William Affleck
and Robert Affleck

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Robert Affleck
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1. Mr. and Mrs. John Harper Penney were from South Shields.
2. Alderman Robert Affleck was from 'Bloomfield' Gateshead.
3. Herbert Gilles Penney was the second son of John Harper Penney.
4. Lottie Affleck was the only daughter of Robert Affleck.
5. They were married on Saturday 11/12/1909 at St. Georges Church in Gateshead.
6. Mr. Harry G. Wicks was a cousin of Herbert Gilles Penney. His mother, Mrs. Wicks was the Mayoress of Gateshead. She must be aunt to Herbert Gilles Penney and née Penney, and therefore sister to John Harper Penney and Edward Penney.
7. Gifts were received from, 'Mr. R Penney and Mr. C. Penney and Miss Flo' . I suggest that Mr. R. and Mr. C. are two more younger sons of John Harper Penney and Miss Flo is Florrie Penney.
8. Similarly, Misses R. and J. and Master Stanley Penney. I suggest that R. and J. refer to Rita and Jean and Stanley is another son.
9. Similarly, Mrs. E. Penney and Miss Penney. I suggest this is Caroline Valencia Penney, wife of Edward, and Valencia Ann Harper Penney, my grandmother.
Some notes on the Afflecks, 1800 Present.

All the following notes were written by William Strickland Affleck

The following is based, in the main on a collection of letters written by my grandmother and my uncles to my father after he had gone to Canada in 1906. It is supplemented with the results of various researches, including birth, marriage and death certificates and information from other family members. The material in the letters is, obviously subjective and tells us as much about the writers as it does about the subjects. The collection of letters is also a clearly incomplete source. Letters were not written during visits and there is no certainty that all that were written, were kept. That subjects are not, apparently, covered does not mean that they were not discussed. The collection is also one-sided. Evidently my father was a regular, even prolific correspondent but only a handful of his letters survive.

Up to 1881

The Afflecks originated in Scotland but the family was in the Tyneside region for some generations before my father was born.

My great-great grandfather was a William Affleck probably born before 1800 and died after 1857 and before 1870. He is described as a miner on my great-grandfather's marriage certificate.

My great grandfather was also a William Affleck, probably born in 1815 (based on age at death and his age in the 1881 Census -which gives his place of birth as Urpeth County Durham). He married Charlotte Clarke in 1853, in St. Andrews Parish Church. Newcastle-upon Tyne. The marriage certificate shows him as an engineer. William and Charlotte had twins, Dorothy Sarah and William James in 1855. On their birth certificates their father is described as an engineman at a colliery. In1858 there was a son, Robert, who would be my grandfather. On his birth certificates his father is described as an engineman.

At the time of the 1881 Census, William (66), Charlotte (63), Dorothy (25) and Robert (22) were living at 10, Osborne Terrace, Gateshead. (William James was not present). William is described now as a Land Agent, Robert as a Professor of Music. William would, later that year be Mayor of Gateshead. Charlotte died Jan 11th, 1883, aged 66. Robert is still shown as Mayor of Gateshead on her death certificate. William subsequently (1884) remarried to Sara Harley, who was some 30 years his junior and, reputedly, had been his cook This was a registry office marriage in Belford, Northumberland and no one from the family was present. William died on Feb 7th 1890, aged 75. We understand there were children but have no information about them.

0ne of the mysteries of the family is how William progressed from being an engineman in 1858, when he would already be in his mid 4Os, to land agent and Mayor of Gateshead in 1881.

My grandfather Robert was born in Gateshead, County Durham in 1858 (June 2nd). Apart from the 1881 Census record we know nothing about his activities until August 2nd 1881 when he married Georgiana Scotson Morriss in St. Edmunds Church, Gateshead.

