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Canadian's success in search for Shropshire roots

By Toby Neal | Telford | Features | Published:

Shropshire Star readers have come up trumps in helping a Canadian family find out more about their Shropshire roots.

Shropshire-born Ethel and Bill Bray, who emigrated to Canada, with their great-granddaughter Hannah Richards

Chris and Pauline Wallace from Ketley were staying with a friend in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba, Canada, when they were visited one evening by her cousin and her husband, Wendy and Dennis Bray-Richards.

In an amazing coincidence they discovered that Wendy's grandparents were born in Shropshire and the holidaying couple promised to do what they could to help her family history researches on their return home.

Wendy's grandfather was Shropshire-born William Henry Bray – Bill Bray – and her grandmother was Ethel Jane Gogerty, born in Madeley. Bill emigrated to Canada and was joined by Ethel, and they wed in Winnipeg in 1913. Ethel died in 1974, and Bill in 1978.

An appeal through the Shropshire Star for more information about the county links drew a number of responses.

Chris said: "Wendy and Dennis had great success with their search. Mike Grainger has traced a second cousin and they are now in regular contact by email. He also provided a full family tree which has filled in a lot of holes.

"I was also contacted by John Malin after the article. He is related by his grandmother and the article gave him some information which was not in his family tree."

Mike, from Newport, does genealogy as a hobby.

"If I see in the Shropshire Star that people are looking for people, I like to have a go," he said.

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He drew up a family tree for the Brays and Gogertys going back to early 1800s Shropshire.

Exciting

While Wendy's information was that Bill was born near Norton, Mike's family tree has him being born in Ditton Priors.

Mike said: "I managed to find a cousin in Telford and they are now in contact with each other. I managed to find over 100 Gogerty and Brays, though many are now deceased."

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Wendy Bray-Richards, who is from Erickson, Manitoba, said: "I have always wondered if we had any relatives in Shropshire.

"I grew up with my grandparents who never actually spoke of many of their siblings or anyone else over in England.

"Occasionally letters or rolls of local papers would arrive from England but we never really knew who had sent them. As our little family began to shrink with one and another passing away, it left many unanswered questions."

Then came that chance meeting with Chris and Pauline, and the Shropshire Star story.

"Mike Grainger was most helpful in finding the family tree," she said.

"Then John Malin was found, a Bray relative. He also has a lot of information about the Bray family. Then David Bowen appeared. He is my second cousin on the Gogerty side. His grandmother Edith, Auntie Annie, was my grandmother's sister.

"I found he and I are almost the same age and have many parallels in our lives. We have begun an email relationship and it's really exciting to find an email from him.

"I really can't thank Chris and Pauline Wallace enough for their over-the-top efforts on my behalf."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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