Hi all,

I'm trying to track down the comings and goings of my grandmother who left my mother back in London in 1952 and travelled to Australia. I've got the ship record that states that Miss Millicent Pettit disembarked in Fremantle on the 28th Sept 1952 and it seems she was making her way to Paddington (I think in NSW) to work for the United Victuallers Association. At least that's what she's written in the 'address at destination' section. I'm a little stuck now as to how I work out when she naturalised (if she did at all) or how to trace her movements since disembarking. 

Any help would be enormously appreciated. She left my mum high and dry in an orphanage in London when my mum was only 7 and my dear mother has always been quite intrigued as to what became of her.

Thanks all, hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Kind regards,


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Dear Elizabeth and Debra,

I'm so pleased with all the information you've found and I'm eternally grateful to both of you for going to all this effort - it's unbelievable what you've managed to find out about them over the last few days. That an image of the house John and Millicent shared since 1963 has been found is just fascinating. I really enjoyed reading through the Surnames forum thread, please do pass on my sincere gratitude to everybody for their incredible work and effort. The timing of all this information coming to light really couldn't be better as I'm heading home for the weekend tonight and my mum will be incredibly interested in what became of Millicent. 

I'll be very interested to see what the information on John's assisted migration reveals. I wonder, as well, will the death notice in the newspaper be the same as that which is written in the SA Government Gazette? Curious if it will reveal further family information such as children. Now that we have evidence of her death I should be able to get more information of her whereabouts in the 1939 Register and perhaps get more clues as to her birth. 

Again, I can't thank you both enough for your endeavours. My mum will be so pleased to learn what you've discovered, she's always wondered why her mother left her in a home when she was just 7, though without any bitterness toward her whatsoever, and she'll be thrilled to have all this information.

Kindest regards and sincerest gratitude,


Aaron,  You are very welcome and if you need anything else please just ask

Unfortunately her burial place has not been found as yet but I presume it might be listed on her death certificate along with any other children she may have had after her marriage in 1952

I will let you know if we find anything else interesting or you can just check the thread on my site for any updates

Info on obtaining a death cert in South Australia



You can ask the SA State Library for a transcription of Millicent's death notice.  You know that she died on 9 April 1999 so it would be a quick lookup for them to find the notice.  They generally do an hour of free research for anyone who doesn't live locally.  Just click on "Ask a research question online" here:


Do you have your mother's birth certificate?  Was Millicent a single woman and PETTIT was her maiden surname?  What was the registration district?

Thanks for these links, I'll look into them this afternoon. On my mother's birth certificate Millicent was a single woman, her maiden name was PETTIT, and the registration district was City of Westminster. I'll be interested to see if the redacted record on the 1939 Register at 53 Sussex Street is her and if there's more information on her there. 

I think that redacted entry would be for the younger daughter of Alice WYATT (nee WALLIS) and is an unrelated family.   Looking at later electoral rolls and the number of different people enrolled at that address I would say it was used as a boarding house.

Dear Elizabeth and Debra,

Some interesting developments! Firstly, I managed to get hold of Millicent and John's marriage certificate where Millicent states that her mother's name was Joyce Ruffle and her father's name was Roger Pettit (deceased). Under father's occupation she wrote 'carpenter'. Now, on findmypast, I found a R J Pettit who had joined a trade union for carpenters in London in 1925 and who was born in 1901. I can't seem to find a Roger Pettit in any of the censuses, and while there is a Reginald J Pettit born in London in 1901, he seems to have died in 1963. If Roger was dead by 1952 I suppose there's a high chance he was killed during WW2, as he would have been 40 in 1941 when 40 year olds were obligated to register for the army.

Joyce Ruffle should be easier to find (though no luck yet) as my mum actually knew her as she was the step-mother of a Maureen Ruffle who was placed in the same children's home as my mum in 1954 when Joyce died. Apparently when Millicent left in 1952 my mum was left in the care of Joyce Ruffle and it was when she died in 1954 that my mum and Maureen were placed in the children's home.

According to my mum, who's been in touch with Maureen's daughter (my mum and Maureen became lifetime friends, though Maureen sadly passed several years ago), Maureen was the daughter of a Jack Ruffle and was born in 1930. Joyce allegedly entered into a relationship with Jack when Maureen was 4, so in 1934, but we're not sure if they ever married. Joyce was apparently 58 when she died in 1954.

Now, if Joyce got together with Jack in 1934, then it's possible Roger actually died between 1925 and 1934. According to my mum, Joyce's maiden name was Hayman and her parents were from Brixham, Devon, UK. I'm going to look into all of this today and see if I can find Roger through Joyce.

Secondly, SA state library got in touch today with Millicent's death notice which revealed that Millicent had two children, Cheryl and Grant, and four grandchildren, Jason, Shaun, Emmileen, and Rebecca. I'm still waiting to hear back from the SA government website regarding the acquisition of Millicent's death certificate, as it seems to be necessary to hold certain Australian documents before you can claim a relative's death certificate. 

