Category: Research

Love Lost

A WW1 story of romance, tragedy, family secrets, discovery and commemoration

george-paysden-suitbGeorge William Paysden (1895 – 1916)

11 October 2016, marked the 100th anniversary of George William Paysden’s death. His grandson Bert Groves recently visited George’s grave in Bailleul, Northern France. George was with the Royal Irish Rifles and survived the Battle of the Somme in July 1916. However, he then moved north to the villages of Loker and Dranouter where he was killed in action. George was awarded the Military Medal for bravery.   

gp-gravemarkerGeorge wasn’t married but he left a sweetheart behind in Belfast. Annie McMullan gave birth to George’s daughter Doreen while he was in France. One can only begin to imagine how Annie felt when she learnt of George’s death. Many years later Doreen married and subsequently gave birth to George’s Grandson, Bert Groves.


The birth of Doreen was kept secret from almost the entire family. My Grandmother, George’s sister, didn’t know about Doreen. While Doreen was in the RAF she struck up a lifelong friendship with her cousin and my aunt, Jessie Kendal. We believe they never knew they were actually cousins. Two years ago, Bert Groves, a fellow enthusiast of family history, tracked me down. Bert and I, along with John Paysden, have developed a close friendship and continue to unearth our joint family history.

sammy-kendal-bailleul-2004-bMy Father, Sammy Kendal, had heard many wonderful stories about his Uncle George. In 2004 he and I became the first members of the family to visit George’s grave in Bailleul. When we eventually found George’s grave, my father knelt down and tears rolled down his face. It was a very emotional occasion.

The song, The Green Fields of France, include the following lines. I think are very appropriate in this instance

Did you leave a wife or a sweetheart behind

In some faithful heart is your memory enshrined

And though you died back in nineteen sixteen

In some faith full heart are you forever nineteen

Do you have a similar story?

Post it to me at:  [email protected]


Re-United After 140 Years

My Great Grandmother, Annie Elizabeth Potter, had an older step brother named John Potter. He was born 1843 in Liverpool. John had two sons:

William Henry Potter            born Birkenhead 1865

Jonathan Wilfred Potter     born Birkenhead 1868

John died on the maiden voyage of the Carmania in 1874. The two boys were orphaned and placed in the Liverpool Seaman’s Orphan Institution.

Liverpool Seaman’s Orphanage


I was able to trace and identify a Great Granddaughter of Johnathan Wilfred Potter. She was Sandra Hamlett (nee Potter) and although born in England, she is now living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Sandra and I were kindred spirits with great enthusiasm for family history. Together we have explored our ancestry and family stories. I hope to publish more of these stories in the coming months.

Descendants of William Henry Potter proved much more elusive. Eventually. I found a ten-year-old message on a chat forum from a Ginger Schuler in Delaware, USA. She had been looking for the family of her Great Grandfather, William Potter born during the 1860s in Birkenhead.


I tried contacting Ginger but to no avail. I persisted for two years using various means. In my efforts to make contact I tried to reassure her that this was not a scam. Eventually Ginger responded. Her sources were an old family bible and stories passed down. One story told of how her Great Grandfather and another boy ran away from a “Boys School” in England, stowed away on a transatlantic ship and swam ashore near the coast of Delaware.

We all agreed the story, although incredible, was plausible. Both Sandra and Ginger continued to correspond and developed a strong friendship, both having closed the circle on their family stories. Unfortunately, Ginger passed away in 2016. I never met Ginger (Maryan Virginia Schuler Nichols) but she appeared very caring, family orientated and fun.


Before she died, Ginger and her daughter Jodi, undertook  DNA tests.

Guess what……

…they were a match for Sandra Hamlett.

The story is no longer just plausible, it is now highly probable.





Sunshine Coast

Kate Paysden’s Postcards

scp_-1915My Paternal Grandmother, Kate Paysden, along with her family and friends, regularly exchanged postcards around the period of the First World War.

Her postcards give an insight into life 100 years ago. Some of the cards cover her courtship with her husband to be, Jonathan Kendal and their subsequent separation during wartime.


Connswater-AKate also exchanged cards with her brothers John, George and James, who were all at sea. She left over 300 postcards. To date I have scanned 100 postcards and configured them into a simple searchable and viewable database.

 Click here to view the cards and the database.


Fun with Flags

This is the first episode of a mini-series.

(Eat your heart out Sheldon Cooper)

EMcG & KM in Belfast

Ed & Kathleen McGinty in Belfast

Ed McGinty from GEORGIA STATE and his wife Kathleen, visited Ireland in 2015. The above photograph was taken on my patio in Belfast. Ed recognised the Stars and Stripes but not the other flag. Do you know? Answer below.

Ed McGinty at his great, Great Grandfather former home, Tawnawilly

Ed McGinty at his Great, Great Grandfather’s  former home, Tawnawilly

We had great craic and visited Donegal to discover the former home of Ed’s Great, Great Grandfather (Connell McGinty) in Corracramph, Townawilly. We climbed fences, negotiated marshy ground and jumped streams to discover Connell’s former home.

Ed’s grandfather left Ireland for the States in 1909. Kathleen (nee McGuigan) left Ireland in 1968. They met at a regular dance organised by the Irish community in Philadelphia. Kathleen, an innocent Irish colleen, spotted Ed across the dance floor. Her friend immediately predicted she would marry him. Kathleen’s account of their meeting reminded me of stories concerning the Galtymore. For countless thousands of Irish emigrants to London the Galtymore in Cricklewood, London was more than just a dance-hall.  It was a home from home, a piece of Ireland where each weekend they could meet Irish friends from all over London, hear the music from the Irish country and showband scene. The following video seems appropriate. Enjoy

Answer: It’s the Georgia State flag Ed!!

Next episode: Australian Michael Darth Vader O’Sullivan & Maureen visit Belfast