We Will Remember Them

The day was dark
The rain was heavy
The sun had stayed away,

But in my heart
A light so bright
Brought thoughts of you all day.

(‘Dark Day’ by Barry Rees)

Today is Remembrance Sunday. It is also exactly 100 years since the signing of the Armistice, which brought the fighting to an end in The Great War – with the formal end of the war on June 28, 1919, when Germany and the Allied Nations (including Britain, France, Italy and Russia) signed the Treaty of Versailles.

The war had resulted in the deaths of some 6 million allied and around 4 million enemy personnel. It has been estimated that around 7 million civilians were also killed1.

Most communities in the UK were affected, losing at least one son, brother, husband or father – and occasionally a daughter, sister, wife or mother – (those undertaking nursing, driving ambulances of killed in accidents in munitions factories).

As at October 2013, 53 civil parishes in England and Wales have been identified where all their folk who fought in the war returned home. These have been named ‘Thankful Villages’ – none yet have been identified in Scotland or Ireland2.

I have, so far identified four individuals from the Rees Scott family tree, who died during The Great War – shown in the red boxes:

Tom Henry REES (1874-1914)

My Great Uncle, Tom Henry Rees was Born on 30th April 1874, in Upper Machen, Monmouthshire. He was registered as Tom Henry Rees (rather than as Thomas). He signed on with the Royal Navy on 25th May 1893, for 12 years, starting as a Stoker and ending up as a Chief Stoker (Chief Petty Officer level).

On 1st November 1914 he was Chief Stoker on HMS Monmouth, when, as part of Rear Admiral Craddock’s 4th Cruiser Squadron, they took on the might of the German Navy, led by Vice-Admiral Maximilian von Spee, at the Battle of Coronel.

HMS Monmouth and HMS Good Hope were out classed by the German ships and were both sunk with the loss of 1,418 officers and sailors.

The Cwmfelinfach and District Reception Committee (near Caerphilly, South Wales) issued the following ‘In Memoriam’ certificate to Tom’s family:

Tom left a wife (Jane Philp Rees – nee Jago) and five children (one other child had died in 1901).

Francis Regis GREEN (1895-1917)

A second cousin, twice removed, Francis – known as Frank, Regis Green, was born in 1895, at St James, Victoria, Australia. Frank joined up on 3rd March 1916 – having had 18 months in the Cadets. He was described as being 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing 9 stone, 7 pounds. He had a fair complexion and hair, with grey eyes. He was a Roman Catholic.

Originally with the 19/5th Battalion AIF, he was serving with the 60th Battalion AIF in December 1916 when he was admitted to the 38th Casualty Clearing Station, in France, with Trench Foot, and evacuated to a hospital in Colchester, England. By 9th March 2017, he was back in France. He was killed in action on 18th May 1917, according to his service record, however, his details on the Commonwealth War Graves site state his death as being on 12th May 1917 3.

Frank is commemorated on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial:

Photo uploaded on findagrave.com by ‘Have Paws will travel !’4

Frank’s death was referenced in a newspaper article about his footballing brother Gordon (see here for more on Gordon) 5. It also mentions another brother, Tom, who was fighting in France – but he survived the war:

Harry George Levy (1895 – 1918)

Another second cousin, twice removed, Harry George Levy was born on the Isle of Sheppey in January 1895. At the time of the 1911 Census, Harry was a ‘presser’ at a glass bottle works in Sheerness.

Although I have been unable to find a service record for Harry, his medal card shows he was in the Royal Field Artillery, with service number 96054, and the Commonwealth War Graves site shows that he died on 17th October 1918, aged 23 – just 25 days before the end of hostilities 6.

At the time of his death, he was serving as a Gunner in the 24th Div. Ammunition Column of the Royal Field Artillery. Harry was buried in the Delsaux Farm Cemetery, Beugny, France, in plot I. G. 27 – Stone No 198. Harry’s mother, Maria Jane, arranged for the words ‘His Duty Was Done’ to be inscribed on his headstone 6.

Richard Glenmark REES (1880 – ?)

