The Atcherley-Symes story – Part 1

Very early on in my research into the Atcherley family, I discovered the surname Atcherley-Symes. How and when did this surname originate, and were the bearers of that surname descendants of an Atcherley, I wondered. Eventually I unravelled a twisted trail of names and name changes leading back to the late 1700s. At the end of the trail I found an Atcherley woman, and a man named Symes. Let’s follow their fortunes, and those of their descendants.

atcherley-arabellaThe Atcherley woman was Arabella, who, according to the record of her baptism at Shrewsbury St Mary on 18 June 1771, was a daughter of “the Revd. Mr. James Atcherley & Eleanor his Wife”. (For more on James, see The Rev James Atcherley, headmaster of Shrewsbury.) As a young woman, Arabella was the subject of a portrait painted by Henry Pickering. Images showing the portrait can be viewed at websites such as Artnet and Mutual Art; I hope my inclusion of the extract featured here falls into the category of ‘fair use’.

On 2 May 1802, at the age of 30, Arabella Atcherley was married. Not to a Mr Symes, but to William Holt, a tea dealer. The nuptials took place at Gloucester St Michael, the church where William had been baptised 38 years earlier on 2 March 1764. St Michael’s marriage register showed that the couple were “both of the parish of St. Mary de Grace”. Their married life lasted for very nearly twenty years, and ended with the death of William on 28 January 1822. The following obituary, published in The Gentleman’s Magazine, shows how well William was regarded as a businessman, family man, and friend:

After an afflicting illness, aged 58, Mr. William Holt, of Kingsholm near Gloucester, a partner in the firm of Watson and Holt, tea-dealers, London, of which highly-respectable house he had for many years been the commercial representative among their provincial connexions. In the regular discharge of this duty, Mr. Holt was perhaps without parallel, seldom varying a day or an hour, in reaching and tarrying at the numerous places he visited on each successive journey; nor were the integrity of his conduct, or the precision of his dealings, less honourable traits in the character of this truly worthy man. The warmth of his heart, the genial kindness of his disposition, and the exemplary consistency and propriety of his demeanour, riveted the attachment and respect of all with whom he associated or had dealings, in the prosecution of his business, as well as all who were ranked in the private circle of his friends. Mr. Holt has left a widow and four children to deplore the loss of an affectionate husband and indulgent father.

I found the above reference to four children intriguing, because the marriage of William Holt and Arabella Atcherley produced only three offspring: Arabella Holt, Elizabeth Atcherley Holt and William James Holt. Arabella Holt was baptised at Gloucester St Michael on 13 November 1806, while the ceremonies for her younger siblings took place at Gloucester St Mary de Lode, on 7 December 1808 and 17 November 1809 respectively. So who was William’s other child?

It turns out that Arabella Atcherley was not William Holt’s first wife. The marriage of William Holt (then of Watling Street in London) and “Elizabeth Fawcks” was conducted at Gloucester St Nicholas on 4 September 1791. From this union there were two children: Mary Kellow Holt and Elizabeth Faucks (or Fawkes) Holt (both baptised at Gloucester St Michael, on 14 November 1793 and respectively). The younger daughter died in infancy and was buried at on 11 January 1798; her mother presumably passed away not long after. Thus when the will of “William Holt of Kingsholm”, Gentleman, was written on 15 August 1811, the beneficiaries named were William’s daughter Mary, his “dear wife” Arabella, and his three children Arabella, Elizabeth and William.

gloucester-st-michael-towerThe tower of Gloucester St Michael is now all that remains of the church

The executors of William Holt senior’s will included Richard Butt, who took over William’s tea and grocery shop in Gloucester’s Westgate Street in 1806, and William David Watson, a tea dealer of London – presumably William’s business partner. The tea trade was evidently a profitable one, as William bequeathed Mary Holt £500, while his wife Arabella was to receive the interest on £1500, with the principal sum to be shared equally between their three children on Arabella’s remarriage or death. In addition, William left his property at Kingsholm, with its “household goods and ffurniture stock of wines plate linen and china” to his wife. The property was to be sold on her death and the proceeds divided equally between all four of William’s children.

The 1841 census recorded sisters Arabella and Elizabeth Holt at an address in Brompton Row, Kensington, Middlesex. The head of the household was Robert Gray, a surgeon, and Robert’s wife was named Mary. Was Mary the step sister of Arabella and Elizabeth? Indeed she was. Following her death, at 168 Brompton Road in Kensington on 20 May 1871, the Gloucester Journal described her as “Mary Kellow, widow of the late Robert Gray, Esq., M.R.C.S., and eldest daughter of the late William Holt, Esq., of Kingsholm, in this city.”

The Holt sisters were probably temporary visitors to the Gray household. Their home was back at Tewksbury Road in Kingsholm, in the Gloucester parish of St Mary de Lode. This is where their mother Arabella, and their brother William, an attorney, were enumerated when the 1841 census was taken. This was to be the only census on which the name of the elder Arabella Holt would appear. During the course of the 1840s Arabella’s health declined. She passed away on 11 January 1849, “after a very long and severe illness, borne with great resignation”, her death being “deeply lamented by her afflicted family.”

Although the will of the late William Holt had specified that the family home at Kingsholm was to be sold following the death of his wife, this did not happen immediately – all three of the Holt siblings were residing there when the 1851 census was taken. Furthermore, listings of shareholders of the National Provincial Bank of England (published in the London Gazette) show that they remained at Kingsholm for most of the 1850s. Those listings continued almost unchanged until the beginning of 1857, when the residence for both Arabella Holt and Elizabeth Atcherley Holt was given as Gors, Holyhead, on Anglesey.

This move, Gloucestershire to the north-western tip of Wales, followed a big boost the Holts’ financial fortunes. That boost came from the last will and testament of the siblings’ maternal aunt Eleanor Vickers: the eldest daughter of the Rev James Atcherley, and widow of William Vickers Esquire of Llanfawr, Holyhead. Eleanor, who died on 5 February 1853, left everything that she owned, leased or otherwise had an interest in to be shared equally between Arabella, Elizabeth and William Holt (with William appointed as sole executor).

The will was challenged in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, by Eleanor’s nephew Dr John Atcherley of Liverpool (see Doctor Atcherley’s Casebook – Part 1) and Lawrence Frost, widower of Eleanor’s niece Mary Atcherley. But the wording of the will was watertight, and William James Holt was of course well versed in legal matters. The Holts got the lot.

Of the three siblings, Arabella was the first to go to the grave. Described in the National Probate Calendar as being “late of Menai Bridge in the County of Anglesey Spinster”, Arabella Holt “died 19 April 1869 at Gorphwysfa Bangor in the County of Carnarvon”. When her will was provide her effects were valued at under £25,000.

William James Holt was the next to go. He had been recorded on the 1861 census, with his sister Arabella, as a visitor at Llantrisaint Rectory on Anglesey. In 1871 he was living on the other side of the Menai Strait at Gorphwysfa, where Arabella had spent her last days. Although that year’s census gave  William’s status as married, as far as I know he died (on 16 September 1880) unwed and with no heirs. He too left a will, and his personal estate was valued at under £90,000 – a truly eye-watering sum of money.

holyhead-harbourHolyhead harbour

Elizabeth Atcherley Holt was the last of the siblings to pass away, but she did not die with that surname. She was the only one of the three to marry. Her wedding had taken place on 31 August 1857 at the Old Church in Holyhead, and was conducted by the Archdeacon of Bangor. The groom was a Royal Navy Commander, named Aaron Stark Symes.

Elizabeth Atcherley Symes, as the former Moss Holt became, was then aged 48. Her husband was 64. There would be no children from their union. But without the joining of this couple in matrimony, there would be no Atcherley-Symes story.

To be continued.

Picture credits. Arabella Atcherley, by Henry Pickering: Extract from an image at artnet, fair use for educational purposes. St Michael’s tower, Gloucester: Photo © Copyright Stephen McKay, taken from Geograph and adapted, used and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence. Holyhead harbour: Image from page 64 of The Earth and its Inhabitants, Volume IV, The British Isles, published 1881 and therefore out of copyright; sourced from Internet Archive.


