Marjorie Murdoch Wainwright (1908 -1998)
Marjorie Murdoch (my mother) was born on April 20 1908 at Overton House, Willaston, nr Nantwich. She was the fourth of five children of Francis Joseph Wainwright, a railway accountant then aged 34, and Lucy Bradbury Murdoch, aged 36. She had two brothers, Eric (8) and Harold (4), and a sister Dorothy (6). Soon afterwards, the family moved a short distance to The Beeches, Crewe Road, Wistaston (half way between Nantwich and Crewe) which remained the family home until 1958.
Marjorie was first educated at Wistaston School less than a mile from home, and later at the Nantwich and Acton Grammar School , about three miles away in Welsh Row on the west side of Nantwich. When she was 8 (in 1916) a younger sister, Barbara, was born and her older sister Dorothy had to leave school at 14 to help look after the family at home . Her eldest brother Eric had served as a soldier in Germany and after the war worked in a bank in Crewe before going off to India in disgrace in 1921 when Marjorie was 13. She matriculated from her grammar school probably at the age of 16 in the summer of 1924.
Marjorie only knew a few relations: she had a single aunt on each side of her family in the UK. Her mother Lucy’s sister Jessie was living in Chorlton, near Manchester, with her husband Frederick Hazell and their four children (all older than her). Her maternal uncles had all emigrated to North America after the desertion and death of their father David Murdoch in 1873, though Uncle Fred, the dentist, came back to visit Nantwich in 1932 . On her father’s side, Frank’s only surviving sister Florence lived locally in Wybunbury with her husband Samuel Potts and five children (again all older) and Marjorie kept up contact all her life with the youngest, her cousin Irene Ward (known as Rene, née Potts).
The family belonged to the Methodist Church in Hospital Street, Nantwich, and her sister Dorothy eventually married Willoughby , the son Rev David Lambert who was the minister there between 1915 and 1919 . Her mother Lucy was a regular attender at the Sisterhood between 1911 and 1927, and sang in the choir.
After leaving school, Marjorie spent a few years at home helping to look after the family , but in September 1929, at the age of 21, she started nurse training at the Nottingham General Hospital Nursing School. She lived in the new Nurses’ Memorial Home where the rules were strict and supervision tight, but she was able to return to Nantwich for annual three-week holidays. She had a long period of illness in her first year and this may have contributed to her failing her first state examination in February 1931, though she passed it in the May. She passed the Final State Examination in February 1933 and finished the course in December 1933 as a State Registered Nurse . She probably went to Leeds to complete the midwifery part of her training.
On qualifying as a nurse and midwife, she returned to Wistaston to live at home with her parents and work as a health visitor in Crewe until her marriage in 1939. Barbara had also been living at The Beeches until soon after their mother died in January 1938: in May that year she went to live with her uncle Fred Murdoch, a dentist in Connecticut, USA.
Marjorie had met Leonard Patrick at a Temperance Rally in 1922 when she was 16 and he was 18, but it was 1936, when he was a middle-manager in a textile factory in Congleton, before they fell in love . He came from a very disturbed family background on Mow Cop on the Staffordshire border 10 miles away: his mother had committed suicide when he was 10 and he had been withdrawn from Macclesfield Grammar School at 14 after only one year on a scholarship. However, by then he was a popular Methodist local preacher and had educated himself, holding down a responsible job and supporting his father and step-mother. In 1937 Leonard started working as Area Officer with the Associated Road Operators in Broad Street in the centre of Hanley.
They were married at Hospital Street Methodist Church, Nantwich, on her 31st birthday, Thursday April 20 1939 . The reception was held at Churches Mansions , a splendid Tudor building nearby, and it looks as though no expense was spared. They spent their honeymoon at an hotel at Blue Anchor Bay , Minehead, in Somerset.
