or Laight. 

By the time our branch of the family left the East Anglia area to move north to Lincolnshire, and to subsequently end up living in Liverpool-- the spelling of the name had changed once again to become Laite or Lait. 

There is a family legend, so far unsubstantiated, that the name is derived from France, and that the family came into England as part of the Huguenot community of immigrants who fled religious persecution in the late 1600's.

Research into this branch of the family continues, but I won't be taking any bets at the moment that the legend will actually be proved true... even if the word 'lait' stands for 'milk' in French!    


Friday, 29 June 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 18 - SARAH ANNE SMITH

(Sarah Anne Seaman - nee Smith - 1878 to 1951)

This is photo of my great-grandmother, Sarah Anne Seaman (nee Smith). She is pictured standing against a painted backdrop whilst leaning on wooden railing; an apparently posed shot taken in a photographers studio. Unfortunately, no details of the photographer are shown on the original photocard, which appears to have been cut to fit into a frame at some point.  

Sarah was born in 1878 in Liverpool, the eldest child of James Smith and Margaret McCartney.

On the 1891 census her occupation was listed as a dressmakers assistant. She was only 13 years of age.

On 15 April 1900, Sarah married my great-grandfather, Joseph Frederick Seaman in St Dunstans Church, Edge Hill, Liverpool. She was 22 years of age, the same age as her new husband.

In the 1901 census the couple were living at 56 Wendell Street, Toxteth, Liverpool; just off Smithdown Road, occupying 4 rooms in their home. There is an existing property in Wendell Street, a former 'two-up, two-down' terraced house which could therefore be the home of my relatives. However, I am still to confirm when these properties were actually built.  

At the time the census was taken the couple were living in the property with their first child... Mary Cecily Seaman, who was only one month old. The couple went on to have another nine children between them.


 

Sarah Anne died on the 3 October 1951 in Liverpool and is buried in a marked grave (above) in Allerton Cemetary, Liverpool.

#familyhistory #genealogy #sarahanneseaman #seamanfamilyhistory 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

FAMILY HISTORIAN 6 - CHILLING AND CONSIDERING THE UPGRADE...




Bouncy castle folded up, M&S loungers on, mug of tea in hand while considering the latest upgrade for Family Historian in the garden at 9pm. 

But not before I do a full backup first methinks! ;-) 

#familyhistorian6 #softwareupgrade #genealogy

Friday, 22 June 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 17 - THE QUEEN MARY (ELIZABETH WELSH)

Three photos for the price of one today, as I was watching a documentary on TV earlier recalling the history of the luxury cruise liner, RMS Queen Mary. The programme was most interesting and told the story of the Cunard-White Star line flagship from her launch in 1936 to her retirement from service in 1967. 

During her time at sea, she served as a floating home to the rich and famous. She also carried troops during the war and was a favourite of the British royal family.

But I also recalled that she carried my aunt Betty on a trip to the U.S. from Southampton, UK in 1967, on what would be her final voyage for her owner-company, Cunard

  

The three photographs above have been taken by the official photographer on board the ship, and show Betty at dinner and also with a member of the crew.

Betty was a seasoned traveller by the time these photographs were taken and had travelled on a number of occasions-- either alone or with her friend Mavis-- on several cruises. These had been either to the Meditteranean and also the U.S.A.

I hadn't realised before looking at these photos after watching the programme, that they had been taken during that final voyage. After the ship left Southampton on 31 October 1967, I'm not sure if Betty travelled only part of the journey or whether she stayed with the ship until it finally docked in the U.S. I'm still researching this part of the puzzle. Unfortunately, my aunt is no longer with us so that I could ask her myself.

I've included a YouTube clip of the great ship leaving Southampton for the final time at the link below. It makes me smile to think that Betty had been aboard when the film was made.   

(video from YouTube (c) Margaret Lee) 

Saturday, 16 June 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 16 - MARGARET ELEANOR GRAHAM LAIT


Margaret Eleanor Graham Lait, my grandmother on my father's side of the family, was born in Liverpool in 1901. Margaret was the third child of ten in the family of Charles Graham Lait and his wife, Eleanor Kaye.

MEG, as I affectionately know her, married my grandfather Joseph Seaman in September 1928 in St Catherines Church, in the Edge Hill district of Liverpool. The couple had five surviving children, the sixth-- my aunt, Joyce Seaman-- unfortunately passed away as an infant.

In the 1939 Register, MEG's employment was listed as being 'unpaid domestic duties'-- in other words, she was a housewife in the family home. At the time the record was taken, the family were living in 54 Moorgate Street, Edge Hill... just across the road from the railway station. 