[1] St Mary, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, parish register covering 1771. Entry for baptism of Arabella Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Abstract in Shropshire Parish Register Society (1911), Shropshire Parish Registers, Diocese of Lichfield, volume XII, page 448; copies viewed at Internet Archive and Mel Lockie’s website. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch P00681-1, Film 908234.
[2] Gloucester Journal, 3 May 1802, page 3. “Yesterday was married, Mr. Holt,. Tea-dealer, of this, city, to Miss Arabella Atcherley, second daughter the Rev. James Atcherley, late of Shrewsbury.”
[3] Gloucester St Michael, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1802, entry for marriage of William Holt and Arabella Atcherley. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938.
[4] Gloucester St Michael, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1764, entry for baptism of “William Son of John and Sarah Holt”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C02634-2, Film 425423. Date given as 4 Mar 1764.
[5] The Gentleman’s Magazine, Volume 92 (1822), page 187. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[6] Gloucester St Michael, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1806, entry for baptism of “Arabella daughter of William and Arabella Holt”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C02634-2, Film 425423.
[7] Gloucester St Mary de Lode, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1808, entry for baptism of “Elizabeth Atcherly Daugt. of William & Arabella Holt”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I02067-4, Film I02067-4, Ref ID yr 1806-1812 p 24.
[8] Gloucester St Mary de Lode, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1809, entry for baptism of “William James Son of William and Arabella Holt”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I02067-4, Film I02067-4, Ref ID yr 1806-1812 p 26.
[9] Gloucester St Nicholas, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1791, entry for marriage of “William Holt of St [?] Watling Street London, & Elizabeth Fawckes”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813.
[10] Gloucester St Michael, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1793, entry for baptism of “Mary Killon [= Kellow] Daughter of William and Elizabeth Holt”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813.
[11] Gloucester St Michael, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1795, entry for baptism of “Elizabeth Faucks Daur of William and Eliza Holt”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813.
[12] Gloucester St Michael, Gloucestershire, parish register covering 1798, entry for burial of “Elizabeth Fawkes Daur of William and Elizabeth Holt”. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Gloucestershire, England, Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1538-1813.
[13] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref PROB 11/1653/261: Will of William Holt, Gentleman of Kingsholm near Gloucester, Gloucestershire. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. Also available from The National Archives website.
[14] Gloucester Journal, 11 Aug 1806, page 3. “RICHARD BUTT BEGS leave to inform his Friends and the Inhabitants of this City and its Environs, that he has this day taken to the GROCERY BUSINESS, lately carried on by Mr. Wm. Holt, in the Westgate-street, in this City, where he has laid in a Fresh Assortment of Highly-flavoured Teas, and other articles of Grocery, which he trusts, for quality and price, will obtain the favours of the Public.—Glocester, August 8, 1806.” Copy viewed at Findmypast (search name Mr Holt and keyword tea).
[15] 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 690, book 11, folio 19, page 32. Brompton Row, Kensington, Middlesex. Robert Gray, 35, surgeon, born in county. Mary Gray, 35, not born in county. Elizabeth, Leslie [= Louisa] and Douglas Gray (13, 10 and 9; all female, all born in county). Arabella Holt, 30, ind., not born in county. Elizabeth Holt, 30, ind., not born in county. Plus 2 more surgeons and 3 servants.
[16] Gloucester Journal, 27 May 1871, page 5. Deaths. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[17] 1841 census of England and Wales. Piece 379, book 7, folio 36, page 13. Tewkesbury Road, Kingsholm, St Mary de Lode, Gloucestershire. Arabella Holt, 65, Independent, not born in county. William Holt, 30, Attorney, born in county. Plus a servant.
[18] Death of Arabella Holt registered at Gloucester, March quarter 1849; volume 11, page 295; age given as 77.
[19] Gloucester Journal, 13 Jan 1849, page 3. Died. Copy viewed at Findmypast (found by manual search for death notices in Gloucester newspapers).
[20] 1851 census of England and Wales. Piece 1961, folio 365, page 3. Tewkesbury Road, Kingsholm, St Mary de Lode, Gloucestershire. Head: Wm James Holt, unmarried, 39, [words crossed through: fund holder &] solicitor, born Gloucester. Sister: Elizth A Holt, unmarried, 40, born Gloucester. Sister: Arabella Holt, unmarried, 41, fund holder, born Gloucester. Plus a house servant.
[21] London Gazette, issue 21295, 25 Feb 1852, page 551.
[22] London Gazette, issue 21854, 27 Feb 1856, page 737.
[23] London Gazette, issue 21972, 25 February 1857, page 671.
[24] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref PROB 11/2175/99: Will of Eleanor Vickers, Widow of Holyhead, Anglesey. Copy viewed at Ancestry – England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858. Also available from The National Archives website.
[25] Death of Eleanor Vickers registered at Anglesey, March quarter 1853; volume 11b, page 451; age given as 84.
[26] MIs in Wales.
[27] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref PROB 37/1647: Holt v Atcherley and Frost Testator or intestate: Vickers, Eleanor of Llanfaur, Holyhead, Anglesey; widow. Indexed at The National Archives website.
[28] Death of Arabella Holt registered at Bangor, June quarter 1869; volume 11b, page 398; age given as 60.
[29] National Probate Calendar (1869) shows: Arabella Holt. Late of Menai Bridge, Anglesey. Spinster. Died 19 April 1869 at Gorphwysfa, Bangor, Carnarvon. Will proved at the Principal Registry by John Thomas Mould, Surgeon, and William James Holt, Esquire, Brother, of Gorphwysfa. Effects under £25,000. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[30] 1861 census of England and Wales. Piece 4366, folio 60, page 3. Llantrisaint Rectory, Llanfairynghornwy, Anglesey. Head: Archdeacon Jones, 63, Archdeacon of Bangor Rector Of Llantrisaint, Anglesey. Wife, 3 children. Visitor: Arabella Holt, unmarried, 52, fundholder, born Kingslyn [=Kingsholm], Gloucestershire. Visitor: William James Holt, unmarried, 51, Captain of Militia, born Kingslyn [=Kingsholm], Gloucestershire. Plus 4 servants (groom, cook, housemaid, kitchen maid).
[31] Death of William James Holt registered at Bangor, September quarter 1880; volume 11b, page 332; age given as 69.
[32] National Probate Calendar (1880) shows: William James Holt Esquire. Of Gorphwysfa, Bangor, Carnarvon. Died 16 September 1880 at Bangor. Will proved at the Principal Registry by Reverend Denies Burrowes, Clerk. Personal Estate under £90,000. Copy viewed at Ancestry.
[33] Marriage of Aaron Stark Symes and Elizabeth Atcherley Holt registered at Anglesey, September quarter 1857; volume 11b, page 728.
[34] North Wales Chronicle, 12 Sep 1857, page 11. Copy viewed at Welsh Newspapers Online.

Edward Richard Atcherley: A new start in New Swindon

The surname Atcherley is, as I wrote in the article which launched this website, “a good old Shropshire name”. However, over the course of Queen Victoria’s reign (and after it), the surname Atcherley became rarer in its native Shropshire, and more frequent in a number of other counties, as members of the family migrated. By 1911, the county which was home to the highest proportion of the Atcherleys recorded in the census was Wiltshire (see Census and sensibility). The man responsible for starting this branch of the ‘clan’ was Edward Richard Atcherley.

staffordshire-bilston-st-leonardEdward was part of an Atcherley family whose members were not averse to moving elsewhere to better their fortunes. His father, a tailor (also named Edward), was born in the Shropshire countryside but relocated to, and raised his family in, urban Staffordshire. Edward Richard Atcherley, born in Bilston on 4 March 1840 and baptised there at St Leonard’s church (pictured right) on the 22nd of that month, was the first-born child of Edward senior and his wife Martha, née Shaw.

After moves to Sedgley and then to Wednesbury, Edward Atcherley’s family finally settled in Wolverhampton, where they were recorded on the 1851 census. At some point over the next ten years, Edward junior started work. The census of 1861 shows both Edward (aged 21) and his younger brother John (16) in an occupation which was new to the Atcherley family tree, that of forgeman.

Although the term forgeman suggests the possibility that Edward and John may have each been working as (or for) a blacksmith in a small forge, I suspect they were employed in a larger industrial workplace, two of many young men assisting with the manufacture of ironware. Wolverhampton was ideally situated as a location for forges and foundries, having ironstone, coal and lime deposits close by, and good communications for the transportation of its products. However, the iron industry of the Black Country, after reaching its peak in the 1850s and early 1860s, then began to decline.

Was it the onset of this decline that led both Edward and John to look for work elsewhere? Or did they make that choice for other reasons? I don’t know. John made the boldest move, emigrating to the USA in 1865. Edward Richard Atcherley was a little less adventurous and took his metal-working skills to the expanding town of Swindon, in Wiltshire.

The earliest records I have found confirming Edward’s presence in Swindon date from 1866, when he married local girl Elizabeth Weeks. According to a descendant of this line of Atcherleys, Neil Duffill, the wedding ceremony took place at the Register Office in Swindon on 13 October that year.

Elizabeth was born in 1847, at Lydiard Millicent in Wiltshire. The census of 1851 shows that 3-year-old Elizabeth was then living in the village of her birth, with her mother (Mary Weeks, an agricultural labourer, aged 28), aunt (Martha Weeks, also an ‘ag lab’ of 28), sister (Maria Weeks, 11 months), and cousin (Harriet Weeks, 2). There was also a ‘visitor’, Ralph Godwin, an ag lab aged 30. All of the adults in the household were unmarried, and I can’t resist jumping to the conclusion that Mr Godwin may have been the father of one or more of the Weeks children. If he wasn’t Elizabeth’s father, then he became her stepfather in 1852 when he married her mother Mary.

By the time Elizabeth was 13, she had left her family and was working as a general servant in Swindon’s Ship Inn, then run by Bristolian George Smith and his wife. Speculating again, I wonder if it was at the Ship Inn, five years or so later (when she may have been working as a barmaid), that Elizabeth caught the eye of newcomer Edward Richard Atcherley? Another possibility is that the couple met after a cricket match some six months before they wed. The following is an abridged version of a report in The Swindon Advertiser of 23 April 1866:

SEASON, 1866.
The annual match, eleven versus twenty-two, on Saturday last, was the first appearance on the field this season. […] It was indeed a pleasant sight to see the numbers of working men and their children on the field apparently enjoying the sunshine and the healthy amusements before them. […] At the conclusion of the cricket match another interesting event was arranged,—a Handicap race for an Electro-plated Cup, offered by Mrs. Dixon, of the Cricketers’ Arms. The race was arranged in four heats,—the first being won by Mr. Reece, against Messrs. Wheatley and Atcherley […]. At the termination of the race the members and their friends adjourned to a cold spread in the New Pavilion, provided by Host Smith, of the Ship Inn. […]

The above account provides not only a possible date and place for Edward and Elizabeth’s first meeting, but also a very strong hint as to the identity of Edward’s employer. The Great Western Railway line had reached and extended beyond Swindon in 1840, and the following year the company began building its new central repair works nearby. The site, located a mile away from the town, had been chosen by Daniel Gooch, GWR’s Superintendent of Railways, and backed by the company’s engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

A Railway Village was built to accommodate GWR’s employees, and from these beginnings New Swindon developed, a town which would remain physically and administratively separate from Old Swindon until 1900. Edward Richard Atcherley set up home there with his wife Elizabeth at 11 Taunton Street, at which address the couple’s first three children were born: Edward John Atcherley (on 16 October 1867), William John Atcherley (on 31 July 1869) and George Atcherley (on 30 October 1870).


