Who was Frances Kelsey?
The life of Frances "Fanny" Kelsey.
Researching Frances Kelsey’s history led me down many “bunny” holes along the way, including Admiral Nelson, Agatha Christie, many run-ins with the law, bankruptcy and a childhood with a lot of death.
And here I thought it would be a short little read...ha read on!
So where to start, well at the beginning of course! Frances was born in Prinsted Village in 1805. Her parents were Harry Kelsey and Margaret Lang Hoare, they were married in 1791, he was 29 and she was 21.
Frances’ baptism was on May 5th that same year in Westbourne, Sussex, England. Her mother had 14 (!!!!) children. Frances and her sister Sarah were the two youngest.
Two of her brothers died early before she was even born. Her father Harry was a Yeoman which was usually a landholder. He did have quite a large farm.
Her mother’s side of the family lived in that region for centuries most probably related to the brickmaker "Joseph Hoar" of Nutbourne village who appears in the 1851 postal directory for Westbourne parish. The Hoare family in Westbourne goes back to at least 1696.
Frances’ father died when she was only three in 1808 (quite young) Her mother gave birth to her little sister in 1807. So mom was alone to raise the children.
Her oldest brother Philip (b179) died at age 3,
Her sister Mary Ann (b1794) lived in South Pallant with her husband (a painter) and their 6 children,
Her brother Harry died the same year he was born in 1796,
her sister Charlotte was born 1796 (the same year her brother died! That poor mother was always with child) never married and lived in the family home for a while, later she was listed living with her sister Susannah.
Her brother William (b1797) and his wife lived on Cheesehill St, Winchester, Hampshire, England. He was a grocer, had a wife Fanny, daughter Mary Ann, an apprentice, and a maid.
Her brother Henry was born 1799, he was married to Mary Elizabeth Slater and lived in Hampshire England electoral register; he owned three freehold houses and later became a butchers.
Her sister Susannah was born 1800. She married Arthur Binstead a druggist/chemist; In the house lived their children, and her sisters Margaret & Charlotte Kelsey; & one maid.
Her brother Richard Kelsey was born 1802, never married and had quite the life himself. He ran the farm as a Yeoman for quite some time.
Her sister Margaret was born in 1803 never married, stayed for a while with her sister Susannah and later leased the George hotel with partner William Hearn.
Then came Fanny (Frances) in 1805
Her sister Sarah was born 1807, married Richard Crowder a veterinary surgeon, they lived on High st for a while, the same road as the Hotel. Later in 1861 they lived at Wish St Corner House (at Norfolk St), Portsea Island, Hampshire, England.
I think I have all of Frances' siblings accounted for. Their lives seemed very intertwined at times.
At some point in between 1830 and 1841 her older brother Richard took over the farm and that is where Frances lived. In the 1841 Census she is listed at the farm with brother Richard and "others".
In 1851 she became a “Hotel Keeper” at the George Hotel. She probably cleaned the same rooms Admiral Nelson stayed at. He left for Trafalgar the year Fanny was born. Interesting to say the least.
This is the hotel Margaret ran in 1851. In the 1851 census Frances' residence was there. It was also the place where Admiral Lord Nelson ate his last meal before sailing to Trafalgar. The hotel was severely damaged by bombs in WWII & subsequently demolished. However the Inn was first leased by
Margaret Lang Kelsey leases George Hotel 1843
The original Hotel has been around since the 1600s and once was called "The Wagon & Lamb" I had to chuckle because it reminded me of the the many inns in the "Brokenwood Mysteries" (on Amazon Prime/Acorn TV - well worth watching!)
Below a list of the many names of the George Hotel. This is a link to a nice history site of Old Portsmouth in the UK
Her brother Henry died in 1853 and her sister Charlotte in 1856. In the 1861 Census she resides at the Farm with her brother Richard and her sister Margaret but it still has her working as a "House Keeper" (so she might actually still be working at a hotel).
In 1871 she is still at the farm with family.
in 1881 she is at Fraryhurst, Southbourne parish, West Sussex (named in the census) with her sister Margaret Kelsey, plus one maid.
The house built circa 1876 for Margaret West Miller's Kelsey relatives as a retirement home, on land bought by Nathaniel Frary Miller in 1866.
From 1882 to 1886 four of her siblings died.
In 1890 at the ripe age of 85 she was fined 1s for letting her dog run without a muzzle. I'm sure at that age she had not choice. Haha.
in 1891, the year of her death has her living alone with a maid at Fraryhurst. On may 30th she came full circle. She died of chronic bronchitis & dropsy; her niece Margaret West Miller was there and registered the death. Obituary in Hampshire Telegraph June 6, 1891, p4. No will was found.
She was buried at Westbourne Cemetery which was opened in 1860 as an extension of the overfilled & dangerous St John's Churchyard next to the church.
What a life! How she had time for two samplers is beyond me. Hopefully her second sampler will be available soon.
Here is her first sampler - I call it "The Bunny Shepherd", knowing now that she grew up surrounded by countryside and farm life, it makes sense.
This picture is probably from her time at the hotel.
Below is list of various newspaper snippets of the goings on with the family. Two ended up in an asylum! Enjoy.
Agatha Christie Connection
Her Sister Margaret is Bankrupt
Death by Cheese
Vandals at the Farm
Brother Richard 1854 and 1855
Margaret at the Asylum (7th entry)
I hope you enjoyed this bit of history. A sampler is never just a sampler, it has a life with history and we are so blessed to able to uncover it.
PS you can get the pattern here: The Bunny Shepherd, Frances Kelsey 1815