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As New Stories come to mind or emerge we will add them here!


Written by Susan Takle

AUDREY SPENCER APRIL 12th 1926 – JULY 16th 2019.

AUDREY SPENCER was born in NEW HERRINGTON, HOUGHTON LE SPRING, COUNTY DURHAM on 12th April 1926, the daughter of JOHN ROBERT and MARGARET EVA HINCHLIFFE Her sister SUSANNAH was born 2 years and one day later on the 13th April 1928.

Audrey and Susannah’s mum MARGARET EVA sadly passed away when her daughters were still very young children and the girls were raised by their maternal Grandfather RICHARD THOMAS OLIVER.

Their Grandfather looked after Audrey and Susannah until he was taken ill and was left with no other choice than to place his beloved Grandaughters into a childrens home.

Audrey’s memories of MEDOMSLEY EDGE COTTAGE HOMES where she and Susannah lived for a number of years were never sad ones. Audrey always said they (the children) were treated firmly but fairly.

When Audrey reached 14 years of age she had to leave the childrens home and was placed into ‘service.’ Audrey’s first place of service was with a family in Bishop Aukland, Durham. Audrey wasn’t happy being in service but she stuck with it because she said she had to wait for ‘my Sister Sue.’

Audrey went on to join the ATS in 1946 where she met her future husband JACK BRISTOW.

Audrey and Jack married in Bristol in April 1947 and lived in Shirehampton until they got their own home, a brand new house in Lawrence Weston.

Audrey and Jack had 5 children, SUSAN, ROBERT, MALCOLM, CHRISTOPHER and PAMELA. Christopher was Malcolm’s twin but he tragically passed away when he was just a few weeks old.

Audrey was a stay at home wife as most ladies of her generation were. But on one occasion she did have a part time job working the evening shift with other ladies at the Peek Frean biscuit factory in Avonmouth where on occasions and if possible she would sneak out the odd Bourbon biscuit as a treat for one or other of her children.

Audrey was very house proud and would spend many hours keeping her home spotlessly clean. She also used to knit and sew and made the majority of the clothes for Jack and their children.

Audrey and Jack divorced in 1967 and Audrey went on to have one more child GEOFFREY with her new partner RON.

Audrey, Ron and Geoff lived in Bushey, Hertfordshire for a number of years before eventually relocating to Bristol.

After Ron passed away Audrey got itchy feet and decided it was time to start seeing a bit of the world. She didn’t want to fly so she went on foreign holidays by coach thoroughly enjoying herself visiting many places in Europe and on these holidays making a number of new friends.

Audrey always tried to learn a few words in the language of whatever country she was visiting but one particular time her new language skills very funnily let her down. She was in a restaurant in an Eastern European city and asked for what she believed was a cheese sandwich. She said the waiter gave her some very strange looks but none the less took her order and went off to place it for her. When her cheese sandwich arrived it wasn’t what you would exactly call a cheese sandwich. Audrey had ordered a whole loaf of bread and a large block of cheese !!!

Audrey loved classical music and went to see many of the great opera singers including of course Luciano Pavarotti.

Audrey led a very busy life and worked until she was nearly 80 years of age. She used to clean for who in her words she called ‘my poor old ladies.’ Those ladies were in fact all younger than Audrey.

Any spare time Audrey had once her house was spick and span would be used decorating or gardening. She also enjoyed doing crosswords and flicking through the TV channels and quite often would end up watching something that was in a foreign language even though she had no idea of what was being said.

Geoff moved back home to live with his mum and his son BEN also lived with them. Audrey adored Ben and helped Geoff to raise him. She also of course loved all her other Grandchildren, HELEN, CHRISTOPHER, DARREN, LUCIE, SERENA, ANDREW and DAVID. There are a number of Great Grandchildren and also some Great, Great Grandchildren.

Audrey would quite often talk about her childhood and would mention the names of cousins that she could remember from her childhood so when her Daughter Sue got her first computer and went online she started to search ‘up North’ as Audrey would say for her Mum’s family. As luck would have it Sue found those cousins and in 2001 Sue and her partner TREVOR took Audrey up to Durham on the pretence of Audrey showing them around where she grew up. 2 days later Audrey received a big surprise as she met cousins BILLY, SHEILA and JUNE and had tea with them. Sue had also contacted the Sunderland Echo newspaper and they sent a reporter and photographer to the meeting so that Audrey could tell them her story and have it published in the hope that more family would be found. Sadly no other family in Durham came forward.

As time went on a half sister JILL who lives in Essex with her husband DEREK and son ROBERT were also found.

Audrey met Jill, Derek and Robert on numerous occasions as she did with her cousins in Durham. Then surprisingly, another cousin MARION who lives in Australia was found. When MARION and her husband RON came to the UK on holiday in 2010 Audrey was taken to meet Marion and Ron. They all spent a really lovely day together.

Audrey was so happy that she had finally found ‘family.’ It was no longer in her words ‘just me and my Sister.’

Around 9 years ago Audrey was very sadly diagnosed with Vascular Dementia and 7 years ago she went to live at DEERHURST CARE HOME in SOUNDWELL. Because of the wonderful care compassion and love Audrey received from everyone employed at Deerhurst including GRACE, MILA, NONG, DEAN and of course the Manager, LESLEY she became one of Deerhurst’s longest surviving residents.

Mabel Annie King

Written by Ronald Keith Burchell

Last update on the 06/01/2017

Mabel Annie King born 1888 Weymouth, married William Thomas Hayes Burchell in 4th Q of 1907. Mabel Annie King and William Thomas Hayes Burchell had two boys, William George Burchell and Harold Burchell.

On the 1st November 1914 William Thomas Hayes Burchell (my grandfather) was killed in the Battle of Coronel.(See H.M.S. GOODHOPE more.. on the Home Page

Some time earlier Sidney James Attwood (Sid), an English Man, immigrated from England to Australia. When WWI came along Sid joined the AIF and headed to Gallipoli, Sid survived Gallipoli somehow, his records show him as a Driver. He did also attend other Theatres of War. Sid ended up injured in Hospital in England.

Mabel Annie King and Sidney James Attwood married in England, after which Sid returned to Australia, bringing Mabel, William, Harold and their Daughter Audrey who was born in 1917.

On their return to Australia the Australian Government were giving parcels of Rural Land to Soldiers to make a home for themselves, Sid and Mabel went to Tooraweenah New South Wales Australia.

The remote Rural life did not work out for them and they moved to Willoughby Sydney New South Wales Australia. Which is where they remained until their Death.

William George Burchell and Harold E Burchell lived in nearby suburbs.

Sid and Mabel added another member to the family by having a daughter Audrey Attwood Audrey Attwood, Audrey Attwood married Ron Doyle and they lived at St Leonards in Sydney Australia until their deaths.

Ron Doyle and Audrey Attwood had two children John (now deceased) and Beverly who is alive.

The Mary Alice Saga

Last update on the 06/01/2017

Written by Derek and Margaret Jackson

When we started to explore our ancestors about 6 years ago., one of the first ancestors we decided to find more about was Dereks Grandmother, Mary Alice Rutter , we knew very little of her, as she had died at a young age in the 1920s.

So what did we know. Dereks Father Joseph Rutter Jackson, said she was known as Alice, and from the ages of Josephs siblings we knew she must have married Thomas Jackson in the late 1890s

Derek also had vague ideas that after Mary Alice, and probably Thomas had died, an elderly lady thought to be her spinster sister went to live with Margaret Ellen, who was known as Maggie and was Mary Alices eldest daughter.. This lady was known only as Auntie. Derek had seen her a couple of times in the late 1930s. , but as he was young nothing else was known.

We searched for the birth Cert for Mary Alice ., but despite much searching and some wrong certificates and the GRO carrying out a search we drew a blank.

We turned to her marriage and found she had married Thomas Jackson in 1895, her father was named as Thomas Rutter , a blacksmith,. . we found Mary Alice with Thomas Jackson, and the first two of her children in the 1901, and later the family in the 1911 census, when it was released. Mary Alice was stated as being born in Felling Durham and we deduced she would have been born about 1875. We also found her death, in 1920. at the early age of 45 years. , but we knew nothing of her parents or family before her marriage.

We spent hours searching all of the Thomas Rutters who were Blacksmiths but after many brick walls we were no further forward. We then checked through pages of Felling entries on the 1881 and 1891 census. and found nothing relevant. We eventually found an Alice Rutter. who was born in Felling and about the correct age, in the 1891 census., as a visitor, with a young couple named Robertson. We checked these, but got no leads.

We then checked a lot of Mary Alices with different surnames and eventually found a Smith family in the 1881 census with a Mary Alice Smith aged 8. Born in Felling. Father was Thomas Smith and Mother Ellen, There were other children, the oldest being Christopher Rutter, surname Smith, aged 17. Born Whitemare Pool Durham. And the others born Tyne Dock. The Father Thomas was born in 1842, in Stamfordham Northumberland We then found a Christopher Rutter born Whitemare pool in the 1871 census with a Rutter family. The Father named as Joseph Rutter and Mother Ellen, with children Margaret born about 1867, John Thomas born 1869 and Robert born 1870. These children were of the same christian names as the Smith children in the 1881 census but obviously who were 10 years older ,and plus Mary Alice aged 8 and George aged 4 both born in Felling . We tried to find the marriage of Joseph Rutter to an Ellen but drew a blank.

It seemed unlikely that Joseph Rutter. born 1842 in Stannington Northumberland a Blacksmith should be the same man as the Thomas Smith , also born 1842 a blacksmith born Stamfordham. On the birth cert for the Mary Alice Smith, it showed father as Thomas Smith, a smith by trade Mother Ellen Farrage. We then obtained the marriage cert for them, and this confirmed the names but no fathers name was given for THOMAS SMITH. and after getting the birth cert for Christopher Rutter(christian names), we realised the marriage had taken place in church in Newcastle just 4 days before Christopher was born

As we could not find a marriage for Joseph Rutter we obtained the birth cert for Robert born 1870, and his Father was shown as JOSEPH RUTTER, but HIS Mother was also Ellen Farrage. , and when we received the birth cert for Margaret born 1866, Her Father was THOMAS RUTTER and Mother Ellen Farrage. We now had two identical families. the Rutters in 1871. and the Smiths in 1881. . . except Mary Alice,and George were with the Smiths. As on the marriage cert Thomas Smith and Ellen Farrage. who were also named as the parents of Christopher, and Mary Alice. but the parents of Margaret were named as Thomas Rutter and Ellen Farrage, and the parents of Robert were Joseph Rutter and Ellen Farrage , the father of John Thomas was also as Joseph Rutter. Three differently name Mother.

How do we prove if this is our Mary Alice Rutter? By various searches and deductions we associated these families to a Rutter Family in Stamfordham in the 1841 and 1851 census , namely Thomas Rutter, his wife Alice, and children Ann, Elizabeth, Mary, Thomas, Isabella, Christopher and Joseph and in 1891 we found their daughter Mary Rutter married to George Oliver, and with them a nephew George Rutter born 1878 in Felling. The most likely Father of George was Marys brother Joseph Rutter. b 1842, as the Thomas was married to a Sarah Evens and was living in Stockton with his family Christopher was also checked he married Mary Downes and later Maria Ogilvy .but no son named George with either We could find no records for Joseph In 1861,

We turned again to Auntie..could this be Margaret b 1867 sister of Mary Alice. if we could find her this would prove we were on the correct line. As with most of this research we found a possible Margaret Rutter correct age and birth place as a servant in 1891, but nothing more, another brick wall, we could find no further records for this Margaret Rutter. Perhaps she had married.

After much searching, as the GRO reference number was wrong….we found she had married a Richard Gibson in December 1891., we also found them in 1901, and 1911, they had no children. Richard died in 1920. Derek had seen Auntie with Maggie in Durham about 1939/40. Before he came to Surrey in 1945 ,But Maggie moved South to Surrey,before 1945 so we assumed Auntie had probably died in Durham before that. So what a surprise, when we found a Margaret Gibson died in Surrey South Eastern in 1943 aged 77, .so this was our Margaret (Auntie), and this was Mary Alices sister. Margaret is buried in Grave M 70 In St Marys Cemetry. Caterham. , the name of the purchaser of the grave was Maggies husband Thomas. How ironic this is where many of my family are buried. Mary Alice’s sister was just a few miles away.

