View Full Version : So that's who she was.
22-12-2008, 3:52 PM
When we were children, our mother took my brother and me to visit someone in an enclosed religious order. My only memories of that visit are of mum speaking to someone through a grille and of having raspberries for tea and I think that it was never mentioned again. However, out of the blue recently, I came across my mother's aunt Mary, who is on the 1901 census as being a nun in an abbey in Devon. This must have been who we visited. The census only gives her secular name but I have been in contact with the local Catholic priest (the abbey closed years ago) and am hoping that he will be able to find out more about her for me. I am so pleased to have that little piece of the family jigsaw puzzle so unexpectedly put into place. How I regret not having asked more about my parents' families. But I suppose most of us think like that at times.
22-12-2008, 4:32 PM
Isn't it wonderful when little pieces of the jigsaw fit together. I hope you manage to find out more about her.
22-12-2008, 5:22 PM
Her birth name will be what is on the death register index. My g aunt was a Nun and although her religious order name was different, her death was registered under her birth name.
22-12-2008, 6:56 PM
The Catholic Family History Society has an Index of Nuns that may be of help and they offer a look-up service for non-members:
This is an index of approximately 14,000 nuns who were in the English Province of their Order. It is arranged alphabetically by the surname of each nun and usually gives date of birth, names of parents, religious name, dates of profession, date and place of death and name of Order. It's not exhaustive but may be worth trying.
22-12-2008, 7:06 PM
Once you've established the order (perhaps you know it already?) a letter to them may well bring dividends; most have archives in the UK and I've found those I've contacted very helpful with my research. Even if you can't track down any records of your aunt most orders have published histories that make interesting reading.
If you can manage it a visit to the Catholic National Library would almost certainly be worthwhile for more information on the order.
23-12-2008, 12:40 PM
WOW! I didn't really expect any feed-back on this and am grateful to you all for your input. The Catholic Family History Society is new to me and will be worth trying. I am constantly amazed at the amount of knowledge people here have and hope that I can be as helpful to someone one day. I will also try the death records from the approximate date that we visited her as she must have been very elderly then.
05-01-2009, 8:22 PM
Thank you Colin Moretti, for suggesting the Index of Nuns. I have been in touch with the person who keeps the Index, but g.aunt Mary is not there. Such a shame, but the list is by no means complete. I think that I shall have to be satisfied with just having found her anyway. I have also found some books/pamphletts about g.aunt's order and her abbey so they may be worth buying.
05-01-2009, 8:49 PM
This is a lovely story, MaryFrances - I do wish you luck in tracking her down.
06-01-2009, 9:14 AM
... I think that I shall have to be satisfied with just having found her anyway. I have also found some books/pamphletts about g.aunt's order and her abbey so they may be worth buying.As you know the order why not write to their archives? An internet search is likely to give you the location, or write to the abbey if they are still in business. The archivist may well be able to tell you more.
06-01-2009, 2:19 PM
Thank you, Marian, for your good wishes, and you, Colin, for your advice. The abbey closed down in the 1980's I believe and I am unsure as to where the archives were sent. Must put on my deerstalker, smoke a pipe and play the violin. Maybe inspiration will strike.
12-02-2009, 6:45 PM
I just had to let everyone know. As mentioned previously, I wrote to the relevent parish priest who passed on my query to the diocesan archivist, who searched through all her records, to no avail. She gave me the name and address of someone, also in Devon, who might have had some idea of where the abbey's archives were. So I wrote to her and, this week, received a wonderful package from the archivist at Douai Abbey, Reading, containing details of great-aunt Mary, a photo-copy of her Profession Chart with her own signature, and a copy of her obituary card. Also, to add to all this, there is a website about the Abbey which actually has a picture of g.aunt Mary. What an amazing result. I am overwhelmed at how kind everyone concerned in the search has been and am so pleased to have been able to bring g.aunt Mary in from the cold!
12-02-2009, 6:57 PM
Lucky you, that is good news, |jumphappy
12-02-2009, 7:02 PM
How wonderful for you Mary. It must have been like a surprise Christmas and Birthday present all wrapped up in a package. |jumphappy . I agree...I too wished I'd asked more questions. Mum used to take me to visit two old ladies for afternoon tea when I was a child. I have no idea who they were or why we went and just remember sitting at a table cutting out pictures printed on parchment. I had to be a 'good girl' and not interrupt then there would be cake and orange juice set out on a white table cloth and cake stands. It was all very 'proper' and conversations between them were whispered and polite.
Loved your post. If only I could read the book!
12-02-2009, 8:24 PM
That's terrific MaryFrances! |hug|
I must see if I can obtain more information on my great aunt. Maybe I will have a clearer picturer than the one I have.:) You have given me the incentive I need :D
13-02-2009, 1:24 AM
That's great news, MaryFrances:D
How thrilling you have found your great aunt. Perhaps someday you can visit her in her final resting place.... it's great the archivist was so very helpful.
13-02-2009, 3:08 AM
This is just so fabulous. What a wonderful thread. My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I started reading it.
I have a nun in my family, my grand aunt. I have often wondered about her, over the years. I thought I would never be able to find out anything about her. Now from the 1911 Census I have a couple of female names I didn't know previously. Now I might be able to find some information about her when she was a nun.
Only trouble for me is that she may have been in Ireland instead of England. Still I can look in England first. She might be there There are quite a few in my mob who were supposed to be in Ireland (after they ran away from one or other obligtion - not that my nun would have done that!!) but I have located them in England, having a fine old time.
I am going to write my letter off this week.
14-02-2009, 2:39 PM
This has been a very interesting post to follow, I am so thrilled for you and thank you for sharing this with us.
14-02-2009, 7:26 PM
Thank you all for your lovely comments. I have found that everyone on this site is so generous. Good luck to everyone with your own researches.
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