A detailed account of the life of Edward Hector MacKay 1st.
These are the only 2 known photographs of Edward Hector MacKay 1st. The one on the left was taken at his house in Walton-on-the-Naze in Essex in the late 1800's. Nothing is known of when or where the right hand one was taken. Please click on the images to view an enlargement.
Edward Hector MacKay 1st was the younger son of John MacKay and Harriett Adlington and was born in 1837, just before the introduction of the Civil Registrations of Births, Marriages and Deaths. I have obtained a copy of the Parish Register for St. Margaret's Parish in Westminster, London which records his Baptism as being on 29th March 1837, so it must be assumed that he was born shortly before that date.
The 1841 Census records him at the age of 4 years living with his parents at 25 Tothill Street, Westminster, (for some unknown reason, his older brother, Alexander John was missing from this Census). He is next recorded on the 1851 Census at Charlton Terrace, Islington, with his Father John and brother Alexander John, his Mother having died in 1842. My initial research suggested that there were on 2 children, Alexander John and Edward Hector. However, much later whilst browsing on the FindMyPast Website, I stumbled across a Burial for Edward Hector MacKay on 17th October 1835 at St. Margaret's, Westminster. Further browsing revealed a Baptism for Edward Hector MacKay on 19th April 1835 at St. Margaret's. Clearly there had been a 3rd sibling who died in infancy and as consequence, Edward Hector born in 1837 was named for his late baby brother.
His Army Records show that he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion, 1st Regiment of Foot, (The Royal Scots), on 21st September 1855 at Westminster at the age of 19 years and was given the Regimental No. 3303. Although I have been able to obtain his Enlistment Record, the only other documents relating to his Army Service are the Muster Records which do not provide much detail in relation to his service. His Attestation and Discharge Papers could not be found at the National Archives in Kew. However, the Muster Records do show that in 1856 he was with the Battalion at Fermoy, Co. Cork, Ireland and from there was transferred to the Reserve Battalion stationed in Malta. Later that year he was again transferred to the Crimea but did not see action there as the Armistice had been signed on February 29th. From late 1856 to early 1857 he was back in Malta following which he was sent to Gibraltar and stationed at 'North Front' which is now the site of the present day Airport. During his time in Gibraltar he was hospitalised but no indication is given as to the reason.
From early 1858 he was at sea, enroute to Hong Kong where he arrived in December of that year. During late 1859 and early 1860 he was again hospitalised on several occasions, but again, no reason is shown in the Muster Records for that period. Following this, his Battalion was attached to the 'China Expeditionary Force' and saw action during the Uprisings at Taku Forts and Peking for which he was awarded a Medal with 2 Clasps. On his return to England in late 1861 he was stationed at Manchester initially and promoted to Corporal on the 24th September 1861. The remainder of his service was spent at Home and mainly in Colchester Barracks although for a short period he was sent to the Channel Islands. For part of his time in Colchester Barracks he performed guard duty at the nearby Landguard Fort at the mouth of the River Orwell and over-looking Harwich Harbour. It was during his time in Colchester that he met and married his first wife, Rebecca Forsdyke on 14th February 1864. Rebecca's home in Falkenham, Suffolk was only about 5 miles from Landguard Fort so it must be assumed that they met in that area. Edward Hector took his discharge at Cork on 21st September 1865.
Much later in life, he wrote what has become known as 'Edward Hector's Diary' which is an account of his experiences during his time in the Army and can be down-loaded at the end of this narrative. I obtained a copy from a cousin in New Zealand who had in turn obtained it from a cousin in Australia. Unfortunately, at some point it was damaged in a fire and as a consequence, several pages are missing, it does however make interesting reading.
