Neil Stuart - Mary Harrison Banks

Husband: Neil Stuart [GS][RNS]
Born: 2-Jun-1840 [GS]
1838 [MR]
Place: Anderson's Rd, Lot 67, PEI [GS]
 
Baptised: 29-Nov-1840 [GS] Place: St. Johns, Belfast, PEI [GS]
Died: Jan-1898 [IWS] Place:  
Buried: 31-Jan-1898 [IWS] Place: Smithdown Road Cemetery [IWS]
Parent Family: Ronald Stewart - Catherine MacKay
Wife: Mary Harrison Banks [RNS]
Born: ~ 1849 [IWS]
8-Dec-1848 [IWS]
Place: Liverpool, England ? [IWS]
 
Parent Family: John Andrew Banks - Mary Park
Married: Neil Stuart - Mary Harrison Banks
Date: 28-Oct-1874 [IWS] Place: Montreal, Quebec [IWS]
Child 1:
Female
Mary Catherine Stuart [RNS]
Born: 1876 [IWS] Place: Quebec, Canada [IWS]
Died: ~ 1962 [IWS] Place:  
Child 2:
Female
Ethel Maud Stuart [RNS]
Born:   Place: Liverpool, England [RNS]
Died: ~ 1949 [IWS] Place:  
Buried:   Place: Edenbridge Churchyard. No grave. [IWS]
Child 3:
Female
Lillian Hannah (Poor Lillian) Stuart [RNS]
Born: ~ 1882 [IWS] Place: Liverpool, England [IWS]
Died: 1-Apr-1927 [IWS] Place: Lancaster County Mental Hospital [IWS]
Occupation:   Journalist, book-reviewer. [IWS]
Child 4:
Female
Amy Sarah Stuart [RNS]
Born:   Place: Liverpool, England [RNS]
Died: ~ 1965 [IWS] Place:  
Occupation:   Nurse [IWS]
Child 5:
Female
Agnes Banks Stuart [RNS]
Born:   Place: Liverpool, England [RNS]
Died: ~ 1960 [IWS] Place: Gravesend, Kent, England [IWS]
Occupation:   Childrens Nurse [IWS]
Child 6:
Male
Ronald Niel Stuart [RNS]
Born: 26-Aug-1886 [VC] Place: Liverpool, England [VC]
Died: 8-Feb-1954 [VC] Place:  
Buried:   Place: Charing Cemetery, Kent, England [VC]
Families: Ronald Niel Stuart - Evelyn Wright

Notes:

1. Mary Banks was a master mariner's daughter and Neil Stuart was a master mariner, so I presume they met when she was sailing in her father's ship, because she was English and the family home was in Liverpool. [RNS]

2. Marriage witnesses Margaret Sym and Margaret Campbell. Dr Campbell 'later married our father's brother Malcolm' Aunt Katie's note to a Montreal newspaper cutting of June 1917. The note says Malcolm became a good friend of Dr. Campbell - which suggests he stayed in Montreal. [IWS]

3. After the marriage Mary became a captain's wife and sailed with her husband. She sailed round the Cape Horn, as Auntie Katie told the story she was terrified of being shipwrecked and being eaten by cannibals, who she believed inhabited the coast of Patagonia, so during that part of the voyage she never took her clothes off. I always used to wonder why that would stop her being eaten! [HS]

4. Neil and Mary appear here.

Notes on Neil Stuart:

1. The aunts, who enjoyed a sort of folie a quatre and did not believe we children were really Stuarts, destroyed the family bible and burnt or lost most of their photographs, so no record survives, for example, of grandfather Captain Neil Stuart. [IWS]

2. I can just remember seeing a daguerretype, probably taken at the time of his marriage: tall (6 ft 2) blond, good looking, and there was once another of him standing on Liverpool Docks - all gone. [IWS]

3. According to a whisper the Aunts tried to suppress, Capt. Neil S. swallowed the anchor and opened a grocery shop in Prescott Street, Liverpool, 'Stuart's prize teas, etc.' (If the business survived it may appear in the Liverpool Trades Directory for the 1890s.) He was about to go back to sea when he became ill and died. The family he left was quite poor and absurdly proud. [IWS]

4. Grandpa, so the story goes, ran away to sea at 14. I have heard that he was sailing down south in the Cival War, so I always thought he was gun-running, because it seemed to fit the character I had built up for him. [HS] (Bill says he served in the US Navy - a PEI man told him. [IWS])

Notes on Mary Harrison Banks:

1. Mary and Sarah were running a dress making business where Mary and Neil (Stuart) met. I do not think they were the shrinking violets that sometimes we were made to believe they were. They ran the business from 31 Kelvin Grove which Mary had bought. One evening Capt Sutherland (In 1888 Captain David Sutherland, Master Mariner, lived next door at 33 Kelvin Grove. Gore's Directory 1888. [IWS]) who was a friend of Sarah's said he was bringing her a handsome husband round to dine with them. It was Neil Stuart and Mary was the one who married him. Sarah married John Wilson, a man with a good singing voice. [HS]

2. I remember a letter that Mary had written to her sister, describing her grey silk dress and lavendar grey gloves Neil had brought for her and for himself. (He was always a dandy).

