Last Edited: 18/03/2007


 Stories My Grandmother Told Me - Page 1

I believed that my grandmother knew a great deal of our family history but I hadn't realised to what extent. Apparently, her maternal grandmother used to tell her all the stories she knew and hence I was able to hear stories which went back six or more generations from myself - well into the middle of the 19th century. This was an extremely lucky situation to be in as I've since spoken to people who have had difficulty going back beyond the 1920's!

She also had spoken at length to her mother‑in‑law and knew more about my grandfather's family than he did himself (something which he naturally denied)!

The first thing that I asked her to do was to tell me about her mother, father, aunts & uncles and then about her grandparents and their generation. To my surprise she knew dates of birth, death, marriage, children's names and birthdays. So much so that it was difficult keeping up. She surprised me further by then going on to tell me about her great‑grandparents and their generation.

Dorothy's grandmother was called Jane Part. She had one sister called Annabella (known as "aunt Beller" to Dorothy). Their father (name unknown to Dorothy but later found to be William Part) was a horse breaker in Martinstown, Dorset. Their mother, again name unknown to Dorothy, was found to be called Sarah and had been married before.

The story goes that one day William Part was kicked by a horse killing him and leaving his body in a bit of a mess. Some men carried his body home to his wife on a hurdle. At the sight of the body Sarah was said to have gone mad. The two sisters were then looked after by an aunt.

At this time in Charminster lived a man called George Hicks. He  was a very religious member of the primitive Methodist sect. He took pity on the two sisters and took them in. Subsequently, aged 22, Jane married George Hicks and lived with him in Charminster where they appear in the 1871 census along with Annabella (described as a domestic servant, visitor).

Jane and George had (at least) eight children, the fourth of whom was Annie Eliza (born 1874), Dorothy's mother.

As I said earlier, George was a devout Methodist and was often to be seen on a Sunday walking the roads of Dorset either to or from a meeting where he had been preaching. He was a supplier of groceries and made his deliveries by horse and cart. However, he would always walk on Sundays as he said his horse had been working all week and he wouldn't make it work on a Sunday!

Whilst living in George's house, Annabella met a (rich) married man with whom she wanted to elope. They arranged to meet at the railway station and catch a train. George somehow heard of this and drove his horse and cart at great speed to the station, grabbed Annabella, and took her home. Apparently, never recovering from this upset Annabella died (in 1914 aged 67) unmarried, or as Dorothy put it "she died without knowing what it was for"! I've recently been told that Annabella went a bit mad (like her mother) and that at times she had to be tied to the table leg! It seems she was prone to wandering off! With this information I have now found her in the 1891 census (Workhouse) and, probably her, in 1901 (Charminster Lunatic Asylum). I say 'probably' as the entry is 'A. P.'.

George Hicks was responsible for raising the money to build a chapel for the Methodists in Martinstown. This is still standing although it has since been converted into a private residence.


1. Also called Arabella at times. (Back)

2. Also known as Winterbourne St Martin, just west of Dorchester. (Back)

3. Sarah Part was a patient at Charminster Lunatic Asylum in 1881 (as 'S. P.' ) and also in 1891 under her own name. (Back)

4. This was probably Jane Bartlett, a laundress, wife of Edward. Jane (18) and Annabella (16), nieces, were living in their household in the 1861 census. (Back)

5. An unlikely storey as George Hicks was a year younger than Jane Part! (Back)

Next Page