Edward Hector's and Rebecca's first child, Edward Hector 2nd, was born in the Barracks at Colchester in December 1864 prior to his discharge from the Army the following year. They initially settled in East Retford where their next 3 children were born, Harriet 1st in 1866, James in 1868 and Harriet 2nd in 1870. The next 3 children, Rebecca in 1872, John in 1874 and William in 1876 were born at Rebecca's home town of Falkenham, Suffolk although the family was still living in East Retford. The final 3 children, Annie in 1878, Elizabeth in 1880 and Arthur in 1882 were all born at home in Tendring in Essex.
After Edward Hector's discharge from the Army the family settled in East Retford where the 1871 Census records them at Alma Road with Edward Hector employed as a 'Railway Guard'. By the 1881 Census the family had moved to Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex where Edward Hector was then employed as a Storekeeper at the Foundry. The foundry in question was J. Warner and Sons, the manufacturers of 'Big Ben' the famous bell in London.
Rebecca passed away in Tendring on 27th January 1888 following which he remarried to Amelia Crossthwaite Kemp also in Tendring, on 30th December 1888, just 10 months after the death of his 1st Wife. By the 1891 Census, he and his new wife had moved to Sigamund Street, (no longer exists), in Greenwich where Edward Hector was employed as a Gas Stoker at the South Metropolitan Gas Company. Interestingly, on this Census she is recorded as Minnie although she reverted to Amelia on a later Census. See the section on the Kemp Family for more information on Amelia. By the time of the 1891 Census, the children had all left home. By the 1901 Census, Edward Hector and Amelia had moved to 'The Lodge' at the Gas Works where he was then employed as a 'Timekeeper'. Amelia passed away on 18th March 1911, just before the Census which records Edward Hector as a 74 year old Widower and still employed at the Gas Works as an 'Assistant Storekeeper'.
It would appear that in later life, Edward Hector may well have been suffering from long-term memory loss. In 1871 he correctly stated that he was born in St. Margaret's, Westminster, however, in 1881 he said simply 'London', in 1891 he said 'Scotland', in 1901 he again said 'London' and finally in 1911 he said 'Uncertain'. See also the reference to his 3rd Marriage Registration below.
He married for a 3rd time to Janet Miller nee Fowler at the Scottish Episcopal Church in Stranraer, Scotland on 30th September 1914. Janet was 16 years his junior and had been working as a cook in the George Hotel in Stranraer and how they came to meet will never be known. The Marriage Registration records his Mother's maiden name as Harriett Hollington, however I believe this could be incorrect. The Parish Registration of his parents Marriage show that her maiden name was Adlington which is very similar to Hollington and bearing in mind that she died when he was only 5 years old, it is possible he was mistaken. Added to this, her death had occured 72 years earlier and as I mentioned above, he may have been suffering long-term memory loss. Following their marriage, they returned to Greenwich where Edward Hector continued his employment at the Gas Works.
Edward Hector died on the 22nd October 1923, closely followed by Janet on the 12th November 1923. Edward Hector was buried in a public grave in Greenwich Cemetery in Section Z, Grave Number 1346, on the 26th October 1923. I do not have a record of Janet's burial, but it can be assumed she was probably buried in the same plot. There is no headstone on the Grave. I have obtained Death Certificates for both of them which record that a T. J. Russell 'Caused the body to be buried'. I later found that T. J. Russell was a work colleague of Edward Hector, but why he was responsible for the burials rather than his Daughter-in-Law, Fanny McKay who lived nearby, we will never know.
I found a Probate record for the Wills of both Edward Hector and Janet and subsequently obtained a copy of his actual Will which made Janet his sole beneficiary. Janet's sole beneficiary was a 'William Miller, a Belt-maker' living in Scotland who I later discovered was her son from her 1st Marriage to Hugh Miller.
I suspect that there may have been a rift in the family caused by Edward Hector's marriage to Amelia Crossthwaite Kemp as it has been suggested that she was cruel to some of the children and that she was partly responsible for some of them emigrating to Australia. This may account for why his Daughter-in-Law, Fanny and his Grand-children who lived close by were not beneficiaries in his Will, nor were they involved with his burial.
Edward Hector's Diary, his Probate Record and his Will may be downloaded below: