British Home Children Hedgecoe-McKenna

The fine guesswork of Genealogy: Is that you, Frank? Louisa? Anyone?

Oh dear.  You know those days when you start to wonder if anything you REALLY know is what you really know?

Yesterday I responded to an e-mail in regards to the Bentley line, and the wonderful research that Chris Wright is doing on the Lancaster family of Pateley Bridge.  I’d touched on our boys, Private John Arthur Bentley and Private Francis Joseph ‘Frank’ Bentley.  Then I’d left my browser open on the Bentley search…  And this morning, hit ‘Francis’ to take one last look at the memorial before I closed the tab.

Famous last words, right?  I hit Francis Albert Bentley.  But Frank’s picture was still up!!!  Insert panic, confusion, sending of e-mails, more confusion.  Basically, it looks like these two boys have been confused…  And I’ve now written Operation Picture Me in hopes of obtaining more clarity, but to me, it really does look like the image might be Private Francis Albert Bentley verses our Frank, and I’m so saddened by the loss.

Private Francis Joseph ‘Frank’ Bentley

Private Francis Albert Bentley

The biggest downside to genealogy, anyone will tell you after doing it for a while – Is having something dis-proven when you think you’re on the right track.  It was the one thing that made me hesitant for years in regards to this site and sharing our research.  But, ultimately, it comes down to share or lose it, and suck it up if you make a mistake along the way.  When I think how many old journals, family trees, photographs and newspaper clippings my family kept, then lost when someone passed away, it breaks my little genealogist heart.  Now, that’s not suggesting to do things without sources, or to steal everything that isn’t nailed down.  Even the internet needs to have people’s research respected and credited.  But I do believe we need to share – often, to the best of our ability, so everything isn’t lost beyond rediscovery.

On top of everything that happened with Frank, I’m also a a bit of a crossroads with our dear Louisa Mary Booth.  Louisa was the wife of Robert Walker, and we know nothing about her.  She was born in England, supposedly 11 Aug 1854, came to Canada – I believe on the SS Hibernian in 1868, was a nanny or nurse for a French family in Montreal and then married.  We can’t confirm her death, but we suspect it was 15 Aug 1908 – There’s a likely listing in Mount Royal Cemetery we simply cannot confirm without a record.  Mark’s gone through England fanatically and thoroughly seeking her birth…  And nothing significant has come up.

Louisa would have been 16 years of age upon her immigration if all of my searching is correct…  And then my British Home Child research experience pokes me and says, 16 eh?

Library and Archives Canada so helpfully has the shipping manifest posted on their website.  Now…  Almost every generic BHC information site states, the immigration schemes happened from 1868-1924 with over 80,000 children coming to Canada.  The programs did begin with Miss Rye in 1868…  But they lasted well beyond the 1920s, although they did suspend transport during war times.  There was also well over 100,000 children transported.  BHCARA alone through independent research has a database of 77,000 children.  That’s descendants research – But from the 2% of actual orphans, added to the virtual obscurity of the program without a government apology and continued recognition and education- Well over 100,000.  Really, look at those Barnardo ship manifests some time…  I remember freaking out on my first ship of over 400 names and such young ages, I was so overwhelmed.  If you continue to search, sooner or later you’ll find an unaccounted for ship, then get to run through the channels of trying to have it confirmed.  This really is a shame on the Canadian Government and a loss of Canadian History.

I digress.  As researchers like Marjorie Kohli have confirmed, Miss Rye had the beginnings of a program in place in 1868.

“… the number of female servants brought out by Miss Maria S. Rye, a lady well known throughout the United Kingdom as the pioneer of female emigration to Australia. She arrived at Quebec by the S.S. Hibernian on the 9th June, having in charge 21 male adults, 119 females and 5 children. Six of the women were engaged at Quebec, and many more could have obtained places here, but Miss Rye objected to leaving a larger number at a shipping port, and preferred taking them West. Forty were disposed of at Montreal, and the rest went on with her to Toronto. They were assisted with free transport by the Department, and all found employment on arriving at their respective destinations.”

Back to the Hibernian that made port on 9 Jun 1868.

Miss Rye British Home Child

Miss Rye British Home Child

Maria Rye

On pages 10, 11 and 12 there’s the note of Miss Rye’s name.  But dear Louisa was listed on page 9, and her name is not accounted for in LAC’s listing of BHC.  So was she a British Home Child?  Was she one of Rye’s original group of 119 females?  Who counts, and who is discounted due to age?
The manifest is sectioned into groups of about 50, how do you go about picking out exactly who she’d brought?



And if she is a BHC, why isn’t she noted as such with the LAC?
Miss Rye goes on to bring another 90 girls in November of the same year, receiving $500 for her efforts from the government.  Oh, but for some solid answers…  We’ll likely try counting up the folks on the shipping records next to see if we can make any of the numbers match up.  Then, it’s a waiting game to see if we can confirm all of this any other way.

Edit: Confirmation from Operation Picture Me confirms that the photograph is Private Francis Albert ‘Frank’ Bentley, and not our Private Francis Joseph ‘Frank’ Bentley.  We’ll e-mail the Canadian War Memorial about the error and make notes in our files.  Hopefully the other Frank’s family will know how lucky they are to have such an image.  Much thanks to Operation Picture Me for the great work being done!

Always one for making things pretty, Jenn is our resident artist. Métis, British Home Child Descendant, family historian and genealogist, she is always looking into some new branch of research and encourages historical preservation and education.

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