25 November 2017


Frederick Henry Pates was my second cousin three times removed, and was born in Basford, Notts, in 1890, oldest of the five children of William and Rose (nee Scrivens).  Christened on 10 February that year, the family moved to Papplewick by the time of the 1901 census and Frederick was at school.

In 1911, by now the head of the household after the deaths of his parents, Frederick was head horseman in Bestwood, Notts.  In 1914 he married Florence Bailey and they begat two children.  He enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps (Infantry) and died of wounds in Flanders on 25 November 1917.  He is buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery.

We will remember them.

24 November 2017


Henry Culpin was born on 14 September 1895 in the small Cambridgeshire village of Little Downham, the youngest of the five children of Henry & Hannah (nee Stevens), and was christened on 23 October in the same year at the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Ely.  By 1901 Henry was living in New Barns Road in Ely, along with his mother & siblings (his father having died a few months before Henry was born).  In 1911 he was a farm labourer, living with his mother in Deacon's Lane, Ely.

When war came, Henry enlisted at Bury St Edmunds, into the 7th Battalion the Suffolk Regiment, becoming a Lance Corporal by the time of his death.

He died of wounds one hundred years ago today and is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery. 

We will remember them.

12 November 2017


On this Remembrance Sunday let me introduce you to my third cousin once removed George Hills.  He was born in Chatteris, Cambs, in 1886, the second of ten children of George and Naomi (nee Wadlow).  In 1891 the family was across the county border in the Huntingdonshire town of Ramsey but by 1901 they were back in Cambs, living in Doddington.

George was clearly a regular soldier as he was serving as a private with 2nd Beds in 1911, stationed in Bermuda/Jamaica, a much better billet than his final one.  As his second cousin Benjamin Langford also served with 2Beds, we know that they arrived in Belgium in October 1914.  The Regiment's War Diaries (http://bedfordregiment.org.uk/index.html) fill in the details. 

George died on 12 November 1917 and is buried in Bailleul  Communal Cemetery Extension, Nord.

George's younger brothers Charles and Horace also lost their lives in the Great War.

We will remember them.

12 October 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: James Eastwell & Albert Free

Two of my distant relatives lost their lives on this day one hundred years ago.....

JAMES HENRY EASTWELL was born on 7 March 1880 in Swan Creek, Queensland, fifth child of Edward & Mary Ann (nee Carter).  His grandfather John Eastwell was born in Great Gransden, Hunts, and took the family to Australia in the 1850s.

I know very little about James, except that he was most likely single at the time of his death, on the basis that his CWGC citation gives his parents as next of kin.  However, I do know that he enlisted in the Otago Regiment, part of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, and I found his name on a number of NZ Rolls of Honour in their newspapers (courtesy of www.paperspast.natlib.gov.nz).  They all gave the name of Miss E Faulkner as (possible) next of kin.

The "Dominion" newspaper, dated 2 November 1917, sums up the scale of NZ losses:- "....The casualty list issued yesterday was one the longest lists, if the the longest, that has been issued in New Zealand.  The total casualties reported were 1240 and in that number there were 384 deaths."  "....nearly all of the causalties occured about October 12."

James is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.

ALBERT ERNEST FREE was born in Corack, Victoria, in 1894.  Another of my ANZAC relatives, he was the third and youngest child of Samuel and Fanny (nee Shepherd), and his elder brother was also to lose his life to the Great War.

Albert enlisted on 24 July 1916, having been working as a farm hand.  He was reported "Missing in Action" on this day and a Court of Enquiry in May 1918 decided that he was killed in action today one hundred years ago.  He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

We will remember them.

25 September 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: William Ablewhite

William Henry Ablewhite was born in 1897 in Grantham and christened on 15 September that year at St John, Spittlegate, Lincs.  Third of seven children of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth (nee Culpin), he was a 13-year-old errand boy at the time of the 1911 census and may, or may not, be my sixth cousin twice removed - we may share a common ancester who was born circa 1685.

