Bruce Johnson's Family History Website

The Rayners - origins of the name
The name Rayner is Germanic,  which means it has come down to us through our Saxon ancestors.  The word "Ar"  means eagle (so the name Arthur meant "Thor's Eagle")    and "Ragn" means battle,  so among the Vikings,    Ragnar meant meant "The Eagle of Battle".  From this came Rainer.

In quo certamine et filius Raedwaldi vocabulo Raegnheri occisus est
In this battle (617A.D.), the son of Raedwald (King of the East Angles), called Rainer was killed
Bede: Ecclesiastical History of the English People

Raner tenuit Smedetun per Comite
Raner holds Smeetham (Hall) for the Count (Eustace)
Doomsday Book 1087
Smeetham is in Essex, the heartland of the Rayners.

The Rayners of Essex and County Durham
Much of the material regarding the Rayner family was researched by my friend (and distant relative) Carol Ravenhall. I am extremely indebted to her and highly impressed by her accuracy and determination. In particular it was Carol who linked the Rayners of County Durham to Jospeph Rayner, a baker, from Bocking in Essex, and it was there I began my search.  Many thanks also to Bruce Rayner for his encouragement and for the two short latin quotations above.

John Rayner of Bocking, Essex, grew up in the 1640's,  the era of the  English Civil War,  of Puritanism, and of a world turned upside down by the printing press.   In those years baptisms were stopped and the church records gave the date of birth instead of the date of baptism.

Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Bocking

The parish church of St. Mary the Virgin, Bocking, has records of Rayners back to before 1640, many available on-line through Essex County Council. 
When King Charles II was restored to power in 1660 baptisms began again and so a few months after the Great Fire of London we find:
"Thomas son of John Rayner baptised 30th January 1667”

The same church records show that  Thomas died and was buried in November 1750 aged 80   and that he married  Mary Paris (or Purvis) on   18th June 1689   Their children are recorded as:
Mary daughter of Thomas Rayner 14th June 1690  
John son of Thomas Rayner 22April  1691 ( died 1693  buried 3rd April)   
Edward son of Thomas Rayner 9th March 1695  
Sarah daughter of Thomas Rayner born 5 march bapt 25 May 1697
Joseph son of Thomas Rayner 12th march 1699 (died  1701 buried  29th April)
Thomas Rayner born on Christmas Day 1701.

Thomas Rayner (1701) married Martha Ellis in June 1719.  The church record describes them as “both of this parish, single persons”. 
Thomas and Martha Rayner had a son called John, who was born   25 March and baptised on April 7th 1735.


John Rayner (1735)  married Sarah  as given in the birth record of their son Joseph Rayner born 1771

Joseph Rayner the Braintree Baker

Rayner was a common name in the area.  It seems that Essex was teeming with Rayners at that time and many with the same name can be found in Bocking, Braintree, Halstead and surrounding  villages.  Joseph was born in the 1770’s long before the start of national records of births deaths and marriages,  so it was necessary for me to study the parish records of the local churches. My starting point was the 1851 census where Joseph states that he was born in Bocking,  but there is no baptism record for a Joseph Rayner of his exact age.  One of his children is listed as having been born in the next town, Halstead, the rest in Bocking,  so clearly he was making an effort to be accurate in his answers.  Therefore I accept that he was born in Bocking.  I believe the man we seek was baptised in November 1771.  If we allow that his birthday came late in the year, then his age on the 1851 census should be 79.  He gives his age as 78.  I am prepared to allow that a man going on 80 might get it a year out.  There is no other Joseph baptised for 8 or 9 years either side of him.  Based on that criteria I am confident we have the right man .   My research is based my own  Transcripts of parish records from Bocking – St Mary the Virgin now held in the Essex record office and available on line   (D/P  268/1/3. )

Joseph appears to have spent his whole life in the area and died in the same town in 1855,  but I suspect that he was married twice.

Hannah  Isborn, daughter of a local family, married William Viall (1793-1826)  but William died in 1826,  only 29 years old and leaving behind a young widow,   Joseph RAYNER (aged 54) and Hannah VIALL (aged 33) married at Bocking, in Essex in about 1827.  I hope the marriage was a happy one.  Hannah gained the security  of having a husband with his own business. In the census  he refers to himself as a "Master Baker".   He seems to have been healthy for his age, giving her five children over the next ten years.  The Children of Joseph and Hannah were baptised, in the Weslyan Chapel, sometimes referred to as the “Independent Church”. The records still exist.  (Source: Parish records via Carol Ravenhall)
Nathan was baptised in 1828,  Thomas Rayner  1831,  Eliza baptised in 1833,  William baptised in 1836, George baptised in 1838.