Another Great Uncle, and Tom’s brother, Richard Glenmark Rees was born on 22nd November 1880, at 17 Allen Street, Mountain Ash, Glamorgan, Wales.

I have yet to find any definitive information on Richard’s death, however, we have the following photo in the Rees Scott Archive, showing ‘Glen’ in uniform:

In addition to the certificate for Tom Rees, the Cwmfelinfach and District Reception Committee  issued the following ‘In Memoriam’ certificate for Richard:

Despite his distinctive middle name (incorrectly recorded as Glanmark on his birth certificate), I have been unable to find any reference to him after the war, which does tend to suggest he was killed in the war. There are so many combinations of Richard Rees / Glen Rees on the Commonwealth Graves site, which makes it difficult to highlight which one he may be. We have several relatives who were given the middle name ‘Glenmark’, which we originally believed were in tribute to Richard, however, we have since found an earlier ‘Glenmark’ so this was not necessarily the case (see here for the post on Glenmarks).

There may be more casualties from the Great War, that I have not yet found, however, these four deserve to be remembered on this special Remembrance Sunday – 100 years after the hostilities stopped.

 

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

(from ‘For the Fallen’ by Laurence Binyon)

References:

  1. Figures taken from: https://www.historyonthenet.com/how-many-people-died-in-ww1  accessed 11th November 2018
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thankful_Villages accessed 11th November 2018
  3. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1461319/green,-francis-regis/ accessed 11th November 2018
  4. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/16183200/francis-regis-green/photo accessed 11th November 2018
  5. The Herald Newspaper. 8 June 1917, Page 3, Column 2. Accessed at: https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/ on 9 September 2018
  6. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/240225/levy,-/ accessed 11th November 2018
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Bearded – ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

This week’s #52Ancestors topic is ‘Bearded’.

Beards are certainly something that the Rees family have tended to have – well at least the men!

The first two photos show my Great Grandfather Henry Rees (1850-1934). The first shows Henry with his first wife, Alice Jones (1847-1891), and possibly two daughters, or a daughter and granddaughter. The second shows Henry with his second wife Fanny Biles (1863-1934).

Skipping forward two generations to my own father, Dai (David) Alan Rees (1932-2009), you can certainly see the family resemblance, albeit a less flamboyant style of beard:

Dai is shown with his sister Eileen (1920-2007).

Beards do not feature much in other family lines in my tree!

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Frightening – ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

This week’s #52Ancestors topic is ‘frightening’.

Amy Johnson Crow, who sets the topics asks: Any ghost stories in the family? Ever been scared while researching? Been frightened in a cemetery? Or how about sharing a Halloween story or photo?

I have two items to share – the first is about cousins of Vampires – Umpires. Once a year, at Halloween, if you are really lucky, you can seem them transform into that hideous creature, the Cricket Bat!

The second item happened to me at an exhibition of German sculptures that were on display at the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds: Taking Positions: Figurative Sculpture and the Third Reich, which ran from 26 May – 26 August 2001. (You can see information on the exhibition at the Henry Moore Institutes website, here, and see the book published to go with the exhibition here.) The exhibition’s chronological span (1918-1948) represented the years from the end of one world war until shortly after the next, but it concentrated on the period after 1933.

(Front cover of the book)

The theme of the exhibition was that the figure – the single male or female nude, standing or sitting – was the vehicle by which sculptors, more or less explicitly, expressed their political position.

I wandered around the 3 galleries – I remember one had female figures and one male figures. The sculptures were mostly life-size and varied in their techniques, but were mostly cast in bronze.

All was well until I stood in front of one of the male figures. I got a tremendous feeling of, what I can only describe as, ‘evil’ washing over me. I walked away and looked at other exhibits, returning a couple of times to that one sculpture – each time I got within a couple of feet of the front of the sculpture that sense of evil was overwhelming. It was just this one sculpture – none of the others in the exhibition had the same effect.

I have never had any such reaction to any other art work – and it was truly frightening. I asked one of the Gallery staff if anyone else had felt anything – and it seems it was just me.

