Wednesday, 28 September 2016

One hundred years ago...10 soldiers died at Thiepval. Frank Buxton 1890-1916

On 2 October 2016, it is 100 years since Private Frank Buxton 4129 lost his life in the Great War. Born 1890, he was the nephew of my husband's grandmother Emily Hudson.

Frank the son of Walter and Emily Buxton was part of 1/5th Cheshire Regiment. Prior to joining in Nov 1915 he lived with his parents and siblings, three brothers and one sister, in Bank Street Cheadle

It was a reserve Battalion converted to a pioneer regiment after the many young men in the area answered the call and rushed in to enlist. Its primary role was construction rather than fighting meaning its role was construction of tunnels and trenches. Franks previous occupation as a gardener was entirely appropriate to the task.

After training in Cheshire he would've made his way over to France. Probably by August 1916 his regiment would've also become fighting replacements for those killed in the heavy losses on the Somme in July.

His battalion moved into forward positions south of the village of Montauban on 30 September. Their role was to dig new assembly trenches in preparation for another attack.

Frank was one of 10 members of that Battalion who died that day. Five died of wounds after being evacuated from the trenches. 4 others besides Frank were killed in action. John Hartley for the Cheadle and Gately War Memorial’s website reported that his Commanding Officer had written to the next of Kin

"it it may be of some consolation to you to know that his death was painless being killed instantly by a bursting shell and he was carefully buried behind the lines by his comrades”. He was aged 26.

The register of soldier’s effects shows that his mother, Emily was his soul legatee.

The 1/5th Cheshire's fought at Ypres, the Somme, Arras, Cambrai, the Canal du Nord and Mons.

His Somme grave is located at Thiepval Memorial near the village of Thiepval. Index number MR 21 part VII. Panel reference is Pier and face 3C and 4A.

The Memorial has over 72,000 grave sites- 90% of whom were lost between July and November 1916.

The historical information on the Memorial site states that the offensive had been going since July.

 Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July. Attacks north and east continued throughout October and into November in increasingly difficult weather conditions. The Battle of the Somme finally ended on 18 November with the onset of winter.”

RIP Frank Buxton 1890-1916

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Small farming community, East Meon is the setting for unravelling family mysteries....

We are claiming George Dovey b 1867 in East Meon as one of ours. That is, he is a first cousin 2x removed from my husband.

At first it was the case of mistaken identity. Originally we had claimed him as my husband’s grandfather – George Ford- thinking his baptism in 1867 was an adult baptism but that is not so….
George Ford of East Meon led us a merry chase when we looked for his origins.
All Saints Church East Meon has witnessed many baptisms

To recap, George Ford as we know him is christened George Wilkes (his birth is registered as George Wilks), son of William Wilks and Harriet Wilks nee Foard. His mother died in 1859. He is known to have had two older brothers William and Charles Ford born of different fathers illegitimately. Theirs was a small community, of poor farm labourers.  Brother William had joined the Army but appears to have been stationed around the village. George had lived in East Meon from his birth 1851 to 5 January 1868 when his brother William Ford signed papers for his enlistment into the Royal Navy at Portsmouth that day in 1868.

Our first document for George ford is a naval record which has father William Ford followed by his marriage certificate. This marriage certificate has George Ford marrying Alice Barter with father William who following on from the naval record we assumed was a William Ford  

The conversation may have gone something like:
"I'm his brother William Ford. Me mam’s died and I’m bringing my brother George to sign up for the Navy."
"Okay. Father's name?"
"Right then George (Ford) your brother has vouched for you. Welcome to the Navy"

George signed on the dotted line, William had got his age wrong by about a year but neither has noticed the incorrect surname. From then George is known as George Ford, Seaman and the Ford name carries on.

However during this time of discovery George’s great grandson Chris, visited the village of East Meon curious to find a George Ford. He stumbled upon a baptism record with William Ford fathering a son, George Dovey to Mary Dovey. Get it? He would be George Ford and the only George Ford born in East Meon at the time. Looked like a possibility. Mary was a neighbor to the Fords .Only problem was a discrepancy in the birth date. We claimed him as my husband’s great grandfather.
The rear recording has Mary Dovey and William Ford as parents to George-  Illigitimate baptised 3/11/1967

Subsequently we found the real George Ford as George Wilks who was the only legitimate son of Harriet Ford and William Wilks born in East Meon in 1851.George's story and that of his brother William is documented in my Blog How I discovered we are not the Fords

That left us with distinct possibility that our William Ford had fathered this George Dovey. 

