CHAPTER 7

THE ANNETTS

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Revision Date : 15 April 2011
 

    Francis Annett married Charlotte Shields about 1874 at Kilkeel, Northern Ireland.  The couple lived for a time at Fern Hill, Warrenpoint, and also at Brecknogh, the present Brackenagh.  Charlotte lived to over 90, and died about 1941 (?).  Francis was a labourer, working wherever he could find employment.   A Francis Annett was born on 16th March 1855 to John Annett and Eliza (or Elizabeth) Adair.  Francis and Charlotte’s children were :
    In the 1901 Census Charlotte Annett and four of her younger children were living next to the Ballymageough National School in the Aughrim Townland :
    Charlotte Annett                H        M        63        Embroiderer                                            Down
    Charles                                 S         U        16        Farm Labourer                                        Down
    Susan                                   D         U        15        Dressmaker                                             Down
    Robert                                  S          U        14        Scholar                                                    Down
    Hugh                                    S          U        18        Servant                                                    Down


    Charlotte is not listed as a widow, so Francis Annett must have been elsewhere on the night of the Census.  The five Annetts were all Presbyterian.  A James Annett, aged 24, was a farm servant working for James Wilson.

    Charlotte’s age (63) in the 1901 Census is confusing, because in the 1911 Census she was 61.  In 1911 she lived in the fourth house surveyed in the Townland of Glenloughan, in the Electoral Division of Greencastle.

    Hugh Annett married Margaret Newell.  Margaret Newell was born on 3rd June 1890, and her mother was another Margaret Newell.  She had two brothers, William, who married Susan Annett, Hugh’s sister, and James.  She had diabetes, and died in 1949 of a heart attack.

    William John Newell married Susan Annett on 8th January 1909 at the Rostrevor Presbyterian Church, and Hugh Annett married Maggie Newell on 26th September 1910 at the same church.  Hugh and Margaret’s children were :   
    Jane and Margaret were both christened at the Mourne Presbyterian Church, Kilkeel, on 28th January 1912, a considerable time after their birth.  Several of the other children also had to wait some time to be christened.  Charlotte waited 11 months to be christened on 14th September 1913, and Robert was christened at five months, on 26th February 1922.

    Hugh senior was an agricultural labourer, and sometimes hired himself out at the hiring fairs, while his wife looked after the house.  He later worked for the Mourne County Council between 1924 and his retirement in 1947.  He was a strict man, but his wife Margaret was remembered as a kind person.

    The old farmhouse at Ballymaderfy had a great big fireplace which you could stand up in and look up the chimney.  All the family lived there, and grandmother Newell as well.  The farm was owned and worked by James Newell, Margaret Annett’s (Newell) brother, who also lived there.  Margaret Annett had another brother, William, who married Susan Annett, Hugh’s sister.  Hugh worked as a road sweeper and stonecutter.  John also worked on farms for a while before becoming a road worker, keeping the roads swept clear, trimming hedges, clearing drains, and ensuring that the harbour light was lit.  When James Newell died he left the farm to John Annett.

    The family moved to Maghery in 1934, to a larger house.  Margaret and Charlotte went to Bangor to work, and helped their parents buy a house in Mill Road in 1949.  John lived there also, but he and his father had a “falling-out”, and John moved back to the farm at Ballymaderfy, where he stayed until he died.  He would not have electricity connected to the house, and he used the street lamp outside the house to read by.  He was very frugal, and would not buy coal.  There was no running water connected to the farm, and he got water by the bucket from the creek.

    Hugh junior was a good-looking man, very tall.  He died very young, aged 26, after a tug-of-war at a young farmers’ rally.  He was the anchor man, tied at the end of the rope, and it was thought that the rope had punctured his lung, and he took an awful beating and died in the hospital.

    Early in life Jane Annett decided that she did not like her baptismal name, and requested that she be known henceforth as Jean.

    Jean, Margaret and Robert all attended the Public Elementary School at Glenloughan (on the Newry Road, near Ballymaderphy) until they were 14.  The school consisted of two rooms, one for the lower classes, and the other for the more advanced.  The senior teacher was a Thomas Taylor, who was a very strict disciplinarian, but a good teacher, according to Robert.  Children in the lower class were always apprehensive about being promoted to his class.  Margaret was very good at drawing, but Jean was not as talented, and one day Taylor showed Jean some of her sister’s work, and hit her across the face with it, knocking out two of her front teeth.

    When Jean was still attending school, she would go to a Colonel Warren’s house at Lisnacree after school, and help prepare the evening meal, and wash dishes afterwards.  After leaving school she worked as a housemaid in Belfast for a family named Gage.  When she was about 24 a friend of hers interested her in nursing, and she went away to be trained, and later specialised in mental nursing.  Much of her training was done in St Alban’s, Hertfordshire, (St Albyn’s near London ?), specialising in nursing mental patients.  During the war she was in hospitals in London, and later in Glasgow.  During the bombing of London she once spent three weeks on continuous duty, not even having time to change her clothes.  On the lighter side, she once attended a dance with another nurse, and stayed too late to catch the normal train home, so they hitched a ride in the cab of a passing locomotive, and emerged like two niggers.

    After the war she worked in a private nursing home in Devon, run by a Lady Lewis, with whom she got on well.  Following the stress of her war work, Jean suffered a collapsed lung, and Lady Lewis paid all her medical expenses for the necessary operation (removal of the lung).  The doctor who performed the surgery later operated on King George.  Lady Lewis supposedly offered Jean 1000 not to go to Australia to get married.

    When young, Jean had lovely long hair, tied in plaits, but someone told her father that she had had them cut off.  He did not believe them, because she had kept them, and always clipped them back on before coming home.  When he investigated the next day, the plaits came away in his hand.  He was very strict, and never let her go out to dances alone - he even went and brought her home from dances.  She was the best dancer in the district, and enjoyed walting, the foxtrot and the Lancers.  She had a determined streak, and often defied her father, and eventually went away to Antrim, and then to England, where he couldn’t keep his eye on her.  She was very ill before leaving for Australia, because she had worked herself into the ground during the war, and had a collapsed lung.  Before leaving England she had consulted doctors to ask whether it was advisable for her to have a family, and they had said yes.  After her death, Richard wrote back to Margaret that he would never forgive them for telling her that.  She liked Australia and the people.

    Jean met Richard Stephens in 1941 in a hospital near Glasgow.  Richard, an Australian Army private, had just landed from the ship which had carried him from Australia, and went, without permission, to the hospital to visit a mate who had contracted measles.  Richard caought the disease, and ended up in hospital as well, where he met Jean.  They were immediately attracted to each other, and corresponded throughout the war, although they were not able to meet again.  After the war, Richard asked Jean to  emigrate to Australia and marry him, which she did.

    Susan Annett married William Collom and their children were :