Hannah Mabel WARREN (née OLSON) [1880-1966] | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong

Hannah Mabel WARREN (née OLSON) [1880-1966]

Names
Given: 
Hannah Mabel
Family: 
Warren
Maiden: 
Olson
Sex: 
Female
Status: 
Deceased
Birth
Date: 
1880-05-06
Birthplace (town, state): 
Hong Kong
Death
Date: 
1966-07-02
Cause of death: 
Auricular fibrillation; Myocardial degeneration; Senility

I am looking for information about my grandmother, Hannah Warren, who returned to Hong Kong from England in June 1923 on the death of her husband, my grandfather, Charles Edward Warren, but whose funeral she did not arrive in time to attend. Her own death certificate states that she had spent "about" 25 years in Australia. We assume that she was evacuated from Hong Kong between 1939 and 1941, but there is no definite record of that. I haven't been able to find any record of where she was living after her return in 1923 until 1941. Her eldest son, Leslie Warren remained in Hong Kong from 1923 to 1941 and her half brother, John Olson jnr. kept his house in Broadwood Road until well into the 1930s. I haven't been able to trace exactly how long. There are rare photos of Hannah at The Towers in both the Warren and Olson collections, but nobody of our generation was originally able to identify her from these. Photos usually show her with her half-brother, Charles Olson and/or Leslie Warren.

Hannah's two grandchildren, brought up in Hong Kong till the age of 11 and 12 respectively, have no memory of her and she does not appear in their christening photos. Nor does her name appear in the autobiography of Hannah's half-niece's husband, Cyril Gaby, although the Gabys would have been the most likely people for her to have accompanied to Australia, when they took leave there from Amoy via Hong Kong  in 1939.  Leslie Warren had already sent his wife and children to England in 1938 because of the Japanese threat. It seems logical that he would have wanted to make sure that his mother was safe. 

Any information about Hannah Warren in Hong Kong between 1923 and 1941 would be welcome.

Jill

 

Connections: 

Comments

Have you asked Tony Banham (http://www.hongkongwardiary.com/) if her name appears in his records? He has done a lot of research into the evacuation and evacuees.

Regards, David

 

China Mail 31 March 1926

Mrs C E Warren, residing in No. 19 Broadwood Terrace was bitten yesterday by a pet monkey owned by Mr. McReynolds who lives next door. She was treated by her private doctor. The attack was made while the monkey got loose. Efforts were made to recapture the animal proved unsuccessful.

Thanks for the suggestion, David. Yes, I asked Tony Banham about Hannah a few years ago. Tony kindly looked for her name but couldn't find it. The Phillipine manifests weren't available then and probably still aren't. Australia was still imposing a "Whites only" policy. As an Eurasian, Hannah may well have anticipated difficulties. It would have been easiest for her to go  to Australia in 1939 together with her niece and husband who had contacts in Australia. Yet the same niece seems to have been unsure about the date of Hannah's arrival there when declaring the length of time  she had been in Australia on her death certificate. She calculated that it might have been 1941.

Jill

Many thanks for discovering the report of this small drama with Hannah Warren and a monkey, moddsey, which must have involved a rabies injection or two. It's great to have an address for her as late as 1926. I don't know where Broadwood Terrace is though. Is it off Broadwood Road?

Jill

I can see several mentions of it in the 1918 Jurors List: http://gwulo.com/jurors-list-1918

First I thought it might have been an earlier name for Broadwood Road, but Broadwood Road is also shown in that list, so it looks more likely to have been a terrace of houses in the Broadwood Road area.

Regards, David

Hannah Warren was staying with her step brother in London when her husband Charles.Warren died and set out for HK within a few days. I have a postcard she sent from Columbo  to her step nephews on the way out by steamer. I also have a picture of her in Shanghai where the Olson's had a  house. Her half sister Ellen lived there for some time with her partner Evert Melcher who worked for the Dutch East India Company. The Shanghai picture of Hannah is embosssed by a Shanghai studio.  I have never been able to trace either Ellen or her husband.

