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  • Writer's pictureWendy Percival

Mystery friends

Those of you who have read this blog for a while may remember the story of my great aunt Annie walking out of the family home in 1904 when she was 16. 

Although we were always led to believe it wasn’t until Annie was in her 90s that she contacted her family again, I did discover, relatively recently, during my family history research, that she had stayed in touch with at least one family member, her aunt Mary, her mother’s sister. 

Mary and her husband had no children and Mary was widowed in 1896. At some point Annie went to live with Mary in Bishop Street, Shrewsbury - the earliest date I have a record of this is 1925 in the UK’s Nurse Register, when Annie would have been 37, though she may have lived there before that. When Mary died in 1935, Annie was the main beneficiary in her will.

Two years later, the 1937 Nurse Register lists Annie living at 68 Foregate Street, Shrewsbury, the home of Mr & Mrs Edwin F. Murrell. Annie would remain in the Murrell household for several years and, this is the part that intrigues me most, Annie would later cite the couple as her official next-of-kin, even though members of her own family were still alive. 

So who were these people and why were they so significant in Annie’s life? Did Annie move in with them in her capacity as a nurse to care for a family member? As a lodger? Or was there something else which tied them together? 

Edwin Foley Murrell was a horticulturist and he ran the seed and rose growing business, Portland Nurseries, with his brother, which had been founded by their father in the late 19th century. Edwin often appeared in local newspapers, winning awards for his roses at horticultural and flower shows around the county, particularly during the 1920s and 30s.

Every so often, I do a bit of digging to see if I can find out answers to my questions, in the hope of discovering a link, perhaps between Annie's family and the Murrells. But so far, nothing much has come to light. The only connection I’ve established (and it’s pretty tenuous) is that Mrs Murrell’s father, Edward Randall, was born in Pontesbury, the same small village as Annie’s mother, Eliza Roberts was born.

Old photo of Pontesbury (courtesy of wikimedia commons)

So, as they say in detective circles, I’m still working on the case. If I ever do uncover the truth of the matter, you’ll read it here!


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