Welcome

… to the Atcherley family history website

On this page (last updated 12 Feb 2017): Featured Photo | New here? | TV tie-ins: Who Do You Think You Are? with Greg Davies | Events in February – past and present | Recent discoveries | Sir Harold Atcherley, 1918—2017 


Featured photo

The two tallest boys at the back in this fabulous photo (taken at Oundle School in in 1921) were twins Richard and David Atcherley, who became known as the ‘flying twins’ when the later joined the RAF. For more photos and information on the Atcherley twins, see: Richard (“Batchy”) and David Atcherley. (Pic: Used with the kind permission of Oundle School.)

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New here?

Welcome! First of all, I recommend you learn more about this site. Then, you can search for your Atcherley ancestors in the new Atcherley Family Tree. Or why not check out the virtual Atcherley family album via Pictures – People? You can also read the stories of Atcherley family members, both ordinary and extraordinary, from the 1600s to the 1900s: for a full list of over 150 articles and stories see Contents – Stories and Articles.

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TV tie-ins: Who Do You Think You Are? (UK), 1 February 2017 with Greg Davies

Comedian and actor Greg Davies explored his Welsh roots in this instalment of WDYTYA. From the perspective of an Atcherley family historian, the show got off to a good start by going to the home of Greg’s mother – in Shropshire.

At his mother’s house, Greg saw a copy of his grandmother’s birth certificate. No father was named – Greg’s great grandmother in fact had two children before she got married. Illegitimacy, although commonplace, was considered rather scandalous until relatively recent times. It features in the stories of several Atcherleys, with Sarah Atcherley also giving birth to two children before she was wed. For Sarah’s saga see The six sons of Sarah Atcherley.

Although the fathers of the two children born out of wedlock to Sarah Atcherley remain unknown, the identity of Greg’s great grandfather was uncovered. Newspaper reports showed William Owen, a butcher, being pursued for payments towards the upkeep of his children. He was also, in another report, alleged to have been drunk while in charge of a horse and cart. There are parallels between William Owen and Thomas Atcherley [] of Swindon, whose tale I have yet to tell. Thomas too was often up before the bench on charges of drunkenness, and was enumerated in Swindon police station’s prison cells when the 1911 census was taken, He was also pursued in court under an affiliation order, for defaulting on payments he was due to make to Agnes Springford, the mother of his illegitimate child.

Ultimately, Greg Davies learned that he was descended from Owain Gwynedd, the first Prince of Wales – a claim, it seems, that many others can make too. Judith Atcherley née Kynaston (and her children) could also claim descent from Welsh princes or Brenins; for more details see Judith Kynaston … and connections with Royalty?

If you missed this episode of WDYTYA, you may be able to catch it on the BBC iPlayer. (Pic: Adapted from a photo by Mosaic Marketing, taken from their Flickr photostream and used, and made available for re-use, under a Creative Commons licence.)

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Events in February – past and present

Richard Atcherley of Marton died on 27 February 1834. He was the last surviving male Atcherley of this branch of the family, and as he fathered no children the Atcherleys of Marton looked set to die out. Richard, however, had made plans to ensure the survival of his name and coat of arms at the place they had been associated with since the early 1600s. Find out more in  Richard Atcherley and his hopes for posterity. (Pic by the author.)

On 20 February 1770 the marriage settlement of Thomas Atcherley and Hannah Cureton was signed and sealed. The couple married two days later. I acquired this amazing historic document (and an associated indenture) last year via eBay. You can learn more about the document and the stories of the Atcherleys connected with it, in Love and Marriage (Settlement): Thomas Atcherley and Hannah Cureton.

Another Atcherley marriage which took place place this month was that of David Francis Atcherley and Caroline Frances Amherst Stacey, on 10 February 1866 at St. George’s church, Hanover Square, in London. The story of that happy event, and of the celebrations which took place back in Shropshire to mark the occasion, is told in Bride and Joy: Celebrating an Atcherley marriage.

Ethel Mary Atcherley was born on 12 February 1884 at Moortown in the parish of Ercall Magna, Shropshire. Her work as a nurse at the Queen’s Hospital in Birmingham during the Great War of 1914-18 earned her the MBE. You can read Ethel’s story in Ethel Mary Atcherley’s World War One.

Last, but by no means least, my mother, born Elizabeth Mary Atcherley, died on 22 February 2013. Mum’s maiden surname, and the TV show Who Do You Think You Are?, inspired my interest in genealogy – and ultimately this website. Inevitably, the tribute which I read out at Mum’s funeral service focussed largely on her family history. I added that tribute to Atcherly.org.uk on the first anniversary of her death: see Remembering Mum.