William John Atcherley was baptised at his local church, St Mark’s in New Swindon (pictured above), on 13 December 1869. I suspect he was very ill at that time and his parents knew he did not have long to live. His death was registered before the end of that month. The 1871 census therefore recorded a family of four at 11 Taunton Street: Edward Atcherley senior, age 21, a grinder; his wife Elizabeth, 25; and children Edward (age 3) and George (5 months). The baptismal records for the two boys also recorded their father’s occupation as a grinder, a job that involved finishing metal products with a grinding machine.

Edward junior and George were baptised not at St Mark’s in Swindon, but in the town of Wolverhampton. The ceremonies took place at St Peter’s on Christmas Day 1867 and at St Andrew’s on 28 December 1873 respectively. Evidently, Edward Richard Atcherley maintained close ties with his family back in Staffordshire after his relocation to Swindon. His parents must have appreciated his yuletide visits and being able to attend the baptisms of their grandchildren.

Two further visits of this nature followed, but both in the month of July. The baptism of Edward and Elizabeth’s fifth child, Elizabeth Martha Atcherley, took place at Wolverhampton St Andrew on 4 July 1875, and that of their next daughter, Martha Ann, was conducted there on 7 July 1878. By this time, the children’s grandfather Edward Atcherley had passed away (he died on 9 December 1877), but grandmother Martha Atcherley was still ‘alive and kicking’. Martha Ann was however the last child of Martha’s son Edward to be baptised in Wolverhampton.

Four more children were added to the Atcherley family of Swindon over the following decade: Thomas (in 1878), William (1880), John (1882) and Amy Beatrice (1886). It is interesting to note that the birth records of these and of their older siblings nearly all give their mother’s maiden name as Wicks rather than Weeks, contradicting the marriage and pre-marital census records of Elizabeth (in which her surname was spelt Weeks). The records also show some of the family’s changes of address after the 1871 census. Walter Richard Atcherley’s birth, in 1872, took place at 24 Exeter Street, where the Atcherleys remained until at least 1875. But by 1881, the family home was in Albion Street, a street which would house many Atcherleys for decades to come.

During his years in Swindon, Edward Richard Atcherley featured in his local newspaper, the Swindon Advertiser, on several occasions. Some of those appearances show that he got into debt, and was the subject of court orders (in 1874 and again in 1878) to pay money to various creditors, usually in instalments. The sums involved ranged from 5 shillings to £1 0s 3d, the latter being the only amount exceeding one pound. Other reports show that Edward was a member of the 11th Wiltshire Rifle Volunteers. As Corporal Atcherley, he was part of the non-commissioned officer team which beat a team of Privates (by 19 points) in a Friendly Shooting Match in 1873. Then, in 1875, as Private Atcherley, Edward took 39th place in the annual prize shooting meeting of the Corps, winning “3s and a bottle of rum, value 3s 6d”.

On 15 March 1879, the following letter from Edward Atcherley, of “24, Exeter-st., New Swindon”, was printed in the Swindon Advertiser. It told of a dramatic event in the life of one of his children (probably Walter or George):

To the Editor of the Swindon Advertiser.
Sir,―Will you kindly allow me, through the medium of your paper, to tender my most sincere and heartfelt thanks to Mr. A. Skerton for his bravery in rescuing my little boy from drowning in the canal by the Golden Lion Bridge. I would also suggest that the Local Board should do something to make the bridge less dangerous to the 700 or 800 children who pass over it to school.

atcherley-edward-richard-death-registrationExtract from GRO death register entry for Edward Richard Atcherley. Larger version at Flickr.

Edward Richard Atcherley, described as a grinder at a railway factory, died from chronic heart disease on 18 December 1887, at his home in New Swindon’s Albion Street. But thanks in part to the rescue of one his sons in 1879, nine of Edward’s ten children survived into adulthood and most had children of their own. There are Atcherleys, descendants of Edward and Elizabeth, living in Swindon and elsewhere in Wiltshire to this day.

Picture credits. Bilston St Leonard’s: Image from A History of Bilston, in the County of Stafford (published 1893), taken from the British Library Flickr photostream; no known copyright restrictions. Swindon St Mark’s: Photo © Copyright Chris Allen, taken from Geograph and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence. Extract from GRO death register entry for Edward Richard Atcherley: Image © Crown Copyright and posted in compliance with General Register Office copyright guidance.


[1] Baschurch, Shropshire, baptism register covering 1813, entry dated 26 June for Edward Atcherley. Copies viewed at Shropshire Archives and at Findmypast – Shropshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C03390-2, Film 502911.
[2] Wolverhampton St Peter, Staffordshire, marriage register covering 1839, entry dated 15 April for Edward Atcherley and Martha Shaw. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire Marriages. Abstract in Wolverhampton & District Churches: Male Marriages 1834-1903, Male Surnames A-F (page 25 of PDF, under Atcheley). Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I03176-8, Film 1040902, Ref ID item 4 p 31. Registered at Wolverhampton, June quarter 1839; vol 17, p 291.
[3] Birth of Edward Richard Atcherley registered at Wolverhampton, March quarter 1840; volume 17, page 336; mother’s maiden name Shaw.
[4] Profile page for Edward Richard Atcherley in Neil Duffill’s Ancestry member tree Osborne & Atcherleys 2; dates and places of birth and marriage presumed taken from birth and marriage certificates.
[5] Bilston St Leonard, Staffordshire, baptism register covering 1840, entry for Edward Richard Atcherley. Copies viewed at Staffordshire Records Office and at Findmypast – Staffordshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I02190-1, Film 1040826, Ref No 397.
[6] 1841 census of England and Wales. Duck Lane, Sedgley, Staffordshire. Piece 998, book 1, folio 19, page 6.
[7] 1851 census of England and Wales. Turners Court, Stafford Street, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. Piece 2019, folio 140, page 24.
[8] 1861 census of England and Wales. Evans Street, Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. Piece 1990, folio 151, page 13.
[9] Jane Hewitt (undated), Dictionary of Old Occupations. At: Family Researcher (website, accessed 20 Nov 2016).
[10] Frederick Calvert (1834), Picturesque Views and Description of Cities, Towns, Castles, Mansions, and Other Objects of Interesting Feature, in Staffordshire. Page 16. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[11] Michael Reed (1990), The Landscape of Britain: From the Beginnings to 1914. Page 323. Copy viewed at Google Books.
[12] National Archives, Washington DC, Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New York, New York, 1820-1897, Microfilm Serial M237, Roll 255, Image 36, Line 38 (List Number 761). Passenger list for the Kangaroo, arriving New York 12 Aug 1865 from Liverpool, England and Queenstown, Ireland, shows John Aitcherty, 21, labourer, travelling from Great Britain to United States. Copy viewed at Ancestry – New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957.
[13] Marriage of Edward R Atcherley and Elizabeth Weeks registered at Highworth, December quarter 1866; volume 5a, page 37.
[14] Birth of Elizabeth Wicks registered at Cricklade, September quarter 1847; volume 8, page 265.
[15] 1851 census of England and Wales. Lydiard Millicent, Wiltshire. Piece 1834, folio 205, page 11.
[16] Marriage of Ralph Godwin and Mary Wicks registered at Highworth, December quarter 1852; volume 5a, page 17.
[17] 1861 census of England and Wales. Ship Inn, Swindon, Wiltshire. Piece 1272, folio 38, page 27.
[18] The Swindon Advertiser, 23 Apr 1866, page 3. Opening of the G.W.R. Cricket Club. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[19] The Railway Works. At: Swindon Web (website, accessed 3 Dec 2016).
[20] History of Swindon. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 3 Dec 2016).
[21] Birth of Edward John Atcherley registered at Highworth, December quarter 1867; volume 5a, page 16; mother’s maiden name Wicks.
[22] Profile page for Edward John Atcherley in Neil Duffill’s Ancestry member tree Osborne & Atcherleys 2; date and place of birth presumed taken from birth certificate.
[23] Birth of William John Atchrley [= Atcherley] registered at Highworth, September quarter 1869; volume 5a, page 17; mother’s maiden name Wicks.
[24] Profile page for William John Atcherley in Neil Duffill’s Ancestry member tree Osborne & Atcherleys 2; date and place of birth presumed taken from birth certificate.
[25] Birth of George Atchrley [= Atcherley] registered at Highworth, December quarter 1870; volume 5a, page 16; mother’s maiden name Wicks.
[26] Profile page for George Atcherley in Neil Duffill’s Ancestry member tree Osborne & Atcherleys 2; date and place of birth presumed taken from birth certificate.
[27] Swindon St Mark, Wiltshire, baptism register covering 1869, entry for William John Atcherley. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C05466-1, Film 943587.
[28] Death of William John Atcherley registered at Highworth, December quarter 1869; volume 5a, page 9; age given as 0.
[29] 1871 census of England and Wales. 11 Taunton Street, New Swindon, Wiltshire. Piece 1882, folio 31, page 55.
[30] Wolverhampton St Peter, Staffordshire, baptism register covering 1867, entry for Edward Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C01836-5, Film 1040896, Ref. no. item 2 p 27.
[31] Wolverhampton St Andrew, Staffordshire, baptism register covering 1873, entries for George and Walter Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch  (George / Walter), Batch C01198-9, Film 1517619, Ref. no. item 12 p 33.
[32] Wolverhampton St Andrew, Staffordshire, baptism register covering 1875, entry for Elizabeth Martha Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C01198-9, Film 1517619, Ref. no. item 12 p 48.
[33] Wolverhampton St Andrew, Staffordshire, baptism register covering 1878, entry for Martha Ann Atcherley. Copy viewed at Findmypast – Staffordshire Baptisms. Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch C01198-9, Film 1517619, Ref. no. item 12 p 82.
[34] Death of Edward Atcherley registered at Wolverhampton, Dec quarter 1877; vol 6b, p 345; age given as 64.
[35] Profile page for Edward Atcherley in Neil Duffill’s Ancestry member tree Osborne & Atcherleys 2; date and place of death presumed taken from death certificate.
[36] 1881 census of England and Wales. 52 Albion Street, Swindon, Wiltshire. Piece 2018, folio 60, page 18.
[37] Swindon Advertiser, 19 Jan 1874, page 5. Swindon County Court. Copy viewed at Findmypast (search term Hatcherley).
[38] Swindon Advertiser, 16 Feb 1874, page 4. Swindon County Court. Copy viewed at Findmypast (search term Atchcrley).
[38] The Swindon Advertiser, 23 Apr 1873, page 4. A Friendly Shooting Match took place on Saturday […]. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[40] The Swindon Advertiser, 13 Nov 1876, page 5.Annual Prize Shooting of the 11th Wilts Rifles. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[41] Swindon Advertiser, 25 May 1878, page 5. Swindon County Court. Copy viewed at Findmypast (search term Atcherly).
[42] Swindon Advertiser, 25 Nov 1878, page 5. Undefended Cases Copy viewed at Findmypast (search term Hatcherley).
[43] Swindon Advertiser and North Wilts Chronicle, 15 Mar 1879, page 8. The Golden Lion Bridge (letter). Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[44] Death of Edward Richard Atcherley registered at Highworth, December quarter 1887; volume 5a, page 16; age given as 46. PDF copy of entry in GRO register of deaths held.

