The Corner House, Easthorpe, Bottesford c.1910-1920 courtesy of Bottesford Heritage Archive

Before the War

Muriel was born on 6th May 1891 in Willaston, Cheshire. In April 1891, just before Muriel was born, her father Alexander, mother Matilda, sisters Edith, Bertha, Constance and Dorothy and brothers Edward, Sam, Sydney, Douglas and Gilbert were living at the Nag’s Head, Willaston where Alexander was a licensed victualler. Also living there were Matilda’s mother Rebecca Holmes and domestic servant Margaret McEvoy. Alexander died on 11th November 1899 at the ‘Yews’, Cotgrave, Nottinghamshire.

In 1901 Muriel, 9, was living with her widowed mother, sisters Edith, 27, Dorothy, 11 and brothers Sydney, electrical engineer, Douglas, 17, lace warehouseman, and Gilbert, 15, at 314, Mansfield Road, Nottingham. Edith Eyres, housemaid, and Mary Wright, general servant were also living there

Muriel’s mother Matilda travelled to Quebec, Canada in 1910, arriving on 2nd July.   Her ultimate destination was given as Victoria, B.C. She returned to England on 27th January 1913.

It has not been possible to trace Muriel in the 1911 census. Muriel’s sister Dorothy was a Kindergarten student teacher at West Bank School, Belvoir Road, Bideford, Devon in 1911. Her sister Constance was a nursery governess in LLanelwedd Rectory, Builth Wells, Breconshire in the household of Reverend David Edmondes Owen. Her sister Edith and brother Gilbert were living on Church Street, Long Bennington, near Grantham.

During the War

The following information about Muriel May Middlemass has been extracted from transcribed Red Cross Voluntary Aid Detachment records, available at

Muriel was living at the Corner House, Bottesford, Nottinghamshire (now Leicestershire) when she volunteered to serve as a Red Cross V.A.D. She was a member of Notts. 94 Voluntary Aid Detachment, Radcliffe on Trent, commandant Claire Birkin. She worked for a total of 2816 hours in Surgery, Ward and Pantry as a V.A.D. at Lamcote House Auxiliary hospital, Radcliffe on Trent, from 11th April 1918 to 16th April 1919. Although her middle name has been altered from May to Mary on her V.A.D. card, it is recorded as May on the birth register.

Muriel’s brothers Sydney and Douglas emigrated to Canada in 1907 and served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the War. Both were farmers at the time of their attestations in 1916.

1921 Census

Address: Easthorpe, Notts

Employment: Home

Household: mother Mathilda, brother Gilbert, maid Marjorie Sanders

After the War

Muriel married Theodore Frank Cyril Downman in 1924 in Grantham district. Muriel’s mother Matilda was still living at The Corner House, Easthorpe when she died in 1938. In 1939 Muriel and Theodore were living on Newark Road, Coddington, Nottinghamshire. Theodore was a chartered accountant and chartered secretary. He was also secretary and accountant to a gypsum mine and was an air raid warden. Muriel was engaged in unpaid domestic duties. They had a servant, Marjorie Doncaster. Muriel died in 1969 in Penzance, Cornwall, age 78. Her husband Theodore died in Penzance in 1970, age 77.

Middlemass 1

Middlemass 2