Wedding Necklace worn by three generations

Its 17th May, and my 34th wedding anniversary. At my wedding, all those years ago I wore a necklace that my mother, Pauline Brown Whysall, had worn at her wedding. Several years later, we obtained a copy of the only photo from the wedding of Pauline’s parents, Alphred Brown and Maude Ethel Wellsted, and discovered that the bride had also worn this necklace.

A local jeweller has told me that the necklace dates from the mid-Victorian era. Did Alphred buy it for his bride, or did it come from her family? We will probably never know.

Here are the three brides, oldest first:


Ethel and Alphred Brown wedding 1919Trevor and Pauline wedding 5 June 1954IMG_20200517_0001

The Red Lion, Snargate, Kent

I thought that my connection with the county of Kent was via my fathers family the Whysalls, who moved to work in the Kent coal mines in the 1920s. I have cousins living in Thanet.

However, research into my mothers family has shown that her maternal  grandfather, Charles Wellsted was born in Kent, at Snargate in Romney Marsh.  I have taken this line back to 1811, and the men are mostly shepherds. However Stephen Wellsted, the father of Charles, was at one point the landlord of the Red Lion Inn at Snargate. This takes the number of Pub landlords in the family to two, one at the Red Lion, the other at a pub called the White Lion (more about that in another post)

I found this out via this census record from 1871:

1871 census red lion Snargate

Note that the Inn employs a general servant and that the last mentioned occupant is simply called ‘Elliott’, and his birthplace is ‘unknown’.   He knows (or guesses ) that he is 32 years old, but he doesn’t know where he was born.

I find myself very touched by this. Maybe he was a foundling, or maybe he was what they would have called at the time ‘slightly simple’, where often some facts are fiercely held onto (like his age) and others are lost. Whatever the reason, Elliott has no family and little history. One of the lost ones.

Meanwhile the Red Lion is still there, here is a photo from 2018:


The building dates from around 1540 and the interior is very special as it hasn’t been decorated since 1890. There is an antique marble bar top, low wooden beams, original gaslight fittings and outside toilets. It is said that Smugglers regularly drank there, storing contraband in the tower of the medieval St Dunstan’s Church opposite.

Here is an 1877 map of Snargate — a very small place indeed.

Map Snargate 1877


I will tell more of Stephen and his wife Esther Coughtrey in another post….




The Whysall Pocket-watch

When Grandad Wilfred Whysall died in 1979, my father Trevor inherited a silver pocket-watch. I remember Grandad telling me when I was a child  that his grandad had two pocket-watches, a silver one for everyday wear, and a gold one for Sunday best.

Now this sort of possession doesn’t square with the modern impression of all coal miners being poor.  However, I was told that Frank Whysall was a skilled tunneler, experienced in opening new tunnels and commanded a high price for his skills. Maybe James Whysall (Franks father and so Wilfreds grandfather — I do hope you are following this) also got well recompensed for similar work.

The pocket-watch is now being kept by Jason Whysall and last summer he brought it to a family party so that I could photograph this lovely object and a tangible link to my Great Great Grandfather, James Whysall (1852 -1930).

The watch is hallmarked Silver, engraved with “JW” on the outer case and with “James Whysall Ripley Derbyshire” inside. It was made by A. O. Bowen in Ripley.  The 1881 Kelly Directory shows an Arthur Owen Bowen trading as a Watch and Clok Maker in Alfreston, which is about three miles form Ripley. Presumably, at  sometime before or after this date, A O Bowen also had  premises in Ripley.

Anyway, here is the Whysall pocket-watch:







Henry and Henrietta Harding in Malta

I have been sent two lovely old photos by one of my Harding cousins, Anne Harding Wilmer.

The first is taken before World War One, and is of Henrietta Imbroll Harding  with her sisters. Anne tells me that the  young boy in the middle is her father Walter Harding, and that he did not like that hat he is wearing!  Henrietta is the woman on the right, next is her daughter Violet. The very tall striking woman is Anne’s great aunt Tilly who became a nurse in World War one, as did another sister Cecilia (one of the other women in the photo).

Henrietta maria imbroll harding and family


Anne has also  sent me this much  later photo,  of  Henrietta Imbroll Harding and her husband Henry Harding MD with some of their family.  I’m not, as yet, sure when it was taken.  Henry and Henrietta are with the family of their third son, another Henry:

Henry Harding and Henrietta Imbroll Harding


The two young boys are Harry and Joe, who also grew up to be Doctors. I imagine that the  woman sitting in front of the older Henry Harding is their mother Mary Ferrugia Harding. According to the Harding family tree I’ve posted earlier, the boys had an elder sister May Harding who married a Mr F Cooper.  This would be the girl sitting on the right hand side of the photo. Harry,  Joe and May are Anne Wilders first cousins.

It is great to have a photo of Henry Harding, the elder brother of my great Grandmother Carmela Harding Brown. He was the first child of William Harding and Giovanna Tanti Harding, and Carmela was the sixth.

