Monday, April 09, 2018

52 Ancestors - The Maiden Aunt

This week's theme for #52ancestors is The Maiden Aunt. And our star this week is Miss Delia Sedgwick, who was my Great Aunt. Delia Gertrude Sedgwick was born on 13 June, 1887, the fifth of eight children of Gasper Sedgwick and Catherine (Kate) Morley. After Kate died when Delia was 6 years old, Gasper married her sister, Cecilia and had a further five children, including my Grandfather, Joseph.

My Great Aunt Delia; her sister-in-law, my paternal Grandmother Cora; her half-sister, my Great Aunt Jacomina; and Jacomina's daughter, Celine Delia Simon.
Delia never married - she worked as a maid for Miss Nan Garvan, herself an "old maid", who we believe is one of the six daughters of James Patrick Garvan (who also had six sons).

Delia and Nan Garvan

The Garvan Institute of Medical Research began as a small research department of St Vincent's Hospital in Darlinghurst, Sydney. The Sisters of Charity used funds raised from their Centenary Appeal to establish the Institute and one of the primary donors was Mrs Helen Mills, who contributed 100,000 pounds and requested that it be named after her late father, James Patrick Garvan, NSW parliamentarian and business leader.

We can tell that Delia lived in Woollahra (presumably with Miss Garvan) and travelled the world, both to Europe and America and we inherited her old trunk that she used to travel with (which sadly got damaged when our shed flooded). Family tales say Miss Garvan was a bit of an old drunk, however, she (or one of her sisters) left Delia enough money to purchase the house at Brighton-Le-Sands that she left to her half-brother Joseph (my Grandfather) and eventually my father purchased and I lived in from 1985 to when I left home in 1992.

Delia died on 30 March, 1969 (a few months before I was born) at St Vincent's Hospital Sydney, aged 81 years. Something tells me she lived a pretty amazing life, "even" without a husband!


  1. I need to catch up on your posts. The pictures are great!

    My uncle has been digging into his ancestry and found German roots. My dad's family name, Shew, originated in Germany as Schuh. The German ancestor arrived in New York, had three sons and they all fought in the Revolutionary War. I found the last name transition interesting. I wonder why the change...

    1. Blogger didn't let me know you wrote this comment! We had a name change too - I think they often "anglicised" their surnames to be less "foreign". It's a post for another day :-)


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