52 ancestors – Annie Louise Tanser

This weeks #52Ancestors theme is Females and the first person that came to mind was my great grandmother Annie Louise Tanser , known to my Mum as Nanny Brookes. Mum described her as being very proper with her furs and her corsets made at Gus Edwards in Hereford High Town. Mum used to do her chores and shopping and if there was any discrepancy in the money, then she would dock it from what she gave Mum for doing it. When looking into her life, I discovered a complicated life which still leaves unanswered questions.

Annie Louise Tanser was born in Leicester on 01 March 1879 to Mary Ann ( nee Hutchings) and Thomas Tanser. Her parents were from Northampton and they soon moved back there. She was christened on 12 June 1883 at St Edmunds Northampton with sisters Frances and Ellen and attended Military Road school in Northampton for a few years. I think life must have been difficult for her as a child. her father was up in court on numerous occasions for breaching the peace and also for assaulting her mother. the couple were to get a legal separation in 1909.

Annie was 17 when she first got married, to Ernest Chamberlain in St Michael & all Angels Northampton. I say first was married but although she was to refer to three men as her husband in her life, this is the only legal marriage I have been able to find and i believe Ernest was still living when she was with these other men. In fact in the 1901 census she is living with James Garfirth in Rushden Northamptonshire and says that she is his wife. In 1911 she is back being Annie Chamberlain.

Her working life and indeed that of her family was to revolve around the shoe trade which may well be the subject of another post! However I believe That in 1916 when he was stationed in Northampton, Annie met the man she would refer to as her husband, my great grandfather Allan Brookes. By 1921 Annie had moved to Hereford and was living with Allan as his wife. Some of her children remained behind in Northampton but some came with her and Annie later ran a boarding house in Castle street. Finding her children was a challenge for me as they were all given slight;y different surnames:

Joseph Walter Chamberlain b 1896 in Northampton ( who would only be 5 or so years younger than his stepfather Allan)

Florence Josephine Ada Chamberlain b 1899 Northampton ( known as Ada)

Ernest George Thomas GARFIRTH b 1901 Northampton

Lily Garfirth Chamberlain B 1903 Northampton

Nellie Garfirth Chamberlain B 1905 Northampton but died in 1906

Alfred Frederick Garfirth CHAMBERLAIN b 1907 Northampton( known as Terry)

Arthur Wilfred Garfirth CHAMBERLAIN B 1910 Northampton ( he grew up believing he was Arthur Brookes until he needed a birth certificate. later changed his name by deed poll to Brookes)

Gwendolin Betty Verdun Brookes CHAMBERLAIN B 1916 Northampton (my grandmother)

Allan John BROOKES b 1919 Hereford

It is through Annie and her daughter Lily that I have my tenuous claim to fame as being related to Martin Chambers of The Pretenders. Annie died in 1968 in Hereford and is buried in St Martins church in the city.

2 thoughts on “52 ancestors – Annie Louise Tanser

  1. Siobhan N.Nichols

    Hi Clare, Looking at that list of Great Nanny Brookes relatives, I have to say I had met many of them although Walter was very aged at the time and I was a very young child he was also her eldest child and sibling to Ada ( my Godmother). Nanny Brookes’ life was hard it would seem, very complicated and I guess we’ll never know all there is to know about her but Mum and Auntie Di always said she was good to them buying their bicycles and ‘she was never miserable’ and she loved having company and asked Mum(Daphne) and Diane to clean her house and on many occasions they did.
    Some of my lasting memories of her was of a very elderly Great Grandmother occupying the front bedroom of Hopton Road and Nanny Griff (Betty)having to care for her although very ill herself, before being admitted to Stretton Sugwas long-stay hospital where she later died in 1968 and Nanny Griff died at 52 years, one year later. I do recall Allen Brookes Nanny Griff’s father and that of John Brookes’ was known as Brodie Brookes a solicitors clerk in Hereford.


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