All posts by ewart.tearle

06Jan/20

Levi’s bridge in Wing

On the same morning Elaine and I visited Dennis Tearle and Betty, to say goodbye on our way home to New Zealand, a problem I had been working on for about 15 years, with no sign of a solution, reminded me that Dennis was an engineer, a local of Wing, where Levi Tearle, one of three smiths in the village, lived and died, and he was a senior member of Levi’s family. Alec Tearle, Dennis’ elder brother, had told me that Levi had built a bridge, but he was very unsure of where it was, and he thought it had been demolished to make way for a bigger bridge. I asked Dennis, on a whim, did he know where Levi’s bridge was? It was my last chance to solve the puzzle, and I held my breath.

“Do you know where the Wing Alms Houses are?”

I certainly did. My grandmother, Sadie Adams, was brought up by her grandmother in the Wing Alms Houses after both her parents had been killed, within six weeks of each other. I did not know any of the occupants, but I certainly knew a bit about the little houses – still in use today.

“Yes.”

“And the road goes steeply downhill to Mentmore?”

“Yes.”

“The road flattens, and in about 100m you will see a handrail on both sides of the road, with a small stream running from right to left. That is Levi’s bridge. I thought it had been demolished, but if you go there, ring me and describe what you can see.”

If, I thought. Not if today, but first thing the following morning. No Ifs about this one. Fortunately, the morning was still, warm, and sunny. A perfect day to go exploring on our last day in England.

At Wing, we dropped into the cricket ground at Ascot House to admire the hand-made gate, lock, and the beautiful fencing. All made by Levi Tearle.

The lock on the cricket ground gate
Levi’s gate, lock and all that fencing.
When you go to Wing, always drop in to see if All Saints is open. It’s very special.

Levi was not a member of the church; he was a Primitive Methodist, and the superintendent of the Sunday school. The very simple building contained no images of saints or any works of art. The congregation was there to read their Bible, listen to their Minister, and learn the works of God.

There was a striking unintended consequence to this; Methodists could read. When they joined the workforce, they were so much more educated than many other children in the village. This was a small village, but it was divided into Church, where you were buried in consecrated ground, and Chapel, where you were buried outside the drawn line that was the church’s grounds. There was, actually, a small advantage to the Chapel graves; because their graves and headstones were not tended, they were covered in weeds. This meant the elements were not able to harm them so much. They lasted a lot longer than Church graves did.

The Wing Alms Houses

We moved on, and briefly looked at the Wing Alms Houses. I know of only one story; Little Sadie Adams (my grandmother) lived with her grandmother (Kate) after her parents had died. She told my father that Kate would go to the house next door to beg a coal cinder because she would not use a match – they were called Lucifers and she would have no truck with the Devil!

These little houses have been in use for a considerable length of time.

We took the car slowly down the hill to Mentmore from the Alms Houses, being careful that we did not over-run the distances we thought we had. At first, there was no stream, then there was a small one that followed the road, finally we saw steel handrails on both sides of the road, and stopped to see if it was Levi’s bridge.

The bridge has rails both sides of the road, the stream is going from right to left. Are we there yet?

I rang Dennis, hoping he had not left the house. “What am I looking for?”

“What can you see?”

“I have steel pipe both sides of the road, and definitely a stream below. There are lots of black bricks here. A very thick bank of them on both sides of the stream. On top of the bank are two very large steel I-beams, and on top of that a two-foot thick bed of concrete, and on top of that, road tar.”

“The black bricks are construction bricks. They are specially made for construction and they are strengthened by coal, hence their being black. All they have done since Levi built the bridge is to replace the top of it.”

“You are standing on Levi’s Bridge. Well done.”

“Thank you!” I said. Finally, we had solved the problem of where and what had happened to Levi’s bridge. It was still there, and it was still a functional bridge. It’s time to add the photos we took, and to simply admire Levi’s skills.

Bridge footings
Levi’s bridge footings on Mentmore Rd from Wing
Footings viewed from the other side of the road. Note the black bricks.
All that has happened to the bridge is the addition of the I-beams, the concrete pad on top and some concrete stablising the base, whether it was needed or not.

It was a pleasure working with Dennis Tearle, and we thank him for the assistance he has freely offered. We can also see the knowledge and the experience he has gathered in a lifetime of engineering.

06Jan/20

William Renshaw RAF

One of the last families we visited before we left England in 2018, was the family of Dennis Tearle and Betty nee Renshaw. We told them about our stop-over in Singapore, and Betty asked us if we could find out what happened to her beloved younger brother, William Renshaw. All she knew of the circumstances of his death was that he was killed when the Japanese invaded the island. Dennis suggested there was a large Commonwealth War Graves Commission site somewhere in Singapore. We promised we’d have a look, and as is usual with these things, what we found far exceeded what we had expected to see. A few weeks after we landed in New Zealand, I arranged all the photos that best illustrated our experience at the Kranji CWGC, then wrote an accompanying text for each photo. The result is below – as much as possible, word for word. I wrapped the printed photos and the story we had to tell in a large envelope, and sent the whole parcel to Dennis and Betty.

26 July 2018

Dear Dennis and Betty

While we were in Singapore, on the return journey to New Zealand, we took the bus to Kranji in the north of Singapore and, after a few miss-steps we found the CWGC Kranji War Memorial. There are an incredible number of names on the various plaques; these commemorate all those who died, but whose bodies were never found. There were huge plaques for the Royal Indian regiments, with literally thousands of names.

We arrived at the same time as a group of early high school students turned up, with flags and tokens, to explore the memorial and to commemorate the memory of those who had been killed. Near the end of their time, there was a moving little ceremony of remembrance, and a particularly beautiful rendition of The Last Post by a single bugler.

I will explain each of the numbered prints below, in order of their appearance.

State Cemetery. The cemetery is a co-operation with the CWGC, but it is on Singapore land.
Cemetery Gate. There is a long walk of about 200m from the road to the gate, and a small parking area between the gate and the entrance to the cemetery. We could see the children alighting from the bus and walking to the memorial. We did not interact with them, because we felt it would be a distraction. One of their teachers told me they all came from the same school, but they individually came from many countries. Some of the children were carrying the flag of their parent country.
These are the main gates to the memorial.
Note to visitors to the memorial and its significance to Singaporean history.
Close-up of the writing on the memorial gate.
There is a visitors book, and Elaine has signed for all of us.
It took a while to find the book that had William’s name, but it led us directly to Panel 430, where he and his comrades were memorialised. Here is his name, for Betty’s sake.
Here is the close-up of William’s name on the Kranji Memorial.
The children are lined up ready for their ceremony and you can see the CWGC Great Cross, and the spire of the memorial itself. It is truly a magnificent sight.
If I remember correctly, there were more than thirty books in the brass cabinet that contains these things – I have never seen so many in one place.
Here is the note in the Book of Remembrance with a very short version of William’s life.
Here is a stepped-away view of the memorial. It looks like a huge bomber about to take off. You can see the headstones in the cemetery, but they were very few in comparison with the numbers of those missing.
Between the Great Cross and the memorial itself, there is a small ante-room containing this huge plaque. Behind this memorial there is yet another wall with about five thousand names of those found after the memorial was finished. Most of the names were from the Royal Indian regiments.
Wing Church, beautiful and historic.
The headstone in all Saints, Wing, which has the details of William’s life and parents.

