Friday, July 19, 2013
What a family the Hughes and Martins are
I have been trying to track down the convict connection in the Hughes side of the family. The apocryphal story from Jan’s grandfather ‘Pop’ (Charles Roberts (1892-1983)) was that his father Charles Henry Roberts (1853-1915) was born in Port Jackson (the original name for Sydney), NSW in about 1853. Certainly on the English Census of 1901 he claims this (aged 48). To date I can find no corroboration in birth certificates, or travel warrants or ships records from Australia to England. More to do, but...
In the meantime, I was tracking the other side of Jan’s family from her maternal grandmother Louisa Roberts (née Burnett) (1892-1964). Again there are stories that either her grandfather William Andrew Burnett (b. 1825) or her great grandfather Andrew Burnett (1797-1873) came to Australia during the gold rush era, and had a creek named after him (Burnett’s Creek in Victoria). Again after considerable work I have drawn a blank on this. More to do, but...
Intriguingly, Louisa Robert’s mother, William Andrew’s wife Mary Ann (née Roberts b. 1835) was the daughter of Mercy Payne (1805-1886). Mercy (who was married to John Roberts (1809-1867) was born in Stockbury, Kent and died in Strood in Kent. But....
Mercy’s father John Payne (born in Stockbury, Kent in 1776) arrived in Sydney, Australia in 1819, and died in 1820. He was convicted with his sons Thomas and Richard of stealing a sheep (presumably to feed a large family), his death sentence was commuted to 7 years of imprisonment and he was deported to Australia, dying one year after his arrival in Australia.
Another son Edward Payne (born in Stockbury, Kent in 1802) was deported in 1824, gained a pardon in 1841, and set up in Wollombi, NSW with Ann Hanratty (born in Ireland in 1823), who herself was a deported convict. They started a dynasty....
Anyway, the upshot of all of this is that Grandma Jan (née Hughes, b. 1944) is the great great great granddaughter of John Payne. Which makes Hannah, Ben, Rory, Maia, Jimmy and Ollie the great great great great great great grandchildren of convict stock.
A small caveat: This is based on the best research I have been able to do to date with confirmations I could gain. My hope is that the information is correct.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
Whilst on a visit to the UK, Liz and I as usual toured Suffolk and afterwards went to stay with a cousin of hers, John Nunn and his wife Sylvia, who lived in Long Melford, Suffolk. As my Drew ancestors came from there I thought that it would be interesting to visit the beautiful Holy Trinity Church (which was completed in 1484) in Long Melford, to see where they worshipped and got married etc. During our visit there we were lucky enough to meet the Church guide and local historian who gave us a thorough tour of several areas not usually accessible to the public such as the Lady Chapel and others which were very old, having decorated painted walls and around which were wide strips had Latin prayers on them. One such room was dedicated for the use of an acolyte who lived in a little room rather like a cell and was there to say continual prayers for the local Lord of the Manor and his family. He was not allowed out of this room and meals were passed through a small trapdoor cut in the wall. A medium sized hole had been cut in one wall giving a direct view of the main altar in the church so that the acolyte could say Mass at exactly the same time as the priest but ensuring that the Lord and his family did not have to mix with the locals. His main job apparently was to continually say prayers to ensure that the Lord and his family remained healthy, wealthy and close to God. When I mentioned to the guide that I had Drew ancestors who lived in Long Melford, he laughed and said “come and look at this”. This church, as with many of the older churches, had headstones laid in the floor of the nave. There were two headstones each side by side labelled Charles Drew with the date of death only a few months apart. I remarked that that must have been sad for the family and he replied ”There lies a sad story” Needless to say my curiosity was aroused and I asked him for some details which he proceed to relate. Intrigued, I decided to follow up the story when I got home and try to obtain further details on what had happened. I found it quite absorbing and I hope that you do as well. The elder Charles Drew was a cousin to one of our ancestors. The story below is written in the vernacular of the day. More research is needed to find out more about the family especially names of the wife and daughters of Charles Drew Snr.
Charles Drew: Parricide, executed at St. Edmundsbury, 9th April,1740
This how the story developed:-
January 31st 1740 Last week Charles John Drew, an attorney at law who has acquired a considerable estate was murdered in his house at Long Melford in Suffolk. Mr Drew besides his usual house had another about a half mile distant in the principal street of the town and that he made use of that house as his office in which he sometimes lodged. Apparently he was of so unaccountable disposition, that he wholly neglected his son’s education, having quarrelled with and lived separate from his wife. There were five daughters and the unhappy son who murdered him, and to all he appears to have conducted himself with the most culpable reserve and unfriendliness. (Local stories tell that Charles Drew Snr. lived upstairs in the main house with his mistress whilst his wife and children lived on the lower floor. Sometimes, however he would deign to come down to have dinner with his children). When Charles Jnr. arrived at his years of maturity, he came acquainted with one Elizabeth Boyer (Housekeeper at Liston Hall), who submitted to his solicitations, but she was a woman of so much art, that most people thought that he would marry her; and, when she urged him to it, he said, ”Betsy, let us stay a little longer; it will be worse if I do it now, for my father will certainly disinherit me”: to which she replied,” I wish somebody would shoot the old dog”. This discourse was heard to pass between them late January,1740, and Mr Drew was found murdered in his house on the 1st February following. On inquiry into the affair, it was suspected that Mr Drew was shot with a gun which had been lent to him by Mrs. Boyer; and though no prosecution was commenced against her, there was every reason to imagine that she had been the chief instigator of the atrocious crime.