It makes me shiver just to remember it!

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Cause of Death – ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

This week’s #52Ancestors topic is ‘Cause of Death’.

I guess most of us will have a full house of the usual causes of death – with the further back you go the less precise the cause of death becomes. One of my favourites is ‘visitation of god’. Whilst this would seem to be the default for ‘we’re not really sure what happened’, I like to think it was literally a personal visit from God – come to take you into the afterlife!

However, the saddest cause of death I have come across so far is for Lilian Bessie Morris (nee Evenden), the first wife of my Great Uncle Harry Cooper Bradstreet Morris.

Lilian’s death certificate states her cause of death as: “Heart failure following acute dilation of the cervix uteri following a felonious vaginal douche. Suicide1:

(Crown copyright)

It would appear, in essence, Lilian had, either on her own, or with the help of someone else tried to abort a pregnancy – but it had gone very wrong.

There were a number of newspaper reports about the case. The first on 21st May 1939, in The People2:

This report clearly shows their is an inquest being held by the County Coroner Mr W J Harris and, interestingly, that Lilian’s husband Harry states that they had been living apart, and he had not seen her since August 1934 – some nine months previously.

The next article, the following day on 22nd May 1939, in the Daily Mirror, was essentially a repeat of the same information, including the wrong middle initial3:

More details came to light in the Chatham News dated 26th May 19394:

This now showed there was someone else present at the death – Mrs Crosswell, and it was in her house that Lilian died. The report also confirmed that Lilian’s estranged husband, Harry, had provided the formal identification. This report also gave Lilian’s correct middle name.

The final article, also in the Chatham News, was published on 9th June 19395:

In this report, the consulting pathologist Dr Arthur Davies, found the course of death was not due to natural causes but ‘to heart failure, following the use of an instrument‘. The type of ‘instrument’ used was not disclosed.

Interestingly, there was also mention of a Mr Eunels, who was present in the house, but no indication of his purpose there.

In the 1939 Register, taken later the same year, Mrs Elsie May Crosswell was still living at the same address, with her husband, Mr William H Crosswell and their son Derek, aged 66. There are three lines between Derek and his parents, which are not yet open to the public, which could be three other children. On the face of it, it would appear Mrs Crosswell was a typical housewife. I could find no other reports for her which would contradict the premise that she was just Lilian’s friend. If this was the case, it seemed harsh for the Coroner to censure Mrs Crosswell – with the implication being she was somehow involved in ‘assisting’ Lilian to abort her child.

Perhaps Mr Eunels was there with Lilian. I  can find no reference to a Mr Eunels in the area in the 1939 Register – just a Phyllis Eunels in Plymouth, doing unpaid domestic service in the Clemaid family home 7. She is listed as married, but no sign of her husband – is he the Mr Eunels with Lilian?

There are still answers to a number of questions, such as who was the father of the child (unlikely to be Harry if they hadn’t seen each other for nine months) and why the jury decided this was ‘suicide’, I don’t suppose for one minute that this was Lilian’s intention.

However, given that, at the time, such abortions were illegal and had she lived, could have resulted in Lilian being sent to prison for life, maybe the Coroner’s Jury felt a suicide verdict was a kinder response. Indeed, I suspect Mrs Crosswell would rather have had the ‘censure’ of the Coroner’s Jury, than face a manslaughter charge for aiding Lilian’s abortion, which led to her death.

It is cases like Lilian’s that ultimately led to the legalisation of abortions in the UK. Whatever one’s personal views on the issue of abortion, I think we can all agree that to lose one’s life in such circumstances is very sad – for all involved.

What happened to Harry?

At the date of the 1939 Register, Harry was still living at 16 Kingsholm Gardens, with his Sister Alice and her husband George Thomas Scott (my Grandparents), and two of their children Margaret (Peg) and Hilda – the other two, Beryl and Eileen (my mother) had been evacuated to Kent in the build up to World War 2. Harry was recorded as a widower8.

