Saturday, October 20, 2007

Griffith and Maria Sydney


1901 census

During the time that I've been circling through the home turf of my Scottish ancestors, I've also been delving into the records of closer family members, in particular my great grandfather Griffith Williams and his siblings.

I've always been told that Griffith was a doctor/dispenser at Guy's Hospital in London before following his wife-to-be Beatrice Kerr back to Australia around 1911/12. The hospital doesn't maintain archives of staff from that period, so I contacted the British Medical Association. The BMA archivist checked the medical register and couldn't find him listed.

The next step was to contact the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, but nothing showed up there either. Their museum keeper said this was because dispensers weren't required to register. She sent me an informative sheet on the profession, which says
Non-professional trained dispensers were employed by doctors and pharmacists, and also in institutions such as hospitals, asylums, workhouses, prisons and barracks. They were trained assistants who compounded prescriptions under supervision. From 1815 onwards, the Society of Apothecaries offered an assistants' examination qualifying candidates to compound and dispense drugs under the supervision of an apothecary, pharmacist or doctor. It is important to note that relatively small numbers of people actually took the examinations, and that not all dispensers had qualified as Assistants through the Society of Apothecaries.
So I'm still in the dark as to my great grandfather's educational and professional qualifications. I have no documentary evidence of him doing anything between the 1901 England and Wales census where he is listed as a medical student, and his marriage in Australia in 1912.


Taking a slightly different tack, I'm trying to find out more about Griffith's brother and three sisters. The trail of his brother Ellis ends in London pre-WWII, and those of his sisters Jane and
Anne end with the 1901 census. So it was with his youngest sister Maria Sydney Williams - until this week. Maria, variously known as Mary/Maria/Meriah was 22 and living at home in 1901.

My persistence with the registry records after 1901 finally paid off when I found a marriage record for Maria Sidnie Williams in the 1906 March Qtr using the FreeBMD search service. I ordered the certificate, and this indicates

7th March 1906 Register Office Fulham

Benjamin Lincoln Brain 39 years Bachelor Accountant.
18, Kelmore Grove East Dulwich.
Father's name: Benjamin Brain
Profession of Father: of independent means.

Maria Sidnie Williams 27 years. Spinster. Hospital Nurse.
The Western Hospital, Fulham.
Father's name: Ellis Williams
Profession of Father: of independent means.

Witnesses: Nellie Christmas and T.H.Durrant.
Further scratching around the online records suggests that Benjamin Brain came from around Bristol, but I haven't got a firm match on his parentage, or found anything more going forward.


Our time in Scotland ended with yesterday's long drive down to Wigan in England. Bondi should be happier that the roads will become smoother for most of our remaining travels. I spent many hours into the night looking for some London/Brighton/similar accommodation.

This seems to have paid off with an email this morning indicating an excellent prospect in Isleworth, just down the road from Brentford. We're having a lay day today and I'll drive down to London first thing to check out the place, and with any luck, move in immediately. The only thing missing is a mattress, but I should be able to borrow or buy something affordable and/or inflatable to see me through to December.

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