The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Find the Lady!

- Research  into a Calling Book kept by a Victorian lady living in the Lymington area  


Over 25 years ago my mother bought a small leather Calling Book on Lymington Market. When she gave the book to me, she could not tell me why she bought it, though she thought that it was valuable!

When I first studied the book, I found that a Victorian lady started to use it in 1883 and there were references to Lymington and the St Barbe Family. As most of the entries were in pencil and in danger of deteriorating, I thought that I would list the entries and donate the book and list to the St Barbe Museum in Lymington.

When I started, I expected it to be a short simple project but I soon found that it was difficult to read the writing and the Victorian lady did not always put the year in question. I started digging into local history to get some clues that would lead me to stories about the British and German Royalty and heroes like Nelson and Churchill!

Gradually it emerged that this lady met the cream of society in the Lymington area during the years 1883-1893(?). The result has been an absorbing hobby during which I have learnt a lot about the local history of the Lymington area.

This Introduction summarises the main information that I gathered. The full report may be read by clicking on the following link:

Find the Lady! - Full Report

The Etiquette of Calling

There was an etiquette for calling on friends and acquaintances in Victorian England (see attached Appendix in list below):

Lymington Lady's Use of a Calling Book

The instruction at the front of the Lymington Lady's Calling Book is as follows:



In general terms, the idea of the Calling Book was to note down the names of people who visited you or you met, so that you could plan to return their calls.

This lady appeared to find the book useful in particular instances:


Names Index

I listed what entries I could. Some of the writing was difficult to read including the lady's use of ticks and ditto marks.

I started to rearch local history to identify names to enable me to decypher the names in the Calling Book.

A Names Index of the names in the Calling Book is attached as an Appendix with the following entries:

Lymington area - 204 entries
York - 6 entries
Galway - 56 entries
8 Sion Place, Sion Hill, Leeds - 6 entries

Research Undertaken

I used a number of sources to learn about the Lymington area and the people who lived in it:

>The first big stride forward was looking at the local 1881 Census. I already had the 1881 Census for the whole country on CD-ROM and printed out the brief entries of each person in Lymington.


I also looked at entries in the surrounding area, including Milford, Milton Boldre, Sway, Hordle and Brockenhurst. If I found an entry of interest I printed off fuller details including the following entry:

Wainsford Road, Everton. Milford, Hampshire

Henry Fawcett (age 48) Head Late Capt 3rd Light Dragoons born Bombay, East Indies
Mary Fawcett (age 41) Wife born Hove, Sussex
Mary F S Fawcett (age 18) Daughter born Milford, Hampshire
Claude Fawcett (age 16) Son Scholar born Milford, Hampshire
Mary A Welch (age 34) Housemaid born Ringwood, Hampshire
Jane Watton (age 29) Parlourmaid born Bournemouth, Hampshire
Emma Saunders (age 16) born Pennington, Hampshire
Mary Sanders (age 14) Kitchenmaid born Pennington, Hampshire

I have received information and enquiries from a number of people with notable contributions about the Shrubb and Fluder families and Capt John Whitby (see attached appendices in the list below)

As I worked through the research material, I was able to identify people in the Lymington area, that the Victorian lady may or may not have met, and realised just how important they were. Similarly places that the Victorian lady may have visited or places in which she may have lived were identified.

Closing in on "the Lady!"

In December 2008 I identified the best prospective candidate to be the Victorian Lady, who kept the Calling Book, so far:

Mary Florence Sophia (Fawcett) Murray

Entries in the Calling Book

In the Victorian Calling Book are the following entries:

Efford Cottage, Lymington 1886

Mrs Blackwait

Hoopers Hill 1893(?)

Blunt (living at Hoopers Hill 1891)
Langworthy etc

Criteria to be the Victorian Lady who kept the Calling Book

For the prospective candidate to be the Victorian lady:

- her name would not appear in the Calling Book (of course!)
- she would come from a well-connected family
- she would be the wife of a clergyman or military man who moved around the UK
- she would have lived in Lymington in 1883
- she would possibly have lived at Efford Cottage 1886 and Hoopers Hill 1893(?)
- she would possibly have links to York (1883)and Sion Place, Sion Hill, Leeds (1888?)
- she would possibly have links to Galway (1885)

Visit to Hampshire Record Office, Winchester

On Saturday 29 November 2008, I obtained three extra pieces of information from Hampshire Record Office which were the key to solving this puzzle:

