Tag Archives: first world war

What happened next to Kate Allison?

30 Jan

With the widowed Kate Allison (who I could confidently call my 2x great-aunt) and presumably her five children back in Uckfield Registration District, it seemed only natural that she should turn to her family for help.

Maybe the Allison family were even living with my great-grandparents (Minnie and Henry Herbert Hemsley) in High Hurstwood, Sussex, but whether they were or not it makes perfect sense for my great-grandparents to help out and even “adopt” one of her daughters.

But maybe the picture I had built in my mind of the poor, helpless Kate, unable to look after her family wasn’t being fair, perhaps I shouldn’t be making that assumption. Sure it seemed like she had given up at least one of her children to be looked after by her sister and brother-in-law, but I still wasn’t sure whether that was the end of the story.

One other possibility was that after she had moved back to Sussex Kate herself had died and the children had been left orphans. I shouldn’t automatically assume that Kate simply couldn’t cope.

There was no sign in the GRO Indexes that Kate had died, not under the name of Kate Allison anyway, but what I did find was a marriage for Kate Allison in Q4 1917 in Uckfield Registration District. I knew I needed to get a copy of the marriage certificate to clear away any remaining doubts that I might have had about her identity.

The certificate that arrived showed that Kate Allison married Patrick Vaughan at High Hurstwood on the 25th December, the certificate said the year was 1918, but the marriage had been indexed in the last quarter of 1917. Hopefully that will turn out to be a clerical error, with the certificate having the wrong year, but filed in the correct year and quarter, but I still have to check that out.

The details for Kate were what I had expected, she was a 40-year-old widow living in High Hurstwood and her father was Thomas Driver, this time still alive and kicking despite what had been recorded at her first marriage.

Interestingly Patrick Vaughan was a widower, his age was given as 43 years old, he was living in what looked like Seaford (not many miles away on the Sussex coast) but the handwriting was a bit dodgy so I couldn’t be certain. His occupation was given as Soldier Sapper and his father was Thomas Vaughan a labourer. I wasn’t totally surprised to find Patrick was a soldier, after all the majority of the male population were fighting in the Great War, so that wasn’t unusual.

Then my brain started filling with the questions:

  • Was Patrick the father of the unfortunate Georgina Allison who was born and died in 1916?
  • Was Seaford his real home or was he merely stationed there?
  • Did Patrick survive the First World War? And did his service record survive the Second World War?
  • What happened to the children of Kate’s first marriage, is this why Minnie was “adopted”?
  • Did Patrick have any children from his previous marriage(s)?
  • Who were the two strangers who were witnesses to their marriage?

With access to many First World War service records on Ancestry.co.uk I knew that I should at least be able to answer a few of these questions. I hoped for Kate’s sake that this marriage would see her enter a new settled phase of her life, after several years of dramatic changes, but only further research would tell.

Copyright © 2012 John Gasson.
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Finding Frank: who lived at 2 Oxford Place, Brighton, Sussex?

15 Nov

One of the few pieces of information I was able to gather about the Frank TROWER whose name is recorded on the Brighton War Memorial was that Frank was the brother of J TROWER of 2 Oxford Place, Brighton.

Apart from his age and date of death this is the only other piece of genealogical evidence that I have to try place Frank within my family tree, but frustratingly I have been unable to tie the address to any of the TROWER family.

Last Saturday I made a quick visit to Brighton History Centre and tried to get some more information on who was living at 2 Oxford Place. Every piece of evidence I looked at points to the residents being the BROWN family without a trace of TROWER anywhere.

I had previously found the BROWNs living at 2 Oxford Place in the 1911 census, with a widowed Jane as the head of the household living with daughter Annie and sons Percy and Albert Ernest.

The Brighton directories I checked covering the period just before the First World War through to the end of the First World War all gave Miss A Brown as living there, as did the 1918 Voters List. Not a TROWER in sight.

I know directories are notoriously inaccurate but the consistency across all the sources suggests that it was the BROWN family that were resident at 2 Oxford Place and not the TROWERs. I suspect that the evidence from the CWGC website is correct, J TROWER did live there, but only as a lodger and as such make it into any of the records.

There is a possibility the there was a family connection between the BROWNs and the TROWERs. Jane is almost certainly too old to be the sister of Frank, even if she had started out as a TROWER.

There are of course other records that might give an address for J TROWER regardless of whether he was a property owner or lodger. A marriage certificate or perhaps the birth or baptism record for a child should give a specific address. This would be costly and I wouldn’t know where to start, assuming that the J TROWER at 2 Oxford Place did in fact get married and have children.

Of course there could be an employment record somewhere. Perhaps he worked for the Post Office or the railway, or maybe a military service record somewhere that would have an address, but that really would be searching for a needle in a haystack, if not in a field full of haystacks.

