A few years after the 1914/18 war, a married couple, because they were unable to produce a child of their own, decided to adopt one. Elsie and George Wright lived in the village of Galleywood, Essex, were advised by their vicar to apply to an orphanage in Braintree. There they found a two-year-old girl, Betty, in need of secure home. Betty was born out of wedlock to Margaret Ryder, a Yorkshire lass who had met up with the son of a wealthy Australian businessman who had sent his son to the UK to learn about our wool trade. Sadly, shortly after Betty’s birth, Margaret was found to have TB, and was confined to a sanitorium, she was therefore not able to care for her baby. Betty’s father, (Margaret thought his name was Bridcut Lowe), did not accept his responsibilities, and decided to return to Australia. He was undoubtably too ashamed to tell any of his well-known and well-off family of his reprehensible behaviour in the UK. “Bridcut”, who strangely called himself “Bonnie” (his illustrious brother’s name), wrote a few letters to Margaret, telling her about his long sea journey back to Adelaide, after which all communication and support ceased.
Betty grew to be a bright and happy only child of Elsie and George. She received occasional visits from an “Aunty Margaret”, (now cured of TB), and it wasn’t until she was about ten years old, Betty was informed that Aunty Margaret was in fact her real mother.This did not seem to worry Betty in the slightest, she was quite happy with Elsie and George, who will always be her Mum and Dad.
Moving the clock forward many years, when Elsie, George and “Aunty Margaret” had all long since died, and Betty now in her “Eighties”, began to wonder what became of her natural father, knowing full well that he too must have died. Betty and husband John, who she married sixty years earlier, with time on their hands, decided to make a determined effort to trace Betty’s real father. Their starting point was a “Brownie box” type photo of “Bridcut” and his dog, and the afore mentioned letters, all of which Betty inherited from Margaret. They began browsing the internet, looking for any reference to Bridcut Lowe, especially in connection with the Wool trade in Australia. They found absolutely nothing of interest. Fortunately, Betty’s adoptive family also had connections with Australia. One second cousin, Dianne, was adopted like Betty, took a special interest in Betty’s search. She spent a day in the National Archives in Canberra. Like us she could find no reference to a Bridcut Lowe. She did however find similar name, Bridson Lowe. Back in the UK, John and Betty’s son Philip thought it might be worth searching for Bridson Lowe. He immediately came up with a web site with many pages of details about a Lowe family. One member, “Bridson”, seemed to be roughly the age of Betty’s father. The web site was ten years old, but nevertheless John thought it worthwhile contacting the author. He duly wrote an Email to check that the web site was still “live”. The author, Irene Lowe, quickly replied and wanted to know why we in the UK were interested in her family. John then sent a further Email attaching copies of the photo of Betty’s father and a couple of his letters. Wow! Came the reply, that’s our Grandfather!
The search lasting many months has finally produced a result.
After returning to Australia, Betty’s father Bridson, married and had three children. Debera, William (Bill) and Robert.
Betty now knew for certain that that her father’s name was Bridson Lowe (not Bridcut Lowe) and that she had a half-sister and two half-brothers, all of whom lived in Perth, Western Australia. They were all married and had grown up families. Sadly, Bill had been killed in a road accident, leaving a widow, Elizabeth, and five small children.
At the time of Betty’s momentous discovery, half-brother Robert and his wife Margaret were about embark on holiday to the UK, so they knew of the existence of Betty, and had her contact details.
At breakfast time on Wednesday 26th April 2006, Betty received a phone call from a gentleman calling himself “your little brother”. It was Robert, who gave Betty details of where they would be staying in London, and he invited Betty and John to London to meet Him and his wife, an invitation which could not be refused.
On the morning of 4th May, John and Betty took the train from Colchester to London and made their way to “The Victory Club”, there the exciting first meeting of brother and sister took place. Betty chatted away to her new-found brother, while John was getting to know Margaret.
One of Robert’s children was named Philip, as John and Betty had named their son Philip and both these Philips had wives named Jacky.
Even more astonishing, Roberts Philip, though born in New Zealand, came to live in the UK at Colchester, the home-town of John and Betty at that time.
A few weeks after Betty met Robert in London, sister Debbie wanted to meet Betty too, she also travelled from Perth to the UK, bringing daughter Robin (wife of MP Kenneth, Minister of Agriculture). John and Betty were able to introduce them to Paul and Philip and their families.
The story would not be complete without mentioning John and Betty’s invitation to Perth to meet many of the Lowe Family. They had been to Australia several years earlier and met some of Betty’s adoptive family, but at that time they had no knowledge of Betty’s natural family. The whole family were extremely hospitable.
Although Betty died in 2016, the Lowe family still keep in touch with John and family, and several of the family who John and Betty were unable to meet during their visit to Perth have made a point of coming to visit John when they are in the UK.
A happy ending, after a very sad beginning!
Do you have any unexplored branches in your family tree? It may be frustrating trying to trace them, but it can also be very rewarding.