Local history appeals: Help to trace a family and a search for photos of Chantry Cottage

Alison is piecing together family connections to her dad, John Henry Spencer 1929 - 1998

A woman is appealing for readers’ help as she pieces together a family with links to Ramsgate.

Alison Holland (nee Spencer) took a DNA test last year which has led her on a trail of discovery.

She says: “My dad (John Henry Spencer 1929 – 1998) was abandoned at birth and spent his youth in and out of children’s homes. As far as he was concerned he had no family and only knew his mother’s name -Clara- but had no other details of her.

“In early 2022 I took a DNA test and discovered his family. I found out that his mother Clara Spencer (1904-1992) also had two other children (both girls most likely by different fathers).

“I found the family of his sister Peggy who sadly died a couple of years ago and am now in touch with them. Someone on Ancestry suggested to me that Clara had given birth to another daughter which I investigated further. I now have a copy of the other child’s birth certificate. She is most likely dead but her family may still be alive.

“Her name at birth was Muriel Joyce Spencer, born on 8th March 1931 at Hill House, Minster to Clara Spencer who was a domestic servant of 2 Torrington Villas, West Cliff Road, Ramsgate.

“Muriel’s birth was registered on 24th March 1931 and her birth certificate says she was adopted.”

Alison’s dad John Spencer was born on 27th April 1929 in 46 Ouseley Road, Balham and his birth was registered in Wandsworth on 3rd May 1929.

His birth certificate says  his mother Clara at that time was a domestic servant and lived at 27 Trewint Street, Wandsworth.

John believed he was abandoned when he was around 12 -18 months. Records show he was in various children’s homes in Northamptonshire. Through Ancestry, Alison discovered he had lots of family in Silverstone, but he knew nothing of this.

Peggy (on the left) and her mum Clara and Peggy in later life

On 11th December 1932 Clara had Peggy Doreen Spencer. Peggy was born at 5 Claremont Gardens, Ramsgate, which is where Clara then lived.

On Peggy’s birth certificate Clara is a cook domestic.

Alison said: “Through Ancestry I discovered Peggy’s family and that she died in 2020. It seems that  Clara abandoned my dad and had Muriel adopted and Peggy adopted but that was back in Silverstone and Clara kept in touch with Peggy throughout her life.”

Alison also discovered the paternal side of her dad’s family. She said: “My biggest match is a lady called Fran who lives in London. Her grandma had a chequered past resulting in the birth of Fran’s mum. It seems my dad had quite a bit of Jewish DNA, as did Fran’s mum so we think they might have shared the same father or their dads were brothers. We keep coming back to the surname Messias which was a very big Jewish family in Wandsworth and Balham.”

Alison is hoping to find out more  about Muriel and her family.

Anyone who can help is asked to email her at [email protected]

Tracing historical photos

Chantry House

Gerard Parkinson is trying to track down historical photos of Ellington Place  up to the 1980s. He hopes to find photos of Ellington Place near the junction with Grange Road.

He said: “I believe that there used to be a cottage or house adjacent to Chapel Cottage in Grange Road, opposite Chantry House which was demolished many years ago, but I can’t locate any photos of what the building next to Chapel Cottage looked like and when it was demolished. I’d be really grateful for help.”

He says there are records of people living at a Chantry Cottage up until 1972 but nothing after that time.

Anyone who can help is asked to contact Gerard Parkinson on [email protected]

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  1. The Raja family lived in the now demolished cottage in Ellington place. I think it was demolished circa 80s to make way for the development next door. Hope this is of some use

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