Vernon & District Family History Society

SHARING GENEALOGY KNOWLEDGE SINCE 1982

Hugh Gerald Williams by Ted Hoyte

Hugh Gerald Williams, known as Gerald, was born on January 21, 1869 in Truro, Nova Scotia, Canada to Hugh Jr. and Henrietta Mary (nee Fell) Williams. Hugh Jr. and Henrietta were married in 1865 in England. They had a son Charles B. in 1866 in London, England. By 1868 they had moved to Truro where Hugh Jr. was a missionary for the Church of England.

Image - Dr. Gerald Williams

Dr. Gerald Williams

Hugh Williams Jr. was born at Llandaff, Wales in December of 1833 to Hugh Williams Sr., a Church of England Clergyman, and Mary Williams. In July of 1854 Hugh Jr. was admitted to St. John's College at Cambridge University, where he studied to become a clergyman, and became a priest in 1863. Henrietta Mary Fell was born in 1841 in Staffordshire.

By Fall 1870 the family was back in England at Woodkirk, Yorkshire where Hugh Jr. was serving as priest. A daughter, Ella Mary, was born there. In 1872 Hugh Jr. was a priest at Risca, Monmouthshire, Wales, where a son George William was born. In the fall of 1875 Henrietta died and then in January of 1877 Hugh Jr. also died.

The United Kingdom census of 1881 has Charles B. age 15 and Gerald age 12, as scholars at Trent College in Long Eaton, Derbyshire. A passage to North America could not be located. In Gerald's obituary it says he took some of his medical training at St. Thomas' Hospital in London, England and finished it at Queen's College in Kingston, Ontario.

In 1893 Dr. H. Gerald Williams arrived in Vernon, BC and set up his medical practice. On March 31, 1896 a daughter, Vilma, also known as Velma, Williams was born. The BC Birth Registration lists her parents as Hugh Gerald Williams and Marie Fischer, no record of their marriage has been found yet. The Vernon News has two reports in July 1900 referring to Mrs. Marie Williams planning and leaving on a trip to Europe for a year. Canadian Passenger Lists records show Mrs. Gerald Williams, Marie, age 35 and child Vilma age 8 arriving at Montreal, Canada on July 7, 1901 on the ship “Australasian” from Liverpool, England. The Vernon News July 18, 1901 reports Mrs. Williams returned from Europe.

The Canada census of 1901 at Vernon, BC has Marie age 26 born on September 26, 1874 in Austria and Vilma age 5 born in BC. This is strange because the census was taken on March 31, 1901 while Marie and Vilma were in Europe. The census information was taken by Clement F. Costerton.

The Vernon News issue of March 31, 1904 reports a daughter was born on March 28 to Dr. Gerald & Mrs. Marie Williams.

In December of 1907 Gerald travelled to the UK for several months, returning to Canada in March 1908. According to Gerald's great niece, Marie and Gerald separated at some time before 1911. Marie and the daughters returned to the UK or Europe. I have not found any record of their travel; however I did find a marriage record in the fall of 1912 in London, England. Marie W. Fischer/Williams to Charles E. Hutton. The 1911 Canada census shows Gerald age 42, living in Vernon with Mary McOlson age 25, born in Scotland, her occupation as a housekeeper having immigrated to Canada in 1910.

The Vernon News issue of March 28, 1912 has a front page article about a dispute between the nursing staff at the hospital and Dr. Williams over his use of Profane & Abusive Language. This resulted in the entire nursing staff of 12 resigning their positions when the Hospital Board of Directors did not support the charges the nurses made against Dr. Williams. At some time in 1912 Dr. Williams purchased one of the first cars to be used in Vernon. The Vernon & District Museum and Archives supplied the photo, which shows Gerald in his new car in front of the Land & Agriculture Company building where his office was on the upper floor. There is a sign “Dr. Williams” on the right corner of the building beside the stairs. This building is now the home of the Bean Scene Coffee House.

Image - Dr. Williams in new car 1912 / Courtesy: Vernon Museum & Archives - Photo No. 353

Dr. Williams in new car

Image - Dr. Gerald Williams abt 1915

Dr. Gerald Williams abt 1915

Image - Gerald & Effie

Gerald & Effie

According to my grandmother, Doris M. (nee Costerton) Berry, her mother Effie Catherine (nee Gibbs) Costerton left her husband, Clement and three children in September 1911. She began a relationship with Dr. Williams sometime after that.

The 1921 Canada census has at 387 Barnard Ave. Vernon – Williams - Gerald Williams age 53, occupation Doctor and Agnes, age 48 born in England and immigrated 1885. It is unclear if Agnes is a mistake for Effie, whose family emigrated from England sometime before 1886 and would actually have been 47 years old, or another woman. The July 27, 1922 edition of The Vernon News has an obituary for Mrs. Dr. Williams who died last Wednesday in Lillooet, at the home of her parents, Mr. & Mrs. S. Gibb. Dr. & Mrs. Williams had left Vernon a few days before on a fishing trip to the Cariboo and were visiting her parents at the time. She was a resident of the Okanagan for many years. Her death registration indicates Effie Catherine Williams passed away on July 10, 1922 at Lillooet age 48 from a cerebral hemorrhage. Her birth was recorded as May 28, 1874 in London, England.