Apologies for such a long message but thought you might be interested in this development. I spoke to my mum on the phone earlier and she was shocked that, firstly, Joyce Ruffle was apparently her biological grandmother, and secondly, that Millicent had children in Australia. I really didn't know how to break that to her as I'm sure it must have opened up some questions for her regarding her mother. 

Just to stress, none of this would have been possible without both of your invaluable help, and I'm so grateful for that. Thank you.

Kind regards,


I just read that back and realised Maureen would have been 24 when Joyce died so obviously wouldn't have been placed in the children's home. I'm guessing they just stayed friends as Joyce was my mother's Grandmother and Maureen's stepmother.

I recognised the surname RUFFELL from my previous searches.

Millicent was at 32 Westmoreland Terrace in 1945 with a Beatrice RUFFELL at the same address.  In 1949 she was Beatrice HARAMBOUR(E) at 53 Sussex Street with probable partner Etienne (can't see a marriage).  In 1950 Millicent is also with them at that address with a number of other people.

If you go back to 1939, Beatrice is at 10a Lupus Street, Westminster  recorded as:

RUFFELL, Beatrice Jose  with  HARAMBOURE added when the register was updated.  She said she was born 19 Jan 1909.

I will have to go back through my search history because I can't remember now, but I think I came to the conclusion that JOSE may have been her birth surname. It may also be that they started to write the name 'Josephine' and stopped before finishing it.  I only remember that I was going around in circles and not getting anywhere so I will have another look.

Marriages Dec 1933

JOSÈ,  Beatrice T

Lambeth 1d 606

I think that John Alfred RUFFELL and Annie CHATHAM were Maureen's parents.  So what on earth was Millicent doing living with Beatrice if John Alfred then had a relationship with Millicent's mother Joyce? 

Possibly Beatrice's birth:

GRO Reference: 1908 M Quarter in TOTNES Volume 05B Page 141

No mother's maiden surname indexed by the GRO so likely to be illegitimate.  You will find her in 1911 in Brixham.  She was probably the daughter of Mary Elizabeth.

Aaron,  Many thanks for the update - this is becoming Pandoras box !!!!

I can imagine how your Mother felt finding out about Joyce being her grandmother - it seems that if Joyce hadn't died then she would have brought her up instead of being put in a home - all so sad

good to know that from a copy of the marriage cert that we were on the right track & the correct family - always pays to be sure


In 1939 Maureen was at the All Saints convent in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and later register updates show her married surname as well as the surname HAMABOURE (sic) so I think this confirms that Beatrice was connected closely to her.  Beatrice was at the same address as Etienne HARAMBOURE from at least 1946 and was using his surname by 1949.  She died in 1958 aged 50.  I cannot find any evidence that she had any children of her own.

I have no idea who 'Joyce' might have been and you would really need to sort out the family stories before assuming that Millicent's mother Joyce was the same person as Maureen's stepmother.

Debra - Thanks so much for finding that information. I've been using Findmypast for my searches but apparently it doesn't include electoral lists so I wondered how you found the information on Millicent and Beatrice so when I went on to Ancestry I suddenly started seeing these lists. 

Perhaps two hours before I read your message I was chatting to my mum on the phone about it all and she said, as if it had just come to her then, that she had a feeling Joyce was born Beatrice, and then I read your message with all the information on Beatrice Jose Ruffell and it all makes sense. I'm guessing Beatrice kept Jose as well as taking John's surname and that, for some reason, Jose became Joyce? It's odd that on Millicent's marriage certificate she spells it Ruffle. It's also odd that in the 1939 register Beatrice says her birthday is 19th Jan 1909 when in fact she was born 14th Jan 1908. It's definitely her though because my mum said from the start that Joyce's family originated from Brixham. 

It's interesting as well that Beatrice and John Ruffell live together on Lupus Street until 1939 in the electoral register, and then only a few months later in the 1939 register Beatrice is living there alone and has also taken the name Haramboure. Etienne Haramboure and Joyce (Beatrice) were together, according to my mum, until 1954 when Joyce died and Etienne got together with an Italian woman and headed to New York that year (I found him on the passengers leaving list). 

What's puzzling is that we now have Beatrice Jose (Joyce) Ruffell's life mapped out but still can't find any evidence of Millicent's birth. There's a discrepancy, though, on her marriage certificate where she states she's 26 but on the Passengers Leaving List she says she's 28. So either she was born in 1924 or 1926. If Joyce was born in 1909 then she'd have been 15 if she had Millicent in 1924 and 17 in 1926. 

As Elizabeth says, Pandora's Box! It really is amazing what you've both turned up though. My mum's so grateful to have learnt everything you've found, as am I!


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