The grave of Maria Feltham nee Cockrell, All Saints graveyard, Imber Road.

Maria Cockrell was Raymond Feltham’s great grandmother. Her eye-catching tombstone in the Feltham plot at All Saints graveyard was the subject of a recent enquiry by D & KC. They wanted to know who were the ECH and BN who had the gravestone erected in Maria’s memory and their intials engraved upon it. We were able to discover who ECH was but unfortunately not BN, but in the process discovered a lot more about the remarkable woman they remembered.

Maria was not your run-of-the-mill 19th century wife and mother for a start. She and James Feltham just had the one child, William James Cockrell, in January 1857 before they wed at Chitterne St Mary Church in November 1857. The child later came to be known as Jimmy Feltham of Polden & Feltham, the carpenters and wheelwrights of Flint House, grandfather of Raymond.

Maria, James and Jimmy were living together at Enford, Wiltshire in 1861, but after that Maria moved around the country nursing. In 1871, while Jimmy was living with his maternal grandmother Euphemia in Chitterne St Mary and his father James is nowhere to be found, Maria was living at 7 Queen’s Gate, Kensington, London with the family of the late John Dennistoun, a merchant, and his sister Constance Hamilton, a widow with two young daughters.

Maria was probably recruited in Chitterne by John and Constance’s mother Frances Dennistoun who was the daughter of Sir Henry Onslow, lord of the manor of Chitterne All Saints from 1837 to 1853. His grave is in All Saints graveyard not too far from Maria’s.

It appears that Maria stayed living with and working for this same family for at least 20 years. Maybe even longer than that if she started looking after the Hamilton children in 1864 when the eldest was born. By 1881 we find Maria living at Moss, Killearn, Stirlingshire, Scotland with Constance, her two daughters and new husband, Archibald Campbell Lawrie, a Colonial Judge.

One of Constance’s daughters was Eva Constance Hamilton, who surely must be the ECH on Maria’s tombstone, as she was still single when Maria died in May 1892, but married Humphry Crum Ewing in London later that same year.

As to the BN of the engraving, we have no idea yet, but it must have been someone who was equally grateful to Maria for her long service to the family and someone well known to Eva Hamilto

Grateful thanks to J & RR as always.

Monday 12 March 2018

The recent discovery of 204 letters written by Maria Feltham to her mother and son Jimmy reveals the BN mentioned above. The owner of the initials had been hiding in plain sight the whole time. Mary Frances Beryl Hamilton, known as Beryl, sister of Eva Constance, had married and become Beryl Nicholson by the time Maria died. Hence BN, Beryl Nicholson. Mystery solved.

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