The Quilietti Family

The story of a Scots Italian family

NERI/Dalessio Laura Young

Laura was born on 26 May 1931 in Glasgow, Lanarkshire to Clementina D’Alessio an unmarried Fish Restaurant employee. Clementina gave Laura up for adoption by George Young and Mary Drysdale Crawford May of Leven, Fife and adoption was certified in December
Thanking Ian Davidson, son of Laura and grandson of Clementina Dalassio for his hard work and dedication in trying to trace his mum’s birth family. It is a shame really that Laura never saw a photograph of her birth mum but Ian has made it clear that she had a wonderful life and great friends and she was a talented singer and actress in her early years.

Thanking Ian Davidson for all this very interesting information.  Shame it is too late for Laura to meet her half sisters of whom she has two who survive from the five children in the Neri family born from parents Clementina Dalessio and Anthony Neri.  The following is a transcript of his most heartwarming dedication to his mother.

Laura’s Italian grandparents Giovanni Dalezio, Ice Cream Vendor and Innocenzia or Macenzia Demalia were married in their home town of Cassino in Italy on 18th June 1894. They emigrated to Scotland and found themselves in Aberdeen where many other Italian Ice Cream families had made their home. Clementina was born at 40 High Street, Old Aberdeen.

A brief bit about the Dalassio family.  Clementina was but one of Twelve  children.  The family had settled in Aberdeen after their immigration from Casino in Italy in the late 1890s.  The large family were born between 1900 and 1923.  Some stayed in Aberdeen, some moved to Edinburgh.


The death of my father John Davidson in January 2019 required the home in Auchtermuchty High Street that he and my mother Laura [Young] to be cleared.  An emotional experience for everyone involved.

Amongst many memories, several new photos, a previously unseen letter and some of Laura’s hand-written notes surfaced.  These prompted a journey of discovery of Laura’s heritage, which I’ll document here for interest and for the benefit of any future information seekers, because several unknowns remain to be resolved.


Laura’s birth.

Laura’s birth and adoption certificates confirmed that she had been adopted as a baby.  Her mother, Clementina Dalessio, of 218 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, was unmarried at the time of her birth, a very difficult situation for a young woman in May 1931.  Clementina gave Laura up for adoption in December 1931.  George and Mary (nee May) Young adopted Laura.  They lived in Leven in Fife, Scotland.

Leven in Fife on the north of the River Forth in Scotland. A Lovely wee town with only a few thousand inhabitants

The adoption was unusual in two respects.  The child moved from the City of Glasgow all the way across the country to Leven in Fife.  Laura was born of a Catholic mother but was adopted by Protestant parents.

Laura’s notes revealed that she had researched her mother.  She had discovered that Clementina Dalassio had married Anthony Neri in 1933 and she had given birth to five children, Anthony, Ernesto, Peter, Sylvia and Elvira.

The Neri family photographed at Peter’s Son’s Wedding.   Peter, Sylvia, Alvera [Vera] and Ernesto [George]  at the front. Back Centre is Anthony and Vera’s husband behind her.  Helen [author] was very good friends with Peter and his family and knew the family well.  Think it is a shame that Laura chose Anthony to write to and not Peter as he was very family oriented.  Anthony although married briefly had no children of his own.

I learned that Laura had written subsequently (1980) to her brother Anthony Neri outlining her heritage.  By then Clementina had died (1981) and Anthony signalled in his reply that he didn’t wish to establish any relationship with Laura, who left the matter there.  It seemed almost certain that Laura never saw an image of her birth mother.


Bessie’s Letter.  The letter raised as many questions as it provided new insights.  Who was Aunt Polly?  Which were the two small snaps of Aunt Polly that Bessie had given to Laura?   Why did Aunt Polly look like Laura?  Was it coincidence or a result of parentage?  Could Aunt Polly have been Clementina Dalessio?
Laura with first grandchild


Six photos surfaced.  They  featured four unknown women and one known man.  George Young, who I had always known as my ‘Leven Grandad’. 

Unknown ladies
Unknown family photos

George, Mary May and Laura with two unknown young ladies.  The young lady on the left in the first picture looks to be the same person photographed with Laura in the second.  Who were these two and how did they feature in Laura’s life?  This information presented above became the starting point for further investigation as follows:-

Step 1

George Young (nephew of ‘Leven Grandad’ George Young recalled that someone called Hugh Landels May used to visit the family home, where he and Laura both lived as children.  George had met Hugh, but who was he?