The independant church, Bocking

On the 1841 census Joseph Rayner is living with his children in  Braintree in Essex, which is the next village to Bocking, literally "just round the corner" . Joseph was aged 65 and a Baker.   Ten years later the 1851 census has Joseph RAYNER was living on the Raine Road in Bocking in Essex. He was aged 78 years formerly a Baker and was born in Bocking. His wife Hannah was aged 57 and also comes from Bocking in Essex. Their daughter Eliza was aged 18 years a Silk Winder. William aged 15 was an Errand Boy. George was aged 13 and has no occupation. 

Thomas Rayner - The Wandering Baker

If Joseph Rayner stayed settled all his life in Essex,  and if his young wife marched him off to the methodist Church on Sundays, I suspect his son Thomas had inherited less of the puritan ethic, and might even have found his way to the "White Harte"   at some stage. 

The White Harte Hotel

It was Thomas (1831)  who went out to seek his fortune and ended up in Sunderland, spreading the Rayner name across the North East of England. From this point onwards the Rayners are an immense source of both fun and frustration, moving around the country, wheeling & dealing, on board ship, in and out of prison, womanising and worse.  One thing never changes however.  For over a hundred years, if the occupation says confectioner you probably have the right Rayner. 

The 1851 census shows 21 year old Thomas was in London – visiting a married woman called  Eliza BARRY in Charles Street, Deptford.  His  name is mis-spelt “Rainer”
.  In 1852 Thomas married Mary Ann Natt in Bermondsey, just 4 miles away from Deptford and very much part of the docks. Their first child, Mary Ann Rayner was born 16th July 1853  but died when she was a mere 18 months old.   Her death certificate names Mary Ann’s Mother as Elizabeth Natt.  In 1861 Thomas Rayner and  Mary Ann were still living in Deptford, where he was listed in the census as a “General Dealer”  The children of Thomas Rayner and Mary Ann Natt were:
  • (James) George Rayner born in Greenwich12th June 1856
  • John Rayner born in Deptford10th February 1857
  • Matilda (b1866,  North Shields)
  • Mary-Ann Rayner (b1870, Monkwearmouth)
  • Thomas Rayner  (b1872, Monkwearmouth)
  • William Rayner (b1876 Monkwearmouth). 
On the census of 1871 the RAYNER name is misspelt as Raynor,  but it is clearly the same family.  We naturally want to ask ourselves why they moved to the North of England where the last 4 children were born, an event which established the Rayners in Durham, Sunderland and Hartlepool.

I found that Thomas Rayner's wife,  Mary Anne Natt had a brother called  Thomas Natt,  born 1830.  He was a sailor working out of the London docks. One of the major sailing routes of those days was the short coastal haul taking coals from Sunderland and Newcastle down to London.  In 1851, Rebecca Young was a single girl working as a domestic servant (or barmaid) for William Jolly, in a pub in Monkwearmouth High Street , Sunderland, just  a short walk from the docks, on the north side of the river.   In 1855 Thomas Natt the sailor from London  married Rebecca Young in her home town of Shields, just 8 miles North of Sunderland.  So Thomas Natt settled in Sunderland and his sister then  followed.

As a result of this family connection Thomas Rayner and Mary Ann Natt moved to Sunderland around 1862 .  This was where their children grew up,  the 1871 census lists them at 21 Howick St Monkwearmouth. 
The area has been demolished and redeveloped,  but from the census we can see that his neighbours were   a butcher,  a grocer,  and a master shoemaker.  This would suggest the street was a row of shops and that Thomas carried on his business,  as a baker / confectioner, from this address.   

