(The following was researched by Brenda Addison, a friend of Liz Sumner's (daughter of Mardi Southall Hayman)
"So, Liz, I hope you have enjoyed this history of your great-great grandmother , your great grandmother and her sisters and brothers. Family histories often concentrate on the men of the family, so here is a homage to the lives of the women of this family who were born in the Victorian era and saw many changes in their full and interesting lives."

Mary Isabel Southall (nee Horsnaill), and her family.

Mary Isabel Southall was your mother’s grandmother. Within the family she was known as Isabel, so we will call her by that name in this history. She died just a year before your mother left for America, so they would have known each other, although they didn’t live in the same town.

Similarly, your mother would have known Isabel’s mother Eliza, as she lived to the grand old age of 99 and died in1929, when your mother was eleven years old. It seems that your mother lived in south London, so it is possible that she visited her grandmother Eliza in her home in Croydon where she lived for some years.

Isabel had six sisters who would, apart from Charlotte who died as a child, have been familiar to your mother. They all went off in their own direction, but probably acted as examples of what was possible for women of their class, religion and intellect.

Here is what we know about Isabel, her mother and her sisters.

~ ~

The Early Days

Mary Isabel Horsnaill was born in 1861, twenty-three years into the reign of Queen Victoria. Perhaps she was named after her grandmother Mary Catchpool. She was born into a rural Essex family at Bulford Mill in the sleepy village of Cressing, near Braintree in Essex, sixty miles from London and some 150 miles south of Birmingham. Although it was a small village it had a railway station, opened in 1848, which would have been an important route out of the countryside to boarding school and the world of work. Bulford Mill still exists 1, converted to a private house, together with the Mill House where the family lived2.

Isabel’s father, Henry Horsnaill, was born in 1828 in Rochester Kent. The Quaker Horsnaill families of the counties of Essex and Kent were known as boat builders and mill owners, and regarded as wealthy3. Henry came from a family who, for generations, had been seed traders and boat builders 4. His father was a coal merchant and seedman but he died young and Henry’s mother took over as coal merchant to raise her six children 5.

Isabel’s mother, Eliza Catchpool, was the daughter of James and Mary Catchpool, and could have been named after her mother’s sister, Eliza Kendall. She was born in 1830 in Witham, Essex, and the 1841 census shows her at school in South End, Croydon 6. In 1851, however, age 20, she was back home with her parents and siblings. At this point her father was the Miller at Bulford Mill, Cressing 7.

It transpires therefore that Eliza lived at Bulford Mill in Cressing as both daughter and wife.

In 1856 Henry Horsnail and Eliza Catchppol were married4. The newlyweds probably moved immediately into Bulford Mill with the Catchpool family. Certainly, by the time of the 1661 census Eliza’s mother had died and her father had retired as Miller of Bulford Mill. Henry Horsnaill is now the Miller, employing 10 men and 3 boys 8.

Over the next 20 years Henry Horsnaill built the business until, in 1881, he is described on the census as a ‘Farmer & Miller (corn) employing 14 men & 5 boys’ 9.

Henry and Eliza had nine children at Bulford Mill. Your great grandmother Isabel was the third of these children, and she had six sisters and two brothers. There is evidence that the children were educated at one or other of the Quaker boarding schools across the country and it seems that the children were encouraged to study for a profession. Henry Horsnaill died in 1881 aged 5310 leaving his wife with young children to support, but she was wealthy enough to live ‘on her own income’ for the remainder of her long life.

Isabel, wife of Wilfred Southall

Isabel was 20 years old when her father died in 1881. Seven years later, in 1888, she married Wilfred Southall in Birmingham. In the intervening years it would seem that Isabel studied at Mason Science College in Birmingham where she met Wilfred 11.This College, a forerunner of Birmingham University, had places for women, many of whom studied to be teachers. We have no evidence of what Isabel was doing there, but it is possible that this was her planned vocation.

Upon their marriage, Isabel and Wilfred moved into a house in Charlotte Street and then to 11, Carpenter Road. Their first child, your grandmother Ida Margaret Southall, was born in 1889 12.

It is possible that Isabel Southall was a writer and poet in the early years of her marriage. A number of books including a volume of poetry were published by a Birmingham company between 1887 – 1893, written by Isabel Southall 13. Kenneth Southall, in his biography of his father, mentions the poems that were written by Isabel and he quotes from her journal, so it is quite possible that these books were written by her and her literary career was lost and omitted from the family history.

