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Friday, January 23, 2015 Anthony William Durnford m Frances Tranchell - Family Life with daugher Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnford. 1854 - 1883

Anthony William Durnford married Francis Catherine Tranchell in Sep 15, 1854, St. Stephen's Church, Trincomalee, Ceylon.      (At this point the records from the church may only be on micro-fische)

Frances married Anthony Durnford in 1854 in Ceylon.  He was 24, she was 20.  They were not exactly what some might be considered far too young to marry.  Some stories indicate that he married against the Army's wishes. However, it seems he had to have permission to marry, the reasons explain why.   

Only a small portion of soldiers were permitted to marry. Soldiers' wives and children shared their barracks, with only blankets slung over a line for privacy. Wives often performed services such as laundry for their husbands' companies or barracks. 

Frances Katerine Tranchell was born 5th August 1834 in Colombo in Ceylon.
Her parents were Lieutenant Colonel Gustavus Adolphus Tranchell and his wife Elizabeth Selway

They were living in Trincomalee, and most probably at Fort Frederick.  The area is on the north east coast of Ceylon now Sri Lanka and the fort was first built by the Dutch, then used by the British, and now by the Sri Lanka Army.

St Stephen's Church was inside the fort, however it seems that it is not there now, as only the remains of the cemetery and some old graves are available.

Colonial hotel 1870 


One of the places inhabited by the British was Fort Fredrick, now occupied by the Sri Lankan Army. Some of the old buildings in the fort were used as residences, including one previously occupied by the Duke of Wellington. In the early 1950s the British Government built groups of bungalows within the fort specifically for their employees. These bungalows today provide accommodation for the Sri Lankan Army. There was a large Naval Hospital which catered for sick and injured British naval personnel from all over the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf.

During his time in Ceylon he was working on many projects including harbour defences, and was appointed Assistant Commissioner of Road, and Civil Engineer to the Colony.

Mention has been made that while in India he became a gambler, if so he was probably one of many British Military who were involved in constructing the road to Kandy, as many illegal gambling dens and taverns  sprung up along side the road, this then gave rise to The Robin Hood of India. He robbed the patrons in true Robin Hood style.  Living in remote outposts often gives rise to boredom, what Aussie soldier has not played "two-up", or bet on which cockroach will escape first!  

Frances was most probably like many thousands of other youngest family members - a little spoilt.   While her older sisters would have been expected the help with the younger ones, it was common to have an Amah to assist with the children.  In fact "The European in India - Provides a Handbook for Amahs, and the management of children"

Like most "upper class" families in those times, the parent's role was to select and encourage "good" marriage prospects for their daughters.  Her father was a Lieutenant -Colonel, the social life included entertainment, musicians, parties, dinners, dancing  and regular balls.   Her father's status in the colony meant their living arrangements were obviously a little better than her next home. 

She and Anthony marry and 9 months later she has a son. They name him Edward William Durnford.  Her family are around her for assistance and help with the baby.

Then Anthony gets a promotion and they travel to Malta.

She becomes pregnant again. But sadly when she is 3 months pregnant, the baby, Edward dies.  As parents, one can only assume that they would be devastated.  
Six months later on 5th January 1857, she gives birth to Frances.  Alone without her family help and network, and with a limited number of wives as support.

They leave Malta and return to England.  Anthony would have by now realised just how difficult it would have been for Frances.  She falls pregnant again when Frances is around 18 months of age.

This baby Julia Catherine Brabazon Durnford is born July 1859 in Alverstoke in Hampshire.

They move again, to Chatham.  Then when Julia is 8 months old, she also dies.

Perhaps by now, Frances has developed severe post natal depression.  A condition that would not be recognised at all.

Perhaps he wanted them to travel with him to his next posting in Gibraltar.  After her experience in Malta, would she be likely to want to go?

Anthony and Frances had three children.

