forworse (forworse) wrote in binky_betsy,
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binky_betsy

On family history

I posted this earlier in the week but it was screened for a few days and I'm just giving it a bump because I've found some further interesting details.  

This was in response to eltiteretista 's post about the infamous Hogan Alley interview, in which Lynn spoke about her grandparents -- "My grandfather had been a philatelist for King George V. He was probably one of the leading experts on forgeries....Well, when I was a kid, my grandfather was not a nice guy. If you talked to other people who knew him, he was a great guy with a sense of humor, and he was somebody they enjoyed knowing. But to me, he was a sadistic, black, haughty, unattainable ogre. I always felt his disappointment in me. I hated him and wanted him to love me at the same time. ... My grandmother was an opera singer who worked for a portrait painter who worked for the royal family. So of course they hobnobbed with the upper crust." 
 
aprilp_katje  provided their surname of Bainbridge and I did some research.  Some adds up, some seems to be exaggeration on Lynn's part, her personal views of their characters isn't something I'd be able to find from official records, and, if I have found the right family, there's a particularly interesting omission.  
 
Mistakes are my own!  :)
 
About George
George Phillip Bainbridge was born 16 January 1886 at South Elkington, Lincolnshire, to farmer Isaac Sharpley Bainbridge and his wife Marian (née King). The Bainbridges were farmers on a large farm with some servants to help: in 1891 they had a governess and two servants, and in 1901 George and one of his brothers were living in Croydon, Surrey (now part of London) with their uncle John William King, a private schoolmaster. In 1911 George had returned to Lincolnshire to live in Louth with his widowed mother and one of his sisters; he was working as a stock-taking clerk for a timber merchant.  Nice solid middle class roots: they owned their own farm, their children were educated, George had an office job.
 
In March 1914 George and his sister Dorothea emigrated from England via Portland, Maine, heading for Victoria, BC.  George stated that his occupation as farmer and Dorothea said that she was a domestic servant.  Both said that they intended to reside permanently in Canada.

By 1916 George had married Deborah (née Beverley) and was living at 1121 Mears Avenue, Victoria, BC. (There's no record of their marriage in the BC Vital Records, nor in the UK.  Perhaps they married someplace else.)  He joined the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on 10 February 1916 at Victoria and said that he had had previous military experience with his School Cadets. He was then employed as a contractor's secretary, was 5'7" with a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and 'medium' hair, and was a member of the Church of England. 
 
He joined the 103rd Battalion of the Canadian Over-seas Expeditionary Force, which didn't arrive in England until late July 1916.  The 103rd later became part of the 16th Relief Battalion.  I don't know what action, if any, Bainbridge saw, but it could be that his personality was a result of his war experiences.  Since there was only about a year between Deborah's immigration (January 1915) , George's attestation (February 1916) and his return to the UK with his Battalion (July 1916), it appears that she accompanied him or came to England shortly after the 103rd arrived in the summer of 1916: the birth of an Ursula M. Bainbridge, mother's maiden surname Beverley, was registered in Farnham District, Surrey, in the final quarter of 1918.  It makes sense: Deborah had been in Canada barely a year and by the summer of 1916 was a young wife and new mother (daughter Unity was born in 1916) -- her family were in England and her husband being sent there.  I understand why she would want to return to be close to her family and friends to wait out the war.

In May 1928 George and Deborah travelled to Liverpool via Quebec, with their ultimate destination being the household of George's brother Major John Frederick Bainbridge, MC, at Edlington Hall, Lincolnshire (now a B&B), where they remained until November 1928. George was an accountant, Deborah was a housewife, and they were accompanied by their three daughters, Unity L. (said to be aged 10), Ursula M. (said to be aged 8) and Monica B. (said to be aged 1).  Upon their return trip the daughters were aged 10, 9 and 2. The family were living at 4545-6th Avenue, West Vancouver.  Monica had been born in Vancouver, but Unity had been born in Victoria and Ursula had been born in Hindhead, Surrey, England.  There's a bit more about Unity below.
 
