A Fishguard family history through photographs
Back in 2014 a bundle of photographs were given to Fishguard and District Local History Group – nothing was known about them – they had been found when a local house was being cleared.
In the bundle there was some information about a casualty of WW1 and his story was included in the WW1 exhibition which was held in the library in August of that year. (see Thomas Owen Harries 1893-1915
At that time of course, this website did not exist, however now that it is in being, we have somewhere to record all that has been found out about the lives of those in the photos.
Some of the photos in the bundle had names on their reverse and through researching the census, parish records and local newspapers it has been possible to tell much of the story behind the photos and to understand perhaps how they came to be left behind in a Fishguard home.
Numbers in bold, alongside names link to the photos above
The Owen family
Winifred Owen was born in 1851 in Fishguard – her parents were both Fishguard born – Thomas Owen, a carpenter and Martha Poyntz, who was a milliner before she married. Thomas and Martha lived in various addresses around Fishguard Square which at that time was known as Colby or Castle Square. They also lived in Water Street which is believed to be what is now known as Parc y Shwt. At the time of Winifred’s birth the family were living in Castle Square. Winifred was the second youngest of six children.
The Harries family
In 1875, Winifred Owen1 married Thomas Harries 2, also of Fishguard who was a seaman. They started their married live in West Street but perhaps because her husband was away at sea, by 1891 she was living in High Street with her father, Thomas Owen (who was by this time, a widower) together with her five children and spinster sister. A final son was born in 1893. The 1911 census recorded that her husband, Thomas Harries was no longer a seaman but had become a lighthouse keeper – Strumble lighthouse had opened in 1908 so perhaps he had gone to work for Trinity House and was one of the new assistant light house keepers.
Although Winifred and her husband Thomas were able to successfully raise six of the eight children born to them – it as young adults that things seemed to go wrong and tragedy seem to befall the family. A time line of events reveals what happened.
1905 – Alice Harries 3,4,5 (b. 1881) who had married Lewis Mills 6 of Aberavon in 1904, died in childbirth aged 24 years. The baby was brought back to Fishguard and initially raised by grandparents, Winifred and Thomas, but upon Winifred’s death, her aunt Elizabeth took over the care of the little girl. The baby’s name was Winifred Alice Mills who was known as Mina. Prior to her marriage, Alice had moved to London where she worked in a large drapers as a milliner – interestingly, the manager of the shop was from South Wales and all 14 of his employees (including his cook and house keeper!) were from Glamorgan, Carmarthenshire or Pembrokeshire. Lewis Mills appears to have emigrated to the United States following the death of his wife and presumably did not see his baby daughter again.
1915 – Thomas Owen Harries 1, 3,7,15 (b.1893) died of injuries during a battle at Gallipoli and was buried in Greece aged 22 years.
1915 – mother Winifred died within weeks of the death of her youngest son, Thomas Owen. She was aged 64 years.
1916 – Martha Poyntz Harries 8 (b. 1877) who had married David Morgan, manager and chief clerk of a tin plate works in Swansea died in childbirth aged 39 years. She had three children, the middle one of which had died at a year old, but two children survived. Her husband never remarried.
1917 – Elizabeth Harries 9 (b.1886) had married Charles Patterson 10(of Troedyrhiw, Merthyr Tydfil) in 1908 and they had one daughter, Margaret. Charles Patterson died suddenly when playing football – he had been working at a munitions factory in Burry Port. Charles was just 33 years when he died. Upon his death, Elizabeth returned to live in Fishguard and moved into 63 High Street. Since childhood, Elizabeth had been known as Bessie.
1921 – Bessie, by now a widow, had moved to 13 High Street together with her daughter Margaret and her niece Winifred Alice Mills, the daughter of her late sister. She was also caring for her older brother Alfred who was unemployed having previously worked as a traction engine driver.
1922 – Alfred William Harries 11 served as a soldier in the Royal Garrison Artillery in WW1 and was medically discharged in 1917 presumably due to injuries suffered on the battle field. He died in 1922 aged 39. Prior to the war Alfred had worked for the GWR at Goodwick and in 1913 joined the National Union of Railwaymen.
1922 – Elizabeth (Bessie) Patterson (nee Harries) married again, to a neighbour, Hugh Benjamin George 12 of 11 High Street. They had one son – Wilfred Douglas George. Hugh George was the son of a local chemist.
1931 – William Owen Harries 13,14( b.1879) died in London aged 53 years. He had not married and had no known descendants.
So, in 1931, Elizabeth, when only 45 years old, was the last survivor of her siblings. Elizabeth died in 1951 aged 66 years.
In total there were five surviving grandchildren – three of whom were raised in Fishguard.
Winifred Alice Mills 15,16-born 1905- daughter of Alice; came to live in Fishguard with her grandparents when her mother died and went to the National School. Her grandmother died when she was just 10 years old as did her Uncle Tom with whom she appears to have been quite close. Winifred was then cared for by Elizabeth (Bessie), her mother’s younger sister. Up until 1939 Winifred had not married – what happened to her after that date is uncertain. A possible death record for her has been found in Rhuddlan, North Wales in 1990 but this is not confirmed.
Margaret Alice Patterson 16,17– born 1908 – daughter of Elizabeth (Bessie) and Charles Patterson. Her father Charles died when she was 9 years old. She married Richard Williams in 1954 and died in 1984 aged 76 years. There were no children from the marriage.
Wilfred Douglas George 18– born 1922 – known as Douglas. He was the son of Elizabeth (Bessie) by her second husband, Hugh Benjamin George. Douglas married Vera Hughes of Fishguard in 1950 and they had one child, Vivienne, born in 1951. Wilfred died in 1979 aged 57 in Uzmaston and his wife Vera died in 2012 in Goodwick. Their daughter Vivienne 19 emigrated to New Zealand where she died in 2013.
John Edryd Morgan and Martha Morgan – children of Martha were brought up by their widower father in Swansea. John Edryd Morgan never married – his sister Martha however married and had three children who were all born in the Swansea area.
So it seems that the local family simply died out and there was no one left therefore who had connections to the photographs – a sad tale but one that is probably repeated in many families.