There is an uncomfortable codicil to this story. Squadron Leader Roger C Miller was on post with the RAF in Singapore after the war, and his wife was an aircraft controller. Elaine and I know him because he has ties to Sandridge. He told me that it was not well known, but after the Allies found out what the Japanese did to prisoners of war, both the RAF and the Americans destroyed ships carrying prisoners. The tactic deprived the Japanese of fresh intelligence, and the prisoners were spared the horrors of Japanese prisoner camps. He was sang-froid, but I found the situation deeply disturbing.

I hope we have given you a flavour of the Kranji War Memorial, and we send you and Betty all the very best.

29Jun/19

Thomas Tearle 1777 & Thomas 1780

Who was the miller of Luton in the 1841 census?

Ewart F Tearle 2019

These two families have fascinated us since at least 2008, and I am aiming to lay their story out clearly, and to give my best judgement on who the families are, and why they cannot be confused. I have cleared the Tearle Tree of all references to family for both Thomas 1780 and Thomas 1777. As I research the rebuild of this part of the tree, I shall make sure that all the families are covered, and as best I can, re-filled with the genuine occupiers of their branch on the Tearle Tree.

First, I am going to catalogue all the early Thomas Tearles, any one of whom might cause a problem with us, before we research Thomas Tearle 1777 born in Cublington, and Thomas Tearle 1780, of Stanbridge. These two boys, who are first cousins, have always been the first choice of the researchers into this intriguing story. All of the boys considered below will be the grand-sons of Thomas 1709 and Mary nee Sibley.

The reason we are looking at the early Thomas Tearles is because there was a Tearle family in Luton in the 1841 census headed up by Thomas Tearle, miller, aged 60. The members of his family were: Mary 60, Susan 28, Martha 25 and Caroline 20. There was also Mary Fullarton 30, Emma Fullarton 5yrs, Mary Fullarton 2yrs and Sarah Wright 30, who was a lodger. So who was this Thomas Tearle?  Let’s see who might be the contender amongst the early Thomas Tearles

Joseph Tearle 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp

Three Thomas Tearles were born to Joseph and Phoebe – Thomas 1771, Thomas 1774 and Thomas 1780. The two earlier Thomas boys died in the same year of their birth, according to the Stanbridge PRs. Thomas 1780 married Sarah Gregory on 27 October 1802, in Chalgrave. They had a baby, Mary Tearle, baptised in Chalgrave on 14 April, 1805. In 1818 Thomas was named an executor for the will of his brother, John Tearle 1787, one of the early leaders of Methodism in Stanbridge. Thomas died and was buried in Chalgrave in 1820, just 39 years old.                           

Thomas Tearle 1737 and Susannah nee Attwell.

Thomas 1737 was a twin to Joseph 1737 (or they were both baptised in the same year). Thomas 1737 and Susannah are the parents of Thomas 1777 and below is Thomas’ baptism in Cublington, the first baptism of 1777.

Thomas 1777 baptism in Cublington, Buckinghamshire

John Tearle and Martha nee Archer

These are the parents of Thomas Tearle 1763, who married Mary Gurney. This Thomas is not a contender because the couple had their own nine children. They were married in Eaton Bray and never left it. Mary nee Gurney died in 1817 and Thomas died in 1839.

William Tearle 1749 and Mary nee Prentice

William and Mary did not name any of their children Thomas

Richard Tearle 1754 and Mary nee Webb

The last of the early Tearle boys, Richard 1754 moved to Sandridge, near St Albans in Hertfordshire, and had a son Thomas 1799. He was baptised in St Peter’s parish on 24 January 1799. That is all I know about him; I assume he died early. However, a 1799 birth date takes him out of this conversation.

So now we have the problem of two Tearle boys, separated by only three years, one whose wife has died (Thomas 1780) and one (Thomas 1777) who may never have been married at all.

I have a note from Dermot Foley in 2008:

“I have been in contact with a woman who is related by blood and marriage and she insists that Thomas Tearle was the son of Thomas Tearle 1737 and not Joseph. She has seen the census return for 1841 and knows the details on the death certificate.” By this, she means that Thomas 1737, and not Thomas 1780 (son of Joseph and Phoebe) is the father of Thomas 1777, which is true, but it does not solve the problem of who is the father of the Tearle girls in Luton. The death certificate of Thomas Tearle, miller, with information supplied by his daughter Susan Tearle, is that he was 72 years old when he died in 1849. Simple arithmetic would certainly imply this is Thomas 1777. Having found out that much, let’s see if it unlocks the problem of the list of children who were in the house of Thomas the miller on the night of the 1841 census.

Factual information
Susan Tearle, Thomas Tearle’s daughter, has filled out the death certificate.

Pat sent me this from the Leighton Buzzard PRs:

Marriage
Name: Mary Fullers
Gender: Female
Marriage Date: 21 Nov 1796
Marriage Place: Leighton Buzzard,Bedford,England
Spouse: Tho Teale  
FHL Film Number: 826454, 845460

And, sadly, this may be their first-born:

Leighton Buzzard PRs, Burial:

1799 OC6 Inf of Thomas Tearle of Billington

Thomas would have been 19 when he married.  I have skipped directly to Mary Tearle’s death certificate, also signed by Susan Tearle, which states that Mary was 75 at the time of her death in 1848. This would indicate she was born in 1773.

Factual document
Susan Tearle has also signed the death certificate for her mother.

