Almost exactly one hundred years ago, on 5th December 1912, Lionel George (known as George) EVERARD left London on the ship Corinthic. On 20th January 1913 he arrived in New Zealand. The passenger lists show him as aged 24 and unmarried. As he had married Elsie Annie MARRIOTT only a few days before, on 27th November 1912, where was his wife? It turns out that it was cheaper to sail as unmarried passengers, as they would have to pay extra for a married couple’s cabin. She is on the same passenger list under her maiden name.
Elsie’s family followed them out to New Zealand later, but George left behind a father and stepmother (George and Ellen), a younger brother Sidney Frederick and three sisters, one of whom was my grandmother. For around fifty years the two branches of the family kept in touch, sending photographs of expanding families at Christmas etc. But then the older generation started to die off; George in 1959, my grandmother Louisa Mabel and her sister Isabella Maud, both in 1964. Sidney had been killed in WW1 and contact was lost.
Since starting to research my family history, I have tried to find out what happened to the “New Zealand relatives”. Owing to the privacy laws, access to the New Zealand BMD records is limited. I put as much as I knew on my website and got on with other things.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand, a granddaughter of George Everard became interested in family history. When she googled her mother’s name she came across the tree on my website and contacted me to tell me I had made some mistakes. After 50 years contact had been made!
We exchanged information, including the letter above written by my mother. Later she mentioned that she and her husband were planning a trip to England – could we meet? A date was arranged to meet up in Danbury, Essex, the village where our mutual great-grandfather George Everard had lived.
I decided it would be nice to visit the house where George had lived, but it appeared, by looking on streetview, that it was not properly visible from the road. I decided to write to the owners to ask if we could have a closer look – but who were they? Eventually I wrote a letter to “The Occupiers” and to establish my credentials sent a copy of a photo of the house with my grandmother standing in front. Knowing the reception that any letter addressed to the occupier usually receives, I didn’t hold out much hope. Imagine my surprise when I got a telephone call the following day from the owners of the house, to say, not just that we could visit, but that we could see inside the house as well.
On the appointed day we drove, with my mother, to the pub car park where we were to meet. Then after welcoming the visitors we all drove to the ancestral home. We were given a warm welcome, coffee, biscuits and scones with cream and jam. We heard stories about the history of the house and were shown around the inside and outside. What a wonderful experience.
Later we had a look for the house where Auntie Isa had lived, but things had changed too much to identify the right one. We ended up in The Cricketers Arms on Danbury Common for lunch and more chat. The sun had shone all day – a memorable end to our visitors trip to England.