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James Henry Ellis

Although this is a man, known in life to my mother and some of her sisters, there are no photographs and virtually nothing is known of his early life.  He is our hardest brick wall.

I think that, as a child, I must have had no concept of generations further back than my grandmother - together with a few great aunts, the oldest relative I had.  I therefore did not think to ask about her mother and father, or her husband’s mother and father, or indeed, her husband, who was long dead.  I do remember that there was an old photograph album though, which was brought out every now and then.  Alas I have no memory of who the photos were of, or what happened to it.

My uncle Leslie, James Henry’s grandson, was the one who started us all on this family history stuff.  He was too young to have known his grandfather who died the year he was born, but he did his best to find out about him.  According to him, family legend had it that ‘grandfather was a Londoner’, and this led him astray in his researches, it now appears.  Or did it, as I guess this has not been definitively disproved.  But even my uncle, who was very dedicated, was unable to find traces of his early life, or his first marriage.  And despite the persistent efforts of myself, my sister, my cousins and newly discovered cousins we have also been unable to find out much.  A breakthrough is well overdue.  What we do know I recount (and re-imagine) on the following pages.  

James Henry Ellis

b ca 1840 Portsmouth?

m? Ellen Warnes or Cook ca 1872

m Hannah Marshall 7 November, 1892, Parish Church Portsmouth

d 27 October 1922, Portsmouth


Ellen b ca 1872-?

Frederick John 1873-1932

Letitia 1875-1878

James 1877-1878

Lily 1879-?


2nd Marriage certificate

Death certificate

Census for 1891, 1901, 1911

Birth certificates of all the children



From the same root as Jacob meaning ‘supplanter’.  James is much more common though - indeed it is extremely common, and is probably more associated with one of the Jameses in the Bible.  Also, of course, there were a couple of Kings of England called James.


Hamish, Jacob, Jack


Jim, Jimmy, Jimbo, Jamie



Another popular name - particularly of Kings of England - we have had eight of them, but it’s not from the Bible.  It’s origin is Teutonic and means ‘house ruler’


Henri, Heinrich


Harry, Hal, Hank