I don't see any evidence that the family was more than Lincolnshire farmers -- not particularly poor as they owned a large farm and had help to run it, but certainly not any evidence that they'd be hobnobbing with George V.  George Phillip Bainbridge was an accountant (perhaps Liz marrying Anthony is Lynn finally gaining her grandfather's approval!), but I don't know what he did after 1928 because a lot of the more recent records are not easily available.  Perhaps he changed career and became a philatelist after he returned from England in 1928 (aged 42), but he never said that he was a philatelist on any of the pre-1929 records I've found, much less that he was the King's employee.
 
George Phillip Bainbridge died on 16 February 1981 at West Vancouver, aged 95.  He lived to see the strip get published, but I do not recall Lynn ever saying anything about her grandfather's health in his later years and what if anything he thought about her strip.
 
About Deborah
Deborah Beverley, the wife of George Phillip Bainbridge, was born 19 November 1885 in Grimoldby, Lincolnshire. Her parents were Matthew Beverley, a farmer of 510 acres (in 1881), and Deborah Rowell (née Reed). They had three servants in 1881, and three servants and a governess in 1891 (by which time Matthew had died and his widow was living on a private income). In 1901 Deborah and her sister Edith were students at a boarding school in Myton, Yorkshire, and in 1911 Deborah was working as a Governess in Amersham, Buckinghamshire for the four-year-old son of the Speaight family -- the boy's parents were photographer Richard Neville Speaight and artist Alice Langford (née Cundy), a miniaturist.

In mid-January 1915 Deborah Beverley sailed from Liverpool to New York, saying that her last known residence had been Caxton, Lincolnshire, and travelled onward to Port Coquitlam, BC. Presumably she married shortly after arrival to George Phillip Bainbridge, but I can't find where or when. Given the proximity of their residences in their early years, it's likely that they were acquainted in England and married in Canada.
 
I also haven't found anything about Lynn's grandmother being an opera singer, but the bit about how her grandmother worked for a portrait painter who worked for the Royal Family fits with Deborah having been a governess for the Speaight family.  It could be that she liked to sing, perhaps even sang in recitals, and that has been exaggerated into being an opera singer, but from the records I've found, there's nothing to support that career.
 
Deborah Beverley Bainbridge died on 29 December 1971 in North Vancouver, aged 86.
 
Names
I've highlighted a few important names: George Bainbridge's mother was Marian, his daughter was Ursula M. Bainbridge -- Lynn's mother was Ursula Marian Bainbridge, namesake of Grandma Marian and April Marian.  Deborah Beverley gives her name to at least two others: Beverley is Lynn's middle name (thanks again toaprilp_katje ) and Deborah, although never appearing in the strip, is Liz's middle name (it's in Q & Eh?).

About Unity
The other name I highlighted was Langford, the middle name of the miniaturist Alice Speaight, for whose son Deborah Beverley was governess in 1911.  That this name was re-used suggests that Deborah retained a close link to the Speaight family.  The Speaights lived in Surrey in 1911 and that's where Ursula was born in 1918: maybe Deborah didn't always stay with her family but with her former employers, especially as her family were in Lincolnshire but most Canadian battalions, where her husband would have been, were stationed in Surrey.
 
The eldest daughter of George and Deborah on the 1928 passenger list was Unity L. Bainbridge, aged about 10 and born in Victoria.  It's a fairly unusual name, so I took a look for her and found that Unity Langford Bainbridge was born in 1916 and married to Leslie William Brewster (26 Oct 1896-7 Jun 1972).  She's apparently still alive and is a recipient of the Order of British Columbia: Unity Langford Bainbridge (she appears to use her maiden name professionally) is an artist and poet inspired by the Native American culture.  

Fascinatingly, she sought out remote locations and lived independently in the BC Interior during the 1930s...fascinating because her life seems so closely to parallel Liz's story in some ways (was Liz's desire to teach in remote locations really Lynn's re-telling of her life in Northern Manitoba or the story of Unity in her twenties?) and fascinating because I cannot recall Lynn having mentioned her aunt before, yet her aunt is clearly a respected artist in her own right.  Surely this aunt would have been some kind of formative influence on Lynn, whether directly or indirectly through other family members saying that Lynn must have inherited her talent from Unity.  Was Lynn's mother jealous of her sister and resented seeing the same talent in her daughter?  Am I being too much of an armchair psychologist making wild suppositions based simply on the absence of evidence to the contrary (correct answer is yes)?  :)
 
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