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Mary Billerby Backhouse nee Mason (1889-1960)


Stanhope born woman served as a VAD nurse


Mary Billerly Backhouse was born Mary Billerly Mason on 22 January 1889 in Stanhope. She was baptised on 29 March 1889. Her father was John Ambrose Mason, an elementary teacher originally from Hull. Her mother was Mary Mason, nee Billerly, from West Rainton who is also listed as an elementary school teacher on the 1891 census. Before marrying Mary’s mother, John was previously married to Emma Mason and had four children. Mary had two step-brothers and two step-sisters.

By 1901 Mary’s father John was working as a school master and the family lived at the school house in Stanhope. John died suddenly the following year on 24 June 1902, at the age of 51. His death was reported in the Durham County Advertiser on 27 June 1902. By the time of the 1911 census, Mary was living with her mother and her older step-sister, Alice, at 3 Albert Terrace in Stanhope. Mary was now an assistant teacher whilst Alice was working as a head teacher.

Mary married George Edward Backhouse in 1914, a teacher from Stanhope. George had begun working at Stanhope Barrington School in 1909.

By 1915 George and Mary were living at the School House in Stanhope. On 26 May 1915 Mary began nursing at the 17th Durham Voluntary Aid (VA) hospital in Etherley, Bishop Auckland. She continued to serve at this hospital as a nurse until 15 July 1916. Her step-sister also worked as a nurse at this hospital during the War. Mary’s husband George served during World War One as part of the 8th Durham Light Infantry (DLI).

The couple had three children; Dorothy M born on 14 June 1917, Barbara born on 18 March 1920 and John E born on 19 December 1931.

At the time of the 1939 register the Backhouse family were living at West Black Dene in Weardale. Mary’s husband George was working as a clerk food officer.

Mary died in 1960 at the age of 71 in Durham.

Civil Parish: Stanhope Urban

Birth date: 22-Jan-1889

Death date: 1960

Armed force/civilian: Civilian

Residence: 60 Ivy Cottage (1891 census)
School House, Stanhope (1901 census)
3 Albert Terrace, Stanhope (1911 census)
School House, Stanhope (British Red Cross War Records)
West Black Dene, Weardale (1939 register)

Employment: Assistant Teacher (1911 census)

Family: Parents: John Ambrose Mason, Mary Mason nee Billerly
Step-siblings: Alice Maude Mary Mason, John P Mason, Charlotte E Mason, John A Mason
Husband: George Edward Backhouse
Children: Dorothy M Backhouse, Barbara Backhouse, John E Backhouse

Military service:

Nurse
17th Durham Voluntary Aid Hospital, Bishop Auckland

Gender: Female

Contributed by Fiona Johnson - Durham

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