There are a couple of well-kent Jack Blacks out there: the American actor; the Scottish motivational millionaire. And then, there’s my father’s uncle. A few months ago I knew very little about Jack and his brother Willie, except that they were both medical doctors. I didn’t know for sure that Black was Jack’s middle name, or even that his birth name was John. Mainly I knew that the brothers and their sister my grandmother had been born in India, that their missionary father had died when they were very young, and that they returned to Scotland. I’d found them a dozen and more years ago in the 1901 census aged around 20 in Glasgow, then I’d got stuck. As described here, just a few months ago I chanced across the brothers’ university records, posted by the University of Glasgow, and everything opened up.
This was intended to be a short post about my Jack Black (Dr John Black Stevenson). But a rummage through a bourach of a shoe-box turned up things I didn’t know I had. One was the photograph labelled “Uncle Jack and Aunt Marianne Stevenson”, and another was a photo of a girl labelled in my father’s handwriting as “Marjory Russell (nee Stevenson)”. I’d no idea who Marjory or Marianne were, so as usually seems to happen, a short post of a few facts has turned into a substantial treasure hunt.
John Black Stevenson (1880-1958)
Glasgow University gives Jack’s birth date as 18 August 1880, and his brother’s date of birth as 6 December 1879, under 9 months earlier. Unlikely. The 1891 and 1901 censuses both state that they were more than a year apart in age. In the 1939 registration (see below), the 18/08/1880 date appears again in Jack’s entry, while the date of birth for William is given as 6/12/1878. So the 1879 date is an error. Digits 8 & 9 are easy to mix up.
Why “Black”? It was Jack’s mother (Mary McKellar Black, ~1851-1919)’s surname, but the search for a connection between these Blacks and my mother’s Black family in Lismore is a whole nother family story.
In 1901, the family were living not far from Glasgow University, where both brothers were medical students, aged 22 and 20. I recall it took me a while to find them in 2005, and it took almost as long to re-find them recently. They were near Charing Cross, west of Glasgow city centre, at 49 Arlington Street, next door to the Arlington Baths (the first Victorian swimming club in the UK and the home of water polo). Their home had six rooms with windows so I think it was a relatively grand tenement (demolished after damage in the 1968 hurricane, something else I knew nothing about).
In the census, the three children were indexed as William; Jno B; and Elizth B. Hard to find! But at least it’s definitely them, with India as the place of birth. The family also had a boarder, Miss Susan J Cannan, aged 71, from Edinburgh.
Both brothers graduated from Glasgow University on the same day, on July 23rd 1903, each with a medical degree. (In those days it could be notated M.B. Bac. Surg. rather than M.B. Ch.B.)
I couldn’t spot John/Jack in the 1911 census (carried out on the 2nd/3rd April). Nor could I find William, who soon after married in Glasgow in September 1911 citing an address in Dowanhill. The latter was serving as a captain in the Indian Medical Service (about which, more elsewhere). His sister Bertie (my grandmother) had got married in 1909 giving her home address in Rutherglen. In 1911, Jack’s (and Bertie’s and William’s) mother Mary Stevenson (nee Black) was living with recently married Bertie and her husband George Hill Scobbie in Uddingston (my grandparents), and in 1913 Elizabeth’s brother-in-law David Laughland Scobbie moved in, almost next door, with his new wife Marion Young Dick (as described here). My guess is that the two grand houses may have been wedding presents from James Scobbie, their rich father.
Dr JB Stevenson in the UK
The UK/Ireland Medical Directory 1845-1942 lists Jack in 1905, then again in 1910, and after the war, in 1920, 1925, 1930, 1935, 1940, but I’ve not gone into more detail than that. It would be interested to know where he was in 1905 and 1910. From the 1920s to the 1940s, he practiced and lived in Surrey.
And: Back to India
The Medical Register for 1913 gives Dr John Stevenson’s address as the United Free Church of Scotland Misson, Parbhani, Nizam’s Dominions, India. So Jack, like his father and other relatives, seems to have been involved with the Kirk’s overseas missionary work, in this case more medical than his father, and taking a very similar course to his brother-in-law Dr David McKenzie Newton in what is now Turkey, at the same time. David’s wife Ebeth was sister to George Hill, who was the husband of Jack’s own sister Bertie. This seems a distant connection between these medical missionaries, but really it was a close relationship of near-contemporaries, mediated through two marriages. The two men would certainly have known of each other and I’m sure they must have communicated or met if they had both been in Scotland at the same time before the first World War. It’s a shame the Stevensons were not able to join their sister for the relaxed Edwardian family group photo taken in summer 1913, described in my post on the summer of 1913.
The Nizam‘s lands were one of 500 or so “princely states” or vassal states in India at this time, in the middle of the continent. The corresponding modern state is Hyderabad. In 1913, the last Nizam, Asaf Jah VII, was just two years into his rule, which lasted till independence. The Nizam’s kingdom was annexed by India and he was deposed in 1948. Before that, in 1937, he appeared on the cover of Time magazine as the richest man in the world, and seems to have been relatively progressive (if careful with his wealth). He appears in many rich-lists, e.g. in 2008 as the 5th richest man in history. But there was, of course, an enormous population generating that wealth.