3. Refused to attend her son's wedding on the grounds that she wasn't good enough for him. [IWS]

Notes on Mary Catherine Stuart:

1. Never Married. [RNS]

2. Slave to her mother, her life was spent cooking, cleaning, playing the piano, going to church and keeping very respectable, and very innocent. [IWS]

3. The doctor who attended the birth was French Canadian and insisted that her husband was with her at the birth. It seems very modern but many a husband must have helped at the birth in remote parts of the countryside on both sides of the Atlantic. I did see the letter to her sister telling her of the birth - if only they had kept those letters. [HS]

4. Auntie Katie's early childhood was spent on the Mississippi - Neil was doing the Mark Twain bit. He was captain of a Mississippi steamboat - travelling down to New Orleans. I remember Auntie Katie telling how her mother loved New Orleans. She loved the bands and the very pretty women who sat on the balconies and the general buzys (? IWS) of the place. (Some of the pretty women who sat/still sit on balconies in Nor'leans would surely have been socially a little dubious ? Grandma surely wasn't that naive - but Katie was of course! [IWS]). [HS]

5. One interesting thing I always remember that she remembered the women painting their finger nails - this was to disguise the fact that they had coloured blood, or to be P.C. I should say black blood in them. I found a reference to this in Mark Twain when he says that light skinned men moving up to New York would keep-on their gloves to hide their finger nails - everyone tends to forget these white children in the slave plantations. [HS]

6. The life of the Mississippi I think was a good time for them. They had a black cook and his wife adored Auntie Katie and Mary had an exciting social life. When she became pregnant a second time she returned to Liverpool to have Ethel.

Notes on Ethel Maud Stuart:

1. Never Married. [RNS]

2. Tall, gaunt, the brightest of her generation. Headmistress of the senior Jewish school in Liverpool and still remembered with great respect amongst Liverpool Jews. Retired early 1930s - she had TB. No grave. [IWS]

Notes on Lillian Hannah Stuart:

1. Never Married. [RNS]

2. 'Poor Lillian'. Journalist, book-reviewer, eccecntric and always a mystery. I only recently found out why she was always 'poor Lillian' followed by a sigh and a knowing look between her sisters. Her death certificate records that she died of heart disease, aged 45, on 1st April 1927, in Lancaster County Mental Hospital. [IWS]

3. She used to bring home the most inappropriate strangers that she'd met on the street. [IWS]

4. When trying to find her death certificate I did find entrances for two children who died in infancy in the area where she was living. Two Lillian Stuarts. I had not time to follow them up, but I still wonder at times if they were hers. [IWS]

Notes on Amy Sarah Stuart:

1. Never Married. [RNS]

2. The scourge of our generation. Small, red-haired, ferocious temper, vindictive and malicious, but totally fearless. As a State Registered Nurse and member of QARANC, served throughout WWI in Malta, dealing with the Gallipoli casualties, and sometimes under fire, in Casualty Clearing Stations in France. I suspect that continously dealing with shattered yound bodies actually unhinged her. Awarded ARRC (Associate of the Royal Red Cross - equal to DSC or Military Cross). Died in mid 1960s. [IWS]

Notes on Agnes Banks Stuart:

1. Never Married. [RNS]

2. Genuinely dark-haired well into her 70s. The main correspondent with Canada, who herself had worked in Canada briefly in the 1920s. Children's nurse by profession, and a specialist in dealing with difficult new babies, but only of the upper class, of course. Lively and quite humane, her fiance (Duncan McDonald ? a naval officier) died in the 1918/19 flu epidemic. Very nearly married Commander 'Billie' Hicks, RN, cousin of the actor Seymour Hicks, in the 1920s/30s but changed her mind because she thought he had no money. He actually left quite a fortune: her share was 100 pounds. Died about 1960 in Gravesend, Kent. [IWS]

Notes on Ronald Niel Stuart:

1. Dad's decision to put his children in his sisters' hands was understandable in his terrible circumstances following the death of our mother, but it was not a happy one. [IWS]

2. There is quite a lot of published material - a not quite accurate biography in John Winton's "The Victoria Cross at Sea" for example. Page 136 gives a reasonable description of Dad, but there is no record of any award of the 'Croix de Guerre avec Palmes', and our mother died on 5th January 1931, not 1930. The key book is 'My Mystery Ships' by Read Admiral Gordon Campbell, VC, DSO, first editino, published by Hodder & Stoughton, London 1928. Dad was his first Lientenant. I have a copy signed 'to Captain R. Stuart VC, DSO, with happy recollections of our times together and all best wishes from your old shipmate, Gordon Campbell, October 1928.' [IWS]

3. My father's sisters (en masse - The Aunts) who took us over after the death of our mother in 1931 kept in regular contact with Jack's sister Sadie and Mamie (Mary ?) and with Mary Stuart (Great Aunt Mary). [IWS]

4. On 7 June 1917 in the Atlantic, Lieutenant Stuart was serving in HMS Pargust (one of the 'Q' or 'mystery' ships) which was inviting an attack by U-boats. At about 8am a U-boat fired a torpedo at close range and damaged Pargust's engine room. The 'panic party' went away and the U-boat surfaced, its captain thinking that a merchant vessel had been hit, but when the U-boat was only about 50 yards away, the commander of Pargust gave the order to fire. The submarine tried to get away, but had received a great number of direct hits and blew up and sank almost at once.
Ronald's VC was awarded by ballot, he later achieved the rank of Captain.

5. A description of the action which resulted in Ronald's VC can be found on Ronald's page on the Victoria Cross Reference. Ronald's gravesite appears in Table 7 of the Known Graves of Holders of the Victoria Cross in the County of Kent.

6. Ronald's obituary and pictures appear here.

Sources:

Last Updated: Saturday, May 20, 2000.

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