1. per Kelly’s Directory of Hampshire 1885

Efford Cottage - Murray Henry S.

per Record Office Database

2. Efford Cottage

A. Appointment of a trustee to a marriage settlement (1897)
(i) Henry Fawcett late of Lymington now of Albert Bridge Road, Middx, gent and Mary Beatrice his wife
(ii) Henry Stuart Murray of Efford Cottage, Milford, esq

B. Deed poll by Warren Thomas Peacocke of Efford Cottage, Lymington (3 Dec 1906)

3. Hoopers Hill

Release of trusts of marriage settlement (1922)
(i) Henry Fawcett of 3 Wilbury Villas, Hove, Sussex, gent
(ii) Henry Stuart Murray of Hoopers Hill, Milton, major retired

Search in FreeBMD

I subsequently found out that:

Henry Stuart Murray married Mary Florence S Fawcett in Lymington in First Quarter of 1883(the year of the first entries in the Calling Book).

The Calling Book may have been a wedding present or part of the information given to an officer's wife.

The Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire

In December 2008, I was advised that:

By feeding in Galway to their archives, I was astonished to find 2 photos taken in 1885:

1. Of the 1st Bn The Prince of Wales's Own (the West Yorkshire Regiment) taken at Renmore Barracks, Galway on 24 May 1885, the Queen's Birthday
- on which Henry Stuart Murray may appear

2. Regimental Family Outing Galway 1885
- on which Henry & Mary Murray may appear

Chronology of Events

This fills out the chronology of events in Henry & Mary (Fawcett) Murray's lives:

1862 (2nd Quarter) Mary Fawcett born (parents Henry & Mary Fawcett)
1881 Mary (age 18), Parents and Family living at Wainsford House, Milford (per Census)
1883 (First Quarter) Married in Lymington
1883 29 March - First entry in the Calling Book
1883 In York (April-May) - Entry in Calling Book
1885 In Galway (Jan-June) - Entry in Calling Book
1885 Living at Efford Cottage (per Kelly’s)
1886 Meeting at Efford Cottage - Entry in Calling Book
1888(?) In Sion Place, Sion Hill, Leeds - Entry in Calling Book
1891 Henry Murray, Captain, 4th West Yorkshire Regiment - Living at Efford Cottage (per Census)
1893(?) Meeting at Hoopers Hill – Entry in Calling Book
1897 Living at Efford Cottage (per marriage settlement)
1901 Major, 4th West Yorkshire Regiment - Living at Efford Cottage (per Census)
1906 Warren Thomas Peacocke living at/owner of Efford Cottage
1922 Living at Hoopers Hill (per marriage settlement)


Mary Murray meets all of the criteria to be the Victorian lady!!!

Looking back

Having "Found the Lady!", you are left with an impression of what life was like and the importance of calling:

In the late 1800s within the compact area of Lymington and its surrounding villages there was a number of ladies of standing who met socially.

Some of the ladies lived in grand country houses; others lived in the delightful Georgian houses in the centre of Lymington (see attached photographs) or within a carriage's drive of places like Boldre and what was then known as Milford and Milton.

Our Victorian lady mixed in the cream of this society. A good example of this is the sequence in the attached Names Index:

Weld (owners of Pylewell 1802-1849)

West (Lady of the Manor, Newlands, Milford)

Whitaker (owners of Pylewell since 1874)

These days it is hard to imagine the need for the formality of keeping a Calling Book but calling was an important and enjoyable pastime in Victorian times and it was important to follow correct etiquette.

Of course, certain elements in the practice of calling continue to this day, e.g. the custom of obtaining and presenting calling cards (mostly for business it is true) and keeping records like visitor books.

Also we tend to send cards to welcome people to their new home, and invite people back for lunch or dinner to "return the compliment".

It is interesting to think of and try to visualise a lady in the Lymington area receiving an invitation from or initiating a call on a friend or acquaintance known to be "at home", getting into her carriage and being driven to a smart Victorian house and meeting the wives or widows of important men in the Lymington area (e.g. doctors, bankers, retired military men, clergy, lawyers); some of them important ladies in their own right.

And then the reward and recognition of some of these important ladies in local society visiting her: the Calling Book being used to keep track of calls received and made.

Colin Bower
24 December 2017

Information Obtained

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