War wounds: John Atcherley’s World War One

The Battle of the Ancre – the last major British attack of the First Battle of the Somme – began on 13 November 1916. Fought by the Fifth Army against the German First Army, the offensive was regarded as a success for the Allies: Beaumont Hamel and Beaucourt were taken, four German divisions had to be relieved because of the number of casualties they suffered, and 7,000 German prisoners were taken. Not all British objectives were achieved however. In chaotic conditions at the northern end of the battle front the Third Division gained little, at a cost of 2,000 casualties. One of those wounded, on the first day of the battle, was my great uncle, John Atcherley.

The gunshot wound which John received on 13 November 1916 was not the first inflicted upon him during the Great War – he was in fact hospitalised within months of Britain’s entry into the conflict. Unlike his brother Henry Atcherley (see Henry Atcherley’s World War One), John had joined the army before the outbreak of hostilities and so was fighting in France in 1914.

I learned of these facts not from John’s service or pension records (which did not survive the Blitz of World War 2), but from a feature in the Wellington Journal of 26 Dec 1914. A page of photographs and mini-biographies of local men serving their country included, from Newport, John and his cousin Samuel (see Samuel Atcherley’s World War One). With regard to John, the paper reported: “Private J. Atcherley … joined the army in 1913, and was stationed at Tipperary until the outbreak of war. He is now lying in hospital wounded.”

Because of John’s early entry into the war, his Medal Rolls Index Card shows that he was awarded not only the Victory and British medals but also the 1914 Star with Clasp and Roses. (Examples of these three medals, known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred, are shown in the image below, but without the clasp and roses on ‘Wilfred’.) The same card shows that John served as a Private and Corporal with the First Battalion of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, entered an unspecified theatre of war on 2 November 1914 and that his service number was 10339.


A search of surviving service/pension records for men of the KSLI with similar service numbers flags up 10333 Charles Henry Clee of Much Wenlock. Charles attested at Shrewsbury on 15 October 1913, and formally joined the 1 Battalion KSLI at Tipperary, in Ireland, two days later. I think it is likely that if John Atcherley’s own records had not been burnt in the Second World War, they would show these same details. If so, this would mean that John had only just turned 16 when he joined up – perhaps in search of something more interesting than local farm labouring work.

Britain’s declaration of war on 4 August 1914 was followed later that day by mobilisation orders for 1 Battalion KSLI, part of the 16th Infantry Brigade, 6th Division. The Battalion left Tipperary for Queenstown on 14 August and within four days was encamped near Cambridge, where training took place. Embarkation at Southampton followed on 8 September, two days later 1 Battalion KSLI disembarked at the French port of St Nazaire.

As we have seen from his Medal Rolls Index Card, John Atcherley did not enter France with the rest of 1 Battalion in September 1914. Instead, for reasons that are unknown to me, he arrived on 2 November. Perhaps he was one of the 68 men who, with Captain Harrop, joined the Battalion at Rue du Bois (south of Armentières) on the evening of the 6th; alternatively he may he been one of the “74 Rank & File” who arrived, with Captain Prince, two days later.

Given that John was reported to be “lying in hospital wounded” as of 26 December 1914, this leaves a fairly narrow range of dates when he might have received his wounds. This is not enough to say with any certainty how and when he was injured however. The war diary of 1 Battalion KSLI recorded casualties on most of the days immediately following John’s probable arrival, with enemy sniper fire and shelling taking their toll. The German attack on Ypres was underway, and the battalion was part of what Lord French described as the “thin and straggling line of tired-out British soldiers [which] stood between the Empire and its practical ruin as an independent first-class Power.”

1 Battalion was relieved by the Durham Light Infantry on 14 November and went into billets, before returning to the trenches at Flamingerie Farm on the 24th. The weather by this time was particularly cold and wet, and ‘trench foot’ began to have a greater effect on the men than enemy fire. Rotation between trenches and billets continued, with 1 Battalion in the latter for Christmas – while John Atcherley was in hospital.

The duration of John’s hospitalisation is unknown, which means I cannot be certain when he returned to active duty. We must therefore fast-forward two years to November 1916, from the end of the First Battle of Ypres, to the end of the First Battle of the Somme, to catch up with John Atcherley.


John was by this time serving with the 7th (Service) Battalion of the KSLI. This Battalion had been formed in September 1914, and entered France at Boulogne a year later. During 1916, as part of the 8th Brigade of the 3rd Division, 7 Battalion KSLI took part in the actions of the Bluff and St Eloi Craters, the Battles of Albert, Bazentin, and Delville Wood, and finally, the Battle of the Ancre.

A short description of the 3rd Division’s part in this battle, which was preceded by 7 days of artillery bombardment, is given by Wikipedia:

The 3rd Division attacked Serre with two brigades, the 8th Brigade on the right using all four battalions and the 76th Brigade on the left attacking with two battalions and two in support, with 36 machine-guns. Waist-deep mud caused a fiasco; some troops from the 8th Brigade reached the German support line, then fell back and some lost direction. The 76th Brigade had the same trouble and at 6:30 a.m. an attempt was made to collect exhausted men scattered around in shell-holes. At 4:30 p.m. all operations were cancelled.

A detailed account of 7 Battalion’s first day of battle, by Battalion Commander Colonel K H L Arnott, can be found in the unit war diary. My abridged transcription of it is as follows:

Quote On the night of 12/13th Nov. the Battalion moved up into assembly positions in DUNMOW and SAPPER TRENCHES, 2 companies in each. Battn: Hdqrs. in DUNMOW. At 5-0.a.m. on the 13th all companies got out of these trenches and formed up in 2 lines.

At 5-45.a.m. our Artillery and Stokes Mortars opened an intense barrage on the Enemy Front & Support Lines, and the whole of the Battn. commenced moving forward across the open. Except for intermittent shelling, there was no actual barrage placed on DUNMOW TRENCH until 6-15.a.m. by which time all Coys were well in advance.

At 6-35. a message was received over the phone from the 1st R.S.F. [= Royal Scots Fusiliers] to the effect that the attack appeared to be held up, and that men of all units of the Bde. together with troops of the 2nd Div. had become intermingled.

At 6-40.a.m. the above was confirmed by a message from one of my leading Coys., who stated that he had reached our front line, but that owing to the intermingling of units, and loss of direction, the situation was very obscure. I ordered those Coy to reorganise as far as possible and prepare to continue the advance in support of the R.S.F. At the same time I sent similar messages by runners to my other Coys. The Enemy barrage was reported to be very heavy on our front line at this time.

At 9-45. am one of my officers returned to H.Q. and informed me that he believed the majority of the Battn. were in No Man’s Land, but practically all touch had been lost owing to fog by the time they had arrived at our front line. It appears that several platoons had advanced on the enemy front line believing that the 1st R.S.F. were still in front of them. 2 more runners sent forward at this time, with orders for Coys to withdraw & reorganise, were hit.

By 11-0.a.m. about 60 men had returned and were formed up in DUNMOW. At 11-0.a.m. orders were received to send Reserve L.Guns & Bombers to 1st R.S.F. [corrected to 2nd Royal Scots] H.Q. to assist in holding ROB ROY. About this time a message was received from Lt. Topham, that he had collected about 50 men in our Front Line, and that he was being heavily shelled. I sent orders for him to withdraw to DUNMOW.

At 7-0.p.m. 1 Coy of the 4th R.F. occupied DUNMOW, and I reformed the Battn. in SAPPER TRENCH. At 7-30.p.m. the party in the German Front Line returned to Bn.H.Q. The officer commanding the Coy informed me that the Gordon H. in the enemy front line had received an order to withdraw, and that he had found it necessary to withdraw at the same time.

Several small parties of the 7th K.S.L.I. had during the day advanced as far as the enemy 2nd line, but had been unable to maintain their position there. 10 prisoners were taken by a party of the Battn. in conjunction with the Gordon Highlanders, who escorted them to the rear. It is not known whether they got back. Unquote

It was in the midst of all this confusion that John Atcherley was hit. Surviving records of the British Expeditionary Force’s 31st Ambulance Train, transcribed by Forces War Records, tell us what happened next. 10339 Corporal J Atcherley, of A Company, 7th (Service) Battalion, King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, was admitted to hospital on 13 November suffering from a gunshot wound to his right leg. Then, on the 15th, he joined “Trip No.45. Convalescents for England”.