Harry married Charlotte Lee in Woolwich, in the April-June Quarter of 1940 (v1d p3419) – he died on 5th July 1970 (GRO Ref: 1970 J-S Dartford V5f p633). I have not found any record of children from either marriage.

If you are wondering where Harry’s middle names came from – they were the surnames of his maternal Grandparents, Frances Elizabeth COOPER and George BRADSTREET:

Although baptised in the order Cooper Bradstreet, these were transposed in some documents.

References:

  1. RSA-CER-0191: Death Certificate – Lilian Bessie Morris (nee Evenden), 17 May 1939. GRO reference: A-J 1939 Milton V02A P1409
  2. “Mystery of Woman’s Body in Bathroom”, The People Newspaper, 21st May 1939, page 11, column 1. The British Newspaper Archive, British Library, accessed at www.findmypast.co.uk 8th January 2018.
  3. “Police call Pathologist”, The Daily Mirror Newspaper, 22nd May 1939, page 24, column 3. The British Newspaper Archive, British Library, accessed at www.findmypast.co.uk 8th January 2018.
  4. “Milton Woman’s Death”, The Chatham News Newspaper, 26th May 1939, page 4, column 5. The British Newspaper Archive, British Library, accessed at www.findmypast.co.uk 8th January 2018.
  5. “Coroner Censures Milton Woman”, The Chatham News Newspaper, 9th June 1939, page 17, column 6. The British Newspaper Archive, British Library, accessed at www.findmypast.co.uk 8th January 2018.
  6. 1939 England and Wales Register, Elsie May Crosswell, 2 Glenbrook Grove, Sittingbourne and Milton, Kent. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1788D. Schedule Number 139/2, Enumeration District: DIUC, Registration district: 61-1. Accessed at www.ancestry.com 27th October 2018.
  7. 1939 England and Wales Register, Phyllis M Eunels, 42 Ponsonby Road, Plymouth, Devon. The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/6797I. Schedule Number 183/5, Enumeration District: WERX, Registration district: 276-3. Accessed at www.ancestry.com 27th October 2018.
  8. 1939 England and Wales Register, Harry B C Morris, 16 Kingsholm Gardens, Woolwich, London.  The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/660I. Schedule Number 251/ 5, Enumeration District: AZSU, Registration district: 29-3. Accessed at www.ancestry.com 27th October 2018.
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Conflict – ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

This week’s #52Ancestors topic is ‘conflict’.

In September 1953, my father, Dai Rees was on his Annual Camp as an Army Reservist (following his term on full-time National Service). He was called in to the admin office to be told that there was a message for him from ‘Eileen’ to say ‘Father has died’.

There was one big problem with this message – who was Eileen?

Was it his eldest sister, Eileen; in which case it was his own Father who had died, or his girlfriend, and later wife, Eileen Ivy Scott; in which case, it was his future Father-in-Law who had died.

Getting this message must have been a source of conflict for Dai, not wanting it to be his own Father who had died, but that would mean it had to be his girlfriend’s father – and he was away at camp, so not able to comfort either Eileen.

It eventually transpired it was George Thomas Scott who had died1:

George with his wife Alice in happier times
(Crown Copyright)

There was further conflict when Dai requested time off from camp to attend the funeral – this was rejected, meaning he was unable to be with his future wife at this sad time.

George Thomas Scott was cremated at Honor Oak Crematorium on 23rd September 19532:

The decision for George to be cremated at Honor Oak Crematorium appeared to also have been a conflict. George’s father (Albert Alfred Scott) and Grandparents (Abraham John Scott and Mary Ann Scott – nee Selves) had been buried in Plumstead Cemetery:

All other family cremations took place at Eltham Crematorium – so why not George’s? This conflict was easier to solve – Eltham Crematorium didn’t open for use until 1956 – three years after George was cremated.

References:

  1. RSA-CER-0090: SCOTT, George Thomas, Death Certificate. Obtained from Lewisham Park Registrar’s Office on 1st October 1953, by Hilda Florence Wiseman, nee Scott, George’s Daughter.
  2. RSA-BMD-0009: SCOTT, George Thomas, ‘In Loving Memory’ card. Given to mourners at George’s cremation at Honor Oak Crematorium on 23rd September 1953
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Sports – ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

This week’s #52Ancestors topic is ‘Sports’.

