Mary Onions Davies

It's often claimed that if family historians look hard enough they will find at least one king, pauper and murderer in their family tree. May be the list should also include bigamist.

Early in my family history research, tracing ancestors along the line of my paternal grandmother, I discovered that my great grandmother (pictured) whom the family had always believe to be Mary Onions, was Mary Onions Davies. Her parents were Sarah Ann Perry and Richard Davies. So where did the Onions name come from? Ann Edge and Ralph Perry had married on 19th April 1857. He was described as 21 year old widower, she a 23 year old spinster.

Daniel Cooper 1909-1996

Religion, identity and class, as we all know can be emotive subjects and at the turn of the twentieth century my family appears to have been particularly prone to the problems it can cause. Irish catholic and English protestant wars erupted when one or other of my fairly recent ancestors dared to fall in love with a person of the wrong persuasion.  My maternal grandmother told me of weddings boycotted, family members cast out and one - my great uncle Daniel - running away to join the church.  Some were reconciled, some not.  From the stories I heard I had always believed my great grandmother (my mother's paternal grandmother) was Irish born and bred and so was rather surprised to discover that both her parents had been born in England.

WW1 armistice centenary

 

Before my maternal grandmother died she told me about the members of her family she knew and could remember. She related interesting tales of feud and reconciliation, entrenched views of status, class and religion. She rattled through her family tree, even producing a chart she had inherited from her cousin who had died a few years earlier at more than 100 years old. She recalled meeting rich relatives - there were twins involved - uncle someone who was something to do with newspapers - in Leicestershire she thought. Then there were all Wilf's siblings, his mother - her mother in law - had been an Irish catholic so there were a lot of them. She didn't know so much about her father in law, Job,  except his family hadn't approved of him marrying the Irish woman - she was catholic and he was methodist and a bit more "up market" than her.  He'd had a brother, Daniel, - Wilf's uncle Daniel - but all she knew about him was he'd died in the war, the first world war. She thought his grandmother was a performer of some sort - amateur opera maybe.