Step 2

A search in Scotland’s People revealed no evidence of the existence of Hugh Landels May.  However reference to the National Census in 1911 revealed that a Hugh Landels and his family lived on Methilbrae, Wemyss in Fife.  In that year Hugh Landels was 39.  His sons were Andrew age 14 and Hugh age 10.

1911 Scottish Census with Hugh Landels and his family.  Had either Hugh been the visitor to Laura’s Leven Home in the 1930s/40s.? Was there some relationship connected to Laura?

Step 3

  • Found in ‘AULD FIFE AND IT’S PEOPLE’ this picture of Laura in her pram garnered several opinions that the location was Plantation Row, Coaltown of Wemyss. A visit to the street confirmed that to be the case.

    Step 4

    Scotland’s People research reveals 1935 Valuation Report of properties on Plantation Row.  I made the discovery that Andrew Landels, Coal Miner, lived at Number 9.  It was valued at £9:12:10 [Nine Pounds Twelve shillings and Ten Pence in old money].

Was this Andrew the son of Hugh Landels and brother of his other son Hugh?

Step 5

Further Scotland’s People research for Andrew Landels confirmed that Hugh Landels and Marion Baird were his father and mother.  It also revealed that Andrew had married Margaret Beattie May in December 1921.  The May name was a key indicator to the likelihood that this Margaret was the sister of Mary May (Laura’s adoptive mother).  

  • Mary May died in 1935 when Laura was still a pre-school child.  Laura had told us in a video interview before she died that “When my mum died I went to live with my Aunty Peggy in Wemyss”. 
  • It appeared highly probable that Margaret Beattie May was Laura’s aunt Peggy (Margaret>Meg>Peg>Peggy)


The confluence of detail on the May and the Landels families prompted a first theory on Laura’s birth family.  It was this:-

Hugh Landels (1901) had an affair with Clementina Dalessio in 1930 which resulted in Laura’s 1931 birth.  Hugh wasn’t prepared to be a father.  He made his big brother Andrew and wife Peggy aware of his dilemma.  Margaret and Mary May pursued sympathetic enquiries and actions, which resulted in childless couple George and Mary Young adopting Laura.  Hence Laura relocated from Glasgow to Leven.  Hugh visited Laura often in George Young’s home.

Step 6

A google search for ‘Neri family, Edinburgh’ brought up the very excellent Quilietti Family website.  This contains interesting detail on Clementina Dalessio’s family including photographs of all her children and husband Anthony.  A photo of daughters Sylvia Neri, left below [in her 40’s] reveals a striking similarity to Laura at the same age.  These sisters never met

Sylvia and her sister Laura

Step 7

Helen Quilietti Stanton, the owner of the Quilietti family website proved to be a friendly and helpful resource.  She contacted Sylvia Neri and was able to provide this photograph of Clementina Dalessio, her husband Anthony Neri and daughter Sylvia (probably Sylvia’s confirmation c 1955)

Sylvia with her mum and dad at her First Communion
The mystery lady with Laura – trying to see if this was Clementina who may have visited Laura in her young years.

There was insufficient likeness (even accounting for age difference) between Clementina and the mystery lady photographed above, even although both had the same tuft of hair below their right ear, to suggest that they were the same person. So I concluded that Clementina never saw Laura after the adoption.  Rather Sadly Laura never saw an image of her birth mum Clementina.

Sisters  Laura and Sylvia [both age 8] had the same need for spectacles as their mum.

Step 8

  • I thought it was time to pursue more detail on the potential birth father Hugh Landels (1901) and his sisters, one of whom might be the ‘mystery lady’ above.
  • Scotland’s People initially revealed no marriage, death or other details of Hugh.  Eventually the Immigration and Travel on revealed that Hugh sailed on the White Star Line to Quebec in 1927 when he was 26.  He didn’t return until 1950.  By then he was married.  This meant that my first theory was invalidated and that Hugh couldn’t be the father as he wasn’t in the Country in the required time frame.
  • Hugh’s sisters were Helen (1898),  Annie (1904), Mary (1906) twins Joan and Margaret (1908) and Alice  (1915),
  • Annie sailed to Australia in 1926
  • Joan and Margaret sailed to Canada in 1928
  • I have found no record of any of them returning to Scotland or the UK.   All three sisters left Scotland before Laura’s birth so none can be the mystery lady.  If the mystery lady is a Landels sister, Helen, Mary and Alice are the candidates.  Mary and Alice both married in Fife, had families and lived out their lives there.  No photos have yet surfaced of the sisters.

