updated December 2017
John Henry Rhine was born in Santa Cruz in 1863, this date is calculated from many documents
which give his age at various times in his life. John's birth place of Santa Cruz was known by
his family and confirmed on a seaman's discharge certificate. There are at least two Santa Cruz's
in India and several more outside, my best guess at this time is that the Santa Cruz John was
born in is the one in the Bombay area of India.
Recent DNA research suggests that the family has connections with the Philippine Islands where there is also a Santa Cruz.
In his late teens and early 20's, John was a seaman (because he was too skinny to get a job on
He is known to have sailed on jute ships between Calcutta and Dundee in Scotland and seems to have spent some time in London in 1884, before marrying Ellen Simkins. Two days after this wedding he signed on to a ship sailing to Calcutta.
In 1885, six month's after returning to Calcutta, John started work on the Indian railways as a fireman and he was employed on the railways up to the time he retired, by which time he was a locomotive driver.
The information I have been able to find out about John has come from an early CV and employment certificates inherited by his son George, family recollections and searches of the British Library OIC Ecclesiastic records. The accuracy of the searches has been helped by the fact that John mostly used his full name (John Henry Rhine).
As far as partners, spouses and children are concerned, John had many !
In 1884 John was still a bachelor when he married Ellen Simkins in Poplar, London. Seaman's engagement / discharge certificates I have, locate John in London between December 1883 and September 1884.
He was engaged on a ship sailing to Calcutta just two days after his wedding to Ellen, I can find no record of Ellen after her marriage to John or any children from that marriage. John worked as a fireman with the East Indian Railway Company based in Jalampur between 1885 and 1890.
In 1892, John married Elizabeth Mallan in Calcutta, his marital status was given as "widower" in the church record, so Ellen must have died before that time. John and Elizabeth had one son, Kenneth, born in Bina in 1893.
Elizabeth Mallan must have died or John and Elizabeth must have divorced by 1897 when John married Mabel in the "Central Provinces".
I discovered that John Henry Rhine had been married to Mabel in the transcript of a
divorce appeal between John Henry
and Mabel Rhine dated 23 Feb 1911.
It would seem that Mabel and John Henry Rhine married in the "Central Provinces" in 1897, and separated in April 1909, when they were living in Saharanpur, she then went to live with her brother in the Punjab where she started divorce proceedings. John married Emilia Bernard in 1914, so the divorce between John and Mabel must have been finalised by that time.
John Ashley Keys married Mabel, née Kelly in Lahore on 11 Nov 1914. John Ashley Keys was the step-son of Latitia Rhine who was John Henry Rhine's sister, so Mabel stayed in the family.
Mabel's age is given as 26 years on both records of her marriage to John Keys, if that was true then she would have been born in 1888 and therefore only 9 years old in 1897 when she was said to have married John Henry Rhine. I guess that Mabel must have been at least 5 years older when she married John Keys.
John was obviously co-habiting with Emilia (or Emily) Bernard in Multan from about 1910, their
first child, Ivy, was born in 1911 followed by George in 1912 and Regie in 1913, all born in Multan.
On 7 July 1914, 50 year old John married 20 year old Emilia in Ghaziabad (near Delhi).
John and Emilia then moved to Saharanpur where they had another two children, Gertrude and Joseph.
Emilia died shortly after the birth of Joseph in 1917, Joseph died within a year.
John then married Lilian Bird-Sturgeon and they had a son Patrick in 1919.
The family have a photograph and remember living in a large house called "Ivy Villa" in
Saharanpur near the railway line where John was a locomotive driver.
John sent all of his children from about the age of seven to boarding school in Agra.
John Henry Rhine died in 1930 in Saharanpur at the age of 67.
I have copies of Railway employment certificates for John Henry Rhine the details of which are summarised in the table below:
|Railway company||Based at||From||To|
|East Indian Railway||Jumalpur||4 Apr 1885||16 Jan 1890|
|Indian Midland Railway||Jhansi||5 Oct 1891||29 Oct 1896|
|Bengal-Nagpur Railway||Nagpur||12 Mar 1897||21 Apr 1898|
|Indian Midland Railway||Jhansi||6 Jun 1898||16 Mar 1899|
John worked as an engine driver with the North-Western Railway after 1899 up to his retirement. Looking at a map of Indian railways in 1909, there was a direct line between Saharanpur, Lahore and Multan.