Beatrice Findlay and her husband Miff Ferrie, band leader of the Ferryman and theatrical agent for Tommy Cooper and Bruce Forsyth, including details of Miff Ferrie's ancestry

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Beatrice Findlay - 24 Jan 1915 - 2 Dec 2000.

Beatrice was a talented singer and presumably through her music she met and married George Frederick Ferrie on 9 Dec 1935 in Marylebone, London. Beatrice was recorded as residing at Rosedale, 45 Salmon Street, South Shields at the time of her marriage, and George at 54 Loudon Road, London N.W.8.

Born in Edinburgh on 10 March 1911, George Frederick Ferrie was the son of John Ferrie and Alexandrina Black. Although baptised George Frederick as an adult he was commonly known as Miff, after a famous American trombonist ‘Miff’ Mole. During the dance band craze of the thirties Miff recorded with well-known artists such as Roy Fox, Ambrose, Jack Hylton, Lew Stone and Carroll Gibbons as a trombonist, but probably around the time of his marriage he temporarily forsook the trombone to form a vocal trio. With the advent of “Band Wagon”, a hit radio show on the BBC, Miff Ferrie and the Jackdauz as they called themselves were billed alongside top comedy stars, Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch as one of the resident songsters on the series. Following on this success Miff formed his own combo including the vocal group as part of a seven-piece orchestra. This combo went under the title of “Miff Ferrie and the Ferrymen” and on the back of the regular radio work, they went from strength to strength with a Parlophone recording contract and tours of Great Britain and the Continent. There was even a shortlived radio show "Airs and Disgraces" of his own.

When war broke out in 1939 Miff was found to be unfit for the army but found a role as the Musical Adviser to United States Organization, Camp Shows. 

Beatrice was reported as singing with Miff Ferrie and his orchestra at the Colston Hall in Bristol, as reported in the Western Daily Press Bristol of 23 Jun 1941. I am unsure if the report of a Beatrice Findlay dancing at the Glasgow empire in the May on 1942 (with Judy Miller?) is one and the same as our Beatrice Findlay but it seems possible.

Western Daily Press Bristol of 23 Jun 1941

The Glasgow Herald 12 May 1942

After the war Miff and his band became the resident attraction at the Windermere Club at 189 Regent Street. It is possible that the photogragh of Beatrice singing with the Miff’s orchestra may have been taken during their time at the Windemere club. (This guess is based on the seeming proximity of a chair to the stage. Certainly family tradition states that Beatrice appeared in some of the original television broadcasts wearing bizarre coloured make up as required to produce an image in the infant technology.

Left - Beatrice singing with a band - presumably her husband's combo! I would be interested to hear from anyone who may be able to provide any additional information on this photograph. Please use the contact form available via the main Findlay Family History page.
Above - A number of band leaders meeting with the General Secretary of the Musicians' Union, Hardie Ratcliffe, in 1947. -  Standing: Lew Stone , to his left Ratcliffe then Billy Cotton, back view of Chappie D'Amato, Sid Phillips, Harry Gold, Eric Robinson, Buddy Featherstonehaugh, Miff Ferrie, Lou Preager, Victor Sylvester and Billy Ternent

Amongst his other duties at the Windermere Club was that of ‘Entertainments Director’, in which capacity he was responsible for booking the cabaret. One of those acts, which appeared for audition in November 1947, was a very nervous Tommy Cooper. His first audition was less than successful but after a second go with changes suggested by Miff himself, he was given a spot, and Miff became his agent. I have no idea at what point Miff stopped performing but latterly he was to become a theatrical agent and with Tommy Cooper and Bruce Forsyth amongst others on his books, this was to furnish him and Beatrice with a more than comfortable lifestyle which included residences in the Canaries, London, and on the south coast Certainly Beatrice was an active partner in their theatrical agency business. They remained agents to Tommy Cooper throughout his long career as detailed in the biography of Tommy Cooper by and this is recorded involvement with Tommy Cooper “Always leave them laughing” by John Fisher.

Miff and Beatrice retired to the south coast where Miff died in in July 1994 registered in Shepway, Kent.  - Entry No 281 Reg No SSA4 Dist Code 5731A . Beatrice died on 2 Dec 2000 in Folkstone, England.

Further details on the Parentage and Ancestry of George Frederick “Miff” Ferrie

George’s father John Ferrie, Customs and Excise Officer, was born about 1865 in England, and was originally married to Catherine McKay Borland on 15 Feb 1887 in 27 Home Street, Edinburgh. Catherine was born on 17 Feb 1868 in Dumfries, Dumfries-shire, the daughter of Thomas Borland and Margaret Galbraith. She died on 20 Mar 1894 in 33 Gifford Park, St Giles, Edinburgh.

John and Catherine had the following children:

John later married Alexandrina Jane Black, George's mother, on 18 Jan 1895 in 10 Society Chambers Street, Edinburgh. Alexandrina was born on 22 Jun 1872 in Milton, Glasgow, the daughter of John Black and Lillias Darling

John and Alexandina had the following children:

Alexandrina Jane Black died on 3 Nov 1926 in Queensberry Lodge, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh. John Ferrie died on 5 May 1942 in 1 Glenlockhart Place, Edinburgh. Usual Res - Whiteford House, Canongate, Edinburgh.

It would seem that the family name was originally Ferri and that they were of Italian descent. John Ferrie was the son of Antonio Ferri, a confectioner, and Helen Reid. Antonio Ferri was probably born about 1840 in Italy, the son of John Ferri, a confectioner, and Celesta Ferri. Antonio died on 4 Aug 1888 in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary- Usual Res 27 Home Street, Edinburgh.