Mother of the Bride – Choosing a Hat

Choosing a hat for your daughter’s wedding is an absolute joy!  Of course the age-old question is ‘What comes first? The dress or the hat?’  If the dress comes first, the decision on the colour of the hat is made easier. There will only be a few hats available in the shade you require, so trying them on will be a pleasure and a choice made fairly quickly.

It got me thinking, was this always the case? When my great grand-Aunt Charlotte heard her daughter, Maud Beatrice was to be married, did she worry about choosing a hat? Her sister, Fanny was a Milliner, maybe she helped with some advice.

On seeing the photograph of the wedding, I can’t help but focus in on Charlotte’s hat!

Wedding of Maud Beatrice Crocker and Arnold Carnegie Heron 20 October 1914

Wedding of Maud Beatrice Crocker and Arnold Carnegie Heron
October 20 1914

Charlotte Harriet Dinnis

Charlotte Harriet Dinnis

chd3 - Copy (3)

Wedding guest with a feather in her hat and an exotic boa around her shoulders.

It’s very feathery, and some of the other ladies in the photo also have prominent feathers in their hats.

I assumed this must have been the fashion in 1914, but it never hurts to check, so I got out one of my favourite books, ‘How to get the most from Family Pictures’ by Jayne Shrimpton.


How to get the most from Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton Published by Society of Genealogists Enterprises Limited, 2011

How to get the most from Family Pictures by Jayne Shrimpton
Published by Society of Genealogists Enterprises Limited, 2011











This book mentions “An appearance of luxury was accentuated by the exuberant style of Edwardian women’s clothing and accessories, especially the vast hats of the era” and goes on to say “the vogue for sweeping feather-trimmed hats and exotic boas and stoles lending an exotic air to regular garments.”

The Edwardian era officially ended with the death of King Edward VII in 1910, although it is generally considered to have ended with the beginning of WWI in 1914.

All this talk of hats took me back to my own daughter’s wedding, three years ago.  I went shopping with my daughter in Milton Keynes. I had already bought my dress, so it was just a case of matching the colour to the hat.

I loved it the moment I saw it, tried it on, and it was the perfect match.

cropped pic of me in hat

Looking at the photo of Charlotte at her daughter, Maud’s wedding I suddenly feel such empathy. The wedding of your daughter is so special, and although it’s not about you at all, the fact remains that you don’t want to spoil the photos. You know that these photographs are going to be looked at for … generations.

And great grand-Aunt Charlotte – I just wanted to tell you that from here in 2015, you look great! The hat is terrific, the outfit sublime, you did your daughter proud. I just wish the photographs were in colour.




Sinking of the Titanic – as reported in The Young Soldier of The Salvation Army

The Titanic sank on Monday April 15th 1912. Two days later this article was written for The Young Soldier of The Salvation Army.

books6THE YOUNG SOLDIER April 27 1912


Even now, though I write on the morning of April 17th, the world does not know just how it happened.

All day on Monday, after the brief news of the accident had come, people kept assuring each other that the Titanic was unsinkable, for she was provided with huge water-tight doors, which could shut off any injured part, and she would therefore float where another ship would go down.

Everything that earthly wisdom and science and riches could do had been done to make the Titanic safe, and you would most likely read of all the wonders which she contained – the swimming bath and the racquet-court, and the dining-hall, in which over 500 people could dine at once at small, separate tables. There were suites of rooms on board like little flats, exquisitely furnished, and each with its own front door; indeed, no such ship had ever been launched before.books7

Then, on Monday night, came reassuring messages to say that all the precious lives were saved, and that the Titanic herself was being towed into Halifax.

But on Tuesday we learnt the awful truth; how that at midnight on Sunday the Titanic struck an immense iceberg and sank three hours afterwards. We learnt, too, that 1,653 people went down with her.

This was the Titanic’s first voyage. She had one of the finest captains in the service – experienced and able – and she had been but three days at sea when, in the darkness of the night, she struck one of those terrible moving masses of ice, which in spring and autumn make the northern routes across the Atlantic so dangerous. Other ships, less large and less costly, have struck icebergs; but they have managed, damaged though they were, to reach port.books7 - Copy

As soon as the accident happened, Mr. Phillips, the wireless operator, sent his messages from the little room on the highest part of the ship: ‘Struck iceberg, badly damaged, help urgently needed.’ These messages were received by liners at great distances, and at once they turned their course, put on all speed, and hastened to the rescue. But at 12.27 American time, or 2.20 English time, the last message came saying that the ship was sinking by the head, and that the women and children were being taken off in the life-boats. Then some blurred, indistinct words came through, and then perfect silence.

Boat-loads of people were taken on board the Carpathia, but the other liners, when at last they reached the place, found only bits of wreckage floating on the sea.books7 - Copy (2)

Now, there is one thing which I want you all to notice very carefully, and which in the midst of all the terrible sorrow and shock, is very beautiful.

All captains and commanders of ships know that the law of the sea is that in times of danger the women and children first are to leave the sinking ship and to be placed in the life-boats. Now, this is exactly against nature, for the strong men, those who can fight and push, would of themselves quickly fill the boats, leaving the weaker to go down with the ship.

But no, if we had been on the Titanic, we should most likely have seen Captain Smith standing by the gangway with his revolver in his hand ready to shoot down the first man who tried to push through and take the place of the women and children.

And this is why in the list of the saved you find little children and their mothers – many from the third class as well as from the first – while most of the men, some who were millionaires and who had great power and influence on shore, are missing.books3 (2)

From this we understand that – though as yet no message has come from the rescued survivors – in all the distress and agony, when very likely the electric light was going out and those two thousand people knew that every moment death was drawing nearer, there can have been no panic or confusion, but the law of the sea was kept. At this moment money had no influence, nor title, nor rank. The weakest first were saved, and the others died.

The law of the sea is the law also of the Saviour, who gave His life for the weakest and the lowest, and should it not be the law of the dry land as well?

One among those who perished is Mr. Stead, who had been a real friend to The General and The Salvation Army from the very earliest days, and we are told that several of our own dear Salvationists have gone down also, though no names have yet been ascertained.

A great national Memorial Service is to be held in St. Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, and The General has arranged for every Corps in the United Kingdom to hold a solemn Memorial Service on Sunday evening next.

Do you not feel as you look at the picture of this great Titanic, and them remember the broken hearts and darkened homes, that we ought more than ever to pray for those in peril on the sea?

An do you not see how true are those words of the Psalmist: ‘Except the Lord keep the city the watchman waketh but in vain.’ This great ship was like a city, a floating town. Had they committed her to God before she started out on her first journey?

Did those who sailed in her rely on His protection and guidance? If so, then in spite of the awful tragedy they will have had His help and comfort in the midst of the terror and the darkness, and , Oh, let us trust that many who were perhaps unaccustomed to pray turned in those last hours to God, and found in Him a very present Help in time of trouble.

THOSE WHO WENT DOWN (A tribute to the men who gave their lives for the women and children)

Through all the blackness of that night

A glory streams from out the gloom;

Their steadfast spirits lift the light

That shines till Night is overcome.


The sea will do its worst, and life

Be sobbed out in a bubbling breath;

But firmly in the coward strife

There stand the men who conquered Death.


The souls that master wind and wave

And tower above a sinking deck;

A bridge across the gaping grave;

A rainbow rising o’er the wreck.


Others they saved; they saved the name

Unsullied that they gave their wives;

And dying with so pure an aim,

They had no need to save their lives.

Gerald Massey in ‘The Daily Mirror.’







Blood, Fire & Timbrels


I used to worry that I would run out of things to write about when I began blogging, but if I’ve learned one thing it is that the more you write, the more there is to write about.

I’ve had a big, red book on my shelf since the death of my mother in 2000. I got it out yesterday, and found an absolute treasure trove of information.

This post is just the introduction to plenty more about The Salvation Army. The book I have is an annual collection of the magazine for the children in ‘the Army’. Called ‘The Young Soldier’ for the time period 7 October 1911 to 30 March 1912.


There is so much in this volume that needs to be shared, and if you think back to this time period I’m sure you’ll turn your mind to the events of April 15th 1912 and the sinking of the Titanic.

I have been amazed at reading an account of this event, written a few days after it occurred.

I will copy the entire article in my next post. History comes alive, and reading of an event with the benefit of hindsight is very special.

I’m so glad I opened this book.

The book was given to my mother by an old friend of hers, Alice Homewood. Mum played the piano for ‘The Home League Singers’ a group of women who sang at a women’s meeting every Wednesday afternoon. Alice was a member of this group, and I remember going to see her in her home often. She lived near the Arches, in Lewes Road, Brighton.


I feel it is important to include her as part of this story, there are many things included in the book which are personal to her.

So it will be a personal journey of Alice’s as well as a national and international story of the Salvation Army and of events of the world during this time period.

God bless you Alice, I remember you.




What is a Second Cousin Once Removed?

When meeting a new family member, one who is living or one who died long ago, I always want to put a label on them. I feel a need to know exactly what our relationship is, but it’s one of the things I’ve never got to grips with.

I find it easier to go to my ancestry site, where you can just click on the other persons name and find ‘their relationship to you’, but it would be nice to be able to work it out for myself. Through ancestry I know the cousins I recently found in America are my third cousins once removed, and my new family in Australia are my third cousins, but I had no idea how this was figured out.

At the moment I’m reading a great book, ‘Who Was Your Granny’s Granny?’ by Paul Blake and Audrey Collins. grannys grannyThere is a short paragraph that explains very clearly ‘the exact meaning of relationships, such as second cousin twice removed.’ It  goes on to say,

“Any relationship between two individuals refers back to their descent from a common ancestor. Therefore siblings have the same parents – half-siblings only share one parent. first cousins have the same grandparents; second cousins have the same great-grandparents; and so on ad infinitum. ‘Removed’ describes how many generations from the actual cousin a person is. Therefore the child of a second cousin is ‘second cousin once removed’ and the grandchild of a first cousin is ‘second cousin twice removed.'”

I’ve always wondered what my cousin Sue’s children are ‘to me’, and now I know they are my first cousins once removed! I think!

Who Was Your Granny’s Granny, Blake & Collins, foulsham publishers England, 2003. 

and the winner is ….

happy friday

By just one vote you decided you would rather have a funny photograph every Friday. Every Friday I will post a funny photograph from my private collection. Some of these will be self-explanatory, others will be chosen because they evoke a memory that always makes me smile.

I will try to explain what it is about the photo that makes me smile, and to share with you my childhood memories and other events.

Watch out for the first of the series on Friday!




Meeting Maud and Arnold

Actually, you’ve already met them! They are the bride and groom in the wedding picture in my header. I was sent this photograph a few days ago.

Wedding of Maud Beatrice Crocker and Arnold Carnegie Heron 1914

Wedding of Maud Beatrice Crocker and Arnold Carnegie Heron

Since receiving it, everything else in my life has been put on hold!

Whenever I find a new branch of my family tree I experience the same frustrations. I want to know it all at once!

I am finally (I think) learning to enjoy the journey of the research, as well as the arrival of the finished story. I don’t want to rush into knowing all about the Crocker family, I want to gradually get to know what happened to them. It will take time, but it’s what I enjoy doing.

To recap: the family who contacted me and sent this photograph are descendants of Charlotte Harriet Dinnis. She was my great grand-aunt, the sister of my great-grandfather (George Dinnis). I have already learned so much of Charlotte’s childhood, as it is shared by George. They grew up not far from me, in Brighton. You can read about it here:

Charlotte married Samuel Richard Crocker on the 20 May 1882 in Peckham.

Wedding details of Samuel Richard Crocker to Charlotte Harriet Dinnis

Wedding details of Samuel Richard Crocker to Charlotte Harriet Dinnis

They had their first child, a boy, in 1883 and two years later in 1885 had twins. Maud Beatrice and Richard George were born in September and were baptised in the same church their parents had married in.

Maud Beatrice Crocker married Arnold Carnegie Heron on 20 October 1914 at St James’ Church, Streatham. And the family photograph is the result! It’s so nice to zoom in on the bride and groom

Maud Beatrice Crocker

Maud Beatrice Crocker

Arnold Carnegie Heron

Arnold Carnegie Heron

There is so much more to tell you about them! And also about Maud’s twin brother, Richard George Crocker. But, for now, I am enjoying meeting Maud, and Arnold.

Maud and Richard are my first cousins 2 times removed – but more about that later!





G’day Down Under

The title of my blog is ‘Meeting my Family’ because that’s what I’m doing. Meeting them one at a time. As I research and dig, there is always more to be found. I love finding a new ancestor, getting to know them, where they lived, what they did for a living, what life was like for them. What I find unexpected is finding family members who are alive and kicking and enjoying life around the globe!

The latest to find me is Sue Ashman from Perth in Australia! I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to find someone who shares my family history. I’ve always had such a small family unit, I am an only child, with two children. My extended family are so generous in sharing their family photographs and documents with me. Look at this! I ‘met’ Charlotte Harriet Dinnis for the first time.

Samuel Richard Crocker 1858 - 1929 Charlotte Harriet Dinnis 1850 - 1935

Samuel Richard Crocker
1858 – 1929
Charlotte Harriet Dinnis
1850 – 1935

What a fantastic photo! I am so delighted to ‘see’ Great Grand-Aunt Charlotte. I have written about her in the past, she was born in Brighton, the older sister of my Great Grandfather George Dinnis. She grew up at The Old Ship Hotel, where her father lived and worked as a Cook and Publican.