The only relative that I am aware of who played sport at a professional level was Gordon Green, however, I have already posted about him for ‘Closest to your Birthday‘.

So, instead, I want to focus on one of those individuals who are often unnamed, but without whom sports men and women would not be able to play their games. I am referring to Groundsmen and women.

My father, Dai Rees, spent most of his working life preparing outdoor sports facilities for others to play on (see the newspaper clipping of his approach to his grounds, here), mostly at the BP Sports Club, Britannic House in Lower Sydenham (you can see more about the club here).

Due to the approach he took, of making sure that members could play their particular sport, Dai was often viewed as an ‘honorary’ member of many of the Sports Grounds various clubs. For one of these, the BP Britannic House Football Club, this meant that Dai was the recipient of a very special tie, now in the Rees Scott Archive:

The logo told a very particular story. Spread over two lines, were the letters:

‘iwamotft
twaabhfc’

To those in the know this read:

“I was a member of the first team / that won anything at Britannic House Football Club”

The tie was only given to the members of the football squad who had played in that season, plus one to Dai for having ensured, that whatever the weather, there was a pitch to play on.

That theme, of always ensuring members could play, was recognised by other teams at the club. This letter from Ron Turtle of the Britannic House Bowls Club, dated 20th October 1976 was typical of the thanks Dai, and his team, received:

                   RSA-LET-0002-6 1

Just to put the ‘long dry summer’ into perspective, this was one of the hottest summers recorded in the UK.2

Here’s another; this time from Nigel Holmes of the BP Hockey Club, dated 10th July 1978:

                               RSA-LET-0002-8

Then there’s one, dated 21st October 1980, from Dave Honour of the BP Tennis Section, written to David Chapman, the then General Manager, thanking Dai and his team for the condition of the grass tennis courts:

          RSA-LET-0002-18

The final example is from Lynda Hutchins of the BP Rounders Team, dated 29th June 1983:

                                                     RSA-LET-0002-22

Rounders was not a regular sport played at the Club, but it was clear that on receiving a request to come and play a game at the Club, Dai had duly marked out a regulation pitch for them to play on.

Whilst each of the above sports would have been played on a grass surface, each sport has different requirements, which means that the treatment the grass on that surface needs to receive is also different. You may be able to cut the grass on a hockey pitch with a tractor and gang-mowers, but you certainly couldn’t do that on a bowling green or tennis courts.

It is this sort of dedication, and skill, shown by Groundsmen and Women, in all sorts of venues, that let those who want to play their sport have the best conditions to do so.

So here is a little thank you to them all.

References

  1. Rees Scott Archive. Ref: RSA-LET-0002. A series of  34 letters, dated 1971 – 1987 sent to various recipients at the BP Social Club, where Dai worked as the Head Groundsman, mostly thanking Dai and his ground staff for their services. Letters were collated by Dai Rees, and are now in the Rees Scott Archive.
  2. See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_British_Isles_heat_wave for more details.
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Ten – ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

This week’s #52Ancestors topic is ‘Ten’.

As Amy Johnson Crow noted in her email giving this week’s topic: “Ten what? Someone who had 10 children? Someone with 10 letters in their name? Someone who was in the 10th Infantry? Someone who was born in October? #10 on your ancestor chart?  How are you going to interpret this week’s theme?”

What I love about Amy ‘s #52Ancestors prompts is that they force you to look again at your family tree. So I’ve gone for someone who was born in 1910, someone who, until I focused on the birth date of 1910, I had not really considered very much – just a name on the tree.

So this week I am looking at Emily Cecilia Ann REES, who is my 2nd cousin, 3 times removed:

Emily was born in 1910, in Machen, Monmouthshire, UK., the youngest of three children to Edmund REES and his Wife Clara Annie, nee POTTER. The other two children were Beatrice Mary (born 1899) and Edmund John Duffield (1903). I don’t currently have the exact date of Emily’s birth.