With regard to pictures of her at The Towers I have a  picture - reproduced on my website www.thehongkonglegacy.com - of her and C.E.Warren at a drinks party after a tennis party. I also have the same picture taken presumably by herself wth Warren standing in the same place behind the guests. I also have pictures of Hannah with her son Lesliey and stepbrother Charles sitting on steps at The Towers, Broadwood Road, which also includes some pet King Charles spaniels. This pic can be dated to 1918 as Lesley returned from school  in UK in that year and was back again the in UK in 1919 doing military training .As to dates of Hannah moving to Australia I cannot help. It may well have been from Shanghai but I doubt if any records remain there, I suggest that all arrival lists available  of immigrants in the Australian shipping archives are examined for 1939 to 41.

Sean

Thanks for picking out this particular Jurors List David, which very clearly shows that Broadwood Road and Broadwood Terrace are/were two different roads. It even looks as if a couple of the Broadwood Terrace addresses are business addresses. I'll try to find it on a map. Let me know if you get there first!

Jill

 

 

 

The 1915 PWD Annual Report mentioned 11 European houses were built on Inland Lot 2039 on Broadwood Road and Broadwood Terrace. The Juror lists do not mention Broadwood Terrace anymore after 1928. 

As for the Warrens, the address for The Towers was given as 20 Broadwood Road till 1924.

From 1926-1938, the address for Leslie Warren was 19 Broadwood Road but from 1939-1941 he returned to The Towers at 20 Broadwood Road.

Thank you very much, moddsey, for speed-checking 16 years of Jurors Lists for Leslie Warren and for Broadwood Terrace too. I'll see if I can find it on pre-1928 maps at the British Library. I'm not certain why Leslie gave his address as The Towers after his wife and children left Hong Kong, except that his friend, Arthur Dransfield is supposed to have rented it and I'm told that he stayed with the Dransfields after his family left.

There was a bit of shuffling round of the numbers in the early days of Broadwood Road before it settled down. According to the Rate Book for 1916-17:

 no. 19 was a house called “Lyndholme,” home of CR Mogra, c/o Abdoolrahim.

no. 20 was owned by S. Webb Anderson

no. 21 was “The Towers” and owned by C.E. Warren

Things change slightly in the Rate Book for 1917-18:

No. 19 is named as “The Cottage” and owned by S. Webb Anderson

No. 20 is “The Towers” and owned by C.E. Warren

No. 21 is also written down to the ownership of C.E. Warren

The Webb Andersons continue to be named as owners of 19 Broadwood Road after 1924. The Rev W.J. Webb Anderson, a Wesleyan priest, had been a long term friend of Charles Warren. It seems as if Leslie Warren may have rented 19 Broadwood Road from the Webb Andersons. It certainly became his home after returning to Hong Kong and most of the photos of his wife and children were taken there, with no. 20 The Towers in the background.

Jill

Thank you David for correcting the spelling of my grandmother's surname “Warren” in the subject line. If it’s not too much trouble, Sean, would it also be possible to correct the initials of my grandfather, whose name was Charles Edward Warren, therefore C.E. Warren, not C.W. This also needs correcting, if possible, in gwulo.com/comment/12161#comment-12161 in the discussion on Marine Lot 111. By the way, Leslie Warren's name is spelt “Leslie” (male) not “Lesley” (female). I must say, Gwulo’s “edit” feature is a godsend and has saved me from posting many a howler, unseen till I press "Save".

I have indeed had some private help with passenger lists to Australia. At an official level, Australian Immigration could only give me details of the names of ships coming from Hong Kong, their ports of call and the number of passengers on board, - an astonishingly large number.

Thank you for the reminder that Hannah Warren spent time with the Melchers in Shanghai and made some of her journeys from there.

I wonder if there is any indication in Olson family memory or photographs of how long or how often Hannah stayed with the Olsons in London. She was obviously very fond of her nephews. I ask because Hannah is not recorded as travelling back to Hong Kong with Charles Warren and their daughter, Evelyn in 1919, when Evelyn had finished her schooling in England. The SCMP records Evelyn and Charles as attending the King’s Birthday Balls at Government House in 1920 and 1921, but not Mrs Warren, (Brian Lewis, The Warren Family, 1993).

Brian Lewis was the eldest son of Evelyn Warren. This is probably an appropriate moment to acknowledge his unpublished document whose full title is The Warren Family 1760-1993being a history for the families of Charles Edward Warren 1872-1923 living in January 1993. It is based on years of pre-internet work with paper and microfilm records. The biographical information of Leslie Warren that you cite is of course from his typescript, a vital component of the information that we shared. Brian Lewis's own sources – in this case Leslie’s son – are meticulously recorded in the margins. His document was only in its second draft when he died. Charles Warren’s three other surviving grandchildren, including myself were trying to help him revise it and to identify the people in Leslie Warren’s photos. With the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong, I am continuing to build on Brian’s research as best I can.