It seems unlikely that Susan would be wrong about the age of each of her parents since her father Thomas was still alive in 1848, and died the following year. If we take it that this family is one unit, then Mary Fullers married when she was 23 years old (1796) and had her last child when she was 48 (Caroline, 1821). This is possible today, but I do not know about the circumstances in Victorian times. However, in a 2008 essay, in my notes on the Tearle/Fullarton families I was at a loss as to how Thomas 1780 marries Mary Fullarton and has a large family from 1802 to 1821, remembering that this same Mary will still be 48 when she has her last baby, no matter who she marries. Also, it is not possible for Thomas 1780 to have any more children after 1820. Consider also that Thomas 1780 cannot be confused with Thomas 1777, because Thomas 1780 was a dealer in straw plait in 1818 in the Chalgrave area, whilst Thomas 1777 was a journeyman miller in Luton. There are also the local boundaries, such that Thomas 1780 and his family were centred on Chalgrave, whilst Thomas 1777 lived in Houghton Regis and moved south on the A5, through Dunstable, to live in Luton. Again, Thomas 1780 has one wife, one child, and died aged 39 whilst Thomas 1777 lives in Luton, he is a miller and he has a wife and five daughters and dies at age 72. This is Pat’s way of differentiating the two families, and I think she is right. Pat’s killer blow; “I do not think this is the same Thomas, they are two different people.”

Having put the challengers behind us, let’s have a look at the fascinating story that is exposed by the documentation, mostly the changes wrought by advancing technology, and the totally different lives that Bedfordshire women could afford themselves because the straw hat industry allowed them to work when, where and how they wanted. The shining example of the miller’s family is that they are all women, and only one becomes married. I think that speaks volumes about Victorian women and the grinding, care-centric male-dominated society in which they lived, along with the daily tragedy of young women dying in childbirth. If you can avoid marriage – do so.

I should also note that my term for Thomas – the miller of Luton – is not to imply that he owned a mill. Sometimes he called himself a miller, and at other times he called himself a journeyman miller.

The 1841 census in Luton lists the following people living in the house of Thomas the miller:

  • Thomas Tearle 60yr
  • Mary Tearle 60yr
  • Susan Tearle 28y
  • Martha Tearle 26y
  • Caroline Tearle 20y
  • Mary Fullarton 30y
  • Emma Fullarton 5y
  • Mary Fullarton 2y
  • Sarah Wright 30y

We can see in the list above that there is another Fullarton, also called Mary. She is the daughter of Mary Tearle 60y, who has married George Fullarton in the Church of St Mary, Luton. Emma and Mary Fullarton are her children.

Also in the 1841 Luton census, we find Sophia Tale (Tearle) living with Ruth Field in Castle Street. Both are straw hat workers. Sophia is aged 30, which would make her born in 1811, and therefore younger than Mary (1805) and the same age as Susan, but census ages are not always particularly reliable with this small item of data.  Ruth Field and Sophia are living next door to a house occupied by John Field.

1851 census: Neither Thomas nor Mary are alive for the 1851 census, but many of the people in the 1841 census are still living together, this time in Chapel St, Luton:

  • Susan 38y
  • Martha 35y
  • Caroline 34y

1861 census: the house looks very much like the 1841 census, except the members in the house are in 31 Wellington St, Luton. This was a long lane of shops, on both sides of the street, with accommodation above. The Tearles lived here for at least 40 years.

  • Susan 48y
  • Martha 46y
  • Caroline 44y
  • Mary A Fullarton, niece 22y

Mary Ann Fullarton married Edward Bachini, an Italian from the city of Florence. They were married on 10 October, 1862, in Luton. I have listed four of their children on the Tearle tree, and Mary Ann died in 1924.

1871 census: Here is much the same group living in the house at 170 Wellington St, Luton:

  • Susan 58y
  • Martha 48y
  • Caroline 46
  • Ellen Hoy, niece 14y

You will see Ellen Hoy 1857, in at least the next four censuses, because her mother, Emma Fullarton 1838, married Charles Hoy in Luton, 1855. It is unclear why and how Charles went to Luton from Enfield, London, but Ellen Louisa Hoy was their only child. Emma died in 1856, probably caused by childbirth. Charles married Ellen Elizabeth Irons from Wheathampstead, near St Albans, in 1857, and I have documented all of their children up to the 1881 census.

1881 census: 170 Wellington St, Luton

  • Sophia 76y
  • Susan 67y
  • Martha 62
  • Caroline 60
  • Sarah Cadwell, lodger
  • Ellen Louise Hoy 24y

And on the same page as above:

  • Charles Hoy 48y
  • Ellen Elizabeth Hoy 43y
  • Kate Hoy 22y
  • Harry Hoy 16y
  • Alfred Ernest Hoy 11y
  • Frank Horatio Hoy 9y
  • Charles Hoy 6y

The 1881 census is the third time we see Sophia. This time we know she is the eldest sibling, because she is the head of the house. Ellen Louise Hoy stays with the Tearles while Charles Hoy and Ellen Elizabeth cope with their growing family.

1891 census: 194 Wellington St, Luton

  • Susan 78y
  • Ellen Hoy 34y
  • Mary Fullarton nee Tearle 81y
  • Emma Hoy 18y

1901 census: 194 Wellington St, Luton

  • Mary Fullarton nee Tearle 93y
  • Ellen Hoy 47
  • Sarah Cadwell, boarder

Now that we have the facts before us, we can look at the relationships of the people in this story. There is some conjecture that the first two girls (Sophia and Mary) might be half-sisters, or cousins of the rest of the girls, because Mary Tearle and Sophia fit nicely into the early year gaps, and therefore might be the girls from the marriage of Thomas 1780 and Sarah nee Gregory. However, Mary Fullarton nee Tearle says she was born in Thorn (a satellite of Houghton Regis https://www.houghtonregis.org.uk/the-history-of-houghton-regis ) so it is not close enough to Chalgrave, and since everyone else is associated with Houghton Regis, then so is Mary, and so is Sophia. I have Mary’s marriage certificate of 6 November 1830. I have no idea why she should say she was Mary Ann, nor why George Fullarton should sign himself J George Fullarton. But the fact is, Mary Tearle is the bride, and Sophia, her sister, who has signed as a witness, has attended to ensure things go well. As you can tell from the censuses above, these two women are the sisters of Susan, Martha and Caroline Tearle; five girls, all sisters, and Thomas 1777, miller of Luton and Mary nee Fuller/s his wife, are indisputably their parents.

Marriage record
Sophia Tearle has attended the wedding of her younger sister Mary Tearle

This investigation could stop here, but I think a few words of follow-up would not go amiss. Let’s tidy up some loose ends.

Who was Mary Fuller and where did she come from? She was called Mary Fullers in the Leighton Buzzard PRs, but I think that’s incorrect. I have found a 1773 baptism for Mary Fuller in Millbrook, Bedfordshire. Her parents on that document are Richard Fuller and Sarah Crawley and they were married in Millbrook, in 1773.