When Mary Ann Rayner, died aged  43 (Easington, County Durham first quarter of 1879 10a 234)  Thomas Rayner left Sunderland and returned South. On the 1881 census there was an entry for Thomas RAYNER. He was in Lodger in the household of Richard MAY. Thomas claimed he was aged 43 years – (his true age was 50) His occupation was given as ‘ Confectioner’ as always and he came from Essex. He was also noted to be a widower.  On the 1891 census return this was for Thomas RAYNER Snr and Thomas RAYNER Jnr. They were living in London. Thomas Jnr was aged 18 and born in Sunderland. But, surprisingly Thomas was married again. This time to a lady called Alice Hayward. On the 1881 census Alice had actually been living in the house next door to where Thomas was boarding in Tunnel Road, Tunbridge Wells.   In 1901 Thomas RAYNER and Alice are living at 64, High Street in Deptford. Thomas was aged 61 years and still a Confectioner. He was also an employer. He states that he comes from Braintree in Essex. Alice was aged 61 and comes from Sommer Town ?  (possibly Silvertown) in London. Thomas had a Grandson called Albert aged 6 years and he was from Sunderland with him. Also his own son Thomas RAYNER aged 18 and also from Sunderland.

Carol Ravenhall researched much of this information,  and her written account has much more detail on Thomas,  particularly in his later years.  The key point for us to note is that Thomas Rayner went back down south when his wife died,   but most of his children did not seem to be with him.   In fact he had become separated from them and they were locked up in a workhouse near Aldershot.  We will return to them later.     But one had stayed in Sunderland and he was John Rayner, the second son.

Wearmouth Colliery and the Sunderland Docks

Three families and a Scottish Connection

The seams of coal which lay under the sea could not be exploited before the engineering techniques of the 19th century made deep mining possible.  When Monkwearmouth Colliery was sunk in the 1830's it was the deepest mine in Europe.   This is where Thomas Natt would have docked his ship,  and it was here that the Rayner children grew up,   James-George,  John,  Matilda,  Mary Ann,  Thomas,  and William. 

Sunderland, at the time, was essentially a seagoing community, where ships were built and coal exported. Sailors families moved around and came to know one another as they served together on ships. This led me to a set of interconnections which may seem complicated on paper, but were far more complicated when I first started searching in the dark !  

Alexander Anderson, a Scottish Sailor  (b1827) had married a Sunderland girl, Sarah, around 1855 and settled in the town. Anderson’s sisters, still at home in Scotland both married sailors from the  Wheatley family, Mesach Wheatley and Abednago Wheatley in 1861 and 1869 respectively.    Thus, by 1870 there would have been regular contact between the Andersons in Sunderland, and the  Wheatley's, who were sailors from Sunderland married to Anderson girls in Scotland. John Rayner was drawn into this,  his marriage certificate shows he had gone to sea.
Then in 1874 Alexander’s Andersons daughter Sarah Anderson, married James-George  Rayner, one of the sons of Thomas and Mary Ann.  So the Rayners in Sunderland would have known the Wheatleys from Scotland who were Sarah's uncles by marriage.   As a result of this relationship George Wheatley, the one legged whisky salesman, moved down from Scotland to set up a new business in County Durham - a sweet factory on Easington which brought together the Rayner's confectionary skills and his own dynamic energy.  The bond was strengthened further when John Rayner went back up to Scotland and married George’s daughter, Ann Wylie Wheatley in 1877, amazingly in the same church where my parents married 80 years later.    
The same year (1877)  James-George Rayner and  Sarah Anderson  had a daugher, Priscilla .

Sunderland docks in the 1870s
Hard Times

Sadly,  hard times were now to overtake the Rayner family which became dispersed about the country with some members very difficult to trace. When
Mary Ann Rayner (nee. Natt) died in 1879  Thomas Rayner decided to return to London. All of his children went with him except John.   Now married to his Scottish wife Anne Wheatley,  John remained in Sunderland running a confectioners shop at 172 High Street.

By the time of the 1881 census James George Rayner was back in Southwark,  more or less where the family had originated,   but Thomas Rayner had become separated from his children and was living alone in Tunbridge Wells.
His younger children , (Annie 10, Thomas 7 and William 5) were  in an orphanage in Farnborough, Hampshire, how had this come about, we shall never know for certain.  There is only one small clue

It is possible that some mishap overtook the family or that James George had fallen out with his father on the journey and that Thomas Rayner was unable to care for the children on his own. Or it might simply have been poverty. In any case, the family was in crisis, the younger children were in the orphanage and the older boys went off on very different tracks.

I found the research both frustrating and fascinating. In particular the contrasts between different family members became quite stark as they struggled with events.  Thomas Rayner took his children back down south but then coulnt care for them.  James-George Rayner, his oldest son was  a slippery confectioner who ended up as a convict.  Then there was John Rayner, the ex-sailor, a tough guy who could be quite frightening but somehow managed to keep the family together. 

