Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Showing posts with label MBE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MBE. Show all posts

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Henry Sweney MBE and Mary Louisa Efford

Christchurch tramway

Henry Sweney (b. 13 Jan 1874) son of John Henry Charles Sweeney and Susannah Harvey, married divorcee, Mary Louisa Ansley, in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 22 Nov 1901. Born Mary Louisa Efford on 16 Sep 1869 in Torquay, Devon (Volume 05B Page 161), daughter of John Ash Efford Jnr and Louisa Fulford, she had previously married Frederick William Ansley (b. 23 Jan 1866 in Oldbury, Staffordshire), son of Alfred Ansley and Emma Cooper, also in Christchurch, New Zealand, on 1 Nov 1887, with whom she had three daughters: Mary Louisa Ansley, b. 16 Aug 1888; Rose Amelia Ansley (1889-90) and Emma Miriam Ansley b. 18 Apr 1891.

Henry Sweeney had joined the Royal Marines on 8 Apr 1889. He gave his date of birth as 8 Feb 1871, making himself three years older in order to enlist. He was actually only 15, but at already 5 ft 5⁷⁄₁₀in had been tall enough to get away with it. His record confirms his father as John, of 1 Stephensons Cottages, Condor Street, London. Henry grew to 5ft 9½in at final discharge; he had a fresh complexion, brown hair, grey eyes and a tattoo of a basket of flowers on his forearm. 

After initial training at the Royal Marine Depot, Walmer (Deal, Kent) and at Portsmouth Division until 5 Dec 1890, ships that Henry Sweney served on included: HMS Agamemnon (1879) until 1892, while she was part of the Mediterranean Fleet; from 1892 to 1894, HMS Camperdown (1885), again with the Mediterranean Fleet. Henry will therefore have been aboard HMS Camperdown on 22 Jun 1893, when she collided with and sank the battleship HMS Victoria with 358 deaths, off Tripoli, Lebanon. The report here offers the explanation, "Following an order by the admiral to carry out a dangerous and near impossible manoeuvre, taking into account the positions of the vessels, the Camperdown rammed HMS Victoria, off the Lebanon, which sank with heavy loss of life. Camperdown was also badly damaged, but managed to limp into port." 

Henry's final ship was HMS Rapid (1883), then serving on the Australia Station and on 30 Sep 1897, was Discharged by Purchase at Sydney.

The Lyttleton Times on 13 Dec 1898, reported on: ANSLEY V. ANSLEY
This was a case in which Mary Louisa Ansley petitioned for the dissolution of her marriage with Frederick William Ansley of Wanganui on the grounds of cruelty and bigamy. Mr Cresswell appeared for the petitioner. The respondent did not appear, and was not represented by counsel. The evidence of the petitioner showed that she had lived six and a half years with the respondent, who had commenced to ill-treat her two days after the marriage. During the last six years they had been separated by mutual consent, owing to ill relations arising from the cruelty referred to. Amelia Stevens [1], sister of the petitioner, gave corroborative evidence. The written evidence of William T Clapham, clergyman, of Brisbane, taken by the Registrar on Nov 25, showed that he married the respondent to a woman in Brisbane on August 6, 1896 [2]. The respondent subsequently disappeared, and witness heard that he was already married and in New Zealand. His Honour granted the petitioner a decree nisi, with custody of the children and costs against the respondent.

[1] Amelia Efford married Archibald Stevens, in 1896. In 1911, Archibald and Amelia Stevens were listed on the New Zealand Electoral Roll at the Sailors Home Lyttelton, of which Archibald was the Superintendent.

[2] Frederick William Ansley (30) Bootmaker, who was listed on the Australia Electoral Roll in 1896 at 1 Downing Street, Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia, married Nellie Ashton, in Queensland, Australia on 6 Aug 1896. Frederick, who died on 20 Apr 1956 (aged 90) and is buried at Aramoho Cemetery, Whanganui, [bio] appears to have been very partial to wedding cake!

In 1911, the New Zealand Electoral Roll places Henry Sweney, Hairdresser, at 89 Lower High Street, Christchurch East with Mary Louisa Sweney, Married, and Mary Louisa Sweney Jun (Jnr) (Mary Louisa Ansley). 

Step-daughter, Mary Louisa Ansley Sweney it appears married Herbert Charles Ford in 1916 and went on to have five children. [Source]

In 1925, Henry Sweney, Commission Agent, and Mary Louisa Sweney were listed at 64 Abberley Rd, St Albans, Christchurch.

Then Mary Louisa Sweney died, at 65, on 22 Jan 1934 and is buried at Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch, Block 31. Plot 14.

(Henry Sweney remarried to a Kathleen Elizabeth Hocking (b. 10 Mar 1892), but unfortunately, I've not been able to find when this marriage took place, nor whether Hocking was her maiden or a previous married name. Kathleen Elizabeth Hocking Sweney died in 1977, aged 85.)

In the 1955 New Year Honours (New Zealand), Henry Sweney was awarded an M.B.E. for social welfare services. This bio offers some background: 

"Henry Sweney came to New Zealand in 1897 after purchasing a discharge from the Royal Marines after 8 1/2 years service. He was house manager of Christchurch Musical Society and Christchurch Harmonic Society and a worker for charity and patriotic funds for nearly 60 years.

In 1909 he and several others founded the Christchurch Competitions' Society. Henry worked as a stage manager and had his own concert party which gave charitable entertainment. He raised money for children's homes and was Justice of the Peace in Christchurch."

Henry Sweney died on 3 Jun 1963, aged 89, and was also buried, on 6 Jun 1963, at Linwood Cemetery, Christchurch, Block 31. Plot 14.

Photos of Henry Sweney provided by Jon Gilbert, descendant of Rosina Sweeney