Today, 14 May 2015, is the 153rd wedding anniversary of my paternal great great grandparents, George Flett and Mary Leask. In fact their marriage lasted less than ten years for Mary died of tuberculosis, aged 32, on 27 February 1872, in Orphir, Orkney. I have yet to research this line in depth but the little I know points to a very hard life.

There were six children from the marriage; that alone made great demands on Mary. One daughter, Jemima, died in March 1871 aged six months, cause of death unknown (no medical attendant). A second Jemima was born on 13 January 1872, about six weeks before her mother’s death, and died on 2 July 1872, cause of death “gradual decay”. The tragedy continued with the death of Thomas, aged six, in March 1873, cause of death unknown (no medical attendant). Perhaps the poor little boy just lost the will to live.

Both Mary and George’s mothers were dead by the time of their marriage so another source of help was wiped out. Going by the 1871 census, George, a farm servant, and Mary had some assistance from Mary’s sister, yet another Jemima, which may have continued. But a motherless six-week old and four other children under ten would be a major challenge for anyone. Like many men in a similar situation, George remarried in May 1874. There were four children from that marriage and George died in 1919.*

I have often wondered what my great grandmother, Ann, aged around eight when her father remarried, made of it all.

Photo of Ann Flett
Ann Flett (1866-1944)

Compared to my other lines at the same period, her family had a very hard time. Ann herself lived to be 78 but effectively lost another brother, John, when his letters from Australia simply ceased. Any descendants of a John Flett in Australia please get in contact – I do not even know where he settled. Ann’s older sister, Mary, outlived them all and died in 1954 aged 89. A happy ending of sorts I suppose.

*George Flett’s youngest son from this second marriage was the father of my maternal uncle’s wife which makes their children both my first cousins and also my half second cousins once removed!

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