Dartmoor Prison

James George Rayner: Gambling, Guns and Chocolate biscuits

James George Rayner (b1856) seems to have decided that London was not the place for him and he returned to Sunderland at some time in the 1880s setting up a confectioners shop,  probably with a bit of help from various family members.  Despite being married with a child he ended up living with a girlfriend called Mary Emily Rowell, but in 1889 he was arested for selling "Prize Packets" effectively an illegal lottery.  As he wouldn't or couldn't pay his £5 fine he was sentenced to a month in jail and when he got out Emily Rowell refused to move back in with him.   On October 1st 1889 he attempted to kill her, firing four shots at her in Mowbray Park, one of which hit her in the shoulder. He appeared in court the next day and was eventually sentenced to 5 years in Dartmoor prison  for shooting with intent to kill.  All this was reported in The Newcastle Weekly Courant
  (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England), Saturday, October 5, 1889; Issue 11203.

His time in prison did little to reform James and not long after his release
  he was back in court on forgery charges - Friday January 12, 1894.   His wife Sarah A. Rayner was also charged. Her sister Jane Brown and also her daughter testified on her behalf that her husband had threatened to shoot her if she ran away. She was discharged.  At Durham Assizes March 1894 - he was convicted of "forging requests for orders, with intent to defraud biscuit and chocolate manufacturers at Sunderland in October and December last" - sentenced to four years' penal servitude.
However the 1901 census shows him as 46 yr old confectioner - now in Jail in Bristol which suggests another charge. 

Meanwhile his daughter Sarah Priscilla had married and was living in Long Road East in Chopwell, Blaydon, Chester-Le-Street. Her husband’s name was Robert McGUINNESS  and he was aged 26 years and was a ‘Coal Hewer’ from Penrith in Cumberland. They had a daughter named Mary Priscilla aged 2 and another daughter called Edith aged 10 months.

John Rayner: Jack of all trades

When I began to trace my family tree it came easy at first. I had the old family bible to get me started, and some wonderful people who helped me on-line. Then I encountered John Rayner (b1857)  my own Great Great Grandfather.  Here it was clear there was something wrong. The name of his wife, according to the census, was not the same as the name of his wife on his son’s birth certificate. In fact some of the people mentioned did not exist at all. It was a wonderful experience, that realisation that an ordinary fellow like myself could have the opportunity to solve a genuine historical mystery, however small, and put the right version down on paper for future generations. 

At this point we encounter the problems which arise when the historical records simply get their facts wrong. History is all about evidence, but using evidence definitely does not mean accepting it at face value. Virtually all evidence needs to be evaluated for accuracy and impartiality, and corroborated against other sources. Here we have a case in point.

1881 Census

The 1881 census has John Rayner living in a shop in Sunderland, (172 High Street ) He is aged 25 and married to a wife called  "Mary" aged 20 born in Scotland. There is also a 12 year old daughter called Mary Ann and a 15 year old sister called Tilley Rayner. 

Clearly the enumerator was confused. Mary Ann could not possibly be John’s daughter, unless he had been a father when he was 13 and his wife was 8  !!!  

Of course Mary Ann, like Matilda, is one of John’s sisters.  These were the older children who had not gone down south with their father Thomas. It seems John Rayner had stayed in Sunderland and kept the family business going.

But what about Mary ?  The so called wife never appears in any other documents. I searched the records for her wedding and there was nothing. She does not appear in the next census nor in  any future death record. 

It would be easy enough to explain how the enumerator might become confused.  John Rayner had a sister called  Mary Ann, and his mother was called Mary Ann, and in a busy shop who had time to care of the details got confused. Clearly he made a mistake in listing Mary Ann as a daughter. If he asked her what her mothers name was she would quite correctly reply Mary. It seemed like a simple mistake and yet, no other reference existed that would show John Rayner had ever been married. In the census before and the census after there is only him.   And yet there had to be a wife, because by 1891 he has two sons, Arthur and Frederick, but the real wife never appears in any other census. 

At Christmas 2008 I discussed the matter over a pint with my Uncle Bill. He recalled that there was a Scottish connection. Apparently my grandmother had gone to Scotland as a child and visited relatives there.  In fact she had worked for a while in a fish shop in Castle Street, Dundee. When I began to check the Scottish records the picture suddenly became much clearer. I soon found that John Rayner, whilst running the confectioners shop in Sunderland, had took himself up to Glasgow and married Anne Wylie Wheatley.

