How Many Siblings Did Grandad Have?
My grandfather, Gordon Parkin, kept a diary from 1914 to 1975. While first researching those diaries, I formed the impression that he had four siblings. I identified two sisters, Olive and Eva. I also identified two brothers, Leonard and Cyril (see Chapter 1).
James Henry Parkin
However, a newspaper article relating to grandad’s mother’s death in 1930 (see Chapter 15), clearly implied that she had six children. It noted that one, James H Parkin, had been unable to attend the funeral as he was living in Canada.
It turns out that his full name was James Henry Parkin. He had been born in Belper in 1887. He married Annie Marie Higham in the first quarter of 1906.
James/Jim in the Diaries
From February to April 1914, grandad does refer to a James in his diary, e.g. “James came over on his motorbike”. He also refers a lot to Jim and to Annie & Jim. They “came over” frequently between 1914 and 1918. At one stage, grandad says “Jim & family came over”. It seems Jim may have worked in the family business. However, in March 1920, “Jim started work at the Summit”. He is last mentioned in the diaries in 1922. Jim gave grandad a flute in March of that year. Also, in April 1922, grandad said “in the morning Jim and I went to Nottm by motor”. I also found, in the 1922 electoral register, that James and Annie Parkin were listed as living at 76 Station Street.
Gordon and Ethel
As noted, the newspaper article, at the time of Sarah Parkin’s death, refers to James and Annie’s children as Gordon and Ethel. These were the same names as my grandparents. Based on the 1911 census, their full names were John Henry Gordon, aged 4 and Ethel Eva Doreen who was not yet one. At this time, the family was living at 67 The Hill in Kirkby. James was working as a boot and shoe manufacturer. A number of conclusions can be drawn from this information. First, in April 1911, the family were living in Kirkby. In addition, James was working at that time in the boot and shoe trade, Also, Ethel had been born prior to this. Finally, it is clear that Gordon was James and Annie’s son and not Len and Ethel’s as shown in one of the family trees that mum prepared.
Understanding that Gordon was James and Annie’s son helps explain some entries in the diary. For example, these include entries such as “Jim and Annie came over & fetch Gordon back” and, in May 1918, “gave Jim my silver albert and locket for Gordon…” It also could explain why there are no mentions of Gordon after about 1918.
Based on evidence from FreeBMD, both Gordon and Ethel were born in Kirkby before the family emigrated to Canada. John Henry G was born in the second quarter of 1907 and Ethel E D in the fourth quarter of 1910. These dates fit with ages in the 1911 census.
When Did the Family Emigrate?
Grandad’s diaries do not explicitly say that James emigrated to Canada. They certainly do not give a date for this. Presumably, it was sometime after 1922 based on the diary entries above. It was certainly before 1929 as there was a Christmas and New Year card among mum’s papers from Gordon to grandad. This had been posted in Regina, Canada in December 1929.
I found some photos among mum’s papers which I believe are of the Parkin family and which show James Henry. These include a group photo and one which I believe is of James and Annie’s wedding. James and Annie also appear in wedding photos of two of his siblings, Olive and Leonard.
Annie Marie (or Maria) Higham
Annie Marie Higham was aged one at the time of the 1891 census. She had been born in 1890 in Shutlanger, Northamptonshire. This means that she was around 16 when she married James in 1906. He was 19. Her family must have moved to Kirkby soon after she was born as, in 1891, the family were living in Kirkby Woodhouse. Her father, John (age 37) was working as a labourer navvy as were four of her older brothers – John (age 17), William (age 14), Thomas (age 12) and Charles (age 11). She had three other brothers – Herbert (age 8), Albert (age 7) and Ephraim (age 4). As of 1891, she was the youngest of eight siblings and the only girl. Her mother’s name was Maria (age 40).
According to FreeBMD, her birth was registered in the fourth quarter of 1889 in Towcester. Her name there was given as Annie Maria. It appears that her mother’s maiden name was Clarke.
