.: My Grandmother Laura Seymour (Petre) Life  Story b.1901 d.1983

My Grandmother Laura Seymour (Petre) Family Story b.1901 d.1983

John Berney Petre b 1806 d 1882 eloped to Gretna Green with Susannah Childs (aka Julia Doughty) b 1824  d 21 Jan 1906 and they were married on the anvil in Gretna Green. The Petre family annulled the marriage because Susannah Childs was a commoner. He married a lady named Caroline Susan Stewart-Mackenzie later. However he still visited Susannah Childs and they had four children. One of them was my great grandfather Berney Seymour Petre, b. 15 January 1852, d. 4 June 1904.  He married Eliza Jane Kett  b. 24 July 1866, d. 29 September 1955 in London Ontario Canada, and they had nine children one of which was my grandmother, Laura Seymour b 16 Feb 1901 d 14 Aug 1983 in London Ontario Canada.  A tenth child was born but was not the daughter of Berney Seymour Petre.  Her name was Florence Edna May Seymour b. 23 Apr 1907 d 01 Jan 1997 in Del Rio, Val Verde, Texas.

The other children of John Berney Petre were Fred, Arthur, and Julia. John Berney Petre supported the children of his  relationship with Susannah Childs (aka Julia Doughty). And setup an annual income with Julia Doughty and her/his  children as stated in the Norfolk Record Office Catalog Ref. MC 324/55 708X7. The trust was setup to care for the family the rest of their lives.

Berney Seymour Petre, my great-grandfather was a sailor at first and it is said his father sent him to school to be train as a shipís captain. While going back to his ship he missed his train due to a train disaster and so also he missed his ship, never to sail again. This ship was lost at sea and all hands were lost and Iím still looking for the name of this ship.. The train disaster was known as the Thorpe Rail Disaster of 1874. It was said Berney Seymour Petre dropped the Petre part of his name and went on stage as Berney Seymour but I have not found any documentation he went on stage but he did drop the Petre last name when he married Eliza Jane Kett , on his birth certificate he was born Seymour Petre. He later had a photography business which his father John Berney Petre taught him after him missing his ship as I would assume he no longer wanted to go to sea anymore. Berney Seymour Petre, my great-grandfather lived at 39 Commercial Street, Aylsham, Norfolk, England. Family folklore states one day the sign over the shop fell striking him on the head and may of caused some brain damage  in 1902. He  did spend time in a hospital that was not the Norwich Asylum but he was later confined to Norwich Asylum on Thorpe Road in the sub-district of Blofield in the County of Norfolk where   he died there of pneumonia . I have read his hospital reports and it states he took the death of his son Herbert very hard and was never the same after his death. Berney Seymour is buried in Old Norwich  Cemetery with his 9-year-old son, Herbert.  Visitors books SAH 162 visitors book - date: Jul 1853 - Dec 1905

The Petre family had a large estate in Norwich, England called Westwick House. This residence, is  three miles from North Walsham,and is esteemed as  one of the most delightful spills in the county.  The Petre family stopped supporting the family by the way of the trust fund which was  setup for my  great great grandmother and her children. B y this time John Berney Petre had died in 1882, my great great grandmother  Susannah Childs (aka Julia Doughty) died in 1906 and my great grandfather Berney Seymour (Petre) died 1904 .

Eliza Kett Seymour  could no longer afford raising all 9 of  the children which my grandmother  Laura was the second youngest  on her own after my great grandfather  passed away in May 1905  and  contacted Bernardoís Home in 1905 to have them take Albert and Arthur as she was hoping she could manage the rest of the children as the 2 oldest where working. An agreement was signed in March 1905 by Eliza also giving Bernardoís Home permission to send the children to Canada. Arthur went to Canada in  in June 1905 under  auspices leaving Albert still in England, and he received a  good education at the Watt's Naval Training School in North Elmham, near the City of Norwich before coming to Canada.  When Albert  came to Canada in 1914, he joined the Canadian navy shortly after his arrival.

