52 Ancestors #48 – Next to Last

This prompt had me thinking who is Next to Last? It wasn’t long before I knew who would be my ancestor for this challenge in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I’ve mentioned this beautiful lady many times during my 30+ years of researching my families history. She was the first person I went to for information, even recording her oral history in May 1986, on a tape recorder which fortunately I transcribed as the tapes are now barely audible.

Maggie Cripps (Woodcock)

Margaret Ada Cripps, affectionately known as Maggie, was born October 20, 1896, at Northampton WA. She married Jack (John) Woodcock in August 1918 and died in February 1989, at the age of 92. Aunty Maggie, as we all called her, was the second last (next to last) child of my Great Grandparents Charles Cripps and Margaret Haigh nee Williams.

Note: Writings in italics are the words from Aunty Maggie’s interview, as she spoke them and not necessarily in chronological order. The Cripps family tree can be viewed HERE and HERE. Working out the George’s and Thomas’ can be overwhelming and I hope that I have them correct. I’m happy to be corrected!

In my last newsletter, I referred to an advert that I found on Trove, the National Library of Australia’s website for researching newspapers. This is the story I referred to that Aunty Maggie had told me –  “He came out as a young lad. He was only 16 and I don’t know what he did, he came on a ship. I don’t know whether he jumped ship or what. He lost all contact with his family. One time after I was born, Mother and I went to Geraldton by train and the station master said to us I see in the paper he said where the Cripps’ in England are asking for Charles Thomas Cripps and does anybody know his whereabouts to get in touch with them. He said this person was a Cripps. He said I kept the paper and he handed it to Mum. It might be a connection. It was Sarah Boater and for Charles Thomas Cripps to get in touch with this address. He said no, but mum said go on you’d better get in touch with them. So anyhow he sat down and wrote. So she wrote back again then and he sponsored her out and after she came out her two brothers came out or rather her brother came out with three boys. And that’s how the Cripps started.”

Aunty Maggie told me her mother, “Margaret Cripps (Williams), was born in a pig shed. It was cleared out quickly as there was no time to prepare anywhere else. Charles Thomas Cripps first met his wife Margaret when he came down from Shark Bay to be best man at Mr Halls wedding. He asked who was that pretty little girl sitting down there. The boys all laughed at him and said that isn’t a girl that’s a widow with two children. He said so long as she hasn’t got a husband, I can manage the children. He must have fallen in love with her straight away and wanted to be introduced to her and found out where she was living. Margaret’s first husband (Alan Haigh) died of pneumonia when Lena (Selena) was two months old and Lizzie (Elizabeth) was two years old. After their marriage, on the 25th January 1882, Charles Cripps took his wife back to Shark Bay where he had been pearling and getting sandalwood. They slept in single quarters with the mother in a bed with the baby and Charles on the floor with the other child. The two children did not know that he was not their father until they were married. Nor did any of the other children of that marriage.”

Her (Margaret Haigh) husband died on the railway line between Perth and Fremantle. They used to live in a tent and he caught pneumonia. He died when Lena was only a fortnight old. Lena was very little. So old Mr Hosken, I don’t know whether it was Syd Hosken’s brother, bought her back in a spring cart back to her mother (Mary Williams nee Jones). They had to camp on a road coming home so they used to light their fire on the road and he looked after her all the way up. She lived in a little old house, you know there where Shire’s live. You turn off the highway up the railroad. See the old church used to be up there and the minister used to live where Cornishes live now. That’s where she was living and that’s how he (Charles Cripps) came to meet her and he wanted to take her back but my granny said no she couldn’t have a step-father over her children and he said I’ll make you a promise. He said if we have any children of our own, they will always come first. And he kept that promise, he never broke it. They always came first. Lena you see, he was her father. She was the youngest and they never knew any difference until they grew up knowing he was their father until they were to be married and then he had to tell them. It made a difference with Lizzie but it didn’t with Lena. She said he’s the only Daddy I’ve known. I didn’t know they were my step-sisters until long after Lizzie and Lena were married and I was growing up before I knew. Then Mum told me about it and she told me how she met Dad. She said they did fall in love. He was in love with her and wanted to take her back and look after her. He said to Granny so I’ll make you that promise and she said you see that you keep it. Old Granny always said he made a promise and kept it.”

They must have come back before Tommy was born, I don’t know, I think they must have done and they were in the top hotel for quite a while. That’s where Dave was born at the top hotel because they went broke and the bailiff came to get them out and she was in bed with David and old Granma met them at the door and she said you put your foot inside here and I’ll knock you out. She is in bed with the baby and you can wait until after. Their father was away sandalwooding trying to get money to pay off. That’s why he had to keep on with sandalwooding.