John evidently returned to duty, his entry in the British War and Victory Medals medal roll showing that when his war service ended he was a Temporary Lance Sergeant. Which explains the Sergeant’s stripes on his uniform when he attended the wedding of his sister Fanny Atcherley in 1919!

Picture credits. Pip, Squeak and Wilfred: Europeana 1914-1918 project photo, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence. Map of the Battle of the Somme (cropped): Image by ‘Grandiose’, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licence. Fanny and John Atcherley at Fanny’s wedding: Cropped from a photo which appeares by courtesy of Margaret Stead and David Sylvester.


[1] WW1 Troop Movements and ORBATS for King’s Shropshire Light Infantry (7th Service Battalion). At Forces War Records (website, accessed 13 Nov 2016).
[2] Battle of the Ancre. At: Wikipedia (website, accessed 13 Nov 2016).
[3] Rickard, J (20 September 2007), Battle of the Ancre, 13-19 November 1916. At: Military History Encyclopedia on the Web (website, accessed 13 Nov 2016).
[4] Wellington Journal, 26 Dec 1914, page 3. Transcript and thumbnail image viewed at Discovering Shropshire’s History.
[5] The National Archives, Kew, item ref WO 372/1/70475: Medal card of Atcherley, John. Copy viewed at Ancestry – British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920. Abstract at TNA website.
[6] The National Archives, Kew, item ref WO 363 (First World War service records ‘burnt documents’), 10333 Charles Henry Clee. Copy viewed at Findmypast – British Army Service Records 1914-1920.
[7] Birth of John Atcherley registered at Newport (Shropshire), December quarter 1896; volume 6a, page 754; mother’s maiden name Austin.
[8] The National Archives, Kew, 1939 Register (RG101): Piece 5465J, Item 010, Line 44. Date of birth given as 7 Oct 1896. Copy viewed at Findmypast – 1939 Register.
[9] Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Archives item ref D3687_5, admissions register for High Offley St Mary’s School 1879 – 1926, admission number 609. Date of birth given as 9 Oct 1896. Copy viewed at Findmypast – National School Admission Registers & Log-books 1870-1914.
[10] W de B Wood (ed.) (1925), The History of the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry in the Great War. Chapter 1.
[11] The National Archives, Kew, item ref WO 95/1609, 16 Infantry Brigade: 1 Battalion King’s Shropshire Light Infantry War Diary, 1 Aug 1914 to 31 Mar 1919. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK, WWI War Diaries (France, Belgium and Germany), 1914-1920.
[12] The National Archives, Kew, item ref MH106/1975, First World War Representative Medical Records of 31st Ambulance Train: British Expeditionary Force France. 13/11/1916 – 15/11/1916. Index Number of Admission: 18100. Transcript viewed at Forces War Records.
[13] The National Archives, Kew, item ref MH106/1975, First World War Representative Medical Records of 31st Ambulance Train: British Expeditionary Force France. 13/11/1916 – 15/11/1916. Index Number of Admission: T332. (Name transcribed as I Atcherley.) Transcript viewed at Forces War Records.
The National Archives, Kew, item ref WO329, Piece 1471, Medal Roll J/1/102B3, page 802. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK, WWI Service Medal and Award Rolls, 1914-1920.

Elders and Fyffes and Atcherley – Part 1

Robert Atcherley, born 1868 in Liverpool – my second cousin three times removed – was easy to find on the censuses of 1871 and 1881, when he was a child living with his elders. But my searches for Robert as an adult on the census schedules from 1891 to 1911 proved fruitless – had I slipped up somewhere? I had not, there was no genealogical banana skin, but in this case it turned out that where there are bananas, kin can be found. Even when a person evades the census, details of their life can still be revealed by other records – if you keep your eyes peeled.

Robert Atcherley was the first child of Shropshire-born couple Samuel Atcherley and his wife Helen (née Brookes). The record of Robert’s baptism, which took place at Wavertree Holy Trinity (pictured below) on 16 February 1868, shows that the Atcherley family was then living in Smithdown Road and that Samuel was a clerk.


By 1871 the Atcherleys had moved to Highfield Road in Walton on the Hill. Three year old Robert now had a baby sister, Helena (named as Eleanor on the census schedule) and his father Samuel was still a clerk, to a linen merchant. Ten years on and the family were living in Green Lane, Maghull, where Samuel and Helen would spend most of their remaining years together. Robert (13) and his sister Helena (10) were at school, and the latest (and last) addition to the family was Samuel junior, aged 3. After which, Robert Atcherley disappeared. Or so it seemed.

Robert ‘reappeared’ on 20 June 1921, forty years after he was last enumerated on a publicly accessible UK census, when he married his first cousin Gertrude Elizabeth Brookes at High Ercall, Shropshire (see Kissing Cousins). The marriage register (a copy of which I viewed at Shropshire Archives) showed that Robert, 53, was a resident of the parish, living at Poynton. It also recorded his occupation as “fruit merchant (retired)” and his marital status as “widower”. This vital record revealed vital clues which would help to solve the mystery of Robert’s four decade long ‘absence’.

Another valuable piece information resulted from one of my many internet searches for the Atcherley surname. Tucked away in a 345-page PDF document entitled A Guide to Sources of Information on Foreign Investment in Spain 1780-1914 I found details of a record relating to Elders & Fyffes Ltd. That record, held at Archivo del Banco de España, was summed up as follows:

Sucursales, Tenerife: correspondence relating to its current account in the Banco de España branch in Tenerife; letters of procuration 1901-07; Sucursales, Las Palmas: letters of procuration given to Henry Wolfson 1901; and to Robert Atcherley 1902.”

Elders & Fyffes Ltd was formed by the merger of two existing fruit and vegetable businesses which, according to a notice in The Times of 10 May 1901, had been “carried on by the firm of Elder, Dempster, and Co., and by Fyffe, Hudson, and Co. (Limited) at London, Liverpool, the Canary Islands, and elsewhere”. As Campbell McCutcheon noted in his book Elders and Fyffes, A Photographic History: “Elder Dempster had the shipping and banana importation experience while Fyffes could sell fruit. It was a match made in banana heaven.”

The Directors of the new company were Sir Alfred Lewis Jones, Arthur H Stockley, Alfred Roger Ackerley (known as Roger), Edward Cecil Barker, Henry Wolfson, John Milberne Leacock – and a fruit merchant named Robert Atcherley.

Fyffe, Hudson & Co Ltd was itself the result of a merger. E W Fyffe, Son and Company, headed by Edward Wathen Fyffe, first imported bananas into the UK, from the Canary Islands, in 1888. The firm entered into partnership with Hudson Brothers (their distributors) in 1896. Fyffe left the company which traded under his name the following year; a notice published in the London Gazette shows that his involvement with the business ended on 30 June 1897.

It seems likely that Robert Atcherley came to Elders & Fyffes from Elder, Dempster & Co. This operation was formed in the latter part of 1868 by Alexander Elder and John Dempster, who acted as agents for the newly created British & African Steam Navigation Company. Elder and Dempster were more than just shipping agents however – when a sale of shares in British & African Steam Navigation Company was advertised in 1883, it was stated that “An agreement exists between the Company and Mr. Alexander Elder and Mr. John Dempster, under which those gentlemen act as Managers of the Company.” This agreement had been set out in the British & African’s Articles of Association in November 1869.

Elder, Dempster & Co was another business which traded under the names of its founders long after they had retired from the company. In this case, Alexander Elder and John Dempster departed on 31 December 1884, leaving their firm in the very capable hands of Alfred Lewis Jones, plus William John Davey. 1884, coincidentally, is said to be the year in which Elder, Dempster & Co began to bring bananas back to Britain.


The importation of bananas to the British Isles in any quantity only became feasible because of the invention of the steamship. Even then, trade in this delicate and highly perishable fruit was only possible from plantations which were no more than a week’s voyage away from our shores. The banana plantations situated on the Canary Islands – where Elder & Dempster’s steamers stopped to take on water and coal – were ideally situated.

A column in the Inverness Courier of 17 May 1892 stated:

The Plantain industry, that is the supplying of the English markets with bananas, is of comparatively recent origin […]. The taste for the banana is an acquired one, but it is one that seems to be very quickly acquired, for since a Liverpool line of steamers some six or seven years ago began taking home bananas from the Canaries on their return voyages from the West Coast of Africa—at first as a speculation but now as a most paying freight—the demand for this rich luscious fruit has increased by leaps and bounds till now our imports may be counted by the thousands of tons, to produce which the cultivation of other products is being set aside, and these islands are being transformed into market gardens, and miles of land now grow bananas for our markets and tables.

I have yet to discover exactly when Robert Atcherley’s association with Elder, Dempster & Co., and the Canary Islands, began. However I suspect that it was before 1891, which would explain his absence from that year’s census.

The first real clues as to Robert’s residence and line of work come from the records of his first marriage. This was an event which I had some difficulty tracking down when I first tried, a few years ago. Nowadays however, with the proliferation of online digitised records, it is a simple task. The addition of Irish civil registration indexes to FamilySearch provided the breakthrough I needed, and more recently the Irish newspapers at the British Newspaper Archive (which I access through Findmypast) have added greater detail with this report from the Derry Journal of 15 September 1893:

Atcherley & Johnston—September 7, at the Parish Church of Ballyboy, King’s County, by Rev. T. L. O’Flaherty, rector of Clonoulty, assisted by the Rev J. A. Ford, Vicar of Eyrecourt, Robert Atcherley, Telde, Las Palmas, Grand Canary, to Helena Anastasia, daughter of the late Robert Johnston, Cashel, county Donegal.

