A Kiwi in search of her ancestral tribes

Listening to Lally ~ Sentimental Sunday

Remember the cassette tape recording I had of an interview with my grandfather’s cousin, Lally Coppinger?  I managed to find it in one of the many boxes in our storage unit when we were back in New Zealand in February.

The interview took place at her home in Lomita, California in late 1991, when I was on my way to England from New Zealand. I hadn’t listened to the tape since then, except for a couple minutes in February when I first found it.

I could barely remember what was on it, what we discussed, or anything.  I know I took a few notes, but mostly I relied on having the recording.  So I was very excited (and a little nervous) about what I would hear.

It’s full of wonderful stories of my maternal great grandfather’s family in London – Lally’s father James Arthur Wright and my great grandfather Alexander Wright were brothers.  Unfortunately, I didn’t notice the tape running out on the first side (oh I remember that happening!), and of course I missed the stories about my great grandfather.  I only hope my written notes (somewhere in that darn storage unit still) can shed some light.

I’d also forgotten that Lally was a keen family historian and travelled to England regularly to do research, and that she showed me her family tree and a lot of old photographs (yep, it was about this time I wished I’d had video).  She promised to send them to me to get copied once I got settled in England.  But of course, I didn’t get back in touch with her for several years and forgot all about the photographs.  Oh woeful day!  And I feel so incredibly sad now, feeling that I  let her down.  She was a kindred spirit, and I didn’t realise it then, being more caught up in study and work in Ireland (where I settled in the end) rather than family history at that time.

Both Lally and her husband Doyle have passed away now, and I lost touch with their only child a few years ago.  I’m hoping I may be able to find her.

Sentimental Sunday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.


Not very ~ Sorting Saturday


Remembering ~ Matrilineal Monday


  1. Peter Cowlan

    Ref. Lalli and Doyle Coppinger.
    Lalli’s mother, Alice, nee Cowlan, was my Grandfathers sister. He was Sylvester Louis Cowlan, and his son David Sylvester, was my Father. I think i am correct in believing the Wrights lived in Neasden, London. As far as i know Lalli’s father joined the Metropolitan Police in the 1920s as did my Grandfather. Lalli and Doyle visited my parents two or three times during trips to England in the 70s and 80s and my Father was in contact with Lalli on and off until his death in 1999. I have an old address for the Coppingers that may help in contacting them. I would love to help as i am in the proccess of writing my family history and i know very little of the Wrights.
    Best regards, Peter Cowlan. Devonshire, England.

    • Maggie

      Thanks for your comment and it’s lovely to hear from you! I have just got back from holiday, hence my delay in responding. I may have tracked down an address that will help us. I’ve been doing some research on the Wrights, and am happy to share what I’ve found.

    • Karen Bell

      Hi Peter, I’ve tried writing this out, but am confusing myself, so ;
      Your grandfather Sylvester Louis
      HIS father, your great grandfather, also Silvester born 1861

      My great grandmother Mary Ellen is sister to HIM

      So Mary Ellen & Silvesters father Silvester, born 1824 is OUR Great Great Grandfather ?!?!

      I cant get back further than HIS father, and wonder if youve had any luck ??

      Kind regards, Karen (Chichester)

  2. Peter Cowlan

    Dear Karen,
    I am hoping that you pick this message up. It has been a while since I did any family research but having recently found some on-line details regarding Doyle, and Lalli Coppinger’s passing, I was stirred into checking some saved web-sites – hence this message!

    Your assumptions regarding our common ancestors are indeed correct. As for Silvester Cowlan (b.1824) his father was Michael Cowlan born c.1797, in Ireland, but as for where, I have not been able to discover. I have some possibilities for his father but again have not been able to verify a definite connection.

    I am keen to discover any new information about my aunt Alice Cowlan (Jim Wright’s wife) as I know very little about this side of my family, my grandfather Sylvester’s early death no doubt being one reason for this. I only have one photo of Lalli as a youngster – sitting on Sylvester’s lap, either at Neasden or Southall. It would be great to know where your particular branch sits on the family tree and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best wishes,

    Peter Cowlan.


    Hi Peter,
    as I was tidying LOADS of papers away, I came across my note of this page, was about to throw it out !
    I’m sure I dont know any more than you – oh how I wish our ancestors only had a couple of children, and named them unusual names !
    But may be best not to load up someone elses site on our conversations – my email is karenb284@yahoo.com
    I am a Wright by birth but via Dorset, not London, and my mother was a Reardon from London. Her grandfather was Jeremiah Silvester Reardon, born 1855.
    Looking forward to hearing from you, Karen


    Hi Peter,
    I thought I had replied before !?!?!
    I dont know anything about your Aunt Alice, but a couple of weeks ago FindmyPast had a few days of free access to the Irish records, and in a convoluted way I MAY have been able to go further back – I would be interested to see if you agree with how I got to where I got !!
    My email address is karenb284@yahoo.com, if you would like to email me there, rather than clog up this site?
    Regards, Karen

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