(Bankruptcy Proceedings: a public examination of C. Cripps of Northampton, a bankrupt, will be held at Geraldton on July 2nd at noon.
Source: GOVERNMENT GAZETTE. (1888, June 15). The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), p. 3.)

“All children were born in Northampton. David was born in the top hotel, Sally was born in an old house that used to be down the hill. Your next door neighbour used to attend you or sometimes your husband. I was too little to remember, whether the baby was due or if it was a miscarriage or what but I know father had to bury it. Then there was an old chap that started up at Ogilvie. When he first started up, Jack was only a young kid at the time and used to ride the horses and go out and see to the sheep. Anyway, his wife was crook and the next time Jack went out he asked how she was oh, she’s fine she’s had a son and he said what, did you take her to town and he said no I delivered it.”

Aunty Maggie also told me how “the girls used to have their hair done all around in tiny plaits or ringlets done with pieces of rag. Her sisters used to help out to make like Shirley Temple ringlets.”

This story has me laughing every time I think of it. Aunty Maggie is referring to her step-sister Lizzie and Selena Haigh, “One day he goes into a chest of drawers Mum had in a room and he goes in and his watch was broken, so he calls in Lizzie, Did you break Daddy’s watch and she said no Daddy, I never touched it. So he called the other one in. She was a little white thing. Her hair was white and as thin as could be so pretty she was and he said, Did you break Daddy’s watch. Yes, Daddy. What did you break it for? Well, she said, Tick, tick the bugger no tick, tick so I mashed it.”

She said, “David Cripps married Grace Ridley, she had a brother Viv. Viv was my playmate and we used to go to the swamps and we would go hand in hand down through the woods together and show me the trenches they’d been digging. Of course, they used to tease me about Viv. He was a great friend.”

“The only known brothers were George and Tom. Tom’s daughter, Sarah Boater came to Australia. George had sons George and David. On the 16th August 1915, Charles Thomas enlisted for the army at the age of 61. He left home on his birthday the 24th August. Some old letters are kept at “Mumby” written by Charles Thomas Cripps to his wife Margaret from France during the war in 1917. A diary written by a teacher (Mr Nash) employed at Mumby in 1907 is also kept.”
I have since found that Sarah Boater was, in fact, George’s (1841-1902) daughter, not Tom’s (1862-1925) and his sons were George and Thomas, not David. So many Thomas’, maybe David would have been easier to track down. The war letters referred to here have gone missing, although I, (Jenny MacKay) have photocopies of them and the diary is also in my possession. Son, George (1878-1959) and Sarah (1880-1970) eventually settled in Western Australia, they are both buried at Karakatta Cemetery in Perth. A note here too, I have since found relatives of Tom (1862-1925) and linked up to others using DNA, some in the USA.

Aunty Maggie also mentioned – “a cousin in England that I used to write to but he was killed in the war. (Thomas Richard Cripps was killed in action on the Somme, France, 2 July 1916).

Thomas Richard Cripps

Thomas Richard Cripps KIA July 1916

“This is a photo of my Dad and his brother after 38 years and those are his sons George and David Cripps. His brother’s name was George.” (This should read the photo is of Dad (Charles 1854-1923) and his brother Tom (1862-1925). The two younger soldiers are George (1878-1959) and Thomas Cripps (1876-1951), sons of George Cripps, (1841-1902). I know, I get confused too but can work it out if I have the family tree in front of me. Since my interview with Aunty Maggie and further research, that I have determined who each of these men are.



Maggie and her younger sister Elsie Cripps boarded at the Presentation Convent in Northampton and it was there that they met and became very good friends of Norma Lymburner who later married their brother Tom. (My grandparents).

Northampton Convent Boarders

Maggie 4th from left in back row next to Norma Lymburner. Elsie Cripps, 2nd left.

The girls were all taught to do beautiful hand sewing. Some of their handiwork has been handed down to their descendants as heirlooms.

Maggie’s name often appears in the newspapers.

NORTHAMPTON FLORAL, ART, AND INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY. (1907, October 9). Geraldton Express (WA : 1906 – 1919), p. 4
The Northampton Floral, Art, and Industrial Exhibition was held in the Mechanics’ Institute yesterday. The exhibits were numerous and diversified. The spacious hall was literally, crowded up to a late hour last night (Friday). Following is a list of the prizes: —best illustrated text.
Miss S. J. Cripps; best watercolour painting (horses’ heads). Miss Maggie Cripps 1, S. J. Cripps 2
The watercolour and black and’ ‘white exhibits of the Cripps’ were well up to the mark for young student artists, and reflected great credit on their tutor, Mr. T. H. Butler; more particularly when it is known that, these young competitors are country-bred —Mumby. Geraldine-road, some sixteen miles away from the township.