George Dinnis in 1890

George Dinnis in 1890

She looks like George Dinnis. Which is great because I think George looks like Joseph Taylor Dinnis, his son – my grandfather. Who in turn looks like his son Gordon Charles – my father. The long face, the long nose, I always wondered where it came from, and now I know. It’s a Dinnis thing!

I feel like I belong. I feel part of a chain that goes back into history.

Of course when a new family member appears there are many unanswered questions. So, if I go a little quiet you will understand that I am busy trying to find how Charlotte’s family ended up in Australia. I will find the link. It just might take some time.


The Fear of Grand Aunt Grace

Before I began looking into my family tree I only had my personal memories of my family. My father had four aunts, sisters of his mothers. I never met them, but they sent me cards and postal orders (remember them?) every birthday and Christmas.

Rose, Annie, Olive, Grace (left to right standing) Edith, seated

Rose, Annie (my grandmother), Olive, Grace (left to right standing) Edith, seated

It was the 1960s, and children had to send the obligatory thank you letter. I imagine/hope that’s died out now, and parents don’t insist on sitting their offspring down and forcing them to write two sides of a page. ‘Tell them what you got for your birthday’ … ‘Tell them what you’re going to do with the money’ … ‘Say how well you’re getting on at school’. These days it must all be done via text message, Facebook or phoning people up and talking to them.

Of all the letters I was made to write, it was always Grand aunt Grace that I had to correspond with first. Almost as soon as I received the postal order I was made to sit down with some paper and told what to write. If I was too late, she would let my parents – via my grandmother, know how rude I had been not to say thank you.

So I was scared of her. I never met her, but in my head I had a picture of someone very frightening. No one talked to my parents like that! Who was she? It was explained to me that she had no children and didn’t understand them, but her sisters Olive and Rose didn’t have any children and they were lovely.

Now, some fifty years later I feel as though I’ve got to know her, through photographs, ancestry research and documents. I don’t need to fear her. She has become one of my favourite ancestors! I love the pictures of her, and from looking back at her life, she was so independent and strong. I would love to meet her now.

The ironic thing is that I actually could have met her. Born on the 2 March 1900, she died in June 1983. I’d no idea she was alive when I got married, and my daughter was born in June 1983 so they could also have met.

Here are some photographs of her. She was the youngest of the five Cleeve sisters.

24 August 1925 Grace, Agnes (mother) and Olive Cleeve left to right. Dummer, Hampshire

24 August 1925
Grace, Agnes (mother) and Olive Cleeve left to right.
Dummer, Hampshire

8 March 1918 Grace Cleeve

8 March 1918
Grace Cleeve

December 1920 Grace Cleeve

December 1920
Grace Cleeve

5 August 1931 Grace Cleeve Brighton

5 August 1931
Grace Cleeve

Vote For a Regular Feature

For the final day of Blogging 101 I am planning to introduce a regular feature to my blog. It will be either Funny Photo Friday, which will be an amusing photograph of one of my family, posted every Friday. Or Working Wednesday, when I will feature an occupation of one of my ancestors.

Which one wins? You decide! Results posted next weekend.

Postcard From Flitwick

Wish you were here, having a lovely time, weather good x

I am currently enjoying a summer break in Flitwick. It feels odd travelling from Brighton station up to Bedfordshire in August because everyone else is going the other way and coming down to Brighton for their holiday. But I have grown to love this quiet little place which is so different from the cosmopolitan atmosphere down on the south coast.

I always sleep better here, it’s so quiet! And so dark at night, no street lights shining in your window or sounds of passing traffic. It really is ‘home from home’ and I always travel back to Brighton feeling refreshed from the change.

While I’m visiting here it’s worth taking a look back to see my family history in connection with Bedfordshire. Catherine Ann Dinnis was the eldest child of my gg grandfather John Dinnis and Charlotte Sampson. Catherine married Abraham Robarts on the 29th January 1862, and she lived with him in Stratton Street, Biggleswade until his retirement when they moved to Tulse Hill, Lambeth in London. Abraham was a Master Butcher in Biggleswade High Street, Bedfordshire from around 1841-1891.

W. Robarts, BiggleswadeIn the picture above (from Townsfolk of Biggleswade Volume 4, published by Biggleswade History Society) you can see W. Robarts butchers shop. Walter Robarts was Abrahams older brother. You can read more about it here.

Catherine Ann Dinnis – A little bit more! Links between Brighton and Bedfordshire.

Flitwick Moor is very picturesque, you can see more pictures here.

There is also a lovely church, in beautiful surroundings.

Flitwick Church

Flitwick Church

St Peter & St Paul, Flitwick

St Peter & St Paul, Flitwick