Here is the data from Ancestry:

  • Name:                         Mary Fuller
  • Gender:                      Female
  • Baptism date:             20 Dec 1773
  • Baptism place:           Millbrook, Bedfordshire, England
  • Father:                                    Richard Fuller
  • Mother:                      Sarah
  • FHL Film Number:      599351

How did they end up in Luton? I know that the march from Millbrook to Luton might give cause for some to think that I am stretching things a little, but the 19th century was a time of vast change, especially for rural farming families. If a Tearle family from Leighton Buzzard can leave the town and trek all the way up to Preston, and never come back, it’s not difficult to visualise a rural family leaving Millbrook for a better life in Luton.

The Mary Fullarton 30y in the 1841 census was Mary Tearle, who married George Fullarton. Now, who was he? Barbara Tearle assures me that the post-war parish registers published by the Bedfordshire Record Office have Fuller and Fullers, but no Fullartons. The reason is that the Fullartons were a Scottish family from Castle Douglas in Kirkcudbridgeshire. George Fullarton was in Castle Douglas for the 1841 census. We now know that George’s parents were Henry Fullarton and Mary Anderson, both born in Kirkcudbridgeshire.  Also in the 1841 census (this time, in Luton) are Mary Fullarton 30y, Emma 5y and Mary 2y, George Fullarton’s family at that date. We find out in the 1861 census that Mary Fullarton, niece 22y, the daughter of Mary and George Fullarton, is actually Mary Ann Fullarton. She is the niece of all the Tearle women in the house.  

George and Mary Fullarton nee Tearle had three girls; Emma Fullarton 1838, Mary Ann Fullarton 1839 and Eliza Fullarton 1849, who married Henry Isaac Sell in 1888. As far as I know, Eliza and Henry had one child, Lillian Sell, in 1896. Harry Isaac Sell was significant enough in his church to have a plaque which memorialised him. That church has become the Luton Christian Fellowship church in Castle St, and Harry’s plaque is still there.

Factual place
Church in Castle St, Luton, where Harry Isaac Sell is memorialised
Historical fact
Luton church still has its old memorials.

Another incident that has clouded the picture somewhat, and that should also be cleared up is the question of Charles Hoy and Ellen Elizabeth Irons.  Emma Fullarton 1838 married Charles Hoy in Luton, 1855. She had just one child, Emma Louisa Hoy in Luton, 1856. It would appear she died as a result of that birth in about July 1856. Charles Hoy then married Ellen Elizabeth Irons, in 1857.

Emma Louisa Hoy stayed with the Tearle women: she is with them for the 1871, 1881 and the 1891 censuses. She had her own baby on 16 Oct 1872 and called her Emma Hoy. Emma married William Robert Betts in Luton in mid 1899. I know of one child, Marjory Emmie Ireal Betts, born 6 April 1909 in Luton. She married Stanley J Prince in Colchester, January 1946, and died in Colchester in 1997.

I think I have covered this story as deeply as it can be, in that I wanted to chart the early years of the Tearle/Fullar/Fullartons to resolve the question of which Thomas was the miller of Luton, and parent of the very independent Tearle family who lived there. A question that was answered by Pat as early as 2008, but which has worried me considerably over the years since then, is now put to rest.

My heartfelt thanks to Barbara Tearle, to Pat to Richard Tearle and to Dermot Foley, for not giving up on this story.

15Jun/19

Slapton

Holy Cross Church, Slapton

Here, right, is the memorial to John Tearle b22 Dec 1824 in Dagnall, the son of Abel 1797 of Stanbridge, and Hannah nee Frost. He married Sarah Bishop of Oxon and died aged only 42. I have added a picture of the full headstone below right so you can find it, if you ever go to this part of Bucks. John is of the branch Thomas 1737.

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John was also the father of Jabez b1856, Slapton. He is well-known to the Australians, and is buried in Forbes, NSW.
John was also the father of Jabez b1856, Slapton. He is well-known to the Australians, and is buried in Forbes, NSW.
The lynchgate
The lynchgate

The John d 1867 of the headstones in the Slapton Churchyard above died aged just 42. He was John Tearle 1825 (actually Dec 1824) son of Abel 1797 and Hannah nee Frost. Abel, son of the famous Fanny, is the grandfather of several families in Australia.

In 1851, John is a servant, a malt maker, in the house of Mary Gurney in Slapton, Bucks. She describes herself as a Maltster & Victualler, but I can’t find a street address for her. I suppose she possibly runs a pub or an inn. Just two doors away is young Sarah Bishop, 22, from Milton, Oxon, and she is a servant in the house of Thomas Ginger a farmer, originally from Edlesborough.

In 1861 John and Sarah are married and living, as far as I can tell, at an address called The Bury Farm, but I’m not completely certain since the address is about 3 pages before John and Sarah’s house, and I only have the margin numbering to go by. The family is as follows:

1861 John 1825 Dagnall Sarah 32 Oxon William 8 George 6 Jabez 5 Sarah A 3 Louisa B 1

Young Jabez there goes to Australia, marries Ann Gordon, and dies in Forbes, NSW, 1936 leaving Australian descendants.

In 1871, Sarah 1829 is by herself, a widow, a victualler, and her family is as follows:

1871 Sarah 1829 Oxon Jabez 16 Sarah A 13 Anna F 7 in Slapton.

Louisa B is on the last page of the Slapton census returns, a servant in the household of Alfred Gurney, a maltster.

In 1881, Sarah 1829 is a publican and grocer and her household has:

1881 Sarah 1829 Oxon Sarah A 23 Louisa B 21 Ann T 17 in Slapton

Sarah is a dressmaker, Louisa B is back home with Mum and is also a dressmaker, while Ann is a pupil teacher.

In 1881, Slapton also welcomes Joseph 1856 from Dagnall, labourer, and his wife Mary. Joseph is John’s nephew because Joseph is the son of Thomas Tearle of Dagnall and Jane nee Draper, and Thomas is John’s brother.

In 1891 Sarah 1829 is living in the Public House and Shop on Leighton Rd, Slapton. She calls herself inkeeper and grocer, so she must be running the pub. We now find out that Sarah A is Sarah Ann, she is single and still a dressmaker.

Joseph 1856 Dagnall is now a brewers labourer and lives in a block of 6 cottages in Slapton called “The Row.” Their family is:

1891 Joseph 1856 Dag Mary 35 George 12 Frederick 11 John 8 Sarah 7 Annie Naomi 5 Alfred 1 I guess there is more than one pub, so Joseph does not necessarily work for Sarah, but the possible connection is interesting.

I’m afraid there is no sign of Sarah 1829 or Sarah A in Slapton in 1901.

However, in 1901 Mary 1856 Edels is a widow, so Joseph has died, and her family is:

1901 Mary 1856 Edels wid George 23 John 18 Alfred 11 in Slapton – so that is how I found out the identity of George of the headstone died 1953 – with Edith Jane died 1967, below.

