The booklet cover that launched this page
The 4 photographs above are of unidentified Procters which were sent to me. I suspect some are members of James and Annie's family from the turn of the 20th Century.
Westcliff On Sea - early 1900s
Ramsdell Hall - painted by Irene Procter
A pensive Adeline
Brussels 1900 - a happy place for Adeline
Anthony's wedding in Chelsea
An occupational surname from the Middle English word "prok(e)tur", a contracted version of the Old French "procuraterour", from the latin "procurator", meaning "agent", from "pro" meaning "for", "on behalf of" and "curare" to deal with.In medieval times, a proctor was an attorney in a spiritual court, or a collector of alms on behalf of monks. Some were collectors of taxes.
When my Great-Grandaunt Annie Louisa Horner married James Procter, she brought the extraordinary Procters into our Family History. The almost disproportionate space I have afforded them is partly due to a document that I was fortunate enough to obtain, containing recollections of her family by Florence Mona Caiger (nee Procter) written in the 1950s. I refer to her as FMP. It is a wonderful,colourful read and contains photographs added by her granddaughter Belinda Fairthorne whose partner Simon sent me the document.
Much of this section is taken from FMP’s notes but also from my own independent research.I even sent for Irene Procter’s birth certificate which was necessary for my Time Travel novel 'Ramsdell Hall'. I digress. Without further ado, I now present the amazing Procters in all their glory.
We start our journey in deepest Lancashire with the two people who began it all.
James Procter was born in Blackley, Lancashire on the 10th July, 1808. He lived and worked in Manchester as a colour manufacturer. Blackley was renowned for its cotton manufactures and its extensive dye-works. Methodism was strong in the village with two Wesleyan chapels, compared to one Roman Catholic church. James was brought up as a methodist, but in 1836, he caused a sensation by eloping with Hannah Dawson. She was the daughter of Isaac and Sarah Dawson, also from Blackley. They were married on the 19th October 1836 in Prestwich. Hannah also embraced Methodism but more fervently than James. They began married life in Blackley, where Samuel was born in 1838. Hanna’s two grandfathers and uncle were all called Samuel, so not much doubt about their choice of name. John Wesley, founder of Methodism, had a father called Samuel.
The Procters moved to Entwistle, Bolton, where James was born in 1841. This time James senior clearly had the choice of names. In her family notes, FNP says that James and Hannah had many children over the years but only four survived. The 1871 census lists a Mary born in 1845, but there is no other record of her, and she’s born in Middlesex. The family had now moved to Ardwick and in 1850, Sarah Alice, named after Hannah’s mum, was born. No further records can be found for Sarah. Alfred was born in 1853 and holds a special place in this family history. It is his daughter, whom he hardly knew, Florence Mona Procter,who compiled the history on which this section is partly based.
Four years later, Mary Hannah Procter was born. Why two Marys? Maybe the Mary born twelve years earlier in Middlesex died. Mary Hannah, herself, is an enigma because FMP only refers to her as Annie but she is clearly one and the same. Finally,and unusually, in 1871, Hannah gave birth to Ada at the age of 57. This is not Samuel’s daughter Ada Thwaites Procter because she is two years older. This Ada is listed in the 1871 census as being two months old and as Hannah’s daughter. No further records of her either.
So Hannah and James raised several children between 1838 and 1857, and it would seem up to 1871 too. Only Samuel, James, Alfred and Mary Hannah (Annie) made it into adulthood, and only two of them lived into old age. Annie and Alfred died in their thirties. Hannah and James retired to the Southport area, first living at Cemetery Road, North Meols—tempting providence perhaps—and later, Alma Road, Birkdale (see above) —a sensible move. Hannah,apparently, didn’t like members of the household,or visitors, staying out late and she would wait up for them until they returned, refusing them the “latch” as FMP recalled. Alfred and Edmund would have known what that meant. But then Hannah did have strict morals befitting a devout methodist.
One wonders what Hannah,and indeed James, made of their sons and their foreign enterprises. What tales they must have heard and what letters received. James was very much a Lancashire man, working in a traditional industry and of course, like Hannah, a devout methodist. Their religion had broken new ground, providing an alternative to Roman Catholicism and Church of England. Their sons—in forming The Procter Brothers and trading in Madagascar and other far-off places—were certainly opening new frontiers. Brave, bold and committed, like the Wesley Brothers themselves. And staying out late might be a requirement of the job! James, himself, had been a commercial traveller since his earlier colour manufacturing days in Blackley. So travelling was in the blood and certainly in his sons’.
