Cordon Family

Henry (or Harry) Cordon  (1846 1920)

Harry Cordon was a Non-Conformist parson and missionary. Harry married Mary Sarah Sambrooke in East Grinstead, Sussex in the summer of 1867. Mary’s father was the daughter of a builder, Mr Sambrooke, of St John’s Wood, and she became my Mother’s aunt.

In 1869/70 they found themselves in Africa, and Harry heard about the Royal Geographical Society’s search for David Livingstone, and joined in, although this expedition was unsuccessful.

Then Harry was sent as a missionary to China, where Florence (usually called Flossie) was born in 1871 and Philip in 1872. The rising of the Boxer movement caused the family to evacuate their North China mission and walk to the coast, with the help and connivance of Chinese Christians. They all had coffin boxes made during their lives, as is the Chinese custom, and the family claimed that the children were often hidden in their coffins during the journey.

Harry and his family returned via the Philippines, but were shipwrecked near there and the family became separated. Mary Cordon and the children carried on to Britain, but landed in Liverpool, not their home city of London. Nevertheless, they decided to stay and set up home there. Harry’s rescue vessel dropped him off elsewhere.

(There is no record of any UK incoming passenger lists for 1873, mentioning the Cordons. However, I think Ruth meant the family were picked up by cargo vessels, which agreed to bring back the marooned family, and they probably would not be required to carry passenger lists.)

It was some time before he rejoined his family in Liverpool. In 1875 Mary gave birth to Ernest Jeremiah, and in 1877 to George.

The family was living in Gorse Bank, West Kirby, Liverpool, by the time of the 1881 Census.  Here are the details:

NameAgeBornRelationship to HeadOccupation
Henry Cordon351846headBaptist Minister of Kerow Hall Baptist Church, Kirkdale, Liverpool.
Mary35184 Paddingtonwife
Florence May10Chinadaughterscholar
Philip Henry9Chinasonscholar
Ernest Jeremiah6Britainson
George Harold4Britainson

Their fourth son Harry was born some time later.

Harry’s next posting was to America, where he became a minister at churches in Galveston, Texas and in New Orleans, from 1886. Later, he returned to Liverpool, and became a pastor at a church in the city.

The Cordon family appear in the Census for 1891 for 61 Rockfield Road, Walton-on-the-Hill, in Liverpool. By now, Philip aged 19, was a clerk, Ernest was 16 and a bookseller, and George and Harry were still scholars.

While living in Liverpool, Harry and Mary had opened their home to their cousins, nephew and nieces, and my mother Mary Busfield (their niece) lived with them off and on for some years. The family were gay and young and Mary and her sister Sissie, plus their own daughter Flossie, attracted suitors. There were usually five young men and three girls in and out, during the years 1890 1903. It seems likely that my father Alfred, and Jack Brown were suitors for Mary and Flossie simultaneously. Alfred married Mary in 1903, and Jack married Flossie in 1897.

The Census for 1901 lists the family at 20 Arkles Lane, Walton-on-the-Hill, Liverpool. Henry is listed as a Baptist Minister in New Brighton, Cheshire, and the only child living at home still is George, 24, who was a stationer. Both Philip and Flossie had married by then.

In 1919 Harry Cordon, aged 77, was a first class passenger aboard the ‘New Georgia’ sailing from Galveston, Texas, to Liverpool, and arriving on 19th October. He must have gone to visit his son Philip and family, who had emigrated to Galveston in 1905.

Briefly Harry went to Ireland as a pastor in Bray. When he was over 80, his wanderlust overtook him again and in February 1922, he and Mary sailed to West Subiaco, Perth, Australia, and took over a church there, preaching every Sunday until his death at 90 plus.

The Rev Henry Cordon and Mary sailed with Flossie, Jack, and their two children, Hilda and Harry on the 23rd of February 1922 aboard the S.S. ‘Benalia’ from London to Freemantle, Australia. He was obviously encouraged to do so by his sons Harry and George, already living in Perth and Freemantle. Their last U.K. address was 4, Earlston Road, New Brighton, Wallasey.

Large firms became benefactors to the people of their home town. J.A. Rank at the end of the 19th century backed Non-Conformist churches in Liverpool. He gave sums of his fortune to Uncle Harry Cordon’s chapel and his social work. Rank also gave sums to my uncle Arthur who was a missioner. (See: Arthur Edward Lytle)


Henry and Mary’s Children

Florence May Cordon

Florence (known as Flossie) was married to John (known as Jack) Brown in 1897. Jack and my grandfather Alfred Henry Lytle were both visiting the Cordon house at the same time, courting the two young cousins. When Jack married Flossie, Alfred married Mary Busfield, their niece.