Isabel and Wilfred went on to have six children and a full life as leading Quakers in Birmingham, living at 15 Carpenter Road 14.

Kenneth Southall writes of his mother in his Wilfred Southall biography, including a revealing obituary from The Friend magazine of Jan 1939. She is also mentioned on the Wallis family website 15, where there is a photograph of her in her old age. It is possible to piece together a picture of her from these sources.

She obviously supported her husband in his ventures such as the development of the Friends Hall that he established in the run-down Sparkbrook area of Birmingham. It seems that she was active there, running classes for women and promoting the British Women’s Temperance Association, which was one of her particular interests. She would have been well known to the hundreds of people who went through the doors of the Meeting House, and to those who were invited to the Southall garden parties each summer.

The writer of the obituary describes Isabel as shy, finding these social occasions a strain, but she is also described as having a keen sense of humour, playing practical jokes and writing humorous poems. Along with Wilfred, she was a member of the Friends Essay Society, where she would present her poems. She clearly also wrote a journal, which is used by Kenneth Southall, perhaps pursuing a passion for writing that had no other outlet.

She obviously managed the house and children, as Wilfred was invariably away on business or contributing to numerous Friends and civic committees. One of Isabel’s poems describes how the family only saw him at Sunday lunch. Despite this, Wilfred is described as a family man who loved to take the family on holidays and day trips, and provided memorable Christmas parties.

During the First World War the family continued their work at Friends Hall but it increased to include time spent supporting ‘absent comrades’ including conscientious objectors who were in prison.

In subsequent years Isabel clearly also had other responsibilities as various documents show her mother, Eliza Catchpool, was living in Birmingham, close to the Southall home, together with Eliza’s brother George and son Henry, Isabel’s brother. Maybe Isabel also managed the needs of this extended family, perhaps helped by her unmarried sister Agnes who is also in evidence in family documents.

Isabel obviously had plenty of energy, and she was brave. She loved to go cycling into the countryside with her husband including on a tandem tricycle, which by all accounts led to numerous adventures.

Looking further afield, Isabel accompanied her husband on his first trip to Palestine in 1909, writing extensively about her experience in a journal that is quoted in Kenneth Southall’s book. This trip must have lasted for some weeks and was obviously not always comfortable, taking in Greece on the way there and Eqypt on the return journey. She writes very sympathetically, describing without criticism or judgement her experiences of this world that she says has not changed since the days of Jesus. This perhaps illustrates what Kenneth means when he says that his parents were ‘incapable of making unkind remarks about anyone else’.

Wilfred and Isabel Southall marked their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1938 with an extended celebration. The whole family were there except of course the family members who had died, such as her own mother in 1929 and four of her six children – your mother Ida (1932), Martin (1906), Agnes Christine (1926) and the infant Leslie. However it is reported that all of the eleven grandchildren were present for the Golden Wedding. As your mother left for America in 1939, she would certainly have attended this event.

The photograph below, from the Walis family site, may have been taken in 1938 at the Silver wedding. I imagine that Wilfred is standing, Isabel is sitting, and two of her surviving sisters are standing either side of her – maybe Emma Grubb and Agnes Horsnaill. (Annette adds, "it is Aunt Agnes on the right of Isabel in the photo (we always called her Big Granny, to distinguish her from my Catchpool grandmother")


Unfortunately Isabel’s health, which had not been good for a few years, deteriorated in the months following the Golden Jubilee and she died on 11th December 1938.

Isabel Southall’s mother, Eliza Horsnaill nee Catchpool.
Mary’s mother, Eliza, would have moved out of the Mill when her husband died in 1881. What happened immediately afterwards is unclear. Kenneth Southall’s book says the family moved to Birmingham but there is no evidence of that, although Isabel was clearly in the city at that time as the story is that she met her husband there prior to 1885 when he went to London to complete his studies, and waited until 1888 to marry him.

However, the 1891 census has Eliza living at 149 Brigstock Road in Croydon, Surrey. Her young family were with her: William 24yrs (mining engineer), Esther 22yrs (art student), Grace 17 yrs (art student). Also there was her eldest son Henry together with his wife Enid and their two children. No occupation is given for Henry 16.

In 1901 Eliza is living with Henry and his wife at 39 Royal Parade, on sea front of the Sussex town of Eastbourne, together with her widowed brother George Catchpole, a retired corn merchant. At this point Henry is a Silver Engraver while his wife is a Boarding House Keeper 17.