At the 1911 Census, the family were living in Commercial Road, Machen. Edmund was listed as a ‘Carriage Fitter’ working on the Railway. Emily’s age was given as ’11 months’, which given the 1911 Census was taken on 2nd April 1911, would suggest an April / May 1910 birth date.

Misfortune hit the family in 1913, when Clara Annie, Emily’s mother died, on 27th February 1913, aged 44. Emily would have been just under 3 years old. I have found no evidence that Edmund remarried, so it is likely that 13/14 year old Beatrice took over as ‘mother’ to the family.

Further tragedy occurred on 29th January 1925, when Emily, aged just 14, died. I have yet to obtain the death certificate, so I don’t know what caused her death. I have not found any newspaper references to her death.

Such a short life, and losing her mother as she was turning 3, seems really sad. Yet if she had lived, in just two years she would have faced the death of her father – Edmund, who died on 26th October 1927, aged 63.

Thankfully, Beatrice and Edmund Jr, seemed to have had happier lives. Beatrice had married John Wood in 1922, and had a daughter, Lilian, the following year. Beatrice lived until 1985, when she died at the age of 85.

Edmund Jr, married Myra Wynn in June 1925, and they went on to have 2 sons and a daughter.

It is very easy to just ‘collect’ names on our family tree, but each of these names was a person, with a life, a family and, eventually a death. Doing this post has made me want to find out more about the painfully short life of my 2nd Cousin, Emily Cecilia Ann REES.

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Document of the Week – George Thomas Scott: Tenancy Agreement

This week’s #DocOTWeek follows on from last week’s document of the week – the photo of Alice Winifred Mary Scott (nee Morris) with her two eldest daughters, my aunts, Margaret Susie (known as Peggy or Peg) and Hilda. (See here).

At the time of the last photo, the family were living at 5 Victoria Cottages, New Eltham. Alice’s husband, George Thomas Scott, my Maternal Grandfather, then took on a tenancy for 16 Kingsholm Gardens, Eltham. This week’s document is the offer of that tenancy. The document is in two parts; the first of which is the tenancy offer letter:

Dated 28th May 1927, from the Town Clerk of the Metropolitan Borough of Woolwich, the letter offers George and his family, the tenancy of 16 Kingsholm Gardens, Eltham, an ‘A’ type house.

The ‘inclusive’ rent is shown 14 shillings 3 pence a week (72p a week in today’s money!), together with a 5 shilling deposit (25p). So far so good.

Then we come to dealing with electricity. At this time the predominant energy source used in social housing was gas, with coal fires. Electricity was only just beginning to be made readily available1. In 1921, there were more than 480 authorised suppliers of electricity in the UK. They were generating and supplying electricity at a variety of voltages and frequencies. It was only the year before George was taken on this tenancy, in 1926, that the Electricity (Supply) Act 1926 (which was only repealed in 1989) created the Central Electricity Board and the National Grid operating at 132 kV (50 Hz).

So if George wanted to have electric light fittings, he would have to buy them himself. The Council had installed two electric plus – but George would also have to ‘buy’ these at a cost of 1 penny a week, for each plug, for seven years – a total cost of £3.0.8d.  In addition, if he wanted to have radiators to use with the plugs, these, again, had to be purchased from the Council. The fact that this latter detail has been written on would suggest that it was still a relatively new offering and the Council had not yet updated their template letter.

The offer made clear that if it were accepted, the tenancy would commence on Saturday 4th June 1927. We know from other documents that George and the family did accept the offer and moved to 16 Kingsholm Gardens.

The second part of the document, which was stapled to the front of the main page, was this supplement with electricity prices:

A standing charge of  1 shilling 10 pence a week (9p in today’s money) and 1/2d per unit, paid through the prepayment meter installed. The later would most likely have been a coin meter, similar to the one below – which dates from the 1970’s, as it took 10p / 2 shilling pieces – so likely to be just after decimalisation.