Edward William Durnford  born  19th June 1855 Trincomalee, most probably baptised at St Stephen's Church and died 16th July 1856 in Malta.         He was buried at Msida Bastion Cemetery Malta.

Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnford  born  5 January 1857  she died in 1919

Julia Catherine Brabazon Durnford  was born July 1859 in Alverstoke in Hampshire.
                                                                                 Alverstoke is near Gosport in Portsmouth.
                                        She died April 1860     Medway in Kent (Chatham Barracks)

The cemetery records of the Msida Bastion Cemetery Malta shows, Edward William Anthony Charles Durnford as the name of their first son.        (There is also a transcription error re his year of birth)

All the grave space was virtually taken by 1857 when the large Ta' Braxia cemetery was opened.

The principal occupants of the cemetery were British Army and Naval personnel, British civil officials and merchants, as well as their wives and children. Some are the ancestors of families still residing in Malta to this day. 

Apart from the British there are a few graves of men, women and children from other European countries, often missionaries.   (There were hundreds of young children buried in this cemetery)

In 2002 funding was obtained from various sources including the British High Commission to undertake restoration of the cemetery.

Headstone removed.
During the restoration work a very large number of stone fragments have been collected and are being painstakingly sorted out. Putting them together again is slow and time consuming but as a result several inscriptions have been reconstructed and are placed on the walkway overlooking the harbour. However, there are still a large number of pieces which do not form a reasonably complete text so they are being kept in store for future use.

From Malta History

  Died 16th July 1856, Edward William Anthony Charles DURNFORD, aged *33 years. The only son of Frances Catherine and Anthony William Durnford, Lieutenant, Royal Engineers        *He was one year old transcription error.

Msida Bastion cemetery was one of four cemeteries or burial grounds located close to the bastions at Floriana. These bastions were built in the 17th century by the Italian engineer, Floriani, as additional protection for the city of Valletta. The French took over Malta in June 1798 but surrendered in September 1800 to the combined Maltese and British Forces. Shortly afterwards burials began to be made in this bastion area. The other three cemeteries, Quarantine, Greek Orthodox and Cholera, are no longer in existence and the land has been built upon.

Din L’Art Helwa (The National Trust of Malta) in conjunction with the Government of Malta and the British High Commission took an interest in Msida Bastion Cemetery and during 1988 this research culminated with the then Minister of Education, Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici, declaring that the area should be open to the public as a garden, with some of the most important tombs restored and retained.              

Consider how it was in the Barracks at Malta especially for a woman in Malta in 1850's.

The Crimean War was the catalyst for reform. In August 1861, the Barrack and Hospital Improvement Commission was directed by Lord Sidney Herbert and by Sir George Cornwall Lewis, who succeeded Lord Herbert as Secretary of State for War, to report on the sanitary condition of garrison towns in Malta.

Barracks on top of the casemates
The Mediterranean Stations were inspected between September and November 1861.

Captain Douglas Galton RE and Dr John Sutherland proposed a number of improvements pertaining to drainage, water supply, and sewage disposal.

Ventilation shafts and windows were opened in casemates as a temporary measure until the construction of healthy barracks in well ventilated localities, set apart from the local population.          
The report by Galton and Sutherland pointed out that there was no proper hospital accommodation for the sick.  The General Hospital in Valletta, the Upper Vittoriosa Hospital, the two hired houses which made up the Lower Vittoriosa Hospital, and the Forrest Hospital in Spinola were inadequate for the garrison.

Despite the recommendation for a new General Hospital of 300 beds at Valletta and a smaller one of 136 beds for the Cottonera, none were built until 1873, when the Cottonera Hospital was erected for the infantry regiments in the Cottonera District. However, on 1 March 1873, regimental hospitals were abolished and regimental surgeons ceased to exist.

The Station Hospital at Cottonera remained in use together with the Valletta Station Hospital until the completion of a new m Polverista Gate Barracks consisted of a range of casemates along the top of St Nicholas Curtain.Military hospital at Mtarfa.