They first went back to live with Marjorie’s father Frank at The Beeches for 3 months before moving to a rented house at 3 Delves Place in The Westlands , a newly-built model estate in Newcastle-under-Lyme. This would have been an enormous step for both of them, living independently of their parents for the first time after many years and in a place new to them. Marjorie would have given up her nursing job, probably on marriage and certainly on moving to Newcastle. Their semi-detached house was new and spacious, much bigger than the modest workman’s cottage that Leonard had known on Mow Cop for 20 years. They joined the new Methodist Church at the Westlands, now called St Peter’s. I was born there in March 1940 , their first child.
In July 1940 Leonard moved to Birmingham to take up a new job with the Commercial Motor Users Association whose offices were in Birmingham City Centre at 60 Newhall Street . The family lived in a rented house at 51 Webb Lane, a quiet and leafy suburban lane in Hall Green. A second son, David, was born there in July 1942 and Marjorie had a miscarriage in 1943. All confinements were conducted at home with the help of a midwife and under the supervision of old Dr Stubbs, a general practitioner on Stratford Road, Hall Green. This was wartime, and South Birmingham was bombed many times between August 1940 and April 1943 . Leonard served in the ARP , being exempt from military service because he was in a reserved employment. He kept chickens in the garden in which he also grew vegetables and American relations sent food-parcels once in a while. With the end of hostilities in sight, Peter was born in August 1944, and then Malcolm in May 1946; in peacetime but in a period of continuing hardship and food rationing. So when Marjorie reached the age of 40 (in 1948) she was blessed with a husband in secure employment, a pleasant home in Birmingham (which they had purchased ) and a growing family of four boys. Her nurse training gave her skills which helped her care for them. Leonard was promoted several times and made a success of his career in transport.
After the war, the four boys were brought up in a happy and supportive home. Malcolm had been born with mild spina bifida giving him a slightly deformed leg and a limp which had been treated by physiotherapy. The other boys were healthy: all attended Hall Green Primary School about a mile away and they first went to a Sunday School at the Congregational Church in Etwall Road and later to Hall Green Methodist Church. Family entertainment comprised outings on foot to local parks and weekend drives to places like the Clent Hills, Malvern or Henley-in-Arden. On Whit Monday Bank Holidays there was a local horse show and several times a season Leonard and the older boys would go to watch League football at West Bromwich Albion. Summer holidays were spent at beach resorts in England and Wales. In 1946, the family stayed in a caravan on the sands at Dyffryn north of Barmouth. In later years they would spend one or two weeks in boarding-houses in places like Aberdovey, Prestatyn and Boscombe, suggesting a relative prosperity that Leonard could not have imagined 20 years earlier. The family would make the 60-mile journey to Nantwich two or three times a year to see Marjorie’s father, with whom Leonard got on well and for whom he would do heavy gardening tasks like turning the compost in “the hole”.
After primary school, the two eldest boys moved on to King Edwards School, Birmingham (a direct grant school), Peter went to Wheelers Lane Secondary Modern School, and Malcolm to King Edwards Camp Hill Grammar School which had just relocated to Kings Heath . In 1953 the family moved from Webb Lane to a large detached house at 56 Tixall Road, Hall Green, which they purchased with the help of a legacy to Marjorie from her uncle Fred Murdoch. A sign of their raised aspirations was the arrangement Marjorie had for a “traveller” to visit weekly from Barrows to take her order for groceries to be delivered to the door. As her sons grew less demanding, Marjorie volunteered to start a new Girl Guide Company at Hall Green Methodist Church. Leonard was a local preacher, Sunday School Superintendent and church steward there, so they were pillars of that thriving community where three of their sons were eventually to meet their wives.
When Marjorie was almost 50 (in 1958) her father Frank died in his own home at the age of 82 and was buried in Nantwich. In his later years he had been cared for by a housekeeper and Marjorie and Leonard had been preparing to extend the house at Tixall Road ready to have him to live there. His estate was divided equally between the five children (three in N America and one in Scotland ) but it was complicated by the possession of four terraced houses in Crewe which were a liability and soon sold off .
