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Margaret (Madge) McKie (nee Domville)



Madge 1891 aged 5

Madge (Margaret Domville) 1891 - aged 5 years


My cousin Trish provided the following - in relation to our great-grandmother (Madge's mother) - based on earlier research by my Aunty Joan (my father's youngest sister):

"Her father Stephen Slinger (probably who Stephen McKie was named after) was born in 1816 in Middleton in Westmorland and married Jane Baine (born 1813) from Ingleton, which used to be in Westmorland but is now in the county of North Yorkshire. They married November 1838.

In the 1861 census for Appleby, Stephen was a farmer of 16 acres living with his wife Ann and 4 children. They were Polly, b.1844, Elizabeth (Madge’s mother) b. 2/7/1846, Jane Ann (her step mother) b. 1850 and Richard b. 1853."


Jane Ann step mother Polly ElizabethMother

 The three sisters. Pencilled on to photo: Jane Ann (step mother);
Auntie Polly;
Mother. “Mother” was Elizabeth Slinger, Joshua Domville’s first wife


"Great-grandfather Joshua's first wife was Elizabeth Slinger, and they had four children: Jane b.1872 and known as Jenny, Elizabeth b.1876, Joshua Stephen (Uncle Joe) b.1881 and Margaret “Madge” b. 21/4/1886."


Joshua Domville

Photo of Joshua Domville
Granny has written on the back “My very dear Father. Died March 25th 1916”
He has a definite twinkle!


"Elizabeth died giving birth to Madge or soon after.  Not long after her death Joshua married her younger sister Jane."


Jane Ann Domville nee Slinger

Madge’s (Granny Welch's) step mother and aunt, Jane Ann
Born Jane Ann Slinger, married Joshua Domville, her deceased sister’s husband


My mother wrote: The Church prohibited this in England so they travelled to Sweden to be married.  [This is corrected to Denmark by Trish] Denmark makes more sense given its close associations with Northern England (see My Mother's Family).

Although I can't understand why, this was regarded as scandalous, particularly in my mother's family, and spoken of darkly, in hushed tones: 'she was brought-up by her aunt you know'; and the suggestion that this was somehow improper.  I presume that the younger sister is thought to have 'had eyes on him' before her sister's death or that the 'proper thing' would have been for her to occupy another bedroom as a maiden aunt.

Anyway, the impropriety obviously didn't concern James, who's own upbringing had been a little unusual, to say the least.

Trish writes: "Our Granny (Madge) stayed in touch with the Slingers, her mother’s family, who lived in the small town of Appleby in Westmorland. I can remember Grandpa Welch, Granny, my mother Margaret and myself driving to Appleby to visit relatives. Unfortunately, I don't remember who they were, just that I hated going because I was always felt car sick on the 80 mile journey there from Newcastle."

"Richard, or Uncle Dick, trained to be a carpenter. His mother allowed him to carve patterns in a very large, beautiful old English oak cupboard. Mike and I had this cupboard until we moved to a smaller house and Jane took it. The removal men had a struggle moving it! We also have a small carved wood folder for papers with the letters JD and dated 1898. I wonder whether Uncle Dick carved it for his sister Jane Ann Domville (nee Slinger)?

Margaret and Joan used to say that Uncle Dick was very tall and that's where the tall gene came from. Margaret was 5’11” which was extremely tall for a person born in 1918."

The Domvilles seem to have been surprisingly well off given her father's job, that today would not be very lucrative. Madge's father Joshua, my great-grandfather, had joined the North Eastern Railway as a clerk in the office (around 1866) when he left school.  He remained a clerk in the accounts department at each census return and when he was old enough Madge's brother, Jacob Stephen Domville, got a job there too.  In the 1881 census they were living in Westgate, Newcastle upon Tyne. Trish reports that: "Granny used to say that it was a 'good' area in those days".

Possibly the railways paid very well or maybe their combined income allowed them to live in Albany Gardens when Madge met James McKie. Albany Gardens was, and still is, a very good middle class address. According to the census they were the sole occupants and were probably the owners. The houses there have a present value of well over a million pounds (in 2015), very high for the north of England. You can see some in the real estate pages but not in Google street view.  It is possible that the girls inherited the farm as they were obviously able to travel and did not feel bound by conventional values.  

There is also a possibility that Joshua or his father came into a remote inheritance on the Domville side?  Joshua senior (shown as John in the census). He was then listed as 'foreman to carpet manufacturer' but elsewhere (in the Census) as a 'warehouseman'. He married Ann Shaw and when my great grandfather, Joshua, was born, on 15/08/1849, they lived at at 62 Northgate in Darlington, Durham. He died on 25/03/1916.

When I was a child there was some suggestion that the Domvilles were related to other, better known Domvilles.  It's quite an unusual name so there may be some connection. There are the Domville baronets of St Alban's one of whom was Lord Mayor of London and an Army colonel Domville who was a contemporary, as well as the Admirals, mentioned below, but any link is tenuous. Joshua's father, came from Thorne, South Yorkshire. Maybe he was a black sheep. 

This is another name with two different spellings. In the very recent past these seem to have been used interchangeably within the same family, due no doubt to phonetic spelling (the same person is referred to in the National Library of Ireland as 'Domville' with two 'l's, while from Burke's Landed Gentry of Ireland:  'Domvile', spelt with one 'l').

The name is quite unusual and has aristocratic Norman origins see: Ireland - The Protestant Plantations - on this website.  There are people like Sir Crompton Domville (two 'l's) running around Newcastle contemporary with my recent family.