The Council would have sent round a meter man, to empty the meter periodically.

Clearly rents and electricity prices were cheaper than today – but that has to be set against lower wages and the fact that in many families the wife would still have been at home looking after the children.

16 Kingsholm Gardens still stands – it’s the one with the white door in the centre of the image below:

This offer of tenancy document does show us a little of the process that a family would have gone through to get access to the social housing of the time, as well as the costs of rent and electricity at the time.

References:

  1. Timeline of the UK electricity supply industry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_UK_electricity_supply_industry  accessed 2nd October 2018

 

 

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On the Farm – ’52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks’

This week’s #52Ancestors topic is ‘On the Farm’. As Amy Johnson Crow (who sets the topics) noted, this ‘might be a week that you have a hard time choosing because so many ancestors fit the theme!’ This is so true!

We have farmers in just about every branch of the family tree.

So I could talk about my paternal Great Grandmother, Fanny Biles, who was born on 27th July 1863, at Bovington, Wool, in Dorset. The only ‘Bovington’ near Wool was Bovington Farm – and Fanny’s father, William Biles was a Carter at the time of her birth.

Although the Bovington Farm House is still in existence, most of the farm land became infantry training area and ranges, in 1899. In 1916, they became training camps for the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps which was responsible for the operation of the tank in the British Army. In 1917 the Heavy Branch split from the Machine Gun Corps to become the Tank Corps, with the Depot and Central Schools being based at Bovington.

Bovington is probably more famous now as the home of The Tank Museum:

Copyright: www.tankmuseum.org

So, in Fanny’s case ‘on the farm’ relates to her birth – and that was her only really connection to a farm.

However, I could also talk about my maternal 3 x Great Grandfather, Charles Ward. Charles was born abt 1822 and baptised at Graveney on 3rd March 1822. As a young man he was an ‘Ag Lab’ – an Agricultural Labourer. He was still a ‘labourer’ on 4th August 1844, when he married Eliza Pilcher1 the daughter of another ‘Labourer’ John Pilcher.

However, by the 1871 Census, John Pilcher, is the farmer of 65 acres of Mustard Farm, just outside Eastchurch, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent – and Charles is working for him as an ‘Ag Lab’.2

So it is clear that John has bettered himself and gone from a Labourer, to a Farmer. Could Charles do the same? Well by the 1881 Census, Charles is now a ‘Market Gardener’ at the, wonderfully named ‘Pigtail Corner’, on the outskirts of Minster, Isle of Sheppey.3

Charles remained a ‘Market Gardener’ up until his death on 26th January 1910, aged 88.4

So from humble ‘Ag Lab’ to being his own boss ‘on the farm’.

Much nearer to home, I could talk about my own experiences ‘on the farm’, which for many years was our annual two or three weeks holidays camping or in a caravan, at Knapp Farm, in Llangwm, Pembrokeshire.

Our parents, Dai and Eileen Rees, started taking us camping at Knapp Farm in the late 1960’s. The facilities were basic. There was a water tap in the ‘tent’ field, with a toilet block with toilets and a sink with cold running water. That was it.

However, Knapp Farm was a few hundred yards from the wonderful Cleddau estuary and the lane that Knapp Farm was on terminates at Black Tar ‘Beach’ – which has a concrete slipway, enabling Dad to launch his boats Jerboa II and III.

We had the immediate vicinity to explore, as well as the natural wonders of Pembrokeshire.

One of the key memories of being ‘on the farm’ was going up to the little dairy block, every morning, to get the fresh bottled milk, pretty much straight from the cow. We even, on occassions got to help bottle and ‘cap’ the bottles with their foil caps.

We had great times, and looking back, it does help us to understand the type of environment that all those forebears who were Farmers or Ag Labs would have worked in (minus electricity, powered machines etc).

If you are trying to get your head around where all of the above ancestors fit in the tree, see below:

References:

  1. Rees Scott Archive Ref:RSA-CER-0140: Marriage Certificate – Charles WARD to – Eliza PILCHER. GRO Ref: J-S 1844 Sheppey V5 P505
  2. Census. 1871. England. Eastchurch, Kent. Class: RG10; Piece: 989; Folio: 33; Page: 25; GSU roll: 838723. Accessed via www.ancestry.co.uk
  3. Census 1881. England. Minster in Sheppey, Kent. Class: RG11; Piece: 978; Folio: 32; Page: 13; GSU roll: 1341232. Accessed via www.ancestry.co.uk
  4. Rees Scott Archive Ref:RSA-CER-0142: Death Certificate – Charles WARD. GRO Ref: J-M 1910 Sheppey V2a P639
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Document of the Week – Alice Scott with Daughters Peggy and Hilda

This week’s #DocOTWeek is a photograph postcard of my Maternal Grandmother, Alice Winifred Mary Scott (nee Morris) with her two eldest daughters, my aunts, Margaret Susie (known as Peggy or Peg) and Hilda.

The photo side of the postcard tells us that this copy was probably given to one of Alice’s siblings, as she signs it as ‘With love from Sis & the Kiddies 14.4.23’, ‘Sis’ being a common nickname for ‘sister’. We also have a date of when the card was given, as 14th April 1923.

We get a lot more information on the reverse of the postcard. Working across from the left hand side, we first can see that the studio that took the photo was ‘The Tasma Studios and Art Depot, 99 Wellington St, Woolwich S.E.’

As the above advert shows, as well as undertaking photographic work, the Tasma Studios  also did picture framing and sold artists’ materials1.

I have not found any further details for this studio. The buildings in Wellington Street, Woolwich have all since been re-developed.

The next information we get is the identity and ages of the two girls: ‘Peggy 3 years 9 months’ and ‘Hilda 1 year 9 months’. Margaret Susie Scott was born on 11th August 1919 and Hilda Florence Scott on 28th August 1921. So their ages are consistent with the photograph being taken in April 1923:

The handwritten squiggle seems to be ‘G Sepia’ – maybe ‘gloss sepia’ – an instruction or description, maybe.

There is then another squiggle, which could be ‘Mrs Morris’ – which would be Alice’s mother – but I’m not sure.

Then we have a date stamp of ’10th September 1924′. It is not clear what this refers to, unless this postcard was taken in to have more copies done at a later date?

Then there is the name and address:

“Mrs Scott
5 Victoria Cottages
Green Lane
New Eltham

As photo P.B.”

This is Alice’s married name and was also the same address, where Margaret (Peggy) was born2:

Margaret’s birth certificate is a good example of what a difference a couple of days can make. We know Margaret was born on 11th August 1919. Her father, George Thomas Scott, registered the birth on 22nd September 1919, giving his details and those of his wife, ‘Alice Mary Winifred Scott formerly Morris’. (This is the general order that Alice used her middle names, however, her birth was registered as Alice Winifred Mary.)

However, as George and Alice only got married on 20th September 1919, Margaret was born out of wedlock – but as they waited until after their marriage, to register her birth, by the date the birth was registered, Alice’s surname was, indeed ‘Scott’. This very effective sleight of hand would certainly have saved Margaret a lot of embarrassment every time she needed to show her birth certificate3.

‘Victoria Cottages’ still exist, but are now numbered as part of Green Lane, so it is not clear which end of the 28 house terrace, No 5 was:

The final notation on the back of the postcard is ‘7514’, which may well be the photographers reference number.

We are very fortunate to have so much detail, both on the front and reverse of this postcard, which clearly identifies those in the photograph. If only this was always the case!

References:

  1. Kentish Independent 29 October 1909, Page 4 Column 8. Accessed at The British Newspaper Archives on Findmypast.co.uk Accessed 22 September 2018
  2. RSA-CER-0199: Margaret (Peggy) Susie SCOTT – Birth Certificate. GRO Ref: J-S 1919 Lewisham V1d P1654
  3. RSA-CER-0089: George Thomas SCOTT and Alice Mary Winifred MORRIS – Marriage Certificate. GRO Ref: J-S 1919 Lewisham V1d P2922
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