Monday, April 10, 2023

Amelia Long - a Timeline


Having written Everything I know about my grandmother I realised that was not quite true. There were still some unanswered questions so I decided to do a deep dive into and see what else I could dig up.

Trying to reconstruct the timeline of someone’s life from genealogy records is a kind of biographical join‑the‑dots. Not helped if you’re missing some of the points. There is a little bit of speculation regarding the missing years from 1901 to 1921 but there is a consistent pattern of name, ages and places of birth that give me confidence. After that the electoral rolls are very informative in tracking her movements.


Amelia "Millie" / "Mildred" Long was born in 1885 into a Victorian, working class family in the East End of London. She went into service as a housemaid (later waitress) for 20 years until she married her husband, James Kennedy McLellan in 1921. She had one son, Michael, at the age of 39. They lived in various places in and around London: Battersea, Harrow, Muswell Hill, and later as a window, Kensington. James died in 1933 after 12 years of marriage. As a widow with a child she struggled financially on a small pension from her husband (£2-10-0d per week). In her latter years she mostly lived with her son until her death aged 74.

The early years. 

The first 15 years of Millie‘s life are clear. She was born in 23 Digby Terrace, Manly Road, Wanstead on the 12th of August 1885 as attested to by her birth certificate. She appears in the 1891 census at 11 Chester Street, Leyton as scholar age 5. In 1899, the school leaving age was raised to 12. The following year her father dies. At that time many working-class girls would have gone into service and as expected she appears in the 1901 census age 15 working as a nursemaid / domestic in Leatherhead. 

The missing years.

Then she drops off the radar for 20 years. There is no Amelia Long, born 1885, in either the 1911 nor 1921 censuses. There is no point looking at the electoral rolls as women did not get the vote until 1928.  She reappears in 1921 as Mildred Long, born 1888, according to her marriage certificate. 

Working backwards a search for Mildred Long born in 1888 in the East End of London throws up a couple of hits for the missing decades. 

The 1911 census had Mildred working as an Under Housemaid at The Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent the country estate of Marcus Samuel, 1st Viscount Bearsted

The 1921 census has Mildred Long back in London working as a waitress and gives her age as 32 years and 10 months which suggests that she had kept her birthday as the 12th of August and simply took three years off her age.

1921 Census address - 4 Buckingham Street, Marylebone, London.

1921 Census Occupation and Age Waitress Spiers and Pond, Aldersgate Street.

I still don't know who the American woman my father writes about was nor exactly when and where but my money is someone at Mote Park in 1911.

James Kennedy McLellan moved down from Scotland and first appears in the 1919 electoral roll at 46 Richmond Road, Islington. He then met Millie / Mildred and they married in 1921 with his address on the marriage certificate still the same.

It may just be coincidence but my father noted that James belonged to the Freemasons in Scotland and Spiers and Pond, who Mildred worked for at the time of the 1921 census, had a Masonic function room at their Holborn Viaduct Hotel. Could this be where “Mildred” met her husband-to-be?

The married years.

It is impossible to tell how long the newlyweds lived at 46 Richmond Road (assuming Millie moved in with James because JKM does not appear on the electoral rolls for 1922 to 1924. At some point during those years they moved to 66 Cambridge Mansions, Battersea, where their son, my father Michael, was born on the 10th of March 1925 when Millie was age 39.

They lived there for a couple of years and sometime between 1926 and 1927 they moved to West London at 231 Northolt Road, Harrow. How long they were there is not recorded but they were still there in 1929 so several years at least.

They then moved to 135 Colney Hatch Lane, Friern Barnet in North London sometime between 1929 and 1933 but there is a gap in the electoral registers to tell us exactly which year. Michael went to nearby Tollington School in Barnet. This leads me to believe they moved in 1929 or 1930 when Michael was four according to a note he wrote. 

In 1933 James died leaving Amelia with seven old year Michael. 

The widowed / war years.

Millie and her son Michael continue to live at 135 Colney Hatch Lane up until 1945.  Like many other London children when war broke out he was evacuated to the country to avoid the blitz, in his case to Huntingdon. His mother, not wanting to be separated from her teenage son, found work nearby in Keith House, Waldens Road Huntingdonshire according to the 1939 census, much to his embarrassment. 

