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Friday, 28 February 2014

52 Ancestors: 8 - Feisty Great Aunt Jennie (1897-1986)

52ancestors Amy at No Story Too Small has come up with a new challenge for 2014 - to write a post  each week on a specific ancestor. 

 My great aunt Jennie Danson (1897-1986) was,  by all accounts,  quite a feisty character.  She was the only daughter and last child of James Danson and Maria Rawcliffe of Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, born on 24th December 1897, after eight surviving brothers - George then aged 3, Frank 5, Albert 7, Tom 9, William 12 (my grandfather), Robert 16, John 18 and Harry 20 - a large family in a small terraced house. Her father died when when was eight years old, and two brothers John and George died in the  First World War.

The oldest photograph c. 1909 of Jennie (left)  shows her to be around 12 years old, pictured with her mother and her niece Annie Maria, daughter of brother John.


In leaving school, Jennie went to work in Poulton Post Office.  Her daughter Pam recalls a story that during the First World War, a telegram was received at the Post  Office for Mrs Maria Danson.  Fearing the worst, Jenny was allowed to run home with it.  Fortunately it was good news to say that brother Frank was in hospital in Malta but was doing well.   

Was this a group (below)  of Jennie's work colleagues, given they were all dressed in the  same skirts and blouses?   Names on the reverse -  Gerty Roskell, Jennie Danson, Annie Jolly, Margaret Porter, Madge O' Rourke, Edith Jackson.

I love this photo (left) of Jennie, with the iconic 1920s hairstyle.  She  was determined to lead her own life,  much to the dismay of her five unmarried  brothers who were used to her running the home after the death of their mother (Maria) in 1919.  Jennie married Beadnell (Bill) Stemp in 1929. 

Do look at the report below from the local paper - it makes for fascinating reading, not least for the fulsome journalistic style and descriptions of the dresses in a wedding 1920's style.

"A wedding of much local interest took place in the Poulton Parish Church on Saturday afternoon the bride being Miss Jennie Danson daughter of the late Mr and Mrs James Danson, Bull Street and the bridegroom Mr Beadnell Stemp, son of Mr and Mrs B. Stemp, Jubilee Lane, Marton.

The bride who was given away by her brother Mr R. Danson was stylishly gowned in French grey georgette, veiling silk to tone.  The bodice which was shaped to the figure was quite plain, with a spray of orange blossoms at the shoulder, while the skirt, which was ankle length, was composed entirely of five picot edged scalloped circular frills, and the long tight sleeves had circular picot edged frilled cuffs in harmony.  Her hat was of georgette to tone with uneven pointed dropping brim, having an eye veil of silver lace and floral mount.  She carried a bouquet of pink carnations with silver ribbon and horsehoe attached,

Mrs H. Ditchfield (niece of the bride), wore a gown of delphinium blue georgette, the corsage being in silver lace as also the edge of the handkerchief pointed flare skirt.  Her hat was in georgette to tone, in picture style and she carried a bouquet of blue irises in harmonise.

The little bridesmaids, Miss Peggy Danson (niece of the bride) and Miss Nellie Stemp (niece of the bridegroom) were daintily attired in primrose and eu-de-nil georgette, the picot edged circular skirts made to correspond to the dress of the bride, and they wore Dutch hats in harmony, and both carried posy bouquets, with long streamers of ribbon to tone with their dresses. 

The reception was held at the home of the bride’s brother after which the newly married couple went to Chester where the honeymoon is being spent.

The bride travelled in a dress of picky beige double georgette, the skirt which was circular scalloped, with coat of faced cloth to tone, with collar and cuffs in brown skunk fur.  Her hat had a dropping brim of brown felt, while the crown was made of ribbon in shades of orange, reseda and fawm." 

Jennie died in 1986 at the age of 88, leaving to her two daughters a legacy of memories of her own  mother Maria,  tangible family artifacts such as her mother’s tea set and jewellery,  a large collection of  photographs (mostly with names inscribed on the back) and other family memorabilia, much relating to her two youngest brothers Frank and George.  

Jennie was  truly  a feisty fearless woman 

Adapted from a post written in 2011 as part of the Fearless Females series 
to mark National Women's History Month in the USA.  

Copyright © 2014 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


  1. New follower from the #atozchallenge signup list. Very interesting story about your ancestor. Much of my mother's family story has been lost, I fear. The bare bones of dates and names are still around, but the details....

  2. Hi, I wondered whether you had any more information about the photo of Jennie and her work colleagues? Any ideas on dates or what they might have been doing? I ask because I have a Margaret O’Rourke in my tree who lived in Poulten-le-fylde and might be a long shot but she could be ‘madge’ in the photo


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