The Shorthouse Children (4)

The following recollections are by her cousin Marion Walmsley.
“Marion was very close to Hilda (who preferred to be called Pat) when she was in Australia. Hilda lived for some time with Jennie (Richardson) with whom she didn’t always see eye to eye! Hilda told Marion that she would love Annie (Shorthouse) if and when they met  (which she did) in contrast to Jennie who was somewhat ‘sharp tongued’. Mum told me that Hilda was lady in waiting for Sir William Slim’s wife (the Governor General of Australia 1953-1959) and moved with them between Kiriibili House in Sydney (where she enjoyed swimming during time off) and Government House Canberra. Mum described Stan Thornton as ‘that awful creature’ who apparently left Hilda for a women with 4 children.”

Recollections by Ellen Scott.
”Hilda Shorthouse:  I once went to Seaham by bus with my Great Aunty Annie to see Hilda and Stan.  Hilda caller her ‘Nancy’ and they were great friends.  Hilda and Stan had white fighting dogs, which were fierce.  Hilda was preparing to go to Australia with Stan.  She gave me 2 books from her leather bound collection and inscribed them for me.  ‘Pepys Diary’.  I passed them on to my son, Colin.  It sounded a great adventure.  Hilda had her portrait painted in oils to commemorate this special occasion.  This portrait eventually came to me but after a few years I gave it to a charity shop.  It was not a good painting.  When Hilda came back to the UK I saw her and chatted to her many times.  She was very lucky to have been welcomed back and housed and looked after by the government but she still yearned for the sun and Australia.  She believed she was a clairvoyant.  She dyed her hair black and it showed.” Hilda with Charlie and Jane Richardson, 1954.

After Stan left her, Hilda returned to England and lived with Annie Shorthouse in Trimdon Village where she died in March 1981. Stan died in Bulli in 1973.

Ellen (Nellie) Shorthouse.
Ellen Was Born, 25 August 1882, Father Frederick (Coal Miner), Mother Annie (Nee Osborne) At Easington Lane Co. Durham. She was baptised 24 Feb 1887 at Lyons Parish Church Hetton le Hole, Co. Durham. This was a joint baptism with her siblings Tom, Jane and Arthur.

At the age of 19, she was married on the 19 March 1901 At St Paul’s Church, Deaf Hill Cum Langdale (Father Frederick, Stoneman) To Henry Kell (27), Miner (Quarryman) (Father Henry) Both Resident In Langdale (Trimdon Colliery/ Deaf Hill). Witnesses William Thomas Shorthouse And Jannie Shorthouse.

Their first home was in Fairfield terrace where their first child Eveline was born. In 1903 they moved to Commercial Street, this was a small two roomed terrace house attached to (and owned by) Harry Baldwin’s newspaper shop. This one up one down house was to become the family home for the next thirty plus years. The bedroom was divided with a curtain and the downstairs room served as the kitchen, laundry and living area. To get to the toilet (nettie) in the back yard, there was an inside door at the bottom of the stairs that opened into a short closed passageway that led to the backyard.

Henry and Ellen had three children:

Eveline Kell – Bap. 21 Sept. 1902, Primitive Methodist Wingate Circuit Born 27 August 1902 of Fairfield Terrace, Trimdon Colliery, father Henry Kell, limestone Quarryman, mother Ellen nee Shorthouse

Jennie Kell Born 21 February 1906 Trimdon Colliery, Died 1990 Nunthorpe, Yorks.

Henry Kell Born 15 August 1907 Trimdon Colliery, died in Burma WWII 29 March 1944

Ellen’s husband Henry Kell died on the 12 May 1908 at Trimdon Colliery of Influenza and Heart failure.

We are not sure of the circumstance that Ellen was left in following the death of husband Henry in 1908, we know she had 3 small children, normally under this circumstance she would have to rely on Charity for income, Parish Relief. At some time between 1903 and 1909, Ellen started selling homemade baked goods from her downstairs room to supplement her income, she also took in washing.

On the 2nd October 1909 at the age of 27, she married Henry Mortimer at the Register Office, Sedgefield (Father Frederick Shorthouse, Coalminer) to Harry Mortimer (25), Coalminer (Father Deceased, Iron Moulder At Foundry) both Resident Front Street Trimdon Colliery. Witnesses Arthur Shorthouse and Jennie Richardson.

We had very little information about Henry Mortimer, in 1914 he joined the army and served in France. Joe Shorthouse writing from a hospital in Egypt in December of 1915, to his parents, was asking about his welfare. In 1916, Ellen found out that Mortimer was a bigamist and his real name was Henry Coghill. However two children Olive 1912, and Joseph Osborne (Ozzie) 1916, were born in this period and given the name Mortimer. It was rumored that one of the children’s father was Mr. Turnbull manager of Station Town Co-op. (When Olive married she used the Kell surname, Ozzie kept the Mortimer surname.)

When Ellen found out that Mortimer was a bigamist with two other wives, Ellen reverted back to her first married name Kell. Two other children were born in this period, Fred (Kell) Craggs in 1919 and William Thomas Kell in 1925. Fred Kell was given to sister Minnie Craggs and raised as her son. Fred was not aware of this arrangement until he was an adult and found a copy of his birth certificate in a tobacco tin. Fathers of both children were not identified, however, there was a strong rumour in the family that Tommy’s father was a police sergeant.

The details of the bigamist relationship has been documented from various newspaper reports from that time and are included next:


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