In the 1901 census, the family were living in Victoria Terrace in Kirkby. Only Bert, Albert and Ephraim, of her older brothers, were still at home. She had a younger brother, Francis H (age 8). Her father and three older brothers were now working as miners. John was a coal pit labourer above ground and Bert was a coal pit shunter above ground. Both Albert and Ephraim were coal pit labourers below ground.
Annie’s Brothers in Her Wedding Photo?
While I do not know for sure, I wonder if her brother Ephraim is sitting next to her on her wedding photo. Also, it could be her younger brother Francis standing in the middle of the back row between Leonard and Cyril Parkin. However, I do not know who the girl at the front is. As far as I know, Annie did not have a younger sister. So, perhaps this was a niece? However, it is not likely that this was Ephraim’s daughter as he did not marry Gertrude Allin until 1909 and their first, and probably only, child was a boy, Stephen.
James Henry Parkin in World War 1
I knew relatively little else about James Henry. I did come across a photo among mum’s papers of a man in Royal Artillery uniform and I wondered if this was him (see Chapter 9). It is not easy to track down his military service record as there are records for a number of James Henry Parkins and James Parkins. However, I found details of a James H Parkin who was in the army from 1914 to 1920, initially as a gunner with the Royal Artillery and then in The Labour Corps. His service numbers were 2807, for the Royal Artillery, and 598026, for the Labour Corps.
I also found a note in grandad’s diary that Jim started working at the Summit in March 1920 which would fit with him leaving the army at this point. Summit was the local name for Kirkby Colliery because it was at the highest point on the railway between Pinxton and Mansfield, see Chapter 5.
Other Information from the Diaries
A Family Dispute
James is also mentioned in relation to a family dispute which, in 1931, ended up in court, see Chapter 47. In 1921, James and his two brothers-in-law, John Smith and Arthur Evans, approached James’ father Henry to borrow £1,000 to start a lorry-hauling business. Agreement was made to repay the loan but disagreements arose and these seemed to come to a head when James emigrated. I am not sure what the outcome of the court case was but it is clear there was very bad blood between Henry Parkin and his children. This included my grandfather who did not attend his father’s funeral after he died in February 1957, see Chapter 65.
Email from Sandra Chorley
In March 2023, I received the following email message from Sandra Chorley “I was delighted to find your site re James Henry Parkin/ Annie Marie Higham. My husband is Grandpa Parkins only grandson and is the son of E Doreen Parkin. Doreen married Harold Chorley. They had two children Patricia Ann born about 1942 (deceased 2022) and Gordon Higham born 1944 in Regina Sask.
We have one son James Arthur Higham born in 1973 and he has one son born in 2022. Gordon spent his working years with Co-op stores retiring at age 55. James is retired from Canadian forces in 2021 as a Colonel in the army.
Grandad first came to Tugasky Sask, and set up a harness making/shoe repair shop. From there to Regina and then to Ucluelet BC as a member of the Air Force running the repair depot. From there they had retail stores, retiring in 1963 and moving to Nanaimo due to Grandpas health. He passed away in 1968 in Nanaimo. Grandma lived to be 99+ years old and passed away in Nanaimo.
They had one Son Gordon Parkin who passed away in 1972, he had one daughter, Lorraine who died in 2022. I have been unable to find the wedding picture of Grandma and Grandpa and would appreciate it if you would send us a copy. Thank you. Sandra Chorley.
A Delightful and Informative Surprise
It was a delightful surprise to receive this message and it added a huge amount to what I knew about James and Annie and their family, which was really very little! I had previously tried to find more information online but without success.
