Category Archives: Scott

Kiwi cousins

I’ve spent nearly all the long weekend in foreign parts – Canada, USA, Australia and just a touch of the New Zealands. Yes, virtually of course, having splashed out on a Worldwide sub on Ancestry (for a month). All sorts of loose ends tidied up and quite a few new third cousins found, although most seem to have been born rather a long time ago, and are no more.

One of the first on the list for investigation was great aunt Daisy Maud May (originally Scott). She and her minister of religion husband Spencer had headed out for missionary work soon after they married in 1923 (in the Rhondda valley) – see likely wedding photo on the Scott/Osborne page. Their offspring mainly appeared somewhere on their travels in the Indian sub-continent. These had been tracked down a while back, partly using the previously separate Passenger List subscription on FindMyPast.

Mum also knew that they returned to Wales/England after the second world war, only to emigrate to New Zealand a few years later. A December 1953 voyage shows Rev. Spencer and Mrs Daisy May on the ship Rangitata, and that’s where the trail had ended. Supposedly their children also went to NZ, or at least the two girls, but no sign here.

Ancestry recently added some electoral roll registers to its Kiwi archives, and I could see this included a Daisy Maud May in the data. Without a sub, no more info, so this was one of many prompts.

Electoral rolls may not be exciting in terms of genealogy, but they do give addresses. So I now know where great aunt Daisy was over the period 1957 to 1981, when the list runs out – 3 different addresses in Mount Albert, Auckland. Sadly the 1957 shows her as a widow, so Spencer May didn’t get to enjoy his new home for long.

Daughter Megan Blanche however is just down the list at the same addresses. Her occupation is stated as a typist, giving me confidence that a possible April 1954 departure from Blighty is her. As a bonus, there’s also a naturalisation record on Ancestry which gives a definite place of birth – Bangalore, India. (I’ll leave out a little data as she could still be alive.)

It looks like there isn’t a bunch of young Kiwi cousins to visit, so no excuse for a (real) trip then? If there is anyone reading who knows the family, do get in touch.


Feeling Bushed

Please see the full version of this article on the current Cutlock and Co website. There are also further items, including Bush Houses viewpoints and No beating about the Bush, plus the chance to add comments and get in touch.

It is a couple of years since I first stumbled across Bush Houses as the place where my coal mining ancestors lived on moving to the Welsh valleys. I can still remember the confusion of trying to work out quite where Bush Houses was (were?). From the 1891 census for the Osborne family I could track down the ‘hamlet’ of Clydach, recorded here as part of Ystradfodwg parish in the Rhondda. But where was ‘Bush’ –  seemingly havig no road name? The only place which came up in a map search was Bush Hotel. Surely the whole family couldn’t have been living in one hotel room? (And of course the Bush Hotel on Clydach Road was undoubtedly more of a pub.) Later I found what must obviously be the same place in the 1901 census shown as ‘Bush Houses’, and I have since been told that Cwm Clydach Street in the 1881 census again refers to the same place. And now, having tracked down old maps on the People’s Collection Wales, I can see them shown as Cwm Clydach Cottages (Ordnance Survey series 1868 to 1892). My initial confusion can be forgiven, perhaps.

Living close to coal

This image {1} clearly shows Bush Houses’ position adjacent to the working area of Blaenclydach Colliery, and proximity to the railway with coal wagons to the front of picture.

Blaenclydach Colliery and Gorki Drift, 1915

I am indebted to my second cousin (twice removed) John Osborne, living in Clydach, who has provided more background to life here, specific details and a photo.  During our visit he talked about how people living in Bush Houses referred to the rest of Clydach (on the northern side of the brook) as ‘over’ (as in ‘over there’?), and the walk ‘over’ would cut through woods and past the old coke ovens. You can see from the map extract below, as well as the photo above,  that the Bush remained isolated from other housing. It is difficult to imagine the lives of my ancestors in such small houses with many children, coal dirt all around, back-breaking, dangerous work and how they felt coming from rural south Somerset. At least the immediate Osborne and Scott families appear to have been lucky in not having strings of child deaths, unlike cousins and other relations.

“In memory of the seven miners who died in the Gorki Drift Disaster … 1941” Plaque outside the council offices.

Church and chapel

The full version of Feeling Bushed continues on the current Cutlock & Co website, with comments and more.

The rest

ns/amendments from other people.

The Tonypandy that Mum knew

I spent a few days last week visiting the old coal mining area of Rhondda in south Wales with my brother. The Tonypandy environs was where the previous couple of generations to mum lived, worked and many died (many at a good age but others weren’t so fortunate), along with plenty of cousins, aunts, uncles etc. We spent a long morning in Trealaw cemetery tracking down as many related gravestones as we could, followed by an afternoon exploring the town, in particular Blaenclydach, finished off with a warm welcome from second cousin (twice removed) John Osborne and wife, with many old photos, documents, paintings and talk plus fresh tea and sandwiches.

While I am still digesting all this, the following extract from Mum’s ‘Recollections and reflections’ (written 2007) will give a taster of the place. Here she talks about her grandparents from “hard working, working class backgrounds”.

The Watkins side were from very definitely established Welsh speaking families: many generations likely to have been born in Wales. I have gathered from reference books that the Watkins tribe probably originated in Brecknockshire. The Scott side were immigrants from Southern England. Grandpa Scott was born in, or near White Lackington [actually Whitelackington – subtle but important distinction] in Somerset; he came to the Rhondda Valley as a young man, to find a job in the mines, which was more lucrative than working as a labourer on the land. I know nothing about my Grandpa’s early life or his family background.  Grandma Scott, I know, spent most of her childhood in the Rhondda area. I used to love listening to her tales about her childhood and from them I know she went to school there. Her family had moved from Dorset; their family name was Osborne.

