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Henry PLANT was born about 1862 in Leek, Staffordshire, the son of Joseph PLANT, a silk dyer. In 1881 he was 19 years old and employed as a wood turner. He married Ella MAYER (born 1867) in Leek in 1887. In 1891 they were at the Talbot Hotel, Ashbourne Road, Leek, where Henry was manager and Ella was manageress. A daughter, Jessie Dorothy, was born in 1890. They also had a second daughter, Madge (Margaret), probably in 1891 but no birth certificate can be found. In 1891/2 Ella left the family and came to New Zealand, probably in the company of George McDONALD who had been employed as an ‘assistant surgeon’ to a general practitioner in Leek.

Henry PLANT died at the Talbot Hotel in August 1901, his death reported by one Agnes STUBBS. I cannot locate Henry PLANT, Jessie, Madge, or Agnes STUBBS, or even the Talbot Hotel in the 1901 census. In 1907 Jessie (aged 16) and Madge (aged 15) left England aboard the Ophir bound for Sydney, Australia, and subsequently came to New Zealand under the surname McDONALD. Is there a way of finding what happened to the girls between 1901 and 1907? Did they stay at the Talbot hotel and who looked after them?

Don Rickard


The 1901 census entry for the Talbot Hotel, Leek, holds some of the answers. Harry (rather than Henry) PLANT is still manager and with him are his daughters, Jessie, aged 11, and Margaret, aged ten. Also in the household are: Edith STUBBS, aged 40, a widow, housekeeper; Agnes STUBBS, aged 25, barmaid; and William STUBBS, aged two, visitor. The relationship between these three STUBBS is not given. As Agnes was the informant on Henry’s death certificate, the question is, was there also a relationship between Agnes or Edith, William and Henry? Agnes was almost certainly the daughter of John W STUBBS, who in 1881 was a hay dealer and innkeeper living in Hanley, and Edith STUBBS. In 1881, Agnes was three and her mother, Edith, was 25 – so slightly different dates of birth than given in 1901.

You say that no birth certificate for Margaret PLANT can be found but I see that a Margaret PLANT was registered in Leek Registration District in the September Quarter 1891 (6b/34). I cannot discover the birth of a William STUBBS or PLANT 1898 ±2 in Leek Registration District.

As Henry PLANT died in 1901, it’s possible that Jessie and Margaret lived with the STUBBS family until they eventually went to Australia to join their mother and step-father. The truth, though, may be very difficult to ascertain. Jessie and Margaret appear on the Passenger List of the Ophir, which sailed from the Port of London in January 1907, bound for Australia. Passenger Lists Outwards – which start in 1890 and are held at The National Archives – can be searched on the Findmypast website. At the time of writing, those from 1890 to 1929 are available as digitised images which are fully searchable by name of passengers. In theory, if George McDONALD and Ella went to Australia in 1891 or 1892, they too should appear on the passenger lists. I note that in the 1891 census, George’s surname is spelled ‘MacDONALD’. I have been unable to identify the couple in the passenger lists, but my search could only be brief and you may have more luck.

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