Expanding the Family Tree
First, the message added a lot more to what I knew about James and Annie’s part of the Parkin family tree. I learned that their first son, Gordon, died in 1972 and that he had one daughter, Lorraine, who died in 2022. James and Annie’s daughter appears to have used one of her middle names, Doreen, and she married Harold Chorley. They had two children, a daughter Patricia Ann, who was born about 1942 and who died in 2022, and a son Gordon Higham, who was born in 1944. Gordon married Sandra and they had one son, James Arthur Higham, who was born in 1973. James also has one son born in 2022.
Places in Canada
In terms of places where they lived in Canada, the message gives some details. James and Annie first came to Tugasky in Saskatchewan before moving to Regina. They then moved to Ucluelet in British Columbia before retiring to Nanaimo in 1963.
My knowledge of Canadian geography is not great (!) but Tugasky presumably refers to the village of Tugaske in Saskatchewan. Tugaske is approximately 150km from the provincial capital Regina where they subsequently moved. Regina lies between Calgary, about 760 kms to the west, and Winnipeg, about 575 kms to the east. Regina is around 250kms from the border with the United States. Ucluelet is a tourist resort town in British Columbia on a peninsula on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It is about 180kms from Nanaimo, a city on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
The message also gives some details of jobs different family members carried out. James initially set up a harness making/shoe repair shop which ties in with his family background, see Chapter 2. He spent his working life with Co-op stores retiring at the age of 55.
When they moved to Ucluelet, he was in the Canadian Air Force and he ran the repair depot. They then had retail stores until he finally retired in 1963. Gordon and Sandra’s son, James, was in the Canadian army reaching the rank of Colonel.
Another Information Search
Based on this information, I had another look for James Henry Parkin in publicly-available family trees on Ancestry. I found him in ten such trees although many of them have incorrect information, e.g. incorrect dates of death for his parents Henry and Sarah. Sandra Chorley has a small family tree on Ancestry. This contains a little additional information. For example, it identifies Elizabeth as the wife of Gordon Parkin. It notes that she died around 2005 in Calgary. Also, it identifies Ethel’s husband as Harold Alfred Godfrey Chorley and that he was born in the UK. It gives Annie’s date of birth as 13 September around 1890. Also, it notes her date of death as around 1986. It gives Ethel’s date of birth as 9 October 1910. However, this conflicts with the date on the order of service at the time of her death (see below).
Evidence of Entry to Canada in 1911
One thing I did find there was a link to an entry card for and Ethel dated 1911. Based on review of the source material for that entry card, it seems that James (age 25), Annie (age 22), Gordon (age 4) and Ethel E D (age 11 months) all entered Canada in 1911.
Evidence of Entry to Canada in 1922
Also, among the details for the Chorley family tree on Ancestry is a link to an entry card for John Henry Gordon Parkin. However, this differs from the one for Ethel in that it does not relate to entry in 1911 but to a later entry in 1922. I found similar cards for James, Annie and Ethel although it was tricky to find the one for Annie as her middle name had been transcribed as “Makia” rather than Maria.
They Sailed on SS Metagama
From these forms, it appears that the date of sailing was 20 April 1922 and the ship that they came on was the SS Metagama. This ship had been launched in 1914 and it was scrapped in 1934. The form noted that James was accompanied by his wife, Annie Maria Parkin. She had her own form as did their children Gordon and Ethel.
James’ form gave his occupation as motor driver and his intended occupation as (something illegible) boot trade. He gave his place of birth as Ripley Derbyshire and he noted that he intended to reside permanently in Canada. The form noted that he had lived in Canada before and he gave his previous address as Hunt Block, Saskatoon, a location I have not identified definitively. He noted that he had entered Canada, through Quebec, in August 1911 and he had left, through Montreal in July 1913. He gave his destination address as Mr John Kelly at 49 Egerton Rd, Winnipeg. The form gave his nearest relative in the UK as his father, Henry Parkin. He gave his address as 54 Welbeck Street, East Kirkby. He also gave his religion as Church of England which is interesting given that he came from a strongly Methodist background.
