Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Uncle Harry

My Mom was surprised when I told her she had an Uncle Harry. Her father's older brother, George Henry Parker Bellamy, was never mentioned in the time she was growing up.

My great-grandparents, John Henry "Harry" Bellamy and Elizabeth Rason, were both school teachers in Kirton-in-Holland, Lincolnshire. This area on the south-east coast of Lincolnshire, England was known as Holland or the Fens because of its flat, low-lying land. The Bellamys were living at the school where they taught when George Henry Parker "Harry" was born on April 12, 1881. The "Parker" in George Henry's name refers to John Henry Bellamy's mother, Mary Frances Parker.

Thinking that there was just my grandfather, John S Bellamy, and his sisters Edith and Gladys, I was very confused when I read Gladys Walmsley, Elizabeth Rason's neice referring to a "Harry" as Harry and Lizzie's son. Was my grandfather known as Harry as a child? I thought he was called Jack.

Gladys Walmsley wrote in a letter to a Margaret Rason on July 31, 1979 and in the letter she wrote:
There was also a girl in the family "Lizzy" whom I imagine was Elizabeth. I believe she married a Harry Bellamy. My fathers sister was a school mistress in England and her husband Harry a schoolmaster.
After having a copy of the letter sent to me, I was in contact with Gladys Walmsley's granddaughter, Deborah Glover, who gave me part of Gladys' memoirs:

Lizzie as they called her lived on Garden Avenue in the Sunnyside District. She was married in England to a man named Ballamy, Harry, I think his name was. They both taught school in England. He was a school master and Aunt Lizzie was a school mistress. They had "Harry" and a girl named "Gladys".
Harry my cousin was a great organist and they had great hopes from him but he was hit by a train and was deformed which ruined his career. I do not know who Gladys Bellamy married. Cousin Harry died young. Aunt Lizzie's husband Mr Bellamy did not teach school in Canada - he had to take a six month course to acquaint him with the standard of "School Certificate" required in order to continue to teach here. He felt this was below his dignity so my father said. However he was hired by the old Toronto Street Railway and was to be a very important man for them when he retired or died.
By the notes above, I realized that "Harry" Bellamy could not have been my granfather, and I was able to view a microfilm of the 1891 census for Lincolnshire, England. There he was, listed with the family as "George H Bellamy, a nine-year-old male, born in Kirton." This was when I told my Mom about my discovery.

I asked my Mom's brother, Bill Bellamy, if he know about Harry and the question and answer follow:
Grandpa had an older brother, George Henry Parker Bellamy. This was news to Mom, did you know about him? I believe he was known as Harry Jr., was a good organist, and died young. I got this information from Elizabeth Rason's niece, Gladys Walmsley.
This is correct but I never knew him. He was in poor health and died young.
So the general consensus was that George or Harry had health problems and died young. At age nineteen, George H P Bellamy was counted in the 1901 Ontario census as a gardener with no income living with his parents. In 1911 the thirty-year old George Henry was listed as a motorman with the street railway earning $687 per year, just slightly less than his father, who had the same occuptation. The last sighting I have of Harry alive is in the 1915 Toronto City Directory where he is listed at the same residence as his father with no occupation given.

Harry outlived his mother, who died in Oshawa on February 6, 1926. Harry's sister, Edith and her husband, Sidney Spall, were living in Oshawa and Elizabeth's death registration indicated that she had been living in Oshawa since 1920. Did Harry Jr. move to Oshawa with his parents?

I wonder when Harry was injured and how he came to end up in the House of Refuge in Whitby, Ontario. Every county in Ontario was required to build a House of Refuge for the poor and friendless. Was Harry cast out by his father after Elizabeth's death because he couldn't look after him or had Harry Sr. become poor himself before moving in with his daughter?

The following information was given on the registration of George Henry Parker Bellamy's death:
Surname of deceased: Bellamy
Forename of deceased: Henry
Place of death: House of Refuge
Sex, Racial Origin, Single Married Widowed: Male, English, single
Age: 48 years
Place and Date of Birth: England 1881
Trade or Occupation: Inmate
Name of Father: John Bellamy
Birthplace of Father: Boston, England
Maiden name of Mother: Elizabeth Rason
Birthplace of Mother: Boston, England
Name of Physician: Dr. chas F. McGillivray
Address: Whitby
Name of Informant: J. F. Lavery
Address: Manager, House of Refuge
Place of burial: Union Cemetery
Date of Burial: Jan. 8th, 1929
Name of Undertaker: W. C. Town
Address: Whitby
Date of Death: Jan. 7th 1929
Dates Medical Practitioner attended deceased: From his admission to the Refuge to January 6, 1929
Cause of Death
Primary: Anaemia dnd General Debility
Contributory: A cripple from youth
Did an operation precede death? No Was there an autopsy? No
Name of Physician: Dr. Chas F. McGillivray
Address: Whitby, Ont.
Date received by Division Registrar: Jan. 8, 1929
I would not consider dying at age forty-eight as young, especially in 1929. Perhaps the family was ashamed to have a son die in the poorhouse. It is no wonder that Grandpa did not tell my Mom that she had an Uncle Harry.


  1. From a letter from Elizabeth Rason Bellamy, Harry's mother, dated March 4, 1903, we now know that Harry was left an invalid after having sunstroke in the summer of 1901.

    From the post Bellamy Letter #1:

    "Harry is at home now, an invalid, he had a very serious illness a year and a half ago and he is not yet able to work."