Bertha Emily Lane’s Photos🚢Postcards

As you all know this last year I have been buying some wonderful old photos from Ebay and this small collection I’m sharing with you today was sent privately to me from a seller on Ebay that I have bought from and who is also one of my lovely followers on Twitter. Firstly he sent me eight, some are very fragile photo postcards and one a postcard of a ship that had a name and address on the back. They all were found in an old album that he bought. He very kindly thought I would like to research them, yes please! Then not long after he sent me four more old postcards that he realised also related to the same lady Bertha Emily Lane!

I think I have identified the ship! Allan Line S.S. Corsican Hands Across The Sea Then it’s name changed on 16 Nov 1922 to the Marvale. It had become part of the Canadian Pacific, Steamship Line.
Shame the back didn’t give a name for the ship so I could be sure I had the right one.

Lots more information about the history of the Ship I found here on the British Home Child website: It says ‘The Marvale served Canada from London, Glasgow, Liverpool and Antwerp. A major refitting in 1922 left her with a new passenger accommodation configuration (cabin/third)‘………..’The Marvale’s final voyage, from Glasgow to Montréal by way of Belfast and Québec began on 26 April 1923. On 21 May, on the return leg of that trip, in a dense fog, she ran aground on Freel Rock, 32 km west of Cape Race, Newfoundland.  Although the ship was a total write-off, all 437 people on board were rescued‘. Jimmy was very lucky he had arrived at his destination before this ill fated trip.

There are some things to note on this Postcard above, one obviously is the address Torre Farm but also Miss B E Lane. I found several Bertha Lane’s in Devon but only one B E Lane, Bertha Emily Lane and her family. Here they are below, there were 9 children born to William Edward Sobee Lane 1867-1933 and Susan Pearse 1868-1948.

It was also fabulous to be able to see the date it was posted 19 Jan 1923. So we know roughly when Jimmy left. But the big question is who was Jimmy? A sibling, a cousin? a boyfriend? Without a surname sadly I haven’t got a clue!

C E M wrote this postcard on the 13 July 1923 after arriving in New York.

I’m thrilled I am able to identify the writer of this next postcard above, written just a few months after the first postcard. Is there a connection? This one is not from Jimmy but from Charles Edward Mitchell, I’m sure, as he had married Effie Lane, who was Bertha’s eldest sister, in Canada on 24 September 1913.

Effie and her children made several trips during her life back home to her family in Devon and one of them coincides with Charles being away on this working trip from Canada to New York. Effie had gone to Canada arriving on the 7 May 1912 a year after the 1911 census, where she was described as the Shop Keeper in ‘The Shop’ at Yealmpton, Devon and her younger brother Sydney was her assistant, he was living with her aged just 14. Her parents and the 4 youngest children of the family, including Bertha, all lived at Torre Farm, Newton Ferrers just over 3 miles away and the last two children Reginald William Lane in 1905 and Robert Raymond Rearse Lane in 1907, were also born there. So that gives us an approximate date when the family moved from Two Crosses Cottage at Newton Ferrers where they were living with another family in 1901. Father William was described as a Gardener and Gamekeeper there in the 1901 census. Maybe William was working for Blowden Farm or even Collaton Farm, both close by.

‘Dear B. Just a card to let you know I arrived at the end of my journey all safe. Hope you and all are keeping well. I am in the pink, I shall start work next Monday, the same old job. Hope E (Effie) and the children (Reginald, Muriel and Doreen) are well. Bye Bye, Love to all. C.E.M. xxxxxxxx

I have to include a little of Charles’s family history here too because it’s so interesting. Charles had been born on 14 April 1888 in Yealmpton, Devon just like the Lane family, so the families must have known each other well. Charles’s parents were Thomas William Mitchell (often known as William) and Mary Shortland, William had also been born in Yealmpton. The couple had ten children between 1885 and 1902 that I have found so far. The last one Alfred Robert Mitchell died aged just 2 years old in 1904 and Mum Mary died just a short time after. I don’t know the cause of their deaths but it must have been devastating for the family. On 3 May 1908 Dad Thomas William arrived in Canada with children Edith 22, Fred 18, Amelia 16, Adolphus 13, Stanley 10 and Bertram 8 to obviously make a new life for him and the children. The two eldest sons William (Soldier, Plumber)and Charles (Sailor, Farmer)arrived in Canada on 10 Apr 1910. William (the son) married Maggie Scoble on 20 Sep 1913 in Manitoba, Canada and of course, we know that Charles married Effie just 4 days later in Ontario, Canada. Super celebrations for the family!

Thomas William’s eldest daughter Edith had also married just after she and her family arrived in Canada to Vernon James Kappler who was a Canadian. They had 2 daughters and two sons in the next few years but sadly one little boy George Ronald died of Pnuemonia at aged 2 in 1916, their last daughter Melba May was born on 18 May 1918 and just 8 months later her Mum Edith contracted Spanish Influenza that developed into Pneumonia and she died aged just 33 on the 13 Jan 1919, leaving her husband with 3 children. That must have been awful for the family. (The virulent Spanish flu, a devastating and previously unknown form of influenza, struck Canada hard between 1918 and 1920. This international pandemic killed approximately 55,000 people in Canada, most of whom were young adults between the ages of 20 and 40) Info from the Government of Canada website.