Georgiana was born in Gateshead in 1853 (May 18th). Her parents were Johnson Morriss of Gateshead and Sarah Wilson Scotson who was born in 1818 at Carlton, just north-west of Stockton-on-Tees. They were married in Middlesborough, then in County Durham, now in Cleveland, in 1843. We have records of Scotsons back to 1725 in the Kirklevington area. just south of Stockton-on-Tees. Georgiana had a sister. Wilhelmina, who, as Aunt Lily figures throughout. There is a story, impossible to validate, that both Georgiana and Wilhelmina were attracted to Robert. Georgiana won, in the sense that she became Mrs. Affleck, but Wilhelmina seems to have come along as well and spent much of her life living with them.

From 1881 to 1910

Robert was 23, Georgiana 28 when they were married. Robert Affleck was later a Justice of the Peace and Alderman of the city of Gateshead. He was a house agent and property owner. The family business was that of landlord and property developer. He was Chairman of the Board of Guardians in Gateshead. The Board of Guardians administered charities and were in charge of poor relief, workhouses, etc. The family was involved with the Unitarian church in Gateshead and Robert played the organ. The Afflecks ultimately had quite a large house, Bloomfield, which then stood in its own grounds and they appear to have lived in some style with indoor and outdoor servants, etc. There was a pipe organ in the house. After the second World War the house was used as council offices, and extended and modified. It was finally demolished in1957.

Robert and Georgiana had six children between 1882 and 1893. The family came to a crisis point in 1910, and it is useful to follow the children's progress up to that date.

William (Billy, Willie to his mother) was the eldest son, born May 1Oth, 1882. We don't know whether the family at moved into Bloomfield at the time of his birth. He went to St. Bees School (in Cumberland) at the age of 13 in 1895 and left the school in 1899. From school he probably went directly into the family business of managing the estate in Gateshead. He had a number of other interests some definitely in the hobby category (garden building, various field sports, etc.) and some which suggest that he might have farmed more or less seriously. He married Jessie Wallace in April 1904 .They had no children of their own but they would "adopt" Rose Paynter in 1908. Jesse emerges as another of the enigmatic figures in the story.

[Rose is peripheral but merits a note. The Paynters were family friends. "Jum" was a school friend of Billy's at St Bees. He went from there to study law but went into the Northumberland Yeomanry and into the Boer War. Returning he was articled to his father's (Henry Augustus Paynter) law firm in St. Clements Inn in London. He married Margaret Mary Baker in 1903. The family, Jum, Margaret and two older children went out to Canada in 1908. Rose was the third, then two months old, and, at the last moment ill with pneumonia. She was not fit to travel and was left with Billy and Jessie, more probably, in hope than in any real expectation of ever seeing her again. Rose stayed with Jessie until the mid 20's, subsequently came out to Canada, married and lived a full life, dying in 1992. Although she lived close to the (by then extensive) Paynter family she seems to have seen herself more as Billy's daughter].

A Second daughter Georgiana was born May 27th 1891 but died 10 months later.

From 1910 to 1920

Grandfather Robert was suddenly taken ill while on holiday in 1910. He died on August 3rd. in Dunoon, following an emergency operation for a burst appendix. He was 52. This was an extremely traumatic event for the family.

Georgiana. Her letters make it clear that she was totally devastated by her husband's unexpected death. For some time she seems to have been incapable of deciding or doing anything although the question of what should happen to her and to Bloomfield obviously loomed large. Robert's Will (which was subject to some differing legal interpretations) essentially required her to maintain a home for "her children". When Bloomfield was finally put on the market there were difficulties in finding a buyer and it was only in 1912 that a sale was concluded and she was able to move to a house in Ealing which was to be home for herself, Aunt Lily, Robbie and George. The move obviously upset the mother, still hardly recovered from the loss of her husband. Her letters are often querulous and when she notes at the end of a visit to Ealing by Jessie and Rosie in 1913 that 'Jessie and I don't get on at all -never have-but for Willie's sake we keep civil. Rose I don 't care for -and I think she is spoilt, but of course Willie and Jessie can bring her up as they choose. She is nothing to any of us - and I can't be expected to love her' allowance should be made. The Ealing Phase lasted the war although with George married and Robbie enlisted (October 1915) and married (March 1916) the arrangement was on borrowed time; it was attractive and mutually supportive for Georgiana, Aunt Lily and Robbie's wife and baby while Robbie was on active service.