The quota of married women allowed in a regiment by War Office Regulations was six per hundred men. All the married men and their families were placed together in one or more barrack rooms. 

No partitions were allowed except at night when temporary one were usually put up with blankets. 

Sick wives and children were treated in the barrack room. Wives and children of soldiers on the married establishment of corps, could only be admitted to hospital on the recommendation of the principal medical officer, and with the approval of the General Officer Commanding. 

Their husbands were charged a daily stoppage of a shilling for their wives, and six pence for each child under 10 years of age.

Under War Office instruction 1867, persons not entitled to public quarters, that is those not on the married establishment, were not to be admitted into hospital under any circumstance. 

Medical comforts were to be restricted to sick women and children of soldiers on the married establishment of corps, and only sanctioned where there was a hospital provision store. Medical comforts purchased under the authority of the commanding or medical officers could not be sanctioned as a public charge. 

The value of any article issued to wives and children of soldiers not on the married establishment of corps was to be recovered from the officers on whose certificates the issues were made.

Inspector General Thomas David Hume tried to alleviate the plight of families belonging to the Floriana barracks. In the absence of married quarters, the families were lodged in dilapidated huts on the Floriana Crown Works.       
 In October 1862, Hume converted an existing large mess hut, and two smaller ones adjoining it on the Crown work Floriana, into a female hospital. The huts accommodated 14 patients. Very little extra expense was incurred, but much comfort was provided for the sick by his endeavour.

The Report on the Barrack and Hospital Improvement Commission of 1863 condemned the hospital. "Of the total 15 wards", it said, "there were only three on the upper floor of the main building in which the sick ought to be placed at all. The remaining wards are absolutely unfit for human habitat in such a climate, and should at once be struck off the barrack list. It is better to put sick men in wooden huts or in tents on the Cavalier than expose them to risks as they incur in these bad wards".

Close to the Vittoriosa Hospital was St James Cavalier.  

 This had two wards with 38 beds embedded in the mass of the work. The first ward was 81 feet long and 23 feet broad. It was cut off from the external air by a wall 36 feet thick, and received its light through the door and from two narrow loopholes in the wall. The other ward was 39 feet by 18 feet and was interposed between part of the long ward and the outer air excavated out of part of the 36 foot wall.

Any wonder there are hundreds of young children buried in cemeteries in far flung places.


A lot has been written about Frances Durnford, Anthony's daughter, from the fact that her mother left her with relatives, his family, and had an affair, to her father fondly calling her "his lamb".  

How much of that is true, and how much is conjecture?  or how much has been gossip handed down through the years.
There seems a considerable amount of conjecture in so many of the stories about Anthony and his family, and often without substance or consideration of another possibility.    One question has been common in the family stories, Why, and often a completely different scenario is possible, especially when you consider the different options regarding the "Bow" christening cup!

There are reports that "she ran away with a military officer never to be seen again" well that certainly doesn't seem to be the case.   "The family blamed her for the breakup!"  Perhaps they did, but again no proof.

"Her picture was turned and faced the wall", why would they bother to hang one at all?

After all it was Anthony's and our grandfather Col Andrew Durnford  who had two families one in England the other in West Indies and his two sons followed in his path.  His son Andrew Durnford certainly was not a person of integrity. His family would know all that.   

The facts are quite clear, they married and had three children.  Two died. Both are devestated. They separate as many people did and still do, especially after the death of a child, when blame and "why", become and issue, grief and stress are often not understood. Neither are here to counter any adverse comments that might be made for the world to view.

They were both parents to our cousin.  Obviously she was the most important person then, in their lives.

Maybe what has been written began with  some small element of truth, and the stories have embellished when related many times over the decades, but the researched facts seem to eliminate some of those stories.

What really happened to Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnford? 

Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnford was one of three children born to Anthony Durnford and his wife Frances, she was born while they were in Malta.  She was, however the only surviving child.

