My grandmothers and their names
My grandmothers were Winifred Erquhart Ross (1901-1999) and Gertrude Marion Byrne (1899-1975). Winifred became a Holford when she married Charles. Gertrude became a Simmonds. Of course I knew them as Nanna Holford and Nanna Simmonds, though in her later life Winifred informed us that she had always hated being called Nanna and wished that we would call her Gran, which we obediently did. Don’t know why she didn’t say so years earlier. Of course to their families they were known as Win and Gert. So where did their names come from?
Winifred’s names are the direct result of her Scottish ancestry, which was all on her father’s side. Her mother, Alice Hickson (1872-1945), was Australian but came from Irish stock. Her father, William Ross (1861-1939) was born in Birkenhead, Cheshire, England, but his father was a Scot, James Urquhart Ross, and his mother, Mary Anne Marston, was English, originally from Shropshire. William’s older sister, Alice (1855), was born in Wales, but his two older brothers Andrew and James were both born in Birkenhead. It would seem James Urquhart Ross had left Scotland before he married and started a family. Win’s middle name and maiden name were directly from her Scottish grandfather.
Gertrude Marion Byrne was born in Sydney in 1899. Why she had Marion as a middle name I don’t know. Her parents were both Irish: her fatherGeorge Byrne (1860-1929) and her mother, Susan Hickson (1861-1945) came from Killarney in County Kerry, Ireland. They married, however, in Summer Hill, Sydney in 1885 and had five daughters and a son. Gertrude was fifth in line, the second youngest. Three of her older sisters never married, but her sister Constance (Emily Constance Byrne) married Thomas Walmsley. Gertrude’s only brother, who was 4 years older than her, fought in WW1 and later married, but had no children.
Both of my grandmothers were therefore daughters to Hicksons, Win to Alice Hickson, and Gert to Susan Hickson. Alice and Susan were cousins. Alice married a Scot, William Ross. Susan married an Irish countryman, George Byrne. Little did they know that two of their respective grandchildren (my parents) would eventually meet and marry, completely unaware of the connection between them.
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