Formidable Females

The London Generations

Maternal Ancestry and the mtDNA line.

Notting Hill family Wedding 1913

This page is particularly dedicated to my female line (the mtDNA line/ mother to daughter), and brings together a list of my direct female ancestors, and other women in my extended family, who seem to have had interesting but ‘ordinary’ lives. There are also links to other ancestors on the maternal side of my family, particularly, the HARVEY line, which originates from Wiltshire.

My Female Direct Line (and that of Mother, Sister, Daughter and Niece). We have set ourselves the ‘formidable’ task of identifying as many women as possible who share the same mtDNA.

Sanderson – Harvey – Tranter – Frost – Lovell – Rogers – ShepherdOrford

Most of my maternal ancestors seem to have met up, or lived in or around an area of Kensington known as St Mary Abbotts (Notting Dale), ‘The Piggeries and Potteries’. It was an area of extreme poverty and disease, with the associated social problems. The labouring menfolk (particularly brickmakers), were known to be heavy drinkers, no doubt spending their cash on drink, leaving their families short, and bringing violence into the family homes. It was left to the women to hold house and family together, creating a network of support for each other, something no doubt lacking from their husbands and government. Many of my female ancestors operated as laundresses, and it appears that this was the way they provided a way out of poverty for their descendants. It was said that ‘to marry an ironer is as good as a fortune’.

Washing Dirty Linen in Public an exhibition detailing women's labour and activism in Notting Dale 2019

Having studied some of the women in my ancestry and wider family tree, I appreciate just what an amazing lot they have been. It seems that often life was unfair and unequal for women in the past. None of the women here were famous, or did anything especially astounding, they lived ordinary lives, in ordinary places within ordinary families. The thing that seems to stand out, is, that although many of my maternal ancestors lived in extreme poverty, the families seemed to support each other, living close to each other through the generations. I have particularly noticed this in several of the women who seem to take on a matriarchal role, and were often an oldest daughter. I wonder if this is just what was expected of them, or whether they grew into the role through life experience and responsibility.

My mother CWH, was born in 1941, Heston Hounslow to Charles Harvey and Winifred Tranter. At that time, the family and extended family had all been born and bred, for at least 3 generations, (and in some lines many more), in the same areas of Kensington, Fulham and Hammersmith.

As the ‘family history bug’ appears to be hereditary, most of the HARVEY research, has been done by my mother.

William Tranter (1849-1949)
born Stokenchurch Oxfordshire: 
Frederick Tranter (1874-?) born Hammersmith:
Winifred Harvey (nee Tranter) (1902-1982)
born Hammersmith: 
Gordon Harvey (1929-2017) born Hounslow

Since then, almost all have left the London area, mostly to other parts of the country, but some as far afield as America, Canada and Australia.

5 Generations of Tranter.

As research has progressed we have discovered that the majority of the branches had moved into London during the 1800’s. (From Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Norfolk/Suffolk), there are also some lines that have been in the area for much longer.

As we live a fair distance from London and ancestors moved about, it has been quite difficult to investigate some lines, but as more information becomes available on the internet, particularly, investigation becomes more accessible, but as with all family history research, there is still so much to discover, so many little tales to hear about, and of course the story will never be finished!

I once read, that most English families have at some stage of their history spent some time in London, and this is certainly true of my family. It appears that most branches of my mothers family met up in London, and even in my fathers family which has spent the best part of the last 500 years, in the same area of the West Riding of Yorkshire near and in Sheffield, had the chain  broken when my father left for the ‘bright lights’ of London in 1957.

At the age of 17 he began an apprenticeship in Mechanical Engineering with the Ministry of Supply at the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate (AID) at Harefield laboratories in Middlesex. This acronym was rather misunderstood at that time, being more commonly recognised as ‘artificial insemination donor’ and the AID apprentices were nicknamed ‘The Tubes’, with reference to test tube babies! The site has since been demolished to make room for a housing estate. He met my mother at the Royal Air Force Association (RAFA) club in Uxbridge at the Saturday night hop, a well known meeting place for baby boomers. Little did she know then that she was destined to become an RAF wife three years later.

