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ENSTONE, James Purser – emigrated 1906

Val Harman (née Mason), who grew up in Wickhamford, undertook an Ancestry DNA test last year. Recently, a match came up for a 4th cousin, the connection being through the Mason family.  Catherine Mason, who was the sister of Val’s great-grandfather, Richard Mason, married Jabez Enstone. From the family tree of Val’s DNA cousin, she was able to discover that their son, James Purser Enstone, emigrated to Canada in 1906.  This is his story.

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James Purser Enstone was born at Aldington on 4th January 1881, the third of eight children of Jabez Samuel Enstone, a carter, and his wife, Catherine (née Mason).  He was baptised in St James’ Church, Badsey, on 20th February 1881.  The Enstone family lived at what is now called Manor Cottage, Village Street, Aldington, and the children would have attended school in Badsey.  James’ father, Jabez, worked for Arthur Savory of Aldington Manor.  In Savory’s book, Grain and Chaff from an English Manor, Jabez is described in Chapter V.

At some stage in the last decade of the 19th century, James Enstone moved to Oldbury, Worcestershire, where he worked as a house painter.  He appears in Oldbury in the 1901 census, but in 1906 he decided to emigrate to Canada.  

On 16th January 1907, James married an English woman, Annie Matilda Daisy Bannister (née Mountjoy), in Ottawa.  Annie, who was nine years his senior, had emigrated to Canada in the early 1890s.  Her first husband, James Bannister, whom she married in 1894 in Ottawa, had died in 1899, leaving her with two young daughter – Elsie Mountjoy (1896) and Frances James (1899) – the latter born posthumously.  James and Annie had four children:  Marjorie Catherine (1909-1909), Mildred Purser (1911-1907), Joseph Arthur (1914-?) and John Mason (1915-2009).

Shipping records reveal that, on at least three occasions, James returned to England.  On 7th September 1910, James and Annie and James’ step-daughters (his first-born daughter had died aged two months in 1909) arrived back in Canada, having set sail from Bristol.  Possibly James had returned home in order for his parents and siblings to meet his new family.

At the time of the 1921 Canadian census, the Enstones (James, Annie, Elsie, Frances, Mildred, Joseph and John) were living at 24 Second Street, Ottawa.  James was still working as a painter.

James returned alone to England at the end of 1925, arriving in Liverpool on 8th December.  He gave his proposed address in England as Aldington, which was the place where his parents lived and was the same cottage where he had grown up.  He stayed for just under two months, departing Southampton on 30th January 1926, arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on 7th February.

James’ final visit was in 1958 when he was 77 years old.  Annie had died in 1940, so he travelled alone, arriving in Liverpool on 20th June 1958.  His parents were long since dead, so on that occasion he stayed with his youngest sister, Catherine, who was married to George Marshall.  The Marshalls lived at 46 Willersey Road, Badsey.  James’ brothers, John and William, were also still alive and living elsewhere in Worcestershire, so it is likely that James visited them.  On this occasion, James stayed for over year, not leaving until 5th August 1959.

James’ youngest son, John Mason Enstone, was a Wing Commander in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War.  In December 1944 he was awarded the OBE.

James died of cerebral thrombosis on 21st February 1961 in Ottawa and was buried at Beechwood Cemetery, Ottawa.