I know nothing about this time in India, and will leave it as a self-contained project for the future. As we will see, he married in India and a daughter was born, and as described elsewhere, his wife and daughter were in London in 1911, having returned from India, but whether this was a permanent return or temporary, I don’t know.
In the first world war, John served in the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) as a lieutenant, then captain, and later the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a captain. He served from 1914 to 1920.
A Glasgow University book (1922) listing staff and graduates (“members of the university”) who served between 1914-1919 has both Jack and his brother on the same page, in the usual grim alphabetical list.
He won the military Cross (MC) in 1917 when attached to the Liverpool regiment. In the language of the time, “His Majesty the KING has been graciously pleased to confer the Military Cross on the undermentioned Officers and Warrant Officers in recognition of their gallantry and devotion to duty in the Field:”
“Temp. Lt. John Black Stevenson, M.B., R.A.M.C., attd. L’pool R. For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. On four separate occasions he personally conducted stretcher bearers through very heavy fire to succour wounded men. Later, although himself wounded, he continued to carry on his work.”
Marianne or Marian or Marion or Marie or…?
Before starting this, I knew that Jack had got married, because I had found two family photographs in a shoebox, and once I had the University of Glasgow bootstrapping information, I was propelled along.
First, there was this family photograph of a couple, labelled on the back in my father’s handwriting, stating that they were the Stevensons. But for the longest time I didn’t know where or when “Uncle Jack” and “Aunt Marianne” were married, and so had no starting details about her and her family. No marriage certificate. I was in doubt about who she was, her name, age and origins, or even what to write about her.
This lack of information was made worse, because almost the first thing I found out about Jack came from England’s 1939 register, in which I found him. Jack and “Marie” were listed (at 2 Sanderstead Hill in Surrey, England). Marie; not Marianne. At least there were dates of birth. But this was a red herring, not a useful finding. Spoiler alert: the 1939 Marie was not, in fact, the c.1910 Marianne in the photograph.
A quick and dirty index check on the medical register from 1920 suggested Jack was already living in Surrey just after WW1. He was certainly there in 1933, because, sadly, the next thing I found was his name in the National Archives indexing a coroner’s finding of 24th Nov 1933. This time it was for neither “Marie” nor “Marianne”, but for “Marian”. Forgive me of thinking they were all the same person. But this is where I learned that the 1939 Marie and Marianne from India were different people (even though I was too dim to realise it, right away).
“Marian Milne of Ythan Bank [pronounced /ˈaɪθən/], Sanderstead Hill, Sanderstead, Surrey, wife of John Black Stevenson, bachelor of medicine; 68; at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton; paralytic ileus and hypostatic pneumonia following injuries to the spinal cord caused at a time when a collision occurred between the motor car in which deceased was riding as a passenger and another motor car near the junction of the roads to Ditchling and Hassocks at the foot of Clayton Hill, Sussex, on 17 Nov ;
I took it “68” indicated Marian’s age, because even with uncertainty about Jack’s birth date, in 1933 he was around 52-53. But was Marianne aka “Marian Milne” really 15 years older than him? Was Marian really the same person as Marianne in that photograph above? Surely yes. But yet…? And… who was Jack’s wife Marie in 1939?
So: I searched for Marianne and Marian Milne births around 1865 in Scotland, and got nowhere. This was with Milne as a surname. I also searched for “mari* milne” as forenames, using the wildcard. This gets, for example, 18 hits for women born before 1920, half called called Maria and half called Marion, Marianne or Marian (and none called Marie). Also lots called Mary. There was no point following these up, because I had nothing else to go on to confirm which was right. Online searching would be expensive and unproductive, I thought. Hindsight suggests I made a mistake, but hindsight is not your friend. (Neither is random, unsystematic searching with dodgy notes! … unless you are prepared to repeat the process a few times.)
I’ll come back to Marianne’s origins below. But let’s start with her demise.
The Car Crash (1933)
More searching led to three newspaper articles (behind a paywall) at the Mid Sussex Times. Some time-consuming search-hacking has let me reconstruct the stories. Perhaps I should just have paid. Yes, I should’ve. I have lightly edited the text to deal with presumed OCR issues and typos. The articles are from 21 November, 1933 (Page 5), 28th November 1933 (Page 1) and 19th December 1933 (Page 1).
Four People Badly Injured
Clayton Hill continues to maintain its evil reputation.
On Friday morning, just before eleven o’clock, a collision occurred there, near the junction of the Clayton-Ditchling road with the main Brighton road, in which two private saloon cars were involved and four people were badly injured. One of the cars was proceeding towards Ditchling and the other in the direction of Brighton. The Ditchling-bound car was being driven by Mr. Edgar Seymour Churcher, of The Limes, Ditchling Common, and he had a passenger Miss de Chesney, of the same address, who was returning from the Royal Sussex County Hospital after an X-ray examination.
Mr. Churcher had three tendons severed in his right hand, and Miss de Chesney was severely cut about the head and face. The other car was being driven by chauffeur—Frank Fergusson Vale, of 67 Brighton Road, Croydon—and there were two elderly occupants. Dr. and Mrs. Stevenson, of Sanderstead, near Croydon. Dr. Stevenson sustained a severe scalp wound, his wife’s face was lacerated over the left eye and her back injured, and the chauffeur was badly cut over the left eye.