Ethel and Their Previous Visit to Canada
Another interesting point is that Ethel recorded that she had not lived in Canada before. Initially, I thought this meant that she had been born after the family’s first trip to Canada. But, this was not the case. The only thing I can assume is that she made a mistake.
The Family Went to Canada Twice
So, from this evidence, it is clear that the family went to Canada twice. The first time was a two year period from 1911 to 1913. The second time, in 1922, they emigrated to Canada permanently. These dates fit with what is recorded in grandad’s diary. But, I am left with quite a few questions. Did James, Maria and family intend to emigrate to Canada in 1911? If yes, why did they return to UK? Or was it always intended that they would be in Canada for a short time when they went there in 1911? What I find odd is that grandad did not say explicitly anywhere in his diary that James, Annie had gone to Canada either temporarily or permanently.
I found out some details about Lorraine including a photograph and description of her wedding and an obituary which also included a photo. She was Gordon’s daughter which means she was James and Annie’s granddaughter and my second cousin. Her mother was Elizabeth but she may have been known as Betty. Lorraine’s full name was Lorraine Elva Parkin. She was born on 13 June 1937. She attended Crescent Heights High School and graduated from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) as a Laboratory Technician. Also, she was an accomplished bridge player and became a Life Master in 2007. She married Thomas Alexander Birnie in October 1961. They lived in Lakeview for over 50 years. She died on 22 June 2021. She had just turned 84. As far as I know, she and Thomas did not have children.
Sandra shared with me a number of family photos. These appear to largely be from Ethel’s, her mother-in-law’s, albums or papers.
A Letter from Sarah Parkin
Among them is a photo of part of a letter from Sarah Parkin to her son, James. It has been annotated to indicate that it was the “last letter Grandma Parkin Wrote Dad in 1929“. Sarah Parkin died in January 1930, see Chapter 15.
The letter reads “To our Dear Childn and Grandchildn well my Dear lad we receved your letter and and was please to hear you are all well in health and going on allright with I thank God for I am please to say we are all about the same hear thanking God for sparing us all right to now from no [?] my Dear lad we are getting to old for your dad was 68 last about [?] and I shall be 67 if God spares me at xmass well my Dear lad we shall soon have exmass here again so I am just going to tell you what we shall be sending you I am send Ethel sum dress material with lining to make her a nice dress for exmass so I shall send in you the 28 [?] Dec so that her mother will be able to make her for exmass all so her Auntie Eva is sending her a lovely silk blouse [?] to match it and her Auntie Olive is sending her a vanity Box and I am sending…”
Planning for Christmas
The main thrust of the letter related to the presents that grandad’s mother and sisters, Eva and Olive, were sending to Ethel for Christmas. The timing of the letter coincides with the card presented above that Ethel’s brother Gordon sent to my grandad. This letter is perhaps particularly poignant as it was written at a time when she was already ill with the illness from which she died in January 1930, see Chapter 15.
A Similar Letter
I recognise the handwriting as one of the earliest items I have is a letter from Sarah Parkin to her son, Gordon, my grandfather, from 1913, see Chapter 1. This reads “My Ever Dear son Gordon. Just a line to let you no (sic) we shall be please to see you back although I know you are all right with Jim and Annie still I shall be please to see you at home again so shall be please when it is Sunday. So good night and God bless you from your ever loving xxxx Mother xxxx.”
It appears that grandad was staying with Jim and Annie. However, I can’t link this to a particular trip as it was written before grandad started keeping his diaries.
Among the photos Sandra Chorley shared with me was a letter from Kirkby Colliery to James Parkin dated 3 February 1921. The letter seems to confirm that James was working for Kirkby Colliery as a driver. This ties in with the note in grandad’s diary that James had started working at Summit in March 1920. Initially, I read this as a personal warning to James. However, this appears to not be the case. I suspect the letter was sent to all drivers pointing out that the company’s vehicles had been involved in two accidents although there had been only one minor accident in Kirkby. As far as I know, this accident did not involve James.