Remembering Ernest Arthur TROWER (1895-1917)

11 Nov

Sunday July 24 [1927] Today was unveiled the Menin Memorial Gate at Ypres. ‘To those whose graves are unknown’ Unknown or rather graveless, those blown to fragments during these ghastly years as you my brother was. How well I remember your last words to me when I saw you for the last time. And how did you die? how can I ever know. Were you mercifully killed or were you wounded & died slowly. Died slowly in a strange country amongst strange people & knowing all the time that you would never see your loved ones again. Oh my poor brother what an ending to your life, hard for you, hard for us what hardship of mind & body must you not have endured in France & no doubt you often thought of the time when these years of anguish would end & that you could return to us again.

I recall again in memory all the days of our childhood, when we were boys & companions together. The only real companion I have had in my lonely life we had no secrets from each other. How straightforward & courageous you were too my dear Ern.

But never, never again can you & I meet. In memory only can I see you. Our days of boy-hood are long past now and you, my boy-hoods companion are dust in Flanders whilst I have gone much further in my journey & these days seem long, long ago now, but whilst life is in my body I can never forget you, even if I may have found someone who may be a dearer companion than ever you were.

These worlds were written by my 2x great-uncle Percy Ebenezer TROWER about his older brother Ernest Arthur TROWER who lost his life during the First World War. Whilst I have no memories of Ernest, only facts and pictures, I feel privileged to be able to honour the life and sacrifice of Ernest this Remembrance Day.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Finding Frank: his death certificate

27 Oct

One of the key pieces of information missing from the limited information available about the F TROWER recorded on the Brighton War Memorial was how old he was when he died.

It was fairly obvious that in the absence of helpful genealogical information (other than the name and address of his brother) that finding out when he was born was going to be especially crucial if I was going to place him in my family tree.

The most obvious way of finding this out was to order a copy of his death certificate. Yes, you can get death certificates for men who died during the First World War, they are not that different from a normal death certificate and can be ordered from the GRO website in a similar manner and for the same cost.

They don’t tell you a great deal more than what is recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website and in Soldiers Died in the Great War, but in my case Frank’s age was missing from both of these sources.

For Frank the following information was recorded, and as you can see there wasn’t really any new information other than his age:

Rgtl. or Army number: G/15980
Rank: Pte.
Name in Full (Surname First): TROWER Frank (13th Bn.)
Age: 36
Country of Birth: England
Date of Death: 19:6:1917
Place of Death: France
Cause of Death: Killed in action

So Frank was 36 years old when he died on the 19th June 1917, which in theory means that he was born between the 20th June 1880 (if he died on the day before his 37th birthday) and the 19th June 1881 (if he died on his 36th birthday) if my maths is correct. This fits quite nicely with the census information that I have which starts with a one year old Frank in 1881.

Unfortunately this doesn’t fits quite so well with the most likely Frank TROWER in the GRO Birth Indexes. The most promising match is a birth registered in Steyning Registration District (which included the parish of Hove) in Q4 1879. The next registration in the index is also in Steyning Registration District, but in Q2 1883 which is perhaps a little too late.

So although I have a good match with the census information, I don’t have a good match for his birth registration. I am not sure whether this is really a problem or not, we have to accept that things don’t always tie-up quite as neatly as we would like sometimes.

Copyright © 2011 John Gasson.
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Finding Frank: some census searching

18 Oct

Based on what little information I could glean from military records I have been searching the 1911 census to see if I can find any likely candidates for the Frank TROWER whose sacrifice is remembered on the Brighton War Memorial.

The 1911 census on findmypast.co.uk only brings up four Frank TROWERs in Sussex, two of which are children and can probably be ruled out at this stage (one would have been only ten in 1917 when Frank died and the other fifteen).

This leaves us with two possibilities, one of whom is already in my family tree whilst the other isn’t. According to the 1911 census they are both the same age (29 years) although further research would suggest that there is about three years age difference between them.

One of the pieces of information I was able to gather was that Frank was the brother of J TROWER of 2 Oxford Place, Brighton. I checked 2 Oxford Place and there were no TROWERs living there in 1911, so this is not a great deal of help in my search. I need to fast forward a few years with some directories and see who was living there in 1917.

The other thing that is not a great help in my search is that both of the Frank TROWERs I am looking at were brothers of a J TROWER, one a Joseph Charles TROWER and the other a Jane Elizabeth TROWER. I haven’t established whether Jane had married before the First World War, in which case she probably wouldn’t be a TROWER any more, that is something else I need to do.

There is one distinguishing factor between the two Franks in the 1911 census and that is that one is married and the other isn’t. I think it likely that the Frank I am looking for is the unmarried one, otherwise there would have been some mention of his widow, rather than a brother in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records.

The unmarried Frank is the one who is not in my family tree but it didn’t take long to place him, by working back through the census it seems that he was the grandson of George TROWER who is in my family tree (according to my software he is my 1st cousin 5 times removed, but that doesn’t sound quite rigth). I never really did much work on George and his wife Mary because they are on the extremes of my family tree, but this is a perfect excuse to extend that branch a little further.

I still can’t say for certain that this is the correct Frank TROWER, there are two things I would like to confirm before I make that assumption. Firstly how old was Frank when he died and secondly which J TROWER was living at 2 Oxford Place?

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