Thursday, 29 September 2016

Heirlooms from my Great Grandfather - Treasure Chest Thursday

I am over the moon! Thanks to my blog, I have just been given  personal items - a presentation silver trowel, a silver crested baton and the family bible  - belonging to my paternal great grandfather, John Matthews of Wolverhampton, Staffordshire.

John Matthews (1843-1918)

 The inscription reads:   
Ladymore Wesleyan Chapel 
Stonelaying Ceremony
Presented to Mr. J, Matthews
April 7th 1903. 

How did all this come about? 
My father's side of the family (Weston and Matthews) has always remained rather shadowy.  They lived some distance away and we only met them one or two times a year, plus the fact that so few photographs have survived of the family.   They have not featured much in my research beyond the basic facts of names and dates, and an occasional article on my blog. 

So I was amazed to receive an e-mail from a Matthews connection through marriage;  moreover with  the wish to give family treasures to a direct descendantWe corresponded, met last week and spent a happy afternoon chatting about our family history research.  

I always knew from my father that his maternal grandfather John Matthews was a prominent member of the Methodist Church,  but had not delved into research to find out more.  Featured  here is a silver trowel and baton presented to John in recognition of his service to the church

On the 8th April 1903, "The Wolverhampton Express & Star"  reported on  "A New Wesleyan Chapel for Ladymoor".
"Fourteen memorial stones were laid  of a new chapel at Ladymoor, to take the place of the present one which has been wrecked by mining operations.  There was a large attendance  at the site  which occupies a very central position.  .......The stone layers were.......Mr. J. Matthews (on behalf of the choir).....Each was presented with a silver trowel...on behalf of the trustees.

The new erection, which is estimated to cost £1000, will be of a nondescript style to accommodate 200 persons with the necessary classroom, and a vestibule.  It will be heated throughout with hot water pipes."
Following the ceremony, a public meeting and service  was held in the Bilston Wesleyan Chapel. at which the musical portion was contributed by the Ladymore Wesleyan Choir, conductor  by John Matthews.    
Below is the silver crested baton also presented to John Matthews in his role as conductor of the choir.

The tiny inscription reads: 
Presented to John Matthews
By the Choir and Congregation

of Wesleyan Chapel, Ladymoor


 To hold the baton used by my great grandfather was a delight to me, as the love of choral music  has continued down through the family.  My uncle Fred Weston was a choir boy  at Warwick Parish Church.  At the age of seven, my father joined the parish church choir at Broseley, near Ironbridge, Shropshire and continued singing until late in life,  wherever he was living.  From the days of my being in a school choir, choral music has remained  one of my main interests. 


The gift of the family bible listing John's marriage to Matilda and the birth of their ten children, will form the subject of a later post.

John,  "dearly beloved husband of Matilda"  died aged  75 on the 17th September 1918.  The loss of three children preceded him - Fanny Elizabeth  aged 33 in 1909;  John Percy aged 36  in 1910, and Arthur William. aged 35  killed in action in 1915 at Gallipoli - remembered on the Helles Memorial  in Turkey. 

My great grandmother,  Matilda Matthew, nee Such/Simpson, born in 1849 lived to the  age of 81, with her death  on 9th July 1929 recorded in the "Wolverhampton Express & Star". Mystery surrounds her background  - to be explored in a future post.  

My grandmother Mary Barbara Matthews (1876-1958) the third child of John and Matilda. 


With special thanks to Nick and Jennifer.  

"Treasure Chest Thursday"  is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers encouraging  bloggers to record their family history.  

Copyright © 2016 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved


Thursday, 22 September 2016

Having Fun: Sepia Saturday - Work and Play 4

Having spent all this month focusing on Work, 
it is  time to have some fun and  Play.

Having fun on the beach - my husband's great aunt Violet (left) and friends, c.1920'  

Playing in the garden - my mother and aunt - Kathleen and Edith Danson c.1914

More fun on the beach - my brother in that fetching knitted playsuit - and myself

 Bournemouth in the 1950's

My brother again  - in the  paddling pool in the park at Bournemouth - he usually managed to fall in and my mother knew to take with us a change of clothes.

