VAD Maude Reece

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Maude Reece

Nurse and Cook

Early life:

Maude Evelyn Hudson Reece was the oldest of eight children born to John Reece and Sarah Hudson Esplin, both of Derbyshire. She was born around 1895 - the 1901 census says she was born in Rhyl, Flintshire in Wales and the 1911 census says she was born in Crewe, Cheshire - I haven't been able to confirm which is correct. Her father was a self-employed hat leather salesman. John and Sarah married in 1900, the marriage was registered in Chester.

At the time of the 1901 census the family lived at Hey Ley (Woodlands) in Marple, Cheshire. John was 59 and Sarah 34. Maud was six years old and her younger siblings were Joseph Guiness (3), George Whitfield (1) and Norman Douglas (5 months). A mother's help named Sarah Wharmby also lived with them.

The Reece family on the 1901 census

In 1911 the family were still at this address. Maude and her brothers had been joined by more younger siblings - Harold Hudson, Dorothy Margaret and Kathleen. John was not with the family at this time, he was a boarder at Smedley Hydropathic Establishment in Southport, which was what we would now refer to as a spa retreat.

John was 70 while at the establishment, and he may have been there due to his health, as he died three years later on 8th November 1914, just after the outbreak of war.

A woman dressed in nurses uniform from the Great War period. Sh has a long sleeved blue dress with a full length white apron, white cuffs and headdress.

Maude Reece, likely to have been taken while working in the military hospitals. Photo kindly provided by family member Robert Griffiths, of New South Wales

War service:

Maude joined the Cheshire branch of VADs and worked from August 1915 until September 1918 as a cook and a nurse in another area. She transferred at one point to work at the Infirmary on Fell Lane in Keighley until January 1919. Her records show that she then went to St. Mary's Hospital in Manchester.
At least one of Maude's brothers, Norman, was also serving, in the Cheshire Regiment - a later record describes him as part of 'Army of occupation on the Rhine'.

Later life:

Initially it was difficult to find further records for Maude, so I began searching for family members. I found that her mother and two younger sisters emigrated to Australia in September 1925. Their last UK address was Ridgeway House, Ramsay on the Isle of Man. I then noted that a Mrs M. E. H. McFarlane and her three-year-old daughter Miss J. McFarlane of the same address had also travelled with them.

The passenger record showing Maude and her daughter sailing to Australia in September 1925

Working on the assumption that Mrs McFarlane was Maude, I searched further and found a marriage record from Dublin. Robert McFarlane, a statistical clerk and Maude Evelyn Hudson Reece married on 21st June 1921 at the Registrar's Office. I believe her address reads as Ben Lin, Mt. Seville Terr, Harold's Cross. There is a record of a Robert McFarlane whose residence was Sulby Bridge, Isle of Man, who served with the Irish Guards during World War One. Their daughter was called Joan.

The marriage of Maude Reece and Robert McFarlane

It seems that all of Maude's siblings emigrated to Australia within a few years of each other. Her brother Norman served not only for the Cheshire Regiment in World War One, but also with the Provost Regiment, which was the military police, during World War Two.

I believe that Robert died prior to 1923, as there is a pension record before that time which describes Maude as his widow.

Maude's mother Sarah died in January 1944, her probate record shows that she lived at Castle Hill, Queensland and the administrator of her estate was M. E. H. McFarlane.

Maude died on 8th March 1959 and is buried at Macquarie Park in Sydney, Australia. Her headstone inscription says that she was the widow of Robert and mother of Joan.

Information sources:

England and Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 187-1915
1901 England Census
1911 England Census
UK, British Army WW1 Medal Roll Index Cards, 1914-1920
UK, WW1 Pension Ledgers and Index Cards, 1914-1923
Ireland, Census 1911 (via
UK and Ireland, Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960
New South Wales, Australia, Index to Deceased Estate Files, 1859-1958
Sydney, Australia, Cemetery Headstone Transcriptions, 187-2003

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