As the name on Margaret Gibsons birth cert was Thomas Rutter is this why Mary Alice put her Fathers name as Thomas Rutter. on her Marriage cert, .although we are now sure it was actually Joseph Rutter. b 1942. We will now hopefully find more of Mary Alice’s Ancestors. It had taken many hours of research, but it had been worth it, as Derek now knows who his Grandmother was.

The question we are unlikely to find the answer to is why ????? did Joseph Rutter use 3 different names..???

The short time between their marriage and the birth of Christopher and the fact that Joseph/Thomas had not declared his Fathers name on the marriage cert.could suggest a Family problem.

Gwenneth Nola Beart

Last update on the 06/01/2017

Written by Nola Burchell

Gwen was born Gwenneth Nola Beart in Wahroonga in 1916, and went to Hornsby and North Sydney Girls High school. She left school during the depression aged 16. Had finances been available, she would have gone on to study Science at uni. But her father lost his job, and Gwen knew that the only choice was to get paid work quickly. She whipped through secretarial college at lightning pace, so that she could help support the family.

In her mid 20s Gwen met and became engaged to Harold but she continued working right through the war, while Harold was a POW in Burma and Japan. For 3 years no one knew where he was, and Gwen was very strong, writing him letters every week and continuing to work.

It was when Harold returned that Gwen's strength of character really emerged. She helped him rehabilitate by teaching him short hand, and even decided that they'd have to get married so that he could leave Concord hospital. Life wasn't easy in those first years, as Harold wouldn't allow her to work and Ken and Nola came along very soon after they married.

Ever the pragmatist, Gwen found a secret way of making money : knitting baby's clothes and selling them to a shop in Cammeray. Then she had to deal with her own parents' final illnesses when both were only in their early 60s.

Those first 10 years of marriage were difficult, but Gwen was such a positive person. She always believed in making 'every post a winner' (as she would say). She always tried to be constructive, and a problem solver.

When Harold would be a bit negative about something she'd reply "All right, you set 'em up and I'll knock 'em down!". It was Gwen who told Nola and Ken all about Harold's child hood and war experiences. She was the great communicator. At one point she typed up all her memories and funny old family stories and then linked these with old family photos going back to the 1860s. She would have loved! Her records have been invaluable in helping Nola to construct an extensive family history.

Gwen was a great believer in education - having had hers cut short, she was determined to see Ken and Nola through into tertiary education. They had lessons in so many things: tennis, ballet, piano, swimming, sewing, typing, singing, ballroom dancing, maths and French tutoring. Gwen was determined to give her children opportunities which she didn't have.

Unlike many women of her time, Gwen did go back to work so that she could help Harold pay off the house at Middle Cove. She was a very loving and loyal wife, encouraging and supporting Harold as he was promoted to the position of Credit Manager of Australia for the Oil Company Esso. In Harold's final years she devoted herself to looking after him as he suffered increasingly from dementia.

Gwen always took care of others. For years she volunteered to deliver Meals on Wheels and she donated money to countless charities. Even when she was involved in the bowling club at Lindfield, she did much more than bowl. She would spend many hours working at the club, and knitted hundreds of children's jumpers for the club to sell as a fund-raiser.

She also loved teaching others and would often give lessons to help others learn the basics of Solo, her favourite card game.

Above all, Gwen was a very intelligent and wise person. She read widely and loved to discuss what she read with others. She was very open-minded and forward-thinking. Long before the Women's Movement of the 70s, Gwen was very aware of the inequalities and injustices which women experienced. If computers had arrived 20 years earlier, Gwen would have loved doing Google searches. If ever there was a topic which her children expressed interest in, Gwen would pile up the encyclopaedias on their bedside tables, in the hope that they would take the hint and do some research. All too often, what happened was that a lot of dust would gather on those books!

Over her final 10 years, when Gwen was confined to a nursing home, she attempted to maintain her spirits, but was hampered by the debilitating effect of the stroke that she had suffered. Nevertheless, she maintained her interest in others, always asking after her visitors and their children, wanting to find out about others' lives.

We will miss Gwen's laughter and her wisdom....and her amazing cooking! She was a wonderful mother, who did her level best to make the home a peaceful place where Ken and Nola learned the values of tolerance and justice.

Derek and Margaret Jackson

Last update on the 29/01/2017

60th Wedding Anniversary - 25th February 2017

Derek and Margaret 60th Wedding Anniversary - 25th February 2017