My grandmother, Mildred Sophia MANSELL (1889-1957), was actually born with the surname of Agar. This is what I know about her Agar family and how she came to use the name of Mansell.

Mildred’s great grandfather, Peter AGAR (1806-1882), was born in 1806 in Whitby in Yorkshire. He married Eliza BOWTELL (1807-1876) in 1832 Southwark near London. Peter Agar was a currier (dresses, finishes and colours tanned hide) and the family lived in the London area until 1849 when they emigrated to Australia with their four surviving children. Peter settled in Braidwood where he worked as a tanner with his eldest son, James Lee.

Peter and Eliza’s youngest child was Mary AGAR (1843-1923) who gave birth to a son, James Edwin, in 1864 in Condobolin, NSW. Mary was not married and James’ father is not listed on the birth certificate. Later in 1869, Mary married William Mansell in Forbes, NSW.

On 1 Jan 1889, Mary’s son, James Edwin married Martha Eleanour SMITH (1867-1965) in Forbes. Their daughter Mildred Sophia was born four months later on 12 April 1889.

Mary’s husband, William Mansell, died in April 1896. In August 1896, Martha “Nellie” Agar submited a petition for divorce from James Agar on the grounds of desertion (information on James’ death certificate indicates he may never have seen his daughter). From then on, Nellie and her daughter Mildred, adopted Mary’s married name of Mansell. Nellie never remarried or had any further children. When Mildred married my grandfather, Lllewellyn Edwin WILLIAMS (1884-1967), in 1915 she used the name of Mansell.

James Edwin AGAR (1864-1936) settled near Walgett, NSW where he bought land and developed a property called “Netherby”. He become a successful producer of merino wool. When James died in 1936, “Netherby” was inherited by James’ companion/nurse (he suffered a stroke in 1925 and  was incapacitated for the final five years of his life), Catherine Powell. When Catherine died in 1947, the property was inherited by James’ cousin, Ellen Agar.

I have now ventured into the realm of DNA testing and guess what? Mildred, again, and it seems that James Edwin Agar was not her father after all. That may explain why he married Martha Smith and then “ran off” and seemingly never saw Martha’s child. I have dozens of DNA matches that indicate that Mildred’s father was the son of John Higgins and Rebecca Kearns, most probably their middle son John.