By 1958 she had four sons at secondary school and the eldest was preparing to go to University College, Oxford , the first person on either side of the family to get to university. Two others followed, graduating in due course from Durham and Cardiff . John qualified as a doctor and went off to Nigeria for his first job and then settled in Dundee as a university lecturer. David became a secondary school teacher and worked for a year in Birmingham before moving to Bristol and Bath. Peter was trained as a chef and worked in restaurants in Birmingham, and was the last son to live at Tixall Road. Malcolm graduated in engineering and after working for Rolls Royce in Derby moved back to Birmingham to work for Gillette.
David never found a wife but by 1970, John, Peter and Malcolm had all been married at Hall Green Methodist Church, and in 1975 the last of Marjorie’s eight grandchildren (five boys and three girls) was born. Four lived nearby and she was able to see them develop through infancy. The other four grandchildren spent most of their early years away in tropical countries but visited Birmingham most years for festivals and holidays. However, the whole family met together very rarely. Marjorie visited her sister Dorothy in Scotland occasionally: Barbara visited from the US two or three times and Harold came once. Her brother Eric returned to try to settle in UK in his declining years but this attempt failed and he returned to Vancouver where he died in 1965. In 1961 and 1965 Marjorie and Leonard flew to New York to spend time with Barbara and Fred in Meriden, Connecticut, and in 1971 Marjorie went alone. Marjorie’s health was reasonably good, though she suffered with gall-bladder disease for which she had surgery in Birmingham in her fifties.
In January 1976, when Marjorie was 68 and Leonard 70, the family was devastated by the tragic suicide of their youngest son Malcolm , not yet thirty. He left a widow Anne and two young daughters. Family relationships were not really strong enough to help them through it, and their grief and incomprehension hardly lightened with the passage of years. Soon afterwards they moved a mile from Tixall Road to 39 Painswick Road, Hall Green, a semi-detached house not unlike their earlier one in Webb Lane, despite the fact that Leonard was beginning to struggle with arthritis which made walking painful. By this time David was working in Birmingham again and Peter was living in Solihull, so they had some local family support. John and his family visited from Nottingham fortnightly. They enjoyed their small garden and continued with church work. Leonard died in the Birmingham General Hospital after a short illness in December 1983. Marjorie was left a widow with a rather modest pension at the age of 75. She continued to drive for a while, but became increasingly disabled by a series of falls attributed to poor cerebral circulation. Eventually, she moved into the Grey Gables residential home in Acocks Green and the house was sold to pay the fees. She suffered a facial burn after a fall against a hot radiator and was admitted to Selly Oak Hospital for treatment. She was then moved to the Prince of Wales Nursing Home in Solihull Lodge, Birmingham, where she died just before her 90th birthday in April 1998. The last survivor of her Wainwright family, she was cremated at Robin Hood Cemetery, Solihull, within sight of Malcolm’s grave, just as Leonard had been 15 years before. She left three sons (John Murdoch, David Francis [since deceased] and Peter Leonard), eight grand-children and one great-grandson.
Maternal relationship is confirmed by a Family Finder test match betweeen Sharon (Murdoch) Primbsch and her second cousin John Murdoch Patrick. Their MRCAs are their great grandparents, David Murdoch and Harriet Jemima Parkes. Predicted relationship from FTDNA: 2nd Cousin - 4th Cousin, based on sharing 121 cM across 19 segments.
