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Muckleston Family History Group

researching all references to the surnames Muckleston, Mucklestone, Muckelston and Mackleston please get in touch via the contact us page with any additional information or to correct any errors.

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A Picture Begets a Thousand Words

                                                                 By Pamela Fane


Recently I was lucky enough to fall heir to my grandparents' photo album. I spent hours looking at the faces for some sign of recognition. With the help of my aunts and uncles I was able to put some names to those smiling faces. Once I had the names I already knew some of their stories.....


Mary Mucklestone Fane Fishburne Trice (Seated)

Back Row: Louise Edglar Fane, Austin Fane, Fane Polley.

Middle Row: Christina Fane Polley, Nora Fishburne Streeter, Bernard Fane,

Christina Polley Mellor, Baby Francesca Mellor, Louis Fane.



This photo was taken in England in the late spring of 1945. All the people are related to the lady seated in the chair. I am fascinated by those gnarled hands and wonder what travails they have been through.


She is the second daughter and sixth of eleven children, of Mary Mellard and George Muckleston, a bricklayer who was born in Harlington, Bedfordshire.


She is Mary Muckleston; my great grandmother.


Mary was born in Toddington, Bedfordshire on June 13th, 1859 and married my great grandfather William Fane, a farmer, in 1876, when she was about 17 years old. They lived and worked on the Fane ancestral property, Herne Farm in Toddington.


William was about 20 when he married Mary and the two of them had had seven children by 1886 (one a twin had died at birth). However, disaster befell this young family on February 27th, 1886. William died at age 29 as a result of a fall from his horse. He had gone to get some dray for a sick animal. Rumour had it that he stopped off at the local victualling house on the way home and was a little worse for the pause. Good neighbours carried his body home to Mary on Herne Farm gate.


Mary was a widow at age 27. She had already buried one of her children and now was faced with the death of her husband and raising six children.



Whether through love or necessity one can only guess why Mary Muckleston Fane married Charles James Fishburne on September 29th, 1888 at Milton Bryant, Bedfordshire.



Mary and Charles Fishburne had a further six children with the first one Wilfred George Fishburne, arriving in December 1887! Can this be the reason for the marriage?

The family moved to Mill Pond, Milstead, Kent in 1895 and the Fanes and Mucklestones didn't keep in touch. It is thought that the split came because the two families were upset at Mary marrying a drunkard and at his cruelty to the children.



Charles was a mean drunk. He used to send the older children out to neighbouring farms to pick rocks and then ambush them on the way home. He'd take their money and then go and drink it away. Although I certainly didn't hear it from my grandfather, Charles is the reason that all the children moved away from home as soon as they were able to escape to the military, to service or to Canada.


Charles died on March 11th, 1900 at age 38 from the effect of measles which turned to galloping consumption. It is interesting that the inscription on his tombstone reads:


           We miss the hand clasp, miss the loving smile

            Our hearts are broken: but a little while

            And we will pass within the golden gate

            God comfort us, God help us, while we wait

Mary Muckleston Fane Fishburne had buried three of her thirteen children and two husbands by the age of 40 and still had 6 children under the age of 14 to care for.


What did she have to go through to raise those children on her own? Did she find peace with the death of Charles?



Perhaps life finally became a little easier when she married William Trice in 1910 in Bermondsey London.

To my father, his siblings and the cousins who were all born after 1910 Mary was affectionally known as 'Granny Trice'.