William was serving with the 1st Battalion, the Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) at the time of his death one hundred years ago.  He is buried in Tyne Cot cemetery, one of the largest CWG cemeteries.

We  will remember them.

20 September 2017


Albert Langford Mitchell was my third cousin once removed and was born in Brixton, London, in 1886, the third & youngest child of Neville & Sarah Elizabeth (nee Langford).  Still a schoolboy in 1911 Tooting, he enlisted as a rifleman in the 2nd/8th Battalion, the London Regiment and was killed on 20th September 1917 when he was just 19 years old.

Alas I know no more than this, except that he is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres.

We will remember them.

24 August 2017


Horace Langford Wesley, to given him his full name, was born in Stretham, Cambs, in 1889 and was my second cousin twice removed.  Tenth of the eleven children of George Westley Langford (who changed his surname to Wesley when he married) and Jane (nee Rowell), Horace was christened in St James, Stretham on 18 December in the same year.

Horace grew up in Stretham and was boarding at 'The White House' in the village at the time of the 1911 census and was working as a farm labourer.

When he first enlisted, Horace joined the Suffolk regiment along with many other lads from Stretham, but clearly transferred to the King's Shropshire Light Infantry as he was serving with them at the time of his death one hundred years ago today.  He is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery.

We will remember them.

20 July 2017


Cecil Harold Blaydon was my fourth cousin three times removed and he was born in Mildenhall, Suffolk, in 1895, fourth of the five children of Sydney & Mary (nee Vale).  By 1901 the family was had moved to Fordham in Cambridgeshire where Cecil, at five years old, had presumably started school.  A further move took the family to the Luton area in Bedfordshire and 1911 showed Cecil, aged 15, a picker hand.

Enlisting in 1914 in Luton, Cecil joined the 5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment and, by 1917 was serving in the Egyptian Theatre; he died on 20 July in Palestine.  The Luton News & Bedfordshire Times produced the following on 16 August:-

"Pte. C Blaydon
The war has taken heavy toll of the household of Mr and Mrs Blaydon, The Knapps, Toddington-road, Leagrave,  Official intimation has been received that their second son, Pte. C Blaydon, was killed in action on July 20th.  Since the outbreak of war he had been serving with the Bedfordshire Regiment, including the Dardanelles campaign.  He was a stretcher-bearer, and had seen considerable active service.  The youngest son, Pte. A Blaydon, was killed at Suvla Bay on August 15th, 1915, with the 1/5ths.  The eldest son, Percy, is serving in France with the RGA, and was recently in hospital suffering from shell-shock. but he has now returned to his battery.

A letter was received by his parents on Tuesday morning from his pal:- "I thought it my duty to write to tell you that your son Pte. Cecil Blaydon, is dead.  He was killed instantly while we were raiding the enemy's position.  He was like by everyone in his company, officers and men, and I was myself a great pal of his.  He was buried behind our line in a cemetery this morning. "

The eldest son, Bomb. P S Blaydon is back in hospital again with shell-shock. "

Cecil Blaydon was buried in the Gaza War Cemetery.

We will remember them.

28 June 2017


Bertie John Mendham, to give him his full Sunday name, was born on 22 May 1884 in East Wretham, Norfolk, seventh of the nine children of Thomas & Mary (nee Freeman).  He was the older brother of Ernest Tom Mendham, who I remembered three weeks ago.

Christened on 5 July 1884 in East Wretham, Bertie was my third cousin four times removed. and he moved with the family to Streatham, London, by 1901.  By the age of 16 he was a porter and the 1911 census shows him working as a printer and living in Upper Tooting.  Towards the end of that year he married Daisy and they begat two children - Daisy, and Albert who was to die in the next war.

He enlisted in the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment and died on 28 June 1917.  With no known grave he is commemorated, along with his brother, on the Menin Gate memorial.

We will remember them.

22 June 2017


Today I remember a man who has already had a mention in this blog in 1914: Albert Pridmore, my sixth cousin a few times removed, was born in Wittering, near Peterborough, in 1879.  He was the second of the eleven children (nine boys, two girls) of William & Sarah, nee Culpin, who moved to the Sheffield area soon after he was born.  After schooling in the town, Albert worked as a labourer.

