The Search for Mary Jane

MARY JANE COWDRY was a real mystery for many years of family history research. It has only been by collecting known information and working backwards and forwards through records that I have been able to piece together her life.
My first knowledge of her was in a family tree that my mother gave to Angela for a school project. She said that my grandad John Harvey had an older sister called Mary Jane who had married someone called Vickers. Her life history is as follows:-

1852. Mary Jane is born to Jane Cowdray in All Cannings Wiltshire

1859. Mother Jane marries Stephen Harvey in Fulham. (Stephen was born in Stanton St Bernard, a village close to All Cannings)

(1860. Alice Harvey born to Stephen and Jane)

1861. Mary Jane shown living with grandparents in All Cannings)

(1862. John Harvey born to Stephen & Jane, Frederick 1864; Elizabeth 1867; Sarah 1869)

1871 census a Mary Jane Harvey from Wiltshire is living and working for a family in Fulham. I am as sure as I can be that this is our Mary Jane.

1873. A Mary Jane Cowdray is shown as present at the death of her grandmother.

1881 census. No sign of Mary Jane but a DAISY GRIFFIN is shown in Chelsea and I was later able to confirm that this was Mary Jane’s daughter

Henry Hill      Carpenter

Fanny Hill      + children and 1 servant

Daisy Griffin Lodger age 2

(Alll later references give her birth date 1879)

(this is where things get complicated because from now Mary Jane starts to call herself ISABELLA with the surname Griffin, although no marriage has been found,)

1883. Workhouse/Poor Law Hospital register:

Isabel Griffin. Age 28

Daisy Griffin. Age 5

Ethel Griffin. Age 1

(Isabel withdrew herself and Daisy from the hospital after a month but Ethel remained until her death in 1886. She appears to have been disabled in some way)

1891 Census shows  Daisy Griffin in the household of

Mark Cunningham  (born in Ireland in 1845)                                        Isabel                     (born Wiltshire in 1852)

Daisy Griffin (born Regents Park 1879) step-daughter

George Griffin (born London 1886) step-son

Mark Cunningham (born London 1888) son

Alice Cunningham (born London 1889) daughter

(Have not as yet found any further records relating to Daisy)


Is shown in the above census but he is also in the 1901 Census living with his mother Isabel Griffin in the household of Edward Vickers a hat manufacturer.  Isabel appears to be an employee of Edward Vickers but later that year they marry and Isabel shows her father as Stephen Harvey on the marriage certificate. 

In the 1911 Census George  an actor is living with his mother Isabel and his sister Alice Griffin (teacher) in Shoreditch.  Edward Vickers is in a hotel in Bradford (probably on business).

I have found a reference in the London Baptisms for St. Bartholomew, Moor Lane:-      George Edward Griffin   to George (Clerk) & Isabella Griffin   b  3 Sept 1885 (c 4 October)  7 Langthorne Court, London Wall 

In 1931 Isabella (a widow) dies and leaves George £1083in her will.  Home – 193 Green Lanes Clissold Park, Shoreditch

In 1964  George dies and leaves money in his Will to Alice Lotinga a widow.  (I now believe this to be his sister Alice – see below)


Appears on the 1891 Census (above) but shown as Mark Cunningham and I have found an entry in the  Baptisms of St Botolph Bishpsgate for a Stephen Mark Cunningham son of Mark (Labourer) and Isabel Cunningham of 19 Bell Alley,London Wall.

However in the 1901 Census young Mark Griffin is living with his grandmother Jane Harvey who has returned to Wiltshire.  Her husband Stephen died just before the Census and she has Mark and a granddaughter Dorothy Ellis living with her.

I have found no further references to Mark so far.


Alice appears on the 1891 Census (above) as Alice Cunningham and again I have found an entry for her in the St Botolph, Bishopsgate baptisms as daughter of Mark (Labourer) & Isabel Cunningham of 89 Bridport Place, Hoxton.  Born 27Oct.1890 c 23 November.

In  the 1901 Census she is shown as Alice Griffin and living with a family in Kent. (research shows that the daughter of this family originally lived near Isabel in London).  In 1911 she had returned to live with Isabella in Shoreditch (see George above). 

I now know that she married a Walter Lotinga in 1923 (he is from a Dutch family who settled originally in Sunderland).  On the 1911 Census Walter is described as actor.  They had two children Doreen and Eric.

When Walter Lotinga died in 1948 he left some £3085 to George Griffin – Apartment House Keeper.

In 1964 Alice was left money in brother George’s will (see above)

Alice Lotinga died in 1975.

Walter Lotinga was the brother of Ernie Lotinga a fairly famous actor of the early 1900’s.  He married a famous music-hall artiste Hettie King.