Flossie and Jack had 2 children: Hilda and Harry, and these two I met on the beach at New Brighton and West Kirby, when I was about five years old, for two brief afternoons with our spades and buckets. I can remember how cool and superior they seemed. Jack soon after became bankrupt I believe. When Uncle Harry and Aunt Mary sailed for Australia, about 1920, they took Flossie and Jack with them. Their daughter and son-in-law had been living with them for some time, and had even settled in Ireland with them when Harry was a pastor in Bray. Jack had run a business over there of some kind.

Philip Henry Cordon

The eldest son, Philip, bought timber from Spain and sold it to the U.S.A. His daughter became a film actress in New York.

Philip married Julia Cope Kendall in 1895. In the Census for 1901 for 15 Ribblesdale Ave, Walton-on-the-Hill, Liverpool, Philips’ family appears thus:

Philip Cordon, away, Julia Cope Cordon, his wife, aged 27, born in Walton. Philip K., son aged 4, born in Walton. Lola, daughter aged 1, born in Malaga, Spain. plus Eva Bootle, niece, aged 13 from Everton.

So it appears that Philip’s wife Julia, kept their house on in Walton and did not spend all her time in Malaga.

Philip’s name is on the passenger list of the S.S. “Cestrian” from Liverpool to Boston on 7th October 1905, arriving on October 17th. He is listed as a timber salesman. Business must have been good, because he persuaded his family to follow him out there, and a few months later, on July 14th 1906, Julia and one child, Dorothy L. (is this Lola?) plus their niece Eva St. Clair Bootle aged 17, sailed from London to New Orleans aboard the S.S. ‘Colonian’, arriving on August 13th . They appear on the U.S. Census for 1910 living in Galveston, Texas, and by 1920 they were living in New York, and at some time they were naturalised.

Ernest Jeremiah Cordon

Ernest Jeremiah in WWI uniform

In the 1911 Census, Ernest was living at 89 Sherburn Street in Consett. He was listed as a 36 year old single lodger, and a Baptist Minister. He was the only member of the Cordon family not to have married, nor emigrated. By the 1939 Census he was still listed as a Baptist Minister but living as a lodger with the Goudir family at 23Belle Vue Terrace, Consett.

Ernest trained as a parson at Rawdon College, Yorkshire and took churches in Wimborne and Romsey, then Consett near Darwin, and again returned to Consett until his death in 1959.

The Sambrookes, the Cordons and the Browns vanished from my parents’ lives after arriving in Perth, until one day in 1926, my Father came home from his office with the news for Mama, he had seen on a Church notice board near Trent Bridge, that Ernest J. Cordon was the preacher for Sunday June 16th.

Ruth with Ernest Jeremiah

It had been obvious to me, that for some years my father had felt inferior to my mother’s cousins, and Jack Brown, when they were young, and rivals for the young womens’affections. But in the 23 years of his marriage, he had become a successful businessman, well read in English literature, a pillar of the local church in each town he had lived in, also he had won Mary and loved her passionately for years. We all attended the morning service at the Trent Bridge church and introduced ourselves. Mama invited Ernest to lunch on the 17th and to stay. Monday was a poor day of the week for much fresh food, so Mother decided on Scotch salmon and strawberries and cream. It soon became apparent that Ernest never ate fish, nor strawberries, and cheeses were brought in. 25 years later, he was staying with my elder brother Rodney at their family hotel in Bournemouth, I invited him to lunch, and again the menu was fish and strawberries. Cheeses were brought out. Memory failed.

Ruth and Ernest Jeremiah

For some years in the 1920’s and early 1930’s, my parents invited Ernest to the house many times. He went on holidays with us. Although he was 29 years older than I, we loved each other. We corresponded until he died.

Ernest Jeremiah circa 1930

I remember Ernest coming to Bournemouth when I was a little girl. He did seem terribly old and whiskery. He smoked a pipe and had a very stained moustache. But he did seem glad to have caught up with Ruth again, after her marriage failed and she had moved to Bournemouth. He used to stay in a local hotel, and I have no doubt he would slip Ruth a £5 note towards her rates bill. She would have told him of her prayers.

George Harold Cordon

George married Ada Gittins in 1910. They appear in the 1916 and 1925 Electoral Roll as living at 12, Rankin Road, Freemantle, Australia. This is very close to Perth, so obviously the family had emigrated to be near George’s brother. George had died in 1931, but in the 1936 and 1937 Roll, their children, Dorothy, Mary and Phyllis are listed along with their mother Ada.  She died in 1965.

Harry Cordon

Harry emigrated to Western Australia before the First World War because he suffered from T.B. and the climate was thought to be better for him. He took a position in Perth, with Massey Harris, selling farm machinery. He had three daughters, who all later came to the U.K.