WW1 – Part 3, Lest we forget

The Hart family (my father’s side) were from Studham in Bedfordshire. We visited there with Dad a few years ago. We visited the village church where the family were baptised, married and buried for generations.

Inside is the roll of honour remembering all those who fought and died during both world wars. The last connection with the village was the descendants of Albert Hart, who was my Dad’s great uncle who died at Ypres in July 1917 and whose name and picture are on the memorial. Albert married a 2nd cousin, Jane, 12 years older than him who was left a widow with a young son and daughter.  We visited Ypres three times in the last few years and we found Albert’s grave (more of this later)

Also remembered is another of Albert’s cousins, Olive May Hart who was working in a munitions factory which was bombed by a zeppelin attack in which she died “of shock.” It was very moving to see our family members remembered in this way, especially for my Dad to see where his grandfather and his brother – Uncle Albert lived.

The photo is part of the memorial to those from Studham who lost their lives in WW1.  Albert is on the second row, second left.  RIP Albert.

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The reasons for my quest

I have many motivations for researching and writing up my family history.  This started at a time of loss and gain at the end of 1985.  I was very close to my maternal grandmother who used to tell me stories about her own childhood in pre WW1 times in rural Lincolnshire.  This included information about her cousins and her own two grandmothers.  My son was due in October 1985 and my Nan had been admitted to a nursing home the year before.  I visited her during the summer but I don’t think she knew who I was.  I was already losing her and knew it was a race against time – would my son be born before she died?  She died three weeks after Mark arrived.  I tried my best to remember the stories she had told me and I knew I wanted to find out more about the people she had talked about.  I also wanted to leave a legacy for my son, who would never know his great grandma.

After a few years I had many of the facts about my family – births, marriages and deaths, as well as census entries.  It’s now all about putting flesh on the bones of my ancestors – what were their daily lives like, what challenges did they face and what was happening nationally and internationally at the time  and did this affect my family at all?

Since 1985 I have done a lot of research and although I know all the links and where everyone fits in, this is in my head and would be totally ineligible to anyone trying to piece it all together.  My family history research and the books, booklets and magazines I have collated are now variously spread in my son’s old bedroom (he’s due home at Christmas – help!) the loft and now my old walk-in airing cupboard.  My daughter, who is border-line dyslexic, has made it very clear that when I die everything is going on the nearest tip because she just wouldn’t be able to make head nor tail of it all.  So the clocks ticking and I really need to write it all up properly!!  May be she was just trying to be cruel to be kind but I do understand where she’s coming from!  Also it would break my heart to think that all these years of hard work (on and off) is going on a rubbish tip or a bonfire, if Lucy has anything to do with it!

Indirectly my daughter is the focus of the line of enquiry that I am going to follow for this research.  Lucy is named after my maternal great-grandma Maud Lucy Thomson nee Boulton.  Lucy is pretty glad that I didn’t call her Maud, but until recently I couldn’t find any other Lucy’s in the family although I had been told it was a family name.  I have now discovered the missing link and whilst there is still information I am pursuing I am now able to put together “Lucy’s story.”

I would also like to leave something for future generations who might be interested in our various family trees.  It’s my family’s and my heritage and the footsteps in the sand that we leave for family we will never meet.

(The photo is of my Nan and I in our garden at Harewood Crescent, in North Hykeham, Lincoln, in 1961 – I have no idea what she is wearing on her head!)

Reflections ….

In my life I suppose the most powerful sensory memories are the smells and sounds of hospitals.  This dates back to when I had my son in 1985 when we were both lucky to survive his birth in the local maternity hospital.  In 1989 when I was pregnant with my daughter I had to go back to the same hospital, with the same smells and sounds (and people) – I was overcome with fear.  Every time I visited during the rest of the pregnancy and every time I visited family or friends who had just had babies I was overcome with the same emotions.  I can’t say I was sad when the maternity hospital closed.  Since 1989 I have had a number of minor ops but in 2008 I had major surgery which lasted several hours.  The whole experience took me straight back to 1985 and to the sounds and smells of hospitals I experienced then.  I vowed then that I would never undergo surgery ever again unless I absolutely have to.  Well I did have to – this year I had a full hysterectomy.

