Sunday, January 30, 2022

Mrs C J Hough (Cecil Jean MacVicar Shaw)

For the past couple of years my blog posts have focused on the Whybrew and Mason families, on the paternal side of my family. But with the recently published 1921 UK census offering never-before available information, I've decided that it's time to take another look at some of the other branches of my family tree.

'Mrs C. J. Hough'

One of the first mysteries that the 1921 census allowed me to solve was the identity of 'Mrs C. J . Hough' who was listed on the National Roll of the Great War at the same address as my maternal grandmother's uncles, John and James Hough. I'd guessed that she was probably the wife of John Hough, since I knew James' wife was called Elizabeth. But I couldn't find out any more about 'C.J.' or a record of their marriage.

Looking up the address given on the National Roll (18 Shuttleworth Street, Pendleton) in the 1921 census revealed that there were two households listed at this address. The first consisted of James and Elizabeth Hough, their son Albert, plus a number of other relatives, including my 17 year old grandmother, Margaret Annie Bentley. (More of that another time.)

The other household contained only two names, Cecil Jean Hough, aged 37, and her one-year old son Cecil John Hough. Cecil Jean was described as 'wife' of the head of the family. Strangely, John Hough is listed as the person who filled in the census, but his details aren't included. But at least I could now be fairly certain that 'Mrs C. J.  Hough' was Cecil Jean, John's wife. 

From her son's birth registration in 1920 I discovered her maiden name was Shaw, and the baby was born in Marylebone, in London. A note, 'nee Shaw' also appeared on her entry in the UK, World War I Service Medal and Award Rolls, where she was listed under her married name. It seems likely that she and John met as a result of their time in the armed services. 

I haven't found a definite record of their marriage, but a marriage registered towards the end of 1918 between John Hough and 'Cecil J Shand' in Wandsworth is possibly theirs.

An Indian childhood

On the 1921 census transcript, Cecil Jean is said to have been born in India. This might have been a misunderstanding on the part of John Hough when he filled in the census details. Cecil Jean MacVicar Shaw's birth was registered in Marylebone, London, in the second quarter of 1885. When she was baptised on 2 March 1885, her parents were living at 6 Harley Place, Marylebone. This was a mews off the more famous Harley Street. 

But it seems likely that Cecil (sometimes listed as Cecilia) did spend most of her childhood in India.The baptism record describes her father, Robert John MacVicar Shaw, as an Indian coffee planter. 

Robert Shaw and her mother, Florence Carew Hutchinson, were married in Jersey in 1876. Florence, who was born in India, seems to have died sometime before 1904. Robert married Marie Ombrey Leacock in Tamil Nadu, India, that year. 

Joining the army

QMAAC clearing up after the air-raid at Abbeville

When the 1911 UK census was taken, Cecil was in Wales, working as a wardmaid at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl. Her experience in that role would have made her a good candidate for the Queen Mary's Army Auxillary Corps. This began orginally in 1917 as the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). It's purpose was to free up men from administrative and home service jobs for fighting on the front. 

On the National Roll her entry reads:

HOUGH, C. J. (Mrs.), Worker, Q.M.A.A.C. (Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps)

Having joined in March 1918, she was sent to France, where she did excellent work as waitress in the Officers' mess at Abbeville, and was wounded during an air raid on that place. She remained in this area until June 1919, when she returned home and was demobilised, holding the General Service and Victory Medals.  18, Shuttleworth Street, Pendleton."

Cecil Jean was fortunate to survive the air raid on Abbeville, on the Somme. Nine women died in the raid. This film clip shows the damage done to the women's camp.

