For pictures of and information about James West himself, see this entry.
Mary West (1811-87)
Relationship - mother.
Mary West was born in London, the daughter of a leather dresser. Her father may have had his own business and could have been of higher status than the term ‘leather dresser’ suggests. She had two children by different fathers, both illegitimate - Fanny de la Hunt in 1830 and James Fitzjames Fraser West in 1833. In both cases, the fathers were of high status and as young adults both Mary and her sister, Harriet, described themselves as living of independent means in the census of 1841. Her mother, Mary Ann, was living with Mary by the time the 1851 census was conducted, and also described herself as being of independent means.
Fanny de la Hunt (1830-85)
Relationship - half-sister by the same mother.
Half-sister of West. Like West, she was illegitimate. Her father was Peter de la Hunt, a London timber merchant. The use of Fanny’s father’s name suggests her mother, Mary West, can hardly have been ashamed of her daughter’s illegitimate status. West and Fanny were very close. No picture of Fanny herself survives, but the above sampler was worked by Fanny at the age of 8, i.e. in 1838.
Sarah Hammond West, aka Tadie (1844-1911)
Relationship - wife, 39 years old at the time of the diary.
Sarah Hammond West (née Sellers) was born in Great Houghton, near Barnsley, Yorkshire, the daughter of John Sellers, farmer, and his wife Sarah (née Shaw). As a child, she attended Highfield House School in Wath upon Dearne, winning prizes for reading, history and 'general improvement'. She married James West in 1864 (aged 20), in the Darfield parish church, Yorkshire. After her mother’s death in 1870, Sarah inherited mineral-rich land and property, the management of which occupied James West for the remainder of his life.
NO PICTURE AVAILABLE
Walter Sellers West (1865-95)
Relationship - oldest son, 18 years old at the time of the diary.
Mentioned ten times in the diary. Appears to have been a particular favourite of West's, accompanying him on his rounds and helping him to write up his papers. Committed suicide at the age of 29, twelve years after his father's death.
Conrad K. West (1867-1930)
Relationship - son, 16 years old at the time of the diary.
West’s second child. He became a surveyor and auctioneer in adult life and was the father of James West's last surviving descendent, Constance Margery West.
Marion Lucy West (1869-95)
Relationship - daughter, 14 years old at the time of the diary.
Marion Lucy West was the third of West's children to die within just four months and a day of one another in 1895 (after Walter and Bertram). The death certificate states she died as a result of mania, a condition which was highly unlikely to result in death according to our present day understanding of the term. It may have been a euphemism for a suicide or possibly a misdiagnosis. Photographs of her suggest she was an imaginative young woman and the legacies she left in her will show she had a social conscience.
Gertrude West, aka Gerty (1872-1951)
Relationship - daughter, 11 years old at the time of the diary.
West’s fourth child. She was a talented linguist who worked as a translator in the First World War, but is best remembered as a painter of miniatures.
John Frederick West, aka Jack (1875-1936)
Relationship - son, 8 years old at the time of the diary.
West’s fifth child, mentioned eight times in the diary. He embarked on the study of medicine but gave it up in favour of the law. As an adult he was very close to his brother, Conrad, and his family.
Amy Valentine West (later Redfern), aka Daisy (1877-1937)
Relationship - daughter, 6 years old at the time of the diary.
Affectionately known as Daisy, Amy was the only one of West’s daughters to marry. She bore just one child, Barbara Joyce, who married but was childless. Amy Valentine had no occupation save for a period in the First World War when she worked as a nurse in the VAD (picture, right).
NO PICTURE AVAILABLE
Arthur Balden West (1879-1949)
Relationship - son, 4 years old at the time of the diary.
Little is known about Arthur Balden. His death certificate suggests that he died a bachelor, having worked as a clerk in Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham. He died in Coton Hill Hospital, Staffordshire, a county Lunatic Asylum built to house patients of the middle and upper classes.
Constance Margery West, aka Margery (1904-1991)
Relationship - granddaughter of James West, daughter of Conrad Kershaw West and Ellen Ward.
Margery was James West's last surviving descendent, and had kept throughout her life his last diary, as well as numerous other documents relating to his life and career. Upon her death in 1991, she passed these to Geraldine Mary Goodman, her step-daughter. The documents constituted an important first step in Mrs. Goodman's research into the life and career of James West, now published as A Victorian Surgeon. A Biography of James Fitzjames Fraser West 1833-83, Birmingham Surgeon.
The West family grave, Church of the Ascension, Hall Green, Birmingham