Charles Edward Mitchell himself had an awful death on 16 July 1945 at age 59, he was an Electrician most of his working life in Canada and had died in a very tragic accident while working: ‘Coming into contact with a live cable, Electrocuted!’

These next 2 old postcards were obviously sent during World War 1 again by Jimmy but these are earlier than the first postcard above. So Bertha was friends with Jimmy for a long time or was he a family member? I wish I knew, what do you think?
To Miss Bertha Lane. Westbrook Crownhill Road, Nr Plymouth, Devon. So at the time of WW1 Bertha had moved out of the family home at Torre Farm, maybe for work? Working as a Servant like her elder sisters? But then by 1923 the date of the first postcard from Jimmy she was living back at Torre Farm again. If they were a couple was he expecting Bertha to follow him to Canada? Did she change her mind or did something happen to Jimmy? I have so many questions!
The writing on this old postcard just makes me think that he was more a boyfriend than just a friend or a family member. “Well Bertha Darling. I am sending you fine cards of parts of France hope you like them. With much Love from Jimmy xxxxx” I would love to be able to identify him and also I do wonder what happened to him in and after WW1.

The reason for wondering what became of him is that Bertha didn’t marry until she was 31 years of age in Jan 1931, 8 years after the last postcard from Jimmy. She married William Frederick Williams 1895-1982. They were still together in the 1939 register where William is described as an Agricultural Worker Horseman. I have been unable to find any children of the couple. They must have divorced at some time after that, because I then found Bertha had married in Apr 1957 to George Edwin Frampton 1891-1958 just a year before his death in Plympton. George’s wife Ellen had died in 1949, they had had 3 children of the marriage. Her first husband William didn’t die until 1982.

This is the last Old Postcard, sent just after WW1. 21/1/19. Dear Bertha. This is the River Rhine and I crossed this bridge yesterday at 10am (20/1/19) I wonder where I shall be next year at that time. Syd xxxxx

What was Syd doing by the River Rhine? Syd has got to be her brother surely!

Sydney John Lane was in the Royal Army Service Corps no R4/069353 during WW1. Discharged in 1917 after sickness/disability? The first record of Sidney’s Military Service is from Find My Past:

These records above and below are again courtesy of the National Archives, once again I was able to access and download free instead of having to pay £3.50.

Sydney/Sidney John Lane married Florence Maud Mary Billing in Plymouth April 1927, they had several children and in the 1939 Register entry for the family, he is a Restaurant Proprietor living in Fore Street, Plymouth, Devon. He died in Plymouth on 11 March 1984 and his wife Florence died in the following year in Plymouth.

A great resource I looked at while researching the Lane family was the GPR Gravestone Photographic Resource. I don’t think I’ve shared the details of this Website before. Very easy to search for an Ancestor or a Cemetery. ‘An international directory of grave, tomb, war and other death memorials’. Available via Ancestry and as it’s totally free to access, you can also you can go directly to their website here: I looked for part of Bertha’s Grandparents family on her Mother’s side, at Southfield’s Church burial ground, Berry Pomeroy, Devon, England. The Pearse family had Acton Farm, Berry Pomeroy, Totnes, Devon.

Wonderful school photo!

These are the real photo old postcards that also belong to the same family. Did they all belong to Bertha? Sadly there are no names on the back of any, so we might even be looking at Bertha herself in the School photo. I have a feeling that this first photo below could be Effie on the left of the two ladies, with her young children over on a visit to Devon from Canada. Maybe at the time of Charles writing his postcard in 1923? Could it be Bertha on the right? She was nine years younger than Effie, so that would fit.

There are so many various children in the family, these two little sweeties could belong to many people.

Last but by no means least is my very favourite old photo of the whole collection. It looks like it was well-loved and looked at often doesn’t it, it’s so fragile now. It’s even been stuck with plasters on the back to help hold it together!

This photo I estimate could have been taken around 1909/10. If the youngest boy aged about 3 on the left at the front was Robert Raymond Pearse Lane born in 1907, then the boy front right Reginald William Lane born 1905, then the two youngest girls Dorothea Susan May Lane centre front and it could be Bertha Emily Lane at the front on the right. The eldest children including one that has disappeared top left, make 9 children. The couple at the back could be their parents William Edward Sobee Lane and Susan Pearse. The older gent in the centre could be the children’s only Grandparent still alive at this date, James Edward Pearse, Susan’s father. He was born in 1830 and died in 1918 in Holberton, Devon. What a very special old photo this is of three generations, it has been well loved and I’m so glad it survived.

This is the Public Family Tree I have compiled for Bertha Emily Lane and her family:

Till next time then……………….


  1. Oh Lynn, what beautiful photo’s,such a shame there are no names on the back of them but how exciting while doing your research. and what an interesting story.I do hope someone from this family contacts you it will be so rewarding for you. Hope all is well with you.Stay safe.

    Liked by 1 person

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