Sunday, 26 February 2017

A Conversation takes place  between Alf Kerr and Sidney Strelley somewhere between 4th May 2008 and January 2013 inside the Pearly Gates……

This story was originally written in 2013 in jest after Strelley family brickwalls were broken down- Do you think we get clues from above?

Scene :Pearly Gates
Sometimes I think a discovery is a message from above

Alf Kerr was an affable man- quick to strike up a conversation.  One day he meets a man called Sidney Clayton Strelley …..

" Good Day.  Sidney Strelley” he says holding out his hand.  Alf would have been on the lookout for anyone by that name and Strelley wasn’t really a name like Smith so his ears pricked up. He honed in .

“Strelley – that was my family name. We are from Scotland” remarked Alf.

“No Sir”  “I’m from Derby- but actually the Strelleys originated from Nottingham – long history- Knights, Sirs, Sheriffs of Nottingham. Used to own Strelley Hall until Nicholas gambled it away. Then we moved to Oakerthorpe and stayed around Derby.  “ Sid always resented the loss of the family fortune.

“ Yes” said Alf “ They were the only Strelleys I ever found.  Every time I searched the internet I found something on Strelley Hall.”  Alf was dogged in his lifetime and dying wasn’t going to stop him. Heaven is a genealogists dream. He made more enquiries searching for everyone who made a connection with Strelley name. There was a bunch of them from Glasgow- tangled up with the Mc Hardys too and Strelleys dating back to 1100 – this was a find. 

Alf never organized his information-  he only collected.

One day he met up again with Sid. “Been looking into the Strelleys,  Sidney?”  
Sidney told Alf of the stories of lost fortunes, his missing grandfather, being on the wrong side of money and then he had a thought ” I say is that an Australian accent?  Maybe you are related to the Strelleys who went to Western Australia”.

Alf was in.  “Actually Strelley comes up as a town in Western Australia when you do an internet search for Strelley”.

Sidney had neglected to say that it was really Lucy Harris nee Strelley who went to Australia and that it was a long and complicated story of  conspiracy theories regarding disputed wills and accidental death.  But Alf did like the bit about Houghtons winery being in the family and finding minerals before Gina Rinehart. Perhaps we are related he thought. She’s the richest woman in the world.

As the National Broad band Network  doesn’t operate too well in Pearly Gates  and hasn’t managed to buy access to the records yet Sidney and Alf hatched a plan.

“I guilted my daughter, Robyn, into working out my tree. She’s just finalized her mother’s side and she’s been putting me off- I still think I can find a connection back to you people in Strelley. Help me out here  and I’ll get her to sort the Western Australia thing out” volunteered Alf.

Sidney replied.  “ OK she looks like she’s been channeling dead people.  Get her to do one more search on Strelleys of Oakerthorpe- Rev Kerry’s family tree of the Strelleys- The Heavenly News mentioned it’s  been digitized. It will set her in motion.  Is she internet savvy?”

“Yes, pretty good” said Alf proudly.

“ OK well, Jill Sparrow’s stories on the Strelleys and the  one called Curses, Cannons and Robin Hoods Bow in Bygone Oakerthorpe should be the shot.  Should be on that Google thing.  Jill will tell Greg and next there’s a connection.” Sidney enthused.

“ Yep I know she’s been trying all ways to make contact- for sure she will get onto Jill and Greg.” Alf replied.

"I guilted my daughter, Robyn, into working out my tree."

“ Greg is the proud custodian of Strelley name and history- an unbroken history of males we have.” said Sidney.  “Robert and Elizabeth recently contrived to have their portraits given to him. For once a Strelley relic landed in the right hands. That business of the obelisk  going off to France- disgraceful.  Hard work fighting all the injustices- lost money.” And I remember the stories of when my granny told ‘em all what for.  Wore a red dress to the funeral you know. Ha ha”

That did the trick and connection was made. Over the months Sid (Aussies like to shorten names)  and Alfie ( and another term of endearment is to add an “ie” to a name) watched in awe as Robyn, Greg, Jill and Richard networked.  Greg feeds Robyn bits and off she goes.

 “She’s a doer your daughter- a bit of a dog at a bone like her old dad but a bit more organized I might say” chuckled  Sidney.

Within weeks she had cracked the case about the Strelley connection to Derby, That rascal of a great great grandfather, William the Doctor was in awe too that she managed to find the army records William Strelley his son and sort through all the poor handwriting of the census documents to find Matilda and the kids- and his bankruptcy case-oops… and the “housekeeper” in Derby. And then she found the missing  Richard Clayton…not in Australia but in NZ and he died several years after they thought. … Sid and his father Frederick were able to stamp that one “case closed”.

Sid during their regular updates had mentioned another case to Alf. It  been bothering  him and Greg. They had discussed it many times- the case of Harold the lunatic. There was something in a Derby newspaper about him murdering someone. “Disgraceful. Why wasn’t he looked after at home”. “ I’ll get Greg to mention that”  But Robyn was already aware of him- a Strelley criminal lunatic in the 1851 census.  With lightning speed, a few pounds changing hands and a couple of photocopies later they all were viewing records written in the 1850s –“Ha Ha” said Sidney “… they said his father and grandfather showed signs of madness. Never- surely not a Strelley trait!”.

Greg was still raging about Emily and her attempt to collect the Strelley Harris fortune in WA. Well she did marry William when he was 79.  They were together long enough to father two children one of which died a horrible death. Greg was disparaging but Robyn was more charitable.  

Finally the Western Australia Story was falling into place. Robyn had just about completed the research and written her story.  One day Alf and Sid met a couple of men who had Strelley and Roby in their  Christian names. They were from WA.  “That’s funny we’ve been looking into Strelley in Western Australia… any relation?”  Well it all panned out. They worked out the connection.  “I’ll get my people to talk to your people” said Alf jovially. 

The rest is history. Robyn made contact with William’s wife’s grandsons by her second husband.  The Anderson’s had been there for our relative- William’s daughter, their step sister was deaf, never married  and needed care. They looked after her until her death. They donated William’s painting to the WA Art Gallery for all to see.

 Strangely the Andersons are looking for the Strelleys and the Harris family of Derbyshire.  Alf and Sid set off to find Lucy and Joseph......

With kind regards


The story of the Strelley family  has been documented in the blog previously. The Harris/ Anderson story will come in parts over the next few days or so. 

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