Elizabeth Harvey Ellary, 1896-1986, #5

My paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Harvey Ellary, was born on 24th April 1896 at St Nicholas, Deptford.

Elizabeth Harvey Ellary, 1896-1986, #5
John Joseph Green and Elizabeth Harvey Ellary's Wedding in 1922.

Elizabeth Harvey Ellary was my paternal grandmother. I knew her as Nanny Green, and rarely saw her. She was born on 24th April 1896 at St Nicholas, Deptford, the fifth child of John William James Ellary, a hammerman and blacksmith, and Elizabeth Harvey Ellary nee Randall.

Elizabeth was probably born at 4a Armada Street, Deptford, where her family were living when Elizabeth was baptised on 13th May 1896, at St Nicholas, Deptford.

In 1911 Elizabeth's family were living at 20 The Orchard, Creek Road, Deptford. The family of seven was sharing four rooms. Elizabeth was 14 and was already working as a capsules colourer for a metallic capsule manufacturer. The way that the 1911 census is filled in suggests that she worked at the London Metallic Capsule Company Ltd, who were based nearby in Rotherhithe.

Elizabeth married John Joseph Green on 6th August 1922 at St Nicholas, Deptford. They were both living at 5 Heald Street, Deptford at the time, and Elizabeth was working as a case maker.

Jack and Elizabeth had four children, my father John George Green (1923–2001), Betty Elizabeth Harvey Green (1927– ), Dennis Edward Green (1930–2003), and Leslie Kenneth Green (1933–2019).

When the 1939 register was compiled Jack and Elizabeth were living at 79 Indus Road, Greenwich. By now Jack was a skilled French polisher. My father John was working at J Stone’s, and his three younger siblings were still at school.

During WW2 a bomb fell on their house, 79 Indus Road. The house was completely demolished. Thankfully my father, who was a junior draughtsman at the time, was at work, and his family were safe in their Anderson shelter, but they lost everything they owned. They had to stay in temporary accommodation in a church hall, until eventually they were given a council house, 4 MacArthur Terrace, which was furnished with second-hand furniture and household goods requisitioned from the abandoned homes of war victims.

Dad spoke to me very little about his family. When I transcribed his letters later I learned that he enjoyed rough and tumble with his parents, his sister and his brothers - it seemed to happen almost daily. He wrote in 1945:

We are a lot of scrappers at home, you know, there’s always a fight of some sort.

The same year he wrote to my mother, who had not yet met her future mother-in-law:

She is a grand type. You’ll like her, and I know you’ll get on well with her. She’s just a good wife and mother, nothing brilliant about her, with quite simple tastes in everything. And she hates trouble.

Unfortunately although my mother liked Jack, she didn't take to Elizabeth, and this drove a wedge between the families.

Elizabeth's husband Jack died on 17th October 1971. Elizabeth died on 8th March 1986 in Charlton. I can remember going to her funeral and being given a plain silver chain from her jewellery box. I found the gathering after the funeral quite overwhelming as I had rarely met my Dad's side of the family and I didn't really know them. My brother and sister knew them all better and seemed much more comfortable. I do recall being introduced to my cousins Mark and Martin. This was the last big Green family gathering which I attended.

I am very pleased to have made contact with my Green cousins again recently, and hope to continue to heal the rift over time.

Elizabeth Harvey Green, nee Ellary

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