JOHN HOARE'S FAMILY HISTORY
The Perkins family
We all hope to find that we have distinguished distant relatives. In my case there are two stories which connect me to the Perkins family. As I am not currently in touch with them I am only using publicly available sources, and will happily remove any material if requested. The first trail starts here and leads to my second cousin one time removed. It first appeared as a DNA match, confirmed by a little digging.
My grandfather John Dalby Williams, a lighterman in Limehouse in the East End of London, born about 1846, married Sarah Eleanor Maxwell in 1869. In 1866 Eleanor’s sister Henrietta Maria, my 2nd great aunt, had married John Perkins born 1842. John Perkins had been born in Sheerness in Kent, but lived in Portsmouth and worked in the dockyard there. The names Maxwell and Perkins were to be significant in my family story in two ways.
John Perkins, was a ‘writer’ in the dockyard in 1881 and 1891, progressing to principal writer and eventually retiring on a pension; a writer in this context was a naval record keeper, a post that required trustworthiness.
John and Henrietta’s son Donald Maxwell Perkins, my 2nd great-uncle was born in 1870. He served in the Lincolnshire Regiment as Lance Corporal In WW1 and was awarded the British war Medal and Victory Medal. He was a freemason in the Portsmouth lodge early 1900s but was ‘erased’, apparently because he failed to keep up payment of his dues. He married Lizzie Norah Isabelle Mcphail Perkins in Kingston, Jamaica in 1903, and seems to have spent quite a lot of his life moving around the world. He doesn’t appear in the UK 1901 census, but in 1911 he was back in Portsmouth working in the dockyard as a Senior Civil Servant writer.
Donald and Lizzie had two children, Ella Norah Massy Perkins born 1905 and Maxwell Edmund Massy Perkins (known as Max), born 1907, both my 2nd cousin once removed and born in Portsmouth.
Maxwell Edmund Massy Perkins had a long and distinguished military and diplomatic career. He married Helena J P Newberry in 1934 and they had two daughters and a son. He joined the RAF in 1929 and qualified as a pilot in 1930. He attended an officers engineering course in 1932, and worked as an RAF Engineering Officer India until 1938 when he became Engineering Officer, HQ Bomber Command. In the 1950s he was apparently working in a diplomatic role. In 1954 he became Senior Technical Staff Officer, HQ Fighter Command, and in October1961 Director General of Engineering.
The National Portrait Gallery holds a set of four photographs of Max marking his position as an Air Vice-Marshall and Director General of Engineering, Air Ministry.
This picture is from that set, by Walter Bird © National Portrait Gallery, London, published with the permission of the National Portrait Gallery under a Creative Commons licence as detailed at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/
Bromide print, 14 November 1961, 8 1/8 in. x 6 1/8 in. (206 mm x 155 mm) image size. Commissioned, 1961, Photographs Collection. NPG x169943.
Honours bestowed on Max have proved a little more tricky to confirm. I have found a record on the Genealogie Online -
The first award, is confirmed by an entry in the supplement to the London Gazette published 28 December 1956, and an entry in the RAF Web website.
The CB in 1962 is harder to corroborate. There is a cryptic entry in the Rafweb website which appears to have the date removed.
Max retired in 1964, and passed away in November 1985
Web references (seen September 2018)
National Portrait Gallery
London Gazette 28 Dec. 1956
Back in Limehouse my grandfather John Dalby Williams died of ‘congestion of the brain’ in 1882 at the age of 35 leaving his wife Sarah nee Maxwell and two daughters, my great-aunt Henrietta Maud, aged 7, and my grandmother Eleanor Florence, aged 5. Their story is told in more detail on the page I have set up for Eleanor
Sarah did her best, but although her husband had been earning a reasonable income there was little in the bank, and she had limited earning ability. She fought to keep the family out of the workhouse, and Henrietta Maud was taken in by her Uncle Dalby who was doing well and ran a boarding house in Wapping. Sarah was desperate that Eleanor Florence shouldn’t be brought up in the workhouse, so she took her case to the recently formed Doctor Barnados home in Ilford. As part of the case assessment the home looked to see if the family could reasonably help, and recorded the fact that Aunt Henrietta, who we have already met as the wife of John Perkins, was quite well off and ran a small school down in Portsmouth. The Perkins family took in Henrietta for a while but not Eleanor – I don’t know the circumstances so I can’t judge. By 1901 both girls were in their twenties, living back with their uncle Dalby and his family. They would probably have been working in the boarding house, but the record doesn’t describe them as employed.
I remember my grandmother in old age being cold and quite intimidating, but others have told me that in the tough years as the country recovered at the end of WWII she could always be relied upon to help out anybody in need.
This section is mainly sourced from the records in the Doctor Barnado’s archive. They charge for releasing their material, but in my case there was a considerable amount of information about my relative accompanied by two photographs of her, text and photographic material about the home, and a note apologising that they didn’t have more.
Web references (seen November 2018)
More information about my grandmother's childhood in Barnardo's 'Romford Girls Village home for Orphan Neglected and Destitute Girls', Ilford' and her mother's fight to get her there are in my page about her in this website