Tracking Austin

I’m on the last few puzzles in my grandma’s autograph book. There are a  couple of pages with  little printed rectangles for different people to sign their name and all are full. However looking at one of these pages I notice that the signatures fall into different groups. There are friends of my grandma before she married, including her sister-in-aw Lottie who signed on April 12th 1914, Olive M. Atkinson signed the year before in August 1913, and Elsie Storer or Storey, December 1913. There’s another identifiable group who I think were friends of my mum and her sisters when they inherited the book in the 1930’s – quite childish writing and not the copperplate of the older entries. There’s a group of just names, no dates, and names which are so common that the people are untraceable. The last pair is from Winchester where my grandma and grandpa moved in the 1920’s, probably 1923 or 1924. They married in 1916 and their first two children were born in Willesden, near where grandma’s mother, the original Lois lived, and my aunty and mum were born in Winchester.

One of the signatures, very neat, is Austin Laverty, I College Street, Winchester; the other is, I think, A.V. Rose Price with a little French phrase of which I can only make out ‘Quelle…’ I searched and searched for Austin Laverty – I could find no trace of him in any genealogical search, but found several mentions of him on Google, where he was interviewed about various things in the 1940’s. – in Winchester. It seemed a bit of a mystery, but I looked at other Winchester Laverty’s and came across an Augustine Laverty… could this be the same person? I think it probably was.

Was Augustine/Austin a friend of my grandfather’s rather than my grandmother, it seems more likely to me. He was thirty years old in 1926, possibly a teacher and single, but later married Clara Stronge. He was the youngest of eleven children; his father James Thomas was born in Kent in 1849, his mother Margaret in Cumberland in 1853. His father was at first a wood-carver but became a cabinet-maker, as did his sons – including Augustine/Austin… his career as a teacher came later. His brothers and sisters were:

  • John Robert 1875
  • James Thomas 1877
  • Sarah Hannah 1879
  • Elizabeth Mary 1882
  • William Henry 1883
  • Edwin Isaac 1886
  • Arthur Adam 1887
  • Ethel Jane 1889
  • Donald George 1892
  • Reginald Ninian 1894

Reginald was described as from a family of cabinet and furniture maker, and his son Peter became the eminent director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Peter was born in Winchester in the year in which Austin wrote in grandma’s autograph book, and was christened in Winchester Cathedral in that same year, the same as my mum!

I can’t find much more about Austin except he served in the World War 1 as a sergeant in the Hampshire Regiment.. I think my grandma lived in Winchester for a few years but the family had some difficulties and the older two children were sent to live with cousins in Surrey. I’m not sure how long the Laverty’s and my grandma were friends, but I hope she looked back on that time with happy memories

11 Comments

  1. Jnana Hodson

    Autograph books are such a thing from the past. Imagine doing it now. But the one my great-grandfather had after moving from North Carolina provided some valuable perspectives on his relocation. Some of the people were still using old Quaker plain speech. I figured out where some other relatives had moved. And there’s a charming, coquettish message from the woman who would become his wife.
    Thanks for casting a light on this quaint practice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lois

      Yes, they are wonderful and a really useful source of discovering things about your ancestors! have you written about your great-grandfather’s old book?

      Like

  2. Lois

    Hello Joanne, family history is so fascinating, isn’t it. I think Laverty was originally an Irish name – have you made any Irish connections? Have you been to Winchester, it’s a beautiful city but I have no idea why my mum’s family ended up there!

    Like

    1. Jo

      Hi Lois,

      So sorry for late reply, your message was sent to my spam. Not
      That I know of. Message me directly and I can give you some of the little info I have.

      Kind wishes

      Jo

      Like

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