My husband and his family also have London origins, although I have not done a lot of research into the ‘Weatherill – Tailors, Tentmakers and Train Drivers’.

I use the term London in the loosest sense,  I have never lived there and consider anything within the boundaries of the M25 Motorway to be part of London. I realise that in the past, many of the places mentioned on these pages were actually villages or small towns in their own rights, and are probably still considered so by their inhabitants. We hope you enjoy using these pages and find some useful and interesting information. If you would like to contact us, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Maternal Surnames in my direct ancestry includes place of birth or habitation. Names and date of each direct ancestor.

As humans, we spend most of our time at work. In past times, the hours were longer, we started work at an earlier age, and with no pensions, worked as long as possible. It is no surprise then, that our occupations shaped our lives. Different areas of the country have different indigineous occupations. My maternal ancestors came from various locations in the south of England, and were involved in the local occupations. On moving into London, they had to find new ways of making a living, and adapting to a different way of life, often moving into the poorest parts of the area.

Occupations of my ancestors This link leads to a list of the occupations of my ancestors and information about them.

Harvey story, so far…

Harvey Golden Wedding of John Harvey and Sarah Ann Ayliffe1938.

American Cousins

Census Extracts

Alton Barnes White Horse

A Family of Shopkeepers

Links to other sites.

Formidable Females

I do not think either myself or mother, consider ourselves ‘formidable, but I suppose we have both had to overcome adversities in life, but nothing like those faced by the women back in time. When, bringing up a family was a matter of life or death.

By reason of nature I have one female ancestor left (my Mother), who stayed at home to raise her children, as did I. These days, if women need to or want to go out to work, they can, but equally, if they believe it better to stay at home and raise their own children rather than letting somebody else do it, they may, too. My female ancestors didn’t have the choice, it appears they had to both bring up enormous families in poverty and disease, whilst some of them also had to work, either inside or outside the home, or in the family business.

How my distant female ancestors managed, I do not know, as family history trails rarely go into details such as child care, but I shall attempt to tell the story of some of my female ancestors, who helped to shape me.

Some had long lives, some short, but most of them appear to have lived in poverty. Somehow they survived long enough to produce children, some inspite of their husbands, others as part of a family team. Most appear to outlive their husbands.

I shall also explore the direct female descendancy. Mitochondrial DNA (Mt DNA) is passed from a mother, to her children unchanged, but only the females pass it on. Therefore we can use science to trace our female descendancy. It is understood that everyone can trace their female descendancy back to one of seven women. For further reading on this fascinating subject try ‘The Seven Daughters of Eve’, by Bryan Sykes.

The maternal line 1977

In more recent times, we can trace our female ancestors through National Registration, which began in 1837. Before that we have to rely on Church records, which often did not include much information about women. Poor Law records (including bastardy bonds and settlement records) and wills can be more informative, in the search for female ancestors.

Reminiscences, amusing anecdotes, memories, and family stories. Most families have one or two characters or amusing stories to tell, this family seems to have its fair share.

Some of the Formidable Females in my Family Tree.

inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable”.

Who was ‘Mary’? (Married to David Thompson of Sheffield and mother of Ralph Thompson born 1820). Very little to go on, but never give up, when genealogy is involved.

The Elusive Mary Jane a distant relative with an interesting and elusive story!

The Aunties Three kind hearted girls, who made the most of life, inspite of the restrictions placed on them by social expectations and effects of two world wars.

The Aunties out for the day 1934

Surely Eleanor will be easy to find! – Wife of William Dawson a soldier, of Stradbroke Suffolk. Mother to my ancestor Dinah Dawson b1831.

Not so Plain Jane and the French Connection – Getting sidetracked, by fascinating people and stories in the family history.

A Sad Beginning’. Having lost her mother aged 3, and father nowhere to be found, Elizabeth Dyson’s story, seemed bleak. But her family ties discovered show things weren’t quite as bad as they appeared.

Auntie Rita an ‘Exasperating Inspiration‘. My great aunt and godmother, who has committed her life to (almost) singlehandedly caring for her severely disabled son, until into her 80’s, and still doing so, aged over ninety in her heart.