Margaret died in Sefton General Hospital Liverpool in October 1947 of heart failure. She was only young at forty-six years of age. 



According to information from my uncle, Margaret was employed at one point in her life as a confectionery worker in a sweet factory (see photo above). MEG is pictured here on the left with one of her co-workers. Two things stand out for me looking at this photo-- the first is the highly-polished shine on my grandmother's shoes, and the second is the woman sitting at the rear by the cart, who was basically photo-bombing the couple, around 80 years before the term was even invented!  

Finally... the name 'Graham' in my grandmother's name referred to the maiden name of her own grandmother-- Mary Ann Graham, who had been born in 1853 in Raithby, Lincolnshire. And both my parents agreed that I should be named Graham in honour of my grandmother.  

Friday, 8 June 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 15 - ELIZABETH WELSH, BUDGIES AND A CONCEALED RADIO

(My gran, Elizabeth Welsh)

There are a number of things in this photo which bring back memories for me.

The first, obviously, is my gran. In this photograph, which has been taken from a colour negative, Elizabeth is pictured sitting in her favourite chair in the front room of her house-- a two-up, two-down rented property in Hughson Street, Toxteth, Liverpool 8.   

I remember Lizzie, (as close family and friends knew her), as being a quiet, loving woman. She would most often be seen busying herself around the house, wearing her trademark 'pinnie'-- either preparing meals for the family or involved with general household cleaning duties. She loved to cook, and I remember standing or sitting beside her in the kitchen, while she allowed me to stick a spoon into a tub of cooking malt or sugary apple pie mix. I would have a smile on my face a mile wide as I sucked and licked the spoon dry afterwards.

But as I mentioned previously, I am reminded of a couple of other things on the photograph too.

The budgie, for a start.

There were three sets of animals in residence in Hughson Street at various times. Budgies, cats and Fred the tortoise (who had an unfortunate end while hibernating in the coal-shed). I remember a green budgie (Georgie-porgie), a yellow one whose name escapes me, and the blue one in this picture-- predictably named Bluey. He was a noisy specimen and can be heard twittering away to himself on a couple of audio tapes I still have. But he also had a bit of a mean streak in him-- and would viciously nip at our fingers if my brother or I were asked to change his cuttlefish bone for a fresh one.

The other memory I have is of the curtain behind my gran, or rather, what the curtain concealed.

There was a shelf built into this alcove and on it, my Dad-- who was well used to working with electrical equipment-- had installed a large valve radio set, and later a gramophone for the family's entertainment.

My Mum recalls that my Dad once fitted a microphone into the amplifier circuits of the equipment. During a family party, my grandad made an announcement through the radio while it was playing music, to play a trick on a relative-- Bridget Price, a cousin of my grandmother.

"Here is an official announcement. Would Mrs Bridie Price please contact the nearest police station. They have information which will be beneficial to her if she attends at her earliest convenience."

Thinking that the announcement was real, Bridie apparently almost fell off the couch in shock and became quite flustered at the thought of having to appear at the police station the following morning. But Mum recalls that everyone at the party had tears of laughter after Grandad's joke had been revealed, none more so than Bridie, who possessed quite a sense of humour herself as I recall. 

There is another memory of this equipment... involving a three-year-old, a mains lead, and a pair of nail clippers. But you can read more of this particular tale <here>.  

Thursday, 31 May 2018

FRIDAY FOTO 14 - MARY SMITH (m/n DUNN)

(Mary Smith b.1903 - d.1990)

Born on the 9th October 1903 in Liverpool, Mary Smith was the seventh child of nine, born to Michael Smith and his wife Bridget (nee Seary/Seery).

Mary was baptised in St Augustine's church, Vauxhall, Liverpool on 17th October of the same year.

Later in adulthood, her occupation would be officially listed as a machinist in a local factory making sacks. These would then be used to carry goods (perhaps coal or grain etc). 

On the 30th June 1925, Mary married James Patrick Dunn when she was 21 years of age. The couple went on to have nine children, five of whom survived into adulthood.

Mary died peacefully at home on the 24th October 1990 aged 87 years of age.

Mary will be remembered fondly by her family for many things. For example, for many years she enjoyed a drink of bottled Guinness in her local pub with her friends in the 'Snug'. Also, anyone who visited her home was asked to help prepare her 'tags' - lacing loops of string through blank parcel labels - a job which earned her a few extra pounds to subsidise her pension. 

(Mary - at home, working at preparing her parcel tags...)

Mary was undoubtedly a party animal - a lady who was full of life, full of fun, right to the end. And she also had a wicked singing voice, which can be heard <here> singing 'Lily of Laguna' at a family Christmas party...