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It would seem that there were two women in George's life, Elizabeth Pestell and Ellenor Sandey. The exact nature of their relationships between themselves and with George Thomas seems to have been a little fluid and unusually difficult to pin down. There are certain facts for which I can find hard documentary evidence, These are:-

  • Ellener Sandy was born 1864 in London and died 1949 in Sydney.

  • George Thomas was born 1862 in Turvey and died 1942 in New South Wales

  • Elizabeth Pestell was born 1866 in London and may have died July 1888 in London but could just have been living in New South Wales in 1913 which would be a bit awkward!!

  • George and Ellener Sandey were married July 23rd 1882 at St Pancras Church. See marriage certificate to the left.

  • Ellener Sandey was definitely the mother of George William Purser born 1885 and of  James Purser born 1891. Albert Purser born 1896.  and. Emily Jane Purser born1887

  • Elizabeth Pestell would appear to have been the mother of Eleanor Eliza Purser born 1883 Hilma Purser born 1884

  • Ellener Sandy seems to have changed her name to Elizabeth at some point. All documents up not her marriage have her as Ellener Sandey However the baptism records for her children have her as Elizabeth Purser,  the actual BDM records have her as Elizabeth Purser nee Sandey.  

This name change has caused me much confusion and some lurid speculation. Here I have to plead ignorance,  I was working from the baptism records only, I was not aware ( until now) that in England the Statutory BDM index gave you the mothers maiden name without the need to get copies of Birth Certificates at £25 a pop !


  • George Thomas Purser married Ellenor Sandey in 1882

  • He had two Children by Elizabeth Pestell in 1883 & 1884

  • He had 4 further children by his wife in 1885,1886,1887and 1891

  • Elizabeth Pestell may have died in 1888

So what was going on here, did his wife know that in the early years of their marriage George was having kids by someone else ?  Was this a Menage a trois or was he just a philandering oik?

Returning to George and family leaving the UK somewhat precipitously, by precipitately I mean that he came home on the day of the disaster and told his wife to pack as the family was going to Australia the next day. According to Grandma, her Mum, Dad and the youngest kids did indeed pack up and go. She was married by this time so was left in charge of my Great Aunt Em and Great Uncle George. they never saw their parents or younger brothers again. My searches suggest that George Thomas may have in fact gone first, I can find his passage on the Omaha but not Elizabeth or the boys so they presumably followed on.

Now Grandma was in her 90's and did go on a bit, so take this with a pinch of salt if you wish, however, daft old bat or not, most of her bizarre stories  did turn out to be true.


Her father, ( George Thomas Purser) certainly did have a successful builders business, and he and his family did indeed pack up and go to Australia at virtually no notice, where their descendants still are enjoying life in Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. I know this to be true as I visited them when, by sheer coincidence I spent 6 months working in Katoomba.

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