If you would like to read all about this Mystery Challenge, you might prefer to click on this list below, as I’ve arranged them all in chronologcal order.
But of course, you could just scroll down to the end of this category, and then scroll your way upwards! Whatever way you do this, I hope you find it interesting - and if you can throw any more light on the real-life charactesr, please do contact me (You’ll receive a free copy of Paper Lanterns)
The first of these posts is headed: ‘Six Degrees of Separation – can you help to solve the challenge?’
2) 9th Jan 2011: More about my mystery challenge
3) 16th Jan 2011 D.G. Bruce –what kind of man was he?
4)23rd Jan 2011 Stranger than Fiction
5)30th Jan 2011Is this the D. G. Bruce who inspired my novel?
6) 4th February: The Husband, the Wife and the Best Friend
7)13th Feb 2011: What can be learned from a Ship’s Passenger List.
8 ) 20th Feb 2011: Bessie’s 4th Letter – Stolen Kisses in a Monastery Tower
9)27th Feb 2011: Latest Discovery about Douglas Bruce and his Sisters
10)7th March: Bessie’s Final Love Letter & Why She Went to Shameen
11) 28th March: Why did D.G. Bruce Marry so Late?
12) 18 April: A Few Loose Ends & back to Poetry
Those of you who’ve been following my ‘Six Degrees of Separation – Mystery Challenge’ (see the previous post below) I have a few more snippets of information which might possibly lead to my goal of finding a descendant of a relation or friend of Douglas Gordon Bruce, and his wife, Florence Dorothy.
At the beginning of April, when I was visiting my daughter and her husband in Chiswick, I took the opportunity of tracking down the address in Weymouth Avenue which was recorded on the marriage certificate of Douglas Bruce and Florence Slaughter on 9th February 1978. I was hoping that the current occupier(s) of that house might have known something about Mr and Mrs Bruce, but no one answered when we knocked on the door.
We also looked at the house in Barrowgate Road, where the eighteen-year old DGB was recorded as living with sister, Kate and brother in law on the census of 1911, Douglas Robert Finnis. (That was when I realised that I’d posted a picture of the wrong house here.) This is the right one, and it’s not far from Chiswick House, so I couldn’t help wondering if DGB and his sister’s family had enjoyed that garden too.
Later that day, we had a walk and picnic in the beautiful grounds of nearby Chiswick House. It’s also possible that many decades later, Douglas and Florence strolled together under those cedar trees, and crossed the stone bridge, shown in the photo above.
I’ve recently discovered more about the family of DGB’s brother in law, Douglas Finnis. The census of 1891 records that D.R. Finnis was the oldest of the six sons of Tavener Finnis,(a secretary of a public company, d.o.b. 1850). The other Finnis brother to marry one of DGB’s sister, was Vernon Walter, the fourth son, (b. 1880).
This transcription of the 1911 census shows that this marriage produced at least 3 more nephews for DGB. Since the youngest, Bruce Vernon, was only one year old at the time, there could well have been more children.
What I found particularly interesting about the Finnis family was the fact that at least three of ‘our’ Finnis’s were still living in the same area in the 1938, and the 1951 London phone books. Finnis, Douglas R. was still registered at the house in Barrowgate Road in 1951, 40 years after DGB was living there at the age of 18. Finnis, Vernon W (Kate Maud’s husband) was registered in both the 1938 and 1951 phone books, and their second son, Maxwell Vernon, was settled in nearby Twickenham.
Since DGB’s death notice in the Times of 1983 stated that he had been a ‘much loved uncle’ it seems possible that his many nephews, and possibly more than just one niece, might have told their own children a little more about their uncle’s life in China and Hong Kong.
After all this, you might be wondering what link there might be to poetry in all this rather dry research information. The brief answer is: not a very close link, but a significant one for me. That same weekend in April that had been arranged for our visit to our daughter’s home in Chiswick, happened to be the date for the launch of the latest Poetry Anthology from my wonderful Leicester based poetry group, Soundswrite – and now I’m running out of time and space, so I’ll be writing more about that publication and one very special member of that group.