Billy: Billy was 28 at the time of his father's death. He took over the management of the family business in 1910. The death was quite unexpected and there is the suggestion that picking up the reins of the business was far from easy. The father had various civic responsibilities, some of which seem also to have devolved onto Billy. It appears from letters from his mother that Billy was hit very hard by his father's death and there are references to him looking ill, overworking himself, etc. 'going about with a white stricken look and he is very thin. A sorrowful heavy duty has fallen upon him but he is working bravely on.' 'he had such a wan thin look, and he has so much to do and think about . . . Willy is my right hand. He has felt Dada's death keenly and I was afraid I was likely to loose him too, he had so many painful duties to perform - but his short holiday has done him good - and I hope after a while he will pick up.'

It is also clear that the business was far from the prosperous operation it appears once to have been - and, it seems, many supposed it still to be: "I am rather exercised in my mind just now about our affairs, old man - Gateshead is getting worse and worse every year and the estate has only made £500 for Mother last year (although she got £800) I am going to do without anyone in the office and so save £50 towards her income and save mortgage interest on Bloomfield (£100) which will help a little but I am seriously contemplating coming out to Canada myself it is only the moral obligation I feel towards doing what I can for Mother and the Estate which is stopping me. .'

Surprisingly, Jessie is not mentioned in relation to Robert Affleck's sudden death, nor in connection with the immediate family upheavals that followed it. How far Billy shared with Jessie his concerns about the Estate we don't know, but in a letter to Johnsie in 1912 Billy says he is 'trying to fight it out in my own self before I say anything to Jessie or anyone else.'

With the outbreak of war Billy tried to enlist, 'Domesticity and spectacles stopped him', but he kept trying. 'Billy is simply panting to get out and fight . . . he was waiting [September 1914] to hear in reply to his application for a commission. Jessie has been mastering the office work in case he is successful.' Billy was not accepted for the army and he and Jessie spent the war years in the North. In mid 1915 there are two references to Jessie in association with 'Justin' about whom we know nothing else "I [writes the mother] am rather expecting Jessie coming. I had a letter from her saying Justin is seriously ill and as she might have to come to London in a hurry. . .It almost seems as if it is going to be the finish of Justin." "Jessie [notes Robbie] writes that continuous sickroom nursing is pulling her down. As there is no chance of Justin's recovery, the sooner the poor lad goes under the better. Truly we are in the midst of hard times." Another mystery.

From 1910 to 1930

Georgiana: In 1919 the mother and Aunt Lily removed to 1, Woodlands. a house in Hexham. Georgiana and Aunt Lily would stay there until Georgiana's death in 1927. Jessie also moved into the house but the situation was not satisfactory "the plain fact that the old ladies and their ways, and Jessie and Rosie and their ways, do not agree in the smallest particular, and I think the time has come when what was merely and emergency arrangement should be altered in some way."

Georgiana obviously became very frail and was expected to die during an illness in 1924. Latterly she had continuous nursing. George, Cecily, Robbie and Lottie seem to have been frequent visitors during the latter stages. ". . . it will comfort you to know that the last time I [Robbie] saw Mother alive, the poor little soul mistook me on one occasion for you, and at another time for Billy, and welcomed me with the utmost joy in those beliefs. You will understand what pleasure I felt that the sight of me should be able to give poor Mother (though not you two) the extraordinary joy of seeing two of her sons whom she had never expected to see again".

She died on November 7th 1927. Since this represented the end of the family home there was a lot organisation involved, not only in the funeral but in the selling of the house and the dispersal of property. Robbie had his own problems: 'But with Molly's illness, the whole of the work connected with Mother's death and the settlements after has devolved upon Herbert, - and though he's not a likable person, I must say that he has carried it out in the most thorough and business-like way; and in taking his point of view he seems to me to have been wonderfully successful in forgetting ancient grudges and to have acted absolutely fairly'.

