Tag Archives: passenger lists

From an old address book to a Victoria Cross hero

17 Jan

I never cease to be amazed at how one tiny snippet of information can trigger such an interesting chain of research and uncover an interesting story in the process. Unfortunately much of that information is not going to be directly relevant to my family tree, but the journey more than makes up for that.

The story begins with an address book which belonged to my grandmother. Amongst the names and addresses it has three addresses for Isabel KIPPS (my first cousin three times removed), one in Sussex, another in Nottingham and a third in Australia.

I thought it would be interesting to find out when she went to Australia and when she came back, because I already knew that she died back in England. It was fairly easy to find details of her trip, outward on findmypast.co.uk and home again on Ancestry.co.uk.

Essentially she was taking two young girls, to whom she was a nurse, away from England at the start of the Second World War to the relative safety of Australia. They left Southampton on the 13th July 1940 bound for Melbourne, Australia. They returned in 1945, leaving Melbourne on the 27th February, bound for Liverpool.

There were also details in the passenger lists of two previous trips, made by Isabel and the two girls, one to Malta in 1934/35 and Gibraltar in 1937. For a member of my family tree to be so well-travelled is extremely unusual, very few of my relatives ever seemed to have left the safety of dry land.

Of course by this time I was curious as to who was the father of these two globe-trotting girls. Fortunately their mother was with them on one of the voyages, so it wasn’t difficult to find out that they were the daughters of Robert St Vincent Sherbrooke.

Google was bursting with search results for Robert Sherbrooke, primarily because he had been the recipient of the Victoria Cross whilst serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and ended up as Rear Admiral. I won’t go into details here because it is pretty easy to find out plenty of information on the internet (he even has his own page on Wikipedia).

It is such a shame that such an incredible (and well documented) man is not much more than a footnote to my family history, but it is nice to know that my first cousin three times removed was part of his life and trusted with the care of his children.

Free Friday: Leaving them standing at the dock

5 Nov

In one of the local newspapers that I checked last Saturday was another slightly different report about the diamond wedding anniversary of James and Caroline BOXALL (my 2x great-grandparents) of West Dean (near Chichester), Sussex. It included a paragraph which mentioned that one of their 27 children had emigrated.

When visited yesterday by a “Sussex Daily News” representative, Mrs. Boxall was a-tiptoe with anticipation. All her seven surviving children, except a daughter in Alberta, Canada, have promised to visit the tiny cottage snuggling against a wooded slope of the Downs.

Sussex Daily News (Wednesday 15th April 1936)

It occurred to me that I already knew there were descendants of James and Caroline in Canada, but the fact had been pushed to the back of my mind, only now taking on new significance when I actually read it in print.

My first instinct of course was to find out which daughter it was that had emigrated, which didn’t take long as I had pretty much traced all but one of the daughters already. It was Florence Mabel BOXALL, who married Frederick AYRES in 1906.

I found Florence and her two children on a passenger list leaving Southampton on the Ascania bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia on the 18th December 1913. The problem is that they are crossed out on the list, does this mean they didn’t make the voyage? The only record I have found so far on the other side of the Atlantic is a passenger list for the arrival of the Ausonia at Quebec on the 8th June 1914.

I don’t really know what is happening, my guess is that they took the Ausonia from Halifax to Quebec. Her husband Frederick had probably already made his way to Canada in advance. It is an interesting puzzle, I would like to find out what really happened but I don’t really have the time to investigate it.

Now this is making me feel guilty. I have a mental image in my mind of Florence and her two children and a handful of suitcases standing at the docks at Southampton looking bewildered and lost. I feel I should be helping them make their way across the Atlantic, but I don’t have the time. All I can do is wish them good luck and wave them goodbye.

I know I shouldn’t feel guilty about not following every branch of my family tree, I just don’t have the time at the moment to learn all about the passenger lists and follow the family over to Canada. For now I need to concentrate on what I already know about and that is English resources.

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