It was fascinating, when we met, to compare the Olsons’ Hong Kong photos with those of the Warrens. When it came to our respective grandparents dividing up photos of the same occasion, it seems to have been a case of  “You have this one and we’ll have that one.” The photo of the “drinks party” on The Towers lawn that includes Hannah is from an Olson collection. The one without Hannah of which I sent you a scan, and which is the subject of several of our 2005 email debates, when neither of us had a clue what Hannah looked like, is from Leslie Warren’s collection. The photo of Leslie, Hannah and Charlie Olson on The Towers steps is from the Warren album. The Warren album also has a following photo of Hannah in the same dress + same dogs on The Towers lawn with Charlie Olson, which includes Arthur Warren and must therefore be in or post-1923. Arthur was still at school in England in 1918 when Leslie visited Hong Kong after finishing school himself.

This is far too much detail for non-family members, but thank you to everyone on Gwulo who so patiently helps us follow our Hong Kong family trail, that our relatives of the previous generation did their best to conceal from us.

Jill

 

With regard to the drink's party picture I have the original of both. I apologise for the incorrect naming of Charles Edward Warren,

I think it is fair to compare the various family pictures in the light of today's 'smart phone' pictures and emails.  People of a certain standing seem to have never been without ther Box Brownies. I have many pictures of people carrying cameras as well as camera lying on lawns close to subjects  being photographed. I also suspect that when the films were developed more than one copy was made of favoured frames

With regard to the movements of Hannah Warren between 1923 and her arrival and eventual death in Australia I can only confirm from the Shanghai picture that she was there sometime in that period. She may well have visited the UK as well but there is nothing in the sparse Olson memorablia that mentions this. All I and a slightly more elderly cousin remember is a visit to the UK by the youngest daughter Ellen who had been in Nazi occupied Holland during the early 50s. Family folklore has her joining her son, quaintly named or nicknamed Sonny Boy, in America. But any trace I made turned up nothing. Interestngly Charlie died in Naniamo on Vancouver Island in 1966.

As I have complete failed the find anything about Jons Jakobsson aka John Olson's Chinese wife I have concentrated on tracing him in Sweden. That work is now done and Hong Kong now a sideline interest.

I have had a similar problem in tracing my great-grandmother, Yau Kum, presumed mother to my great-uncle, John Olson (January 1879-April 1879) and given on the birth certificate as mother to my grandmother Hannah Mabel Olson (b. 1880). When I applied for the birth certificate of John Olson, first son of John Olson, the BMD insisted I sign a document to declare that Yau Kum was not his mother. I reluctantly did so in order to move things forward. Ignoring the birth date 1879 that I had given on my application form, they instead produced the birth certificate of John Olson born 1884, who was the second son of John Olson snr, and the first son of Ching Ah Fung. My enquiry is still pending. I haven’t yet had a reply from the BMD, negative or positive. 

If you have the death certificate of the infant John Olson, Sean, I wonder if the Chinese characters are given for his mother’s name on it – given as Y. Olson on his grave – or if there is any difference in the spelling of Yau Kum. This would be very helpful for me to know. The romanisation of Chinese names often varies. If you don’t have it, I will apply for it. I'm told it was normal for Chinese names to be in three parts at this date and am not sure if Yau, (given as the surname) Kum was the complete name.

As I think you already know Carl Smith refers to the mother of John Olson’s later children as Au Chung Ah-fung, whereas her name is spelt as Ching Ah Fung in the BMD registers. He gives the name Au Chung Ah-fung in a footnote to his chapter “Abandoned into Prosperity: Women on the Fringe of Expatriate Society” in Merchants’ Daughters, ed. Helen F. Siu, HKUP, 2010, p. 308, n. 55. Carl Smith obviously had access to the baptism records of the To Tsai Church where the first three of Au Chung Ah-fung’s children’s baptisms were recorded.

