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Becoming Prowse

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

I've been asked a few times how I came to be involved in documenting the Prowse family tree. So here, in brief, is the story:

Some background is warranted. Many years ago my father, Ronald Ernest Mattey (1927-2019), started researching and documenting the Mattey family tree. I found, perhaps because I am quite probably the most isolated from other Mattey family members, that I was quite interested in his findings. Along the way I helped him with some internet searches (though he was quite tech-savvy for a man of his age). He had determined, for instance, that the seat of the English Matteys was Herefordshire, that the family trade was blacksmith, and that likely the Matteys were of Huguenot origin and left France during the persecutions in the 16th and 17th centuries. My research uncovered that the Mattey surname had possibly evolved from the name Mattei, which is common around the Mediterranean basin and most prevalent on the island of Corsica. In fact, one of Napoléon's generals was a Mattei. But we digress...

When my father passed in November 2019 I took over his MyHeritage subscription. Having retired a year earlier, I had the time and the interest to continue his work. To my great surprise, I discovered that, while he had documented many generations of Mattey relations, he had done almost nothing on my mother's side. Perhaps this was because my parents had separated in 2011 - for the second time, or perhaps it was just that his interest lay in his own history. My father was a student of history to be certain and also self-interested. I set out to correct this.

My mother was Maureen Ethel Davison (1932-2012). Her father was Frederick 'Harry' Davison, Jr. (1892-1963). More important to this story, her mother was Anne 'Annie' Margaret Prowse (1894-1975). That's Annie to the left with my elder brothers (L-R) David (1952) and Steven (1951) before they emigrated to Canada.

With my parents having emigrated from England in 1957/58 and with me being born in Canada, my exposure to extended family was limited to anecdotes and the odd old photograph shared by my parents, which, let's face it, is of limited interest to a young boy. Other than their names, and the names of my Mum's brothers, I don't recall much. In fact, the only reason I recalled Annie's maiden name was that whenever Juliette Prowse, one of my Mum's favourites, was on TV or in the news, my Mum would comment that Prowse was her mother's maiden name and she would wonder if they were related. Turns out, probably so according to Malcolm.

Annie did come and visit us in Winnipeg in 1964 after Harry passed. I was five then and have only vague memories of the visit. In 1976, a year after Annie's death, my parents took me to England for my 18th birthday. It was my first of many trips to England. We spent most of our time with my Dad's family but we did have a visit my Mum's older brother Fred, and his wife Winnie and son Chris.

For about a year I had almost no success finding information in MyHeritage on Annie. Then one day I tried a different approach with the filters and almost by accident noticed a record for Anne Prouse. I followed that lead, which gave me information on parents and siblings and BAM the House of Prowse blossomed in front of my very eyes. Who knew?!

Now the Prowse tree is one of the largest on my site.

Ian Mattey

March 2021

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