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Maud Evelyn RANDELL 1876

The birth of Maud Evelyn Randell was registered in the first quarter of 1876 in Chertsey, Surrey. She was the sixth daughter born to Justina Evans and Thomas Randell. Arriving between two sets of twins, she is the only one of their children not to appear in the Surrey Parish Registers. In the 1881 and 1891 Census, she lived at home and was recorded first as Maud and later Maude with an 'e'.
Maude Evelyn Randell was the mother of an illegitimate child, Gilbert Dickson Randell, who in 1901 was living with his Aunt Annie Flora Williams. Gilbert Dickson Randell was born in 1893 and his mother was recorded on his birth certificate as eighteen, unmarried and living at 40 Villiers Road, Willesden.
By 1901 the trail on Maud Evelyn Randell had run cold. I found no variant of Maud Evelyn Randell in any document but that year a Mrs Bentley and Miss Randell were guests at the boarding house of Harriett Scunds in Croydon. Both girls were born in Chertsey and match the profile of Kate Mary and Maude Evelyn Randell. Mrs Bentley by implication should be married, but no husband was in attendance.
A search of the 1911 Census, looking for a 'Maude Evelyn', born 1876 in Chertsey produced only one candidate, Maude Evelyn Bentley. Yet again, despite being recorded as married, for the second time in ten years she was alone. In 1911 Maude was a boarder at the home of William Clark, a Florist and Fruitier living in Baker Street, Weybridge.
The '1915 Electoral Register' lists a Mrs Maude Crelyn (sic) Bentley of 66 Carlton Mansions, Randolph Ave, Maida Vale, London and again she was living alone.
A further search for Maude Evelyn Bentley produced several possibilities. The most promising was a collection of travel documents. The SS Arzila docked in London, 19 April 1919 and recorded Maude Evelyn Bentley resident of the Straits Settlements, Malaysia on the passenger list. 'Maud Evelyn Bentley', was aged 43 (born 1876 England), returning to England from Singapore.
The following year 26 June 1920, John Bentley, aged 53 (born 1867) and Mrs Maude Bentley, aged 44, departed London together on the SS Plassy of the P & O Line. They were travelling 2nd Class and John was listed unhelpfully as an 'Assistant'. Maude was recorded in the list simply as his wife. Their final destination was the Federated Malay States, which at that time included Singapore.
An extensive selection of John Bentley's come and go from England during this period. Three seem to be definitely our John Bentley. Under the title, 'Popular Singaporean's Retirement', The Singapore Advertiser ran an article about 'Mr John Bentley, Head Cutter at Mr Robinson & Co.' It made no reference to a wife but stated he joined the company in 1896 when 'Europeans could be counted on one hand'. John retired 28 March 1924 and returned to England.
It seems almost certain that Mrs Bentley and Maud Evelyn Randell are one and the same but it's not definite. I have no evidence of children from the marriage and in fact, no marriage but an article covering the retiremnet of John Bentley confirms he was married in 1897 at Saint Andrews Catheral Singapore.
Maude's death was recorded in The Straits Times, 8 September 1922. It states, 'We regret to learn of the death early to-day at the General Hospital of Mrs J Bentley, wife of Mr J Bentley of Messrs. Robinson & Co., Ltd. Mrs Bentley underwent an operation last week and had been in a serious condition since. She had been a resident of Singapore for twenty years or more. Mr Bentley will have the deepest sympathy. The funeral takes place at Bidadari cemetery today at 5pm.'
In an unexpected twist the only Randell/Bentley marriage I found was in 1924, when much to my surprise a Kate Mary Randell married John Bentley in Marylebone. The Will of Kate Mary Bentley which names her sister Frances Emma Heasman, leaves no doubt that Kate married John Bentley 'Head Tailors Cutter' based in Singapore.
With this in mind, Mrs Kate Mary Bentley departed London, 19 November 1926 travelling alone to the Far East. Earlier that year, 4 June 1926, John Bentley aged 60, a 'Merchant' made the same journey travelling 2nd class on the SS Narkunda. Despite his formal retirement two years earlier, the lure of the Far East had called. In 1926 he was recorded as a permanent resident of a “British Colony”, but also provided an address in Cove, Farnborough less than a mile from Frimley Green, the address stated on the Will of Kate Mary Bentley.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement / Thomas / Thomas / Thomas / Maud Evelyn

Gilbert Dickson RANDELL 1893

In the 1901 census Gilbert Dickson Randell mysteriously appears living in Williams Cottages, the home of his widowed aunt, Annie Flora Williams. It's unclear if he was a weekend visitor or a permanent member of the household as he's recorded simply as 'nephew'.
The birth certificate of Gilbert reveals he was the son of Maud Evelyn Randell, born 14 October 1893 in Willesden, Middlesex when his mother was aged eighteen. No father was recorded on the birth certificate but Dickson has to be a vivid clue and Gilbert was crossed out in the section name of father.
I could find no further record of Gilbert Dickson Randell, but the 1911 census does list a Gilbert Dickson (minus Randell) who circumstantial evidence dictates would be, as they say, a person of interest.
1911 Gilbert Dickson was a Clerk, living in Kingston-on-Thames, as a 'boarder' with Frederick Coates, a house Painter & Decorator. Beside the obvious pun of being a painter called 'Coates', Gilbert Randell was the nephew of Frank Webber and Charles Collins both Painter Decorators. Gilbert more or less ticks all the boxes of age, place of birth and location, with two thirds of the name.
Conversely several Gilbert Randell/Randalls turn up in the document record but none are remotely close to fitting the dates or places of our Gilbert.
Another very plausible explanation for his absence from UK records would be, he simply lived in Singapore with his mother and step-father.