And one more thing you will really, really like. Have a look at the photo I took in Edlesborough of the headstone of Jane, wife of Thomas Tearle of Dagnall.  She was Jane Draper and Thomas re-married and is buried in Dunstable. Joseph 1856 of Dagnall is their son. He married Mary Reeve. George 1878 of the headstone below is Joseph’s son, and Jane nee Draper was his grandmother. Very nice.

Thomas was also a son of Abel 1797 and Hannah nee Frost. It is very tempting, isn’t it, to surmise that Joseph and Mary went to Slapton to work for Sarah, who looks like she was quite a successful pub manager?

Pat Field recently sent me these Slapton baptisms of Joseph and Mary’s family:

13 April 1884 Susan Jane child of Joseph & Mary Tearle of Slapton, Brewer’s Man

24 June 1883 John aged 10m child of Joseph & Mary Tearle of Slapton Brewer’s Man

24 June 1883 Fred aged 3 child of Joseph & Mary Tearle of Slapton Brewer’s Man

20 June 1886 Annie Naomi aged 8m child of Joseph & Mary Tearle of Slapton Brewer’s Man

If Joseph did not go to Slapton to work for Sarah nee Bishop, it looks as though once he got there, he joined her in helping to run the pub.

Here is Joseph’s death:

Joseph Tearle aged 44 of Slapton buried 21 April 1900 at Parish of Slapton St Botolph.

This memorial, left, is to George 1855 Dagnall and his wife Edith Jane nee Hing.  George was the son of Joseph 1855 Dagnall, one of the sons of Thomas 1830 and Jane nee Draper, whose headstone we saw in Edelsborough. Thomas 1830 and John 1824 were brothers, so this George is grandson and grand-nephew.

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Update

18 Oct 2020  
Tearle family, Slapton
Carolyn Whitney
Hi Ewart,

I am a descendant from the Soulbury Tearles (originally Stanbridge) and we met briefly some years ago at Stanbridge, my grandmother was Caroline Tearle – daughter of Annie Tearle, father unknown.  I recently visited the Tearle website, which you have done such a fantastic job of and many thanks for all the work you have put in, in order to see if there was anything about Joseph Tearle married to Alice Hide.  This was how I started reading your piece about Slapton.  I have done a bit of delving and hope that I may be able to give you an answer, at least in part, to some of the questions you were left with.  I will go in chronological order.

Mary Gurney senior, born 1800 in Oxfordshire, give or take a year, was married to William Gurney who had extensive property and land in Northall, Edlesborough and in Slapton.  From what I can see, the Gurney family as a whole had a reasonable amount of land and property throughout Bucks and as a profession were maltsters, publicans, victuallers.  I think they must have married 1820 roughly but cannot find a record and so cannot tell you Mary’s maiden name.  William made his last will and testament on 6 August 1841 and it was proved on 24 August 1841, among its many details he leaves land and property in Northall to one of his sons and land and property including a bakehouse and importantly, a malt house in Slapton to his son, Alfred.  He makes provision for his daughter Mary, poss born August 1824 and also his wife, Mary. He states that he wishes it to be lawful that his wife will be able to carry on his profession as a victualler if she chooses.  I also found out that a maltings was built adjacent to The Carpenters Arms in Slapton in early to mid 1800s.  I imagine this must be the malthouse left to Alfred.

As far as I can tell, there has only ever been one pub/inn at Slapton, The Carpenters Arms which dates back certainly to 1500s.

In the 1841 census Mary senior is listed as a victualler in Slapton, in 1847 both the Kelly’s and Post Office directories list her as a maltster at The Carpenters Arms, 1853 Musson & Cravens Commercial Directory has her as a victualler and maltster at same place and in 1854 Kellys Directory still has her at The Carpenters Arms.

As you already know, the 1851 census has Mary as a maltster and victualler living with her daughter plus John Tearle as servant and malt maker.

On the 1861 census Mary is a brewer living with daughter Mary.  Mary senior dies on 10 December 1861, she appears to leave everything to Mary and Alfred who is still a maltster.  Alfred is listed as being the enumerator for this census.

Alfred marries Martha born at Waterloo Farm on the outskirts of Wing, they have several children but he dies aged 49 in 1886 leaving his family over £13,000.

In 1864, Kellys Directory lists Miss Mary Gurney as a maltster and commercial and lists John Tearle as a shopkeeper at The Carpenters Arms. Sadly John subsequently dies but wife Sarah, née Bishop from Oxfordshire, stays at The Carpenters Arms as listed in the following directories; 1869 and 1877 Post Office, 1887 and 1891 Kelly’s.  I wonder if there was a connection, possibly family, between Sarah and Mary senior given that they both came from Oxfordshire?

On the 1871 census Miss Mary Gurney is a landowner living with two nieces and a female servant. In 1881 she is listed as formerly brewer living with two nieces and a male servant/groom/gardener who stays with her probably until her death, in 1891 living on her own means at The Villa in Slapton with a niece and said servant, in 1901 she is at the same address living on her own means with said servant.

Miss Mary Gurney never marries and lives in Slapton until she dies on 6 January 1907. According to a newspaper article she was a respected member of the Slapton community with many villagers attending her funeral. Her Will leaves her estate to Alfred John Gurney, Steam Laundry Proprietor and Frederick George Gurney, gentleman who was her nephew – I believe his father died when Frederick was quite young but left the family quite well off. I imagine Alfred John was another nephew.

On the 1901 census Sarah has retired and is living at Horton Wharf farm and on the 1911 census at Grove Farm, Ivinghoe Aston, from memory I think I am right to say she was always with at least one of her daughters, she dies in 1914.

In 1901 William and Ruth Hing are at The Carpenters Arms.  From memory at some point in the 1920s  members of the Hing and Gurney families marry so all very interconnected.

You mentioned a Louisa B Tearle being a servant to Alfred Gurney, this Alfred would be Mary senior’s son and so there seems to be a bit of a history of Tearles working for Gurneys.

You will be relieved to hear that is the sum of my research!!  Hopefully not too long winded but I think it is nice to fill in the blanks where possible.

With my very best wishes and thanks again for all you have done, it is very interesting and a great help.

Carolyn Whitney

15Jun/19

Toddington

There are three separate but related Tearle families in Toddington: two families descended from John 1741 of Stanbridge and Martha nee Archer and the other family (the Marlow/Tearles) descended from Joseph 1737 of Stanbridge and Phoebe nee Capp. Let’s start with the story of the children of William Tearle 1796 of Stanbridge and Catherine nee Fossey of Toddington. William is the father of the family which descends from John 1741. He married Catherine Fossey on 29 Jan 1824 in Toddington and from some family stories it seems she was often affectionately referred to as Kitty.

Here they are on Lodge Farm Toddington in 1841, working for William Martin, farmer.

1841 = William 1791 Beds Catherine 60 Sarah 16 Moses 14 John 11 in Tod

By 1851 they had moved to Parsons End. William was still an Ag Lab, and Catherine, Sarah and her little Joseph had become straw plaiters, like most other Bedfordshire families.

1851 = William 1797 Stbg Catherine 52 Sarah 26 John 18 Joseph gs 8 in Tod

Kitty died in 1854 and William remarried on 07 Mar 1858, in the Hockliffe Chapel, to Elizabeth Ireland of Toddington. In the 1861 Toddington census, they are living in Dunstable Street with a lodger

1861 = William 1797 Stbg Elizabeth 50 in Tod

In the 1871 Toddington census they are living with three young lodgers, in Prospect Place.

1871 = William 1797 Stbg Elizabeth 68 in Tod

William died on 11 Sep 1873, in Prospect Place, Toddington. Here is Elizabeth in 1881, host to a young visitor, a Bonnet Sewer, in her house on Dunstable Road.

1881 = Elizabeth 1803 Tod wid in Tod

Elizabeth died in Dunstable Street, Toddington on 05 Apr 1884.

Toddington Manor from the driveway
Toddington Manor from the driveway
Toddington Manor house
Toddington Manor house
William Dodge Cooper Cooper Hatchment in St George in England Church
William Dodge Cooper Cooper Hatchment in St George in England Church
Market Square, Toddington
Market Square, Toddington
The Old Town Hall and St George in England Church, Market Square
The Old Town Hall and St George in England Church, Market Square
26Nov/18

Christmas Newsletter 2018

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2018 FROM EWART AND ELAINE

Merry Christmas to you all from mostly sunny New Zealand

Yes, you did read correctly; after 19 years living and working in the UK, we have made a few changes…

Following a delightful Christmas party with Iris at her care home in mid December, an early & happy snowy Christmas with our lovely Adams cousins and a delicious lunch with the Stredwick family on Christmas Day, we received a call informing us that Iris had fallen at the home and been taken to Watford Hospital on Boxing Day.  For the next 7 weeks we supported Iris, Jill and Nick as best we could, including after her move to a care home in Norfolk, but the fall was to prove too much for Iris and she passed away a few days after her birthday in February. She had fought a long & valiant campaign against vascular dementia. Iris’s passing, for us, meant the closing of a very valued chapter of our lives with that generation of our Tearle/Adams family in the UK.  It was Iris and Ivor who started it with us and neither of them was there anymore, along with many others. We began to think…  It also made us consider our own future; fueling a desire to be back in NZ with our family. The next generation in the UK will continue to be a very important part of our lives from wherever we are and will hopefully visit us in our NZ home, along with our UK friends.

One last trip to London

The year that followed has included:

  • Having wonderful outings with Abby and Dan in Tearle places, St Albans and in London. It was so good having them live so close to us for a while!
  • Going to wonderful concerts in London and out to dinners with the Stredwicks, also baby cuddles!

* Helping various people in the Larches with issues that needed sorting out in their flats (Elaine is a director)

  • A trip to Switzerland: Basel, Bern, Zurich, Lucern, Interlaken and wonderful train journeys and boat trips in between.
  • Trips around the UK to friends and family.
  • Anh & Tien visited us in St Albans – we were so excited to have them there.
  • Meeting several new Tearle families through our website & having lovely days out with them to places of interest in Tearle Valley in Bedfordshire, some sites in Buckinghamshire & in London.
  • Ewart retiring from InTermIt and work in May, after 9 long years of faithful service in many schools in Hertfordshire. This resulted in some great parties to attend & some lovely gifts & hugs; hopefully some visitors to NZ in the future also.
  • Elaine having a lovely luncheon send off from her teaching friends at Sandridge School and both of us having an evening celebration with this group and their husbands at our local pub in St Albans – Blackberry Jack, also a luncheon with Headline, her agency employers.
  • Putting the UK flat on the market.  Sadly, as a result of Brexit political games, the market stalled, and we were not able to sell.  We engaged an agent, let the flat, packed and packed & packed until we could pack no more … bought our tickets and arranged to emigrate; with all that entails! Following the Brexit announcement by the UK government suddenly we saw many of our special friends feeling very unsettled in their new adoptive country; us too. In the weeks leading up to our own move we were helping others with theirs. We had not expected to be doing that.
  • 16 May: our friend Ann collected us, drove us to Heathrow Airport and bade us a fond farewell. We flew out early the following morning heading to Singapore and a well earned break from packing, endless phone calls to organise and re-organise things for our new journey. We had little energy in Singapore but enjoyed walking in the warm sun after a long, cold, and at times snowy winter, knowing we would be heading into a second winter once we had touched down in Auckland. At the time having a summer that was just one week long seemed a little sad to us.  We were, however, pretty lucky as it turned out, the NZ winter seemed to us to be rather mild this year. By October we were already in summer clothes & increasingly working long hours outside!
  • 24 May: arrived in NZ. Stayed the next couple of weeks with our daughter and her family in Auckland. It was quite special walking to and from school with her son and catching up on his life. Going on photography visits around Auckland – shooting trees, sunsets, beaches and bridges was an eye-opener at just how far her photography skills and interests had developed in the 19 years we had been in England.
  • There was a shock, though – how much supermarkets had changed while we were away – ESPECIALLY THEIR PRICES! We also attended our grand-son’s sporting events, mostly football (the Kiwis call it soccer) and an indoor evening football game called Footsall. We also attended numerous all-day soccer tournaments and we found out that our grandson’s team was very good, and very successful. We were introduced to delicious Auckland eateries and the Saturday markets. We bought a Suzuki Vitara, which doubles up nicely as a car and as a wagon, and for the first time, drove down to the farm to visit our house – oh no, the whole house lot of carpet was wet & very smelly!  We had no chance to move in for several weeks while we visited daily to light the fire and to air the house. We bought appliances, sorted out insurance, phones, driving licences, bank cards, and Ewart having to attend a medical (cost: $61) in order to get back his heavy truck licence. The biggest challenge of all was getting our NZ pension and dispensing with our UK pension. There is an interim payment system working at the moment, but the matter is far from sorted. No fault with the Kiwis, though. We needed help with all of this because the Kiwis do it differently from the English. We expected that, and we are very grateful to the numerous friends who helped us to get through the paper war.
  • Moved in with with Elaine’s mum in Hamilton. She was wonderful. We traveled to the farm every day and returned to her each evening, where she had especially prepared a lovely hot dinner for us, taking care to provide the very best she could. We were so honoured as that takes a lot when you are nearly 90! The amazing thing was that the more she did the younger and happier she looked. We all really enjoyed our time together in those few weeks.
  • Once the house was dry we moved our things out of Mum’s basement and into our house, hiring a truck and utilising Ewart’s newly awarded heavy truck licence.
  • Internal view of the house on moving day.