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Recent discoveries

Recent additions to the United States Marriages collection at Findmypast include transcriptions of Hawaiian nuptials. These have enabled me to add marriage details for several children of Dr John Atcherley and his wife Mary, and also update the names (and confirm the parents) of some of their partners.

For John Francis Atcherley [], there were two weddings: to Onnie King on 31 July 1928, and then Theresa Bernadette Mahoney on 23 February 1940 (I previously knew the latter bride only as Theresa B Mahoney). Roger Thomas Atcherley [] first married Mae Edith Dunn on on 19 January 1926, but I have not found a record of him ‘tying the knot’ with second wife Maude Fawkner Bartlett. For Samuel Lawrence Atcherley [] too, I have only found his first wedding, to Ida Germaine Kahananui Yowell (the forename Germaine is new to me).

Two of John and Mary Atcherley’s daughters also feature in these newly-added records. The first husband of Victoria Elizabeth Kaiulani Atcherley [] was Wallace Wescoatt, or, as he was named in the record of the couple’s marriage (on 12 November 1938), Wallace William Wescoatt. As for Lani Mary Ulwin Atcherley [], she appears with her name transcribed as Lani Uhin Obchuly (I found her by searching for her partner, John Garcia). Oddly, although the record states that Lani and John wed on 24 September 1920, the couple actually eloped. The ‘marriage record’ is actually for their marriage licence of the aforementioned date. I have seen a copy of the original and the spaces for the place of the ceremony, and the name of the person performing it, were both left blank.

(Pic: A church in Hawaii, by Gerald Farinas, public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.)

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Sir Harold Atcherley, 1918—2017

It is with profound regret that I share with you the news that Sir Harold Atcherley passed away, at the age of 98, on Sunday 29 January 2017.

Born on 30 August 1918 at Epsom, Surrey, Harold Winter Atcherley was the second of two sons born to Lewis William Richard Winter Atcherley and his wife Maude Lester Atcherley, née Nash. Lewis was a civil engineer who worked in Argentina, which is where Harold spent his early childhood. He returned to England, with his older brother John Denison Atcherley, to attend Gresham’s School at Holt, Norfolk, but both made return trips to South America during their Summer vacations. Harold completed his education at the universities of Heidelberg and Geneva before starting work for Royal Dutch Shell in 1937.

World War Two then intervened. Harold enlisted with the Queen’s Westminster Rifles in 1939 but joined the Intelligence Corps the following year. Then, as part of the 18th Infantry Division, he went to Singapore where in 1942 he became a Prisoner of Japan and was put to work on the infamous Burma railway. It is this period of Sir Harold’s life which is best known to many, thanks to the publication of his war diary, his appearance in the documentary Moving Half the Mountain, and his public reconciliation with former Japanese soldier Mikio Kinoshita in 2015. (See Moving Half the Mountain.)

There was, of course, far more to Sir Harold Atcherley’s life than his years as a Far East Prisoner of War. After the war, in 1946, Harold resumed his employment with Royal Dutch Shell and enjoyed a long and successful career with that company, working for them in Cairo, Damascus, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and London. During this time he married and with his wife raised three children (later he divorced, remarried, was widowed, and married again). After his retirement from the oil industry in 1970, Harold took on a string of voluntary appointments with various Government bodies and advisory committees, most notably the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, of which he was Chairman. It was in recognition of this public service that he was knighted in 1977 (an honour which he referred to as a ‘K’).

Further voluntary positions followed, both on Government committees and with other organisations and charities, including Toynbee Hall, Aldeburgh Festival, Suffolk Rural Housing Association and Suffolk Wildlife Trust. Sir Harold gradually reduced such commitments during the 1990s, but even in retirement, as an ardent pro-European, his involvement with the European Movement continued.

Sir Harold Atcherley’s passions included music, books, gardening and family history – but above all, his family. This much is evident from his fascinating autobiography, “My Glass Is Half Full”, which was privately published in 2008. It is as a much-loved husband, father, father-in-law, uncle, great uncle, grandfather and friend that Harold is now mourned by those who were close to him – my thoughts are with them all.

Sir Harold was guided in life by the words of William Penn, who wrote: “I shall pass through this world but once. If there is any kindness I can show or any good that I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, as I shall not pass this way again.” His own passage through this world now over, Sir Harold Atcherley leaves us to reflect on a long life of enterprise, compassion, cooperation, fortitude and forgiveness.

Picture by kind permission of Helen Langridge Wells / HLA.

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