And now, images of Irish Civil Registration records can be viewed online, including that of Robert and Helena’s marriage. This shows that Robert Atcherley was a bachelor and a shipping house agent, and gave his address as Green Lane House, Maghull, Lancashire (the home of his parents), while Helena Anastacia Johnston was a spinster who resided at Ballyboy Rectory in Frankford, King’s County (now County Offaly). It also shows that at the end of the ceremony there were two ladies by the name of Helena Atcherley present – Robert’s new wife, and his sister, who signed the register as a witness!

Helena Johnston was born on 1 April 1857 at Cashel in the parish of Tullaghobegley, County Donegal, and baptised in the parish church on the tenth day of the following month. The record of this event named her parents of Robert Johnston and Catherine Dick (who were wed in 1848 at Omagh). 1857 was, coincidentally, the year in which Griffith’s Valuation of the Union of Letterkenny in County Donegal was published, which included Robert Johnston in the listing for Tullaghobegley parish. Robert then held a house, office and land, totalling more than 60 acres, in fee. He also leased houses and land to Robert Lackey, Margaret McCullagh, Margery McConnell and Margaret Curran.

I know little about Helena Johnston’s life before her marriage. It appears that she had three brothers: Robert George Johnston, the Rev John Wybrants Johnston, and Thomas Johnston. When the 1881 census of England and Wales was taken, Helena was residing with her uncle and aunt, James and Elizabeth Dick, in Deptford, Kent.

Did Helena meet Robert Atcherley while she was in England? Or did this couple became acquainted on Grand Canary, or perhaps on one of Elder Dempster’s steamships? However they met, they would spend most of their married life in and around Las Palmas, and share a number of trips to and from England. Their second voyage together as Mr and Mrs Atcherley (after a trip to England), was aboard the British & African Steam Navigation Company’s Loanda. This began at Liverpool on 23 September 1893, just over two weeks after their wedding. The ship was heading for the West coast of Africa, but the Atcherleys’ destination was Grand Canary.


To be continued.

Picture credits. Wavertree Holy Trinity: From a photo by and © copyright Sue Adair, taken from Geograph and adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Canary Islands’ Bananas: Photo by Frank Vincentz, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for re-use under a Creative Commons licence. Map of Western part of the Canary Archipelago: Adapted from an image on page 65 of Medeira and the Canary Islands (published 1896), taken from the British Library Flickr photostream; no known copyright restrictions.


[1] Birth of Robert Atcherley registered at West Derby, March quarter 1868; volume 8b, page 277.
[2] 1871 census of England and Wales. Piece 3831, folio 77, page 55.
[3] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 3744, folio 89, page 20.
[4] Marriage of Samuel Atcherley and Helen Brookes registered at Wellington, Shropshire, June quarter 1867; volume 6a, page 1327.
[5] Holy Trinity, Waverton, Lancashire, baptism register covering 1868: entry for Robert Atcherley. Copy viewed at Ancestry – Liverpool, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1906. Transcript at Lancashire OPC website (Baptisms at Holy Trinity in the District of Wavertree, Liverpool … 1857 – 1870). Indexed at FamilySearch, Batch I00595-4, Film2147886, Ref. No. 454.
[6] Marriage of Robert Atcherley and Gertrude E Brookes registered at Wellington, Shropshire, June quarter 1921; volume 6a, page 1563.
[7] High Ercall, Shropshire, marriage register covering 1921. Entry for Robert Atcherley and Gertrude Elizabeth Brookes. Copy viewed at Shropshire Archives.
[8] Teresa Tortella (2000), A Guide to Sources of Information on Foreign Investment in Spain 1780-1914. PDF copy downloaded from International Institute of Social History website.
[9] The Times, 10 May 1901, page 4. Copy viewed at The Times Digital Archive.
[10] Campbell McCutcheon (2013), Elders and Fyffes: A Photographic History. Introduction. Previewed at Google Books.
[11] J R Ackerley. Formerly at: The Knitting Circle (website). Archive copy viewed at
[12] Peter N. Davies (1990), Fyffes and the Banana: Musa sapientum. A Centenary History, 1888-1988. Pages 54 – 60 and 99. Snippets viewed at Google Books.
[13] The Blue Label. At: Fyffes (website). Note: Page content changed since originally viewed in 2014.
[14] London Gazette, issue 26890, 10 Sep 1897, page 5072.
[15] Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser, 22 Oct 1868, page 2. New Line of Steamers Between Glasgow, Liverpool and the West Coast of Africa. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[16] Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser, 7 Jan 1869, page 2. West Coast of Africa. Steam from Liverpool to Sierra Leone, Direct. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[17] Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser, 24 Jun 1869, page 2. British & African Steam Navigation Co. Steam from Liverpool to West Coast of Africa. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[18] London Evening Standard, 9 Apr 1883, page 1. The British and African Steam Navigation Company (Limited). Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[19] Gordon Myers (2004), Banana Wars, The Price of Free Trade. Page 5. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[20] London Gazette, issue 25429, 2 Jan 1885, page 39.
[21] Inverness Courier, 17 May 1892, page 5. The Fortunate Islands. Copy viewed at Findmypast.
[22] Derry Journal, 15 Sep 1893, page 1. Marriages. Copy viewed at Findmypast (search term Atoherley).
[23] Ballyboy, King’s County (Offaly), Ireland, marriage register covering 1893, entry for Robert Atcherley and Helena Anastacia Johnston. Copy of General Register Office (Oifig An Ard-Chláraitheora) copy viewed at (completion of Captcha and provision of name required to view index, then click to view image 2).
[24] Tullaghobegley, County Donegal, Ireland, baptism register covering 1857. Entry for Helena Anastacia Johnston. Abstract viewed at (subscription required).
[25] Drumragh Parish (including Omagh) Marriage Announcements 1785-1849. At: The County of Tyrone Ireland Genealogical Research Website.
[26] Richard Griffith (1857), Union of Letterkenny: Valuation of the Several Tenements comprised in the above-named Union, situate in the County of Donegal. Page 47. Copies viewed at Ask about Ireland and at Findmypast – Griffith’s Valuation 1847-1864. Indexed at the Donegal Genealogy Resources Website.
[27] Nancy Barginear (2002), Robert Johnston m. Catherine Dick, abt. 1848, IRE. At: Ancestry Message Boards.
[28] Nancy Barginear (2011), post to County Donegal Historical Society forum.
[29] 1881 census of England and Wales. Piece 714, folio 43, page 30. 5 Wickham Road, Deptford, Kent, England. Head: James N Dick, 49, Medical Inspector Hospital [“Practitioner” added by enumerator], born Ireland. Wife: Elizabeth M Dick, 36, born Scotland. Son: George Dick, 11, born Alverstoke, Hampshire. Son: James D Dick, 9, born Alverstoke, Hampshire. Dau: Helen Dick, 8, born Alverstoke, Hampshire. Dau: Ethel Dick, 5, born Ireland. Dau: Maud A Dick, 3, born Ireland. Son: Robert N Dick, 1, born St Paul’s Deptford. Niece: Helena Johnston, 24, born Ireland. Plus a nurse and a general servant.
[30] The National Archives, Kew. Item ref BT27 132 (Outwards Passenger Lists). Passenger list for the SS Loanda, departing Liverpool, England, 23 Sep 1893. Copy viewed at Ancestry – UK, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960.

Rose Atcherley and her marital difficulties – Part 3

< Back to Part 2.

“In 1890, while in San Francisco we quarrelled because I wanted to go to England. He struck me at that time. He hurried me off to Salinas without permitting me to get proper clothing. He required me to live on a horse ranch in a cabin with no servant. I had to care for my child, then only fourteen months old. I wanted to go back to England and leave him. He made me sign what money I had, from an income of 60 or 80 pounds a year, over to him and when I got to San Francisco I hadn’t sufficient money to pay my way. The doctor followed me and we patched it up. We came back to Honolulu.” — The Honolulu Republican, 20 November 1900.

usa-san-francisco-1890sSan Francisco (1890s), a staging post on the Miners’ trips
between Honolulu and the interior of the USA

The testimony of Rose Miner (née Atcherley), as reported above, is only a partial account of one side of the story of the Miners’ unhappy holiday in the USA. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser’s account of Rose Miner’s allegations expanded a little on the first part of her statement:

The doctor outfitted himself before leaving Honolulu and told his wife she might get her necessary clothing in San Francisco. When they arrived there Dr. Miner insisted on going at once to Salinas, and would not permit his wife to secure suitable dresses. This she considered cruelty. At Salinas they lived in a log cabin on a ranch and Mrs. Miner complained that the doctor would not allow her to procure help, but made her do all the work with the assistance of the nurse, who was supposed to have the care of the little child, Gladys, who was then but 14 months old.

What was the truth of the matter? Passenger lists printed in The Hawaiian Gazette when the Miners’ departed from and returned to Honolulu in 1890 show them leaving with a maid, and coming back with a nurse. Undoubtedly it was the same woman who travelled with the family to Salinas and back, but was she a maid, a nurse, or both?

Doctor Miner’s version of events differed from that of his wife. Although the following, from The Honolulu Republican of 1 December 1900, begins “On going to England,” the context in which it appears indicates that it actually relates to the Salinas saga:

On going to England he bought his clothing here, because it was cheaper for him to do so and bought his wife’s clothing in San Francisco; he paid between $300 and $400 for them. On that occasion he did not strike her, he said. He said Mrs. Miner was never compelled to do any work; this in direct denial of Mrs. Miner’s testimony that she had no servant.