John Hough was a corporal in the 8th Lancashire Fusilliers and also spent time in France. His entry in the National Roll reads:

Volunteering in August 1914, in the following month he was sent to Egypt, and served there until drafted to the Dardanelles, where he took part in numerous engagements until the Evacuation, and was wounded. He then returned to Egypt, and in March 1917 proceeded to France, where he fought on the Ancre, at Ypres, and in the Retreat. After the Armistice he was sent to Ireland and served there until, owing to ill-health, he was invalided home and discharged in November 1920, holding the Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals. 18, Shuttleworth Street, Pendleton

John and Cecil had (at least) three children - Cecil John in 1920, Peter in 1922 and Margaret in 1926. Peter died in infancy, and possibly also Margaret. Cecil Jean herself died in 1927 and was buried in what seems to be a shared grave with several unrelated people. I haven't been able to discover for certain when John died, although 1942 seems likely. I can't remember my grandmother ever mentioning Cecil or Cecilia when she spoke about her family.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Harriet Whybrew - an update


Poor Harriet! I've found more information about her recently, but everything I've discovered has been bad news. 

To recap on what I've already written about her, Harriet was David and Susan Whybrew's first child. She was born in Adelaide in 1868, before they were married. When David's regiment returned to England, Susan went too, taking their second daughter, Eliza, with them, but leaving Harriet behind. I've discussed who might have taken care of Harriet and how she came to be reunited with her family in her late teens.

Harriet's name began appearing in the Adelaide press in January 1882, when she was only thirteen, though she was reported to be fifteen. She was charged with stealing a watch and other property. The police magistrate sent her to the Industrial School, a reformatory, for twelve months. Even there she got into trouble.

Between then and August 1885 she was constantly in and out of the police courts, often charged with 'loitering' or with the use of bad language. Sometimes she paid a fine, sometimes she went to prison for several weeks. 

I've recently come across some additional newspaper reports and records that I hadn't seen before. All together, I've found twelve mentions of Harriet in the police court between 1882 and 1885. On one occasion, in July 1883, she and her cousin, Rose Atkin, appeared together, both charged with 'using indecent language, loitering etc'. They were each fined two pounds. Rose paid the fine but Harriet went to gaol for three months, presumably because she couldn't pay. On the prison records (which are now available on both girls were described as prostitutes. 

Time in hospital?

I still don't know what happened to Harriet between her last appearance in the Adelaide courts in August 1885 and her appearance in court in  Colchester in England in October 1888. But I did discover a 'Susan Whybrow' listed in the Adelaide hospital admissions in 1885. She was said to be eighteen years old, single, Roman Catholic, born in South Australia. She was admitted on 26 November.

Since I can't find any Susan Whybrow (or similar name) born in SA around the right time, and the details fit Harriet pretty well, I'm wondering if someone inadvertently listed her mother's name instead of hers. After all, the Destitute Asylum twice listed David Whybrew as her uncle rather than her father. The hospital admission records (which are also now on show that she was in hospital for two weeks. 

The name 'J. Bonnin' is listed under the 'circumstances' column. Was this a doctor? An employer? A friend? Usually doctors were given their title in this column. The only Dr J Bonnin I can find in Adelaide, James A Bonnin, didn't graduate until 1895. A John Bonnin (or Bonnie or Bonney) appeared in the Police Courts around this time, charged with use of indecent language. Perhaps he brought Harriet to the hospital.

Harriet, if this is her, was treated for anaemia. Given her lifestyle, it's quite likely that Harriet would have had a poor diet, which could have led to chronic anaemia. But if she was admitted to hospital for treatment, it's more likely that the anaemia was acute. I can only speculate on what might have caused this, but it does seem that something happened at the end of 1885 that led to the end of Harriet's appearances in the Police Court.

If Harriet was in hospital in late November 1885, then she couldn't have been the 'Miss S Wybrow" who left Adelaide for England on 15 November. The identity of this Miss Wybrow is a mystery. I can't find any other mention of her existence. 

How Harriet came to rejoin her family is also still a mystery. My hunch continues to be that the Salvation Army might have had something to do with it, given their outreach to 'fallen women' in Adelaide, and Harriet's sister Eliza's association with the 'Salvos' in Colchester. An article about the Salvation Army 'home for fallen women' in Norwood reported in August 1886 that

Since the opening, thirty-four girls and women have been received, thirteen of whom have been placed in situations, and from reports that are received by the matron, they are giving entire satisfaction, and are most thankful to the officers of the institution for the great benefits derived by them from its establishment. Four of the number have been restored to their parents, and four have been transferred to the lying-in department of the destitute, whilst one married' woman has returned to her husband.