Admiral Sir Compton Edward Domville (spelt both ways) was a hero of World War 1, but his son Admiral Sir Barry Edward Domvile (1878–1971) (one 'l') was interned during World War 2 as a traitor for outspokenly supporting Hitler (as incidentally, did quite a few English aristocrats; notoriously Mrs Simpson; and probably her lover King Edward VIII). 

It's tempting to think that the changes to the spelling may have been made by the press wanting to make the younger man's name into Dom-vile.  Like the American press changing 'Usama bin Laden' under which spelling he was known to the CIA and wrote several books to: 'Osama-bin-laden', to get rid of the 'Usa'.

Trish has written: "Madge (Granny) was extremely proud of her Domville heritage. She used to say sadly that her brother, Joe (Joshua) Domville, was the last Domville in the telephone book. Uncle Joe used to come for afternoon tea and I remember him as a sprightly, cheerful white haired elderly man."

Wedding Joshua Domville junior Grannys brother 1912

Wedding photo 1912. Uncle Joe’s wedding
Joe was Joshua Domville junior, Granny’s brother. Granny is in back row between 2 unnamed men
In the front row sits their father, Joshua Domville senior and step mother, Jane Ann Domville
It's interesting to see Jane Ann at different ages
Joe’s wife was called Cissie, her sister, the bridesmaid, was called Ethel
These names are coming back into fashion in UK!


When James died in 1925 Margaret McKie's only assets were the house and some sympathetic relatives and friends. 

So, she had a separate flat constructed and let it out to a tenant, offering serviced accommodation.  This was a fortunate decision. One of these residents was W (Bill?) Buckle, the chief draftsman at Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd - shipbuilders at Wallsend on the River Tyne, then one of the largest enterprises in the North East of England.

He introduced Madge to the Assistant Yard Manager at Swan Hunter's, Norman Welch who was four years her junior and unmarried.  And so began a long, very close, friendship that eventually led to marriage in 1933.

In 1934 the family moved from Monkseaton to a terrace house in Osborne Avenue, Jesmond in Newcastle upon Tyne.


31 Osborne Avenue
31 Osborne Avenue, Jesmond today (Google Street View)
The family subsequently moved to number 37


My mother first met Madge when she was 'walking out' with my father, probably around 1941 when my mother was 17 years old. 

It didn't go well.  My father's family was quite unfamiliar to my mother who was a single child in a different sort of family.  Here, few things were sacred and the siblings competed with each other in cynicism and rye jokes. 

Years later my mother would write of Madge: 
Her education was typical of middleclass girls in Victorian England to acquire social skills, manage domestic staff and be a good wife...  When Madge married James McKie, she had to run a home with domestic staff which included a cook, maid and nanny and she quickly became an astute housekeeper.

My mother clearly resented Madge steadfastly keeping this staff through thick and thin, rather than taking up a bucket and mop herself, and thought that taking-in paying guests was at odds with her other pretensions:

She discretely provided room and board to long-term paying guests and even after her second marriage, and removal to an even larger house, she continued to do this, always in a managerial role as hostess and always with the guests in separate quarters from the family.

I was left an ancient copy of The Book of Household Management, by Mrs. Isabella Beeton, which has somehow disappeared, but the introduction can be found Project Gutenberg eBook.  It's a nice reflection of the middleclass Victorian view of life:


From Mrs Beeton:


I. AS WITH THE COMMANDER OF AN ARMY, or the leader of any enterprise, so is it with the mistress of a house. Her spirit will be seen through the whole establishment; and just in proportion as she performs her duties intelligently and thoroughly, so will her domestics follow in her path. Of all those acquirements, which more particularly belong to the feminine character, there are none which take a higher rank, in our estimation, than such as enter into a knowledge of household duties; for on these are perpetually dependent the happiness, comfort, and well-being of a family. In this opinion we are borne out by the author of "The Vicar of Wakefield," who says: "The modest virgin, the prudent wife, and the careful matron, are much more serviceable in life than petticoated philosophers, blustering heroines, or virago queens. She who makes her husband and her children happy, who reclaims the one from vice and trains up the other to virtue, is a much greater character than ladies described in romances, whose whole occupation is to murder mankind with shafts from their quiver, or their eyes."

2. PURSUING THIS PICTURE, we may add, that to be a good housewife does not necessarily imply an abandonment of proper pleasures or amusing recreation; and we think it the more necessary to express this, as the performance of the duties of a mistress may, to some minds, perhaps seem to be incompatible with the enjoyment of life. Let us, however, now proceed to describe some of those home qualities and virtues which are necessary to the proper management of a Household, and then point out the plan which may be the most profitably pursued for the daily regulation of its affairs...



Given my mother's and her family's value-system that enthusiastically embraced petticoated philosophers and blustering heroines, if not virago queens, and believed in everyone 'mucking in' when there was work to be done, there was bound to be a clash.

I'm reminded of the rhetorical question beloved by both my mother and her mother:  'Who do you think you are (or does he think he is)? Lord Muck!' (or 'Lady Muck' as the case may be).

Once they married my father didn't help his young wife like her mother-in-law.  He accused his mother of putting on turns and exaggerating illnesses to get her way.

My mother wrote that:  His memory of his mother is of a remote lady who delegated much of her children's care to others and took little interest in their hopes and ambitions, providing they were well-mannered and mixed in the 'correct' circles.


Grandpa and Grandma Welch Margaret and Norman
Granny (Margaret McKie/Welch nee Domville) and Grandpa Welch outside 37 Osborne Avenue in July 1963
He was very neat here - notice the creases in his pants


It is my observation that none of her children gave two hoots for the correct circles, if by that she meant the English Class System.   But they certainly cared about the opinion of those they worked with or admired, their reputation and their 'word'.  'One never goes back on one's word'. 


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