The following timeline of events describes Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnsford's life until her marriage.

A Timeline With her Parents

Frances Elizabeth Mary Durnford was born when her parents were in Malta, on 5th January 1857.

The family returned to UK in February 1858.  Frances was twelve months old.

In April 1858 her father was appointed as a Second Captain and he served at Aldershot and at the headquarters in Chatham.

(The fortifications, called the Chatham lines, enclose the dockyard and the principal barracks;  include Brompton village, partly in Gillingham parish;  run down to the Medway, at the extremities of Chatham and Brompton;  were commenced in 1758, and completed about 1807)

Then baby Julia Catherine Brabazon Durnford is born July 1859 in Alverstoke in Hampshire.

They move again, to Chatham.  Then when Julia is 8 months old, she also dies.

History reveals that child deaths in the mid 1850's were staggering.
Cholera - called the Third cholera pandemic (1852 - 1860), in London more than 11,000 people died.
Diptheria, typhus, small pox, scarlet fever, and measles were prevalent.

While researching all the children born to our ancestors the number of deaths is quite unbelievable.
The problems were usually caused by water and lack of sanity and sewerage.

Remember back to Lady Mary Whortley Montague and Elizabeth Montague, and their efforts to follow the Otterman's who had developed a vaccine against smallpox?

Louis Pasteur's own children died, and he eventually along with others, identified the cause of the epidemics.

 (The number of children who died of scarlet fever, just in Tasmania in Australia, alone between 1850 to 1860 was in excess of 10,000)

Her mother and father separated some point after the death of her sister, in April, 1860 and by 1870.

Later in 1860 he went to Command the 27th Field Company Royal Engineers, stationed at Gibraltar.

There are no census records for Frances or her mother in 1861 that are available to research.

 (They may have been on an Army base, or still in Kent, where they have not digitised there census records)

In August 1864 her father was back in England, but left again for China.  He became ill and had to disembark at Ceylon where he was hospitalised for three months.

In January 1865 he was posted back to Britain on home postings, where he remained for 5 years.

During this time he was at Raglan Barracks at Davenport, Plymouth, Assistant to the Commanding Royal Engineer.    

In 1871 her father was living at 7 Moleworth Terrace Stoke Devonport.  He is not listed on the 1871 census, but some time after the death of Julia and before 1870,  her parents separated, as that was the time he made his will.
Now home to a Dentist 
In 1871 her father sailed to Cape Colony, arriving at Cape Town 23rd January 1872 then he sailed for Port Elizabeth and made for King William's Town.

Portsea Esplanade 1880

In 1871 she and her mother were living at 28 Dinan Cottage in Portsea in Portsmouth, with her mother's brother  George Tranchell and his wife Amelia and two children.

This is probably the name of a cottage in St Jude's Close.

In 1871 she was listed as a scholar.   In St Jude's Close is St Jude's Church, it may have had a school attached to it then.  There is a school there now.                  

On 22nd January 1879 her father is killed at Isandlwana, South Africa.

In 1879, she and her mother were living at 21 Tavistock Crescent Westbourne Park.

In May 1879 she was the beneficiary of her father's will.

In 1881 after her father's death Frances, along with her mother and her aunt were living in Walpole House Strawberry Road, in Richmond London.    

 (The lands adjoining Strawberry House were developed in the late 1800's)

So many of her family are not listed in the 1861 census.  Did they go to Gibraltar?  Where they living on one of the bases while Anthony was overseas?
The census records of both Anthony's and Frances' extended family have been searched.

Her mother was living with her in 1871 and 1881 census records, and receiving an annuitant.

There is no proof that Frances was "left" by her mother, nor that her father's family raised her!

Her grandparents were in Ireland until around 1870 when they are recorded on the 1871 census as living at Sidney House Elm St Portsea.

In fact the distance between her grandparent's home and where she was living is only a few streets.

