Spiritualism & Ethel Mary Welch

A couple of months ago at a Car Boot sale I came across three old photos in a bag. Having a quick look I could see they were the same lady & with writing on the back, the seller saw me looking & said dismissivly “oh those have all been written on” Just what I love! So took a chance & bought & so glad I did. Often sellers don’t see the importance of ‘writing’


Ethel M Welch 1906



Same photo as the one above



Ethel has written on the back 3rd May 1943, she was 68.



Beautiful photo of Ethel



Ethel wrote this in February 1944, obviously to someone she trusted, a family member maybe? Transcription below.


Myself when young & have no recent photos, now 68 1/2 (years old) (Feb/44)(February 1944)
This was taken before I heard of the ‘death’ of my fiance fallen in action. He was a Barrister who enlisted on Aug 4th 14 (1914) after fighting in the Boer War.
He has been back & spoken direct through mediums, sometimes in Jul***/Jullie/Jullic ?? & was a Captain D.S.O.
He says he loves me still, Mrs Annie Johnsson (World Famous Medium) Wd (Would) remember E.W (Ethel Welch)

In this last photo, taken as Ethel says before she knew of her fiances death, she does have a definite smile on her lips. The first photo she looks rather sad, understandably.

Ethel M Welch, the facts she has given us are that she was born in 1875 & thankfully a connection to the area around Bournemouth, via the Photographers studio. Because of the 1939 register on Find My Past I found out a probable Ethel, that coincided with the GRO (General Register Office) records. There are others but none fit the dates correctly. She says on 3 May 1943 I am 68, then in Feb 1944 I am 68 & half, so she had to be born between February and 3 May. Here is the 1939 Register with her date of birth as 13 March 1875 together with her sister Annie Constance, also unmarried, but still working as a Maternity nurse.


Here is Ethel Mary & her sister.

I have compiled a small family tree on Ancestry if you are a member, (its free to register) Link to Public tree is here..Ethel M Welch Family Lynns Waffles

At age 15 in the 1891 census Ethel was still living at home, in Wimborne, a domestic servant, by 1901 she was living in Glastonbury, a cook & domestic. In the 1911 census she had stayed in the Glastonbury area, but now was a Housekeeper, companion to an elderly couple. She was 35, so I assume she could have met her fiance living in that area…I wonder.


The facts that Ethel has given us about her Fiance are sketchy. He served in the Boer War (2nd Boer War, 11 October 1899 and ended on 31 May 1902) He was a Barrister before joining up on 4 August 1914. He became a Captain D.S.O. We don’t know a death date, but assume before 1919. I have found some enlisting on that date in 1914, but I don’t think we’ll ever know who he really was sadly.

Ethels had ten siblings, her father was William Welch, a Miller Foreman, born in 1836 in Hinton Parva, Dorset, he married Ann Holloway Parsons on 15 August 1861 in his hometown. They had 11 children in 22 years. Williams father Samuel Welch was also a Miller, born in 1792, the son of Ann and Phillip. Samuel married Amelia Rideout on 30 August 1821 in Hinton Parva, Dorset. They had seven children in 17 years. He died in October 1841 at the age of 49.

I found this super record on Ancestry, from the Dorset Record Office showing land tax for his Gryst Mill (Flour Mill) third row down..Samuel Welch..

Ethel GFatherMillerTax

The last part of her writing on the back of the photo absolutely amazed me, Ethel like many others after WW1 had turned to Spiritualism to help heal their broken hearts. I have searched & cannot find a reference to a Mrs Annie Johnsson (World Famous Medium) but that maybe wasn’t her real name. If anyone knows of a record of her I would love to know!

Are you a descendant of Ethel’s family, via her brothers or sisters? Do you have any more information about her? If you do I would love to hear from you.

Whilst looking for information about this subject I came across a wonderful article that my friend Suzie Grogan, writer, had written for the university of Oxford, she explains far better than I could ever do what was happening during those times of sorrow. Link here Oxford University Article, Spiritualism WW1

Suzie Grogan has written a book ‘Shell Shocked Britain‘ which includes more information about Spiritualism in wartime & also she has written about this interesting subject on her Blog, link here “Spiritualism” Suzie’s Blog links

Believing that her fiance still loved her after his death, must have given Ethel great peace of mind in her tremendous grief. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like for families & sweethearts losing so many of the people they loved back then. To be able to ease that grief, even a little must have been very welcome.

Last words to Suzie…………

All of us have probably wondered about an afterlife. For those who don’t believe there is anything ‘beyond’ this world, it is a fantasy; for others it is a source of comfort as they or a loved one reaches the end of their life.” Suzie Grogan, writer.

Till next time then………


  1. A wonderful find and a great bit of detective work. REALLY hope a descendent reads. I would love to find all that info about a family

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful find Lynn even though the story is a little sad. I have always believed that there is something more powerful out there which we don’t yet understand. This I do know, that spiritualism and spiritual healing is a great comfort to many people in times of bereavement and suffering. Thanks for sharing your brilliant research.

    Liked by 1 person

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