    Internal view of the house on moving day.

  • While we waited for the shipment from the UK, Ewart cut the trees along the drive and ensured that the requirements of the shipping company were met – 3m wide drive, 5m high clearance. The truck came and went without too much drama, and left our 113 boxes of stuff in the family room, the lounge and the biggest bedroom. We still had almost no furniture, so we purchased three 2-seater loungers for the living room. Very nice. During this time Ewart spent many, hours outside, taming the lawns and re-establishing our much needed water supply, which also included 2 full days with hired diggers and electricians.
  • Ewart and the Ditch Witch

  • He has also repaired the electric fences throughout the farm, digging in somewhere around twenty new fence posts and adding eight new gates. After seeing what happened as we arrived, when the fences were working so poorly that the cows had the run of our lawn and all the gardens, it is a relief to see they now stay exactly where they are put, and their water troughs are full of nice, clean water.
  • An electrician installed new light fittings throughout the house and we bought new plumbing items that have yet to be installed. Once our life here becomes a little less hectic, we’ll have time to install them, promise. We also installed a whole house lot of curtains, and they have helped to dry out the house and carpet. I purchased a line trimmer, and was presented with a brush cutter – for my birthday! A new garden mulcher was next, and I have used these three tools most days since – the place looks a lot better but there is still so much to do.  I planted a vege garden, which was soon producing for us.  Lovely to have home-grown food again.
  • We were not long moved into our house when we got the call that our nephew Kris had died in hospital. Though Kris had special needs he was a good artist, even having one of his paintings hanging in NZ prime minister’s office (John Key). It was a very well attended funeral & a great tribute to what Kris and his family had achieved in Kris’s 43 years of life, as well as plenty of humour. Kris was well known around Rotorua. It was also a great chance for the Tearle siblings and their cousins to get together after more than 20 years.
  • Once we had moved in, Mum came down for a holiday with us for a week. We all had a great time together: lots of chatter & laughter, exploring family history on the internet, on the farm and in the house, cooking together and planning the model railway with Ewart. Mum loved the birds in our garden and they came to her when she whistled. We took her visiting friends and family, shopping, going to the beach at Raglan and we took her to meet her latest great-granddaughters Adele & Isla in Tauranga. She enjoyed being part of things when the diggers were here, the curtains were installed, the TV and internet connections were made. She really enjoyed seeing our new life unfold and meeting the people who made that happen. Mum loved to shop for gifts for others – it was her hobby – we went on a couple of shopping trips together and she found and bought for me a beautiful bowl which she gave me as an early birthday present.  It now has pride of place on our formal dining room table.  Every day was a special day and the three of us were very happy together. On her last day on the farm, Ewart said to her “You have been such a good girl, you can come again!”
  • 23 May Mum turned 90 which we celebrated with a family pot luck dinner at her home as she wanted.  Another great evening of laughter. Over the next couple of weeks Mum would continue to celebrate as her friends contacted her & sent gifts from Australia, other parts of NZ and Hamilton.  Anh and a group of her friends came over and stayed for a week with Mum for her birthday & Mum loved it, going out with them as often as she could. The living room had many cards and gifts and Mum felt special. Her church also put on a special event in honour of her birthday, presenting her with 3 birthday cakes!  Mum was very happy.
  • Our grandson is just finishing his Yr5 at school and attended his first school camp a few weeks ago. He has been playing and attending coaching for football (soccer) around 5 times per week during the season, including playing Footsall. He also has regular play dates with a number of friends. His XBox has also become a valued part of his routine; he certainly thinks so. Reading and chocolate continue to be important too, as he devours his way through huge volumes of fantasy, history and intrigue.
  • We have had many lovely days and evenings out with special Kiwi friends and family since being home; dinners, coffees, meetings in town at new clubs, hot rod and vintage car displays, theatre, trips away to Auckland, Hamilton, Raglan, Te Waitere, Thames, Carterton, Masterton, Mauriceville, Danneyvirke, Tauranga, Taupo, Rotorua… We had planned to head down to Wellington to see the Ataturk memorial, then back via family in the Wairarapa but bad weather put paid to that. We hope now to do it as soon as we can get away once the weather improves, probably after Christmas.
  • In the few days leading up to 28 Sept Mum started to feel breathless. On 27 Sept we received the diagnosis from the doctor that she was experiencing heart failure; on 28 Sept she died. Ewart and I stayed in Hamilton for the next three weeks as the necessary arrangements were made with family and others. Her funeral was held on 4 October. We had a great send off for Mum with family and friends coming a very long way to attend; Anh and Tri even made it over from Australia. We are very grateful. Tri sent over a charming film clip he had made of Mum playing the accordion, which we were delighted to show at the funeral, and we used a beautiful rendition of Time to Say Goodbye by Hope Russell-Winter (a former student of Elaine’s from the UK) which we downloaded from YouTube.  Hope was delighted we were able to use her music in this way. Gordon was able to take a few extra days off work so he and Kathy, Ewart and I spent the next two weeks sorting out the house and grounds for Mum. Gordon also took me to Auckland in his Porsche to meet with our brother and family to do some family business.  It was a lovely day for all concerned.  Although we are now back at home some of these things are still ongoing for us all. Our friends & family have been really wonderful to us during this busy time; all hugs, emails and phone calls have been greatly appreciated.
  • 27 October – Paul & Colleen lent us their batch (beachside cottage) at Raglan so we headed there for the weekend – and a good dollop of photography, eating out, football on the beach, walks alongside the estuary and shopping in the village. Gordon’s best friend also had his life support turned off that day after having a heart attack earlier in the week. It was mixed weekend of news, but much was enjoyable just the same. My grandson absolutely whipped me at Monopoly!
  • 1 Nov – Ewart’s nephew from Carterton (now Waikato University) came to live with us and will stay until university goes back in about mid February. Taking him out has been a great excuse to see new things and to attend local events. He now has a holiday job in a local motel, so that will help him with his budgeting for next year at university.
  • We have enjoyed being back sharing life with our god daughter Melody. While away she found a lovely new partner, Mark, & they have 3 beautiful children together, plus Mark’s extended family who are welcoming us to family events also.  So far we have been to christenings and birthday parties.  Great country functions! Wonderful hospitality.
  • Hamilton Boys High School invited us to their senior prize giving so we could see Jason’s memorial trophy given to this year’s recipient. It was the most wonderful event and a very moving tribute to Jason was paid during the Headmaster’s speech.  We were given prized seats centre front in the hall & tribute was paid to us both during the ceremony.  An incredible Haka was performed for the Head Boy and the music performed by the quartet, bagpipe and the Pacifika groups were outstanding.  It was the best-run school event I have ever attended.  Afterwards, we were invited to the staff room to have morning tea with the staff, prize recipients and their families.  We were introduced to the last 3 years of winners of Jason’s trophy.  What wonderful young men they all were, their families too; the best of the best – it was humbling to see how excited they were to meet us.  We are so pleased we went.  It was a special day that will remain in our hearts forever.