 

Whilst my experiences in 1985 have been the most powerful and have affected me more than I thought they would, I wonder about my ancestors who mostly very ordinary folk.  I think of the smell of carbolic soap which is now very rare and which I barely remember myself, must have been very common in the early twentieth century.  The smells and sights of soot everywhere from the old fireplaces or kitchen ranges have nearly gone.  I also think how my “ag labs” and their family’s lives would have been dictated by the seasons and also the light.  Day would begin when the sun rose and ended when it set.  Homes must have been very dark.  I think of how I love to read but this would have been virtually impossible by gas light, but then could any of my family read or write before the end of the 19th century?  I used to wonder what did my family did in the evenings before radio or television, but it would be dark and they would have probably have been in bed!

 

In the 1960’s all my mum’s family would take it in turns to stay at the family caravan in Skegness.  We had gas light then and I remember the smell and the sound of the hiss of the gas.   There was no running water in the caravan so we had to get it from the communal water tap and the toilets were across the road.  The road consisted of tiny stones so by day if you were barefoot it was very painful to cross.  By night, if you wanted to go to the loo, that was a terrifying experience.  Having to climb over my sister who shared a double bed with me.  Hearing my Dad snoring and then opening the caravan door as quietly as I could – then making a dash for the loo feeling scared that no bogy man would get me!  I also remember that if you had to go to the loo in after day break when it was light, how all the walls in the loos were covered in daddy long legs!  I’m still frightened of them!  My husband and now grown up children now caravan in a much more modern way – they don’t know how lucky they are!

Here’s a great pic of me (and my sister) taken outside our caravan in 1968.

Family Weddings

The first wedding I remember was my Auntie Beth’s in the summer of 1969.  My younger sister Angela and I were the youngest bridesmaids aged 8 and 6.   We wore lemon dresses and I had my bobbed hair curled and dressed for the event.  Angela prettier and slighter than me, with waist long blondish hair, was in a foul mood all day and point blank refused to smile.  I spent the whole day trying to pacify her but secretly feeling quite smug because I looked, for once, better than her.  When looking at the pictures and films today I can see me with that self-satisfied grin, looking perfection itself and the very vivid memories come flooding back.

Fast forward a few years to my elder cousin Joanna’s wedding, she was only 18.  Aged 14 I was desperately trying to hang on to my childhood and not wanting to grow up.  Still obsessed with my hero Donny Osmond I could never imagine myself ever getting married except to him.  Angela and I were wearing identical dresses, with flouncy bows down the front, only the colour was different.  My mother had since we were small often dressed us the same, I don’t think she wanted us to grow up either.

Angela always had boys chasing her, I aged 17 had never gone out with anyone.  I thought I was going to be left on the shelf.  My mum thought so too and said as much.  I married the first person who asked me out, the day before my 20th birthday.  Our wedding in July 1981 will forever be associated in my mind with Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s a few days later, which we watched on our honeymoon.  Princess Diana with her big blue eyes, looked like a scared bambi caught in the headlights in those early years.  I felt for her on her wedding day when she stepped out her carriage in her crumpled dress and when she got her husband’s names in the wrong order.  Born the same month and year as me, and married in the same month and year as me, I couldn’t help but wonder then what our destinies would be and what different paths our lives would take.  Rather her than me.

Later that year my other cousin Louise married aged 19 and in 1984 my sister Angela married at the slightly older age of 21.  This was the last throw of a different era when the only ambition for girls was to get married and have children as soon as possible.  How different things are today.  My daughter aged 28 already, and my three nieces aged 23, 22 and 20 have absolutely no intention of getting married so young, if at all.

Poor unhappy Princess Diana is long since dead.  We very much enjoyed watching her son’s wedding to the lovely Kate who seems to know what she’s doing and have more confidence than her mother-in-law did.  Yet, she too now has lenses pointed at her invading her private moments, just as Diana had, but even more so with the internet flashing pictures all over the world for every peeping tom to stare at.

I don’t envy girls today.  They may have many more choices then we did, but life is much more complicated now.  Those innocent days when I was a bridesmaid and played “Puppy Love” endlessly seem long ago now and the world seems a much harsher place.

Here’s a shot from my own wedding in July 1981.

 

My ancestor was a Victorian Policeman!

My Dad had many memories of his rather stern grand father – George Hart – my great great grandfather.  Having 3 surviving and spirited daughters and one son, and being widowed early, I get the impression he was a typical Victorian father and grand father. Physically I think my Dad inherited his height and build, but I reckon I got his eyes!

George was appointed to the police force on 19th May 1898, aged 21 and 6 months.

He was born in Studham, Bedfordshire on 4th November 1876

On entry to the police force he was described as:

  • Height was 5ft 11ins
  • Chest was 37 ins
  • Complexion was fresh
  • Eyes were dark brown
  • Hair was dark brown
  • He had no distinguishing marks
  • He was a member of the Church of England
  • His Benefit Society was the National Deposit
  • His weekly benefit was 15 shillings
  • Next of kin was his father Charles Hart of Studham in Bedfordshire
  • Previous occupation was labourer

Further information included:

  • He married on 26 September 1903 and his wife subsequently died on 6th April 1923
  • He had the following children:- Leonard George born 1905, Evelyn Maud born 1906, Margaret Frances born 1908, Kathleen Gertrude born 1909 and Elsie Barbara born 1910
  • Last employed at Markyate by a Mr Bennett
  • Cyclist – yes
  • Swimmer – no
  • Gained his ambulance certificate in January 1901
  • He was examimed and declared fit on 22nd April 1898 by Mr Lovell Drage, Police Surgeon
  • On entry he was sworn before two J.P.’s Mr R.B. Croft and Mr R. Walters at Ware on 31st May 1898

This information was signed by Major Alfred Law, Chief Constable of Hertforshire.

Rates of pay (per week) for PC Hart were:-

Starting rate was:    £1, 1s, 7d

July 1898                   £1, 2s, 9d

December 1898        £1, 3s, 11d

April 1901                  £1, 5s, 6d

October 1901            £1, 6s, 10d

September 1904      £1, 8s

September 1907      £1, 9s, 2d

October 1912            £1, 10s, 11d

July 1918                   £2, 13s

April 1919                  £4, 12s, 6d

May 1920                  £4, 15s

Extra pay awards of an extra 7d a week were given when he was awarded the Good Conduct Badge in May 1913 and again in May 1919.

Stations

  1. Ware                                                   May 1898 to July 1898
  2. Hare Street                                        July 1898 to December 1898
  3. Westmill                                             December 1898 to August 1899
  4. Buckland                                           August 1899 to December 1901
  5. Stausted Abbotts                              December 1901 to July 1902
  6. Hoddesdon                                       July 1902 to December 1905
  7. Brent Pelham                                   December 1905 to August 1909
  8. Thorley                                               August 1909 to June 1911
  9. Brent Pelham                                   June 1911 to September 1920
  10. Newgate Street                                 September 1920 to May 1923

Misconduct report

 14th August 1898

Offence was “riding on a roundabout on 9th August 1898 in uniform when on duty”.  (NB.  We now think this was a fairground roundabout, rather than one on a road, as they weren’t invented until the 20th century)

Medical history

 Sickness: 15th December 1918 to 12th January 1919 (28 days) Influenza  (NB.  This was part of the world wide influenza epidemic that struck soon after the end of the 1914-1918 war, many died and George was lucky to survive)

(Information provided by Mrs E Martin, 13 Pear Tree Dell, Letchworth, Herts., SG6 2SW.  Mrs Martin is a member of the Hertfordshire Family History Society)

 

What goes around comes around!

I’m on the trail of the Cramptons of Pinchbeck in Lincolnshire. My x2 great grandmother Sophia Newman was born a Crampton. Her father was William b. 1808 and her mother was Ann West b. 1811. Having established that they had a large family I next found William in the papers in 1851. He, a relative also called William Crampton and another man, were found guilty of sheep stealing. The trial established that approx 7 stone of mutton and a rifle were found in our William’s cottage. The details of the trial, the police, the witnesses etc. leave no doubt that the men were guilty. All were sentenced to be transported however I believe at least in our William’s case this was commuted to 7 years in prison. Whatever happened his wife Ann is recorded by herself with all the children in the 1851 census. Difficult decisions needed to be taken and its no surprise that her children left home to find work.

We next find Sophia about to be married in 1854 in Coleby. Her occupation on marriage is given as a servant and she could neither read nor write. She went on to have 9 children. The first was a stillborn son, followed by 8 daughters – 7 who survived into adulthood. Poor Ann was not to survive long, dying in around 1856/7. Sophia named one of her daughters Betsey, which was the name of one of her sisters. I’v’e found her sister Betsey on the census’s – she married a gentleman named Miller by whom she had several children but by 1891 she was long since a “widow”. She is now living in Leeds and her occupation is given as “Housekeeper” and the head of the home is a Mr Faulkner. Some of the children’s surnames have now changed from Miller to Faulkner – who was their father? Mmm – some of the children may have been born after she was “widowed?”

Going through to 1911 and (back in Pinchbeck) when she was well into her 70’s she is given as the householder, marital status is given as widow and she has three of her children plus a grand-daughter are with her – with the name back to Miller. Guess who is her “lodger”? Yep, its Mr Faulkner! What really brought a tear to my eye was, back in 1891 when she was living with Mr Faulkner, and her children, in Leeds, there was one other person living there – “Grandpa” – yes her father William Crampton, after his time in prison had gone to live with his daughter. He hung on in there until 1901 when he finally died having survived well into his 90’s. 

The photo includes two of the 8 daughters of Sophia – the youngest, my great grandmother, Annie Newman b. 1875 is bottom right, with her sister sitting next to her.  I think the photo was taken in the early 1890’s and I’m guessing that it is when of 8 young ladies of Coleby “came of age” but I could be wrong!

The Scottish Connection

My great, great grandfather Archibald De Beauly Thomson has always been a bit of a mystery. I found him, his parents and brother living in Edinburgh in the 1841 census. His parents were Alexander Thomson and Lilias Sandison.  She was from the Shetllands but I’m yet to find her family past her father.  Alexander and Lilias had three sons, Archibald (born in the 1830’s) was the middle child.  They were living in the university area of the city and worshipped at St Cuthberts at the foot of the castle.  However, in the census it says that Lilias was ill in bed and we know she died shortly afterwards.  Apparently there was a huge family argument which led to Archibald wanting to move as far from his family as he could.  I don’t know what this was about but in theory, perhaps his father re-married and his son disapproved?

I’ve been there several times and St Cuthbert’s is a beautiful Church of Scotland place of worship. You are offered coffee and biscuits after the service – which my Dad and I enjoyed.   I have some certificates relating to Archibald’s parents and family.  (Alexander and Lilias, Archibald’s parents and Robert Sandison his maternal grandfather). I have thought as De Beauly is his middle name perhaps that’s where the family were originally from.  I have some pics of the town of Beauly near Inverness where (I think) the De Beauly part of my family name comes from – is this the Thomson’s ancestral home?

Any how – Archibald ended up in Southampton, where he married late in life to Jane from the Isle of White. They had a son, whom they also named Archibald De Beauly Thomson who was born around 1880.  Archibald Snr was an engineer in the ship building trade, and he had some hard times including being unemployed for spells.  His son worked on the railways and eventually transferred from the Southampton area to Lincoln.  There he met and married, Maud Lucy Boulton, from Lincoln High Street whose father had a stonemason’s business.  The couple moved into a house on the corner of Pennell Street and the High Street.  Marrying in 1905 they had my grand father “Pop” Archibald Boulton Thomson in 1906, followed by another son ans daughter.  Pictured are the family.