P.C. Osborne, of the Mobile Patrol, Haywards Heath, and P.C. Sherry, of Wycombe, were speedily on the scene, and Dr. Stevenson and his wife and chauffeur were conveyed to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in the Brighton Police Ambulance and detained. Miss Chesney and Mr. Churcher were taken by Miss Watts, of Hurstpierpoint, to The Limes, where they received medical attention. Subsequently, Mr. Churcher was also taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital for treatment. The cars, which were both badly damaged were removed by breakdown lorries.
The Clayton Hill Motor Smash
Death in Hospital of Mrs. Stevenson
Mrs. Marian Milne Stevenson, aged 68, Ythan Bank, Sanderstead, died in the Royal Sussex County Hospital on Thursday from the injuries she received in the motor accident at the foot of the northern slope of Clayton Hill on November 17th. The deceased was motoring with her husband. Dr. John Black Stevenson, and their chauffeur, Frank Fergusson Vale, when their car came into violent collision with another car driven by Mr. Edgar Seymour Churcher, of The Limes, Ditchling Common.
On Friday Mr. Charles Webb (Deputy Coroner for Brighton) opened the inquiry into the circumstances attending Mrs. Stevenson’s death. Evidence of identification was given Lieut.-Col William David Henderson Stevenson, the deceased’s brother-in-law and the inquest was then adjourned until December, the Deputy Coroner remarking that Dr. Stevenson, who was also seriously injured in the accident, was not likely well enough attend for two or three weeks.
The Clayton Hill Motor Smash
Jury’s Verdict of “Accidental Death”
At the resumed inquest at Brighton yesterday (Monday) afternoon into the circumstances attending the death of Mrs. Marian Milne Stevenson, aged 68, wife [of] Mr. John Black Stevenson, M.B., of Sanderstead, Surrey, the jury returned a verdict of “Accidental Death.” They expressed the opinion that the drivers of both the cars concerned in the Clayton Hill smash in which Mrs. Stevenson met her death on November 17th had been guilty of a certain amount of negligence but not criminal negligence. The car which collided with Mr. Stevenson’s car was driven Mr. Edgar Seymour Churcher, of The Limes. Ditchling Common.
Before making those discoveries above, I had followed up another photo in the shoebox, labelled “Marjory Russell, nee Stevenson”.
Well, to begin with I wasted some effort chasing the surname Ansell, because I mis-read my father’s handwriting, but my son told me the surname was Russell, and he was right.
The photo had no indication of date, nor how she was related to the rest of the family. Since I had not long previously found the two children of Jack’s brother (the one mentioned in the coroner’s report and who had graduated on the same day as Jack), I was hopeful that this girl was the daughter of Jack and Marianne, rather than a more distant relative. I’d never heard of her, but now I suspected she was one of my father’s 1st cousins: the closest unknown relative I’d discovered.
FindMyPast’s index for English births pointed me to Marjory Sophia M___ Stevenson, who was born on 11th April 1908, and died in the first quarter of 1994 in Norwich, Norfolk, England. She is indexed via “Russell”, her married surname. I (of course) guessed that M=”Milne”… but I was wrong.
“Scottish Lady Married in London”
I was able to track down Marjory Sophia M_ Stevenson, partly from the inscription on the photo, and partly from searching for material on her father and mother. A British Newspaper Archive search added a crucial confirmation and useful other data: she married John Russell on Saturday 5th October 1935. This was nearly two years after her mother’s death.
The old fashioned headline is hilarious, as is the idea of such an article for a normal wedding. Social media fills these functions nowadays, not the press. I have found two reports, and the amusingly-headlined one is from the Aberdeen Press and Journal.
Presbyterian Church Service. A wedding which has an interest for many Aberdeenshire folk took place on Saturday in St Paul’s Presbyterian Church, South Croydon, when Mr John Russell, eldest son of Mr Thos. Russell of Lisburn, Married Miss Marjory Stevenson, daughter of Dr John Black Stevenson of Sanderstead, Surrey.
The Rev. John Mackenzie, formerly of Campbeltown and now minister of St. Paul’s, S. Croydon, officiated at the service, which was largely attended. Several Scottish relatives and friends attended the reception at Shirley Park Hotel.
The bride wore a costume of white net over taffeta with a veil of old Brussels lace. She carried lilies-of-the-valley. The three bridesmaids, Misses P. Faulkner, Cecil Russell (sic) and Audrey Stevenson, wore blue net frocks with pleated net haloes, and carried crimson roses. Mr Alec Russell was best man. The bride’s going-away costume was of green jersey with fur cape.
The Belfast News-Letter of Monday 7th October 1935 (page 5/12) has a very similar story, just headlined “RUSSELL-STEVENSON”. It adds that the groom was the eldest son of Mrs & Mrs Thomas Russell (so, both alive), and that Alec was John’s (younger) brother. Cecil (sic) was John Russell’s (younger) sister.
The roses were dark crimson, apparently, and the bride also had a halo. Her going-away outfit was made from jersey cloth… it wasn’t just a jersey. More importantly… the un-named bridesmaid was Peggy Faulkner (whoever that was), and Audrey was explicitly noted to be a cousin. That confimed she was the only daughter of Jack’s brother Willie (mentioned above): and Audrey was a name familiar to me, as someone my father had occasionally mentioned in his lifetime as his cousin in England, another medical doctor and contemporary. Jack (and “the late Mrs. Stevenson“)’s house-name was confirmed as “Ythanbank” in Sanderstead. Bingo.