Elizabeth Raine the clue to discovering her lifestory, lay with a marriage witness of her daughter.

As with much of Family History research, it seems that every new fact discovered, throws up more questions. As a result, I have discovered connections in France, learnt about ‘Lying in Hospitals’ and ‘Clandestine marriages’.

Below follow the links for the stories of each of the women in my direct maternal line. At the bottom of the page is a list of some of the women so far identified, whose female descendants share the same mtDNA. If you have a link with any of them, please contact us.

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My first school photo 1970

I was born AMS in Manchester 1965, to MDS and CWH, married MW in Norfolk 1985.

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CWH 1941

CWH ‘This is Your Life 2001’. A light hearted resume for my mother on her 60th birthday (2001). She was born Isleworth in 1941 to Winifred Alice Tranter and Charles William Harvey and married MDS in Heston 1964.

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Winifred Alice Tranter – Harvey 1902 – 1982

Although not exactly ‘formidable’, Nana, Winifred Alice Tranter certainly didn’t take any nonsense, but she was fair, sensible and had a great sense of humour. As a child I often overheard, Nana and my mother relating amusing stories of family, many of which descended into hysterical giggles.

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Florence Caroline Frost c1900

Winifred was born 7th January 1902, to Florence Caroline Frost and Frederick John Tranter at Fulham`.

Florence was born to Caroline Lovell and Harry Frost at Hammersmith on 3rd November 1875

Caroline was born on March 1852 at the Potteries, Notting Dale to the lady who inspired me to start on this story. Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Rogers the church records of ‘Old Brentford, St. George Church’, Hounslow Middlesex, state that she was born 5th February 1831.

Elizabeth Rogers was born to Joseph Rogers and Elizabeth Shepherd. Elizabeth Shepherd was born to Daniel Shepherd and Mary Orford.

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We were recently sent this fabulous family wedding photo from a distant cousin – through We had heard of it’s existence, as ‘Nana’ remembered it being taken, she was one of the bridesmaids at her aunts wedding, (Daisy Frost to Charles Longman) in Notting Hill 1913, but we had never seen it. The picture is a copy of a copy etc, and now in bad condition, it has many family members on it, but they are very difficult to be able to identify due to its condition. One lady in particular may be in the picture – Elizabeth Lovell born Rogers 1831, she died 1924 aged 94 (so this picture may contain 4 generations of my female line).

If anyone else happens to have a better copy, we would love a copy. It was a large family – Daisy was one of 14 children. (Parents Caroline Lovell and Harry Frost).

Females (and their female descendants) sharing the same mtDNA as me. Not included – females who died before adulthood or without having female children. (To be continued)

Mary Orford (c1765 -1846)

  • Jane Shepherd (1794 – ) m. John Cole
  • Elizabeth Shepherd (1801 – 1858) m. Joseph Rogers/ Thomas Harris
    • Elizabeth Rogers (1831 – 1924) m. Joseph Lovell-Raine
      • Elizabeth Lovell (1848 -)
      • Caroline Lovell (1852 – 1822)
        • Florence Caroline Frost (1875 -1958) m. Frederick Tranter
        • Winifred Alice Tranter ( 1902 – 1982) m. Charles Harvey
        • Cynthia Winifred Harvey (1941) m. MDS
          • Angela Sanderson (1965)
            • GMW (1993)
          • Elizabeth Sanderson (1971)
            • KEH (2005)
        • Ada Elizabeth Frost (1879 -)
        • Alice Maud Frost (1883 – )
        • Elizabeth Frost (1885 -)
        • Rose Caroline Frost (1886- )
        • Henrietta Frost (1888)
        • Daisy Frost (1890)
  • Rebecca Shepherd (1803 -) married John Ellis
    • Eliza Ellis 1831
    • Betsy Ellis 1826
  • Ann Shepherd (1810 -) married Henry Chamberlain
    • Caroline Chamberlain ( 1831 -)
    • Eliza Chamberlain (1833 -)
    • Betsey Chamberlain (1836 -)
    • Mary Ann Chamberlain (1838 -)
    • Dinah Chamberlain ( 1848 -)