Another unexpected breakthrough! Who was Ada of Framlingham – a photo mystery?

Following my recent breakthrough on my Great Grandmother’s research, after several years of looking, I have unexpectedly knocked down a brick wall on another of my family photo mysteries this week – whilst looking for something completely different!

In February 2015 I wrote a blog post about a mystery family photo that my parents had that had Ada written on the back and also showed my Grandmother Doris with her mother Edith CRISP outside the Mills Almshouses in Framlingham

Who was Ada – photo mystery?

Mills Almhouses

I had searched all records I could think of using the surnames SINCLAIR, CRISP, LAST or DIX to see if I could find a family connection to an Ada – I even contacted the Archivist of the Mills Almshouses Trust to see if they could shine any light on previous residents’ that might help, but although they were very helpful we had no success!

Imagine my surprise when yesterday whilst I was searching the old Framlingham Weekly News newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive website for some information for a monthly article I write for the Framlingham town magazine Framfare, when something caught my eye!

From the Framlingham Weekly News dated Saturday 13th February 1937 a headline read Miss L HARPER – Funeral of Well-Known Framlingham Octogenarian – intrigued to find out who she was I read on….


Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 13th February 1937

The first line reads .. The funeral of Miss Leona HARPER of Mills’ Almshouses, Framlingham took place on Wednesday…. and goes on to give information about her life and work in Framlingham and then gives a list of chief mourners including….Mr W CRISP (nephew)

Walter Ernest CRISP was my Grandmother Doris’s father and married to Edith Rosa who are shown in the photograph – are they visiting her husband’s Aunt Leona at the Almshouses.


Diss Express – Friday 12th February 1937


Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 13th February 1937

I quickly referred back to my family tree online and yes indeed Walter’s mother Elizabeth CRISP’s maiden name was HARPER and she had several siblings including a sister called Leona born in 1848 – was Leona known as Ada, the name on the back of the photo? Was the name written incorrectly at a later date by someone who thought they knew who she was – I guess we will never know now!

Checking some other family papers and information that I have I found that Leona HARPER was actually the witness at the marriage of Walter’s parents Samuel CRISP and Elizabeth HARPER when they married at St Michael’s Church in Framlingham on 27th December 1881, which indicates a strong family bond.

leona-harper-witnessFrom this newspaper article I have found that says Leona died in 1937 also fits date wise, as my Grandmother Doris was born in 1914 and would have been aged 23 when Leona died and looks to be in her early 20’s in the photo.

It is amazing how I have stumbled across this information and made the connections on a day when I wasn’t even looking at this research – never give up the answer may be out there somewhere!

A fantastic start to 2017 with two confirmed brick wall knock downs so far – lets hope there is a third!!

Simon LAST   

Posted in CRISP, Framlingham, HARPER, Mills Almshouses, Old Photographs, SINCLAIR, Suffolk | 1 Comment

Why was Harry CRISP called “Boots”? continued…

Following on from my blog post last month about Harry CRISP or “Boots” as he was known, some more information has come to light about his death in 1918 and how the local Framlingham people contributed to a collection for a tombstone to be provided for his grave.


Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 2nd November 1918


Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 8th February 1919


Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 8th March 1919


Framlingham Weekly News – Saturday 19th April 1919

This goes to show what a man he must have been and is testament to the service he had provided to the Framlingham community for many years.

Using information from Framlingham Cemetery online I have found Harry’s grave in the upper section, which confirms he was born on 5th November 1867 and died on 28th October 1918 aged only 50.

Again if anyone has any information about “Boots” or possibly a photograph it would be great to hear from you, to discover more about his life and work in Framlingham.

Simon Last


Posted in BOOTS, CRISP, Crown Hotel, Framlingham, Suffolk | Leave a comment

Have I finally smashed my own Brick Wall – Missing Great Grandmother!

Back in March 2013 I wrote a blog post about how I had been trying to track down the birth certificate for my paternal Great Grandmother Edith Rosa SINCLAIR without success –

Brick Wall – Missing Great Grandmother!

Edith Rosa Sinclair

Edith Rosa SINCLAIR with my Grandmother Doris Edith CRISP SINCLAIR born 1914 and Great Uncle Walter Ernest CRISP born 1916


Well like many other genealogists I know our own family tree research often takes a back seat whilst we are helping others and we flit in and out of it when we can.

