Tuesday, 9 January 2018

#52Ancestors, Week 2, Favourite Photo

This is a family photograph of my grandmother’s family. It was taken about 1912. I am not sure where it was taken either. (The questions I should have asked will haunt me forever.)

George Timms 1877-1939 was born in Milverton, Royal Leamington Spa and lived his entire life within 2 miles of his birthplace. He began his working life as a groom, then a coachman and motor car driver. His father had been a carman too. Later in life George became a taxi cab driver.

Laura Ellen, nee Kelsey 1878-1935 was born in Wolverhampton and raised in Dudley by her grandfather and aunt until her father remarried when she was eight years old. Before her marriage to George she was a housemaid employed by the Holt family who lived at Oaklands, a large house on Kenilworth Road, Lillington.

They married 1 July 1901 at St James the Great, Old Milverton. George was the coachman at Cranford House which is located at the other end of Kenilworth Road. I’m not sure how they met, but location and social standing offers a few clues. For about seven years they lived above the stables in the coachman’s house at the rear of Cranford House.

In 1909 George left his job as coachman and moved his family into the village of Milverton where he became a motor car driver. By this time they had three daughters. By the time of the census in 1911 they had moved 32 Milverton Crescent West, off Rugby Road. It was here a few months later that their son was born. This could be the location of the photograph, the family group gathered outside their home. The alternative location is 6 Stamford Court – which no longer exists – but is the address my grandmother remembered from her childhood. George and most of his siblings had started their lives at 6 Stamford Place too.

But what of the occasion ? Who knows ?

My grandmother’s recollection of the photograph was that the grimace on her mother’s face was because her baby brother had “wet her knee” – no waterproof outer layer to diapers back then.

What you cannot tell from the sepia photograph is that the MC1R gene is very strong in this family. Laura and their three daughters were all redheads. Research tells me that to have red hair you need to have two copies of the gene, but that that might mean only one in four children would have red hair. That theory blown, I wonder if George and his son were also redheads ? It looks that way with the colouring of the photograph.

Laura May, Elsie Lilian, Violet Georgina and baby George Albert James. Named for his two uncles who had gone to America, my grandmother said. George and Albert James Kelsey. Though it could be debated that George was for his father and that Albert James was for just one of his uncles. I like this photo because it shows them as a family group, clean and well dressed. A few short years later family life would be much different.

The photo was in the possession of George after his elder sisters had all grown, married and emigrated, while he remained in England. It seems though that when visiting some fifty years after they had left England, one of those sisters took the photo with her. Oops. Thank goodness for good cameras, photographic reproduction and digital technology - now we are able to share it with as many of their descendants as would like to have a copy.


  1. I love a good story about red heads! Actually a good recount of the lovely photo. I guess the wee bit was oral history passed down wonderful and believable tale.

  2. Claire i thought I recognised that photo! I will be reading these every week! I'm going to ask mum if grampy had red hair! Will let you know!

  3. Claire i thought I recognised that photo! I will be reading these every week! I'm going to ask mum if grampy had red hair! Will let you know!

  4. G'day Claire,
    The three sisters certainly look alike with the same style hairdo and ribbons. Red hair - sure there is not Irish in the family then?