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Alice Mary Major

by Yvonne Hellin-Hobbs | People

Alice Mary Major was born in 1885, into the Major family, the blacksmiths of Fore St., Bishopsteignton. Her granddaughter Jean has traced her family history and written this article.

Alice Mary was  born in 1885 to John and Louisa Major,  one of six children. The Majors owned and worked the blacksmith forge in Fore street, Bishopsteignton. Louisa and her daughters Alice and Lily worked at Kittoes House.

John and Louise Major

John and Louisa Major

Alice Mary Major

Alice Mary Major

On 31st August 1908 Alice married James Edward French,born 1879. He was the son of Aaron and Sarah French. Aaron French was born circa 1835 in Manaton, Devon, and Sarah Turner was born in Bishopsteignton circa 1840, they married in 1858. The family lived at Fore St , Town Tenement , 3 Radway Hill and later in Post Office street.

Alice Major wedding to James French 1908

Alice Major wedding to James French 1908. It is possible that her sister Lily Louisa is bridesmaid and her younger sister Frances Loveday is the young girl.

James was in the army, and within days of the wedding, James and Alice left Bishopsteignton for London to sail to India, where James was posted to Bangalore, Madras, India. Sadly, James who was a farrier in the Royal Field Artillery of the army, was killed on 19th November 1908, age 29; they had been married less than 3 months. James is buried in Bangalore. He had been in the army for 11 years when he was killed.

James French , Death Record. 1908

James French , Death Record. 1908

Alice stayed in India and became a children’s nanny to families of the British Officers. Over the next 11 years Alice traveled back and forth to India 3 times. In 1919 she remarried an Army Sergeant, Walter Samuel Dilley, in Meerut, India. They had a daughter, Hazel Mary Dilley, who gave birth to Jean, whose story this is.

Alice French in India

Alice French in India

Nan Dilley and cousin Rose 1918

Nan Dilley and cousin Rose 1918

Alice’s daughter  Hazel was born in Dartmouth.  The next 4 years were spent with the Army in Germany; when they returned to England they settled in Bedfordshire.

Alice’s sister Frances Loveday Major went on to marry Frederick Back, son of John and Lavinia Back in 1927, and her sister Lily Louisa  married Frederick Leach.

Alice’s Aunt, Mary Major married Daniel Coombe. Their son was Philip Coombe whose daughter was our own Molly Coombe.

Mary Ann Tyler, Louisa Major's Mother

Mary Ann Tyler, Louisa Major’s Mother

If you are related to any of these families, or know anything that would add to our story, please do get in touch. Just subscribe and leave a comment below.














1841 Census

Ann French 40 mother

John French 8 Aaron French 6

1851 Census

Aaron French 16  Ag Lab born Manaton

1861 Census Living in Fore St.

Aaron French     25    Labourer  born Manaton, Devon

Sarah French      21    wife   born Bishopsteignton

Thomas 2

1871 Census Living Town Tenement

Aaron French 35

Sarah French 31

Thomas 12, Frederick 8, William H. 3, Albert J. 1, Charles G. 2 months.

1881 Census Living 3 Radway Hill

Aaron French 45 Labourer

Sarah French 41 Laundress

Thomas 22 Mason, Frederick 18 Gardener, Albert 11, Charles 10, Francis 6, Caroline 3, James 1.

1891 Census Living Radway Hill

Aaron French 55

Sarah French 51

Thomas 32, Caroline 13, James 11.

1901 Census Living Post Office Street

Aaron French 65

Sarah French 61

Marriage Vol 5b p218  Sarah Turner and Aaron French December 1858

Marriage Alice Major and James French Vol 5b p 194 September 1908

Military Record dated 19-11-1908   Record  No 121576   Regimental No 17811