In 1911 Eliza, aged 81 (of private means) was living at 46 Chatsworth Road, Croydon, Surrey. Her house, Park View, had 11 rooms. She would have needed a house of this size because she had her daughters Agnes and Esther living with her, and her brother George Catchpole. Pity the one 23 year old general domestic servant, Minnie Billings, who also lived in the house 18.

In 1929 Eliza was living at 32 Norman Road, Northfield, Birmingham – a walk away from the home of Wilfred and Mary Southall in Middleton Hall Road. At this time, her son Henry Francis Horsnaill, aged 70, was also living with her in Norman Road. It is possible that her brother George was also there because he died in Birmingham 1925. We don’t know when she moved to Birmingham but it is possible that a decision was made that she should live close to the daughter that had the best resources and position financially to support her 19.

Eliza died 10th June 1929 aged 99 years 19. Your mother, Margaret Hayman, born in 1918, would have visited her Horsnaill grandmother as Margaret was 11 years old when Eliza died.

Isabel Southall’s brothers
Mary had one older brother, Henry, and one younger brother, William.

It is not clear whether Henry Francis had a particularly successful career but it was certainly varied. He is listed in 1881 as a Miller in his father’s household 9. Why he did not take over Bulford Mill when his father died is not known of course, but by 1891 he is living with his mother and no occupation is given on the census 16. Perhaps he was an artist because Kenneth Southall’s account of his mother’s wedding in 1881 says that her brother Francis illustrated her marriage certificate 11. In 1901 he is a silver engraver living with his wife (who is listed as a boarding house keeper) in Eastbourne but his mother Eliza is also living there 17. In 1911 aged 52 his family is living with his wife Edith’s mother in Asford, Kent and Henry is listed as a retired Engineer 20. However he was living with his mother when she died in 1929,19 but we don’t know what happened to his wife and two children, Oliver and Edith.

William Owen appears to be more interesting although there is less information about him. He probably spent much of his working life on board various ships, working as an engineer. In 1911 he was on board the vessel Alerte at Pinmill Ipswich, Suffolk21 and in 1926 when his mother died he was living at 46 Torrington Square, London WC1 19. He also published a book in 1943, ‘Understanding Marine Engines’ 22. It appears that William remained a single man and died in 1951 age 84 in Colchester, Essex 23.

Isabel Southall’s sisters
Isabel has six sisters who led variable lives.

The eldest, Emma Maria b.1857, married Edward Grubb 24 and they had six children. He was a significant Quaker teacher, writer and leader being active, for example, organising conscientious objectors during the First World War. They lived in various parts of the country depending on which Quaker school was employing him. Both Emma and her husband died in 1939 in their eighties.

Sister, Charlotte, died in infancy.

Alice b.1864, began a nursing career at Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London 25 but turned this skill into a business enterprise when she moved to Aberdeen in Scotland and became the owner, manager and matron of Northern Nursing Home. This must have developed into a thriving business because in 191126 her property had ‘35 rooms with windows’ and she was employing at least 8 nurses. However, it seems that Alice died in 1916 in Croydon, Surrey. At this time her mother was living in Croydon, so maybe that’s why Alice ended her life in that town.

Agnes b.1866, remained single and lived between different members of the family, her occupation always listed as ‘living on own means’. In 1891 she features on two census records – with her sister in Birmingham12 and her mother in Croydon (listed as an Art Student)16. In 1901 she is again with the Southall family in Birmingham14 while the 1911 census shows her living with her mother in Croydon Surrey18. We also know that following the death of her sister Isabel Southall, Agnes lived with Wilfred Southall as his companion 11. She died in Birmingham, soon after Wilfred Southall, in 1953 aged 88 27.

Esther Sophia b. 1869, was living with her mother in 189116, listed as an ‘Art Student’. However by 1901 she is a ‘trained nurse’ living in the nurses’ residence at 413 Holloway Road, Islington, London28. In 1911 at the age of 42 she married John Matthews, a farmer of Earls Colne in Essex29. In 1930, after the death of her mother, she went with her husband to New Zealand via Australia 30. It seems that she eventually returned to the UK and died in Braintree Essex, age 96, in 1964 31.

Grace Winifred b.1874, was also an ‘Art Student’ living with her mother in 189116 but by 1901 she is a ‘secretary and journalist’ boarding with a family in London32. She died in 1906 in Pancras, London 33.