According to his wedding certificate John Rayner (born 1857) had  worked as a merchant seaman and would have been well acquainted with the Andersons and the Wheatleys.  He undoubtedly met Anne Wylie Wheatley through this web of friends and relations, probably whenever his ship docked in Angus, Scotland. Her uncles, the Wheatleys, were also the uncles by marriage to Sarah Anderson, the wife of George-James Rayner.  To be more exact, Ann’s Wheatley’s uncles, Mesach and Abednago were married to Sarah Anderson’s Aunts Maria and Ann, and Sarah was married to John’s brother.   

Somewhere between 1874 and 1876 Ann Wheatley’s father, George Wheatley, moved down to County Durham, almost certainly to set up a new confectionary business with  the Rayner family .   Ann was left in Scotland and  went into domestic service in Glasgow. In 1877 John Rayner travelled up to Glasgow and married  Ann Wheatley, then brought  her back to England.  By remarkable chance they seem to have been married in the same church as my own mother and father, three quarters of a century later.

Somewhere between the 1881 census and the 1891 census John arranged for his younger siblings to get out of the orphanage and rejoin him in Sunderland - he also had children of his own. John and Ann had two sons, Frederick Augustus and Arthur.   Both of the birth certificates list the mother as Ann Rayner, formerly Wheatley, of 172 High Street Sunderland.

The Bakers Shop

The shop was at 172 Sunderland High Street,  a very good position in its time. I have tried to find it in old pictures of Sunderland , but without success.  The following is as close as I can get at this time:

171 was a pub,  The Great Eastern in 1881, but later renamed The Fox and Goose.
172 was our bakers shop.
173 was a private house in 1881 occupied by a the captain of a fishing boat. 
 Joplings store stood at 176 and 177,  but the store expanded and gradually took over all the buildings down to 173,  until it moved to High Street West in 1919  then  it burned down in 1956 and was finally reopened in new premises in John Street.

These two artists impressions of Joplings both show a smaller building just partly visible on the right hand edge.   That is our shop.

We can see it is plain, and three storeys high,  so it probably resembled the picture on the right,  of some of the last old buildings to be demolished in the street. 

In it's time though,  it was a good spot for a business.   John Rayner must have been doing well.

On the 1891 census John RAYNER was still living on the High Street in Sunderland   There was his younger sister Matilda aged 24 described as a shop General Servant. There was also a Frederick aged 10 years and an Arthur aged 7 years both having been born in Sunderland and described as the sons of John RAYNER. There was also William RAYNER aged 16 employed as a shopboy. William was in fact the brother of Tilly and John Rayner, one of the younger children who had been left in the workhouse in Hampshire. Clearly John Rayner had somehow managed to get the family back together.   

Anne Rayner (Born Wheatley) died in the third quarter of 1894, she was aged only 33 years old.   Her sons were aged 13 and 10.  Her husband John being only 36 he returned to Scotland with his 10 year old son Arthur.  His older son, Frederick Augusts became a lodger in Bell Street Sunderland.

John is listed in the 1901 census of Scotland as living in Edinburgh, of independent means.  His son Arthur is following the family trade of confectioner.    He may have worked with a circus for some years as his grand-daughter (my grand-mother) Jenny Rayner has referred to him working with elephants ! She regarded him as a rather dark and frightening figure, very fond of his drink, she said he always had a spare bottle hidden away somewhere. Later he went to Leeds, to live with Arthur’s family and here he died in 1917 aged 59 years old. His death certificate reveals that he had an inflammation of the spine leading to paralysis and paraplegia.  

In 1978 the shop which he had managed at 172 High Street East, Sunderland, was redeveloped as a frozen food depot and apartment block.

Thomas Rayner, the younger

Thomas Rayner (Junior) had gone down to London with his father but later returned to Sunderland. He married Harriet Fox in 1916.   Carol Ravenhall has researched this branch of the Rayner family to which she is closely related.
William Rayner
William Rayner  settled in Hartlepool and had a family , the Rayners of Hartlepool are descended from him.

The Sunderland Bridges

Frederick and Arthur,  the tragic brothers

In the era of the First World War many families lost a son, and some lost more than one. How tragic that the Rayner brothers should survive the war only to perish as the results of their own actions.

