Friday, 17 April 2015

Auntie Nellie's Birthday Book

Fairly recently I came across a Birthday Book which belonged to my 2x Great Aunt, Nellie Metcalf. Nellie and her husband were not able to have children, so when she died her belongings were shared amongst her three sisters and their children. 


Auntie Nellie Metcalf

On the very first page was written - To Nellie, from Tom. On her seventeenth birthday. 
So I know Nellie received this book on 10 February 1913. The following pages had the details and the address of a T. W. Weatherly who was in the Royal Marines. 




In 1913 the Metcalf family were living in Morpeth, possibly in the Masons Arms public house. Nellie's mother Ann was from Bedlington, Northumberland, while her father Joseph was from Stanley, Co. Durham where his family were still living. 

The Birthday Book is beautifully illustrated, along with poems at the start of every month and a small extract of one or more poems on every individual day. In the book I found the birthdays of Nellie's parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends, and noting down Nellie's relationship to everyone in the book became my goal.  

On the entry for April 23 I found Nellie's mother's birthday. In the book she was simply Mrs Metcalf - a sign of the formality of the times. Her father was under J. Metcalf. The only grandparent alive in 1913 was Nellie's paternal grandmother, Mary Ann MetcalfOn the entry for December 10, Grandmother Metcalf is written alongside it. 

Nellie's sisters Cassie and Lily's names were written down on their respective dates of birth but my Great Grandmother Minnie's entry was a little different. A small, aged feather was placed in between the pages along with Minnie Metcalf, written in Minnie's own handwriting



Like she did with her mother's entry, Nellie often recorded people in their titled form. So in the book you can find entries for Mrs Robinson, Nellie's maternal aunt and also Mrs Burrows, Mrs R. Logan, Mrs Harrison and Mrs Reed. Another of Nellie's aunts was written as Katherine Knox Keeley, so this could imply that she was closer to her than she was to 'Mrs Robinson', but I'm not really sure. It appears the names of the other ladies were the mothers of Nellie's friends.

I soon turned my attention to the man who gave Auntie Nellie the book. Tom W. Weatherly was born 30 July 1890, and his family lived in Choppington and later Bedlington. I was shocked to discover that poor Tom died on 24 June 1915 at Gallipoli, aged only 25. 

At the back of the birthday book are the names of two people along with their death dates. Mrs J. H. Harrison died on 26 October 1914, while Trooper A. White was killed in action on 20 February 1915. 

Auntie Nellie did not continue writing in the book, as the names of her husband and later nephews and nieces are not recorded. The last date I know she wrote in was February 1915, and I know Tom Weatherly was killed in June of the same year. A thought of mine is that Nellie possibly could not bring herself to use the book after Tom died. I'm not sure, but I wonder if Tom was a beau of Nellie's, but if that were the case I'd expect that she would have written his date of death down.