Step 9

  • Further Scotland’s People research revealed that Andrew Landels and his wife Margaret May – Aunt Peggy – had two children Elizabeth (1922) and Hugh (1927).  Furthermore Elizabeth had married Maurice Davies and moved to Wolverhampton.  Bessie’s letter was written from Wolverhampton and was a very strong pointer to Bessie being Elizabeth Nicol Landels.Step 10
  • Great good fortune struck.  Andrew Guest, grandson of Elizabeth Nicol Davies (nee Bessie Landels) contacted me and made available a host of Landels, May and Davies family photos
Hugh Landels (1871) and Marion Baird (1876)

Hugh Landels was there with his wife Marion as did their son Andrew, his wife Margaret [aunt Peggy], their daughter Bessie and husband Maurice Davies and their son Hugh Landels [1927]

Hugh Landels 1927
Aunty Peggy and Bessie were photographed together in later life
Was the mystery lady Aunt Peggy, what do you think
  • Step 11
  • Andrew provided new insights into the May family as well by introducing another May sister Elizabeth [1914].  Elizabeth, known as Betty, is the previously unknown lady [middle] in the Young family photo
May siblings
Andrew also provided Studio quality photographs of brother Tommy May and a May sister, probably taken in her teens

There is a closer likeness between Mary May and the teenager picture than there is of Margaret [Peggy] or Elizabeth May – in my opinion based mainly on nose shape.  So I believe the teenager is Mary May.

Even more striking is the similarity of Tommy and Laura when in their twenties.  She definitely looks like a May.  Bessie [right] has more of the Landels look at the same age


THEORY 2 . The similarity of Laura and Tommy’s facial features plus the comment in Bessie’s letter “Everyone thought you were very like Aunt Polly” is the basis.


So Tommy May had an affair with Clementina Dalessio in 1930, which resulted in Laura’s birth in 1931.  Both Tommy and Clementina were 21 at the time.  Tommy wasn’t prepared to be a father.  He made his sisters Peggy and Mary aware of his dilemma.  They pursued sympathetic enquiries and actions, which resulted in childless couple George and Mary adopting Laura.  Hence Laura relocated from Glasgow to Leven in Fife.

By 1939 Tommy was a textile salesman living and working in London.  He may have been a travelling salesman in 1930, meeting Clementina in Aberdeen (where his parents lived) or Glasgow (where Clementina gave Birth). 

When Laura talked on video of her mother’s early death she says “So I went to live with my Aunty Peggy in Wemyss,  she was my birth father’s sister…….I think I don’t really know” . When I first heard this I had no awareness of Aunt Peggy and didn’t focus on the birth father comment.  With all of Andrew’s input this now makes perfect sense!

THEORY 3 – Mary (May) Young, Laura’s adoptive mother is Bessie’s Aunt Polly.

Laura lost touch with the May and Landels families after George Young remarried in 1987.  She noticed a newspaper report of Aunt Peggy’s death and attended the funeral with her husband John.  They met Bessie there and discussed Laura’s mum Mary (May) Young.  Bessie followed up this meeting with her letter of 11/12/1987.



Further research conducted on the May family using the 1911 census data on their home at 159 Denbeath, Wemyss, revealed the existence of two previously unknown May brothers, Joseph (1905) and William (1907),  Tommy was born in 1909.

William John May of 89 Kirkland Walk, Methil (Mine Deputy) sailed from London to Quebec in 1953 on SS Arosa Kulm.  He travelled unmarried

I have been to date unable to find any other details on Joseph May in Scotland.

It is not possible to exclude either Joseph or William May as Laura’s potential birth father, however, based on age, profession and the only photographic comparison available, Tommy ‘has the edge’


Unknown persons in the six photos that emerged have been identified as Elizabeth Landels (Bessie), Mary May and Elizabeth May.

Bessie, George, Betty, Laura and Mary
Still a mystery, but the most likely case is that this mystery lady is Margaret (May) Landels who is Aunt Peggy.   However, nose shape makes this uncertain.
Bessie’s Aunt Polly is Mary (May) Young
Laura’s birth father is one of three May brothers. The leading candidate is Thomas (Tommy) Stewart May (1909)

Continuing unknowns and Needed Refinement

  1. Who was the visitor to George Young’s home [Hugh Landels May]?
  2. More precision to confirm that the mystery lady is Aunt Peggy.
  3. Further evidence to support Tommy May as Laura’s birth family.
  4. What happened to Joseph May? and Helen Landels?

Starring as ‘Looloo Martin’ with Steven Clacher as ‘Bill Smith’

That’s all folks for now.  Ian Davidson, September 2019, in memory of my mum Laura.