Michael described the evacuation as one of the happiest times of his childhood. Once he reached 16, he moved back into London to continue his schooling and then started studying architecture at the North London Polytechnic. Presumably Millie followed him back to 135 Colney Hatch Lane and she was still there in the 1945 Electoral roll. 

Michael wrote about Christmases during this time:  "We often, after my father's death and the outbreak of war in 1939, went to my Aunt Kit's at Southend where I had a male and female cousin of about my age"

In 1946, she appears for one year living in Earls Court Square, Kensington having given up the Friern Barnet flat while Michael was away serving in the Royal Navy for three and a half years (May 1943 - September 1946). In 1946 Michael was demobbed. For the next six years, she lived at 19 Cornwall Gardens, Kensington with Michael living at home while he continued his architectural studies and was courting his fellow student Geri. 

The mother-in-law years.

What the electoral rolls show is that although Millie lived with Michael for the rest of her life in each case he moved first and she then followed on a year or two later.

Michael married Geri and moved out of Cornwall Gardens in 1951 and Millie continued to live in there on her own for a couple of years before moving in with Michael and Geri in Lewisham. 

Michael then moved to Coventry for work and lived in rented accommodation for a year until he could sell Spencer House and buy a home in Kenilworth. Millie then moved in with them in 24 Southbank Road until her death in 1960.

Full timeline:

  • The early years. 
    • 1885 Age 0: 23 Digby Terrace, Manley Road, Wanstead Birth certificate - 12-Aug-1985
    • 1891 Age 5: 11 Chester Street, Leyton Census - Scholar
    • 1901 Age 15: 6 Garlands Road, Leatherhead, Surrey, England Census - Nursemaid / Domestic
  • The missing years (speculative identification).
    • 1911 Age 23 (?): The Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent - Census - Under Housemaid - Age 23 - Birthplace Stratford, London
    • 1921 Age 32 (?): 4 Buckingham Street, Marylebone, London - Census - Waitress at Spiers and Pond Aldersgate Street, London - Age 32y 10m - Birthplace Leytonstone, Essex
  • The married years.
    • 1921 Age 32 (?): Millie's address 36 Greenham Road, Muswell Hill / James' address 46 Richmond Road, Islington, England - Marriage Certificate
    • 1922-1924 address unknown 
    • 1925 Age 36 (?): 66 Cambridge Mansions Battersea, Surrey - Birth certificate of son Michael.
    • 1925-1926: 66 Cambridge Mansions Battersea, Surrey - Electoral Roll - Mildred and James.
    • 1927-1929: 231 Northolt Road, Harrow, Middlesex, England - Electoral Roll - Mildred and James
    • 1929-1933: address unknown. 
    • 1933: 135 Colney Hatch Lane, Friern Barnet, Middlesex - Husband's death certificate
  • The widowed / war years.
    • 1939: Michael evacuated to 45 Silver Street, Buckden, Huntingdonshire
    • 1939 Age 54: "Keith House", Waldens Road, Huntingdonshire - Census 1939 - Housekeeper (Private House)
    • 1941 Age 56: Michael age 17 starts at the Northern Polytechnic
    • 1942 Age 57: Michael called up for the Royal Navy
    • 1945 Age 60: 135 Colney Hatch Lane, Friern Barnet, Middlesex Electoral roll
    • 1946 Age 61: 20/22 Earls Court Square, Kensington, London, Michael demobbed
    • 1947-1951: 19 Cornwall Gardens Court, Kensington Electoral Roll also Michael listed
  • The mother-in-law years.
    • 1951: Michael and Geri marry and move to 23 Dartmouth Row, Lewisham
    • 1952-1953: 19 Cornwall Gardens Court, Kensington - Electoral Roll
    • 1954 Age 69: 23 Dartmouth Row, Lewisham. Moves in with Michael and Geri
    • 1956 Age 71: Michael and Geri move to Bradnick Place, Coventry in rented accommodation for about a year. My earliest childhood memory is of the garden there.
    • 1957 Age 72: 23 Dartmouth Row, Lewisham. Now on her own.
    • 1958 Age 73: 24 Southbank Road, Kenilworth. Michael and Geri move into their new home and Millie moves from Lewisham to live with them until her death.
    • 1960 Age 74: 24 Southbank Road, Kenilworth. Dies on 10-July-1060.

That as much as I can find out online.

See also:

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