Thursday, 12 April 2012


Elizabeth Blaney was very knowledgeable of her own family history but she didn’t think of herself as a genealogist. We saw her as the family storyteller, a talent she seems to have inherited from her father, Harry. When his children were very young he often entertained them with his stories, some of which turned out not to be true but were nonetheless interesting.She meticulously recorded the births, addresses and deaths of family members and friends which turned out to be very helpful in my research.

As I listened to her stories, told in what seemed to me to be a distinctive upper class British accent, I wondered how coming from a working class English family, she spoke as she did.  I later discovered that when she was about fifteen she became a nursemaid for the prominent Lewis family who were connected with the Birmingham Small Arms Company (she referred to them as the gun family). Mrs. Lewis required her to “speak properly” in order to be a good example for the child in her care and so she did. 

Gran told us that her grandfather, Edwin Blaney, while working for Birmingham saddlers, Lamplugh & Brown, had made a saddle for Queen Victoria.  Imagine Elizabeth’s surprise when Mrs. Lewis (nee Brown) who was the daughter of a saddler, showed her a photograph of Edwin taken with that very saddle. She also told of another employer who had two paintings by her Great Uncle Walter Langley, hanging in their dining room. She met her future husband, Harry Welch, while he was working as a chauffeur for a family where Elizabeth worked as a baby nurse.

My Fair Lady 2nd prize at age 79
While she had a difficult and physically hard-working life, she continued to develop an appreciation for music, art, poetry, antiques and "fine things" which she passed on to her daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughter. She was a lifelong singer, She loved to laugh and dress up in costumes; she loved to make jewellery, read and collect poetry, occasionally writing some herself.

It is interesting and emotional to pursue the history of my grandmother's life because it gives me a much deeper understanding of how her life experiences shaped the person I came to know as I grew up and how I knew her in her later years. 

I struggle to read her journals written during her later years and her personal papers because they contain much sadness and some bitterness but they do include some explanations for those feelings. There were also many inspirational poems she collected and recorded over the years that seem to represent her hopes and ideals.She always aimed high.


  1. It is wonderful that you have those journals to read and learn about your grandmother.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  2. Journals are such amazing treasures. To be reminded of the treasure a journal becomes for descendants gives me initiative to continue writing in mine. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Welcome to Geneabloggers.

    What a treasure. I wish I had some journals to read which were from my grandparents or even before. I do treasure a 19th century family photo album I acquired.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets