top of page

The Story of My Grandfather and Chilean Connections by Jane Kendrick

My grandfather Frank Glover Deeley was born on 4th July 1888 in Wednesbury, Staffordshire.

On 6th April 1909 he sailed on the Raeburn a ship of the Lamport and Holt Line from Liverpool to Buenos Aires.

He worked as an engineer in Vallenar, Atacama region. From the photograph below I assume it was in connection with the railways. I have been unable to determine how he obtained the job in Chile.

My grandfather is seated third from left

Wedding photograph 1912

He met and married Maria Fidelia Rodriguez who was born on 5th May 1896 in Vallenar, the daughter of Cesar Rodriguez and Dulcinea (nee Perez). They were married in 1912 possibly in September.

They then travelled to England. Possibly his contract had ended and that is why they married.

They sailed on Oronsa of The Pacific Steam Navigation Company from Valpariso on 14th October 1912. The passenger list shows Frank Deeley age 25 an engineer and his wife Maria Fidelia Deeley age 18 (though this is incorrect as she was 16!) They returned to the West Bromwich area where Frank’s family now lived.

What a shock it must have been for a young woman from a town in the Atacama to find herself in the heart of an iron and steel producing area in the West Midlands.

Their daughter Doris was born in 1914

In the First World War he like many of his generation enlisted for military service. The following is taken from

DEELEY, Frank Glover. 1188. Private 2KEH. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant with a Service Battalion, South Staffordshire Regiment attached Gloucestershire Regiment later Lancashire Fusiliers 40554. Served in France 4/05/1916 to Aug 1917. Awarded Distinguished Conduct Medal and 1914/15 Star trio.

Frank in uniform with medals post war

A second daughter Irene Ines was born in 1918.

On 25th November 2020 they set sail from Liverpool on the Orita of The Pacific Steam Navigation company and landed at Coquimba. The passenger list shows Frank age 32, Maria 24, Doris 6 and Irene Ines 2.

Photograph taken in Chile 1920 or 21 Frank is back left, Maria is seated in front of him,

Doris seated front 2nd from left Irene Ines in white dress standing on right

(other young women believed to be Maria’s sisters)

I don’t know what they did whilst in Chile during this time or whether the intention was to stay, but they sailed from Valpariso on the Oriana of the Yeoward line and arrived in Liverpool in July 2021.

It is fortuitous they were not in Vallenar the following year when a devastating earthquake killed 1000 people 500 of them in the town itself.

As far as I can determine none of them ever returned to Chile and they went on to have 4 more children born in England.

Graciella born in 1922

Monica born 1926

Alma born 1927

Adrian Frank (my father) born 1936

Sadly Maria died at the young age of 41 in 1938 of complications due to pneumonia so Adrian never knew her.

This story shows it was not just the wealthy who went from the UK to Chile but ordinary working people looking for better jobs or maybe just adventure. They were undoubtedly brave, leaving their families at a time when there was little means of communication and transport methods were poor.

Postscript – My Story

I was adopted and knew nothing of my birth family until I started research after the birth of my daughter when I was 30 years old. I never managed to trace my mother but found and met Adrian, my father and he told me of my Chilean ancestry. This explained a lot about my appearance! I have since done much research into family history. Analysis has shown I have Native American (from mainly Chile, but also Bolivia, Peru and Mexico) and Basque DNA. I have also connected with some relatives through DNA including the granddaughter of my grandmother’s sister who went to Canada.

I was able to visit Chile for the first time thanks to a win on ITV’s The Chase! This was just before the Covid lockdown in 2020. I did not get to Vallenar but did visit the Atacama which was wonderful.

If anyone knows anything about the work being done in Vallenar at the time my grandfather was there I would be very grateful for any information.

Maria Fidelia Deeley nee Rodriguez (1896- 1938)   Frank Glover Deeley (1888-1967)

Written by Jane Kendrick (Anglo Chilean society Member)

February 2024


bottom of page