For Hannah, a darkness was
descending with her eightieth year approaching. As if she hadn’t experienced
enough deaths in her family, 1891 was a terrible year for her. Over in
neighbouring Cheshire, her daughter-in-law Annie’s sister Emilie was
celebrating the birth of twins, seventeen years since her last child. Hannah,
by contrast, lost, first her husband, and then her son, Alfred. James had
lived much longer than his children had but finally passed away in the summer.
In October, Alfred died aged just thirty-eight.
Poor Hannah had worse to come because two years later, her daughter Mary, who had never been strong, died. Even though married for nine years, she’d remained with her parents. So an even greater loss for Hannah, particularly as Mary had left two daughters behind as well as Edmund. He re-married, co-incidentally to another Mary, which then had Hannah’s mind working overtime. In the last year of her life, she’d been taken to Buxton,for her health, but instead had nightmares about Edmund’s new wife mistreating her stepdaughters. Hannah died in the summer of 1899 at the age of eighty-six. The one member of the Procter family who reached a grand old age.
Annie, my great-great-aunt, was
the eldest child of Joseph and Anne Horner and one of the most interesting
members of the family. She was born in Manchester on the 16th of September 1849
and became a schoolteacher. She married James Procter at Manchester Cathedral
on the 28th of January 1871. James was born on the 24th of November 1841
in Entwistle in Lancashire, son of James and Hannah Procter. He joined the
family export business of Procter Brothers which his brother Samuel had
started, but his heart was not really in it. He went to Madagascar as part of
the business but it was the natural history of Madagascar that interested
His fiance came out to marry him there but had fallen in love with
another on the boat there; and instead she sailed on to Australia with him. So it was back to England for
James where he met the rather beautiful Annie Horner. The prospect of moving to
Madagascar with her husband wasn’t unattractive to Annie, and there they lived
for a few years. Irene Hortense Horner Procter was born on the 14th December,
1873, followed by Lionel Claude Race Procter on August 6th 1875, and Ethel
Winifred Procter on 10th September 1876. When it came to choosing names for
their children they didn’t hold back. Not everyone names their two eldest sons
after lions. On the left, you can see an interesting family photograph of Annie posing as
Elizabeth and James as the Earl of Essex.
They returned to England, and in 1878, Leopold Alfred Procter was born in Forest Hill in South London. Adeline Cecile came along at the end of 1879, by which time they had moved to Norwood. James was still working for Procter Brothers, and he and Annie returned to Madagascar in 1880. Adeline and Leopold stayed with their grandparents, James and Hannah, in North Meols until their parents’ return.
Both Annie and James had interests and skills beyond just being parents, and one might have thought that a family of five children was more than enough. But twins Samuel and James suddenly arrived in 1885. Clearly they had now lost their earlier creativity in nameology and the poor boys didn’t even get a middle name. They had moved to Tooting and then on to Paddington. The 1901 census saw Annie and James still together, now in Spencer House, Twickenham but not for much longer. James was now turning sixty whereas his wife was a sprightly fifty-one. She had raised seven children and moved house several times. With the twins now sixteen, something was stirring inside of her.
She’d turned to Spritualism and during a séance, she was informed that her husband was going to murder her. Leaving nothing to chance, she decided to leave him and moved to Worthing. Poor James must have wondered what was going on but at least he had the support of a large family around him to see him through such a bizarre situation. Irene, particularly, was a great comfort and kept house for him in Westcliff-On-Sea until his death on the 15th of March 1909 at 3, Winton Avenue. He left effects of £457. Annie continued to live in Worthing, where Irene joined her.
Annie became a British Israelite, which was a movement within the Church of England that emerged in the 1870s and formed a relatively powerful and influential voice in British middle-class Christianity. Its unique, sometimes bizarre beliefs showed that she was as uncompromising as ever. She was happy to send pamplets to relatives such as her niece Florence’s husband Stephen but was intolerant of her daughter Adeline’s choice of religion, Roman Catholicism. She continued her feud with Adeline even when she brought her young son, Antony, to Worthing.The door was closed to them both. Annie packed a lot into her life and lived until she was eighty-seven, dying on June 26, 1936 at 3, Margaret St, Brighton. She left her personal effects of £605 to Irene.
Lionel in Acting mode Twins Sam and Jim Adeline, Irene, Winnie Lionel aged 14
Irene Hortense Horner Procter 1873 - 1950
Irene holds a very special place in our family history. For many years we have had two oil paintings of Ramsdell Hall which are among our most treasured possessions. Grandpa Franz Rudolf Hunter brought them with him when he came to live with us at Rushbanks.For forty years, we didn’t know who the artist was, but in 2009, we finally matched the name on the painting to that of Irene Procter. As a niece of the Chaddock-Lowndes, she would have known Ramsdell Hall well and loved it as much as we do. The paintings date from about 1896, so she would have been about twenty-three at the time, having been born at 9 a.m on the 14th of December 1873, in Antananarivo, Madagascar, where her father worked.