Frederick Augustus Rayner

After his wife’s death John Rayner moved back to Scotland an lived for a while in Edinburgh. His  older son, Frederick Augustus remained in Sunderland and became a lodger in Bell Street Sunderland.   His hosts were his future wife Mary Sproston and her mother Dorothy.  They had at least 2 children, Dori Annie (1908) and Frederick Augustus (1910).   Frederick kept a shop, following in the family tradition of confectionery. He was conscripted into the army in World War One and  by the time he returned both his brother and his father were dead. It seems he may also have had business problems; his confectioners shop had been left in the hands of his wife whilst he was away fighting, she had given credit to friends and regular customers and the business had gotten into debt.  In those days people had little understanding of depression and certainly no way of treating it.    Imagine the possibilty of post traumatic depression caused by watime experiences,  coupled with bereavement, debt, conflicts in the marriage and a failing business.

His death in 1928 was caused by inhalation of household gas .  The death certificate states this was “self inflicted whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed”.  I have had some correspondance with  a family member who still  lives in Sunderland.  I am sure we all  feel a sense of loss.

Arthur Rayner: My own Great Grandfather

Born 172 High Street Sunderland. After his mother died in 1894 he went back to Scotland with his father John, both are listed in 1901 census in Edinburgh, but Arthur returned  to England soon after - probably living in Hartlepool as his brother was there. 

Arthur  reappears in the record books in England in 1906 aged 22 when he marries Jane Isobella Conkey  (born Sunderland 3rd ¼   1882   10a 460  ) The marriage took place  in  Sunderland (last 1/4 1906 10a 988)   

Their children were Jenny,  born  1908  in Monkwearmouth, although the birth record is hard to trace,  it appears to have been wrongly transcribed as Dorris, not Jenny
Margaret 1909
Arthur 1910
John  1912 

The family moved to Leeds in 1909/1910 where Arthur ran a stall in the market selling bottled sweets - possibly from the Wheatleys factory.

Arthur Rayner died aged 32 in January 1918 in hospital in Sheffield after a long illness.  The cause of death is given on his death certificate.
My grandmother used to say  that he had been involved in an industrial accident in a munitions factory during the war which involved inhaling gas and died from the after effects of  in 1928.    In that, of course, she had confused her father with her uncle Fred.   As a child she had shared a house with two terminally ill men, her paralysed grandather who died in 1917 and her terminally ill father who died in 1918.   All this before her 12th birthday.

The little Rayners: Margaret,  Arthur,  John and Jenny with their mother Jane Isobella around 1914

Jenny Rayner born 1908 was destined to be my Grand Mother.

Born in Sunderland she had moved to Leeds as a child and by the age of 12 she had seen both her father and her grandfather terminally ill. The family then returned to Seaham Harbour in County Durham.  Her childhood cannot have been easy. She told me that the Wheatley’s had offered to set her mother up with a sweet shop to help her pay her way, but she was too proud and wouldn’t have any of it. Instead both Jane and Jenny, mother and daughter, had worked in the bakery in Seaham.  One worked dayshift and one worked nightshift. They met in the street outside to hand over the white overall. Having finished her nightshift she would then go onto the “blast” beach, south of the harbour , to pick up seacoal which had drifted in on the tide.  If she managed to sell a sack of the coal she would use the money to get breakfast for the younger children.

She once  told me how she had met my Grandfather, Bill Johnson (1903) and how when  the marriage was planned,  the other coal-pickers had teased her “Oh, you’ll be alright now married to him”
“Well” she said “I told them they didn't know what they were on about. Bill was no better off than me. He had nowt either.”  They Married   Jan 8th   Witnessed by Bill’s brother John Thomas Johnson and Amelia Johnson, his wife.  Jenny brought up 11 children and lived to see at least 40 of her grandchildren. Sometime around 1970 she gave me the old family bible which led me to take an interest in the family tree.

Margaret Rayner was born Sunderland first ¼ 1909  10 n  713,  She was my dad's aunty Margaret.  I think I remember seeing her playing bowls at Dawdon Colliery Welfare playing fields when I was a child.

Arthur Rayner born  Easington 1910 – 10a 492  grew up to be a professional soldier in the Green Howards Regiment,  I never met him. 

John Rayner 1912  ( Little Uncle John) had a happy life in London working for British Rail.  He loved "gadgets" and used to have a marvellous little slide viewer so we could look at his holiday slides in 3D.   

Jenny and Margaret Rayner

I would date this picture as around 1918
They are wearing Austrian army hats which had probably been brought back as trophis at the end of World War One and had then ended up as props in a photographers studio.

So those were the Rayners - colourful characters !

 Grandma Johnson

Little Uncle John

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