William and Giovanna Harding back in Malta

William Harding (pictured above) was an Englishman married to Giovanna Tanti, a member of a Maltese aristocratic family. But their lives were not filled with luxury. William was a warrant officer in the British army, stationed at Ayr, then Aldershot, then Gosport. When William left the army, the couple went to Malta.  I have a letter from the present day William L Harding telling that the older William had a part-time job ringing a bell outside a Magic Lantern show in Valletta, where the Cafe Cordina now is.  Eventually William opened the first cinema on the island.

I’m not sure when the couple moved to Malta, but it would be sometime between 1871 (when they were stationed in Gosport, England) and 1897, when states that Harding’s Cinematagraph opened in Valletta (see below).


Here is a photo of Giovanna taken in Malta, resplendent with a large Maltese Cross:

Giovanna Harding

As you can see from the photographers mark, this photo of William was also taken in Malta:

william Harding photo

According to GuideMeMalta.comHarding screened films for public viewing from 1897 in Valletta, where nowadays the Marks and Spencer store stands. He also had another cinema with the same name in Sliema.”  I believe that these photos are of the cinema in Valletta:



harding-cinematograph photo 2

Photos from also says  that Harding’s cinema in Silema became the Majestic, and here is a photo:

Majestic cinema Silema

The Hardings of Malta 2

Via this blog I have been contacted by two Harding Cousins, William and Anne. This is quite marvellous, and we are exchanging all sorts of information. I am indebted to them for lots of good snippets.

I had not realised that William and Goivanna Harding had spent time in England and that William had been in the British Army for example. Their second son Henry (from whom William and Anne descend) was born in Aldershot. The present day William Harding has sent me this scan of Henrys birth certificate:

Henry Harding Birth 1869

You can see that the English registrar has anglicised Giovannas name to Jane, while her maiden name has been misspelt as Tantee.

Also note that instead of a signature, the certificate states  “the mark of Jane Harding, Mother”. This strongly implies that Giovanna Tanti Harding was illiterate at the time of Henrys birth (1869).

I have a letter from the present day William L Harding,  which relates that Henry became the Chief Clerk of Simonds Brewery, and his son Walter followed on to run the Brewey, retiring as a Director.

An online search then brought me this 1871 census return, showing the original Wiliam Harding, with ‘Jane’ and three children in Gosport:

HAMRG10_1153_1156-0032 Henry Harding 1871 census

The great thing about a census is that it shows were individuals were born. So know we know that the older William was born in Warwickshire, his son William in Scotland and the youngest child, baby Ellen of 2 months age, in Gosport.  It is difficult  to make out the older Williams rank, but it looks like he was a Sergeant.

The family are living in Quarters at Fort Rowner, as William is in the 25th Foot Regiment. The Regiment has obviously moved from Scotland to the south of England, hence the various birthplaces of the children.

A bit of further research shows that the 25th Foot were in Aryshire in 1868, when Giovann gave birth to young William. By the time of this census in 1871, they had been renamed the King’s Own Borderers, but obviously the old name was a proud one and the soldiers stuck to it.  According to a summary of the Regiments history on the website of their museum (, they were posted to Malta in 1863 and than in 1864 the first battalion was sent to Canada to suppress the Fenian rebellions. This latter ties in with a statement I have in a letter sent to me. This letter was written by Chief Justice Hugh Harding in 1988 and states that his great grandfather William had “taken part in the Fenian raids (border between USA and Canada) in 1866“.

Fort Rowner was built in 1858 as part of the outer defence line for Gosport along with Fort Brockhurst and Fort Elson to the North East and Fort Grange and Fort Gomer to the South West. The fort was later used as a barracks, as we can see from the 1871 census.









The Hardings of Malta 1

My maternal Grandfather, Alphred/Alfred Domenico Brown, was Maltese. He is pictured above, serving in Canada during WW2. His Maltese birth certificate gives more information that an English one, as it gives the names of his grandfathers and whether they were alive at the time of his birth. So I know that his mother was Carmela and her father was William Harding.

I was once told by my mothers Maltese cousin, Vi Fenech, that our family had a connection with the Hardings, and this is it.

So, who are the Hardings of Malta? They became a prestigious family, with several doctors, a judge and a Chief Justice among their number. There is a Judge William Harding Street in Pembroke, north of Valletta.

The William Harding on Alphreds birth certificate was an Englishman married to a Maltese woman, Giovanna Tanti. The Tanti’s are a long established Maltese aristocratic family, with an ancestry traced back to the 1400’s. William served in the British Army, his regiment was the 25th Foot.

William and Giovanna spent the early years of their marriage in the UK and their first three children were born there. In all they had eight children:

William (b1868 Scotland), Henry (b1869, Aldershot), Nellie (1871 – 1896), Arthur Walter (1874 – 1918), Catherine (1876 -), Elisabeth, Carmela and Lucy.