So, Liz, I hope you have enjoyed this history of your great-great grandmother , your great grandmother and her sisters and brothers. Family histories often concentrate on the men of the family, so here is a homage to the lives of the women of this family who were born in the Victorian era and saw many changes in their full and interesting lives.

Brenda Addison


  1. 1. http://www.theguardian.com/money/2004/may/30/observercashsection.theobserver6 and http://www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/en-116369-bulford-mill-cressing-essex

  1. 2. Bulford Mill House, Bulford Mill Lane, Cressing, Braintree, CM77 8NS. If you but this postcode into Google Maps UK and look at the street view you will see an image of this house as it is today.

  1. 3. See copies of text from two genealogy forums which refer to the wealthy Horsnaill families: Word document ‘Ref 3. Text from two internet genealogy forums’.

  1. 4. See pdf document of Horsnaill family tree taken from www.pennyghael.org.uk.pdf. Scroll to page 7 to find Henry’s family.

  1. 5. 1851 census for Quay House, Strood, Rochester. Head of household: Maria Horsnaill, age 55, widow, coal dealer. Her daughter Mary age 24 is a teacher, and her son Henry age 23 is a miller.

  1. 6. 1841 census showing Eliza Catchpool age 11 as a pupil at a school at South End, Croydon.

  1. 7. 1851 census showing Eliza Catchpool age21 at home at Bulford Mill with her parents James and Mary Catchpool together with her brother William age 21 and her sister Mary Anne age 15

  1. 8. 1861 census for Bulford Mill. Henry Horsnaill Head of Household. Eliza’s father James is listed as a visitor, a widow, who is a retired miller. Also visiting is her corn dealer brother George age 29 and his wife Anna.

  1. 9. 1881 census for Bulford Mill, Cressing, Braintree, Essex.

  1. 10. 1881 Essex Memorial Inscriptions. Death of Henry Horsnail.

  1. 11. Kenneth H Southall. This Biography of Wilfred Southall, written by his son, was published in 1957.

  1. 12. 1891 census for 11 Carpenter Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Wilfred and Isabel are shown with their two young daughters, Isabel’s sister Agnes, and three domestic servants.

  1. 13. List of books authored by Isabel Southall. It is not known whether this is ‘our’ Isabel Southall.

  1. 14. 1901 census for 16 Carpenter Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Wilfred and Isabel are shown with five children and two domestic servants and
1911 census for 16 Carpenter Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham. Wilfred and Isabel are shown with their three daughters and two domestic servants. Their son Martin had died in 1906.

  1. 15. http://wallisfamilytree.wikispaces.com/The+Southall+Family

  1. 16. 1891 census for 149 Brigstock Road, Croydon. Eliza Horsnaill is shown with two daughters, her younger son and her oldest son with his wife and two children, together with two domestic servants.

  1. 17. 1901 census for Royal Parade, Eastbourne, Sussex. Eliza’s son Henry is the Head of Household.

  1. 18. 1911 census for 46, Chatsworth Road, Croydon, Surrey. Eliza is Head of Household.

  1. 19. GWR shareholders document

  1. 20. 1911 census showing Henry Hornaill living with his wife and daughter at his mother-in-law’s house in Ashford, Kent.

  1. 21. 1911 census William Owen Horsnaill on board vessel ‘Alerte’.

  1. 22. Publication: Understanding Marine Engines by Question and Answer (Q and A Series)
By William Owen Horsnaill. Publisher: English University Press (1943). ASIN: BOODKTGUKW

  1. 23. 1951 death register listing William Owen Horsnaill.

  1. 24. Edward Grubb Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Grubb_%28Quaker%29 and biography at: http://www.oxforddnb.com/templates/article.jsp?articleid=71530&back=&version=2004-09#

  1. 25. 1991 census for Bartholomews Hospital, London; page showing Alice Horsnaill as a nurse.

  1. 26. 1911 Scottish census – Alice Horsnaill age 36 Manager 7 Owner of Nursing Home.

  1. 27. 1953 death register for April/May/June listing Agnes Horsnaill.

  1. 28. 1901 census showing Esther Sophia Horsnaill

  1. 29. 1911 Register of Marriages, Esther Sophia Horsnaill

  1. 30. 1930 P&O Passenger List 18th Oct 1930 bound for Australia Esther Sophia Matthews (Horsnaill).

  1. 31. 1964 Registers of deaths, Esther Sophia Matthews.

  1. 32. 1901 census, Esther Sophia Matthews.

  1. 33. 1964 Register of deaths, Esther Sophia Matthews.