Perhaps Harriet was one of those restored to her parents. 

(My thanks to the South Australia Genealogy group on Facebook, who helped me to find some of this information.)

You can find out more about Susan and David Whybrew and their family, in my book Susan: convict's daughter, soldier's wife, nobody's fool.
It's available on Amazon and other online books stores

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Alice Whybrew


Herbert & Alice Miller
with baby Alice c1901
(from a larger family photo)

Having tracked down the story of what happened to Rose Whybrew after she arrived in Chicago in the United States, I hoped I might find out more about her sister Alice, who also migrated to Chicago. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find much to add to what I wrote about her in my post about the fourteen children of David and Susan Whybrew. But here's what's known.

Alice was born at Parsonstown in Ireland in September 1875, while her father David was stationed with the 50th Regiment in Kings County (now known as Co. Offaly). At the time of her birth her oldest sister, Harriet, was still in Australia, and two other siblings, David and Rosina, had already died. So she effectively became the second child in the family, with her sister Eliza nearly six years older. 

By the time her younger sister, Rose, was born in 1877, the family had moved back to England, to Canterbury. They eventually settled in Colchester. I can't find anything about Alice's childhood, other than what's known about the family generally. In the 1891 census, when she was 16, she was described as a tailoress.

In 1896 Alice married Herbert Arthur Miller, a carpenter from Colchester. He had enlisted in the army in 1889, but was discharged in 1891, apparently due to having flat feet. The couple went to live in Canterbury Road, Colchester.

A newspaper report in the Essex Standard in October 1899 suggests that their marriage was not going well. Herbert appeared in the Colchester police court charged with assaulting Alice. It was evident that this was not the first time that they had a violent argument. Alice wanted a separation order, but the judge would not allow it.

Perhaps things improved. A year later, in November 1900, Alice gave birth to their first child, Alice Frances. Three years later, in September 1903, Bessie Mary was born. She was named after Herbert's sister and was baptised at St Botolph's church in Colchester. I can't find a record of Alice Frances being baptised.

Moving to Chicago

In 1905, Herbert left England for Winnipeg in Canada aboard the Virginian, arriving in April. Alice followed with the two children on 10 August 1905, on the Tunisian. They all arrived safely in Canada. But the North West census for Canada in 1906 shows Alice and six year old daughter Alice living in what seems to be a boarding house in Winnipeg, with no sign of Herbert or little Bessie.

The census was taken in June. Possibly Herbert had already left for the USA. He crossed through Vermont into the United States with $30 to his name in June-July of 1906. (Most of this information comes from documents on

It seems most likely that Bessie died while they were in Canada. She may be the 'Mary Miller' aged 2 whose death on 11 July 1906 is listed in the Manitoba Vital Statistics Agency database. It was a sad start to the family's new life in North America.

Eventually Alice and daughter Alice joined Herbert in Chicago. He found work as a bricklayer. When Alice's sister Rose and her husband George migrated in 1907, they gave Alice and Herbert's address, on 48th Avenue, Chicago, as their destination. Rose was still at this address in 1910.

By 7 December 1909, Alice was dead. I haven't discovered what caused her death. She was only thirty-four. There are no newspaper reports to suggest an accident. Her address when she died was recorded as 4742 W Ohio St. (See a photo of the house here.) She was buried at the Forest Home cemetery, 

Herbert remarried a few months later, to Alice M McKeon, an Irish immigrant who was a five years younger than Alice Whybrew. She is the Alice who appears with Herbert and his daughter Alice in the 1910 United States census, living as boarders with another family.

You can find out more about Susan and David Whybrew and their family, in my book Susan: convict's daughter, soldier's wife, nobody's fool.
It's available on Amazon and other online books stores