Charles Jnr. who having been to the Chelmsford assizes, fell into company with some smugglers, amongst whom was Humphreys, a hardened villain, whom he invited to meet him at Mrs Boyer’s residence. They accordingly met; when Drew promised to settle two hundred pounds a year on him if he would murder the father; and gave him likewise at the time a considerable sum of money. Humphreys hesitated for some time; but, but at length consenting to the horrid proposal. They went together to the house, having a gun loaded with slugs, at about eleven at night on the 31st January. It was agreed that young Drew should stand at a distance, while Humphreys was to knock at the door, ask for the old man, and then shoot him.; but Humphreys courage failing him when came near the spot, he threw the gun down, saying he would have no concern in the murder. On this young Drew commanded him to keep silence on the pain of death, and taking up the gun, went the door, and when his father opened it, shot him dead on the spot. Having committed this horrid patricide, he said to Humphreys,” The job is done”; on which Humphreys left and went to Dunmow, in Essex, where he had an appointment to meet some smugglers that night, and after that he travelled down to London.
Mr Drew’s servant got up a little before daylight and found the door next the street open and his master lying dead nearby within the house. His coat was very much singed and three large irregular pieces of lead (which did not seem to be cast into bullets) were found in his body and three more on the floor which had gone through him, from where the body laid it was supposed that the villain was not concealed in the house but that he had knocked on the door and as soon as Mr Drew opened it had shot him. In the London Gazette dated February 12th, 1740 it stated “His Majesty for the better discovering and bringing to justice the person or persons concerned, is pleased to promise his most gracious pardon to anyone of them who shall discover who actually committed the murder, so that they be apprehended.
Humphrey being apprehended on suspicion, gave such an indifferent account of the transaction that he was ordered to be kept in custody. By now Drew resided in London, where he changed his name to Roberts, and corresponded with Humphreys who had assumed the name of John Smith. Some letters falling into the hands of Timothy Drew Esq. a namesake only, went to London to find the murderer. He went to several bagnios and at length to a house in Leister Fields where he inquired for a Mr Roberts in a loud voice in such an authoritative voice that a waiter confessed that he was in the house. When they searched his room they found that the bed was still warm, his sword and clothes upon it and the window opened to allow him to escape. Apparently he had donned women’s clothing to disguise himself, however he was rapidly apprehended. He was conducted to the mansion of Justice de Veil; and after an examination of above six hours was committed to Newgate Prison under a strong guard. On Tuesday March 22nd Charles Drew endeavoured to corrupt the turnkey, a Jonathon Keate, at Newgate by giving him a bond of one thousand pounds and engaging to give up his estate if he would let him escape from Newgate Prison and that he could go over to France with him. Jonathon immediately carried the bond to Mr Ackerman the head keeper who searched Drew to see if he had any weapons and condemned him to the hole and placed two men to guard him day and night and to cut his victuals for him, he not being allowed edged tools.
On March 29th 1740 Charles Drew received the death sentence after a five hour trial with many witnesses being called. After his conviction he attributed it to his father’s treatment of him and that his father denied him necessary money for his expenses. During his lifetime he had lead a libertine lifestyle and had accrued substantial gambling debts and owed money to money lenders against his inheritance. He was hanged near Bury St Edmunds on the 9th April 1740 amidst the greatest crowd of spectators that were almost ever assembled on such a melancholy occasion in that part of the country. ( It is unusual that a convicted murderer should have his Headstone within the church precincts.)
His mother and sisters were left in dire financial straights after these events and were required to petition King George who was graciously pleased to release money from the forfeited estates computed at fifty or sixty thousand pounds (a large sum of money in those days and it’s equivalent today would be in the millions)
To make this little story a bit more relevant, please Google "Liston Hall" and "Long Melford, Suffolk".
References: “Gentleman’s Magazine 1740”, “Ipswich Journal newspaper archives” and “The Newgate Calendar”.
Family Archivist Tweed Heads
15th July 2013
The following reminiscences were told to me over a few occasions when I visited my mother at the Hillcrest Nursing Home, Sydney on October 22nd 1993 and subsequent visits. Having an interest in family history we talked about her family as I was keen to find out more about herself and her parents George and Alice who lived in Eye, Suffolk. These notes are not necessarily sequential but as she recalled them at the time with the help of a lot of cups of tea. Mother had a very good memory considering she was 95 years old at the time. I have not corrected grammar or details as I was keen to convey the conversations just as she spoke to me. It is not a full “Memoir” nor is it intended to be but recollections of a remarkable lady who lived a remarkable life. When speaking to her on the telephone who can forget the traces of Suffolk accent that lingered after all those years.
"I was born on 10th November 1898 in a house in Magdalene Street, Eye, Suffolk. Most children at that time were born at home, delivered by a midwife and not in a hospital as they are today. The Doctor was only called when there were complications which seemed to be less prevalent than today perhaps because of the different plain food of the day. My mother Alice (often called “Granny Reynolds even by friends and neighbours) was called quite often to deliver babies in the village. For some reason they always seem to come during the night.
My mother Alice Beatrice Rayner was born in Bury St Edmunds on 11th December 1860 the second of ten children as they had large families in those days. When I was born she was a late first time mother by today’s standards as she was thirty eight years old. My father George Reynolds was born in Eye on 3rd March 1855 to James Reynolds and Sophia Burroughs the last of nine children so I had lots of aunts and uncles. George trained in Ipswich as a watchmaker and later had a jeweller/ watchmaker shop in Magdalene Street, Eye. He was sitting on a gate with a friend in a meadow leading to Abbey Farm when a horseman came by and told them that his horse could jump the fence. Apparently, he tried to do that but the horse’s hooves caught the top rung of the gate which broke the gate, but because my father’s foot was caught in the gate he ended up breaking both legs. The local Doctor didn’t set the leg properly which resulted in one leg being shorter than the other and was subsequently lame as a result of the accident. I didn’t know how my mother and father met but possibly George could have gone to Bury St Edmunds for supplies for his shop or through the St Peter and St Paul’s church choir which travelled fairly extensively. Both of my parents were in the choir and George had a very good tenor voice and had sung in the choir for about 20 years during which time he had gone to Belgium and France twice with the choir. I think that he was the third generation of his family to sing in the local church choir.
When I was about three years old I can remember standing on the kitchen table whilst my mother fitted a frock on me which she had made for me (and stuck a pin in me) There is a family photograph of me when I was about four years old sitting on a couch in a bright red coat with a red velvet collar edged with fur (red with black on it’s edge) plus a big white hat with white gloves that had been taken off and laid down besides me. I loved that coat. At the same time I wore high button up gaiters to my knees indicating that it was taken during the winter. My mother gave me a birthday party for some friends and I was sitting in front of the fire when I suddenly fell forward and burnt my finger on the bars of the fire. Still have a long scar on my right middle finger which doesn’t allow me to straighten the finger completely. Needless to say it was the end of the party.
My father had a small Governess Cart and I used to go out with him prior to school to the big houses of the district where he attended to the clocks in the house. He would wind them up and regulate the time on them. I used to love it because I would sit in the housekeeper’s room with a piece of cake and a glass of milk feeling quite important. My father also looked after the Eye Town Hall clock and I can remember seeing white mice at the top of the stairs there when climbed up to the top to where the clock was.
My first school was the Eye National School which was located near the foot of the old ruined castle built up on a mound. Mary Ann Reynolds (who was my Aunt Dudie) was headmistress of the infant school prior to me going there. The castle no longer exists and only a few ruins remain. A Mrs March who lived in a thatched cottage at the foot of the hill used show visitors around for a shilling a time. I can remember steep round stairs going up to the top of the hill or mound. The ruins fell in on itself after a very high wind one day. Then I went to the “big” school for older children. I enjoyed the school and made quite a few friends there who became lifelong friends. After that school I went on to the Grammar school near the church and the Headmaster lived in the Tudor style building next door which later became the Guildhall. One day after school, my friends and I went for a walk and came across a large tree near school which had blown down and fallen over a ditch. My friends Vicki Norman, Doris Day, Ida Torbell and myself played at walking over the fallen tree which spanned a sewerage ditch. Guess who slipped in? Later on the ditch was filled in but too late to help me. Being very wet and smelly I had to go home straight away but just before I got home a man named Cork Hines was standing at his gate and said “Beattie Reynolds, wait until your father sees you”
Just as I reached the front door my mother opened the door and obviously smelt me right away because she said,”Don’t you dare come in the house smelling like that” She made me strip off all my clothes in the stable next door until I was naked and then I had to run into the house where she was waiting with a bucket of water. We didn’t have a bathroom in those days but used a tin bath in placed front of the fire. When my father came home from work I got a good hiding and told not to go there again. An old man who lived next door to us had an old swaybacked horse which he used to let me ride when he took it down to the River Dove for a wash. I used to walk it home because it was still wet. I would have loved to have had a horse of my own to ride whenever I wanted to.
I was sixteen when I left the Grammar school. I stayed home for a while helping my mother out due to my father being in a wheelchair. He had had a stroke after his accident and lost the use of his legs below the knees about a year earlier but could still manage to get up and down the stairs by himself. Because my father couldn’t get around my mother use to send me with a small pail with a lid on it to bring her back some stout from Daisy’s mother’s pub the “Queens Head” which was next door. My parents weren’t big drinkers but loved a daily drink of stout rather than beer.
I also used to go up to the railway station every night to collect the London evening paper for my father so the staff got to know me quite well.
I used to spend all my holidays with my aunt Dudie (Mary Ann) who lived in West Ham, London. Her husband was a builder but had died after falling off a scaffolding around a building. My aunt had an old lady living with her that I used to call Aunty Charlotte but she was no relation. She had worked with my aunt Elizabeth at Windsor Castle but had been pensioned off. Charlotte had white hair and used to dress beautifully so obviously had money and usually wore black silk frocks. When I used to visit my Aunt Dudie, my father used to put me on the steam train at Eye and I was met by my Aunt at Liverpool Street Station. Her family were quite rich and we went to her home in a very large car which I loved. My aunt used to take me to visit her sons and my cousins as all her sons were married and I enjoyed spending time with them all. Especially as I was an only child and it was a novelty to be with a lot of people. The sons lived at Forrest Gate not far from West Ham. To visit them I used to go by horse drawn bus and we used to sit upstairs as we could see more. There was a little mackintosh thing that pulled out over our legs to stop them getting wet when it rained which was quite often. My Aunt was very good to me and used to take me to such places as parks, museums etc. Aunt Dudie used to visit Eye fairly frequently as she and my father were very close. Prior to his stroke my father used to visit London quite often. My aunt Maria (Dudie’s sister) was a widow and lived in a flat opposite Dudie’s house. Maria was a large happy soul and had two step daughters, Laura and Bessie from her second marriage.
Her son Alfred who used to be called Alexander had moved to South Africa.
When I was sixteen I applied for a position as a Nursery attendant at the local new Infirmary. There were thirty-six little children belonging to the inmates of the Infirmary and they were mostly illegitimate. Most of them were happy little souls and played well together. Their mothers worked in the laundry, kitchen or wards to help pay for their keep. I wore a nurse’s uniform, the same one as in the photograph, and was the youngest member of the staff. My mother was very pleased because the Infirmary was near my home so I was able to get home quite often. I had one half day off a week and every other half day on Sunday but we got used to working the long hours there. The children stayed in the nursery until they were three years old after which they were sent to the children’s home. Sometimes I would get attached to one of the young children and got upset when it became time to leave the nursery. I was given two imbecile women named Gertie and Phoebe to help me in looking after the children and their main jobs were to get meals from the kitchen, dressing the children and bathing them. They were good workers and we got on well together. The Matron used to inspect our area every day and we could hear her coming by the jangle of the keys hanging from her belt so we were warned in advance. I had a bad experience there, as one day I was called to help “lay out” a dead body and as we went to start on him he suddenly half sat up due to wind in his stomach or something so my friend and I both screamed. During the time I was there the war had just started. I two very close friends Ida Torbell and her sister Lily. Lily’s husband joined the Army and within a few weeks was sent to France. The Welch Horse Artillery was stationed at Hoxne which is near Eye. They, of course, were horse soldiers and as Ida’s parents had a confectionary shop (bread, cakes, buns etc.) the boys would go there a lot as their own food was pretty monotonous and I got to know some of them quite well. Ida had a boyfriend named Frank Dowdall and I had Dewi Hopkins. Both of them had been together at a University in Wales but I can’t remember which one. Frank later became a schoolmaster and Dewi became a bank manager after the war. My uncles Enoch and Ephraim had both moved down to Wales with their families. After the soldiers were sent to France we had the Lovett Scouts, Scottish Regiment which had been raised by Lord Lovett. The troopers had to find their own horses and uniforms. I also made friend with some boys from the Stafford Yeomanry as there were many soldiers stationed around Eye.
After a little while Ida, Elsie Etheridge and I decided that we would join the WAAC”s (Womens Army Auxiliary Corp) so we all went off by train to Ipswich on my half day off and joined up. Ida and I passed the medical exam but poor Elsie couldn’t pass as she had a goitre on her neck. I hadn’t told my parents what I was going to do so when I got home there was a big row with my Parents as they thought that I was too young. I told them that I was tired of looking after all of the children at the Infirmary and wanted a change. Very shortly afterward we went off but not together as my friend Ida was going to France. I enjoyed the Army life very much and with some of my other friends we were sent to Hasting in Sussex.
Whilst we were there we had to learn the foot drills the same as the men so that we could go on parade with them. We lived in Nissan huts with about twenty women to each hut which I found a bit difficult in the beginning until I got used to it. I found it cold at night even though there was a pot bellied stove down one end of the hut. Our washing facilities were pretty primitive. Every morning we had to do drill conducted by a very large Sergeant with a big moustache after which we went on route marches. At first I was put into the Stores for a while and then I was transferred to the Officer’s Mess as a waitress as they were short of them. It was much better than giving out uniforms to the new recruits. I liked the life very much and was very happy although they kept moving me from place to place but was pleased when I finished up in Hasting again. There were six Royal Flying Corps cadets on each table, including CW Martin, who were waiting for their Commissions to come through. Bill Martin sometimes had to go to another training camp at Aldeburgh but always came back again. He was training to be a Navigator at that time and became a pilot later on. We got talking and finally ended up going to the pictures together and for walks in the surrounding countryside which was very pretty. As he was a Cadet he wore a white band around his hat but as Cadets and WAAC”s were not supposed to go out together he used to take his white band off and put it in his pocket. One night we bumped into one of the Officer Instructors but he didn’t say anything. His surname was Bull-Smythe and he owned a fat bulldog. There were other girls of course who went out with the Cadets.
In due course Bill got his Commission and was then moved around to different places of training such as Uxbridge and Aldeburgh whilst I of course was still at Hastings. My girl friends used to call him “ Reynolds One Pipper” Sometimes, we were able to get weekend leave together and meet up in London as we wanted to spend time together whenever possible. I then joined the Womens Royal Air Force as they were disbanding the WAAC’s which turned out well as I particularly liked the uniform which was a nice blue instead of khaki. When I joined it involved a move to Shorncliffe , Sussex which made it easier to see Bill. Sometimes Bill would come home with me to Eye to see my mother and father and I am pleased to say that they liked him very much. Then we got the mad idea that we would like to get married so we got engaged with the approval of my parents. Bill organised a special licence and we got married at a Registry Office at St. Giles, Bloomsbury, London which a lot of couples were doing as the war was still on and the future uncertain. Luckily we had some family there as Bert Hawkins (Albert was Aunty Kate Hawkins nee Rayners son) and his wife Agnes were able to attend the wedding. We stayed the weekend in London and the unfortunately we both had to go back to our respective camps. He was still being sent from one training place to another finishing up on Salisbury Plain. After a while I left the Air Force as I had become pregnant and went home to live with my parents. I found Eye to be very small after living in bigger towns for a while but luckily I still had all my childhood friends living there.
One weekend Bill took me up to Preston by rail to meet his mother Emily. His father, William, at that time was away from home as he was in the Church Army in the Middle East. Grandma Martin spent most of her time telling us that we were too young to marry. Bill was nineteen at that time and I was twenty so she was probably right. My baby was born in Church Street, Eye and we called him George Edward with the George after my father. My mother helped deliver him as she was an experienced midwife and was often called upon to help out in the Town. Ted was a lovely big baby and very contented. By this time the war had finished and so had Bill’s short term commission so when Ted was about a year old, Bill like a number of other young officers joined the Royal Irish Constabulary. He was given the rank of Captain and was sent to Macroom in Ireland, because of the troubles caused by the Sein Feiners. Bill was moved around quite a lot but finally settled in Macroom where he lived in the Castle. Ted was about eighteen months old at that time so I thought it was about time that Bill and I were together again and I managed to go over to Ireland. Bill had managed to get me rooms with the Protestant Sexton and his wife who were a lovely couple and the rooms were near the Castle so it was very convenient. Life turned out to be quite social as a lot of young officers used to visit us to play cards. Bill was very lucky as he managed to obtain a sleeping out pass. The thought of trouble was always there so he used to sleep with a loaded revolver lying on the chair by the bed. The Sein Feiners were very active at that time and we could often hear shots being fired in the hills at the back of the town. One day Bill had gone out in a convoy from the Castle and a curfew was placed upon the town. The time of curfew was indicated by the ringing of bells at seven pm. When the convoy came back we realised that they had been ambushed as several bodies were lying on a tarpaulin on the back of the truck. Of course I was very worried until I saw that Bill was driving one of the trucks because the driver had been killed. Four of the R I C had been killed. The bodies were put into the little Protestant Church until they were able to be sent back to England and it was very sad for all of us. A little while after the ambush I found out that I was pregnant again and as we had concerns for safety I went home to live with my parents in Eye until Ray was born. We called him Frank Rayner Martin and the Rayner was because it was my mother’s surname.
By this time Bill had rejoined the Royal Air Force on a short term commission so as I now had two children I thought that I would be better off in my own house as my parent’s house wasn’t very large. Luckily I was able to rent a house in Church Street which was the same street as my mother’s house and it was named Denmark Cottage. I paid six shillings a week rent for three rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs. Needless to say in those days the toilet was in the back garden. A funny thing happened one night when I was down the back and was in the toilet. I was seated when suddenly the flap at the back opened up and the night soil man tried to take the toilet pan with me sitting on it. I yelped and the man said “You take your time love, I’ll wait for you” Very embarrassing. My friend Lily Scrivener and her husband helped me to clean and paint the house out as the previous owner, a schoolteacher, had had three cats which had made a great mess everywhere. Pink carbolic soap was used with lots of elbow grease and the soap made my hands very sore. I used to go to auctions where I bought furniture, carpets crockery etc. The Auctioneer, George Lay, was very kind to me and used to bid on my behalf and then bring it home on his truck. He had a good idea of just what I could afford to pay and I am sure that he didn’t make a profit on those items. Being a small town in those days people were very friendly and helped each other. I soon had the little house looking very nice and my mother was a great help to me both in the house and looking after children as she loved small children since I was an only child. Our washing was done in a big copper in the laundry down the garden and we used an iron mangle with wooden rollers to get rid of as much water out of the clothes as we could as it made it easier to get the clothes dry. Mrs Brunning my next door neighbour used to bake every Friday for a weeks bake and there were Pies, Bread and Cake etc. Ted was old enough and used to go and collect a big bag of goodies every Friday afternoon about five o’clock. At that time Bill was still in the RAF moving around a lot although he managed to get home quite often until he was sent to Egypt for flying training. Once again I found that I was pregnant with my third son, Tony. He was born in Denmark cottage whilst Bill was still away.
Whilst Bill was in Egypt he fell off the back of a truck and got severe concussion so they put him in the French Catholic Hospital. He was in there for some time and then came home for three months convalescent leave. When Bill went back to work we moved closer to where he worked to Caterham to a bungalow name “Dolce Domum”. I fell pregnant again and eventually had John and Joan. During my pregnancy I didn’t know that I was having twins until the night they were born. Expectant mothers are so lucky now with all of the advances in knowledge. John was a big happy baby but Joan was the opposite. Joan cried a lot, had a touch of jaundice and three hairs only on the top of her head. When the twins were about a year old, Bill was moved to Henlow aerodrome. We were able to rent a gloomy old farmhouse very close to the aerodrome at Clifton, Bedfordshire. It had oil lamps, very dark inside and wooden shutters to the windows. It was evident that no-one had lived there for some time as it was reputed to be haunted which we didn’t hear about until after we started living there. There were certainly some strange things or happenings that occurred and we got scared even though we had electric light put on in the house. A friend of mine was staying with us for a week and rushed into our bedroom one night screaming and claiming that she had seen an old lady standing at the bottom of her bed. She was able to describe the clothes that she wore and facial features. When we spoke to the farmer who owned the house he said that the description fitted an old lady who had been murdered in that bedroom. Around that time the cat arched her back with her fur standing on end and shot out of the house and we never saw her again. Cupboards used to open and shut with no draughts being there and we heard noises on the stairs with no-one there. Dad was reading a paper one night when all of a sudden the pages started turning over by themselves. Pokes in the back were not uncommon. Needless to say after six months we had had enough and moved to a modern bungalow in Tunbridge,Kent
Just after that Bill left the Royal Air Force and took it into his head to buy a greengrocery shop in Tonbridge. Unfortunately he wasn’t a good business man and got tired of it and sold it at a loss. He then got a job in London with Smiths Aircraft Instruments and was a lot happier as it was connected to aircraft. He was lucky enough to meet some famous aviation people of the day like Amy Johnson, Jean Batten and Jim Mollison. To be closer to work we moved to Feltham where we lived in a modern house on a new estate, then after a short time moved to a bigger ,older house on “The Green “which was near a nice green(Small park) with a pond in the middle of it. Every year there was a big Fair on the Green and gypsies used to come around selling pegs. Because I would let them have fresh water they chalked a sign on the gate to say that we should not be bothered. I always found them quite friendly as they were not treated very well usually. The children were usually dressed in bright clothes and had huge dark eyes. Sometimes I would give them apples from my apple trees in the back garden. Sheila, John and Joan all attended the local school there. Tony and Ray were both in the Hampton Court Palace choir which was nice. Ted was working in London.
From Feltham we moved yet again to Number 83 Curzon Avenue, Stanmore. It must have been King George’s Jubilee year which was 1936 because the children came home from school (John, Joan and Sheila) with tea spoons with the Jubilee crest on them. Dad then started up an Air Navigation School which was based in Arundel Gardens, Notting Hill, London. It was a four story house including the basement and as it had living quarters upstairs we moved there from Stanmore. By this time Michael had been born in Stanmore and had been delivered by Nanny Richardson who was a mid-wife. The other younger children had gone to boarding school in Wimbledon for a while but the school wasn’t very satisfactory so we took them away. John, you went to another boarding school named Muncaster at Ashford and the girls went to a convent school St Hilary’s. After about 18 months we moved once again down to Worthing in Sussex to a large modern house. Bill had transferred his Navigation School to Shoreham, Sussex but it didn’t turn out to be a big success.
Bill got a job at Prestwick Airport, Ayrshire in Scotland as a Navigation Instructor so we moved up to 18 Midton Road ,Ayr to this big three story Victorian Bluestone house. Shortly after we arrived there war was declared in September 1939. Bill was called up into the Royal Air Force and stationed at Prestwick. At this time Ray and Ted were also in the RAF and Tony was going to Ayr Academy before going on to Glasgow University. John, Joan and Sheila attended Ayr Grammar School which was just down the road. One day an Army Officer came to the house and said how many rooms are in this house and how many people live here. As a result of that we had five Commandos billeted on us. He said that they were the roughest of the rough and don’t mind the language but we hardly heard a swear word. In the middle of winter which in Scotland was cold they went out on exercises and had to land in the sea so came home sopping wet and used to sit around in our warm kitchen covered by blankets whilst their clothes dried. We later found out that they were training for the raid on Norvik, Norway. Quite often they would come home with a rabbit or two chickens that they had ‘found” Very welcome as the meat ration was only two ounces of meat per person. Shortly after they left us to go on their raid the Army sent a very young Lieutenant and his wife. Imagine my surprise when I saw their wedding photograph in the society social pages of the Illustrated London News some months after they came to us. Very much in love and so naive. The wife came down one day and said “What do I do for a boil on his chest” So I told her to heat up some Kaolin and then place it on his chest. She went ahead and heated up the Kaolin and went through to their rooms. Next thing we heard was an anguished scream followed by rude words. Apparently she applied this very hot Kaolin poultice to his chest directly and had not firstly put it in a cloth. They were a lovely young couple but she had no idea how to cook anything so used to come to me every day before she attempted to cook a meal for him.
In 1943 Bill was transferred to Heaton Park, Manchester to help out with aircrew selection. There were not only British forces but Australian and Canadian. Joan and Sheila were at boarding school at St Margaret’s Convent, Edinburgh. Ted, Ray and Tony were also in the Royal Air Force at that time. John was at Openshaw Technical College until August 1944 when he joined the Royal Airforce as an Apprentice Aircraft Fitter. That made five members of my family in the RAF which could have been a record. Late in 1944 we moved to Bournemouth where Bill was involved the Royal Australian Air Force for aircrew selection and they used to come to our home in their dark blue uniforms and strange accents. Just before we moved into our house in Bournemouth we lived in a very old cottage with wooden beams at Spettisbury where a very noisy stream ran past the bottom of the garden. In the grounds there was an old coach house and John found an old horse pistol under some rubbish.
In 1949 Bill, Sheila,Mike and I moved to South Africa as Bill thought that it would help his chronic bronchitis and asthma. As Bill had had some hotel experience he had written to a brewery in South Africa and was given a job managing the Grand Hotel, Grahamstown where we stayed for some 18 months. The management of the hotel had decided to sell the hotel for a supermarket site se we had to move on. Bill wanted to own a guest house so we moved to the Derwent Hotel, Capetown where we settled in for another 18 months. My life seemed to be a succession of moves. It was fairly hard work ensuring that the coloured staff kept working and did all of their jobs. I found the coloured staff responded to how you treated them. I liked South Africa and Capetown very much and we made a lot of friends there. Every weekend we used to go for long drives out in the countryside and the vineyards at Paarl and Stellenbosh. John was stationed at Heany just outside Bulawayo and used to come down on his leave at Christmas time plus usually a couple of friends. By this time Sheila was going out with Ped (Percival Pedlingham) and he gave glowing accounts of life in Australia and opportunities there. As a result, we sailed to Sydney in March 1952. We stayed at a hotel in Sydney for a while until we moved out to Blacktown which was on the outskirts of Sydney. Bill and I had obtained jobs in the Royal Australian Navy Dockyards in the administration area until I fell sick and had a major operation.
Bill’s mother Emily, had died and left him some money so of course he had to buy another business although he wasn’t a good business man. He finished up buying a general store at Doonside which was even further away from Sydney and was really just a few houses and a railway station. The store had a grocery section, newspapers and magazines, petrol and poultry food. Ray and Mac (Margaret) joined Dad in the business for a while then Ray left as he didn’t really like the job. John and his family came out to Australia early in 1955 and John took over Ray’s job. Bill sold the business late in 1955 and moved to 49 Holroyd Road where I lived for quite a few years before coming to this Nursing Home. I still miss my home.
Like all family history devotees I should have been aware that I should have asked a lot more questions whenever I was able to get down to Sydney to see my mother. Black and white photographs do not tell you the colour of my grandmothers eyes, colour of her hair, disposition etc. It is important to collect at least a few photographs of your parents when they were younger as we tend to remember them after being affected by the ravages of time. Very soon, there will not be too many people who are able to talk to their children or grandchildren about the Second world- war or how people managed to have a good life before smart phones, TV, mobiles etc
8th July 2013
Saturday, July 6, 2013
My mother’s aunt was baptised Hepzibah Reynolds in Eye, Suffolk, England in 1845. She was one of nine children. Her father, James Reynolds occupation was a 'Mole Catcher'.
To follow her progress in life and to have some idea of when and where she lived I have enlisted the aid of the British Census which was taken every ten years. Whilst it gives some idea of her life of course it is very basic in content.
1851 Census The family were living in TanHill, Eye, Suffolk and Hepzibah was shown as being a scholar and seven years old.
1861 Census By this time Hepzibah had changed her name to Elizabeth for reasons unknown. Her father James was at one time a lay preacher and had given several of his children Biblical names but perhaps she preferred a more common name. In this Census Elizabeth was living in Diss, a small town near Eye and was a General Servant.
1871 Census Elizabeth had moved once again and was employed as a Housemaid working in a large house in St George, Hanover Square, London. The head of the house was a retired Indian Army General. What was interesting in the Census is that it also shows Mary Ann Reynolds, her younger sister, also working there as a Housemaid.
1881 Census This Census finds Elizabeth employed in Windsor Castle as a Housemaid amongst a huge staff (with, of course, details of the Royal family in residence there). Makes fascinating reading. She evidently was good at her job and the right sort of personality because she finished up being a personal chambermaid to Queen Victoria. We only have one photograph of Elizabeth, dressed in black with a fashionable bustle.
Quite a commanding presence but my mother said that she had been told that she was a very warm caring person who spoke well. Apparently Elizabeth used to arrange for parcels of gingerbread from the Royal Household to be sent to her namesake Elizabeth Reynolds (Daughter in law of Edward, brother to Elizabeth) my mother used to refer to this and apparently whilst some of the gingerbread was plain other samples bore the Royal Crest made out of confectioner’s sugar etc. Needless to say they were regarded with some awe. Elizabeth had some fourteen years service with Queen Victoria prior to her death on 8th April 1891 in Grasse, France. For someone who had been born in the little rural village of Eye in Suffolk to working in places such as Windsor Castle, Balmoral and Sandringham, going abroad as a member of the Royal entourage and being known to members of the Royal family it must have seemed a dream at times. By contrast, her home town Eye is a fairly small Suffolk village which is mentioned in the Domesday Book but has grown or expanded very slowly over the years. It is still quite quaint and a magnet for all family members to visit if in England.
The Memory of a Royal Tribute Preserved
In April 1891, when the Cote D’Azur was one of the favourite haunts of the British aristocracy, Her Majesty Queen Victoria, a very dignified old lady, was staying in Grasse at the Grand Hotel, accompanied by a large staff of servants. It was then that an otherwise commonplace incident occurred. One of the chambermaids of the Sovereign, Elizabeth Reynolds, cut herself with a kitchen knife. However, asepsis and antiseptics in those days were not what they are today, and in spite of great efforts by the royal doctor this lady died very quickly from septicaemia.
Very saddened according to her lady-in-waiting Mary Adeane, Queen Victoria immediately instructed her Private Secretary, Sir Henry Ponsonby, to acquire 'in perpetuity' a place in the cemetery of the town of Grasse where her servant could rest in peace. And whilst the Queen was sadly mourning Elizabeth Reynolds, the architect Biasini began work to erect a monument whose inscription, in two languages, is gradually fading a little but can still be read:"This monument was erected by Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, in affectionate memory of one who died in Grasse on 8th April 1891 in her 45th year after serving the Queen faithfully for 14 years."
The Court Circular of Sunday 12th. April 1891 of Her Majesty Queen Victoria in Grasse (France) reads:
“We greatly regret one sad event. A personal chambermaid of the Queen, Miss Elizabeth Reynolds, who had been in her service for fifteen years died on Wednesday of an injury to her hand which had become septic. Her Majesty was greatly affected and took charge personally of funeral arrangements.”
My grandfather, George Reynolds, was unable to attend the funeral but another sister, Maria, was present. On the return of the Queen to England, my grandfather George was summoned to Windsor Castle and had an interview with her Majesty. One of his most treasured possessions was a copy of “Our Life in the Highlands” by Her Majesty Queen Victoria and inscribed: “Presented to Elizabeth Reynolds by Victoria, R.I., Balmoral, 24th May 1883.”
On a sad note this book has been lost over the years.
After the death of Elizabeth, Alfred Burrows (her uncle, brother to Sophia Burrows) wrote a beautiful letter to Queen Victoria thanking her for the grave headstone etc. The letter was couched in very flowery terms and he signed off with “Your most humble and obedient Servant”
After the death of Elizabeth, Alfred Burrows (her uncle, brother to Sophia Burrows) wrote a beautiful letter to Queen Victoria thanking her for the grave headstone etc. The letter was couched in very flowery terms and he signed off with “Your most humble and obedient Servant”
I thought it might be worth rounding out these notes with a fairly brief Family Tree of the Reynolds family
Thomas Reynolds Elizabeth ?
Abt .1743 Abt. 1744
Bur 20 Nov 1812 (69 yrs old) Bur 11 Apr 1826 (82yrs old)
Married abt. 1771/2 Occold, Suffolk
John Thomas Elizabeth Robert Sarah Mary
31 Dec 1775 8Aug1773 25Jun1780 19May1782 14Aug1785 23Dec1786
All bapt. Occold, Suffolk
Robert married First wife Mary Deekers on 25 Mar 1800, Eye
(Second Marriage to Rebecca Collins 17 Jun 1848)
Robert Sarah Charlotte Charles James Abel John
1801 28Nov1802 23May1808 1806 1809 24Aug1816 1817
James married Sophia Burrows (3Aug1809) on 25 Dec 1830, Eye
Ephraim Maria Enoch Hepzibah Samuel
30Mar1834 14May1837 25Mar1841 1846 1846
Mary Anne Edward George
12May1849 March1852 4Mar1855
Mary Anne Edward George
12May1849 March1852 4Mar1855
All born in Eye, Suffolk
Alice Rayner (11Dec1860) and George Reynolds married on 17 Jul 188, Bury St Edmunds
Alice Beatrice Reynolds (the only child) was born 10 Nov, 1898 in Eye Suffolk and died 14 Nov 1994 age 96yrs, Merrylands, New South Wales, Australia. Alice Reynolds married William Clifton Martin in 1919 in London.
James Reynolds had a second marriage to a Sarah Marriot (1823 Chedgrave, Suffolk) on 8 Dec 1875, Eye. Luckily we have a photograph of them on what I think is their wedding day which has been passed around the family. Whilst still more research is required on this family it will be done after I have finished some of the other areas I am researching on my father’s family. It is noted that Hepzibah (Elizabeth) baptismal year was the same as Samuel but she could have been born a little earlier as the previous baptism was five years earlier.
No recollections of family history should be complete without a little bit of scandal. Well!!!! Maria Reynolds born 1837 had an illegitimate son Alexander Wray Reynolds born in September 1856 and baptised on 13 July 1866, Eye. She married a George Green who was a Publican/Dealer in Mar 1869 who was a widower with three girls Stephanie, Laura and Bessie. Maria then had a daughter Maria baptised on 20 Mar 1872, Eye. However Alexander was sent to live with his grandfather James some time prior to the 1861 Census where he was shown as aged four years old. He continued to live there for some years and was shown on the 1871 Census as being a butcher. At some time in the next few years he moved to South Africa where became successful and had butcher shops and properties in Capetown and Pretoria.
I made a brief mention of Elizabeth Reynolds (nee Rogers). She was married to Edward Reynolds (1852) who died of TB. It was believed that Alfred, as he was now known, had became smitten with Elizabeth and wanted to marry her. It appears that he was rejected because of the blood relationship primarily and not simply because of his illegitimate status. Alfred married and had three children-Edward, Hazel and Lillian. Alfred must have been worth a penny or two as he visited the UK quite often when he no doubt established a relationship with Elizabeth Reynolds who lived in Portsmouth-obviously not close enough. The children were taken into care after the death of Alfred following a cycling accident; and after the death of his wife from cancer by a Mr Higgins (relationship-unknown) Interesting that Lillian Reynolds studied music at the Royal Academy but apparently had not contacted her relatives in Eye.
Tweed Heads (4th July 2013)