The Search for Mary Jane

aka !

MARY JANE COWDRAY 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 illegitimately to Jane Cowdray in All Cannings Wiltshire, she was baptised 3rd October.

Mary Jane baptism 1852.

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

Marriage of Stephen Harvey and Jane Cowdrey 29th March 1859

By 1861, Stephen and Jane Harvey, were living in Putney with year old daughter Alice, who was born in Fulham, leaving Mary Jane in All Cannings with her grandparents. Was this because she was settled living with them, or perhaps a valuable extra pair of hands. Perhaps Jane and Stephen intended on settling into life in London, before bringing Mary Jane to live with them.

Stephen and Jane had five children -1860 Alice born Fulham, John 1862, Frederick baptised 23 October 1864 at Hammersmith, Elizabeth born 1st February 1867 and Sarah born 22 January 1869 Fulham Fields, both baptised in March 1869.

1861 census Stephen Harvey.

1861 – Mary Jane is shown living with her grandparents John and Jane Cowdrey and their two sons, Harry and Albert in All Cannings. John Cowdrey was a Farmer. Also with them was 65 year old William Palmer a Landed Proprietor.

Mary Jane Cowdrey 1861 census.

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.

It was the Dickinson family, Walter a portrait artist, his wife Julia and son 3 year old Henry.

1871 census, Mary Jane ‘Harvey’.

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

(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).

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 in the household of Henry Hill a carpenter, wife Fanny, children, one servant and two lodgers including two year old Daisy Griffin!

(All later references give her birth date 1879)

1881 census Daisy Griffin

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 Isabel Cunningham

1891 Census shows Daisy Griffin in the household of Mark Cunningham (born in Ireland in 1845), and wife Isabel Cunningham (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)

However, whilst doing a trawl of the GRO index, using every conceivable filter search, this birth came to light.

It is the birth of MARGARET ISABEL GRIFFIN. Date of birth 15th December 1878, at 43 (unable to read road name) Square, Somers Town, Pancras. Her birth was not registered until 3 months later, on the 14th March 1879. Father was Michael (P…..) Griffin, a Medical Student, mother Isabel Griffin, formerly Harvey.

Could this be ‘Daisy’?

It appears that this is the ‘Daisy Griffin’, we have been looking for and perhaps in later searches, she may revert to her given name of Margaret.

All searches for a medical student by the name of Michael P. Griffin have so far proved fruitless.


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. 

1901 Census Isabella Griffin page 1
1901 Census Isabella Griffin page 2

In the 1911 Census George Griffin 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 £1083 in 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. It has taken sometime to decide that Dorothy was the daughter of Stephen Harvey’s daughter, (see below).

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 27 Oct.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.

Dan, Charles, Bella don’t seem to have been baptised.  This was the time when Sarah Ellis John Harvey’s sister) lost her husband and she and her children were in the workhouse.  Also John’s parents both died. Our J & S could have been busy with all this  (by 1911, Dorothy Ellis was living with them)