In 1913 he married Margaret Richardson in Sheffield and they begat five children before Albert enlisted in the Yorks & Lancs Regiment and was sent to France & Flanders to join the Expeditionary Force from January 1916.  He was wounded in action on 2 May 1917 and repatriated to Bradford Military Hospital.

Where he died one hundred years ago today.  He was buried in Burngreave cemetery in Sheffield.

We will remember them.

7 June 2017


Ernest Mendham was born in 1886 in East Wretham in Norfolk, eighth of the nine children of Thomas and Mary (nee Freeman).  Christened in the local church on 8 August that year, he was next "seen" in the 1901 census, with the family in Streatham, south London.  In 1909 he married Lily Hudson and the family lived in Upper Tooting in 1911; he was a librarian's clerk.

In 1914, or thereabouts, he enlisted, at Clapham Junction, in the London regiment.  He died in Flanders on this day in 1917 and has no known grave.  Along with thousands he is commemorated on the Menin Gate memorial.

We will remember them.

2 June 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: Charles William Rumbelow

Charles William Rumbelow was my fifth cousin twice removed, the eldest of five children (four boys & one girl) of George and Laura (nee Mace).  Born in 1897 in the village of Wicken in Cambridgeshire, he seems to have lived in the village all of his short life.  Aged only three in the 1901 census, he was at school by 1911 - then living with his grandparents.

And that is all I know about him; other than that he died one hundred years ago today, in Birmingham, having been serving with the Queen's (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.  He is buried in the churchyard in Wicken.

We will remember them.

25 May 2017

Great War Centenary: Percy Poulter

Percy Poulter was my 5th cousin three times removed (our mutual ancestor was Richard Culpin, born circa 1685) and was born in Shillington, Beds, in 1883.  The fifth of eight children of Thomas and Emma (nee Culpin), he was working on the family farm in Campton, near Shefford, in 1901 but joined the Royal Lancers before 1911.  The census of that year very helpfully gives his location as "Egypt, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Sudan"..... so I have no idea where he was!

Sadly I do know that he died of wounds in France on 25 May 1917 and is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery.

We will remember them.

21 May 2017

This little piggy went to........

A chance find in the BURY FREE PRESS of 12 February 1954: 

One of five pigs which were thrown out of a ten cwt. Van taking them to the Elmswell Bacon Factory met premature death in a crash on the ice road near Rougham Estate Office on Monday.  The two vehicles involved were a van driven by Mr Reginald Staden, baker, of 41, Out Westgate, Bury St Edmunds, and a British Road Services lorry, drive by Mr Arthur Tyre, of “The Lilacs”, Mendlesham Green, Stowmarket.

All the pigs were thrown out of the van and one of them sustained a broken leg and had to be destroyed.  Both the drivers had minor injuries – facial cuts and bruises.

I am resolutely not laughing......

More soon.

Source:  www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

16 April 2017

Check, check, check........again, again!

Cousin Bob and I have been working on getting our early Langfords right.  Bob has cracked it and I've been re-inputting a few ('000s) of Langford rellies.  And it was in search of their various sources that I was looking on FreeBMD for them, born between 1880 and 1890.

And there he was: an additional Freeman Langford.  Ooo-er!  A quick check on the "new" GRO indexes showed me that his mother's name was Quince.  That's my great-grandmother, btw, my primary family.

So he fitted between William and Lilian, and clearly before the Freeman who came after Lilian.  He wasn't christened in Stretham with his younger siblings so I used the CFHS new search.  And found him being done in the Wesleyan Methodist in Ely..... along with John, Ellen, and Lilian.

Suspicion now abounding that there might be another sibling to fit into another four-year gap, I went back to the GRO indexes and found Kate, born in 1885.  Another Kate? But my grandmother, Kate, wasn't born until 1889....!

So, brain fog lifting slightly, I realised that Freeman and Kate must both've died before their younger versions were born.  No sign of them in the Ely district so, on a whim, I widened the search to all of England.