YUBA. (1911, April 25). Geraldton Guardian (WA : 1906 – 1928), p. 3.
Girls’ Race— Lena Bandy 1, Maggie Cripps 2.

Christmas in the Country. (1912, January 4). Geraldton Guardian (WA : 1906 – 1928), p. 3.
Single Girls’ Race. – Lena Bandy 1, Maggie Cripps 2, Phyllis Shreeve 3.
Girls’ Consolation Race.— Mary Mitchell 1, Maggie Cripps 2, Muriel Ruffin 3.

Northampton Convent. (1912, February 29). Geraldton Guardian (WA : 1906 – 1928), p. 2.
The above mentioned convent sends the following list of entrants, all of whom were successful at the theoretical examination held last December in connection with T.C.L,
Junior Lower Division, Grade II.
Miss Amy Smith, 60; honors (teacher, Miss Hosken)
Junior Lower Division, Grade I
Miss Ruby Walker, 98; honors.
Miss Maggie Cripps, 97; honors.
Miss Elsie Cripps, 93; honors.
Miss Isabella Evans, 90; honors.
Miss Doris Binns, 78; pass.
Preparatory Division.
Miss Lelia Williams, 81; credit.
Miss Molly Pollett, 65.

This entry had me wondering about Maggie’s nail driving prowess!

New School at Alma (1915, November 2). Geraldton Guardian (WA : 1906 – 1928), p. 1.
During the afternoon sports and competitions were held, the winners being:
Nail Driving Competition : Misses Maggie Cripps and Gladys Logan.

Geraldton Express (WA : 1906 – 1919), Wednesday 7 August 1918, page 3
A novel kind of entertainment was held at the Mechanics’ Institute Hall on last Thursday night, notified as a “linen evening,” tendered to Miss Maggy Cripps on the eve, of her marriage to Mr John Woodcock, jun, returned soldier. There was a good attendance, and a most enjoyable, evening was the result.

Geraldton Express (WA: 1906 – 1919), Friday 30 August 1918, page 1
There was an animated aspect in and about the Commercial Hotel today (Monday), the occasion being a very interesting wedding between the proprietor’s (Mr J. Woodcock’s) second son, John, and Miss Maggy Cripps, daughter of Mr and Mrs C. Cripps, of this town. The tying of the nuptial knot took place at the Methodist Church, the Rev. E. Roger officiating at the marriage ceremony. The bridegroom is a returned soldier, who returned a short time ago wounded from the battle-front in France, where his brother Alfred was taken prisoner in the Somme battle, and who is now a prisoner of war in Germany. The bridesmaids were the Misses Elsie Cripps, Betty Woodcock and Ada Reynolds, Mr S. Woodcock acting as best man. The newly-married couple left for Geraldton per train in the afternoon.

Aunty Maggie told me that when Jack (her husband) was in the war they were all stripped of their ID and given a card to carry instead. Jack’s was a five of clubs and when my son Wilfy was in the army he was going to his camp and he stepped over a card and it was the five of clubs. He remembered his Dad had the five of clubs so he picked it up and kept it as his lucky card.

Jack was just 19 and 3 months when he went to the war, he was shot in the head and was in hospital for three months.



It was a privilege and an honour to have known Aunty Maggie, second to last, yet she was the last of the children of Charles and Margaret Cripps to pass away, leaving a legacy of wonderful memories behind her. Maggie was such a gentle soul and enjoyed talking about her family. Jack and Maggie had five children, Jenny, Wilf, Thora, Des and Clive Woodcock.

About Jenny MacKay

Just a person who is looking forward to retirement and enjoying the golden years!
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7 Responses to 52 Ancestors #48 – Next to Last

  1. crissouli says:

    I have included your blog in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris
    Absolutely intriguing.. how wonderful to have done that recording and also deciphering the chain of Charles and Thomas.. plurals… My family, both sides, tended to use the same names for generations…if only they would add a number perhaps.

  2. tstatton says:

    Another splendid read Jenny. My, were our ancestors bereft of ideas for names or what? I too need to have the family tree close to hand when writing about all the Charleses and Thomases! I can still see Aunty Maggie in the kitchen sitting in her old chair. I can only just remember Uncle Jack, but he was so ill when I went to Northampton, I didn’t see him very often – just at meal times if he was well enough to come out of his room for a short while. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Jenny MacKay says:

      I thought you would enjoy this one Kathy and it was good to reread Aunty Maggie’s interview. I just wish the audio was better. I can just make out her voice in the background. I should try and see if I can get someone to clean it up.

  3. kardu13 says:

    Another great read. What will you do (LOL) when the #52 is done?

    Sent from my iPad


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