Saturday, 4 January 2014

A SIGN OF THE TIMES (MY WRITING LIFE) AND PART 22 MY ANCESTRY: WHO'S WHO?

 

Just love this photograph. Who are these children? There is a definite family likeness.
More further down the page about photographs.

A SIGN OF THE TIMES
I was sad to hear that on December 19th 2013 the LIVERPOOL POST ceased being printed as a newspaper. Originally it was published as the LIVERPOOL DAILY POST but in 2012 started appearing weekly as a printed newspaper. I still have a copy of the page when I appeared in this illustrious Merseyside newspaper. The LIVERPOOL POST started life in 1855 published by a former Chief Constable of Liverpool, Michael James Whitty, and sold for a penny a time. These days when such a date is mentioned, I always wonder what else was going on in Liverpool at the time because of my fascination with my ancestry and the kind of lives they lived. By the way there is a North Wales version of the DAILY POST and it can be found online.

Fortunately despite the lurid headlines on the front of the Liverpool ECHO every day, we do have it delivered six days a week. A local newspaper has an important role to play in local affairs in my opinion and the ECHO has been a great source of information for me, not only as a Liverpudlian but also as a writer. It also provided me with my first wages because when I was fifteen, I took over the job of newspaper delivery person from my brother, Don, and became a papergirl for the princely sum of five shillings a week. Every other week I earned twice that sum when I delivered national papers, magazines and the NEWS OF THE WORLD or THE PEOPLE mornings.

The Liverpool ECHO can also be read online which is greatly appreciated by a friend of ours, who emigrated to Australia a few years ago and has recently been connected to the internet.

I have blogged before about how much I appreciate the internet but it does have its drawbacks. I was made doubly aware of this when I read journalist Joe Riley’s article in the Liverpool ECHO of 30th December ’13 when he questioned what the future holds for professional reviewers who are being dispensed with by some media outlets because of the plague of so-called online citizen journalism. He says you can’t beat the real thing, based on experience and comparative ability. Joe speaks as someone who has had 40 years experience of separating what he calls the wheat from the chaff.

As a writer with books out there, I have been aware for ages of the importance of reviews, not that mine have ever hit the headlines big but some have appeared in the local press. I knew exactly where they were coming from and who had written them and that’s important. Now online reviews can be left on Amazon, Goodreads and elsewhere by just anyone.

Some don’t seem to care how hurtful they can or even how inexplicably baffling the comments can be. I’ve heard other writers say that it sounds like they’ve read a completely book. Writers are particularly sensitive and that’s why so many say they never read reviews. Others say never respond to a negative comment, however tempting it is to do so.

I confess I do read some reviews and recently one brought a smile to my face because this reviewer of MEMORIES ARE MADE OF THIS on Amazon, a Doreen Jones, remembered me from when we lived in the same Liverpool street fifty years ago. Only when she included her maiden name at the end did I realise who she was. Doreen McIlwain who had lived two doors away. I remember she was pretty and that she had a brother, Jimmy, and her Nan lived in her parents’ front parlour, along with her daughter, May. Doreen probably would not have known who I was if I hadn’t mentioned my maiden name at the front of one my latest books. She finished her review by saying that she hoped I read what she had written. I’m so glad I did because it lifted my spirits. It is the same with the letters and emails I have received directly from readers in different parts of the globe. I know where they’re coming from and appreciate their comments.

                  This photo was taken in the late Fifties outside our family home. Left to Right: My future husband, John, myself, Margaret Leedham, friend and aunt to my nieces, Melanie and Wendy, and kneeling Jean Blakeman, who lived on the other side of the street.











PART 22 ANCESTRY: WHO'S WHO?

The other morning I received an email from a fellow ancestry seeker, linked to the Milburn branch of my family. I’d mention my blog to him and he had actually taken a look at it. I was delighted because sometimes I wonder if anyone actually reads it, I was encouraged by his comments to keep on going. Fittingly I am at that point where I felt a need to return to that branch of the Milburn family who left Liverpool for London in late Victorian times.

Who hasn’t heard of the television series SEND FOR THE MIDWIFE? Set in Poplar in London in the fifties, I confess to only ever having watched half of an episode. Most likely because I have no urge in watching actresses supposedly giving birth in circumstances that I’d rather not think about on the whole. Having produced three sons myself in Bootle on Merseyside was painful enough, but also living with four men, viewing in our house is inclined to consist of documentaries, comedy quiz shows or old films. Still, it came as a surprise to me to discover that some of my southern Milburn kin settled in Poplar over a hundred years ago after my great-grandparents’ headed south.

My first contact with that branch of the family was via Wendy Pullen, nee Milburn, with whom I shared ancestors,William and Mary Milburn. I had discovered through Ancestry that my granddad John Jones Milburn had another eight siblings whom I was completely unaware of at the time. All but three were born in London; two before they left Liverpool and their daughter May having arrived on a visit to Liverpool in 1884. Presumably for the funeral of William’s mother Mary-Ann, nee Green, who died that year at the age of 74. Altogether William and Mary had six daughters and four sons. The two eldest, Thomas and John Jones born in Liverpool, eventually returned to the city of their birth.  

Wendy’s grandfather(or great?) was William James, born in 1883in London. It turned out that it was one of his daughters, Ivy, whom my cousin George had stayed with for a short while when working in Essex. Ivy’s daughter, Pat Harris, got in touch with me after meeting Wendy at a family funeral and she mentioned me to her. I wonder now whether my mother actually met Ivy and Pat, who visited Liverpool during WW2. After all Ivy and my mam were first cousins. I also wonder why Mam never mentioned them to me. Maybe she didn’t see the point.

Having visited London and Essex numerous times since I became a writer, I was really interested to know more about the southern branch if the Milburn family, especially my grandfather’s sisters who would have been young in Edwardian times. How had they earned a living before marriage? As it turned out two were shop girls but the one that interested me the most was Henrietta who had been born in Liverpool. She was in service to a family in Kensington according to the census of 1901before appearing ten years later as a upper maid to the Bonham-Carter family at their home in Chelsea in 1910. Perhaps I wouldn’t have recognised the name if Helena Bonham Carter wasn’t appearing in the Harry Potter film series at the time. As it was it sounded like Henrietta was quite one of the family as when she married the widowed father of two of the maids working for the household, in 1914, when she was getting on for forty; a couple of members of the Bonham Carter family attended the wedding. Henrietta was later to give birth to a daughter and after being widowed, went to South Africa with the family. Later she returned to England and lived into her nineties. It seems to me that in certain cases years ago those in service had a much better chance of survival than others who married young and had families.   

My brother, Ron Nelson, moved south at the end of the fifties and I now have a niece and nephew who live in Essex. My cousin, George Milburn’s two sons, also live down south, as do my cousin, Maureen’s (mother was Flora Milburn) two sons.


     My Aunt Flo (Flora Milburn/ Hawitt). The chair and the backdrop are familiar to several studio photos of the period.


Another member of the Milburn family was to get in touch with me was Peter Champion and he sent me some photographs taken of members of the family outside the family home in London during the Queen’s coronation. Pat Harris also sent me some photos of her mother and aunts and uncles when they were young, as well as a few colour photos of her, her brother and son, too.

                                        
            Ivy Milburn, my mother's cousin. My thanks to Pat Harris for sending me this photograph.

This morning I felt really excited when Phil, whom I have blogged about before, (our grandmothers were sisters) emailed me some  photos that had belonged to my mother’s cousin, Edith Milburn, sister to Thomas, who went down with the BLACK PRINCE at the Battle of Jutland 1916. Phil has no idea who most of the people were but hoped the photos might prove useful to me. What is so fascinating about them is that they are of their period and occasionally I can spot a family likeness to someone I know. I’m hoping my second cousins in the south might be able to help further.

   On the left is one of the photos. This young man reminds me of my brother, Don, and son Daniel who is musical, too. Who is he? As for the photograph at the top of today's blog. One of the boy's is so like my cousin George and his father, my Uncle Harold, that I'm thinking it could be him with his brother Stanley, my mother, May, and her sister, Flora ( Aunt Flo) as a baby.
 

              

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