Friday, 30 December 2011

The hunt for the mysterious M Strange

I have been researching my friend Alice's tree since April when I broke my leg and was stuck at home for a few weeks.  I have stuck with it as it is easy to get sucked in!

I had a long look for descendants of Alexander Shepherd of Aberdeen. Two daughters Annie and Helena were hard to track down. One day (the 24 June)  while in the Burns Centre in Kilmarnock I looked for deaths of Ann/Annie Shepherd all over Scotland not just in Aberdeen and found it in 1943 in Inverness.  She was single and a lady's companion. The informant was one M Strange, niece, with an address of the Palace Court Hotel in Westminster in London. So who was M Strange with the rather posh address?

Then I had to look for her parents; which Shepherd could have married a Strange or was she a Mrs Strange?

We had a look at some Shepherds in Hackney but they seemed to have been there since the 1830s while our lot were in Aberdeen, so they were discounted. By this time we had tracked down all the other Shepherd siblings except Helena who was last heard of in 1871 working in a hotel in George Square, Glasgow.

There was a marriage in Yorkshire in 1886 of a Helena Shepherd with a father Alexander to David Beath father Alexander. Did some digging and found his parents originally from Scotland living in Islington in London. David Beath worked in stationery. David and Helena had 6 children born in Fulham including Marjorie born 1890.

In July Alice found a marriage of a Marjorie Shepherd Beath to Louis A Strange in Hanover, London  in 1915? Could M Strange be Marjorie? She would have been 53 when her aunt Annie Shepherd died in 1943.

All a bit circumstantial, but Strange and Beath are not such common names as Shepherd. One other pointer is that a brother of Helena named a son David Beith Shepherd in 1894, so he could have been named after his aunty's husband. I have see that before.

Today though I located the Beaths in the 1911 census. The parents have eluded me in earlier ones, although the children turn up in boarding schools. Who would have thought that stationery would be so lucrative?  I suppose the parents were abroad. In 1911 they are living in Marylebone road with  daughter Nora and 5 servants. He is still down as working in stationery, a department manager, but the crucial proof is that Helena, or Lena, as she is calling herself was born in Aberdeen so she is the right Helena Shepherd! 

And Marjorie's husband was a famous airman Louis Arbon Strange

Anyone with ancestry account can, I think, see Helena here

UPDATE: 9  March 2012
I found David, Lena and Kenneth Beath in Dorset valuation roll via ancestry and a burial entry for Helena's husband and son Kenneth at the Anglican Cemetery in Langton Matravers in Dorset and had another go at finding her death. Definitely nothing in England or Scotland which made me think she may have gone to live with another child abroad.
Her daughter Esme Katherine Beath married John Cyril Lloyd and some googling led me to New Zealand. Her son-in-law was buried in Waikamate. Many thanks to Sandy Em for posting the photo and the research.  New Zealand births marriage and deaths are online so I tried Lena Beath and there she was. Died in New Zealand 1928.

Still to find them in 1891 and 1901 censuses though!

All this from one signature M Strange on a death certificate!


  1. Sleuthing again! Well done.

  2. Well done is right!!

  3. The tangled webs people weave! Nice work :) Glad my photo helped you in some small way.

    I have ancestors from Wigtownshire area also :)

    Sarndra [SandyEm]

  4. David is in the 1901 Census as a "Paying Guest"

    RG13/142 Folio 101 p 1
    Name Relation Marital Status Age Gender Occupation Where Born
    David Beath Paying Guest M 47 M Clerk Chemical Merchant Scotland
    Residing at Rowton House, Gray's Inn Lane, St Pancras, London, England

    I have also had difficulties finding this family at various times. I am researching this from from the Beath/Younger line.


  5. Sorry, I should have said I think this is him!!


  6. Thanks, Kelly.

    It certainly looks like him. Lodgings don't sound so posh - Rowton House had Model Lodging House crossed out and replaced by Working Men's Hotel!

    And where on earth is Helena all this time?