I am hoping to find the marriage and baptism records of the To Tsai Church for the 1890s, in case Hannah and my grandfather Charles Warren got married there in 1897 or 1898, given Hannah's stepmother's association with the church. (Hannah's age at marriage is given as 17). I have been to the new building, but the pastor was absent. I wrote to him at the suggestion of a lay member of staff. She couldn’t tell me what had happened to the records and I haven’t had a reply to my handwritten letter. Any advice or leads would be very welcome, especially if anyone happens to be passing the church when the pastor is in. I haven't eliminated St John's, but the records for 1897 seem to be missing. The BMD can't find a marriage certificate for the couple, but Hannah was always known as Mrs Warren and, with all her travels, should have needed it to obtain a passport.

Jill

As I explained earlier most of my resarch had been on the life of Jon Jakobsson aka John Olson and thanks to eventually finding through Swedish contacts that no such person as John Olson or his brothers Olaf and Anders existed because their real name was Jakobsson, and that the family went back to at least the 17th Century in Sweden, I was relatively satisfied.

From memory without dragging out mountainous files I discovered that Jons - by then John Olson - had travelled too and settled in HK. The Carl Smith archive told me about another John Olson that had been produced and Christine Thomas was able to tell me that this was a child buried in Happy Valley with a somewhat cryptic headstone saying this John was the child of John Olson and Y. Olson

From there I discovered that the Y stood for Yau Kum. At this distance I cannot remember my source apart from Christine Thomas, but have a feeling I found a birth cert for he baby as well from HK.

By this stage I knew from certificates already held by the family that John had four children by a second Chinese woman known as Ching Ah Fung.who became his wife. It then also became apparent that a child named Hannah had been born to John and Yau Kum. This child was clearly absorbed into the famly of  Jons and Ah Fung. This came from following up from Carl Smith archive notes. Her "adption" became a vital part of the story of Jons Jakobsson aka John Olson.

I suspect - perhaps from the Warren research I have seen - that Mabel was married to Charles Warren around 1899 and their first child Leslie born around 1900 or 1901. It seems to me to have made little difference in the overall story.at that stage.

At this stage I turned fully into trying to trace some links to Ah Fung. For example in he 1920s when my family were living in West London they accommodated several Chinese young men studying in London one of whom was certainly Sir CY Kwan later to be a member of the Legislature and who looked after my grandfather's business interests in HK as well as his probate when the time came. I know he was friendly with my uncles when they lived in HK and also in London where one became High Sheriff. Unfortunately it seems the Kwan children went to America or Canada beforet the  handover and despite a lot of research I have never been able to track them. What I have been told is that CY was extremely wealthy and  his two children were well looked after. I have to this day a picture of the 25th wedding anniversary of the family at which some of my family were present.

All I know of the HK family is contained in www.thehongkonglegacy.com

So I have no more to add regarding Olson Chinese antecedents. A great disappointment.

I am sorry that barriers are raised regarding BMDs. I certianly found no difficulty regarding marriiage certs except as St Johns where the Japanese invasion seems to have taken a huge toll.

I thiink there is little more I can add.

Sean,

If I’ve understood correctly, you’ve been hoping to establish that there was not only an Olson business connection but a family one as well through your great-grandmother, Ching Ah Fung, to the millionaire, CY Kwan and that you’d like to make contact with his descendants.

To rewind to October 2004 when you replied to my query on the Hong Kong genealogical website, you at first thought that we must be descended from the same great-grandparents, John Olson and Ching Ah Fung. It was news to me that I had a Chinese great-grandmother and I needed to confirm it, because my grandmother wasn’t the same as yours. Surprisingly, the name of my grandmother, Hannah Warren and indeed the Warrens as a whole, weren't known to your generation of Olsons at the time, you told me. My father had drawn up a family tree for me, naming Hannah Mabel as my grandmother. He had told me that she had gone to Australia. I had also seen a receipt to him for the fees of an Australian nursing home in her name.

As to your source for discovering what the ‘Y’ in ‘Y Olson’ stood for, it was me. Christine Thomas had supplied you with the details of baby John’s grave. In November 2004 I went to Hong Kong and put in a General Search for Hannah’s birth certificate at the Government Offices. When, after two long months, a positive result was found I applied for the certificate. The certificate revealed that the mother of Hannah was Yau, Kum, proving that John Olson had had children by two different Chinese women. I sent you a colour photocopy. I have the original certificate and receipts. Based on the name of Yau Kum as mother, the Birth, Marriages and Deaths department of the Government Offices is struggling to find a certificate for John Olson’s earlier child. I have an email from you, in which you say that you hadn’t felt the need to apply for his birth certificate, which is why I am doing so.