By the time the family moved back to England in 1877, Irene had a brother, Lionel, and a sister,Winifred, with four more siblings to follow in due course. At an early age, she was sent to her Aunt Ann Horner’s school in Birkdale, Lancs, run by Ann and her three sisters. She was now eleven and showing promise as an artist. Later, she went to North London Collegiate, as would her sisters and cousins in time. She studied painting in Paris and went on to exhibit at the Royal Academy, later specialising in miniature portraits. When her mother left her father, she kept house for him in Westcliff-on-Sea until his death in 1909.
During this period, she had met and married William Fay on the 11th of April 1906 and had a daughter called Seraphina. Her brothers had forced him to marry her. Seraphina was born in France in 1906 which is interesting because Irene would have known Paris quite well from earlier days there. William died on September the 13th 1908. It was round about this time that Annie had left James. I would think it was after returning with Seraphina to England,that Irene went to her father at Westlcliffe. Seraphina became known, by the family, as Serapheme, and eventually, Sylvia.
Having kept on good terms with her mother, Irene and Serepheme went to live with her in Margaret Street, Brighton, following James’ passing. With such contrasting personalities, they were perhaps very good for each other. Irene’s ethereal presence probably had a soothing, calming effect on Annie. There being no husband or father-figure around, Irene’s entrepreneur brothers helped out as they could. They were particularly keen for Serapheme to be sent away to a good school but she didn’t want to go, and Irene wasn’t prepared to make her go against her wishes. After her mother died ,Irene lived on a houseboat at Southampton Water for several years. Suffering severely from rheumatism, she was advised by her doctor to move onshore. A caravan was arranged for her but she died in the first quarter of 1950 before she could move in.
Florence Procter, in her notes, describes Irene as a gentle, dreamy creature, and if I had a wish, it would be to be sitting alongside her as she painted Ramsdell Hall, surrounded by nature and the things she loved dear. Failing that one could write a novel depicting such a scene ... ah that's been done already.
Seraphina Fay 1906-1997
Serapheme, having lived on a boat, eventually became a stewardess on one, and in true Procter style, had a penchant for travelling to far-off places. She sent Florence postcards from New Zealand, Trinidad and South America, and she was very keen to get to the USA to visit the widow of her Uncle Lionel. I don’t know if she did but clearly she was a free spirit like both her mum and her grandmother Annie. She had a particular passion for rescuing ships cats. I think Irene would have approved. Some of her family considered her a little irresponsible but I, for one,would love to have met her. She was Sylvia Fay when, at the age of fifty-six, she married George R Mann in Plymouth during the last quarter of 1962. The daughter of her cousin Sheila Buchanan tells me that Seraphina died in 1997.
Ethel Winifred Ashton Procter 1876-1968
Rarely, if ever, known as Ethel,
Winifred was born in on the 10th September 1876 in Tamatave, just before
her parents moved back to England. She would return there after Adeline’s birth
but then was back to England again, by the time she was six. She trained as a
singer and her father spent £1000 on an opening concert under the wing of
Madame Albani. Unfortunately, the reviews were not good and instead of a career
in music, she married John George Buchanan of the the Credit Nationale on the
14th of January 1902 in Brentford. The photo I have of her shows that she
inherited her mother’s looks. John James Buchanan was their first child, born in New York in 1902. Their second child, Sheila, was also born in New York on the 20th June 1910.
Winnie was the first of the Procters
that I ever came across when I was perusing the 1901 census for Ramsdell Hall.
Who was this cousin that my granny Ione had from Madagascar? Seven years on,
all is now clear. Winifred’s husband then became manager of the New York
branch of the bank, and their two children were born there. Later he joined the Midland as director
and head of the Foreign Department. They both lived into their 80s and took a
flat in Hastings with a balcony overlooking the sea where James’ man used to
wheel him out daily.
Their daughter, Sheila, married a stockbroker and in due course they bought a farm. Their son John James Buchanan became head boy at Harrow School, studying cotton manufacturing. He became a bullion broker and a Councillor for Westminster. He and his wife Phebe, a Quaker, had five children before she died rather suddenly.
Adeline Cecile Francess Procter 1879-1967
Adeline was the only daughter born in England, on November the 10th 1879 at Norwood, Surrey, and christened on 25 May 1880. Unfortunately, she had a very unhappy home life as her mother didn’t like her. She was sent to a convent school in Brussels where the nuns were kind to her. At the age of twenty-three, she announced that she was a Roman Catholic and had been so since her convent days. Her mother wouldn’t have her at home lest she contaminate the others she said. Outrageous as this sounds, it does show how hit and miss life must have been for the family with Annie’s views and tendencies.
