Could You Be Dorset Woman's Missing Heir?

24th September 2019

People with Dorsetshire ancestors are being urged to check their family tree, as our Furniture and Works of Art department try to reunite descendants of a Victorian lady with a family legacy. The names Budden, Hansford, Northover and Hines are of particular interest.

The hunt started when a handwritten label was spotted on the back of a 19th century needlework sampler that had been consigned for auction as part of a larger collection. It reads, “I give this Picture to my niece, Lucy Edith, for her life and to her children, after her never to be sold or given out of the family. Louisa Budden”.

The current owner of the sampler had bought it legitimately and did not know the family, so the auction house started to research when and how it had first been sold and the original owner’s instructions disregarded.

“The sampler was done by Louisa when she was just 13,” said Head of Furniture, Mark Yuan-Richards, “so it’s understandable that it was important to her and she wanted to keep it within the family. We didn’t think we’d be able to trace anything, but thanks to family history websites such as Ancestry, we’ve been surprisingly lucky in building up a picture of her background.”

Louisa Budden was born in Loders, near Bridport in 1831, the daughter of John and Sophia Budden, and worked for a time as an infant school teacher. Louisa never married and is listed in 1891 as residing with her sister, Eliza, and her sister’s husband, George Hansford. Lucy Edith Hansford (as named on the label) was their eldest daughter, who married George Northover and had two children – a son and a daughter. The daughter, Ella Louisa, died in 1928 – seven years after her great aunt – but William Northover, the son, went on to marry and have two daughters, Margot Rita Northover and Audrey Theodora Northover. It is there that the trail goes cold as neither daughter appears to have had children.

“Both daughters moved away from the Dorset area,” said Yuan-Richards. “We know that Audrey died in Newcastle in 1994 and Margot was living in Leeds when she died in 2001. Without anything to the contrary we have to assume that the sampler left the family’s possession around this time. However, we know that Louisa herself had other siblings, and Lucy Edith (the niece) also had other siblings, so we think there are other relatives of Louisa still out there who might be delighted to be reunited with her work.”

There is a possible further clue, as on her death in 1921, Louisa left the bulk of her possessions to George Hansford (her brother-in-law) and to a gentleman named Daniel Charles Hine. Nothing is known of Hine or his connection to Louisa, but he was clearly a significant figure in her life.

The foot wide sampler depicts a seated tabby cat within a leaf and Greek key border and is titled “Bridport Aged 13 Years”. It carries a pre-sale estimate of £150-250 and is being sold on Wednesday 2nd October.

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