The famous judge, was the grandson of that eldest son, and his son was Hugh Harding, Chief Justice of Malta.

Here is the Harding family tree as I now understand it and it replaces the one published previously on this blog. I’ve used colours to differentiate the generations:

harding tree

Charles Stephen Coughtrey Wellsted

Charles Wellsted was born in the last quarter of 1866 at Romney Marsh, and was baptised on 17th February 1867 at St Dunstans Church, Snargate, Romney Marsh (pictured above). His parents were listed as Stephen and Esther Wellsted. He was my great grandfather, and I was called Kim in his commemoration, after the Battle of Kimberley, in which he fought. Continue reading “Charles Stephen Coughtrey Wellsted”

Eliza Boxell Wellsted

Eliza Boxell Wellsted was the mother of  Charles, Claud and Ethel Maud (the latter being my maternal grandmother). The photo above is Ethel Maud and her children, I have no photographs of Eliza.

The 1939 Register gives Eliza’s birth date as 11th November 1874. Her parents were Frederick Boxell and Esther Hammond, who married at St Nicholas of Mrya, Brighton on 24th December 1862. Esther was born in London, Frederick  in Brighton.

In the 1881 census, Frederick and Esther Boxell lived at 13, Circus Street Brighton with their seven children and, in the 1891 census, Eliza was recorded living at 82 Glos’ter Road Brighton with her parents and siblings:

Surname Forenames Relationship Marital Status Sex Age Occupation Birth County Birth Place
BOXELL Frederick Head M M 46 Gas Fitter (Em’er) SSX Brighton
BOXELL Esther Wife M F 51 Assists In Shop (Em’ee) MDX London
BOXELL Frederick Son S M 27 Gas Fitter (Em’ee) SSX Brighton
BOXELL David Son S M 18 Clerk To Business (Em’ee) SSX Brighton
BOXELL Eliza Dau F 16 Assistant (Em’ee) SSX Brighton
BOXELL Henry Son M 14 Gas Fitter (Em’ee) SSX Brighton

Eliza married Charles Stephen Wellsted, Second Quarter 1896 in Brighton. She was 22 and he was 33 years old. Their chlidren were  Charles Frederick (b 1896), Claud Beverley Frank (b1897), Ethel Maud (b1900).

Eliza’s husband was a Private in the 2nd Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys (Service number 3035).  Charles was killed on 10 May 1900 in the Boer War, South Africa.

Eliza was a Boer War widow, and (due to public pressure) Government war widows pensions were produced for the first time for widows like her. The family story was that she lost the pension, when a busybody reported that her daughter was wearing nice petticoats to school (implying that Eliza had other income). The truth was apparently that the clothes were hand-me-downs from Eliza’s sister and sisters in law.

The England and Wales Census  in 1911 shows Eliza and her three children living as boarders at 39 Providence Place, Brighton. Eliza is working as a charwoman. Note that Ethel Maud is called Maud on this return, the name her family knew her as and buried her as.

Happier times were to come, bacause Eliza married again, in 1924 to Reginald E Harpin in Befordshire, where her daughter was living at the time. I imagine that Eliza moved from Brighton to Bedford at some point to support her daughter, who had also married a soldier and who was often bringing up her children alone.

Eliza died in the last quarter of 1943, leaving Reginald a widower.  She was buried in Milton Earnest Churchyard, Bedfordshire.

From notes written to my mother by ‘Jackie’:  “She was buried 26 October 1943”

Grave Inscription :  

From notes written to my mother by ‘Jackie’:  To be found at right hand edge for churchyard, about halfway between gate and level of church door on the edge of what appears to be a rubbish heap (description from late 1970s):

In loving memory of

My mother

Eliza Wellsted Harpin


Also my father

Charles Stephen Wellsted

Who was killed in action

Zand River South Africa

May 10 1900


Reginald Harpin




milton ernest church.jpg


She did not weep,
nothing so soft or poetic,
my grandmother sobbed long and hard
remembering war-crippled brothers, war dead father.
She had nursed soldiers, married one,
spent recent years in dread.
A few words on the Wireless,
a husband mustering with his gun,
and the nightmare returns.

As a child, thirty years later,
I saw hunger in her old eyes
a longing for security from fear
that she never lost.

Copyright © 2018 Kim Whysall-Hammond

For Ethel Maud Wellsted Brown (known as Maud), orphaned by the Boer War, Pharmacist during the 1918 Flu pandemic, wife and mother to Airmen and Airwomen.

My beloved maternal Grandmother who married a poor boy from Malta and, despite the attitudes of the time, danced with black GI’s in Wiltshire  as they waited to fight in D-Day and the liberation of Europe.

The photo is of her and her children in the mid-1930’s. The little girl in white grew up to be my mother. The three larger children were all in the RAF or WAAF in World War 2. They and their father came through the war unscathed.

According to my mother (who was eleven at the time), Maud sobbed for hours after the declaration of war was broadcast in September 1939..