Adeline trained as a nurse but had to do so at a workhouse hospital where she had a hard time. Her father, it seems, didn’t pay the necessary premium to send her to Guys Hospital. The 1911 Census records her as a professional nurse for the sick in Paddington. Once qualified, Adeline went back to Belgium and the happy memories she had there. Irene painted, Winifred sang and Adeline played guitar in a small orchestra. In 1915, aged thirty-six, she married Francis D Allison in Whitechapel. He was twelve years younger than her and had a chemist shop in Arundel and an opticians in Bognor.
They had two children, Antony and
Gabrielle. Antony, born in 1916, took a degree at Southampton and was a
librarian in Leicester, before moving on to the British Museum. He married in
1941 and had three children. Adeline took him as a young boy to visit his
grandmother, Annie, in Worthing, but the door was closed to them. It must have
been difficult for Adeline to keep in touch with her sister Irene, who,as we
know, was living with Annie. Hopefully Antony got to see something of his
cousin Seraphina eventually. On Dec 12, 1941 he married Marion F Wilkinson in Chelsea.
Gabrielle was born early in 1919 and went to various convent schools. At one time she helped her father deliver books from his printing press to shops, driving a car he had bought her for this purpose. As ever, the Procters (or those married into the family) were entrepreneurs.
Florence Caiger refers to him as
Lionel Race Dunrobin Procter, whereas the census of 1901 has him as Lionel
Claude Race Procter. Either way, he and I are both descended from Joseph Race
Horner from whom he takes his middle name. In fact, Lionel changed his name to
Dunrobin. Well, he did become an actor.
Lionel was born on August the 6th
1875 in Tamatave, Madagascar, but brought up in London. He was articled to a
solicitor, in true Horner tradition, but being a Procter of the Annie Procter
branch, he was a freer spirit than that. He was still living with his family in
Twickenham at the time of the 1901 Census, but soon after he left home (FNP
says that he ran away) to go on the stage. By 1902, he was working at the Grand
Theatre in Southampton. He was fortunate to work with Julia Neilson and Fred
Terry for many years. Fred was the younger brother of the legendary Ellen
Terry. FNP recalls seeing them in The Scarlet Pimpernel, which opened on
January 5, 1905 at the New Theatre, London. Lionel used Mr. L. Race Dunrobin as
his stage name, and played the part of Armand St. Just (see above) a Republican
in his views, but horrified at the carnage committed in Paris in the name of
Lionel and the company toured provincal theatres with the play, including the Grand Theatre, Southampton from 1907-1909. Other plays he appeared in were: Sweet Nell of Old Drury 1902–1903, also in Southampton, and at the Prince's Theatre, Bristol. Marguerite in 1904-5 and Mrs Dane's Defence, the same year, both in Bristol. Colonel Newcombe 1905-1906 at His Majesty's Theatre, Haymarket, London, which Fred and Julia Terry then owned. Lionel also worked with Henry Irving in Dante in 1903 at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
On June 11, 1909, he left
Liverpool on board the SS Arabic of the White Star Line, arriving in New York
on June 20. If there is one trait that the Procters had, it was the thirst for
adventure and travel. Lionel was no exception. Interesting that he was now
thirty-three, but only twenty-nine on the passenger list. Actors are allowed
such fluidity of age. He appeared in the Broadway production of Beethoven from
April 11, 1910 until May, 1910. He returned to England, but left Liverpool in
July 1911, arriving in New York on August 4th, two days before his thirty-sixth
birthday. He was now known as Lionel R Dunrobin, and he was here to stay. FMP
wrote "he was too short to star, but seemed to be in regular work."
As well as acting, he was a writer. He wrote "Twin Wives"[or, The
adventures of a newly married couple], a laughter-maker in 3 acts, in
collaboration with R. Manifold Craig. c.April 14, 1919, New York. He also wrote
Krishnaji, a poem published in The Star: An International Magazine (see above)
But in 1917 something else was stirring in Lionel's heart, or rather, someone. Her name was Edna Mayhew Clouston, daughter of Robert Clouston and Edith St Julien Cox of Summerland, British Columbia. Robert was of Scottish heritage, and Edith was from Minnesota, daughter of a district judge. Edna was born on May 30, 1886 in Wildwood, Wisconsin, and had been brought up in the delightfully named Crow Wing, Minnesota. She had an older sister, Edith, and a younger brother, Arthur. The family had moved to Summerland between 1905 and 1911. Lionel and Edna were duly married on October 16, 1917 in Summerland. His married cousin, Annie Cecily Horner, lived just five miles away in Penticton (see her section) and her brother-in-law, George Corbishley too. Perhaps this was how Lionel came to meet Edna.
