Maria Menzies Anderson/Oldfield
(18 February 1827-28 August 1907)
Maria (CR) was David and Martha’s firstborn. She was named after a Maria Menzies (to be precise, an MM) but I haven’t found anything about this person. Traditionally, the firstborn daughter was named after one of her grandmothers (but Maria’s grandmothers were Janet/Jessie and Martha). Scotlands People offer two births of that name prior to 1800 (I can’t imagine why our Maria would be named after somebody born in the C19th, i.e., in either the generation before her or a contemporary, although it’s possible). Both were born in Edinburgh and were named Maria Terresia (1766) or Maria Theresa (1795). I have no information about either of these Marias. Menzies could have been the mysterious Maria’s married name which would make the birth records irrelevant. I thought I’d read somewhere about a legendary Scottish Maria Menzies but several requests of Mr Google have brought nothing.
Our Maria married James Oldfield (1829-1871)(CR) in Dundee on 24 January 1856 with Alexander Forbes, the Episcopalian Bishop of Brechin, officiating. (As an aside, Bishop Forbes was tried for heresy in 1860. His crime appears to have been his spirited defence of the Scottish Communion in the face of English and other Scottish bishops who wanted it to mesh with the Church of England. Interestingly, when he first moved to Dundee around 1847, his congregation was so small they met in a room above a bank. Mmm…)
James was a wool merchant and landed proprietor (property owning landlord), and a scion of a well-known, old Yorkshire family. James’ father, Thomas, had been a tanner/shoemaker. At the time of Maria’s marriage, her father-in-law was a man of independent means most likely generated from rents, which, from a C21st jaundiced perspective, makes him (and James) an early precursor of today’s rent-seeking neo-liberalists. The couple lived in Halifax, West Yorkshire, where they became parents every 18 months or so to another child.
Maria and James
Jessie Elizabeth Marion Vida Louis Anderson Eveline Florence Ellen Mary James Robertson
(1857-1905) (1858-1935) (1860-1897) (1861-1930) (1862-1899) (1864-) (1866-1942)
During the years of her marriage, Maria’s household was also home to her sisters. First Louisa then Elizabeth came to stay, probably to help manage Maria’s rapidly expanding family. After 15 years marriage, James died, aged 41, of congestion of the lungs associated with chronic hepatitis. He may have been ill for some time, given the regularity of each new baby that stopped in 1866 although Maria was nearly 40 when her youngest child was born. James died at Brunswick House, which I thought might have been a hospital because the informant of his death was a woman whose name is unknown to me and who signed the death entry with her mark rather than a signature. However, an 1892 newspaper announcement of Maria and James' daughter's (Ellen) wedding advised her late father's address was Brunswick House, Halifax, so I’m now assuming that it was the family home.
Maria was still in Yorkshire in 1881, in Hipperholme cum Brighouse, with Louis, Florry and James Jnr, but by 1891 had returned to Broughty Ferry where she was living, a woman of independent means, with her daughter, Marion, and two granddaughters. Her address was variously 5 and 10 Louisa Terrace, West Ferry. She was living alone in 1901 although Marion lived beside her at no. 7 and was with her when she died, around daybreak on Wednesday, 28 August 1907, after 10 days suffering “apoplexy, left hemiplegia” (i.e., a stroke that paralyzed her left side). While there is a record of probate to Marion, the entry is “sealed” so that details of Maria’s estate remain private.
I have grown inexplicably fond of the woman I call "Maria Menzies" to the extent I ask myself "what would Maria Menzies do?" in moments of indecision such as whether to repair or replace worn clothing: I don’t think she would have thought twice. I do think she must have been a strong, independent woman. Widowed comparatively young, aged 44, two of Maria’s daughters were with her when she returned to Broughty Ferry after 30-odd years in Halifax. Two others were living in England and another had died prematurely. Both her sons had emigrated and only one was alive when she died. Many of her grandchildren had also migrated. Not uncommonly, widows with means choose not to remarry. Maria, and her daughter, Marion Vida, who was also comparatively young when widowed, both stayed single again for the rest of their lives.
Jessie Elizabeth Oldfield/Willison
Marion Vida Oldfield/Stone
Louis Anderson Oldfield
Ellen Martha Oldfield/Elliott
James Robertson Oldfield