My Great Grandmother Edith Rosa SINCLAIR married Walter Ernest CRISP on 5th April 1915 at the Register Office in Islington and they both gave their ages as 25 – Edith’s father is shown as Edward SINCLAIR deceased, occupation Commercial Clerk.

Walter & Edith Rosa marriage cert

Knowing that Edith was 25 when she married gave me a birth year of about 1889/ 1890 and even with this information I had never been able to locate a birth record for her either here in England, or possibly Scotland knowing the links to the SINCLAIR surname there.

I have looked at this research a few times over the years and when the 1939 WW2 Register was released in 2015, I looked for Edith Rosa and Walter Ernest CRISP, as I knew this record would hopefully give me an exact date of birth for them both.

I found them both living in Framlingham in Suffolk and Edith Rosa’s date of birth was recorded as 5th November 1889 – however even now knowing the month and quarter I could still not find a birth record for her.


Source: Find My Past 1939 Register

However a few months ago I was sorting through my family research files and looking at old certificates I had previously obtained, when I came across a birth certificate I had ordered in 2007 for an Edith Rosa SINCLAIR whose parent’s were William Henry SINCLAIR and Clara Martha SINCLAIR (nee BOYS) – knowing that Edith had given her father’s name as Edward SINCLAIR when she married in 1915 and seeing that the age was out by 9 or so years I had dismissed this certificate as being incorrect.


Imagine my delight on re-discovering this certificate to see that this Edith Rosa’s date of birth was also 5th November 1881, the exact day and month of my own Edith Rosa in 1939 – however was it a connection as fathers name was not correct?

If it was correct it seems my Great Grandmother Edith Rosa was actually aged 34 when she married in 1915 and had knocked nine years off her age to be the same age as her husband Walter, who was 25.

I decided to take the plunge and search for information on Clara Martha SINCLAIR to see if that would provide any clues – I found a death record for a Clara SINCLAIR in the April quarter of 1902 in Newington London and I ordered the death certificate.

On arrival it showed that Clara SINCLAIR (no middle name unfortunately!) died on 26th April 1902 aged 56 the widow of Edward SINCLAIR a Solicitor’s Clerk – this all seemed to fit with the Edward SINCLAIR on my Edith Rosa’s marriage certificate from 1915.


The informant of Clara’s death was A C SHARP daughter present at death, was she a sister of my Edith ROSA?

I have also found an 1881 census record for Clara BOYS aged 37 and unmarried living with her mother Martha J BOYS at 3 Garden Row in Kennington where Edith Rosa SINCLAIR was born a few months later in November 1881.


Source: Ancestry 1881 census -DetailClass: RG11; Piece: 600; Folio: 23; Page: 47; GSU roll: 1341137

I can find no marriage record for Clara BOYS in 1881 to a SINCLAIR – so was William Henry SINCLAIR Edith’s father and he was named on the certificate, even though they were unmarried?

Who was Edward SINCLAIR? – again I can find no marriage record at this stage, but was he possibkly a brother of William who looked after Clara?

Lots more investigation is needed – however I am 98% certain that I have finally discovered that my Great Great Grandmother was Clara SINCLAIR nee BOYS, whose own mother was Martha J BOYS nee ?

After many years of research I can not tell you how pleased I was to share this information with my dad about his mother’s family history, which would not have happened without some random file sorting a few months ago!

I will update on any further developments in due course – the motto is never give up and never stop looking!!

Simon LAST

Posted in BOYS, CRISP, Framlingham, LAST, Old Photographs, SINCLAIR, Suffolk | 3 Comments

WW1 photo postcard sent to the HANDS family – are you connected?

At a recent postcard fair in Surrey I found and bought a lovely photographic postcard showing a group, with several of the men in uniform.


Was this a family shot showing siblings before going off to war – I decided to investigate further!

The postcard was sent to a Mr and Mrs J HANDS at 117 Greenway Street, Small Heath in Birmingham and has a postmark of either 17th June 1916 or 1918.