1. Birth certificate 2. Now Wistaston Junior School, Church Lane, Wistaston, Crewe, CW2 8EZ 3. No evidence but Dorothy was a pupil there. She earned a prize in 1910 (check) 4. She was awarded a book prize for attendance at the end of the Christmas term 1920 when she was 12. 5. New buildings completed in 1921 when Mum would have been 13. 6. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6135516.stm states that school leaving age was 14 from 1918 to 1936. 7. Note by Mary Lambert 8. See letters of Rev David Lambert, Dorothy’s father-in-law, minister at Nantwich Methodist Church to Willoughby’s brother Francis serving in Salonika at that period. [Mary and Elisabeth] 9. Emigration records in file. He sailed in the P&O ship DEVANHA leaving London on July 15 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6135516.stm states that school leaving age was 14 from 1918 to 1936. Matriculation from a Grammar School probably means she stayed on beyond this age. 10. Passenger list on file: he sailed back to New York from Liverpool on the Cunard Line on April 15 1932 11. On 21 December 1933 at Hospital Street. Their reception was at Churches Mansions, Nantwich. 12. See previous note on letters of Rev David Lambert 13. See doc EMS 27/3/1 archive of Hospital Street Methodist Church, Nantwich in Chester Record Office 14. Her Nursing School record card shows Previous Occupation: nil 15. built as a monument to the First World War dead of Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, and opened by the Prince of Wales in 1923. 16. The notebooks of Harriet Patrick (no relation), a nurse who went through the course 4 years previously, is available in the Nottingham University archives. She copied out the Rules of the Nurses Home. 17. Copy of record card on file, with details of holidays, sick leave, ward postings etc 18. Mum kept up with NNN Thurman (later Pullan) a nurse two years ahead of her in Nottingham. She went to Leeds for midwifery as did Nurse Harriet Patrick. 19. In her passport 1961 Marjorie gives her occupation as health visitor 20. Record of her passage across the Atlantic in file. May 6 1938 on the Cunard White Star Line from Liverpool to New York 21. Family story: but location unknown. 22. See Wesley Earl’s funeral eulogy for Leonard Patrick 23. Business card in file: office at Phoenix Chambers, Broad Street, Hanley. His name is given in the 1940 Staffordshire Directory implying that he ran the office. 24. Entry in Birmingham Who’s Who 1977-78 25. Wedding service and invitations in file. 26. Wedding photos with Evelyn Patrick and ??? as bridesmaids and George Patrick as best man. 27. Family story. 28. David suggested this. No evidence yet. 29. Keele University document on file 30. Dad preached there on 4 February 1940; see plan in file 31. see my birth certificate for address 32. Date of move given by my own National identity card with a change of address from Newcastle to Hall Green between 28 June and 17 August 1940 33. Photo in file 34. Mum’s old friend, Phyllis Chesters from Nantwich, had been the midwife at my birth in Newcastle. 35. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birmingham_Blitz 36. Air Raid Precautions. Dad would patrol the streets at night checking for inadvertent lights and helping with bomb damage. The next-door neighbours had an Anderson shelter into which the family retreated when the siren went off, and a Morrison shelter at home provided some protection. The nearest bombs fell less than half a mile away near Yardley Wood Station. 37. David’s memory: no date and no record. 38. These were the days of selection at the age of eleven, based on academic testing: the so-called 11+ exam. 39. My KES pupil record gives date as 27 May 1953 40. a department store in the centre of Birmingham belonging to the Cadbury family, 41. Eric was in Vancouver, Harold in Ohio and Barbara in Meriden, Connecticut. 42. Dorothy lived at Lebanon College, Berwick-on-Tweed and later in Dunbar. 43. The executors were Marjorie and Willoughby Lambert, but Leonard did most of the work. Frank’s will in file and a folder of executors’ documents. 44. John, 1958 – 1966, MA DPhil BM BCh (Physiology & Medicine); 45. David, 1959 – 1962, BA (English and Philosophy); Malcolm, 1962 - 1965 BSc (Engineering) 46. Ilesha, Nigeria 1967; Papua New Guinea 1970; Ife, Nigeria 1972-75 47. Marjorie and Leonard helped him financially and arranged accommodation in Rhyl, North Wales where I visited him in about 1962. 48. Info from the entries in their joint passport. Marjorie travelled alone in 1971. 49. Malcolm’s paternal grandmother, Minnie Patrick (nee Porter) and his maternal great-grandmother Ellen Wainwright (nee Green) had also taken their own lives. 50. Malcolm is buried at Robin Hood Cemetery, Solihull. Gravestone pictured here. 51. Malcolm’s brothers were unaware of the fact that he had made two previous suicide attempts.
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