As groom, his name was given as
Lionel Claud Procter, but when he and Edna arrived in Buffalo, New York
on 25 Feb 1918, they were Mr and Mrs Dunrobin. The USA was now to be
their home. Acting was still his other love. As the January 24, 1918 edition of
Alberta's Macleod News said "lionel dunrobin is an actor of a rare
type." But now it was California Here I Come for Lionel. FMP wrote
"He married an American actress, and went to California where he had an
orange farm. When the talkies started he had the job of teaching the film
people English." Whether he continued his acting, or indeed, whether Edna
was or became the "American actress", I don't know. They lived in Los
Angeles, as the 1830 Census records, and on 15 Jun 1936, Lionel was granted USA
citizenship (see document above) He died in Los Angeles on August 15, 1950 at
the age of seventy-five. His sister, Irene, had died earlier that year. And I
was born the very same year. Edna died on October 23, 1965, in Tarzana, LA,
An interesting footnote to Lionel's life. At Okanagan
Lake, BC, there is a bay which, during World War Two, was used for a British
special unit that use to train Commandos to work behind enemy lines. Locals,
accordingly, re-named the bay Commando Bay, a name it still carries. It's
previous name? Dunrobin’s Bay, named after L. Race Dunrobin. I don't know
why it was originally named after Lionel, but Summerland lies close by, and
perhaps it was a wedding gift from Edna's family. Her father, Robert, was
almost certainly, the son of the famous Hudson Bay fur-trapper Robert Clouston
who was a Canadian legend. Just a thought.
Samuel Procter 1884 and James Procter 1884 [Sam and Jim]
The Heavenly Twins as their mother described them in her book about them of the same name. They were themselves the teenage authors of "Those Dreadful Twins. Their Adventures. By Themselves." (T. Fisher Unwin 1897)
They were born on April the 18th
1884 in Tooting, and had they known Wolfie would most certainly have joined the
Tooting Popular Front. James was fifteen minutes older than Sam, being born at
3.45 a.m. Sam was working in a stockbrokers office when the Boer War started in
the October of 1899. He and James were only fifteen and a half, but already six
foot tall, and they decided to join up. They had inherited the Procter Spirit
Upon discharge, Sam returned to South Africa, and ran a cattle farm in Grahamstown. He sent the first ever live cattle to Liverpool. He married Eileen Audrey Tatlow from Cape Town on December the 21st 1909. They lived at 5, Canterbury Mansions, West Hampstead. The 1911 census records him as being a produce broker. After Eileen had left him for Leopold, he married a widow who had grown-up children. Eileen died in Dover in 1962 at the age of seventy-five. Sam died in Bournemouth in 1967 at the age of eighty-two, outliving his twin brother by twelve years.
James, after the Boer War, went to Tokyo to work in a bank.When his fiancee jilted him, he returned to England. His brother-in-law and banker, James Buchanan, got him a job with the Ottoman Bank as manager of their Manchester Branch. He married Pauline, born in 1892, who had sung at the Scala Opera House. He was promoted to be manager of the head branch in Constantinople, and during World War One, he worked as an undercover agent in the Greek Islands.
After the war, he came into money from government work, and he started building a house on the Riviera but lost his money in the Hatry crash. After a difficult period, including his wife’s breakdown, James Buchanan helped him again and got him an executive job in the Credit Lyonaise. When the 2nd World War started, James was already fifty-five but still managed undercover work in North Africa. He died in Hampshire in 1955, aged seventy. Pauline, now living in Richmond, found her niche writing poetry and had some of it published.
Just to put him into our family
context, Samuel was a brother-in-law to my Great-Great-Aunt Annie Horner. He
was James and Hannah’s eldest child, born on the 25th of August 1838 in
Blackley, Lancashire, and christened on Oct 14 at St Peter's church there. He worked for a Madagascar export company as a shipping
clerk which he later took over. He married Mary Thwaites, an orphan from
London, in 1870 at Manchester Registry Office. She had her own money which no
doubt helped the newly formed Procter Brothers which also included James and
Alfred. Ada was their first child, born in early 1871 and stayed with her
grandparents at Crumpsall while Samuel and Mary went out to Madagascar. At the
end of the year, Frederick was born. They lived at Tamatave, and Samuel went on
to become Acting British Consul with all the paraphernalia that went with it,
including a rather splendid uniform. Eleanor Jane, known as Jeannie, was born
on Reunion Island in 1873.
The following pictures put the lives and work of the Procter Brothers into context. On the left is their office in Tamatave, and the middle photograph shows the office staff who worked there. The photo on the right is of AT Windley going on a journey into the interior. He lived in Madagascar from 1894 until 1915 and worked for the Procter Brothers. These pictures were kindly sent to me by his granddaughter, Lena Smissen, who discovered this website while researching him. They are but three of several interesting ones that show the world that Irene and Winifred Procter and others were born into. Lena's interest here shows how people, unrelated to us, have made telling contributions to our family history. Welcome on board Lena and AT Windley, and thank you.
Samuel didn’t have a lot of luck with James and Alfred as far as the Procter Brothers were concerned. Neither were really cut out for this line of work, lacking Samuel’s business acumen and dedication to the family firm. He started to spend more time in London, living in Streatham, Tulse Hill and Penge. FMP writes of enjoyable Christmases spent with them. Mary developed heart problems but Samuel remained strong and vibrant. He was successful in the Stock Market and took it upon himself to help members of the family with their finances such as Alfred’s widow,Florence. He had his failures, such as investing money left to Alfred’s daughter, FMP, and Mary Holden’s daughters by his father James, in firms that went into liquidation. But he meant well and was forgiven.
He went to the Paris Exhibition of 1900 but died in bed after a day at the exhibition, one year after his mother. She had been spared that sadness at least. Unusually for a Procter, he had reached his sixties and lived long enough to see Ada married in 1899. Mary still had Jeannie living with her for company. This was extended in 1903 with Mary suggesting that her sister-in-law, Florence, Alfred’s widow, should join them and share expenses. Mary had taken a house at Heaton Moor near Manchester. The additional company of thirteen year old FMP would bring youthful spirit to the household. The arrangement only lasted three years before Florence and FMP moved to Rusholme. Jeannie and Mary took Frederick’s fiancee Winnie out to Madagascar to marry Frederick who wasn’t doing too well. The family kept the news of his suicide from Mary, given her heart condition. I don’t have a record of her death.
Ada Thwaites Procter c1871
Ada was Samuel’s eldest child. FMP has her as born in Madagascar, but the 1871 census suggests that she was born in Didsbury, Lancashire in January 1871. When her parents went out to Madagascar that year, Ada stayed behind with her paternal grandparents, James and Hannah at Crumpsall, Manchester. The census of April refers to her as Hannah’s daughter,aged two months, but given Hannah’s age fifty-seven, grandaughter it must be. However Ada did go out to Madagascar at an early age where her parents feared for her state of mind because she talked gibberish for so long. A doctor said that this was caused by her trying to cope with three languages at the same time, English, Malagasy and French. Plus her Indian nana was giving her opium to calm her down.
Ada overcame this and developed a gift for languages and accents. A spell at the Horners’ school gave her a Lancastrian accent and a world trip with her parents ended with her having an American accent. She also studied at the North London Collegiate and studied music in Germany.
She met Charlie Briggs in St Annes where he was on a cycling holiday, and they married in Lambeth in the summer of 1899. They honeymooned in the Italian Lakes. Charlie was fifteen years older than Ada, and though Samuel approved of him as a son-in-law, Mary was less convinced. The Briggs and the Procters were old family friends. Charlie had one of the first cars,an Amercian steam car,then a Humber.Ada and Charlie didn’t have children, although Ada suffered a miscarriage in 1909.Having travelled much in her youth, Ada remained in the UK during her marriage because Charlie didn’t like going abroad.They lived in the Buxton area until Charlie’s death.Finances had suffered over the years but Ada and Jeannie did manage to go out to Rapallo in Italy for six months where Italian was added to Ada’a languages.Jeannie lived with Ada in Buxton until her death, supporting her through her illness.
Eleanor Jane Proctor(Jeannie) 1873
Jeannie was born on Reunion Island on the 2nd May 1873, the youngest child of Samuel and Mary Procter. She was a delicate child and used a backboard at school. Like Ada, she attended the North London Collegiate and went to France for a couple of years. James Procter’s daughters had taken a similar educational path. Jeannie never married but instead took on a supportive role to relatives. She was very close to her mother and to her sister, Ada. When Ada married and her father died, she lived with her mother. The 1901 census records them staying in Bishops Teignton, Devon. She and Mary took Winnie Currie out to Madagascar to marry her brother Frederick, and then they moved to Heaton Moor where they shared a house with Florence Procter and her daughter. Such all-female households were not uncommon.