One thing which is not in doubt is that Rose eventually left Salinas and headed to San Francisco, with the intention of returning to England. Frank Miner testified in 1900 that this was one of two occasions when Rose had deserted him. On this particular occasion, she also deserted their baby. For the doctor, recalling these events ten years after they happened was a distressing experience. These paragraphs appeared in The Honolulu Republican of 1 December 1900:

Dr. Miner was on the stand to tell the story of the failure of his marriage. He was telling how he had been summoned from a hunting trip to Cottonwood, California, to his home at Salinas, by a telegram from his wife, saying, “Come home; little V. is very sick.” It seems that “V.” referred to little Gladys, whose real name [actually, her middle name] is Vera. He said he found the little one, then fourteen months old, lying on her stomach, arms and legs extended, pale and emaciated.

Here Dr. Miner broke down, as he did the other day when a witness spoke of the affection that had existed between himself and his child. He wept and appeared to have a mild attack of hysteria. It was a sad scene and to end it Judge Humphreys adjourned his court […]

Rose left Salinas, Frank, and Gladys for San Francisco “being unable to stand the life” according to The Pacific Commercial Advertiser of 20 November 1900. Another newspaper reporting on the Miner divorce hearing stated that witness Mrs A Long “said that when the alleged desertion of the baby took place at Salinas the father and nurse took care of the child.” Doctor Miner testified that he followed his wife to San Francisco “and after a long siege of earnest entreaty induced her to return and resume her maternal duties to the child.”

Having ‘patched up’ their differences, Frank and Rose Miner returned with daughter Gladys to Honolulu and family life probably continued much as it had before. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser of 20 November 1890 announced that Dr Miner had “returned from the Coast on the Australia and has resumed practice at his office and residence, Beretania street”. Among the cases he dealt with which made the local press, was the illness of a Lord Raynham (who Frank treated at the Hawaiian Hotel), and a native Hawaiian woman who had been “shot by a Chinaman” (Frank “extracted the bullet that had lodged rather to the side of her spinal column”).

In June 1892, it was Frank and his family who needed medical attention. They were driving in their horse-drawn buggy one Saturday night when “a native on horseback ran into the buggy, upsetting it. The occupants were thrown violently to the ground. The doctor escaped with a few bruises on the arm and hip, while Mrs. Miner sustained injuries to her arm. The little daughter was badly shaken up. The rider was picked up in an unconscious condition, and was found to have his jaw broken.” I guess the rider needed medical attention too.

hawaii-iolani-palaceIolani Palace as it appears today

Although Frank Miner later claimed that Rose “would not affiliate with Honolulu social circles”, this accusation does not appear to have been entirely true. The doctor and his wife were both on the invitation lists for a lavish fifth wedding anniversary celebration in November 1891, and a state ball at Iolani Palace in March 1892 – this does not necessarily mean that they attended either event of course. They were however present at the Accession Day reception held at Iolani Palace on 29 January 1892, for the names Dr and Mrs F L Miner were written in the register of those who were presented to Her Majesty Queen Liliʻuokalani. (The Queen had succeeded her late brother, Kalākaua, as ruling monarch of the Hawaiian Islands following the King’s death on 20 January 1891.)

The Miners appeared in a list of attendees at another function held at Iolani Palace, later in 1892: a grand ball given by the Queen on 19 August. Also at the ball (held in honour senior French naval personnel from the visiting French Flagship Dubourdieu) were the “Misses Leleo”. One of these young ladies was almost certainly Mary, also known as Mary Kinimaka, who was destined to become Rose Miner’s sister-in-law. I wonder if the paths of Rose and Mary crossed at this grand ball?

The ball was, in the words of The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, an “entire success”. “The interior of the handsome building was decorated and illuminated with wonderful effect. The throne room with its handsome furniture, crystal electric light chandeliers and floral decorations presented a most charming and attractive appearance […] Dancing commenced shortly after 9 o’clock, and what with the handsome costumes worn by the ladies and the uniforms of the naval officers, the scene in the throne room was very pretty. The arrangements were in every respect as perfect as possible […]”.

The days of Honolulu’s royal receptions and balls were numbered however, for the end of the Hawaiian Islands’ monarchy – not to mention their independence – was nigh. The writing had been on the wall for some time.  White people from American and Europe (haoles, in the local lingo), who constituted about 15% of the population, had long since taken control of most of the kingdom’s business interests and wealth. Sugar production, on plantations owned by haole growers, dominated the economy – but for it to thrive, the Hawaiian Islands would have to become a part of the USA.

In 1887 King Kalākaua, under threat of armed force, was compelled to sign what became known as the “Bayonet Constitution”. This stripped the monarch of most of his executive powers. Restrictions on who could vote meant that the Hawaiian Islanders were no longer in control of their own country – a haole-dominated legislature was in charge. However Queen Liliʻuokalani’s accession to the throne in 1891 brought the prospect of a change to this new order. Her Majesty received a petition, signed by two-thirds of the electorate, asking her to rescind the Bayonet Constitution, and she began work on a replacement.

liliuokalaniIn response to this perceived threat, some members of the haole community formed the ‘Annexation Club’ and, with support from the American Minister John L Stevens, began plotting the overthrow of Queen Liliʻuokalani (pictured right). The Queen’s announcement, on 14 January 1893, that she intended to adopt her new Constitution, acted as the plotters’ call to arms. A ‘Committee of Safety’ was formed and a request for the assistance of United States forces, to put down the supposed threat to the lives and property of US citizens, was made. On 16 January 1893 a contingent of US marine forces landed at Honolulu. A new, provisional government was established the next day. The Queen had been deposed.

This change of regime had repercussions for the Miner family. On the plus side, the Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands appointed Frank to its Board of Health, and then also engaged him as prison physician. On the other side of the coin, the way in which the new government came to power meant that distrust and suspicion were rife, and Frank’s appointment as prison physician was questioned by some. Was he a ‘friend of Government’?

The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of Council on 11 April 1893. In The Pacific Commercial Advertiser’s account of the proceedings, it was stated that “The Attorney-General said he had supposed that Dr. Miner was as good a friend of the Government as any physician here. He thought those who stated the contrary were in error.”

The Council meeting revealed more than just ananswer to the question of Dr Miner’s loyalty. Mr Emmeluth, who had raised the issue of Frank’s appointment, noted that “Dr. Miner had removed himself and family on 17th [March] to Judge Widemann’s.” In reply, “Mr. Tenney said Dr. Miner had been visiting at his house during the late war. His wife was timid and nervous, and so he had taken her at her request to Judge Widemann’s with his child, and came back himself.”

Was Rose’s nervousness behind the other news that came out of the Council meeting, news not only about the Miner family but also Rose’s brother, Dr John Atcherley? “President Dole—I understand that Dr. Miner is going away in a few weeks. Mr. Emmeluth—And I understand he has a brother-in-law waiting to take his place.”

These statements were confirmed in an announcement printed in the Honolulu Evening Bulletin of 19 April 1893: “Dr. F. L. Miner and wife will leave by the steamer Australia. After visiting the World’s Fair they will go to England, for the benefit of Mrs. Miner’s health. The doctor expects to return in three or four months. During his absence his office and practice will be taken by his brother-in-law, Dr. J. Atcherley, L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S., London.”

To be continued.

Picture credits. San Francisco, 1890s: Image from page 604 of Personal Recollections and Observations of General Nelson A. Miles, published 1896; taken from British Library Flickr Photostream, no known copyright restrictions. Iolani Palace: Photo by D Ramey Logan, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licenceQueen Liliʻuokalani: Digitally restored and colourised version of a public domain work by Mark James Miller, taken from Wikimedia Commons and used under the terms of a Creative Commons licence.


(See also the references for Parts 1 and 2 of this story)

[1] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 Nov 1890, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[2] The Hawaiian Gazette, 17 Mar 1891, page 7. Lord Raynham is ill. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[3] The Hawaiian Gazette, 14 Apr 1891, page 7. The native woman, who was shot by a Chinaman … Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[4] Evening Bulletin (Honolulu), 20 Jun 1892, page 3. Street Accident. Copy viewed at
[5] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 10 Nov 1891, page 3. Wooden Wedding. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[6] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 18 Mar 1892, page 4. State Ball. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[7] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 30 Jan 1892, page 3. Accession Day. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[8] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 Aug 1892, page 5. State Ball. Copy viewed at
[9] Michael Kioni Dudley, Keoni Kealoha Agard (2002), A History of Dispossession, pages 315 to 320. In: Paul Spickard et al, Pacific Diaspora, Island Peoples in the United States and Across the Pacific. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[10] Daniel S Murphree (ed.) (2012),Native America: A State-by-State Historical Encyclopedia. Page 263. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[11] J Kēhaulani Kauanui (2008), Hawaiian Blood: Colonialism and the Politics of Sovereignty and Indigeneity. Page 27. Copy previewed at Google Books.
[12] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 6 Mar 1893, page 4. Official Directory, Provisional Government of the Hawaiian Islands. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[13] The Hawaiian Gazette, 4 Apr 1893, page 9. In The Council. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[14] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 12 Apr 1893, page 2. In The Council. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[15] Evening Bulletin (Honolulu), 19 Apr 1893, page 3. Copy viewed at

Rose Atcherley and her marital difficulties – Part 2

< Back to Part 1

Mrs. Miner’s story was in brief as follows: She married Dr. Miner In Leeds, England, in 1886 and they came to Honolulu within a year. Shortly after their arrival here they had slight tiffs, but the first serious trouble arose out of her going into the office one day while the doctor was treating a patient. He followed her from the office and accused her of prying and spying upon him. He struck her on the head and told her to “Get to — out of here!”—The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 November 1900.

