Monday, November 7, 2011


There is nothing I like better than a mystery.

If you've been following my stories you would have seen that for yourself with my Grandfather ChasBert, with Grandmother's mother,  Geraldine Sweeny, and again with the man who is no relation whatsoever, Tollemache Eslick.  But now I have a gigantic and urgent mystery that needs solving pronto!

And to solve it I need the help of Canada.

Where the Sweeny's lived in Sussex


Cast your mind back to the disintegration  of the Sweeny family.  Mum and Dad, Anna and Alfred Sweeny,  their sixteen children, Alfred's shame and jailing,  their efforts to survive in the face of poverty. Their children seeking better lives in other parts of the world.

The six who ended up in Australia, my great great-grandmother Geraldine for one,  who went on to Fiji and created her own life of heartache and mystery.

And the last child Constance Olivia, born in Wales, who married George Fleming the locomotive driver, moved to London, had eight children and was dead by 1901, leaving them all orphans....including the little girl Camilla,  named after an aunt she never met...another Camilla whose married life in Australia was short and tragic.

But this little Camilla Fleming, the one I need your help to trace, just one of the eight orphan Flemings, in 1901 ended up in the Bluebelle Orphanage at Great Clacton not far from London.  And from there disappeared from sight.

Two readers from Canada responded to my story about the Sweeny's, in particular about the story of Frank Fleming, the brother who went on to fly aeroplanes in the first World War and ended up living on an island in the Pacific, Fiji.

They were obviously unaware their comments to me, and their request for more information about their great-greatgrandmother Camilla couldn't be replied to privately, by email, because Google respects their privacy and deletes their contact details.  I know only that these ladies live in Canada.

Linda Babiuk Hogg  and Cindy,  you have kin in England who have been trying to find out what happened to their own great-grandfather's sister.   They've searched through London records, shipping lists, scoured Australia, the USA, and yes considered Canada, but your response to me is their first direct evidence of where that little girl ended up.

Linda and Cindy, you may not even be aware of your own relationship to each other,  please write another message in the comments box on this blog, but this time include your email address.  Or if anyone else is reading this and can help, please do. find my email link go to my profile and click on email.

I will not publish your contact details online, but I will send them on to your distant cousins in England.  They're eager to talk to you.

The life story of a little girl, alone in England in 1901, badly needs closure.


Robyn Mortimer