George would have been a cousin to my husband's grandfather. As none of his parents seem to claim him –we will.  His mother, Mary Dovey seems to have dropped off the face of the earth after the 1871 census. She is a servant at the home of George Findley a music teacher in 1871 while son George appears in the 1871 census with his grandparents Thomas Dovey and Mary Ann Titheridge.

1871 census featuring young George
In the 1881 and 1891 census he is with his Aunts, Mary Ann Dovey unmarried and Harriett Port nee Dovey at Basing Lodge. Meanwhile, William Ford who was discharged from the Army by this time for being melancholic, was convicted of setting fire to the barn at Basing Home Farm in 1880 and subsequently jailed. Same place as George was living.

1911 census -George with a single son after his wife was institutionalised

Then George married Fanny Quinton Hayes in 1893. but here's where it gets complicated. His Uncle George Dovey married Mary Ann Titheridge's sister Phoebe who died. She was Mary Dovey's Aunt incidentally. Uncle George then married Ann Hayes who already had a daughter –one Fanny Hayes.

George Dovey and Fanny had 7 children (2 dead by 1911 census). After the seventh child it seems Fanny sadly was put in an Institution from 1907 for 30 years until she died in 1937 as a pauper. . Perhaps Fanny suffered from post natal depression something that is very easily diagnosed and treated today.
George Dovey and Fanny Quinton Hayes had the following children:

SYDNEY GEORGE DOVEY was born about 1894 in Froxfield, Hampshire, England.
He appears 1901 at Basing Park Lodge with parents and brother and in 1911 aged 17 with father as a - farm labourer at Privett

WILLIAM EDWIN DOVEY was born in 1898 in East Meon, Hampshire, England. He died in 1904 in Petersfield, Hampshire.

THOMAS SAMUEL DOVEY was born on 03 Jan 1907 in Privett East Meon, Hampshire, England. He died in Mar 1978 in Liverpool, Merseyside, England.

ROSALINE MARY DOVEY was born in 1896 in Petersfield, Hampshire. She died in Jul 1897 in Isle of Wight, Hampshire.

BERTHA VIOLET F DOVEY  was born in 1901 in Petersfield, Hampshire. Bertha is on 1911 census in another household as a border. She married William H Walker in 1927 in Petersfield, Hampshire. William and Bertha had a daughter DORIS M WALKER was born in Dec 1927 in Petersfield, Hampshire. She died in Dec 1981 in Alton, Hampshire, England (Age 80).

MABEL KATHLEEN A DOVEY was born in Jan 1903 in Petersfield, Hampshire.

ELLEN ELIZA A DOVEY was born about 1906 in Privett, Hampshire, England.It is possible she could have been a child who died aged 1 in Pancras making her the second child dead as per the census but it is also possible she is in the 1911 census as Helen Dovey  living with Aunt Eliza Carter widow and Cousin Lillian Carter.

From what I can gather some of the children were farmed out or perhaps adopted as they don’t come up in census or other records.  

The Doveys, Titheridges and Fords are long term families in the East Meon district. As you see from reading my previous blog and this one they were reasonably poor farm labourers, often illegitimate and often in poor circumstances being looked after by family or the poor house.

Anyway it seems we can put the mystery of George Dovey to bed.

Tip of the Day:
The final discovery of George Dovey's life came from revisiting the story. In this case the village was reasonably small- I was looking for farming families in the East Meon area and their movements. I found the links between the Titheridges, Doveys and Fords and their close relationships during census taking.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

An advanced search reveals much more about Matilda Johnston and her family.

My 3xGreat Grandmother Matilda Johnston married a Dancing teacher on 15 Nov 1803 in Edinburgh. Charles Stewart born on 07 Feb 1784 was the son of Charles Stewart and Margaret Law. 
It seemed Matilda mixed in fashionable circles in 1800 Edinburgh.Matilda’s father, Robert Johnston, wigmaker who is more than a humble barber by today’s terms has actually been recorded in old Edinburgh publications. 
As Matilda’s brother Henry Erskine Johnston, was a famous Shakespearean theatrical performer, much has been written about him. Thus because of this his father Robert Johnston was also included in a biographical sketch written in 1838. 
Henry Erskine Johnston

Described as a venerable personage Robert’s original occupation was a barber and wigmaker. Generally he would have trimmed or shaved beards or was employed in dressing hair and making wigs. His shop was in the High Street of Edinburgh and “was frequented due to its proximity to the Parliament House by gentlemen of the long robe” Thus he rubbed shoulders with people in high places and was entrusted with caring for the adornment of these most public people. He was described as a vintner in Matilda’s marriage certificate when she married Charles in 1803 and was known for many years to be the keeper of an oyster tavern in Shakespeare Square (Nos 4 and 10) until his death in 1826.

Charles and Matilda Johnston had the following children:
  1. Robert Barclay Stewart was born on 19 Oct 1804 in Edinburgh. He died on 16 May 1885 in Edinburgh. He married Ann Ema Lilly on 31 Oct 1830 in Edinburgh (St Stephens Parish).
  2. Elizabeth Stewart was born on 12 Jun 1807 in Edinburgh. She married William Charles Andrew Lindley on 04 Jun 1832 in Edinburgh.
  3. Matilda Stewart was born on 08 Apr 1806 in Edinburgh. She died (probably before 1838). She married Peter Robertson Nicholls on 19 Nov 1832 in St Cuthbert’s Edinburgh.
  4. Charles John George Stewart was born on 08 Jun 1817 in Edinburgh. He died in 1863 in Edinburgh.
So Charles had married into an interesting family. So too Matilda’s life with her dancing teacher husband and with four children one of whom was a music teacher sounds like it might have been filled with the spoils of the high life. 
There was a lot happening in the Johnston family. Her father’s influential position and popularity with local parliamentarians and legal folk is only part of it. In addition to her famous brother’s Shakespearean performances together with Charles social verve, her sister Sophia had married David Allan who was the Deputy Commissariat for NSW and various nephews and nieces were was off settling parts of NSW and Western Australia. This makes me believe she had a less than squalid life than some of my other Scottish relatives with social highlights such as balls, dances and theatre. Surely she had made useful connections.  see Sophia and David Allan's story -Six Degrees of Separation
Scottish Directory has Charles Stewart listed as Dancing Master in the 1805, 1809, 1810 directories at 5 Elder St and 4 James St. The Historic Music of Scotland website states that Charles Stewart was possibly the musician in Leith Wynd (Edinburgh), 1794-96, and definitely in Todrick's Wynd, 1800-01.
I was intrigued by Charles being a teacher of dancing and endeavoured to know more about this dancing master. What was the role of a dancing teacher in Victorian society?

Besides being a Dancing teacher he was a fiddler and composer.  The minuet, cotillion, reel, strathspey, and country dance were in season in Scotland around the turn of the century but sadly 50 years later it was less popular in favour of the waltz and quadrille. Initially, Stewart was assistant to Edinburgh dancing teacher, David Strange in 1802, and by the end of 1803 was described himself as Strange's successor. 
Stewart taught classes, gave an annual ball, and by 1805 advertised his 'First Book of Minuets, High Dances, Cotillions, etc, etc', as used by his late master, Mr Strange. Stewart was leader and repetiteur of Edinburgh's Theatre Royal Orchestra. Most dancing masters would have played the violin, fiddle or kit, so that they could demonstrate the steps to the dances with the music. 

Charles’ work appears in A Collection of Strathspey Reels Gigg's &c. [1799-1801?] and A Collection of Minuets, Cotillions, Allemands, High Dances, Hornpipes &c. [1805]. He also wrote “Miss Parker's Reel, a composition in A Major” for his brother in law Henry Erskine Johnston’s wife Nannette Parker. Nannette (b. 1782 in London) was an actress, dancer and singer, who married actor Henry Erskine Johnston. She was educated in Edinburgh, where her father was proprietor of the Royal Circus (where she probably danced with her mother. When she married Henry at around age 15 they were called the handsomest bride and groom 'ever seen in England.' 

Despite the attitude of the Catholic Church and to a lesser extent the Church of Scotland dance became part and parcel of Edinburgh social life.
But things were not fine for the young parents. It seems for a few years before his death Matilda had to appeal to her friends and or the public in the way someone seeks “crowd funding” or charitable benefits today.

Charles suffered ill-health from1811 and an announcement in the paper talks of a benefit ball in 1812. In a book written by John Glen (1895) he remarks: "There are some grounds for suspecting that Stewart, in 1811 or 1812, had either been bereft of his reason, or had become an imbecile, as his name dropt (sic) out of the public announcements about that time. This suspicion is strengthened by the appearance of two appeals made by his wife on behalf of his family.

“One of these appeals read: Benefit ball. On 1st March, Mrs. Charles Stewart (wife of Mr. C. Stewart, late teacher of dancing in Edinburgh) begs leave most respectfully to inform her friends and the public that the pressing necessities of a young and helpless family have again induced her humbly to solicit their countenance and support on the present occasion. “

Charles succumbed to whatever ailed him and died in 1818 aged 34.

Along comes William Strelley MD.....

As a young man William had studied Medicine in Edinburgh. William, the son of Robert and Elizabeth Strelley Esq. broke with the family tradition of Derbyshire land management, militia or mining by moving to Edinburgh. After finding out about his father’s death in 1813 he was then informed that he didn’t inherit from his father’s large estate .It is thought that he might have been provided for quite generously from his grandmother’s estate. 
Life should have smelt of roses for Matilda and perhaps it did for a time.
Matilda and William’s daughter Jemima Strelley was born in 1822. William is aged 42 and Matilda is about 37. However about this time William is a resident in the National Jail of Scotland in Edinburgh. It is a debtors’ prison. 
A newspaper article printed in 1824 reports on the hearing of an assault charge in the prison in 1822. A not so nice picture is painted of William’s character by the prosecution. At that time Matilda is having her second son to William. 
Oh poor Matilda .... Out of the frying pan and into the fire.
There is evidence from census and other documents that these two Scottish children, Jemima born 1822 and William Strelley born 1824, were born in Edinburgh. There is no parish evidence available for these births as they didn’t need to be registered. 
Perhaps they regained an element of respectability when Georgina Grace Greasley Strelley is born and christened in the Strelley family fold (Ripley) Derbyshire in 1828.
 At some point William and Matilda separated and William is next found living in Basford England in 1951with a housekeeper who he later “married” .There is no record of the marriage to Elizabeth Strelley and as Matilda is still alive until 1865 (William out- lived Matilda by two years) he is probably living out his days with his much younger “wife” in a de facto rather than bigamist relationship. In 1867 he too dies of old age at Codnor.
You have to admire Matilda, when her first husband died she still had young children and her older ones were at home and unmarried.  Along came William Strelley who may have seemed like a good catch. Three children later she is a deserted wife. 
When life gave her lemons she made lemonade. By the 1841 census she is gainfully employed earning a living as a green grocer and later in 1851 as a toy dealer. She died a couple of years before William at age 40 while living with her youngest daughter and her husband at the teacher’s residence at Blackford.
The discovery and unfolding of Matilda’s story was documented in a previous blog.Matilda’s second family

 I told her I liked the sound of her family and asked for hints. Is it divine intervention or Dr Google that throws these hints my way?  Who would have thought her father, husband, brother and sister would be documented so well (when she doesn’t even have a baptism record). Something keeps me awake at night playing a name or an idea over and over in my head. Another blog has been written about her sister’s family and I’m pursuing the WA family of Henry Erskine Johnston’s son Harley. Surely this will warrant a story in the near future. After all his father was part of the handsomest couple ever seen in England. Of course these looks must run in the DNA shame about the music!!

Research tip: Ancestry can take you only so far. Explore Trees and resources and then start looking at other sources of information. Old Parish records from Scotland's People  OPR add much information where Ancestry leaves off. (A true Scot checks Family Search and Ancestry first then pays for records on Scotlands' People). Old books which have been digitised, directories, music websites etc have been invaluable here. Newspaper articles have added to the richness of the story.
Just for good measure I googled Matilda's musical son before I published this - up came the following from a book by D Baptlie "Musical Scotland-Past and Present" 1894.
 Woo hoo!