The Mysterious Journey of Fannie Finch Evison

Fannie Sarah Finch EvisonThis blog is about my maternal great grandmother’s journey from England to Canada.

Fannie Sarah Finch was born abt Jul 1857 in Wimbledon, Surrey, England.

She is the oldest child of Joseph Finch and Mary Ann Fillmore.  Fannie had two younger brothers, William Frederick Finch (b: Sep 1860) and Edward Charles Finch (b: abt May 1863).

1861 UK Census - Joseph and Hannah Finch and FamilyIn 1861, Fannie is living with her parents and brother, William, in Wimbledon.  Fannie’s father was employed as a wood sawyer.

In 1863, Fannie’s life took a tragic turn!  Fannie’s brother, Edward, died shortly after birth.  And sadly at the end of 1863, Fannie’s mother also died.  Fannie was only 6 years old.

1871 Census - Joseph, William and Fanny FinchIn the 1871 census,  Fannie is living with her widowed father and surviving brother in Wimbledon.  Her father is now an engine driver in a saw mill and Fannie and William are attending school.

Marriage - Joseph Finch and Sarah ThornettFannie’s life was about to change again! On 26 Dec 1871, Fannie’s father re-married — to the widow Sarah Thornett Holden, his brother’s wife’s sister!!

1881 Census - Joseph, Sarah and Fannie FinchSometime before the 1881 UK Census, Fannie moved in with her maiden Aunt Sarah and her grandfather, Joseph Finch Sr.  Fannie’s grandmother passed away in the beginning of 1879.

Then Fannie’s grandfather died in 1888 😦   I have not been able to locate Fannie in the 1891 census *** but in 1892, her life changed yet again!

Arrival - Fanny FinchOn 11 Apr 1892, Fannie arrived in New York city. She was travelling with her Uncle Jonadab Finch (father’s brother) and his family.  Jonadab was a Presbyterian minister who was heavily involved in administering charities in England.  More about him in a future blog!

Marriage - William St Thomas Evison and Fannie FinchWhat comes next is a complete surprise and mystery to me!

Less than three weeks after Fannie arrived in New York city from England, she is in Canada and married to William St. Thomas Evison!!  She married William on 28 Apr 1892 in Lambeth, Ontario (Canada).

How is that possible?  William Evison was born in Michigan but lived in Ontario (Canada) since 1871, twenty years before he married Fannie.  I haven’t found any evidence that he travelled to New York City.

The only clue that I have to what might have happened was supplied by a distant Finch cousin of mine, Camilla Los.

Joseph Finch? in CanadaShe e-mailed me a photo and, on the back, was written, “Father’s brother, Fannie’s father” and “F.(or J.) Cooper, Photographer, London, Ontario”.

Camilla is descended from Jonadab Finch, Joseph Jr.’s brother.  Jonadab had a daughter named Dorothea “Stella” Finch.  Stella is Camilla’s grandmother.  Stella and Fannie are first cousins and they travelled together from England to New York.

Stella’s father’s brother would be Joseph Jr., Fannie’s father!

Compare these two photographs.  The one on the left has been positively identified as Fannie’s father — taken in England in 1860.  The one on the right is the one taken in London, Ontario (Canada) — date unknown.  Are these the same person?

Joseph Finch? side by side

If they are the same person, then that means that Joseph Jr. must have been in Canada at some point!

There were two Cooper brothers who were photographers in London (Canada).  One was John and the other was Frank.  Frank Cooper was in business from 1868 to 1909 and John Cooper from 1857 and 1890.   I can’t tell whether that’s an “F” or a “J” that’s written on the back of the photograph.  So that means that the photo on the right may have been taken anytime between 1857 and 1909!

One possible reason that Joseph was in Canada is to visit his son, William Frederick.  I know that William Frederick arrived in Canada sometime after the 1871 UK Census and before December of 1882, when his first son was born — but I cannot find him in a passenger list or in the 1881 Canadian or UK Census.

The other possibility is that whoever wrote the note on the back of the photo was mistaken.  Perhaps it is actually William Frederick, Fannie’s brother  — and not Joseph Jr., Fannie’s father?  Joseph was in England up until at least the end of 1871 when he married his second wife.  After 1871, I don’t know what happened to Joseph Jr.

In either case, how did a descendant of Jonadab Finch, who live in New York (USA), end up with a photo taken in London, Ontario (Canada)?

So, as of the date of this blog, I do not know when/if Fannie’s father actually was in Canada or how it is that Fannie met and married William Evison within a month of leaving England!

Fannie’s life story continues here.

1891 Census - Fanny S Finch*** Update!!  Thanks to a Facebook friend, I’ve located Fannie in the 1891 Census.  She is working as a servant in the Thornbury residence in Hampstead, London (England).

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