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Light shed on romantic family history

The great great grandson of ‘The Pretty American’ - a woman who lived in North Mymms more than 150 years ago - has uncovered valuable information about his family’s genealogy thanks to this site. That information will now be the main talking point of a family reunion.

The ‘Pretty American’ was Frances Ruth Payson, born in Messina in January 1826, the third child of a young American couple who had gone to live in Sicily after their marriage in December 1821.

She is mentioned in Chapter 24 of Dorothy Colville’s 'North Mymms - Parish and People', where the romantic story is told about of how she met her future husband, Rev. James Faithfull, the tutor to Lord Cranborne, while they were on the grand European tour and passing through Messina, where her father was American consul.

They came to live in North Mymms in 1844. Now, the great great grandson of Frances Ruth Payson, Antony Faithfull Anderson, has e-mailed this site.

"I have in my possession three scrap books with drawings by Rev. James Faithfull from the Brazils, from Portugal and the Rhine and Switzerland that date from when he was tutor to Lord Cranborne. i.e. just before he met his future wife. I suspect that having once met her, his mind was no longer on the sketching!

My paternal grandmother Minnie Storr was the daughter of Edward Storr and Emily Faithfull and her maternal grandfather and grandmother were Rev James Faithfull and Frances Ruth Payson.

The book mentions that the widowed Frances Ruth Payson went to live in Eastbourne. According to my grandmother's account, when her father Edward Storr died, her widowed mother Emily Storr and her 4 children (Carrie, Mabel, Minnie and Vernon) went to live with Frances Ruth Payson in Lushington Road, Eastbourne.

Living under the same roof for three years, in rooms above theirs, was Charles Dodgson (Lewis Caroll). My grandmother wrote: "Once having decided we were the right age he laid himself out to amuse us, and every night we went up to his rooms, which were above ours, and played with his mechanical toys and other treasures. We played with him many mathematical games, as well as ‘Doublets’."

A photograph of Frances Ruth Payson with her Anderson great-grandchildren in the early 1900s shows that she was still beautiful in old age. I get the impression from the photo that she really enjoyed her great-grandchildren.

My grandmother kept up with Payson cousins in America until well after WWII. When my father was taken a prisoner near Dunkirk in 1940, the American cousins were wonderful in the way in which they sent food parcels to him in Germany. Moreover, they helped find "American Godmothers" willing to adopt other POWs who did not have the good fortune to have American relatives.

I shall be printing off a copy of the Chapter from Dorothy Colville's book to take with me to a family reunion this coming Sunday, where I am sure it will be read with great interest.

What a good idea to put the text of the book on the Internet!"

If anyone has any more information for Antony Faithfull Anderson please e-mail history and it will be forwarded to him.

July 6, 2000

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