And there they were: 1886 in Sheffield.  Sheffield?  FMP gave me Kate's christening in the Cathedral in 1885, and another search found me "The Original Sheffield Indexers", who have kindly indexed various graveyards in the city.  Success - Langford, Freeman (child, age 4) and Langford, Kate (child, 9m) buried five days apart in the City cemetery.

So now I'm very excited that I've found these two.  And slightly boggled.....

More soon.

26 March 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: George Ernest Flavell

George Flavell was born in 1892 in Wickliffe, Victoria, in Australia, the fourth child of George Flavell and his wife Sophia (nee Parrish).  He was my third cousin three times removed and grew up to work as a labourer in Moyston, Vic.  And that's really all I know about him as a man.

Of his time as a soldier I can tell you that he enlisted in August 1915 when he was 22 years and 10 months old; that he embarked on HMAT Thermistocles in Melbourne on 28 December 1916 and that he served in the Suez area before being moved to France.

I found letters in the Australian Red Cross Society Wounded & Missing Enquiry Bureau files (1914-18 War) which confirm that he was reported Missing believed Killed on 26 March 1917. It was only after these letters that his death near Bapaume was confirmed.  Six months after the event, his colleagues all wrote that George was blown in half by a shell on this day one hundred years ago.

We will remember them.

19 March 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: Norris Ernest Wiltshire

Norris Wiltshire was my second cousin three times removed and was born in Skelton, Yorkshire, in 1895, eldest of the seven children of Ernest and Ann (nee Norris).  In the 1901 census he was six years old and the family were still in Skelton; by 1911 the family had move a few miles north to Saltburn and young Norris, by now 16 years old, was "trapping in mines".

In the September quarter of 1914 he married Jane Marsh in Morpeth and they begat two daughters. He enlisted in the Northumberland Fusiliers and served with the second battalion in the Balkans area.

The Registers of Soldiers' Effects gives Norris's date of death as "between 10 September 1916 and 19 March 1917" in Bulgaria.  He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Doiran Memorial in Greece, the memorial to the missing of Salonika.

We will remember them.

15 March 2017

GREAT WAR CENTENARY: William Arthur Staden

My cousin, three times removed, William Arthur Staden, together with his twin brother Frederick Walter, was born in Bury St Edmunds on 15 October 1876, the eighth and nine children of Joseph, a plumber and glazier, and his wife Eliza, nee Drury.  Frederick sadly died less than seven months later.

William grew up in Bury St Edmunds and then moved to London; the 1901 census shows him, aged 24 and a draper's assistant, living in the "Residence for Employees of Peter Robinson Ltd" in Marylebone.  In 1911 he was boarding in Westminster, by now a "draper traveller".  Come the Great War, by now in his mid-to-late thirties, he enlisted, in Westminster, as a private in the 12th Battalion, the Royal Fusiliers.

He died on 15 March 1917, aged 40, and is buried in the Chocques Military Cemetery in the Pas de Calais region of France.

We will remember them.

5 March 2017

Mind the Gap......

I seem to have been more absent than present on here recently so I will recount a story of great achievement.....and a fair bit of luck!

Last weekend, whilst attempting to identify the people in my maternal grandparents' wedding photo (as you do), I sought light entertainment in the newspaper archives.  As I have done a few times before, I entered "Pates and Biggleswade" as search terms and sat back to await the results....and found the name of my illegitimate great-grandmother!!!!!!

Much excitement ensued, along with a transcription of the article.  It seems that greatx3 grandmother took the man to court and there it was in the Bedfordshire Times' Petty Sessions report: "Walter Roberts, labourer, Biggleswade, was charged by Mary Ann Pates, Biggleswade, with being the putative father of her illegitimate child.  He admitted paternity, and was ordered to pay 1s 6d, per week and 12s 6d costs."

That's filled a very large gap in the tree!  Now to sort out the puzzle of the great-grandmother's marriage....... that will take a very long time, not just the twenty-odd years it took to find her father.

More soon.