Ethel’s School Photo
Among the photos Sandra sent was a news cutting and photo of the class at Eat Kirkby Girls’ School in 1920. It appears to have been published in 1968. The photo was provided by Marjorie Spray nee Hibbert. There appears to be an almost complete list of those in the photo although some names are lost either through damage or from being cut off. Ethel Parkin is marked with an “x” in the photo. Her surname has been underlined but most of her first name has been lost through damage. Ethel would have been around ten years old in this photo which was taken around two years before the family emigrated to Canada.
Other Early Photos of Ethel
Sandra also sent two photos of Ethel after she won medals at a musical festival. In the first, she was 12 years old so this would have been in around 1922 shortly after the family arrived in Canada. In the second, she was 16 years old so four years later in around 1926.
Among the photos was one of Ethel’s wedding to Harold Chorley. I found a report of the wedding in The Leader-Post, Regina on Saturday 15 June 1940. This explains that the wedding took place at Knox United Church Regina. At that time, the Parkin family were living at 1535 Princess Street. Ethel’s husband’s full name was Harold Godfrey Chorley. He had also emigrated from England from Birmingham.
The service was taken by Rev Harvey Campbell with music contributed by T R Whittet, the organist, and Stanley Farnsworth, the soloist. There were two bridesmaids Winnifred MacCallum and Enid MacGregor. In addition, Gordon Parkin’s wife was matron-of-honour and her daughter, Lorraine, was flower girl. Gordon Parkin was groomsman and there were two ushers Sgt H Bannon and V Shawcross.
Harold and Ethel’s Children
Harold and Ethel had two children, Patricia, born in 1942, and Gordon, born in 1944.
Annie and James Parkin
Among the photos shared with me by Sandra Chorley were a number of Gordon’s grandparents, Annie and James.
2066 Bluebell Terrace
According to an obituary for James Parkin, James and Annie had lived at 2066 Bluebell Terrace in Nanaimo from 1964. They moved there at roughly the same time as my grandma and grandad moved into their bungalow in Drayton, see Chapter 76.
Annie Visited England in 1981
From grandad’s diary, I knew that Annie had visited England during July 1961, see Chapter 81.
Grandad also noted on 4 August 1961 that “E & I met Annie at Bentinck & took her to Cyril’s & Minnie’s for tea, then on to see Eva at Harby“. Essentially, grandma and grandad took Annie to see grandad’s and Jim’s surviving siblings, namely Cyril and Eva.
What grandad’s diary did not mention was that Annie’s brother Ephraim had also emigrated at the same time Jim and Annie did, but to Australia. However, around 1955, Ephraim returned from Australia, initially on holiday. He subsequently remarried and settled in the UK. I know this from a news cutting that Sandra Chorley shared with me.
Annie’s Other Brother
Among the photos that Sandra Chorley shared with me was another news cutting celebrating the long service of five CWS employees. For some details of CWS, including a visit to their biscuit factory in Manchester, see Chapter 79.
One of the men featured was Reginald Higham who was working as sales development officer at the society’s Desborough foundation garment (corset) factory which is still standing. He had worked for CWS in various posts from 1929. I am not sure of the date of the cutting but each employee had completed 50 years service so this would date the article to around 1979.
There is an annotation below the article to denote that Reginald Higham was “my mother’s brother“. I presume “my” in this setting refers to Ethel which would make Reginald Annie’s brother. What is slightly odd is that although I have found details of eight brothers of Annie, I have not found one called Reginald! I did find details of a Reginald Higham who was born in 1894 in Kirkby. However, his mother’s maiden name (Franks) was different from Annie’s (Clarke) and he died the same year he was born. It also seems unlikely that someone born in 1894 would only start work in 1929, when he would have been 35.
