This page recounts the genealogical information regarding my ‘Auntie Lou’ whom I remember from my childhood and whose family papers I have inherited. We do not know of any family but she kept a large collection of papers from her parents and grandparents.
‘Auntie Lou’ was not actually my Aunt and her link to us was through her husband, John James DOYLE. John Doyle was my grandmother’s cousin’s son, but they were born only a few years apart and played together as children. My grandmother and John Doyle remained close throughout their adult lives and, when my mum was growing up, she went on holiday with Uncle John and Auntie Lou. After John died in 1975, Lou came on our family holidays (which is when I particularly remember her).
Auntie Lou’s Family
Auntie Lou was born Louise Alice Clymene CLARK on the 17 Apr 1905 in the East End of London. Her parents were Joseph Edwin CLARK and Louisa Charlotte MILLER who had been married 21 Dec 1903 in St Thomas’s Church, Stepney. She was an only child.
Lou’s father died when she was very young and her mother when she was 23. I know that she was friendly with her mother’s family (and particularly an Aunt Clymene after whom she was named) but apart from that she was alone in the world. She travelled independently throughout Europe (long before it was common) and told me that she was in Switzerland at the outbreak of the second world war and had to find her way back through Germany.
Lou met my Uncle John sometime just before or during WW2. He was trained as a watch repairer and stationed with the RAF in North Africa. My understanding is that he maintained the electronics and gadgetry on the spitfires. I do not know exactly how they met but they were married at St Olave’s Church, Stoke Newington in 1947. The wedding photo is below.
They never had any children of their own and they often took my mum and a family friend Gill on their holidays in the 1950s. John died in 1975 whilst on jury duty at the Old Bailey – I remember visiting Lou just afterwards, although my clearest memories of her house were when she was widowed, probably late 1970s. In subsequent years, she came with us on our family holidays in the early 1980s. In her twilight years, she lived in a nursing come in Westminster where she was visited by my parents. She died there in 1999.
The Family of James William MILLER
Lou had several early photographs and we believe many of these were from the Miller family. The photograph below is probably the marriage portrait of Lou’s parents, Joseph Edwin CLARK and Louisa Charlotte MILLER, in which case it can be dated closely to the 21 Dec 1903. The composition of the group – with the couple seated in the centre – indicates that they are at the centre of the celebration. The men are wearing buttonholes and the women, particularly the bride in the centre, wear a corsage of flowers. At this time, Joseph’s father was dead so the man on the left is therefore the bride’s father, James William MILLER.
The witnesses to the marriage were Louise’s father and sister Alice, and we infer that one of the ladies in the photograph is her sister Alice. The woman standing behind her has what might be grey hairs whereas the one to her right does not. This hints the woman behind her is her mother and the woman seated is her sister Alice. What remains a mystery is where her younger sister Clymene is and the identities of the two men on the right hand side. They clearly resemble the bride, but she only had one brother that we know of.
Lou’s paternal grandfather was James William MILLER. She told me he was born in Kings Lynn in Norfolk, although it turned out that, although earlier generations of the family were from Kings Lynn, he had been born in Southampton. James’ brother Samuel T MILLER emigrated to Werribee in Australia and a letter has survived in Lou’s papers from 1891 from Samuel written to his brother James telling him of the family in Australia.
July 2, 91
I have just received your letter and was glad to hear you are all well though you did not say who the all was, it is now about 8 years since I received a letter from Fanny which I did not answer as I forgot the address and I had lost the letter. Fanny said Lottie was very bad and did not know how soon she would die as she had some affection of the heart Write and let me know about all relations who is living and who is dead and if you can give me date of any death of course I know of Mother and Father and Louisa death but no more. In your letter you ask if I am married which I thought you knew as I sent word to mother and the girls I have been married about 18 years and have got 5 boys and 2 girls their names are James William 17 years Walter Henry 15 Ada Louisa 12 Albert John 10 Charlotte Ann 7 George Victor 5 William Thomas 2
that is their ages on their next birthday so you can tell your children they have got cousins in Victoria in your next letter send me all news of your family and if you can the portrait of yourself wife and family as I have a good album and the only likeness of any of my relations that I have got is fathers which Lottie sent me I will try and get the likeness of mine and family and send you the next time you want to know what I am doing I am in the employ of the shire council for the last 7 or 8 years wages 7 shillings per day I am away from home at my work from Monday till Saturday and I have to keep a horse and covered cart to sleep in so as it is to far to walk to my work I have no house rent to pay as I have one of my own of 5 rooms and half acre of ground so I am just able to make a living and no more let me know what you are doing I must now draw this to a close as it is late hopeing it will find you all well as it leaves us all well at present and wish kind love from all to all
I remain your loving Brother
Samuel T Miller Cottrell Street, Werribee.
The letter was kept in an envelope and the outside of the envelope had an address “William CLARK farmer, Springfield Road, Blackburn, Melbourne, Australia”. I assumed that since they were kept together, William CLARK was related to Samuel Thornton MILLER but since Lou’s own surname was CLARK, this might be a relation through her father’s side who coincidentally also emigrated to Australia.