Tag Archives: Violet Turner

Letters to a Home Child – Genealogy Karma

Wow. Within moments of submitting yesterday’s post to the Families of British Home Children Facebook group, I had genealogists searching for more information about home child Violet Turner.

I worked well in to the night on a timeline of Violet’s life, mainly using Ancestry.ca to search for vital statistics and immigration information.

Then, early this morning, I had a reply from a gentleman who is related to the man Violet married, Gordon Bancroft, also a home child. The letters will go to him.

In brief, this is what I was able to learn about her. [The links below are to documents in ancestry.ca and I’m not certain that they are available unless you have an ancestry account.]

SS Dominion (postcard)

Violet Turner was born in 1895 in England. She arrived in Canada on the SS Dominion with a large party of Barnardo children on 12 August 1905. Her name is on the Hazelbrae Memorial in Peterborough in the “1905 Girls” section.

She married Gordon Bancroft on 2 April 1915, using the name May Turner. The marriage certificate identifies them both as Baptist and they are married at the Methodist parsonage in Appin, Middlesex County, Ontario. The first letter to Violet from Barnardos in response to her inquiry about her parentage arrives 18 Dec 1916. Attestation papers show that Gordon enlists in the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force on 26 Dec 1916 and is identified as Roman Catholic. The 1921 census shows Violet living in Springfield Village, Elgin County, with three children: James R (5), Annie M (3), and Everet G (1), but I cannot find birth registration information for any of them.  Gordon dies on 26 Aug 1923 in the Queen Alexandra Sanatorium after a number of years with tuberculosis due to his service.

Queen Alexandra Sanatorium, London Ontario, 1910.

Violet marries George Jones (b. 1892) in London Ontario on 29 Nov 1923. The certificate lists her as Susie Turner, a widow and housekeeper. Her parents are listed as Albert Turner and Emily Smith and her birthplace as Scotland. This may have been information that she was able to get from Barnardos.

Sadly, Everet dies on 17 July 1938 from accidental drowning at the age of 18. He was buried at Bonfield in a Roman Catholic cemetery. From his death certificate, we learn that he was born on 21 Jan 1920 in Aylmer, Ontario.

I have not been able to find information on Violet’s death or burial, but this has been an interesting twenty-four hours, researching someone who is not part of my ancestry, but who has become a figure of interest, simply from unexpectedly finding those two letters. I look forward to being able to get these letters to a new home where they will become part of someone’s family legacy.

Letters to a Home Child.

I attended the Old Book and Paper Show at Wychwood Barns on Sunday after church. I’d seen ads for it previous years and this year I decided to make an effort to attend.

I’m something of a paper hoarder as I like to craft with interesting papers. I’m also always on the lookout for historical info about my family’s past to add to my genealogical writings and research. So I paid my admission ($8) and spent a very happy couple of hours sifting through all kinds of wonderful stuff.

You need a lot of patience at these shows. I wisely brought along a small purse with a shoulder strap so I’d have both hands free. Along with a lot of old books and prints there were boxes of postcards, some organized and some not, magazines, pulp fiction, newspapers, and all kinds of ephemera from old business cards, cigar labels, advertising, year books, and every kind of business paper you can imagine.

I came away with a couple of interesting items, plus a duplicate of something I already had (but in better condition.) In particular, I found one and a half letters from the Canadian branch of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes (the half letter being only the first page.) I will connect with the various organizations dealing with Home Children and supply them with scanned copies of these documents, which I reproduce below:

First page of a letter to Violet Bancroft (nee Turner) from Dr. Barnardo's Homes. 1916
First page of a letter to Violet Bancroft (nee Turner) from Dr. Barnardo’s Homes. 1916
Letter to Violet Bancroft (nee Turner) from Dr. Barnardo’s Homes. 1933

If I understand the letters correctly, it would appear that Violet Turner was herself a home child and, in the first letter, contacted Barnardo’s to enquire about her family history. She is referred to as Violet Bancroft in the first letter (her adopted family’s name? her married name?) and as Mrs. Jones in the second letter (presumably a married name, as she refers to her husband’s lack of employment.

I will do some research to see if I can find out more about this woman.