Not long after they were married, the 1939 register recorded Marjory SM Russell and John living in a household in Boxhill Road, Dorking, Surrey. It adds that John had been born 12th August 1905. The closed record is probably their baby. The address is the rather odd-sounding “Five Bars”. (See comments below this blog by Margaret Frood who found that they were in the 1945 Electoral Roll for Reigate at that address.)
John Russell’s occupation was “company secretary for clothing trade” and possibly he was a chartered accountant. Other residents on the page seem to also be connected to the clothing trade but are quite varied. Some entries on the page relate to Betchworth Fort, one of fifteen defensive constructions for London built in the 1890s (completely new to me) and defunct by 1939. Perhaps the Boxhill-area Fort provided some temporary housing: at that time it was (also), and still is, a holiday park.
So, a Northern Irish family was united with these Scottish presbyterian ex-pats. But why would this Scottish Lady (married in London… my goodness the glamour) be of interest specifically to readers of the P&J around Aberdeen? Well… Ythanbank, as well as being the name of the Stevenson family home in Sanderstead, South Croydon, in London, is a wee village in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, near Ellon, on the Ythan River. Presumably Marjory’s mother Marianne/Marian had family, and perhaps was born, in Aberdeenshire. (I confirmed later that she was.)
Again, I searched and failed to find suitable Marian or Marianne Milne. But I forgot that Milne might not be a surname… just a middle name. If I’d remembered that, the list of 18 likely Mari* Milne XXXXX could have been whittled down a fair bit and I could have found out about Marianne’s origins before India sooner, and the Aberdeenshire (and “Ythanbank”) connections sooner.
But I did find something.
Geni.com / MyHeritage had an intriguing suggestion for me… relating to Marjory. It suggested a match with Marjory Mairyanne Russell (born Stevenson), on the Breyer Web Site, managed by Solomon Breyer. It looked possible, with the spelling difference and indeed unusual spelling, and the middle name, that this name is based on informal family records and verbatim stories rather than documentation. The website adds that this Marjory was born “Apr 11 1908? – India” and died “Aug 10 1986? – Great Britain”. That’s interesting. But no mention of “Sophia” as a middle name. Another version of Marianne. And the wrong death year.
This suggestion also added (indeed still adds, as I update this in 2020) that there was a child, “<private> Macer-wright (born Russell)”. Dear <private>’s family (i.e. Mrs Macer-Wright?) or Solomon Breyer, do get in touch. Macer-Wright is an unusual surname, with a small and interesting internet profile… I tried a couple of speculative emails, but nothing yet. I don’t pay a subscription, so… no convenient viewing of the tree on MyHeritage.
If this is the same Marjory as my father’s cousin then I guess that (Mrs) <private> Macer-Wright is my 2nd cousin.
I realised that if my Marjory Russell (nee Stevenson) in the picture had been born in India, this would fit with me finding neither Jack in the 1911 UK census, nor the wedding of Jack and Marianne. It would fit with the wedding photo being approximately 1905-1910. And it would fit with Jack being registered in India in 1910.
Jack and Marie
Back to Jack in the 1939 register. He was in a household of five, including a married couple employed as chauffeur and cook, namely Horace E Austin and Elsie M Austin. (Their birth dates are 08/01/1887 and 20/06/1897, respectively, and perhaps unsurprisingly Horace the chauffeur has replaced Frank Vale, who had been driving in 1933 when Marianne had been killed.) The people of major interest were Jack (married) and “unpaid housewife” Marie (married), who was born 28/04/1892.
This 1939 discovery had been at the start of this recent batch of research (4 months before the time of writing), before finding the coroner’s report from 1933 and before finding his daughter Marjory’s wedding (1935). Jack had remarried. Of course! No wonder I got confused by not realising this was a 2nd marriage.
Prior to the “of course!”… I had wrongly assumed that this “Marie”, born in 1892, and my target “Marianne” were the same person. Just the usual name variation and odd dates. This mistaken assumption was one of those pervasive mistakes which wasted time. With hindsight I was obviously wrong. It was finding the details about Marianne’s death via the coroner’s report and then Jack and Marianne’s daughter Marjory’s wedding that made it all clear.
So, I realised rather late in the day that I needed to look up the English marriage records on FindMyPast for Jack and Marie after Marjory’s wedding in 1935, when Jack was reported to be a plain widower, not back around 1910 (which would have been sensible for Jack and Marianne). But I don’t have a subscription, and the library was closed. And for a few days I don’t have time to go. And another few days. And another weekend. When I finally got there, there was one front-runner, but no evidence at all that it was the right one.
There was a marriage in the first quarter in 1936, of a John B. Stevenson and a Mary Podeschwa or Gluck in Paddington, London. Later (see below), I found the date was 1st Feb 1936. And MORE problems with names: the wedding index says she was “Mary”, while the 1939 census (and the family’s own announcement which I then found in The Times) named her as Marie. This loose end was confirmed 18 months later (September 2020).
So, in February 1936 Jack remarried. He was aged 55, having been widowed in 1933. He had been 15 years younger than first wife Marianne, and was about 7 years older than second wife Marie, who was 43 when she was (re)married to Jack.
The 1939 address was incorrectly indexed as 2 Sandwalias (sic) Hill, Coulsdon and Purley Urban District, NE Surrey, England. I couldn’t find the address in current maps, but Croydon is near where Marjory was married. However, recall “Ythanbank”, the family home that Jack was still living in, in 1935. I found out later than Ythanbank was a name echoing Jack’s first wife’s Aberdeenshire heritage. But… thanks to Margaret Frood at ainkin blog, who clarified the address of Jack and Marie for me (it was not “Sandwalias” but Sanderstead)… I think the 1939 household was living in the same physical house, but with the Aberdeen house name (Ythanbank) removed.
Marie Gluck or Podeschwa
A quick search for Marie Gluck on FindMyPast produced a possibly-linked 1939 household (Marie Therese Gluck, born 1902, in a household in Wembley with Felix Albert Gluck, and someone with a closed record (presumably a child). This Marie Therese Gluck, it seems, was born 1902 and died in 1999. Thanks to a comment on this blog, I later (September 2020) found out this family was indeed related to Marie Gluck/Podeschwa. (Marie b1902 is a married person with a name coincidence. I guess Felix Albert is Jack’s Marie’s brother. Barbara Fox, see below, knows how the various Glucks are connected.)
Recall the one closed record at 2 Sanderstead Hill in 1939. At the original time of writing (April 2019) I wondered: “Is it a child of Marie’s from a previous marriage to someone with surname Podeschwa? A new baby is not likely, but it’s possible, given that Marie was in her early 40s when married (just as Marianne was, back in 1907). I doubt it is a child of John and Marjory Russell, but you never know.”
This loose end appears tied up, thanks to Barbara Fox, who commented here then emailed me in Sept 2020: Marie Gluck (b1892) was her husband’s grandmother. Marie had been one of 12 children, and she married Alfred Podeschwa and had three children with him: Cissie (Barbara’s mother-in-law), Paul and Elaine. Pre-war, Barbara says the (Podeschwa?) family had lived in Rome, where Marie was an opera singer.
There was a Podeschwa+Gluck marriage in 1912 in Whitechapel (Ephraim Podeschwa), and so now I know this was Marie/Mary’s first marriage, around age 20 (Marie Gluck, born 1892).
There is only one likely hit for Marie’s death though, given her birth in 1892. This was someone who died in 1966, aged 74, in Croydon, called Marie Stevenson, with also a middle name with the initial F. Six months later I can see from probate records that she was living at 88 Brighton Road, and died on 12 Oct 1966. (Eighteen months after my initial attempts, I can confirm she was was indeed my great-aunt, Jack’s second wife, Barbara’s husband’s grandfather.)
Mary Gluck appears in a few trees online (perhaps with Jack). For example the Carly Holtzman Family Tree includes Mary Gluck (1892- ). She appears also in the John Wiseman Family Tree as Marie Gluck (1892- ) with 203 others. Most importantly she has been researched as part of a small but specific Gluck Family Tree and a Podeschwa Fox & Gluck Family Tree which has 233 people: Barbara Fox is her relative and I suppose my step second cousin in law. She is a fellow genealogist who set up the Fox-Gluck site, and so I am lucky she found mention of the Gluck name and dates here and send me comments, thank you!
Memories of Jack
Indeed, I was delighted to hear from Barbara (2020) that Marie was her husband’s grandmother. She confirmed that Marie married John Black Stevenson in 1936 and they lived on Sanderstead Hill. She wrote: “You mentioned in the 1939 records there was a closed record, that was my sister in law who was living there with her mum Cissie while her dad was away during the war.”
And she sent me this photo of them:
Barbara added: “My husband knew John/Jack, he and his siblings called him JB and he remembers sitting on his lap pulling his beard!” She added: “Do you know if any of the Stevenson family were ‘arty’? We have a painting of Marie and the initials at the bottom are JB, which we wondered about”.
Well, some of my cousins and an aunt of mine paint very well… but they are unrelated (on my father’s side), so those are not Stevenson genes. Coincidence only.
More sadly, she adds that she believes that a granddaughter/ great granddaughter of John and Marianne who was a police officer in Glasgow died in a climbing accident.
There had been a bit more about Jack’s daughter Marjory, his later life, his war wounds, and his death below, in “last minute internet gold”, below, which was last-minute for my original post, and hence discovered before Barbara got in touch. To pre-empt it: John had been a GP in Sanderstead, and … had been “a field surgeon, until invalided home with mustard gas exposure, also shell shock. He would never ever talk about his experiences.”
I should note that I had wanted to confirm Jack’s death myself before publishing this originally, but had not managed it. One record had been shouting out “choose me, choose me” but I wasn’t prepared to just settle for the “JB Stevenson” who died in Croydon (1958)… there were many other John Stevenson deaths. I know now this likely record was the correct one.
Marianne Milne Simpson
But before that, here is how I got the solution to Marian(ne) Milne’s birth surname, place, location and ancestry. A rush of research in April 2019 kept me up half the night. Jack’s first wife suddenly came into focus. This is what happened.
A note in Who Do You Think You Are magazine suggested checking out FIBIS, the Families in British India Society for new records from the Times of India on maritime arrivals and departures, so I did. There was one hit for John Black Stevenson, from the Times of India, and it was marriage notice that said:
John Black Stevenson and Marie Simpson, at Jalna, on the 4th April 1907, married “by the Rev A Campbell DD Santalia assisted by Rev J Douglas MA and Rev R B Douglas BD John Black Stevenson MB Ch B Parbhani to Marie youngest daughter of Samuel Simpson Esq Wardford Aberdeenshire Scotland“.
‽ ‽ ‽
But Marie was his second wife, no? I had a panic that everything I’d thought was all mixed up and wrong, and it took a while to calm down and work it out. This “Marie”, despite the immediate misinterpretation that she was Marie or Mary (Gluck) from the 1939 census, was indeed Marianne Milne.
So.. “Wardford” in Aberdeenshire. A clue. This is where Marianne Milne Simpson might be from. It is in the parish of Methlick. It would have helped my searching to find that out, earlier. But you can’t find out everything first. It would have been helpful because I already knew there were only two “Marianne Milne” hits in Scotland for the relevant time period with fuzzy name matching for “Mari* Milne” with no surname, etc. (Similar searches hadfound births for Mary, Marian, Marie-Anne and Mary Anne.) The birth of one of the Marianne Milnes (surname Simpson) was registered in Tough, Aberdeenshire, west of Aberdeen and 30 miles from Ythanbank. Ythanbank, the name of Jack and Marianne’s home in Surrey. (There was also Maryanne Milne McBean, yet another spelling, born in Edinburgh in 1899, but that wasn’t her.)
|SIMPSON||MARIANNE MILNE||F||1865||244/ 26||Tough|
It turns out my father’s note on the back of the photo matched the birth index spelling, whereas “Marie” in the 1907 marriage announcement was just a (typo or) family variant of Marianne, and “Marian” in the 1933 coroner’s report index was more likely a typo. With hindsight, variation like this was not uncommon: I have since learned from Wikipedia that pseudonymous George Eliot, the author (1819-1880), was not only named “Mary Ann” or “Mary Anne” but also “Marian”.
The old family photograph was the marriage of Uncle Jack and Aunt Marianne, in Jalna in India, on 4 April 1907, with the names correctly recorded on the back. The birth, marriage and death/coroner’s evidence line up, and fit with their daughter Marjory’s wedding. Marianne may not look 15 years older then Jack, but she was.
Elsewhere I discuss the Simpson family at Wardford, in Methlick, rural Aberdeenshire – Marianne’s sisters, parents, grand-parents. That was also fun detective work, and I learned about a beautiful part of Scotland. It’s also a lot simpler to follow that the notes-to-self immediately above that remind me how I worked through the evidence.
Random last minute internet gold (April 2019)
A relative with a username lmighton-ga posted something on “Google Answers” back in 2005. (Update, August 2019 – they seem to be on Ancestry.co.uk too, see below for the Mighton family tree.) I’ll not reproduce it all here, but it contained a heartfelt plea for family history, and I am of course now expecting a thrilled audience of at least one for this blog! It’s the great grand-child of John and Marianne, someone who is therefore a 3rd cousin of my children.
Google Answers was a human-mediated research site by Google, now defunct. Using it, lmighton-ga asked researchers for help to track John Black Stevenson and his work in India. Some helpful people provided some of the same information I’ve found, but they and lmighton-ga weren’t able to clear up the relevance of some of it, and there’s the “problem” of the veracity of their mother’s memories… some things were right and discounted, some memories were wrong. Perhaps Jack and his brother have become conflated in the Stevenson family memory.
I should say thanks to pafalafa-ga and fp-ga, who found some material and made some correct deductions, and leli-ga who spotted something I had failed to find, namely John Black Stevenson’s graduation in the Scotsman of 22 July 1903. Duh! (Update June 2019 – I’ve now photographed a number of medical registers and the like with info on the Stevenson brothers.)
The question being asked was specifically about Jack’s work with a leprosy hospital… which I can’t address. I will however be able to add a lot about his father, in Pachamba, elsewhere.
Bit of joy #1. The 2nd marriage of Jack (to Marie). It had been reported, it seems, in the London Times, which I can’t access, on Tuesday, Feb 4, 1936 on page 1 under Marriages: “On Feb. 1, 1936, at London, John Black Stevenson, M.C., M.B., Ch.B., of Sanderstead, Surrey, to Marie Bluck, (sic) daughter of the late I. Gluck, Esq., of London”. Of course, this is the Gluck/Podeschwa marriage I mentioned above as being the best lead. Fabulous! lmighton-ga didn’t realise the connection, because I think that this was their great grandfather Jack’s second marriage.
Bit of joy #2. lmighton-ga’s mother was Marjory Russell’s daughter. She, the mother of lmighton-ga was born in 1936 soon after Marjory’s wedding to John/Jack.
Bit of joy #3. lmighton-ga’s mother writes (I edit lightly) that John had been a GP in Sanderstead, and that he had been “a field surgeon, until invalided home with mustard gas exposure, also shell shock. He would never ever talk about his experiences.” Not joy for Jack, of course, just for this research. Jack’s pain and reticence is however a sort of a message from him. Something personal.
Bit of joy #4. lmighton-ga’s mother wrote that Jack “died when I was in nursing training, having retired after a lengthy good family practice”. Since she was born in 1936, that suggests Jack died in the mid/late 1950s. So that strongly points to the 1958 death of John B. Stevenson mentioned above in… Croydon.