 Playing hide and seek with my daughter in the ruins of a castle,
 near our home in the Scottish Borders, c.1970.s

 Having fun in winter!  "The Hills are Alive"  for my husband and daughter. 
 Look at that  nifty footwork!  
Our dog has dashed out of the picture at this sight - 
spot the red dog lead around my husband, c.1990's.

Jumping for Joy!
Granddaughter is never happier than when jumping, climbing, or running, 2016. 

In Case You Missed  

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 are marking this month's prompt of  Work and Play

Friday, 16 September 2016

Death on the Somme 100 years Ago Today : Military Monday

On 16th September 1916 died   my great uncle George Danson, a week after this 22nd birthday. 
Guard's Cemetery, Les Boeufs, near Albert  - George's final resting place.

George, the youngest of eight brothers and one sister  was a stretcher bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps and killed during the Battle of the Somme.

Captain MacLeod in writing to George's widowed mother said:    "He was one of my stretcher bearers and was gallantly doing his duty over open and dangerous ground which suddenly became subjected to severe shell fire.  He continued steadily bearing his burden and was only stopped by the shell that took his life. We mourn his loss and are very proud of him". 

A photograph, sent to his mother,  of George's grave.  It conveys in a stark way the reality of war amid the mud and blood that George must have experienced - and contrasts with the pristine white of the more lasting memorials that we recognise today.

Military Monday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers 
to encourage us to record our family history.

Copyright © 2016 · Susan Donaldson.  All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Women in the Workplace: Sepia Saturday Work and Play 3

This week a look at Women in the Workplace 
with thanks to Auld Earlston, my local heritage group in the Scottish Borders 
for  images from its collection 

Earlston Munition Workers in World War Two

Around 950,000 British women worked in munitions factories during the Second World War, making weapons like shells and bullets. Munitions work was often well-paid, but involved long hours, sometimes up to seven days a week. Workers were also at serious risk from accidents with dangerous machinery or when working with high explosive material.  Some munitions workers dealt with  toxic chemicals every dayThose who handled sulphur were nicknamed ‘Canary Girls’, because their skin and hair turned yellow from contact with the chemical. [Source: My Learning.Org ]

Earlston Nurses on Parade in the Second World War

Let's not forget Housewives at Work - Shopping in the Traveling Van 

I remember my mother wearing this kind of pinny with a handy front pocket for dusters etc. . She made them for many a sale of work. 

Workwear at the Egg Packaging Station at Georgefield Farm, Earlston 

 The distinctive work costume of the Bondagers.

Bondagers were female farm workers in south east Scotland and Northumberland. As part of their husband's contract (or bond) with the farmer, he would undertake to provide another worker (usually his wife) to help as and when required. The women wore a distinctive dress with bonnet, described as the "last remaining peasant costume" in Britain.  The custom of bondagers lasted well into the 20th century.

And from my own family election, three photographs I have featured before, but are among my favourites and fit the theme so well. 


My great aunt Jenny (seond on the left) with her work colleagues from the post office in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire.Her daughter Pam recalled a story that during the First World War, a telegram was received at the Post  Office for Jenny's mother 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.    

Both before and after her marriage, my mother offered dressmaking services from her home.  Mum had been apprenticed to a tailor at the age of 14, andwas still sewing well into her 80's.  I only came across her early business card after her death. 

My mother's second cousin was Elsie Oldham, who as "Elise" (note the French version of her name!) offered "Bobbing, Shingling, Marcel Waving and Perming", from her home in Blackpool, Lancashire, and advertised on this lovely evocative 1920's blotter.

Elsie's old set of scissors and hair clippers

Elsie's son recalled how she continued working  until shortly before she died in 1989 - by that time the number of customers had dwindled to about three a week all of whom were as old as she was!  When the house was emptied a cupboard was discovered full of bottles of hair dye  in myriad colours - some of it must have been at least 20 or 30 years old!

In Case You Missed  

Click HERE to see how other Sepia Saturday bloggers
are marking this month's prompt of  Work and Play