I reunite identified family photos that I find in antique shops and second hand stores with genealogists and family historians. If you see one of your ancestors here and would like to obtain the original, feel free to contact me at familyphotoreunion [ at ] yahoo [ dot ] com. I also accept donations of pre-1927 images to be reunited. I hope you enjoy your visit!
~The Archivist

Friday, October 6, 2023

Ever's Sorrifil Year by Alice Meredith Opie; Penge, Surrey, England, 1897


I am stepping out of our usual format, Dear Reader, so that I might share with you a discovery I made whilst hunting about in an old relic shop in Victoria, British Columbia many years ago. While not a photograph, (and no, Dear Reader, I have not forgotten the title of this blog) it is still an item of genealogical interest. And one that thoroughly tickles me pink.

Alice Meredith Opie created a little booklet on July 4th, 1897 that she carefully bound with embroidery thread. In it she wrote a set of children’s stories in the style of the day. The booklet begins on page eight, so I am probably missing a few pages. Many of the stories are morality tales with titles like, “The Good Girl,” “The Decetfull [sic] Girl,” “A Mocking Girl,” “Two Brave Girls,” “A Story about Gipsies,” Uncle Jack’s Farm,” and “Ever’s Sorrifil [sic] Year”

Did I mention that the author was seven years old?


Here are a few paragraphs of the longest story in the book, “Ever’s Sorrifil Year.” I have transcribed it as written, for the most part. The heroine’s name seems to change from Ever to Evar in the text, but I kept it Ever for consistency’s sake.

Chapter 1

The Letter Comes

There was once a lady and gentleman call Mrs. & Mr. Smith. They had only one little child it was a little girl. Her name was Ever. She was a very pretty child. She lived in London, and she had an uncle in Somerset. One day while ever was waiting at the gate for the post-man she ran in to her mother with a letter from her uncle to say would she come down to his house, for a year. 

Her mother dressed Ever to go to her uncles house.

Chapter 2

Ever Feels Very Shy

At last Ever arrived at her uncles house. She saw him at the door waiting for her. No sooner had she been in the house 10 minuets than she felt very shy of her uncle & ante, she felt as if a crumb would chock her, for she was at tea. She went up to bed at 6-o’clock because she said she was tired, she flung her-self on her bed and wept for half an our then she slept, till morning. The sun was shining brightely through her little white curtains, as she got up and dressed.

She went down stairs as she met her antie, as she said brightly, good-morning ever darling.

Ever ate some breackfast for she was hungry. After that she ran in-to the garden, she thought she would like a swing, so put up one of her own acord, but when she sat in it the board smashed and she went down smash. She was picked up in very great pain with her head cut on a stone she had fallen on. Wen she was well she ran away and they had awful job to cach her.

Chapter 3

Ever Steals a Chicken

Ever had now been there a week. Now I must tell you reader, ever was only five years old and she did not know quite how to behave her-self. (at least I shall not think so) of wat she now did. She was walking along one day alone when she passed a farm-house she saw a lot of chickens in the road, amongst them there was a tiny chicken. Ever thought it would be a grand idear to catch this chicken and take it home to uncle, so she caught it and took it home. She first of all, declared that her uncle would be much more pleased if she put it in a box and tied it up in paper to mack a parcel. She did so and nearly strangled it. Then she gave it to her uncle. The chicken came out of the box and got in the drawing room. At last they got it out and uncle asks were she got it from. She says she found it but her uncle finds out that she stole it and it was taken back.

to be continued

So, who was this promising young author? Alice Meredith Opie was born February 3rd, 1890 in Penge, Surrey, England. Her father, Edward Augustus Opie, was a Medical Doctor and the home on South Street, Wellington in which the family lived appears to have been a comfortable one. According to the 1901 census, the Doctor, his mother and his five children lived there, along with five employees: a domestic nurse, a hospital nurse, a governess, a cook, and a housemaid. Alice Meredith’s mother, Mrs. Alice (Pinches) Opie, died in 1898. Edward remarried in 1903 to the governess, Florence Newbury.

We don't know why, but when Alice was 18, the family crossed the Atlantic to set up a new life in Canada. The Opies settled in the Kootenay area for a while, with Alice, now a teacher, boarding by herself. In 1921, she married Rupert Hughes, a master mariner, at St. Paul’s Church in Vancouver and eventually leaves BC for California, becoming a US citizen in 1949. Alice's nickname was "Gwen" and she is listed as “Gwen Hughes” in the 1951 obituary of her brother, John Tremayne Opie. John was a screenwriter in Hollywood, so storytelling was certainly part of the family skill set. Alice returned to BC to live out her latter years. She died in 1968.

"Ever's Sorrifil Year," is an interesting tale, but apparently never continued because the pages that follow are blank. The story was likely written in 1897, shortly before her mother's death in 1898. A sorrowful year, indeed. 



"England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975", database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JWWF-Z3T : 3 February 2023), Alice Meredith Opie, 1890.

"England and Wales Census, 1891," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:4D2D-KN2 : 22 February 2021), Alice M Opie in household of Edward A Opie, Broadwater, Sussex, England, United Kingdom; from "1891 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing PRO RG 12, Sussex county, subdistrict, The National Archives of the UK, Kew, Surrey.

"England and Wales Census, 1901," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:X9W1-VZC : 20 May 2019), Alice M Opie in household of Edward A Opie, Wellington, Somerset, England, United Kingdom; from "1901 England, Scotland and Wales census," database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing Wellington subdistrict, PRO RG 13, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

"Census of Canada 1911," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QV9P-T3FJ : 16 March 2018), Alice M Opie in entry for James Berry, 1911; citing Census, Kootenay Sub-Districts 1-61, British Columbia, Canada, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 2,417,659.

"Canada, British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932; 1937-1938," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JDZR-SPY : 22 February 2021), Rupert Hughes and Gwen Alice Meredith Opie, 01 Apr 1921; citing Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, British Columbia Archives film number B12906, Vital Statistics Agency, Victoria; FHL microfilm 2,032,869.

"Canada, British Columbia Death Registrations, 1872-1986; 1992-1993", database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QK6P-27D4 : 17 March 2018), Alice Opie in entry for Rodney Hughes, 1992.

The Los Angeles Times, 1951-03-18, page 32, obituary for John T. Opie.  https://archive.org/details/sim_los-angeles-times_los-angeles-times_1951-03-18_70/page/32/mode/2up?q=%22john+tremaine+opie%22

Death notice for Rupert Hughes, March 19, 1931 (page 17 of 28). (1931, Mar 19). The Vancouver Daily Province (1900-1952) Retrieved from https://www.proquest.com/historical-newspapers/march-19-1931-page-17-28/docview/2368671080/se-2


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