November 2011

Members’ Evening

Seven members took up the opportunity to talk to us on “Who would you most like to speak to?”

Martin Pollard chose his grandfather, Bertram Price Gough, who was born in Aylesbury in 1876 and died in 1960. After leaving Aylesbury Grammar School Bertram started work in a solicitor’s office before joining the Metropolitan Railway in 1892 as a Junior Booking Clerk earning £60 per year. After Martin’s mother passed away he found newspapers in her possessions from which he was able to learn more about his grandfather’s 48 year career with the railway rising to the heights of Station Master, firstly at Great Missenden in 1911, Rickmansworth in 1923 and then both stations in Aylesbury and earning £350 per year. He was the winner of a Best Kept Station award. Martin had a number of old photos of Aylesbury to show us.

Jeremy Green told us of his search for more information on his wife’s great grandfather, William Curtin and his parents. William shows up at age 4 on the 1881 census as a visitor with a couple living in Soho. Jeremy believes William’s mother died at age 32 suffering from cancer and his father cut his own throat. They were married in 1865 in Covent Garden and the name has been transcribed as Curtis in the 1871 census. So far, Jeremy has been unable to find them on any other censuses. It was suggested that Curtin may be an Irish name.

Linda Smith told us about her research on the name Press, which was her maiden name, and the massive database she has built up. In 2004 she was contacted by a Peter Press in Vancouver, Canada, who sent her a copy of his parent’s wedding photograph and asked her if she might know why his grandfather wasn’t on it! Thomas Crisp Press (1814-1895) was a harbour master at Great Yarmouth. His youngest son, another Thomas Crisp Press, was the person missing from the photo. This Thomas had been a marine engineer and had been badly injured in WW1. Linda told us about the error made by the War Office in dealing with his belongings and of the files she was able to research in the Army records. She showed us a number of charming photos and finished by telling us that Thomas had died alone in Greenwich Hospital in 1949 and that she had discovered that he had had a daughter with his housekeeper. This daughter was the second one that he had named Juanita and, consequently, was the previously unknown half sister of Peter’s father. Linda finished by telling us that Peter had visited from Vancouver and they had met up with Juanita.

Kay Ely told us about her Samuel who had been sent to Van Deimens Land in 1846 for receiving a bale of leather. She had carried out a lot of research about Saltwater River, Tasmania, where Samuel had lived and had a long, long list of questions for him, not least about his 21 other convictions including some for being drunk!

David Cook would like to meet his maternal grandfather, Sidney Thomas Farren who was born in the mid 1880s and died in 1949. He suffered facial injuries at Gallipoli and needed a skin graft, the skin being taken from his bottom. For the sake of politeness I will leave to your imagination the phrase Sidney used when someone kissed him! David spoke of a child, George, who was given away due to his birth before grandma was married and searches he had tried. David’s grandfather eventually left his grandmother for another lady, Gladys Glasscock…he’d like to know why.

Peter Jolly showed us a number of photos and documents relating to his paternal grandfather, Thomas Jolly who was an apprentice to a cabinet maker but joined the 17th Lancers as soon as he was able. Thomas was in Northern Ireland when he discovered that the 9th Lancers were going to India so he got transferred. He went to Meerut as a riding master and later shipped to South Africa in 1899 during the second Boer War. According to the CO’s diary records Thomas was struck by lightening in a terrible storm; he then went to Mafeking and later returned to England, unfit for service. Thomas married in 1902 and had 5 children; at the outbreak of WW1 he wanted to enlist. He wasn’t suitable due to his injuries but he managed to get a job as a foreman groom at the Remount Depot, Lathom House, in Ormskirk. In February 1915 Thomas and a colleague went to Skelmersdale, walking along the railway line, as was customary, but sadly they were knocked down by an engine and Thomas was killed. Accidental death was recorded at the Inquest. Peter showed us his ancestors’ knobkerrie, a South African hunting club made from a tree root, which had been beautifully carved with all the battles.

Graham Youngman spoke about his great grandfather, William Youngman, born in 1846 in Stanton, Suffolk. He was the second generation of butcher in the family and his question for William was “What should our family surname really have been?” William’s father, Benjamin, was born out of wedlock to Elizabeth Youngman. The father’s name had been written in the register but erased by the rector, Rev. George Bidwell. George was rector at Stanton for over 50 years and during that time had lost his wife and 5 of his children. A surviving son, named George, also became a vicar, his first parish being in Dorset. In his household staff in Dorset were Ellen Ashton Tootell and Elizabeth Bishop who were cousins. Following the death of Rev. George in Stanton, George junior returned to that parish to take over. He brought Ellen and Elizabeth with him and they both married into the Youngman family. Ellen married William Youngman, and became Graham’s great grandmother and Elizabeth married William’s brother John Youngman. Family legend has it that the Youngmans should really have been named Stebbings but, so far, no documented proof has been established. The Bidwells certainly had an effect on the Youngman family! As a matter of interest Rev George Bidwell junior later became the vicar at Simpson.

It was an interesting meeting and many members were able to put forth recommendations for further research.

Angela Evans