In the 1921 census, I did find details of a Reginald Francis Higham who had been born in 1915. He was living at 39 Oxford Street in East Kirkby with his parents Francis Harry and Rose Elizabeth May. Francis Harry was working as a Mechanic Turbine Attendant at Bentinck Colliery. My suspicion is that Francis Harry was Annie’s younger brother which would make Reginald her nephew rather than her brother. This would fit the dates better. If he had been born in 1915, he would have been 14 when starting work in 1929.
According to the 1939 Register, he was still single and was living with his parents in Ilford. His date of birth was given as 2 May 1915. He was employed as a warehouse stock clerk as was his younger brother Rex Cecil. It appears he died in 1987.
Death of James Parkin
I also knew from grandad’s diary that his brother Jim (James) had died in Canada on 6 March 1968 (see Chapter 88). More details are given in a news cutting provided to me by Sandra Chorley.
Age at Death
The cutting provides more biographical detail including place of death and details of where he had lived in Nanaimo for the past four years. The article notes that his age at death was 80 although grandad noted in his diary that he was 82. My understanding is that James was born in 1887 and that he died on 6 March 1968. By my calculations, he would have been 80 if born after 6 March 1887 and 81 if born before. This means the cutting is more likely to be right but it is also possible that 1887 was not his year of birth.
Date of Emigrating to Canada
The cutting also notes that he was born in Derbyshire and that he came to Canada in 1910. However, this date seems incorrect. While he and his family did come to Canada for two years in 1911, they only finally emigrated to Canada in 1922. The cutting notes the period of time he spent in different places in Canada – 18 years in Regina and 23 years in Ucluelet. These dates make more sense and add up better if the start date was 1922.
Work in the Shoe Trade
The cutting notes that he had worked in the shoe trade for many years and had retired in 1964. It also notes that he had been made a life member of the ROAB Lodge in Regina. I am not entirely sure what this is but wonder if it is referring to the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes (RAOB).
The cutting also notes his military service in both First and Second World Wars. In terms of the First World War, it refers to him serving in “the Imperial Forces” from 1914 to 1918. I am not sure if this is a general term for all the forces allied to Britain or is a more specific term applied to those from parts of the British Empire. If the former meaning is intended, this could fit with James Parkin having served in the Royal Artillery and Labour Corps as described above. However, the cutting says that he was discharged in 1918 whereas the records for that James Parkin have him being discharged in 1920. In the Second World War, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force and reached the rank of sergeant (see photo above).
The cutting also gives details of surviving relatives. It specifically mentions his wife, Annie, their two children, Gordon and Ethel and their three grandchildren although they are not named. It also mentions three siblings in England, namely Cyril, Eva and grandad (Gordon).
The cutting also outlines the funeral arrangements including when and where the service will be held, who will officiate and where the interment will take place.
Death of Ethel Doreen Kendall
James and Annie’s daughter, Ethel, died on 9 September 2006 in Nanaimo. Among the photos Sandra Chorley sent me was a photo of the order of service for her memorial service. It notes that she had been born on 10 September 1910 in Kirkby, England. It also gave her name as Ethel Doreen Kendall so perhaps she had remarried. I have not, however, found details of this but it does appear that her first husband, Harold Chorley, died in 1972.
I found an obituary for her in the name of Doreen Kendall from 13 September 2006. This notes that her parents James and Annie Marie Parkin pre-deceased her in 1967 and 1989 respectively. It notes that she was survived by her son Gordon A Chorley and his wife Sandra, and by her daughter Patricia. Mention is also made of her grandson James Arthur Chorley and her great grand-daughter Hailey Bercheid. I wonder if Hailey was/is James’ daughter but she is not mentioned in Sandra’s email. Sandra does mention that James has a son but he was only born in 2022.
The obituary notes some of her interests including opera singing, particularly Gilbert and Sullivan and horses. She worked as a salesperson at Jean Burns and was also a practical nurse at the Cowichan Valley Hospital.