The Bower & Collier Family History

Research by Colin Bower

Find the Lady!


In February 2021, I produced a summary of the project for our Probus Club's newsletter during lockdownl:

"Donation of a Calling Book to the St Barbe Museum
Tuesday 21 February 2006

The 21 February 2006 was a great day for me, as I donated a Victorian Calling Book to the St Barbe Museum in Lymington with a copy of an interim report.

My mother had bought the book on Lymington Market about 25 years before and it had been my intention that the Museum should have the book, as there were a number of references to “Calls” to and from members of the St Barbe Family.

In fact, the very first entry in the book is a meeting between the Victorian Lady and Mrs S. St Barbe in Lymington, with the Call made on Mrs St Barbe on 21 March 1883. (Mrs St Barbe returned the Call on 29 March 1883.)

Some of the entries in the book were in pencil and there was the risk of deterioration. My initial intention was to list the names and donate the list and book to the St. Barbe Museum.

After a few false starts, I made a concerted effort to compile a list, only to find that I could not read the Lady’s writing! To help me decypher the names, I decided to research the names and addresses of people who would be likely to engage in the enjoyable pastime of calling in the Lymington area. Not surprisingly the names were leading members of society.

As I listed the names, it occurred to me that, if I also listed the people not in the book, I might Find the Lady! At the time of the donation I had not found out who she was.

A few pictures might be useful at this stage:



The instruction at the front of the Calling Book is as follows:
"After receiving or making a call, insert the name of friend in the "From or On" column,
and fill in the date in the column headed “Received" if the call is received, or in the
column headed "Made" if the call is made, which in either case leaves the column on the
opposite side of the page free for the insertion of the date when the call is returned.</.BR> A glance at the dates will show whose turn it is to call."

Some of the initial clues on pages 1 and 2:

- Headings of Lymington and York
- The wives and widows of leading members of society including those named St. Barbe, Rooke and West.

More Clues

- Heading of Highfield (houses on left as you go up the hill to Waitrose! )
- Visit to Galway. On a visit we found out that Eyre Square is the main square in Galway

More Clues

- Some of the people listed in the book were soldiers and their wives
- She met members of the main “tribes” in Galway, e.g. Blake
- There was a meeting in Efford Cottage (now a B& B on the left as you leave Everton on the way to Lymington)
- Later in the book is another meeting in Hoopers Hill (on the corner of Angel Lane is a sign to Hoopers Hill House on left as you drive back from Lymington)

- West appears again (The family, later the ambitious Cornwallis-Wests – a story in itself- owned Newlands Manor which is next door to South Lawns and in the past visited by Royalty!) and the Elphinstons who owned Chewton Glen. I can name drop with the best of them!


The Final Countdown

Who could have called on leading members of society in the Lymington area 1883-1893?
Why would she have visited York and Galway?
Could she have lived at Highfield, Efford Cottage or Hoopers Hill?

Libraries and the 1881 and 1891 Censuses were rich sources of information. The 1891 Census had a Captain Murray 4th West Yorkshire Regiment living with his wife at Efford Cottage. “Aha” I hear you say.

After many years of research, I had exhausted all avenues but the Hampshire Record Office in Winchester. Bit of a trek but I visited the Record Office in November 2008. I went up to Reception to ask if they had a card index with alphabetical surnames. No everything had been digitised! Everything.

Somehow by entering key words into their database, I found the record of the 1922 release of a marriage settlement between Henry Fawcett and:

Henry Stuart Murray of Hoopers Hill, Milton, major retired

Also remarkably, I found photographs of Captain Murray’s regiment in Galway where they celebrated Queen Victoria’s Birthday on 24 May 1885 by a parade at Renmore Barracks and regimental family outing. I had Found the Lady!

And after all that effort, who was she? It was Mary Florence Sophia Fawcett who married Henry Stuart Murray in 1883 when the entries in the Calling Book began. I wonder if she was given a Calling Book when she married an officer? I’ll leave that to someone else!"

Colin Bower
2 February 2021

Find the Lady! Index

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