As a post script from Ian sent early October 2019 to Helen, ‘Laura had a wonderful life and as kids friends used to say “I wish I had a granny like that”.  Laura had a lovely voice and in the late 40s played and sang many of the leads in Leven Musicals.  

Hit the Deck with lovely Laura taking lead role
Laura’s natural grandfather was described as a show-proprietor when he died in his Edinburgh Home at  8 Leslie Place in Edinburgh in 1941.  He was 70 years old. Wondering if he ever knew about his lost grandaughter or whether she was kept hidden from him.

Nothing really can disguise the family gifts passed down through the mystery of Genes.  She never knew her natural mother or any of the family but nevertheless had their talents passed down the tree line.

The Dalassio family lived in the Stockbridge area of Edinburgh for many years.  In 1935 it was  both 11a and 11b India Place.

The children of Giovanni Dalessio and Innocenza Damalia, who would have been Laura’s Aunts and Uncles were

  1. Rosa Concetta Dalessio.  She was born in Aberdeen in Scotland.  She married Daniel McKenzie
  2. Alessandra Dalessio.  She was born in 36 East North Street, Aberdeen on 29th January 1900.  She had one son Anthony who was born in 1928 {no father named] . Alessandra died in 1965
  3. Francesco Dalezio.  He was born on 21 July 1902 at 22 North West Street, Aberdeen.  He married Christina Gibb.  Two known daughters Gladys and Christina.
  4. Giuseppe Dalezio.  He was born on 23rd March 1905 at 30 Barony Street in Aberdeen.  He married Williamina Knowles.  Two daughters Catherine and Teresa
  5. Giovanni Dalezio.  He was born on 17th January 1907 and died in the September of the same year.
  6. Allasandro Antonio Dalezio.  He was born on 30th July 1908 at 4 Raggs Lane in Aberdeen.  He died prematurely on 28th April 1925.
  7. Clementina Dalezio was next.  Mother of Laura.  She was born on 6th September 1910 at  40 High Street, Old Aberdeen.  She married Antonio Neri and they had five children, Anthony, Ernesto, Peter, Elvira and Sylvia.  The family were and are still residents of Edinburgh.
  8. Louis Dall Dalezio.  He was born on 19th March 1913.  He moved to Edinburgh where he ran a grocery in Rankeillor Street.  Married unknown Begg but divorced.  Changed name to Dall  for a while but reverted to Dalassio.  He lived in Downfield Place in Portobello in the 1950s.   He died  in 1977.
  9. Giovanni was born on 20th January 1915 in 10 High Street Aberdeen.  He too moved to Edinburgh where he married Margaret Bennett.  They had one son John 1952, then twin daughters Catherine and Allesandra [Sandra].  The twins had previously asked Helen to try and find any relations who would still be around today as the family has dwindled away to nothing. Helen will forward on Ian’s e.mail to them. Giovanni senior died in 1975 in Edinburgh.
  10. Philomenia Dalazio.  She was born on 29th November 1916 in 27 Marshall Street, Aberdeen.  She had one son John who was born in 1939 but he died next year.  Philomenia married a soldier William Wilson McKay in the year 1946 in Edinburgh where she remained until her death in 1987.
  11. Pasquale was born on 4th April 1920 at 70 Frederick Street in Aberdeen.  He married Catherine Insill in 1950.  They in turn also had twins, but sons, Pasquale and Richard who were born on 8th August 1951.  Pasquale senior died in Edinburgh in 1988
  12. Louigi was the last of the family.  He was born in 1923 in  70 Frederick Street, Aberdeen.  He married  Elizabeth Begg.  No more information.
31 October 1951
Laura proudly introducing Ian to her adoptive father George Young and his mother Mrs Young.
10 North Park, Auchtermuchty, Fife
Laura with John, Ian and Janette on the hyde settee that John and Laura bought (part of a three piece) when they set up home in North Park.

Adamson Hospital, Cupar, Fife

Laura spent her last months in Adamson Hospital, Cupar where she was loved, well cared for, comfortable and happy. She suffered from dementia and cancer – but never let either get in the way of her constantly cheery disposition and lovely smile

 November 2011
Kingarroch Inn, Craigrothie
Celebrating 60 Years of marriage at Diamond Wedding celebration.
Laura’s husband John Davidson 1924-2019. Pictured in uniform of Royal Signals regiment. Training in Whitby before service in India (where he suffered from severe dysentry and was ‘left behind’ when his regiment left for Burma) and then Burma, based in Rangoon.

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