I imagine we’ve both reduced our children’s inheritance by paying out numerous fees to the BMD. I have recently discovered evidence that Leslie Warren was not the first child of Charles and Hannah Warren. Their marriage date was therefore earlier than that supposed by Brian Lewis, son of Evelyn Warren, in his ‘History of the Warren Family’ (1992) that I photocopied for you and Hugh Olson’s daughter, Jenny. The three of us pooled what we knew and pooled our family photos. Unidentified Warren children appeared in Olson photos and unidentified Olsons in ours. Emails and scans flew between us to verify who was who.

I shall probably have to give up on Charles and Hannah’s marriage certificate as all the Protestant churches I’ve approached have told me either that their records don’t go back to the nineteenth century, or that they were destroyed by the Japanese. As Charles Warren’s family attended the Wesleyan Methodist Church in their Northamptonshire village, I had hopes that the current Methodist church in Hong Kong might have something left, but no. It’s great that the St John’s Church Notes do in fact have records for 1897-98, but I’d have liked to check the missing year of 1896 as well. I’m beginning to be less certain that Charles would have elected to be married at the To Tsai Church, if it was devoted to the worship of Chinese Christians who had converted – but then the choice of church should have been Hannah’s. I see her siblings, Ellen and Charles Olson were confirmed at St John’s in 1903.

I shall plug on with my searching. It’s extraordinary what sometimes emerges in the most unexpected places.

Jill

I am not trying to prove busness links to CY Kwan. That is known as his company - now no longer in existance - represented Jons Jacobsson in HK. What those bussnesses  were I have no idea as my generation was never told, and I certainly never asked. Neither do I think Sir CY was related to my great grandmoher Ah Fung. All I can be sure of is that there was closeness between the families, he stayed with my family while studing law and his company looked after my great grandfather's probate in 1952.

I know that there was a good long lasting relationship for a fact, as I was a recipient myself,  every Christmas when Sir CY sent my grandmother Annie Louisa a Christmas hamper from Fortum and Mason in London. I great deal of content which my grandmother did not like passed to me. A very memorable treat in early pre-war years.

My wish to have met him, or even his cildren, is that they may have had information regarding my great grandmother so that I might be able to trace her links.

I hope that clears your thinking.

As much of what I wrote regarding "Y" was from memory and I certainly have no memory of a colour scan or picture being sent to me forgive my memory lapse of a decade ago. Frankly, I have since those days of 2004 paid little attention to the line you are following. 

One area  which you might try regarding wedding dates is the Catholic Churches in HK. I may be wrong but I have the impression that they had no centralised repository of BMDs and thus less chance of loss in time of war. In the past I have found them useful. If, as I understand it, Charles Warren was a devout Catholic I am sure he would never have married in the Anglican Communion. What religion Hannah professed I have no idea, Her half brothers and sisters were brought up as Catholics owing to the marriage of John Olson to Annie Louisa Moore Burke. I have papers to prove that.

Finally, I would like to make it clear that the project to find out about my familiy's Colonial past simply involved tracking my great grandfather and grandmother. In the first I have as near total success as is possible. Information on my Chinese roots has been a total dead end.

Your appearance on the scene was a shock to me and those cousins you met but was the only other Chinese link to Jon Jakobsson I have found in about two decades.

I have now closed the project down and moved on to other things.

Sean

Thank you for the suggestion of consulting the Catholic Church about my grandparents’ wedding. In fact Charles Warren was brought up as a Wesleyan Methodist. His and Hannah’s first child is buried in the Protestant cemetery. Two of Charles’s main friends were the Wesleyan priest the Reverend Webb Anderson and Father Augustine Placzek, the Catholic priest. Father Augustine baptized at least three of his other children and gave the address at his funeral.

The Roman Catholic archivists have been extremely helpful and are continuing various searches for me. At the moment my information about my family’s baptisms comes via Carl Smith. Charles's and Hannah’s first son died in a scalding accident aged nearly two, the very day after the birth of their second son. My impression is that Charles converted to the Catholic faith in the aftermath of this shock. His second son, Leslie Warren, was baptized at St Joseph’s in 1900. There was therefore a Protestant funeral for one child and a Catholic baptism of another almost at the same time. John Olson, our great-grandfather, had to bury both his first son and his first grandson.