Billy: After 1920 things developed badly for the family finances and, especially for Billy. By 1920 he had had (apparently a series of) personal financial problems. Various rescue measures were agreed in response to what was belatedly recandnised as an almost impossible position ('It has been a mystery to me ever since how he could be doing it, and particularly during this last year when things have been so dear and Jessie has had her illness') but early in 1921 he resigned as a trustee of the estate. The rescue package had failed and he had had to leave England, apparently one jump ahead of his creditors. He went to stay with Johnsie in Kelowna and seems to have lived with him for some time. Jessie apparently wasn't prepared to accompany him and, as far as we know, they never saw each other again. Jessie was not outside the backwash of Billy's problems. She had lost her housing, and even the title of the furniture from Anick (the house they lived in outside Hexham) which Billy had made over to her was investigated by the creditors. Billy had borrowed money from other members of the family and, in at least one case, Jessie was pressed to repay the loan - 'But as Anick has now gone I don't see how Jessie can pay it; and interest as well as capital of the loan must go by the board, or be charged up against Billy's reversion, which is the same thing.' Clearly Jessie had no independent expectations of money from the Estate. Jessie seems to have been conspicuously absent during the stages of her mother-in-law's illness and death and from the subsequent activities.

The matters of Billy's debts and the management of the estate would rumble on for a number of years. It is difficult to resolve the problems of Billy's finances from those of the Estate. Billy seems certainly to have lived well beyond his means (in 'an attempt to live up to the role of prosperous husband to Jessie and benevolent brother to George') staved off immediate disaster by borrowing beyond his ability to repay. All Robert's children had expectations from the Estate although these were circumscribed during the mother's life-time. It is quite likely that Billy took up some, all or possibly more than his reversion in advance. The extent to which his management of the Estate was otherwise flawed is unclear. It seems at least possible that it was market conditions rather than mis-management which mostly contributed to a situation which was obviously much less financially attractive than that which any of the family expected to find. The 1920s seem to have been a period of inquest and suspicion. The actual management of the Estate now devolved on a professional team guided by a board of Trustees comprising Robbie, Johnsie and George. Since Billy still had as much understanding of what was going on as anyone he was also consulted although he was stripped of executive function. Getting Johnsie's agreement and Billy's views to propositions when it took nearly four weeks to get a letter out and back cannot have helped the smooth running of the enterprise. This led to a reasonable concern that Lottie's interests were not properly represented but the brothers were, right up to Georgiana's death, resistant to the idea of Hubert joining the Trustees. The professional management team slipped effortlessly between trust and suspicion. Jessie was now working for the Estate and may have contributed to the atmosphere of suspicion.

However: 'Billy's mess-up is being cleared by degrees. If they don't follow-up the warrant of arrest presumably all he has to do is to stay out of the country and wish his creditors joy'. Billy stayed in Canada. He seems to have been universally liked and respected There is a parcel of orchard land in East Kelowna which was always referred to as the 'Billy Place', but where he lived or whether he ever actively worked the property we don't know. By 1927 he had been involved in irrigation in the South East Kelowna irrigation District (SEKID) for 'some time' as a ditch walker and bailiff. He then went as manager to the Penticton Irrigation District for a year before returning to Kelowna in 1928 as Manager for the SEKID.

From 1930 to the Present

Billy: Billy held the post of District Manager, SEKID until retirement in 1944. He lived in the manager's house with a Mrs. Winifred Wilson as housekeeper and companion. (He was succeeded as manager by Tom Carter who had married Rose Paynter.) After retiring he and Mrs. Wilson moved down the Vancouver Island and lived at Milnes Landing, near Sook. Mrs. Wilson died early in 1945. Billy did return once to England in the late 1950s ostensibly to live there but he claimed to have recandnised it as a mistake as soon as he left Vancouver. He probably knew he was already ill with the leukemia which would claim his life. He returned to Milnes Landing and died in 1960 in hospital in Victoria (April 16th.).

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