12 February 2009

The Walnut Tree

When we were little we would go to see Uncle Bill every now and again. He lived in Stretham with two of his step-daughters and a visit to them at Christmas was especially treasured as “the girls” would produce the most exquisite mince pies & cheese straws! I do have a photo of us with him but it’s fairly blurred and, anyway, my siblings would probably lynch me if I put it up at the side here!

William Langford (Uncle Bill or, more accurately, great-uncle Bill) was born yesterday in 1879 in the market town of Chatteris and he came to Stretham with the family in the next year or so. He grew up to become a regular soldier and served all over the world (I guess . . . . the map of the world was fairly red at the time) and was back in Stretham by the time of the 1911 census when I found him with the household of his brother John & family in Reads Street. The following year he married widow Sarah Reeve and remained in Stretham (in an old pub with no electricity – I remember the gas lamps) until his death in Chesterton Hospital in 1973.

Also born yesterday was James Bradley Freeman, who entered into the world in the Suffolk village of Tuddenham St Mary in 1828, the son of single mother Martha Freeman. Sadly he lived for only two months, in common, alas, with two of his sisters. More about the family another time . . . . !

It seems to be a day for short lives:- Ellen Jane Fordham, born today in Hemingford Abbotts, was the daughter of Charles & Alice and she lived for only a month. According to my computer, she was my 2nd cousin 4 times removed, which seemed quite distant to me so I checked back. It seems that the ancestor we have in common is my g-g-g-g-g-grandfather (that’s five greats) – which is seven generations back. – so, yep, that’s fairly distant!!

The walnut tree of the title was prominent in the garden at Reads Street and was still there in the early 1990s.

Weather check – snowing again, but I don’t think it will last until morning, thankfully!

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