I think it would be fair to say that the marriage of Frank Leslie Miner and Rose Atcherley did not get off to the most promising start, and that their relationship remained rocky thereafter. Perhaps the only surprise is that it was not until 1900 that divorce proceedings were initiated (by Rose). Although the local press reported on the court proceedings in detail, those details varied somewhat. For example, The Honolulu Republican’s account of the same evidence described by The Pacific Commercial Advertiser above (plus subsequent altercations) attributed the following words to Rose:

Our first serious trouble was in 1887, in Honolulu, less than a year after our marriage. He was furious over a trifling matter. He told me to go to hell and kicked me. Shortly after this he struck me behind the ear which left a scar that I still have. Another time I was fixing the mosquito screen to our bed and he took exception to something and called me a d–n fool and struck me on the head.

miner-f-l-the-daily-bulletin-14-oct-1889The office / operating room incident must have taken place during or after October 1887, the month in which Dr Miner moved his business (ahead of schedule) to the new family home, the Makee Residence. (The advert, shown right, is from The Daily Bulletin of 14 October that year.) The doctor’s recollection of the events described above was, as might be expected, rather different to his wife’s. His evidence, as recounted by The Honolulu Republican, was as follows:

His wife could not brook the idea of the doctor treating women. She became cold and [repellent]. When he approached her after using [the operating] table she would shriek ‘Don’t kiss me; you can’t kiss me; you have touched that woman; I can’t allow myself to love you,’ and so on. […]

Dr. Miner giving specific acts of violence committed upon him by his wife. Once when he had a woman on the operating table the wife forced her way into the room and he was forced to lead her out and lock the door. He did not swear at her and did not hit her or kick her. He said he never struck her with a bag of money behind the ear, as she has sworn that he did. He denied in toto the mosquito net trouble; did not call her ‘a d–n fool’ and did not strike her on the head.

Whatever the facts about their private troubles may have been, all that the Honolulu public were aware of at the time was that Dr F L Miner was engaged in business as a physician. For example, a little over a month after the Miners arrived in the Kingdom of Hawaii, Frank was one of two doctors who attended to a native Hawaiian named Akahi. A “heap of corrugated iron” had fallen on this unfortunate man, on the afternoon of 28 May 1887, leaving him with a jaw and nose which appeared to be broken and a tongue which hung several inches out of his mouth, while “thick blood streamed freely.” Both medical men decided that the case was hopeless.

An even more distressing case came the doctor’s way in July 1887. A three year old girl, Malie Pahiehie, was sexually abused by Liwai Kawaa, and Dr Miner was called upon to attend to and examine the child, then later give evidence in court. The Pacific Commercial Advertiser took the view that “The details of the affair are unfit for publication”, and I shall follow their lead (although at least one other newspaper of the time did not).

More medical misfortunes followed. In August 1888, “Prince Kunuiakea was roughly handled about midnight of Thursday near the boat landing in some kind of a row”, and “Dr. Miner, who attended him about one o’clock in the morning, found him pretty badly battered.” In July 1889, the superintendent of the Electric Light Station attempted to uncross tangled electric and telephone wires on the roof of the Merchant’s Exchange. The resulting burns to the fingers on his left hand were so bad that Dr Miner had to amputate one of them.

One Monday during the following month (August 1889), between 4 and 5 pm, “Dr. F. L. Miner received a telephone message to proceed at once to the house of Mr. George Wond on Punchbowl street.” On arriving there, Dr Miner found Mr Wond’s seven year old son “covered all over with blood, a small hole over his right eye and nose, another just over the heart, two in the end of his thumb, and his right leg and thigh peppered with holes.” The child claimed that another boy had shot him, but it turned out that he had found a large powder cartridge in the vacated yard next door, which had exploded while he was playing with it. Luckily the wounds were not serious and a reasonably rapid recovery was expected.

In September 1889, Frank attended to Joseph Palau, a member of a detachment of the King’s Guard. During the firing of a salute in honour of the King’s arrival, one of the guns went off prematurely and the charge struck Palau’s hands and chest. Due to the injuries to his fingers, it seemed likely that miner-rose-and-gladys-in-honoluluthis member of the detachment would ultimately have to undergo the detachment two or three of his own members.

Meanwhile, on 15 June 1889, Rose had given birth to a daughter, Gladys Vera Miner (mother and child are pictured left, in Honolulu – for a larger version see Fanny, Jessy, Rose and Lily Atcherley). This might suggest the possibility of improved relations between Dr Miner and his wife. Sadly, testimony given during the couple’s divorce proceedings indicates otherwise:

Mrs. Giles was the nurse to Mrs. Miner when Gladys was born. The father waited on the mother and was kind and considerate. She said Mrs. Miner was fault-finding and disinclined to be pleased with anything Dr. Miner would do for her. […] She said the only thing the doctor insisted on doing was to read a chapter from the Bible one evening. Mrs. Miner objected to this.

Although it seems that things were still dire domestically in 1889, Frank and Rose did attend the social event of October that year in Honolulu. On the night of the 23rd a grand reception and ball was given by King David Kalākaua and Queen Kapiolani at Iolani Palace, in honour of the Prince and Princess of Bourbon and suite (who were visiting the Hawaiian islands).

The reception began at 9 pm, when their Majesties the King and Queen “descended the grand staircase and entering the throne room took their positions on the dais.” They were accompanied by their Royal Highnesses, Princess Liliuokalani and Princess Poomaikelani, their Highnesses, Prince Kawananakoa and Prince Kalanianaole, and several attendants.

Iolani Palace must have presented quite a picture to the visiting  dignitaries and guests. Honolulu’s Daily Bulletin related that: “Every approach to the palace presented a scene of gorgeous resplendence. The illumination of the building and grounds has never been surpassed in style or degree. From basement to battlements on every side the noble pile was profusely hung with rows of colored lanterns […]. These myriad lights were interspersed with the glittering rays from the permanent rose-shaped incandescent lamps on the outer walls. Every door and window poured forth a welcoming glow from the electric crystal chandeliers richly bestowed within. The paths in the grounds were lined, the trees and shrubbery decked, with hundreds of colored lanterns closely ranged in right lines and curves, all with such consummate art as to yield an effect of exquisite harmony to every point of vision.”

hawaii-iolani-palace-kalakaua-on-steps-1882King Kalākaua (centre) with staff on the steps of Iolani Palace, 1882

After the reception, during which the royal visitors, diplomats and Ministers of the Crown, naval officers from the USA and Great Britain, and members of the general public were presented to the King and Queen, came the ball. Once again I will let The Daily Bulletin do the talking: “The throne room in which the dancing was done presented an entrancing spectacular view during the programme. Many of the ladies were richly dressed. The distribution of brilliant military and naval uniforms was in large proportion to the sober evening dress suits of civilians, while many a manly breast bore splendid decorations that scintillated with distinction at every moment. With the specious floor completely occupied a picture of kaleidoscopic beauty, combining the poetry of both motion and color, was displayed whenever the music sounded.”

For Frank Miner, this occasion was an opportunity to socialise with Honolulu’s elite, who no doubt included members of his clientèle, and a chance to escape the troubles of his daily life. Was it the same for Rose? I suspect not. One of the many things made public during her divorce case in 1900 was that Rose had little time for Honolulu or its people. The Honolulu Republican of 24 November 1900 observed that “Mrs. Miner showed a decided repugnance to Honolulu.” Earlier in November, before the court hearings began, Dr Frank Miner went much further:

The doctor, in his own answer, takes the Honolulu people into his confidence enough to let it be known that his wife does not like them a little bit. He says he has worked many years to build up a practice here but his wife has persistently tried to get him to leave Honolulu for good and all and to take her to England. He says she thinks the people of this city are not fit to associate with her. Hating them and the place as she does, she keeps him in hot water about leaving.

In 1890 the Miners did leave Honolulu, though only for a few months. On 24 August that year, “Dr F L Miner, wife, child and maid” were among the passengers departing “For San Francisco per R M S Alameda”. They arrived back at Honolulu, as passengers of the S S Australia, on 14 November. On the day following their return, The Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported that: “Dr. and Mrs. F. L. Miner have returned from their three months trip to the States, greatly benefited from the change.”

In reality, the Miners’ sojourn in the States had been one of the lowest of the many low points in the couple’s troubled marriage.

> On to Part 3.

Picture credits. Notice in The Daily Bulletin, 14 Oct 1887: Taken from page image at Chronicling America, no known copyright restrictions. Rose Miner, née Atcherley, and Gladys Vera Miner: Digitally restored image based on a scanned photograph kindly provided by Barbara Lang. Iolani Palace: Photo by D Ramey Logan, taken from Wikimedia Commons and adapted, used, and made available for reuse under a Creative Commons licenceKing Kalākaua with staff on the steps of Iolani Palace, 1882: Public domain image taken from Wikimedia Commons.


[1] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 20 Nov 1900, page 7. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[2] The Honolulu Republican, 20 Nov 1900, pages 1 and 6. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[3] The Daily Bulletin, 14 Oct 1887, page 1. Dr Miner Physician and Surgeon. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[4] The Daily Bulletin, 28 May 1887, page 3. A Hopeless Case. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[5] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 12 Jul 1887, page 3. A Brutal Outrage. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[6] The Daily Herald (Honolulu), 20 Jul 1887, page 3. The Outrage case. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[7] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 25 Aug 1888, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[8] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 27 Jul 1889, page 3. Electric Light Dangers. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[9] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 7 Aug 1889, page 3. A Dangerous Plaything. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[10] The Daily Bulletin, 17 Sep 1889, page 3. Accident at Kakaako. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[11] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 17 Jun 1889, page 3. (Birth notice.) Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[12] The Daily Bulletin (Honolulu), 24 Oct 1889, page 3. Grand Royal Ball. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[13] The Honolulu Republican, 24 Nov 1900, pages 1 and 8. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[14] The Honolulu Republican, 17 Nov 1900, page 1. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[15] The Hawaiian Gazette, 26 Aug 1890, page 10. Shipping Intelligence. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[16] The Hawaiian Gazette, 18 Nov 1890, page 12. Shipping Intelligence. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.
[17] The Pacific Commercial Advertiser, 15 Nov 1890, page 3. Copy viewed at Chronicling America.