ANCESTRY ~ Thomas / Thomas / Thomas / Maud / Gilbert Dickson

Justina RANDELL 1869

Justina was the second child of Thomas Randell and Justina Evans. Named after her mother, she was born 19 October 1869 and baptised at St Peters Church, Chertsey 12 December 1869. The record names her parents as 'Randall' of Eastworth Road and her father Thomas as a 'Copper Smith'.
Unfortunately she died aged 5, sometime around July 1875.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement / Thomas / Thomas / Thomas / Justina

Lily RANDELL 1874

Lily, twin sister of Rose, was born 6 February 1874 in St Annes Road, Chertsey, daughter of Thomas Randell and Justina Evans. The two girls were baptised 8 March 1874 at St Peters Church, Chertsey. Her father was recorded as a 'White Smith'.
She died, aged 12 years, 20 January 1886 and was buried at St Peters Church, the same location as her father.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement / Thomas / Thomas / Thomas / Lily

Kate Mary RANDELL 1877

Kate Mary Randell was born as the twin sister to Frances Emma Randell. They arrived 2 October 1877 and were baptised 13 January 1878 at Saint Peters Church, Chertsey, Surrey. They lived in the comfortable leafy surrounds of northern Chertsey, a pleasant stroll to the River Thames, the ancient Chertsey Bridge and the Abbey ruins. Unfortunately, life is never simple and in 1885 her father died suddenly, only to be followed by her sister Lily, a year later.
By the census of 1891 Kate, aged 13, appears to have found a position as an apprentice stationer with local printer James Waddington of Windsor St, Chertsey.
In 1901 sisters, Mrs Bentley (Maude Evelyn) and Miss Randell of Chertsey are together as 'visitors' at 35 Selhurst Road, Croydon. The house was owned by the delightfully named Mrs Harriet Scudds a Lodging House Keeper.
Mrs Scudds had two daughters, Edith & Annie, who were identical in age to Maud and Kate. Also present was mysterious elderly Norse house guest, Thor Rodin recently arrived from Sweden.
In 1911 Kate Mary Randell, aged 32, was relegated the status of spinster living with her mother and to make matters worse the documentation records her occupation as blank. Given that Justina was to live another 15 years or so it seems unlikely Kate was looking after her frail mother.
In what I considered an unexpected twist Kate Mary Randell married John Bentley, her widowed brother-in-law. The marriage took place around August 1924 in Marylebone, Greater London. Kate Mary was a 47 years old first time bride.
John Bentley was almost certainly the husband of Maude Evelyn, Kate's sister who had died two years earlier in Singapore. John had retired from his position as Senior Cutter with a Singapore tailoring company and returned to England. It appears he had been in England only months when the wedding took place.
Within a year of their marriage Kate's mother Justina died, freeing Kate up to travel. Records show Mrs Kate Mary Bentley aged 48 departed London, 19 November 1926 travelling alone to the Far East. She was following John who had gone ahead, having left 4 June 1926 on the 'SS Narkunda'.
It appears for a while at least they lived between the two countries and John was recorded several times on passenger lists. An example would be John Bentley departed London, 3 October 1930 sailing to Colombo, Sri Lanka on the 'SS Cathay'. Three months later, 9 January 1931, he returned to London on the P&O Line. On each of those two occasions he was recorded as John Bentley a merchant of London Street, Chertsey, aged 64.
Kate Mary Bentley died aged 59 years, 14 August 1938 at Highfield House, Frimley Green Road, Frimley Green, Surrey. Kate left a Will which appointed her husband John Bentley, retired tailors cutter and Frances Emma Heasman (wife of Arthur Heasman) as executors. The administration of the will was enacted at Oxford, 17 April 1940 but 'resealed Singapore 26 September 1940'. I understand 'Resealing' is a legal process that allows access to assets held within the Commonwealth but in a overseas jurisdiction. Kate Mary Bentley had effects totalling £868 17s. 1d. presumably some of which were in Singapore.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement /Thomas / Thomas / Thomas / Kate Mary

John BENTLEY 1866

John Bentley is something of a mystery because I was unable to connect him to anybody in England before 1895 but we know he was a tailor, born in England around 1866 and lived most of his life in the Far East.
The following are extracts from two much longer articles from Singapore newspapers:

THIRTY THREE YEARS EAST - The Straits Times - 26 March 1924
John Bentley, the head cutter for the past 29 years at the well known firm of Robinson's arrived in Singapore in 1895 to take charge of the tailoring department. ~ He had the patronage of all the Sultans of the surrounding States as well as the Late King of Siam. ~ He visited England on five occasions on leave. ~ Mr Bentley can recall lodging at the Europe Hotel and Raffles. ~ Married at Saint Andrew's Cathedral in 1897 ~ his wife died about 18 months ago. ~ He was a member of several premier sports clubs, including Singapore Cricket Club and outside favours tennis & golf. Inside, he is no mean exponent on the green cloth ~ he carried off the Silver Cup in the S.C.C. Billiards Tournament (A Class) beating a much younger cueist. ~ On the introduction of sweeps in 1917 Mr Bentley was the fortunate drawer of the first horse returning him $20,000 in War Loan Bonds. ~ He later won the Siamese Lottery. ~ He intends to settle down in England and leaves a host of friends in Singapore. ~ On retirement he was presented with a handsome crocodile dressing case with silver fittings, suitably engraved.

LUCKY WINNER - The Singapore Free Press - 16 May 1917
The big event of the afternoon was the War Loan Sweep on the second race. The lucky winner of the big prize was Mr J Bentley of Messrs. Robinson and Co. The total value of the sweep was $50,000 of which $20,000 formed the first prize. All prizes are payable in War Loan Bonds.

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