Morbus Cordis

Mary Spencer was my grandfathers sister; Mary was a bit of a mystery, I was some way through my research when I came across her, she proved to be very elusive and it did take some time to track her down and write her story.

I started with the birth records but, given her name and the fact I wasn’t sure of her birth year this proved to be a non starter.

Birth, marriage and death certificates are the mainstay of family history research – along with the census records, which are taken every 10 years; 1841 to 1911 census records are now on line and they are invaluable records for a researcher.

There are so many variables when researching – it is possible errors have been made in the transcription of records and in the dates recorded, I have seen Spencer transcribed as Spenser, Spensar, Spenir – to name a few.

I was hoping that I would be able to find Mary in the 1911 census, her mother had the more unusual name of Bertha which I hoped would also help to narrow down the search.

Then finally in 2017 – success, I finally tracked down Bertha (her mother) as Bertha Hyde; she had remarried. Mary was living with Bertha and her new husband – and her name had been transcribed as Mary Spenar; the original version of the census also showed she was registered as Mary Ellen Spencer ………..

So, what do I know about Mary? She was born on 21 February 1902, her home address at time of birth was 18 Thursday Street, Manchester and it is very likely Mary Ann was born at home. Her mother was Bertha Spencer (nee Boot) and her father was Henry Spencer, a greengrocer. Bertha was illiterate, she had registered Mary’s birth and made her mark in lieu of a signature.  Her father, Henry, did not enjoy good health.  In 1901 census he is shown as an inmate of Crumpsall Workhouse, in the hospital.  He died at the end of October in 1907 of acute phthisis (TB) and cardiac syncope.

Mary’s younger brother was my granddad Alfred, born in 1904; her sister, Bertha was born in Feb 1907.  However, 1907 was not a good year – Bertha died at the beginning of November 1907, just a few days after her father’s death.  Her death certificate states cause of death was cerebral haemorrhage and cardiac failure.  They are buried together in Philips Park Cemetery in Manchester.

Between 1907 and 1911 Bertha Spencer married James Hyde and the 1911 census shows Mary was living with her mother and stepfather and younger stepbrother at 37 Crissey Street, Failsworth.  Mary was aged 9 and attended school.

James Hyde went to war and he died in 1917.

Mary Ann died on 24 October 1918, aged 16. Cause of death – morbus cordis. Definition shows cause of death is likely to be heart disease.

I believe this image to be Mary and her brothers – Alfred (my grandfather) along with James and Joe Hyde, her two half brothers.  May was born in 1909 ( based on the possible ages of the family in the image, I don’t think May is in this picture), Joe in 1910 and James followed in 1914. I think this was probably taken around 1915.

alfred spencer mary spencer james hyde baby and j