The message reads:

Dear Mother, Dad, … & ….,

We arrived quite safe & everything is lovely & fresh here. Hope you will like this view … I was too late to get another & I hope you get it Sunday. Just off for a stroll by the river


Sully & Will xxxxxxx


I started by looking for a Mr and Mrs J HANDS on the 1911 census and then using the address of 117 Greenway Street found a census record for a Thomas and Jane at the address, with children Rose aged 18, Thomas aged 17, Samuel aged 12 and William aged 8 – are Samuel and William our Sully and Will the senders of the postcard and is the Mr & Mrs J actually Mr & Mrs T?

Thomas’s occupation was A Cycle Finisher.


Source: Ancestry 1911 England Census Detail: Class: RG14; Piece: 18183

Thomas and Jane HANDS had been married for 20 years in 1911 and I found their marriage in the January quarter of 1892 in Aston in Warwickshire – this confirmed that Jane’s maiden name was ASTON.

I also found the family on the 1901 census as below:


Source: Ancestry 1901 census Detail: Class: RG13; Piece: 2864; Folio: 28; Page: 14

I have found the birth registration entries for the HANDS children and have discovered that their full names were Rose Helena HANDS, Thomas HANDS, Samuel Alec HANDS and William Henry HANDS – also on quick investigation I cannot see that Samuel or William were killed during World War 1.

I am therefore now intrigued to know if Samuel and William HANDS are in fact shown in the photograph on the postcard, possibly with their parents Thomas and Jane – if anyone has a connection to the HANDS family from Small Heath in Birmingham I would be pleased to hear from you, as it would be great to find out more about the people shown and to possibly reunite the postcard with a family member.

I look forward to hearing from you and I will post any updates accordingly..

Simon LAST


Posted in 117 Greenway Street, ASTON, HANDS, Old Photographs, Postcard, Small Heath Birmingham, World War 1, WW1 Photograph, WW1 postcard | 1 Comment

More Easton WW1 postcards discovered!

Following a visit to a Postcard and Paper Fair in Tolworth in Surrey earlier this week, I was pleased to discover two more old postcards sent during World War 1 from Easton Mansion in Suffolk.

Having researched and written about the use of this Mansion as a Red Cross Hospital during the World War 1 earlier this year, I am always fascinated to find cards sent with messages from the wounded soldiers who were treated there.


The first postcard must have been sent in an envelope, as unfortunately it has no postal address on it, but it is dated 11th January 1918 and is sent to Bill from Arthur with the following message:

Easton Park, Wickham Market, Suffolk

Dear Bill

Just a line to wish you many Happy Returns. The above is my address for some time yet. It is the residence of the party who sent me to Ventnor. I am feeling pretty good just now.

Its pretty lively here as there are about 60 wounded Tommies & they keep things moving some.

That’s all just now, so will close with Best Wishes

From Your Sincere Chum



It is great to see Arthur refer to the others with him as Tommies and I wonder what the connection to Ventnor was?

The second postcard was sent to Mrs DIVER, 11 Ruskin Street, Briton Ferry in  Glamorgan in South Wales and is postmarked 23rd November 1917 – unfortunately the message is very small and not easy to read – however it appears to be sent to a Nance from Bob.



I have been able to find the DIVER family living at 11 Ruskin Avenue in Briton Ferry in the 1911 census, as below and the head of house is Robert J DIVER aged 37 a Rigger – this fits with Bob as the sender of the postcard.


Source: 1911 Wales Census – Source Citation Class: RG14; Piece: 32622; Schedule Number: 122

The other household members are his wife Annie aged 34 and they have been married for four years and have a son called Ralph aged two. Could Nance be a nickname for Annie?

More investigation needed and I will update further in due course.

Thanks for all the support of my blog posts this year and wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

Simon Last 


Posted in 11 Ruskin Street, British Red Cross, Briton Ferry, DIVER, Easton, Glamorgan, Old Photographs, Postcard, Suffolk, Wales, World War 1, WW1 postcard | Leave a comment

Why was Harry CRISP called “BOOTS”?

Whilst researching the old Framlingham Weekly News newspapers online I came across an interesting article from 110 years ago, in the Saturday 12th January 1907 edition:


 Nearly eighteen years ago Harry Crisp came to Framlingham to take up the impossible position of “Boots” at the Crown Hotel combined with which appointment is the delivery of passenger goods from the Railway Station. The choice made by Mr W G L Sewell, the highly respected landlord of that time, was a wise one, as time has justified, and Crisp, by his wonderful geniality at all times, and obliging manner, soon became one of the best known and most liked men in his station in the town.


 Crisp has now strengthened, as it were, his time with the locality by taking unto himself a wife, entering the holy state at Bramford on Wednesday last, and he is now enjoying the best and perhaps the longest holiday he has had since his schooldays. He has been the recipient of many useful presents from unexpected quarters – a fitting appreciation of devotion to duty and kindness and courtesy to all.

 Travellers to Framlingham who make the Crown Hotel their stopping place , have always found in “Boots” a trustworthy servant and recognise in him a man of the “right kidney.” Such persons in whatever station of life are a valuable asset to any locality, and it is hoped that he will remain amongst us for many more years.

 I am now going to research Harry Crisp in more detail, but if anyone has any information about “Boots” or a family connection it would be great to hear from you, to discover more about his life and work in Framlingham.

I will keep you updated!

Simon Last

Posted in BOOTS, CRISP, Crown Hotel, Suffolk | 1 Comment

The BROWNING Bank book mystery!

As you know I love to investigate and research old photographs and postcards to discover more about the family connections and sometimes to try and locate a living descendant to reunite the item.

Well recently my friend Rachel from Framlingham has passed on to me three old Royal Bank of Scotland Western Branch Bank books that were discovered in a box of ephemera purchased at the Campsea Ashe Auction in Suffolk.


Loving a  mystery as I do, I wanted to see if I could discover more about these three old Bank books and possibly see how they ended up at a country auction in Suffolk!

The first clues were the names Mrs L E BROWNING on the back of one book and the name Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING Esq. on the other two books.

img_4272    img_4273

I quickly discovered that Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING was born in the January quarter of 1901 and the 1901 census record shows him aged one month living with his parents Henry G and Lucy E BROWNING – confirming that the owner of the other Bank book was Henry’s mother.

This 1901 census record also showed that Henry had two sisters Eileen E G BROWNING aged 4 and Christabel L G BROWNING aged 3 – the family were living at 21 Albert Gate in Knightsbridge in London. Henry’s father Henry’s occupation is shown as a Sprit and Wine Merchant an Employer.


Source: 1901 England Census Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 83; Folio: 44; Page: 7

Further research showed that Henry Gonne BROWNING had married Lucy Evelyn STEVENSON in the April quarter of 1893 in the St George Hanover Square Registration District. This also confirmed that the Evelyn name had been passed down to Henry as a middle name and the GONNE name was also a family connected name.

The 1911 census record shows the BROWNING family living at 29 Hans Mansions in Kensington with Head of house Henry Gonne BROWNING aged 52 married to Lucy Evelyn for 17 full years with a total of three children Eileen Elizabeth Gonne aged 14, Christabel Lucy Gonne aged 13 and Henry Evelyn Gonne aged 10.


Source: 1911 England Census Source Citation: Class: RG14; Piece: 111

My research also uncovered a document dated 1st June 1922, the London Freedom of the City papers, which admitted Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING born on the 26th February 1901 son of Henry Gonne BROWNING of 21 Albert Gate Knightsbridge to be admitted as a Citizen and Grocer into the Freedom of the City by Patrimony, in the said Company of Grocers.


Source: London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1925 Source Citation: London Metropolitan Archive; Reference Number: COL/CHD/FR/02/2684-2686

I can find no marriage for Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING, but have found that he died on the 29th January 1976 aged 75 and his final address is shown on his Probate record as The Old House, Holland Street in London W8.

His mother Lucy Evelyn BROWNING died on the 29th July 1951 aged 51 and Henry her son was named as her Executor.

The mystery now is how these three old BROWNING Bank books turned up for sale at an auction earlier this year in Suffolk, 40 years after Henry died – did they get passed down to another member of the family who has now since also passed away?

If anyone has any information or a connection to the BROWNING family and can confirm a valid link, it would be great if these old Bank books could be reunited with the family archive – If you can help I would be delighted to hear from you.

Many thanks

Simon Last 



Posted in London | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment