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Haversham: Mrs. Tysoe's eviction

Fred Tysoe
For those who bristle with indignation at the present abuses of the welfare system, and certain ridiculous awards of housing benefit, perhaps it’s best to skip the rest of this article, since it recalls not only the injustices inflicted upon a previous generation, but also the sacrifices which paradoxically helped to create the unchecked liberalities which have allowed such a farce to exist. Born at Haversham, Frederick Tysoe had been employed before the First World War as a labourer by Mr. Souster, but as a Reservist at the outbreak of hostilities he joined up at the age of 40, and, serving with the 1st Northants Regiment, would be involved in much of the savage trench fighting at the Front. Nevertheless, regarding his cottage at Haversham ejectment proceedings were taken against his wife and three young children, and, as the respondent, Mrs. Tysoe wept bitterly at the Newport Pagnell Police Court, pitifully asking the magistrates; “Where am I to go? My husband is now in the trenches.” Shamefully there was no provision for alternative accommodation, and in fact on Tuesday, February 23rd 1915 the question of the eviction of soldiers’ wives was raised in the House of Commons, with the case regarding Mrs. Tysoe being specifically mentioned. Eventually it seems that Mrs. Tysoe and her young family found shelter in Chapel Yard, Great Linford, but tragically the injustice of her circumstance would be compounded later that year, when news arrived that her husband had been killed in action near Ypres on May 9th. In contrast to the plight of Mrs. Tysoe, with shades of the present day extensive assistance was afforded to those seeking sanctuary from oppression abroad, and the local district would become host to many Belgian families, fleeing from the German atrocities in their homeland. In fact one family who could well testify to the horror was that of Henri Vandenberg and his wife and four children, who, as poor labouring class refugees, arrived at Tyringham from Belgium on the evening of Monday, December 19th 1914. They had been living near Ashot, near Louvain, but when the Germans burned down their humble cottage they fled to Antwerp, and on reaching Holland came to the notice of the Belgian Refugee Committee in England. Subsequently - having ensured that the premises were in good repair - Mr. and Mrs. Konig, of Tyringham House, placed the lodges of their mansion at the disposal of the family, and there they would be provided for rent free. As for furniture, this was supplied through the kindness of Miss McFerran, of Tyringham cottage, and Mrs. Carlile, of Gayhurst House, who also did much to help the family feel at home. No one of course would begrudge such hospitality, but for those British men fighting at the Front, or at least for those who had been engaged in agriculture, it would seem that home was certainly not the place to seek charity, when their own families were in need of accommodation.