Grandsire (Granshir we called him) and Granny Watkins lived only a few hundred yards away from Grandpa (Grampa) and Grandma (Granma) Scott, so when we went to Tonypandy, where they lived, we were able to visit both sets of grandparents. My sister and I always stayed overnight with my maternal grandparents, if it was an extended visit. I don’t know where my parents slept. My paternal grandparents died about two or three years before the Second World War, when I was about seven or eight, so I never grew to know them as well as I did my mother’s parents. I do know that sometime during his life that Granshir Watkins went to America to find other employment. I have an idea that he went with other members of the family: a brother perhaps? Maybe it was to find gold? Anyway he returned and was unemployed for most years of his later working life, as was Grampa Scott.

My most vivid memory of Granshir is seeing him sitting at the end of David Street, where he lived, chatting with his mates. He always waved or had a word with me as I passed. Granny was always at home, usually preparing food or such like, in the middle room, where all the main activities of the house went on. There was a small room called the scullery, which had the kitchen sink, that you went through to reach the garden. I only remember going into the garden on one occasion. The hub of life took place in this middle room or living room, which was lit by a gaslight hanging down centrally over the table. I can hear the pop of the mantle being lit as I write: a very gentle satisfying “pop”!

Grampa and Granma Scott lived at 15 Fern Terrace, which was nearly at the top of a very steep hill that led on to the mountain. When parking a car outside the front door it was necessary to turn the wheels into the kerb and to put a stone, or some other restraining mechanism, behind a wheel, as well as pulling hard on the brake. It was really hard work walking from the bottom of the hill to Granma’s, if you had been out shopping or such like: instead, we usually zigzagged through the back lanes or side roads, to ease the journey home. Just a small recessed porch, to shelter you from the elements, lay between the pavement and the front door. There was a lane at the rear of the house and the back gate was more generally used, if there was someone at home and the back door unlocked.

Fern Terrace, Tonypandy/Blaenclydach, April 2011. Number 15 is a couple of doors up from the children. Photo by Pete Howes

The back door of the house opened onto a small paved area positioned between the two adjoining houses. Ten stone steps led down to the cellar beneath the kitchen, with the W.C. housed in a separate brick building beside it. A small kitchen garden, where my grandfather grew vegetables, but no flowers or grass, was in this lower area. I remember falling down the stone steps, when I was about seven years old, which gave both my grandparents and me a nasty shock, but I didn’t come to much harm and I was careful to use the metal hand rails that ran down beside the steps after this.

The kitchen was where the main activities of the house happened. There was a large range with two ovens: a small one used to keep food warm and keeping the kindling dry etc. and a larger one for the main cooking. There was usually an iron kettle on the hob, which was the source of hot water for washing and cooking. Sometime in the early part of the second world war Granma did have a gas cooker fitted, but the range fire was still the main source of heat, so that oven was still used, when the fire was lit.  Bathing took place in front of the range fire in a tin bath, which was kept hanging from a nail on the back wall outside. Later, about the same time as the gas cooker was installed, a glass conservatory was built, between the kitchen and the neighbours’ wall, to house a bath and the sink. This was a horrendously cold place to have a bath in winter.

More Tonypandy memories

There has been a ‘living memory’ project in the Rhondda which finished in 2010. One of the published stories on Our Valleys Heritage is from Phyllis Bowen, who recalls her childhood days in Clydach Vale in ‘A fold in the hills’ – direct link to the pdf document (65KB). There’s also one on funfairs in Tonypandy.

Wedding fashions through family photos

There are of course a number of wedding photographs in the family collection, dating back over a hundred years. I thought it might be interesting to look at the differences, from changing fashions and fortunes. The variation is no doubt as much as about what they could afford as personal taste and the conventions of the times.

Summer 1905, Norwich, NorfolkEric Laddiman and Eliza Neal are fifth and sixth from the left back row. The fact that this is their wedding is by deduction based on being ‘August or September 1905’. An odd grouping, with all those young women in front. Gran Emily Neal, with her sister Polly, are in the front row, third and second from right. The ‘better’ shots probably went to the older siblings – large size photos such as these would presumably have been relatively  expensive.

1918, New York State, USA

Ambrose Watts, who had arrived from Norfolk in 1914, and his American born wife Adabelle Waterson. Photo courtesy of Darrell Austin.

1923, Tonypandy, Wales:

Spencer May and Daisy Maud Scott are the happy couple in the middle of the back row of the Scott family. Len Watkins second from right at the rear, husband of Mary Ann sitting just in front. Again the date of this, worked out from age of the youngsters, pinpoints the occasion.

(And yes, I’ve photoshopped this photo  to give better contrast.)

September 1926, Lewisham, London

Fred Cullum, Dora Briselden, wedding Sep 1926

1930 Norwich, Norfolk

Harry Williams, Alec Williams and Cissie Berry, plus bridesmaid and father?

1933, Wellington, Shropshire

Eric Laddiman, Jack Laddiman and wife Peggy (Helen Marguerite) Price, not sure of the other two (the bridesmaids?!).

1940, Wellington, Shropshire:

A war time wedding. Eric Laddiman and Vera Davies.

UPDATE: there’s a feature on dating wedding photos in the May 2011 issue of Who Do You Think You Are magazine.