Later she moved to Southport and studied shorthand and domestic science before taking a Teaching job there. She had an unhappy time teaching and her mother died during this period. She lived in Nantwich for a while, as a lady’s help at the Richardson School. Then with Ada in Buxton, after Charlie’s death. When Ada died, Jeannie moved to Bexhill, where the Richardsons had another school. She stayed on in Bexhill, sharing a house there with a Miss Prunier and spent her latter years travelling and keeping in touch with the family. She died around the age of eighty, and she was buried at South Norwood Crematorium along with her parents, after a service at the local Methodist Church.
Fred, as he was known, was born around 1872 in Madagascar, soon after Samuel and Mary had gone out there. He was educated at the Leys School, Cambridge and went into the family business. He used to go into the city with Samuel on Stock Exchange business. Eventually he went out to Madagascar in the early 1890s. He had become engaged to Winifred Flora Currie, daughter of Donald Currie, a West Indian Merchant. Her mother had died when she was five and her father raised the family alone after that. Winnie was born in British Guiana in 1874 but grew up in London. In the early 1900s, she went out to Madagascar to marry Frederick, accompanied by Mary and Jeannie Procter.
Fred’s family business was struggling and the creditors took over for a time on condition none of the family was included. Fred bought bought a vanilla plantation for £30,000 at one time. Winnie had brothers in South Africa and they found work for Fred in Johannesburg. Winnie left hospital with her baby son, Graham, and stayed with a brother and her father. Fred was to join them later. However, he was found dead in his office. The verdict was suicide. Poor Frederick was yet another Procter who died young and illustrated what a precarious and gruelling business it was being a merchant abroad.
Three years later, Winnie brought Graham to England. Then she returned to South Africa and married a mining engineer, having another son. Graham went to boarding school in Grahamstown. Winnie was having severe problems with her state of mind and eventually went to a mental hospital where she lived for many years. Graham went into real estate and married but had no children. He died a month before Jeannie in the early 1950s.
Alfred Procter 1853-1891 and Florence Nightingale Fish 1856-1922
Alfred was Samuel and Mary’s third son, born on the 4th June 1853 in Ardwick. Another of Annie Horner’s brother-in-laws. At the age of sixteen, he went out to Madagascar, a journey that took six months and left him feeling very homesick. He found life there difficult and contacted malaria. When company representatives were sent out to see how he was doing, they found him sitting outside his hut, delirious but he soldiered on in the tropics.
At twenty-seven,and home on leave, a friend introduced him to his cousin, Florence Nightingale Fish in Blackpool, and a bond was formed. Florence was a schoolteacher as was her sister Sarah. Her eldest sister, Elizabeth was a dressmaker, and Annie worked in the newsagents that her mother, Elizabeth ran. Her husband William Fish had died in his 40s. An all female household, rather like Elizabeth Chaddock’s over in Cheshire. The 1871 census shows their next-door neighbours to be the Dolphins, and one wonders how two-year old William Dolphin got on with all these Fish. Swimmingly no doubt, considering the rainfall in Blackburn.
In 1885, during another leave, Alfred married Florence at St Peter’s, Blackburn. They honeymooned in Paris and the Isle of Man. On their return to Madagascar, Florence was deep into pregnancy and the Tamatave French doctor was on leave. After a hazardous journey of six weeks—crossing crocodile rivers—they arrived in Antanarivo, and Alfred William Procter emerged a healthy baby."Billy” had a penchant for pulling the pigtails of his peers in his early years. In 1889 the family returned to England on leave, and while staying in Kent, Billy caught diphtheria and died. He’s buried in at Over Darwen cemetery. Florence was expectant again, and on their return to Tamatave, Florence Mona Procter (FMP) was born on the 31st August 1890 ... six days before my grandfather Franz was born in Germany.
Poor Afred became increasingly ill and was sent to Mauritius for medical treatment. There he died on the 31st October, 1891, aged just thirty-eight. For twenty two years he had been moving between England and Madagascar, fighting malaria for much of the time. Much better had he settled permanently in England as his brothers eventually did. Florence was now a widow at thiry-five.She never re-married, so her daughter missed out on a father-figure in her life. Florence couldn’t even attend her husband’s funeral because it was thought that little Florence was dying from dysentry.
Florence and her daughter went to London—meeting
a peasoup fog as FMP recalled—and then up to Blackburn. In FMP’s words “to my
Fish grandmother”. Florence took a cottage in Dinkley, and FMP recalls lots of
holidays and outings. She tried sharing a house at Heaton Moor with her brother
Samuel’s widow,Mary and daughter Jeannie, but the arrangement never quite
worked out. So she moved to Rusholme which was nearer to her daughter’s school.
Following her daughter’s marriage in 1913 to Stephen Caiger, she moved to
Southport after trying to live with Florence at Chorlton-cum-Hardy. Her malaria
never went away and, after falling seriously ill at her home in Southport, she
went to live with her daughter and her son-in-law in Derby where he was now a
vicar. She died there in 1922, eight months after moving in, the result of
persistent malaria, and is buried at Over Darwen.
It is to Florence that I am indebted, as the fairy godmother of this section of the Family History. She was born on the 31st August 1890 at Tamatave, Madagascar,the only daughter of Alfred and Florence Procter. She never met her brother Billy who died the previous year of diptheria. Little Florence had hardly known her father who died fourteen months after her birth. She, herself , was thought to be dying of dysentry at the time, causing her mother to miss her husband’s funeral. She was a Bengers baby as her mother suffered badly from malaria, but young Florence also caught it and had malaria attacks over the years.
Following her father’s death, Florence and her mother moved back to England, and up to Blackburn where her maternal grandmother Elizabeth Fish still lived. She grew up in the township of Dinkley, six miles north of Blackburn, in the Ribble Valley where her mother had taken a cottage. A close friend of her mother’s lived in the next cottage with ten children. So there was plenty of company when they were home from boarding school. She went away to Blackpool, two or three times a year, and occasionally, Barmouth and the Isle of Man. Christmases were spent with her father’s brother,Samuel, in London. Although she had no real father figure in her life, Samuel did what he could for both his niece and his sister-in-law, particular with his financial acumen.
Florence was educated at home by her mother until she was twelve. Then she attended Morton's Church School in Little Harwood and afterwards Manchester High School, following their move to Heaton Moor and a house-share with her Aunt Mary and cousin Jeannie. After three years, they moved to Rusholme, which was even nearer to the High School. She met Stephen Langrish Caiger, the brother of her school friend, Mildred, and they became engaged. Stephen, born in 1886, was the son of Catherine and William Stephen Caiger, a Clerk in Holy Orders. Having graduated from Cambridge University with honours, Stephen studied at Manchester Theological College and Manchester University.
On June 3, 1913, Stephen and
Florence were married at St James, Birch, Rusholme. They moved to
Chorlton-cum-Hardy where Catherine Mary Caiger was born on the 18th September,
1914. Later, in 1921, they moved to St Thomas Vicarage in Derby where Stephen
was the vicar until 1935. 1922 saw the death of Florence’s mother in May and
the birth of their second daughter, Elizabeth, on the 20th of November. In 1935,
Stephen became the Vicar of Wirksworth and Alderwasley with Carsington until
1951. During this period, he was also the Rural Dean of Wirksworth for 10 years
and Curate-in-Charge of Idridgehay for 8 years. In 1951, he became the Vicar of
Osmaston with Edlaston in the Diocese of Derby. He wrote several books
including Lives of the Prophets in 1936, Archaeology and the New Testament in
1939,and British Honduras in 1951. The latter resulting from his Missionary work there, first in 1917, and later
Florence’s grandmother Fish had been honoured in the naming of Elizabeth, just as Stephen’s mother had been in the naming of Catherine. Elizabeth went on to have a family of boys (except for Sarah) and Catherine a family of four girls. As was the case with the Procters, it was the woman who considerably outlived the man. Stephen passing away in 1956 at the age of sixty-nine, and Florence in 1974 at the age of eighty-three.
Annie, as she was better known, was the only daughter of James and Hannah to reach adulthood. Annie Horner was her sister-in-law. She was rather delicate and lived with her parents throughout her life. Despite this, she met and married Edmund Holden in 1884 at Ormskirk Registery Office. Edmund was a joiner and apparently, Annie’s brothers disapproved of the marriage. He was the eldest child of Elizabeth and James Holden, “goodlooking, gentle, weak” as FMP remembered. Edmund lived with Annie and her parents at Birkdale along with their children, Ada Treece (Irene) and Mary (Marie) Annie, though delicate, had a forceful personality and insisted that her brothers helped Edmund. Madagascar it was to be but fortunately—for his future survival—Edmund got homesick and wisely returned to Birkdale.
As we know, Madagascar can
seriously damage your health. Annie’s own health eventually got the better of
her and she passed away in 1893, aged thirty-six. Edmund re-married in 1898.
She was also called Mary and they had a girl, Cathaline, in September 1900.
They lived in Bilsdale, and despite his late mother-in-law’s fears, FMP wrote
that Mary was ”a nice homely woman so grandmother needn’t have worried about
Marie. She was eight, and very fond of her stepmother, and adored her
His mother, Betty also lived with them. Irene married and emigrated to Australia but died having her third child and the families lost touch with each other. Marie had a milliners shop in Liverpool and was engaged to be married, but both fell through. She was manageress of a shop in Manchester and later Harrogate.