Elm St Portsea Marked on the Map

After her father's death the English press were full of stories about the battle, the circumstances of it all, blaming Anthony for not following orders, for weeks no word of  who had survived.

 Then possibly the worst report was the graphic and gruesome reports about the discovery of the bodies, four months after they were killed.  How upsetting would that be for his daughter to read, one wonders how her mother handled that.

In 1881 the first book written by Edward, trying to clear Anthony's name is published.  He wrote that book in collaboration/conjunction with Frances Colenso.

In 1883, while the newspapers are still regularly reporting the events, her daughter gets married.

The announcement in the press details Frances' relationship with her father.

Her brother-in-law Edward is a witness at the wedding.  Would he have gone if Frances was never again to seen by the family.

The witnesses were Percy Page Henderson; Edward Durnford; Edith Hughes and L. Rapp.

At the time she had no profession listed, and was living at 7 The Baron's East Twickenham (St Margaret's). Her mother was once again receiving an annuitant.  He was a merchant living at Richmond.

At the time of their marriage the following notice was placed in the Pall Mall Gazette.

Rapp - Durnford  Pall Mall Gazette 13 August 1883

Rapp - Durnford  -  At St Stephen's Twickenham, Nicholas son of the Late Edward Rapp of Bonn to Frances daughter of Colonel A.W.Durnford R.E. of The Baron's East Twickenham    on August 7

The political climate changed after the Zulu Wars, and public opinion about South Africa  changed
There was an an election, a change of government .  Questions were being asked about the Zulu War, William Gladstone a former PM labelled it "unjust".

In October 1886 her other brother in law Arthur George Durnford is presented to Prince of Wales at a reception.  By now the press about Anthony's battle and the war has taken a different direction.  New evidence has been found.  It would be unimaginable to think that Queen Victoria was not aware of the events, as would Prince of Wales.


A couple of weeks later, an announcement is made that the Queen has issued Frances with a Grace and Favour Apartment at Hampton Court.

She was granted Apartment XVII,  a two bedroom and perhaps her sister moved in with her.

From the 1760s onwards, the palace was divided up for ‘grace-and-favour’ residents who were granted rent-free accommodation because they had given great service to the Crown or country. They lived, often with their own small households of servants above, underneath and around the state apartments.   The apartments and houses were allocated by the Lord Chamberlain to individuals who had served the monarchy or their country in recognition of their dedicated service

The apartment had been the home of Frances Walpole the daughter of Col Lambert Walpole and her sister who lived in the apartment for 67 years.  She died September 1886.

Frances Catherine Durnford died 3rd September 1888.  

She is buried at the Teddington Cemetery in Richmond

Her sister Selina Tranchell had died in the January of that year
Her sister Mary Eliza Tranchell who was living with her died in July 1892
Her sister Sarah Elizabeth Tranchell who was living in London died January 1893.

By 1891 her brother George had returned to England and was living in Devon.
In 1892 his wife died
The Gardens
In 1901 he was living with his sister-in-law in Hove.
In 1906 the last sibling Edward Frederick Trachnell had also died.

Hampton Court Palace 
Home of our cousin Henry VIII

It holds an extensive collection of priceless items, including walls of tapestry

A couple of weeks later, Queen Victoria announces in the newspaper that she was delighted to grant Francis a Grace and Favour Apartment, Number XVII in Hampton Court.

Would Queen Victoria, be speaking of publicly, to, a "woman who ran off with another man and caused a scandal that was hushed up?" Let alone offering her free accommodation in a Palace.

Short answer - No   But of course, it is prudent to also remember that this "scarlet" lady, had been drawing an annuitant from the Government for over 25 years

Considering the facts, this might be an example of the way that stories could have been embellished. 

In 1871, as mentioned Frances and her daughter were living with another man and his family, a couple of streets from Anthony's parents. 

But Anthony knew that Military Officer, he was Frances's brother, George, Anthony's brother in law, and young Frances's uncle.

There is always another possibility!

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