 Bernardoís  Home did not ask Eliza to contribute towards the cost of maintaining her boys, because she was not in a position to pay anything, and no money was ever offered either. Fredrick came to the Bernardoís Home in Nov. 1906 specifically for the purpose of being sent to Canada, and his passage was paid by Mary Laura Duff (Petre) which she donated 20 pounds and Fredrick sailed for Canada in 1907.

 The boys being  the first to come to Canada were placed on farms in hopes that they would not find each other, however they were re-united by Gertrude, their eldest sister, and John Seymour, their eldest brother when they later came to Canada on their own quest to find them.

My grandmother, Laura, great grandmother Eliza , great uncle Alex  and great aunt Florence came to Canada June of 1912.Itís said my great grandmother Eliza  signed away all of her own and her children's rights to the trust fund in exchange for passage. Family folklore says this was setup by Mary Laura Duff (Petre) to get rid of the rest of the family and hid the secret of John Berney Petre of having a family with a commoner. My grandmother's oldest sister Gertrude was trained as a cook in London England, and had arranged with the Anglican Church in Norwich to immigrate to Canada using the Servitude Plan, she had went to see Mary Laura Duff (Petre)  and asked for  passage money but was told she was not strong enough to come to Canada and no money was given to her. Gertrude using the Servitude Plan came the same year of 1912. The family was lucky to have left in June of 1912 as this was the same summer on August 26th 1912 more than seven inches of rain fell in a day to bring terror, chaos and death to the streets of Norfolk.

The oldest son, John Berney, later returned to Bristol, England, after serving in WWI, in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  He married in Bristol to MATHILDA M Leighfield  (AKA Pat) they had one child named Ann ,she married Charles Townend and had  2 children named John Edward Townend and Helen Townend. My grandmother's other sisters and brothers except her ½ sister Florence Edna May Seymour b. 23 Apr 1907 d 01 Jan 1997 in Del Rio, Val Verde, Texas  all made their homes in London, Ontario, Canada where they married and lived 'till their deaths.

My grandmother Laura is said to of  looked into the trust fund which was setup for her grandmother Susannah Childs (aka Julia Doughty) and father Berney Seymour (Petre) around the yrs. 1958-1962 and I have  some of the  those documents. I have a letter from Eastern Daily Press dated 16th July 1958 addressed to her after as she inquired about whom is living at Westwick? And  telling J.F.B. Petre and the estate was managed by Mr. Alexander. There is also other documents from the very prominent lawyers she hired here in Ontario Canada Carrothers ,Fox ,Roberts & Betts.Family lore said she was visited by some type of detective and told to stop searching and I assume she did not completely stop as my mother told me she had driven my grandmother down to the lawyers to get money from the said trust fund and was only allowed to bring so much money in to Canada at a time and was told by my grandmother not to say anything to anyone which my mother did  not, she did not even tell my father. My 2 other cousins also stated when they were younger oneday at my grandmotherís home she was visited by men in long black gowns and they had English accents.

Stewart Addley

Dec.8th 2012



.: Union of John Berney Petre and Julia Doughty (Petre)


great great grand parents John Berney Petre and Julia Doughty (Petre)

Most of the Petre's union of John Berney Petre and Susannah (sometimes also referred to as Julia) Child's (step-father's name was Doughty) used the name Seymour--several went to private school in England including  Berney Petre who used the name Seymour who later married Eliza. It's very difficult to trace Julia--but the agreement that John Berney Petre drew up that provided for her after his death used the name Julia Doughty rather than Susannah).  She's buried under the name Julia Doughty Petre. One of her sons is buried beside her who never married--His name is William

Could be that the records are deliberately obscured by what would have been a powerful  family during her time on this planet. There is a copy of the agreement from the Norwich Genealogy office in Norwich and a copy of his father's will , but very difficult to read his handwriting. He seemed very autocratic and insistent that his son conform to what were the standards of the time. Believe it's his father, commonly known as Jack, that most likely insisted on the marriage between his son and Carolyn MacKenzie. 

great grand parents Berney Seymour Petre and Eliza Kett The only son of John & Julia to have a Family


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