Mrs Moreau’s Warbler – The only Woman in Britain to have a bird named after her

This may be a recent edition to my book collection but what was amazing it turned out to be even more to where I lived. I review books for magazines so reading this book was a job I like best especially as most/all the books contain wildlife. This book was about bird names and how they came about. The author Stephen Moss had first seen the name of this bird when he was 9 years old and had kept it in his memory all that time until writing this book and naming it after this bird.

What is different from most names of birds after people was that this was a female but described as ‘Mrs’. Other bird names like Eleanora’s Falcon is after Eleanor of Arborea, Queen and national heroine of Sardinia, who granted the protection of bird nests against illegal hunters in 1392. So why was I interested in this Mrs Moreau?

The book gave the name Winnie to this lady and she was married in Cumberland.[ Information which had come from her son who is still alive today.] There was no maiden name or where the marriage took place. So where in Cumberland was my thought! A friend said ‘try the Carlisle library and ask for a Stephen White’. From there the marriage was traced to the Brampton area. Dead end! I tried Richard Mearns from Dumfries who had written several books on history of bird names and he came up with the maiden name - Winifred Muriel Bradberry was born 24 Aug 1891 at Longton (Derbyshire or Staffordshire) 1901 census she was at Crewton, Derbyshire 1911 census age given as 19, single, living at Prospect House, Farlam, Brampton, Cumberland, died in June 1981 at Leominster, Hereford & Worcester [the year I came to Geltsdale]. Winnie’s father was a vicar at Farlem and Talkin and he is buried here.

I went back to Stephen with this new information and low and behold it was the jackpot! She lived at Garth Foot, Castle Carrock and was married in the village at St Peter’s Church on June 25th 1924. The only woman to have a bird named after her in Britain lived and married in my village of Castle Carrock! How amazing was that and only a few doors down the fell from where I live!

Not only did the Cumberland News mention the wedding but gave names of guests many which live around here still such as Routledge, Wannop. Shipman and Murray. It even gave the presents they gave to the bride and groom. Of course Mrs Moreau was not a bird from Castle Carrock but way over in the Uluguru Mountains in Tanzania where they moved for her husband Ernest to work. Sadly like many birds in the world this species is declining due to their forests being cleared for farming and may well go extinct.

Winnie may not have been a full bird watcher herself but did travel on trips out in the wild with her husband. Would it not be fitting that the village does something in her memory especially as we now have the RSPB reserve of Geltsdale on her/our doorstep?

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