The October 23, 1924 edition of The Vernon News states that Dr. Gerald Williams was accidentally injured while quail hunting in the Naramata area, near Penticton, BC. A hunting companion accidentally shot Dr. Williams in the right leg just below the knee. The damage was so severe that his leg was amputated at the knee in Penticton Hospital. The October 30, 1924 issue indicates that Dr. Williams was reported as “Doing Very Well” it relates more details about the accident and he is “resting and doing as satisfactorily as possible”.

On December 24, 1925, at the Vernon Court House Gerald Williams, age 56, married Jean Campbell Jardine, age 34, teacher born in New Westminster, BC.

On November 16, 1914 at St. Peter, Bayswater, Notting Hill, London, England a marriage is recorded between Vilma Williams age 21, actually only 18, spinster whose father is Gerald Williams, Doctor and Marcel Godfrey Isaacs, age 21, whose father is Godfrey C. Isaacs, Gentleman. In the second quarter of 1917 a birth is registered at Paddington, London. Roderick M. Isaacs whose mother's maiden name is Williams. The 1918 London Electoral Registers have Isaacs, Marcel Godfrey living at Lauderdale Rd. Paddington, no wife listed.

Image - Effie Williams & Doris Costerton at Lillooet, BC 1914

Effie Williams & Doris Costerton at Lillooet, BC 1914

On September 15, 1919 the ship Megantic departs from Liverpool, England with a destination of Montreal, Canada with a passenger, Mrs. Vilma Isaacs age 23 wife, not travelling with a husband. The Canadian Arrival record on September 23, 1919 lists Vilma Isaacs, 23, single to be married to L. Cox of the USA. Her destination is USA via Toronto, Ontario. I have found a Louis C. Cox and wife Vilma in the 1920 US census, living in Los Angeles, California. I also located this same couple residing in New York City, New York in the 1925 New York State census.

Image - Dr. Gerald Williams & Doris Costerton

Dr. Gerald Williams & Doris

The Vernon News issue on June 3, 1926 Town & District column says Dr. & Mrs. Williams friends, Mr. & Mrs. Godfrey Isaacs, came to Vernon from England in early June. I believe this is Marcel Isaacs' younger brother Dennys Godfrey Isaacs and his wife Florence. Okanagan Historical Society 28th Report contains an article on the History of Fruit Growing in the area mention Dennys as being involved in the Orchardists Organization and owning an orchard in Oyama, British Columbia. Marcel and Dennys father Godfrey Charles Isaacs had died on April 27, 1925 in Surrey, England. Probate records show he left an estate valued at 195,000 pounds to be administered by his widow, Lea Isaacs.

On October 30, 1926 the ship Antonia departed from Southampton, England with a destination of Quebec and Montreal, Canada with Lea Isaacs, age 52, housewife and Richard Isaacs, age 9 scholar, with Canada their country of intended residence.

In the fall of 1927 a Polio epidemic broke out at Vernon Preparatory School in the Coldstream. An article in the Okanagan Historical Society 29th Report by Hugh F. Mackie relates that Dr. Gerald Williams, the Medical Health Officer for the area was very involved in trying to contain the outbreak. It also says that a boy named Isaacs at the school, the grandson of a wealthy lady then residing at Oyama was showing symptoms of the disease. He was isolated from the other students and cared for by his grandfather, Dr. Williams. Unfortunately 10 year old Richard Marcel Lancelot Isaacs passed away on October 3, 1927. He was born on May 10, 1917 in London, England. His father was Marcel Godfrey Isaacs and mother was Vilma Williams. The Vernon News from October 6 has an obituary for Richard Isaacs age 10 who died of infantile paralysis at Vernon Preparatory School in Coldstream. His family members appear as; father, Marcel Isaacs, grandmother, Mrs. Godfrey Isaacs, grandfather, Dr. Gerald Williams and uncle, Dennis Godfrey Isaacs. Richard had come to Canada in November of 1926 with his grandmother from England.

The Vernon News from February 21, 1935 has an obituary for Dr. Gerald Williams stating “he is survived by his wife in Vernon and daughters, Geraldine of New London, South Africa and Thelma of London, England”. His death registration states he died at his residence on Whetham Street on February 16, 1935. Pleasant Valley Cemetery records indicate he is buried in section E 107A plot 1.

Jean Campbell Williams, widow of Hugh Gerald Williams, died on November 1, 1981 at St. Joseph's Hospital in Vancouver, BC at the age of 90. Her remains were cremated.

Dr. Williams had been a shadowy character in my Grandmother, Doris' family stories. The family history researching methods that I have learned allowed me to shine a bit of light on him.