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Written by Mary, granddaughter of Lucy Mawson (nee Adamthwaite)
with additional information from Marlene, a descendant of the Fairey family:
My Great Grandmother – Leeanna (Fairey) Adamthwaite
I begin with the things my maternal Grandmother Lucy Mawson told me, a lot of the facts are confirmed by various letters and documents Lucy was instrumental in collecting. [Editor's Note: Lucy was a keen family historian and regularly travelled to Somerset House to locate birth, marriage and death certificates in the 1940s, 50s and 60s – it is through her diligent research that we have discovered many of the facts about her grandparents, John Allen Adamthwaite and Eliza (Saynor) and their children]
Lucy’s mother, Leeanna Fairey, was the youngest of six children. She was born on 5th December 1865 in Yelden. Her siblings were Mary Ann born September 1845, Rebecca born 1847, Owen baptised July 1849, Joseph born 1857, Evangeline baptised October 1863 Her father, Amos Fairey, was the carpenter in the village of Yelden, Bedfordshire [since the boundaries moved Yelden is now in Northamptonshire].
It is not known exactly when Amos died, but when he did Leeanna was sent to live with her married sister Rebecca. Rebecca’s husband, George Compton was a soldier with the 4th Lancaster Regiment and was stationed in Portsmouth at Fort Widley.
On her way to school Leeanna was intrigued to see the same soldier on numerous occasions, in full battle-pack running at double time around the parade ground at Fort Widley. Eventually she began to talk to him through the fence as he did the circuits. It was love at first sight! Apart from being a soldier on jankers, he was good looking and a real charmer. He was John Alexander Ridgeway Adamthwaite: he had joined the Army aged sixteen and was a bandsman also serving with the 4th Lancaster Regiment. Altogether he served for 12 years as a bandsman, his discharge papers show he was stationed abroad for 7 ½ of those years, part of that time was spent in Gibraltar. I believe that is where Leeanna met John Alexander again when Rebecca’s husband was also transferred to Gibraltar and Leeanna had gone with them.
John Alexander resigned and was discharged from the Army on 29th March 1884. He and Leeanna married on 12th March 1885 in Stoke Newington. He was 30 she just 20. The first of their four children, Lucy Vipond Adamthwaite, my grandmother, was born in July 1886. On her birth certificate her fathers’ profession is described as “surgeons’ dispenser” I’m not sure what other employment John Alexander followed except my grandmother told me he ran a public house. One of them was in Lancaster and one The Royal Oak in the village of Litlington. I have his original and secondary discharge papers showing that he rejoined the army for a year, as a reserve in 1900, at the time of the Boer War (click on links to read the Discharge papers).
Leeanna Fairey (1865 - 1950)
The photo above shows John Alexander Adamthwaite with Lucy, Lionel Willie and Laddie.
During the latter part of the 1920`s Reverend Jones passed away and Grandma moved to Guilden Morden, another small village in Bedfordshire. In 1934 Leeanna married Cornelius Kirbyshire in Royston (see centre right). After the marriage they lived in Steeple Morden a few miles down the road from Guilden Morden. Leeanna’s children Lucy and Lionel did not approve of the marriage they thought she had married “ beneath” her. Cornelius had been a farm labourer, I never met Cornelius I presume he had died before I was born.
In the late 1940’s I remember visiting Grandma when she was an old lady. I loved the journey because as a treat we had tea and doughnuts in Hitchin where we had to change buses for Steeple Morden. Grandma lived in a tiny cottage which had winding wooden stairs; a visit to the outside toilet was always a great adventure for my brother and me.
Grandma Leeanna had long white hair worn in a bun, which she liked me to brush whenever I was there. Grandma was an expert lace maker. Particularly Bedfordshire lace which is a bobbin made lace and very decorative. I have a lovely table cloth and tray cloth she made, all the other pieces I had I donated to the Bedford Museum. My brother in South Africa has her original ivory bobbins and oak bobbin winder. My Grandmother Lucy didn’t get on with her mother, who she called a real “Tartar.” But Lucy made me promise that if I had a daughter I’d call her Leeanna.
Grandma Leeanna died on the 28th of January 1950 at Steeple Morden, she was 85 years old. A commemorative plaque to her was placed on her son John Allen’s grave at Litlington, Leeanna’s favourite child John Allen, affectionally known as Laddie, had died in 1907. During the late 40’s and 50’s we often took the bus to Litlington, Lucy and my mother armed with shears, to cut the grass and tidy around Laddie’s grave. The headstone had been removed when I visited the churchyard during the 1990’s, luckily I have a photo taken in the 1950’s.
John Alexander Adamthwaite and Leeanna’s children were:
Lucy Vipond Adamthwaite born on 15 July 1886 at Stockwell Green, Surrey. Lucy married Percy H Mawson in March 1812 and when they were first married they lived in Finchley. Lucy reported the death of her father in 1912 and some time after this the family moved to Royston in Hertfordshire. Lucy and Percy had two children, Joan and Percy - you can read Mary's recollections of her grandmother Lucy on the following pages
John Allen Adamthwaite (known as ‘Laddie’) who was born in 1887 in Lancaster and died of TB in 1907 aged 20 at the Royal Oak, Litlington - there are some more photos of Laddie in the Photo Gallery
Florence Eva Adamthwaite, who was born in 1891 and died of gastro enteritis in The Children’s Hospital Great Ormond Street aged just five months
Lionel Willie Adamthwaite, who was born in 1894, married Clarice Tinsley in 1896, and died in 1974 in Derby. Lionel Willie served in the first World War as a driver in the Royal Artillery - there are a number of photos of him in the Photo Gallery
John Alexander died in 1912; Leeanna then became housekeeper to the Reverend Jones at Abington Piggots a village in Hertfordshire (photo below right shows the Rectory). She had quite a large staff of maids under her watchful eye. My mother told me how, when she lived with her Grandma after the First World War, the maids used to take her with them to light the upstairs lamps, they were afraid of the dark (she was 5 at the time!) Grandma was well known in the village she was the first person to own a tricycle, very racy!! Click here to read Leeanna's recipe for 'Lamb Rechaufee'