Wedding Wednesday – George’s Wedding Photo Part 5: Lizzie?

I’ve been deconstructing a photograph taken at the wedding of George and Bella Elgey (1920 in Durham, England) and trying to identify the people in the picture using pictures of the “English relatives” in my grandmother’s collection. If you’d like to catch up, I’ve listed the links to previous posts at the bottom.

Identifying the first few individuals was pretty easy, but I ran into trouble as I continued. A letter from “Aunt Jennie” to my grandmother, Eveline Coates, provided information about several people whom I assumed were Jennie’s children.

I knew that my grandmother’s father was Joseph Coates and found him in the 1881 Census for England and Wales. There is a son, Joseph (age 13), and a daughter, Jane Ann (age 3), with their parents John and Ellen Coates in Willington, Durham, England.
gen.1881EnglandCensus-johncoates crop

I’m a little slow, but it finally dawned on me – Jennie must be a nickname for Jane Ann.

I found Jane A. Elgey in the 1901 Census in Hetton-le-Hole, Durham, England married to Frederick Elgey with children Jane P., John, Ethel, George and Elizabeth. All of those names were in Aunt Jennie’s letter except Jane P.

1901EnglandcensusFrederickElgeyJaneACoates crop

It seemed that I had the family group identified, so I returned to the wedding photograph. I had not yet identified Lizzie, the youngest child in the 1901 census, so I looked at the girls seated in front. Lizzie would have been about 20 years old at the time of the wedding. If those girls in the front are 20 maybe I should be calling them young women. Elgey, George.Wedding

The picture below has this signature on the back:
With Fondest Love
from Lizzie

Elgey, Lizzie

Lizzie – Mrs. Jack Hall

My mother’s handwriting also appears there, with this inscription: Mrs. Jack Hall.

At first glance, I thought Lizzie looked like the girl on the right in the wedding picture.
Elgey, on rightElgey, Lizzie crop

I also found the picture below…..

Mr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 copy

Mr. & Mrs. John Hall

and thought she must be the girl on the left.

Elgey, on leftMr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 crop woman

But wait – the back of the picture of the rather dour-faced couple reads:

Mr. & Mrs. John Hall
30 Wear Street
August 1926

Jack Hall copy

Jack Hall

Are Jack Hall and John Hall the same person? Could be. We’ve all heard of John Kennedy aka Jack. And I found a picture identified as Jack Hall that looks like he could be the man in the picture above – although the profile view makes it difficult to match.


So are these pictures of the same woman – Lizzie?
Mr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 crop womanElgey, Lizzie crop

And if so – is she one of the girls in the wedding picture?
Elgey, on leftElgey, on right

There is one more picture of Lizzie. The back of this picture names Jack, Lizzie, Nell and John. I’m pretty sure that’s John Elgey and his wife, Nellie, on the right. So that’s Lizzie in the middle and Jack on the left. Jack and Lizzie look like they could be the unhappy looking couple in the earlier picture. I’m so glad they are happy here! Maybe they are laughing about Lizzie’s house slippers.

Nell, John, Lizzie, Jack copy

Jack, Lizzie, John, Nell

Could this be a progression of Lizzie as she aged?

Elgey, Lizzie cropMr. and Mrs. John Hall.Aug1926 crop womanLizzie crop
Or is the woman in the middle not Lizzie? And if she is not Lizzie, then are John Hall and Jack Hall two different men?

And if all 3 of the pictures above are Lizzie – is she one of these girls?
Elgey, on leftElgey, Lizzie cropElgey, on right

Aunt Jennie mentions “cousin Ida” in her letter – but I have pictures identified as Ida and she doesn’t look like anyone in the wedding picture.  Jennie also mentions Hilda in the letter – whom I now know is Ida’s sister. Ida and Hilda are Jennie’s nieces.

Until I started typing this, I had never considered the possibility that Hilda might be in the picture – but a cousin could be in the wedding party. I must take a look….. Hilda would have been about 20 when the wedding occurred. Does she look like the girl on the right? (Hilda is pictured here on either side.)
Hilda 2 copy cropElgey, on rightHilda copy 2 crop

Here is what I think:

Jack Hall and John Hall are the same person.
Lizzie is in the 3 pictures – two identified as Lizzie and one identified as Mrs. John Hall.
Lizzie could be the girl on the left in the wedding picture. There seems to be enough resemblance in the shape of her face, nose, and eyes.
The girl on the right could be Hilda.

I don’t know if I will ever solve the question of the girls seated in the wedding picture unless I hear from a cousin somewhere who knows who they are, but I’d like to hear what you think!

There are five people left to identify in the wedding picture. Stay tuned.

If you’d like to catch up with who’s who, here are the links:
Isabella Lidmore
George Elgey
Ethel Elgey
John Elgey
Nellie – Mrs. John Elgey



Sepia Saturday – Letters from the H.M.S. Birmingham

Sepia Saturday provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

My first thought upon seeing today’s prompt was of a Christmas card sent from the H.M.S. Birmingham to my grandmother, Eveline Coates.

I thought I had a scan of the card or maybe the card itself, but unfortunately, all I have is a Xerox copy. Drat.

I’m going with it anyway.


The Christmas card, featuring a Navy vessel, was sent by this handsome young man.

George Elgey

George Elgey was my grandmother’s cousin.

George signed his name on the back of this photo. Eveline added his surname.

Eveline in brother John's WW1 uniform

George was born in Easington Lane, Durham, England on June 10, 1899. Eveline was born in Mystic, Appanoose, Iowa, USA, on February 15, 1901. Although first cousins and close in age, they never met.

George’s mother, Jane Ann (Jennie) Coates, and Eveline’s father, Joseph Coates, were siblings. Joseph boarded a ship as a young man sometime around 1889 and made the journey across the Atlantic. As far as I know, Joseph never saw his parents or siblings again.

George joined the Royal Navy sometime before August, 1918. Eveline graduated from Mystic High School in 1918 and entered normal school in the fall in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Both away from home for the first time, but under very different circumstances.

Eveline corresponded with her Aunt Jennie and several of Jennie’s children for many years. I am fortunate to have copies of a few letters sent to Eveline. It is one of my fondest wishes to find an “English cousin” in possession of the letters Eveline wrote.

I have a copy of one other bit of correspondence from George to Eveline, sent from the HMS Birmingham in August of 1918.

Friday Aug. 30th 1918.                                                         H.M.S. Birmingham,
C/o G.P.O. London
Dear Cousin,

Just a few lines – hoping this finds you in the best of health as it leaves me in the pink at present. I think sister Lizzie will have sent you word by now to let you know I joined the Navy a good while since well I can assure you it is a healthy life besides that we can learn a good deal which will be very usefull to us after this war is over. I meet many of American Sailors while I were down the south of England 400 miles away from my home called (erasure) a very beautifull place to. By the time you receive this I will be some where on the mighty ocean hunting for fishes which have done damage during this great war but now we have got our friends the Americans to help us it should not be long before it is finished let’s hope so. Can you remind of the time you sent me a letter calling me for not writing to you well I will excuse you for that as I know you did not mean it. I would have wrote to you sooner only I did not know your address untill I went home on leave. I suppose you will often hear from sister Lizzie as I think she does a great deal of writing but not so many as her brother George not by a good deal. Before I joined up I never wrote above two letters in all my life and now I do nothing else in my spare time. Please give my best love to all at your home also to Cousin Mr. and Mrs. Carl Coates. I have sent home to tell them to send you one of my photoes taken while in civil life and will do my best to send you one I have had taken in my sailors clothes. This is my address,

G. F. Elgey, Stoker II
SB. No 9213
H.M.S. Birmingham
C/o G.P.O. London

Eveline had a strict policy regarding correspondence. She promptly answered letters she received. In turn, she expected a reply within a reasonable amount of time. If one of Eveline’s letters went unanswered, she would write to you again, but with an admonishment and possibly a note that this would be the last letter you received until she heard from you. I know this from personal experience. The letter above confirms that grandmother instituted this policy early in life – evidenced by the scolding previously delivered to George. Now aboard ship, George had plenty of time for writing letters.

The cousin, Carl Coates, referred to in the letter is one of Eveline’s older brothers.

H.M.S. Birmingham 1916

George’s signature indicates his rank as Stoker II. The little research I have done informs me that stokers were in charge of generating steam for the turbines that powered the ship. The HMS Birmingham carried both coal and oil as fuel. Young George may have spent many hot and dirty hours shoveling coal into the boilers. Or he may have done maintenance on the engines. In any case, he made no complaints about his duties, assuring Eveline of his healthy life aboard ship.

Although the H.M.S. Birmingham was involved in several battles during World War I, most famously for being the first cruiser to sink a submarine, the time George spent on the Birmingham seems to have been relatively uneventful.

I wonder if George prepared his Christmas cards before the war ended on November 11?

I still have a lot of research to do regarding George and his service in the Royal Navy. In fact, I still have a lot to learn about all of the “English cousins”.

Lastly,the prompt above suggests not only ships, but crowds and travel. As I am posting this on Friday Oct. 5th, I’ll finish with something completely unrelated to George, the Navy, or ships and pay tribute to the British invasion that began 50 years ago with the release of this song: