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Articles from the United Kingdom (Updated August 2015)

(See Chart 10)

See Also the Article on Richard Qualtrough and His Family

Mary Elizabeth (Bessie) Qualtrough of Liverpool, England 15 Aug 1899-28 Oct 1962

by Helen Shields of North Wales.

(Helen Shields made contact with me in January 2002 after finding the Qualtrough family website on the Internet, like so many of you. She has since become a genealogical enthusiast and I thank you Helen for fulfilling my request in providing this article on your Qualtrough grandmother)

My Grandmother, Mary Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Qualtrough was born at 17 Martensen Street, Wavertree, Liverpool on the 15th October 1899. Her parents were Richard James and Ellen (nee Davis) Qualtrough. (See Chart 10 of A Quota Of Qualtrough’s)

Bessie’s Grandparents RICHARD QUALTROUGH (Senior) and Elizabeth (nee Trehearn) had moved to Liverpool from Colby, IOM sometime in the late 1800’s. They had the following children:












Richard James. and Ellen had 7 children. Tragically, as was often the case in those times, only Bess and her brother William lived to adulthood, the others died in infancy.

As the eldest child, Bess spent much time looking after her sister Annie and brother William. Annie suffered from convulsions, and sadly died at the age 3 years.

From the age of 14, Bess worked as a cashier at ‘Peagrams Grocery Store’ in Liverpool. She was also expected to help her mother with all the domestic chores. Ellen (Bess’s mother), coming from a family that had servants, found it difficult to cope with the household, and Bess was often left responsible for all the household duties.

The Qualtrough’s were a musical family, and Richard, his brother Henry their father Richard were members of ‘The Qualtrough String Quartet’. We believe that they held regular concerts in Liverpool and Douglas. As a teenager, Bess had been taught to play the violin and given singing lessons. She was also a member of the Liverpool Choral Society and sang regularly in her church choir.

They were all members of their local Methodist church, and it was at one of these church meetings that Bess was introduced to her husband to be, Jeffery Walker.

By this time World War One had broken out. Jeffery Walker joined the Lancashire Regiment, and became a gunner in the artillery. Throughout the war Jeffery wrote to his beloved Bess, as often as he could. In 1916 during the battle of the Somme, Jeffery was overcome by mustard gas. Amongst the chaos, Jeffery was pronounced dead, and lined up for burial. Miraculously, he stirred and was noticed by a medic, and lived to tell the tale, and marry Bess.

In the 1920’s, Jeffery and Bess moved to Everton in Liverpool and had 4 daughters, Irene, May, Edna, Dorothy ( a fifth daughter was born later). Jeffery worked hard in his trade as a Master Joiner, and brought his family through the depression in the 1920’s.

Meanwhile, Richard Qualtrough yearned for the Isle of Man. He was a keen fisherman and loved the Manx countryside. He bought a cottage in Clifton Terrace, in Douglas and moved back there with Ellen. My mother Joyce was born there in 1938.

In 1941 World War II was raging, and Bess and Jeffery were bombed out of their home in Everton. Luckily no one was hurt. For safety’s sake, Jeff evacuated his family to Knowlsey Village, where they lived on a farm.

Like her father, Bess loved the Isle of Man. The war did not stop her visits to the Island, although such trips were not without danger. On one trip, the Isle of Man ferry that Bess and her daughters were travelling, was followed by a German U Boat. My mother Joyce has memories of her older sisters, Dorothy and Edna, flirting with the soldiers that were guarding the German internees in Douglas hotels. She also recalls being in the IOM on VJ day.

Richard and Ellen were forced to move back to Liverpool soon after the end of the war. Ellen was ill and it was becoming very difficult for Bess travelling back and to from the Island to nurse her, with a young family in tow. Bess and her family had moved to Wallasey by then. It was here that Ellen died in 1946. Richard died some 3 months later. He was inconsolable after the death of Ellen, and they say he died of a broken heart.

For many years after, Bess and her daughters and grandchildren still had regular holidays in the Isle of Man. They were often accompanied by her brother Will and his children, John ‘Jackie’ and Marion. They usually stayed with their cousin Cissy Shimmin (nee Kelly) (See Chart 10 of A Quota Of Qualtrough’s) who owned a guesthouse in Murray’s Road in Douglas.

Postcard from Bess’s brother William who was fishing in Colby in the Isle of Man in 1939 with his dad.

Bess was also very close to her Aunt Marion (nee Qualtrough) Atherton, who had moved to Sleaford from Liverpool after the war. As a teenager, my mother remembers visiting Marion Atherton’s daughter Marion Benson in Rauceby, Lincolnshire. Unfortunately the families lost touch over the years and are no longer in contact.

Bess died of a stroke in 1962 at the relatively young age of 62. Will Qualtrough died in 1971 and the families lost touch over the years.

Click here for the Marriage Certificate of Bess’s Brother William……..

My mother Joy (Joyce Florence Carol Walker) was born in 1938. She married Bill (William Spencer) Shields in 1963. They had three children, Jeff, Joanne and myself, (Helen). Joyce died in August 2015 and Bill in 1988. Joy requested that part of her ashes be returned to the Isle of Man where she remembered her wonderful holidays.

We moved to North Wales in 1968, and have been very happy here. We were very close to my Mothers family, and our holidays as children were usually spent in New Brighton, Wallasey with my Mum’s sisters and our cousins.

Only two of my Aunts had married. May had one daughter, June, and Irene, had two boys, Raymond and David. They are all in their 50’s now with grandchildren of their own.

Edna and Dorothy never married. Dorothy died in 1968 at the young age of 39 and Edna died in November 1978 aged 54.

1988 was a very difficult time for us all as Irene died in March and then our father also died a few weeks later in April. May also died in 1991, leaving my mother as the last remaining daughter of Bess (nee Qualtrough and Jeffery Walker.

Since 1988 my brother Jeff has 3 children, William, Helen and Michael. My sister Joanne has Christopher, and Jenny. I am happy to be the proud Auntie for now. My mother is also very happy now in her role as Grandma

As we grew up Mum told us many stories of the Isle of Man and the Qualtrough’s.

I remember being amazed at the bus driver ensuring all passengers said ‘Good Morning’ to the fairies at ‘Fairy Bridge’. I wonder if that is still the case today. (Yes Helen, it surely is!). Unfortunately, Mum has never visited the Isle of Man since her last holiday with her Mother and sisters in 1962. I am hoping to take her there for a short break next year.

It was only by chance that I came across the Qualtrough family website.

As Qualtrough is such an unusual name, it didn’t take long to track some of the Qualtrough’s in Liverpool. I have since been in contact with Gill Qualtrough (Will’s granddaughter), and spoken to her father on the phone. Hopefully, I will get to meet them one day.

I hope that you have all enjoyed reading my article, and I would like to thank my Mum and any other family members that have helped with snippets of information. It has been an amazing experience for me to find out all about my family history, and to contact family members all over the world. One day I hope to join one of the family reunions and meet even more members of the Qualtrough Clan.

© 2021 by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough. 

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© Copyright by Malcolm Qualtrough, Elizabeth Feisst and the late John Karran Qualtrough.