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

Please note whereas I try to ensure that what I publish is correct, and to differentiate between what is supported by documentation etc, and what is, in my opinion, a reasonable assumption, everything should be treated with caution. If you have come across information that you believe is relevant to your own research please either verify it independently or drop me a line to confirm its validity. Equally if believe something is incorrect, or if you wish to add any details or discuss please get in touch using the Contact Form.

If you have come to this page via a browser, I hope you will find something of interest here or elsewhere in our other Hendry Family History Pages.

HH01580A.gif (1311 bytes)

Contact Form  Click here

Beatrice Findlay - 24 January 1915 - 2 December 2000.

Beatrice was a talented singer and presumably through her music she met and married George Frederick Ferrie on 9 December 1935 in Marylebone, London. Beatrice was recorded as aged 20, the daughter of John Alexander Findlay, a Shipping Agent, (deceased) and residing at Rosedale, 45 Salmon Street, South Shields. George was recorded as aged 24, a Musician (Wind Instruments), the son of John Ferrie, a Customs and Excise Officer, and residing 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.

Miff and Beatrice were listed in the 1939 register as resident in Islington, London although with the surname mis-recorded as Ferrier rather thn Ferrie. Miff was identified as George F. Ferrier, born 10 March 1910, with the occupation of "Orchestra Leader - Radio & Recording Artist", whilst Beatrice was identified as Beatrice Ferrier, born 24 June 1915, with the occupation of "Musical Artist - Variety & Musical Comedy". When war finally broke out later that year 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 June 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 June 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 book. 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 “Always leave them laughing” by John Fisher.

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

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

John Ferrie, the father of George, was born about 1865 in England, and was originally married to Catherine Borland on 15 February 1887 in 27 Home Street, Edinburgh. John was recorded as a Confectioner, aged 23, resident at 27 Home Street, Edinburgh, the son of Antonio Ferri, a confectioner, and Helen Ferri, maiden surname Reid (deceased). Catherine was recorded as a Laundress, aged 19, resident at 54 Causwayside Street, Edinburgh, and the daughter of Thomas Borland, a Sculptor (deceased) and Margaret Borland, maiden surname Galbraith. The witnesses were Thomas Morrison and Jemima Paton. Catherine was born on 17 February 1868 in Dumfries, Dumfries-shire. Sadly Catherine died aged 26 on 20 March 1894 in in the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh, with her usual address given as 33 Gifford Park, St Giles, Edinburgh. She was recorded was Catherine Ferri, married to John Ferri, an Insurance Agent, and the daughter of Thomas Borland, a Sculptor, and Margaret Borland, maiden surname Galbraith, both identified as deceased. The informant was John Ferri, widower, who was present.

John and Catherine had the following children:

John latterly married Alexandrina Jane Black, George's mother, on 18 January 1895. John was recorded as a Commission Agent aged 28, resident at 10 Society Chambers Street, Edinburgh, and the son of Antonio Ferri, a confectioner, (deceased) and Helen Ferri, maiden surname Reid. (Unlike for his first marriage Helen is not recorded as deceased). Alexandrina was recorded as Alexandrina Jane Black, aged 22 resident at 10 Society Chambers Street, Edinburgh, and the daughter of John Black, an Architect, and Lillias Black, maiden surname Darling, both of whom were listed as deceased. The witnesses were Bessie MacGregor and Thomas L. MacGregor. Alexandrina was born on 22 June 1872 in Milton, Glasgow.

John and Alexandina had the following known children:

Alexandrina Jane Black died aged 54 on 3 November 1926 at Queensberry Lodge, Holyrood Road, Edinburgh. She was recorded as married to John Ferrie, a Clerk at the Ministry of Pensions, and the daughter of John Black, an Architect, and Lilly Black, maiden surname Darling, both of whom were listed as deceased. The informant was A. Mill, Clerk, clerk, Queensbury Lodge, which would seem to have been a hospital. John Ferrie died aged 76 on 5 May 1942 in 1 Glenlockhart Place, Edinburgh. Usual Res - Whiteford House, Canongate, Edinburgh. He was recoded as a Motor Car Attendant, the widower of firstly Kate Borland, and latterly of Alexandrina Black, and the son of Antonio Ferrie, a Gasworks Labourer, and Helen Ferrie, maiden surname, Reid, both of whom were listed as deceased. The informant was Anthony Ferrie, son, of 22 Panmure Road, Edinburgh.

John Ferrie's father, Antonio Ferri, died on 4 August 1888 at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, although his usual address was given as 27 Home Street, Edinburgh. He was recorded as aged 47, a confectioner, married to Helen Reid, and his parents were named as John Ferri, a Confectioner, and Celesta Ferri, maiden surname Ferri, both of whom were listed as deceased. The use of the phrase "married to Helen Reid" would suggest that Helen was not deceased at the time of Antonio's death but no obvious record of the demise of a Helen Ferrie, nee Reid, has been identified. It does seem likely that this was indeed Antonio's wife's name as John Ferri named a daughter Helen Reid Ferri.

It would seem that the family name was originally Ferri and that they were of Italian descent.

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 August 1888 in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary- Usual Res 27 Home Street, Edinburgh.