Bit of joy #5. Mentioning her grandmother Marjory Russell (the girl in my showbox photo), lmighton-ga says:
“Unfortunately she’s no longer alive,
no other relatives know anything,
and I want to find out the history
before it’s lost in the family.”
My father’s cousin “Marjory Russell (nee Stevenson)” came to light as nothing more than a labelled photograph of a girl in a shoebox in the last month or so. She was the only child of John Black Stevenson and Marianne Milne Simpson.
Her parents had married in Jalna, central India on 04/04/1907. Jack himself had been born in Pachamba, NE India, to Scottish missionaries, and returned himself as an adult, during the Raj, as a doctor. In 1913 he was linked to a Free Church of Scotland mission around 125km from where he married. In WW1, he served in the RAMC, and was decorated but suffered from gas exposure and shell shock in 1917. Marianne hailed from farming families in Aberdeenshire. I don’t know what took her to India, or what her occupation was, before her marriage. Or even if she had been married before. Their daughter Marjory Sophia M_ Stevenson had been born in India in 1908, when Marianne was aged 43. She and Marjory returned to Britain and appear in the 1911 census living in Marianne’s sister’s house in Hampstead (see below). The FindMyPast English death indexes state that Marjory died in the first quarter of 1994 in Norfolk (and see below).
Between the World Wars, the Stevenson family lived in southern England (see below). Jack, my father’s uncle, was a medical practitioner, as were so many others in our family. His wife Marianne died in 1933 aged 68 as the result of a gruesome car accident. Two years later, Marjory (dad’s 1st cousin) married John Russell, when she was aged 27, at which point my father was only 15 years old. He was presumably not there, but knew about it. She had a daughter the next year, in 1936 (my 2nd cousin). Also in 1936, Jack himself re-married, to Mary/Marie Podeschwa (nee Gluck). Marie’s grand-daughter was living in their household in 1939 while. It seems Jack died in Croydon in (July?) 1958. “Marie F Stevenson” died in Croydon in 1966 (aged 74, so born ~1892) So that’s that, for now.
A little post-hoc info (August 2019)
I can now add that Jack’s wife “Marian” (aged 39) and daughter Marjory (aged 3) were in London for the 1911 census, living at 6 Chesterford Gardens Hampstead, with Marianne’s sister older Sophia Simpson (age 40) and husband Alexander Ritchie (aged 61), from Glasgow, who was in the “IRON MERCHANT STEEL and GEALE TRADE” according to the Ancestry transcription.
There were a number of visitors (and two servants), including Mrs Elizabeth Robertson (also aged 39) with her baby son Kenneth, both from the Aberdeen area, probably a cousin. Marjory’s full name was Marjory Sophia Mary Black Stevenson. I have found out “Mary” from Ancestry’s transcription of the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995, which gives her date of death as 29 March 1994, at the Clarence House Nursing Home, 40 Sea View Road, Brighton, and “Black” from an Ancestry hint. (In fact, Marianne and Sophia were aged around 44 and 46 years old, going by the 1881 and 1891 census entries I discuss in my post on the Simpson family.)
Breadcrumb and bait for cousins
This section was written earlier … as people get in touch, I’ll try to alter only the main text above too integrate new information, which will make this rather odd to read what follows as part of a narrative connected to the main text. I think altering what comes below is pointless, so I will leave it.
Recall that a GENI “smart match” links my Marjory to someone called Marjory Mairyanne Russell, born Stevenson in India (on 11/04/1908 with a “?”) and died in Great Britain on 10/08/1986? That’s looks like a HIT to me, despite the several discrepancies.
And now there’s lmighton-ga, wanting to find out their family story. I look forward to hearing from them, or any other person or people researching these families. This is presumably someone called L Mighton, because…
In August 2019 there was free access to ancestry.co.uk one weekend, so here is some more cousin bait. I’ve added the Stevensons with a link to this website on a new “scobbie” ancestry tree. I can’t contact anyone who already includes the Stevenson family in their tree because I don’t have a subscription. I didn’t find a lot of new information on Ancestry, but was able to add sources and bits and pieces. I also did find some transcribed data as “hints” which, though containing errors, were very useful to bolster the occasionally firm skeleton I’d already established (here).
What is exciting is how many other trees include Jack Black and one or other of his spouses. I’ve found a Mighton tree on there, Gluck, and Podeschwa… so here are some Ancestry tree links – if any members reading this want to send a message to tree owners for me, please feel free. Otherwise I’ll wait for up-take.
But there are no photos online – just the ones here.
For example, John Black Stevenson appears in a Mighton Family Tree with Marianne Milne Simpson (1865- ). The tree has 883 people and Ancestry says “This information is from Mighton Family Tree, created by dbrown1950.” D Brown’s tree also includes Marjory’s husband John Russell, with a photo of him (and, sadly, a note that he died very young, in 1952). User “lmighton” added John Russell’s birth certificate… on the 4th May 2019, so is still out there and active.
My great uncle Jack appears also appears in the Watt Family Tree + Marianne Simpson (1865- ) and Maroney/Marshall Family Tree + Marian Milne (no dates) and Mowat Family Tree + Marianne Milne Simpson (1865- ) with 64 people.
More intriguingly, he also appears in the Carly Holtzman Family Tree, which includes Mary Gluck (1892- ) which is great. She appears also in the John Wiseman Family Tree as Marie Gluck (1892- ) with 203 others.
“Surely… all I need to do is wait”, I wrote.
After 18 months, Barbara Fox from the Gluck/Podeschwa/Fox tree got in touch (2020), and I have integrated her material above, thanks Barbara! She wrote “The Maroney/Marshall tree is my great nephew. The Wiseman family tree is a family member on the Gluck side who lives in Canada and Carly Holtzman is his granddaughter. Marie was John Wiseman’s aunt.” Fantastic stuff. I’ve named these people since they are genealogists too, but please let me know if that’s not appropriate.
BEER, NOTES, SOURCES & LINKS
That was a lot of work! I deserve a beer or two to celebrate, and think it needs to be the near-namesake pale ale from Stewart Brewing, namely the award-winning “Jack Back”. I’ve mis-pronounced it as “Jack Black” over the years on many occasions, and I intend to repeat the speech error again in the near future. Cheers!
The University of Glasgow Story website has the names of graduates of the University up to a hundred years ago. It was launched in 2007. See the about page. The university gives information only relating to graduations that occurred more than 100 years ago to protect privacy of graduates. Older information is limited because for centuries study was not regulated as it is nowadays. But after 1858, information gathered and retained was a lot more comprehensive. The archivists note “In 1858 the Universities (Scotland) Act made matriculation compulsory. Therefore if a person’s name, or any variations of their name, cannot be found, they were not a student of the University of Glasgow. They may, nevertheless, have studied at one of the several other colleges and Universities in the City.” (Quotes and data from various pages accessed October 2018/March 2019).
The University of Glasgow archive has contributed data reproduced in various books, some available online from them, here. These, or physical archives that can be visited in person or searched by staff, might provide information on students, graduates, staff, and ministers of religion.
Specifically, the University of Glasgow’s Registrar’s Roll of Graduates and Dates of Birth (R3/1/1) was very useful here, because it has dates of birth of graduates which they used in their International Story. “This source is a book that contains three separate lists of graduates in alphabetical order. In most cases their full dates of birth as given to the University Registrar at time of graduation are recorded however there are some for whom no date of birth is noted and for some there is only a partial date. The front cover of the book refers to the three alphabetical lists as three volumes which together cover the period 1881 to 1915. This reflects the fact that there are a total of 16 volumes in the series covering to 1946.”
And there’s more. Since then, some serious reflection has started to recognise and maybe deal with genuinely important issues, like the role of slavery in the creation of Glasgow’s wealth and the ethical implications for the university of gifts and bequests. Wealth means patronage. It enables education and advancement, initially for the few and then through benefaction and spreading prosperity, to more than a few. And the flip-side to the wealth of the Scottish Tobacco Lords, and the later waves of wealth arising from the Industrial Revolution… well. From school, I recall a limited perspective, focusing on grand buildings and the sponsorship of education, art, philanthropy, charity, proselytism. Progress. The Enlightenment. I do not recall a clear connection being made to slavery, poverty, ill-health, pollution, or revolution. Empire and colonialism seem like ancient history to some, but this is simply wrong. They not even recent history yet, if history is the domain of the dead. Who wants to forget so fast, and why?
Anyway, Glasgow’s International project now links these issues, adding to more traditional interests in the impoverishment within Scotland so central to the creation of wealth and imperial power. In 2017 the University of Glasgow became the first British University to join the international consortium of Universities Studying Slavery.
Great Uncle Willie is WH22115 at
Uncle Jack is WH22112 at https://www.internationalstory.gla.ac.uk/person/?id=WH22112
Medal card of Stevenson, John Black – National Archives, ref WO 372/19/49355 – here. His gallantry is reported in the London Gazette Supplement of 1917 here:
Ancestry provides pay-per-view access to the Roll of the Indian Medical Service 1615-1930 (several hits for brother and father); UK/Ireland Medical Directories 1845-1942; UK/Ireland Medical registers 1859-1959; and Medical and dental student registers 1882-1937. Like https://www.ancestry.co.uk/search/collections/ukmedicaldirectories/?name=John+Black_Stevenson&name_x=1_1
I’ve been able to consult the 1934 Medical Register, which lists Dr John Black Stevenson as (still) resident at Ythanbank, Sanderstead hill (sic), Sanderstead. Brother William was about 25 miles north as the crow flies (via central London), at Colebrook, Boreham Wood, Hertfordshire. It’s nowadays about 2 hours by train.
East Sussex Records Office is the source for the National Archives index for Marian Milne’s inquest, reference COR/3/2/1933/124, dated 24 Nov 1933.
Marjory’s death index was found on FindMyPast, reference BMD/D/1994/3/80420807, District Norwich, District number 6391D, Register number D8B, Entry number 112, Date of registration (mmyy) 0394.
The 1939 Register ref RG101/1338C/010/20 is currently hosted at FindMyPast in association with the National Archives, currently at
Google Answers (I’d never heard of it) has the relevant discussion at
GENI.com has some tree information.
British Newspaper Archives is largely free at my local library, but their package didn’t give me free access to the Mid Sussex Times newspaper, or to the Times.
All my original personal images and my text are protected under an international Creative Commons 4.0 BY-NC-SA license issued by me, James M Scobbie. See the home page.