When life gives you LEMMENS…

Grandma Befay's father's parents - Frederick Lemmens
Mevr. Lemmens & Frederick Lemmens (and a mystery daughter?)

I haven’t written a lot about my mother’s side of the family – in fact, I just checked and I don’t seem to have written at all about them!  This saddens me but it’s largely because her family history is centred around Belgium and so the records are not easily accessible to me (physically OR ‘literally’ as I don’t read French or Dutch).  Hopefully that will change with a little help from growing records and Google Translate.

This weekend my mother passed on a photo that my grandmother gave my mother of HER mother’s parents – got that? Basically I got a pic of my mother’s maternal great-grandparents (and maybe a great-aunt in the background).  So that’s great – an ‘ID’ed family photo… almost.  The problem is my grandmother has forgotten their names (!) although she’s pretty sure her grandfather’s given name was Frederick.

So I blow off the digital dust on my Belgian ancestors to check their names to discover I don’t actually have them on there yet.  I know that my grandmother was one of nine children born to Eduard LEMMENS and Gabrielle MINNE.  Eduard himself was one of seven siblings seen in the photo below:

Family LEMMENS (1)
Children of Frederick LEMMENS

(The youngest girl lying on the floor looks most like the mystery woman in the first photo – could it be her?)

Since I don’t currently have a ‘world’ membership, I wasn’t expecting much from searching a Belgian on ancestry.co.uk, but I actually may have struck lucky!  The very first result was a British 1901 census entry for a Fredrick LEMMENS born in Ostende, Belgium.  My grandmother was born in the coastal city of Ostende, Belgium and the man’s age fit (b.1855), so it immediately interested me.  This man was on board the S.S. Truro in Hull that night and recorded as a ‘Pilot Dutch’ but it didn’t seem to be a Belgian vessel or crew.

1901 census – Fredrick Lemmens aboard the S.S Truro, Hull

A quick glance at some of the other results didn’t show any other connections but Google threw up a record on the Oostende Archives site of a sea fishing captain who “sailed for shipowners”.  So could that delightful outfit that looked to me like a milkman’s uniform actually be a captain’s uniform?

Ostende in the 1920s
Next steps:

A Lunatic in the Family

A lot of us joke about having families full of them but occasionally you come across things that remind you how serious it can be.

For a while now I’ve known about my lunatic ancestor (one of them!) but today I’ve actually decided to try to find out more.

Agnes BUCHAN was born in Aberdeenshire in 1807. Agnes married Arthur BUCHAN (there were a LOT of Buchans in the area), a fisherman, about 1830 and lived in the small fishing community of Lonmay with her family until Arthur died in 1888. It was sometime after this that Agnes was admitted into the Royal Lunatic Asylum in Aberdeen. She appears there in the 1891 census living at Elmhill house (part of the asylum/hospital).

The new Elmhill House featured in The Illustrated London News in 1863

source: UrbexForums

In 1893, Agnes died at the asylum of senile decay. This seems like quite a broad term and would like to know the extent of her ‘lunacy’ and what the conditions may have been like for her. I searched SCAN (Scottish Archive Network) to find what kind of hospital records might be available and have sent an email to the archivist. Hopefully, I’ll be able to learn more about my troubled ancestor.