So, in the lead up to another Christmas, here we are in a beautiful country location with incredible views of foggy winter mornings

 

and spectacular sunsets.

We are back in our beautiful Lockwood house, with a farm, rooms, housework, gardens and plenty of outdoor work to do on our thirteen acres.  Ewart is now often seen with a chainsaw, or a wheelbarrow full of fencing bits, or a 2kg axe for chopping wood. Sometimes he is dragging timber, lighting and tending fires or, best of all, cutting the lawns using our ride on lawnmower – called Moa. For those who have mostly known us in the UK you will find that hard to imagine after seeing us live in one room! For NZers  you will be wondering how we ever fitted into that one room, especially when you see what we brought home!

Merry Christmas everyone.  We look forward to seeing visitors from all over the globe, and hopefully, perhaps, a little for travel for ourselves in 2019.  We have plenty of catching up to do.

Lots of love from

Elaine & Ewart

18Mar/18

George 1810 of Chalgrave and Elizabeth of Stanbridge

The origin of the Sutton, Surrey Tearles

By Ewart F Tearle

Barbara Tearle, Rosemary Tearle of Auckland and Pat Field started the research into the story of George and Elizabeth in 2005. Rosemary’s husband, Michael Tearle, is a Sutton, Surrey native. The years of research were concluded in 2014.

It is quite difficult to piece all the bits of this story together, mostly due to the lack of records, and some families not baptising their children. Many families have to be stitched together from the stories of others in Tearle Valley.

The Stanbridge Parish Records (PRs) record the birth on 29 June 1770 of John Tearle, son of John Tearle 1741 and Martha nee Archer. John 1741 was one of the sons of Thomas 1709 and Mary nee Sibley. He heads one of the founding branches of the Tearle Tree. It is also the largest and when I have printed it for TearleMeets, the unrolled sheets stretch along the floor of Stanbridge Church from the altar to the vestry. 

The Tilsworth PRs record the marriage of John Tearle of Stanbridge to Mary Janes on 14 January 1792.

In the Stanbridge PRs John and Mary Tarle/Tearle were baptising children from 1794 to 1817. Their first child, though, was Thomas 1792, born in Ivinghoe Aston, Buckinghamshire.

He was registered in the Ivinghoe PRs; 8 October 1792, Thomas, son of John Tale and Mary. All of their other children were born in Stanbridge, including Gene (Jane?) in 1807, who married Jonas Gates, Elizabeth born 1810, who married George Tearle, and Ruth born in 1813, who married George Gates.

Here is a note on the Tilsworth Church building and another note on its history

John Tearle, Carpenter, 70 years old, is in the 1841 census, married to Mary Tearle. He does not make it to the 1851 census, but Mary does. Here, she is recorded as a widow, 79 years old, on parish relief and she is a carpenter’s wife. She came originally from Ivinghoe Aston, Bucks. At 79 years old, she was born in 1772. This is proof positive that her maiden name was Janes. I am not sure why her daughter Elizabeth 1833 says in the Wesleyan Methodist circuit baptisms that her mother was Mary Tearle, rather than Mary nee Janes, but she may simply have misinterpreted the question.

These records are capable of making mistakes. For instance, in the Dunstable Circuit Methodist Baptisms are these two girls, baptised on the same day, and recorded with the wrong father’s name, because Annie Eastment married Charles Tearle, not John Tearle.

27 Oct 1870 23 Nov 1870 Laura Ellen John & Ann Dunstable Should be Charles & Ann Dunstable Circuit
17 Nov 1866 23 Nov 1870 Sisera Eastment John & Ann Dunstable Should be Sylvia to Charles & Ann Dunstable Circuit

Charles 1836 was a son of George 1810 and Elizabeth 1810; he married Annie Eastment. He was a brother of James Tearle 1834 who founded the Sutton, Surrey Tearles. Subsequent children were recorded correctly.

Here is the full list of the children of John 1770 and Mary nee Janes, all of whom, from Richard 1794 onwards are recorded in the Stanbridge PRs:

Thomas 1792              Richard 1794
Ann 1796                     Sarah 1800
Susan 1802                 Mary 1803
Jane 1807                   Elizabeth 1810
Ruth 1813                   Jabez 1817

Now that we know who the bride is, it is time to have a look at George 1810, her second cousin.

The Stanbridge banns register notes that the banns for George and Elizabeth were read to the Stanbridge church congregation on 22 April 1831, 29 April and 6 May. In the margin, is the note “Married May 15”, so I think that means they actually were married in St John the Baptist, Stanbridge. The entry also says that George was “of Dunstable” but that does not mean George was born in Dunstable, just that he was living there at the time.

 

 

 

 

Their first child, a daughter, Elizabeth, born in Dunstable in 1833, was baptised in the Wesleyan Methodist church in Dunstable, in 1833, and Elizabeth 1810 was recorded as the daughter of John and Mary Tearle.  The two witnesses at George and Elizabeth’s wedding were George and Ruth Gates. They were Methodists too, and baptised their children at the Leighton Buzzard Methodist church.  There were two Gates couples, George and Ruth, and Jonas and Jane.  The Leighton Buzzard Methodist baptisms of both couple’s children report that Ruth and Jane were the daughters of John and Mary Tearle. The question is – which Mary Tearle?

Sometimes the data that links families takes a long time to arrive. For instance, Charlotte Tearle 1808 of unknown origins is found in the 1851 census in service – she is 43 years old and from Tebworth, Bedfordshire. In 1858 she marries James Smith and says her father is Richard Tearle, labourer. Now we know who she is – a daughter of Richard Tearle of Tebworth, he had two wives – Mary Pestel and Ann Willis. Charlotte is the daughter of Richard and Mary nee Pestel.

Firstly a note about Chalgrave. This little parish consists of a village, a civil parish and two nearby hamlets – Tebworth and Wingrave. English custom has it that any assemblage of houses (no matter how large) without a church is a hamlet, and any rural grouping of dwellings (no matter how small) with a church is a village. We are referring to a Church of England church, of course, also known as the Established Church. If you walk from Stanbridge down the hill to Tilsworth (about 200 yards) you’ll see just how small a village can be.

In official documents a person may be shown to be from Tebworth, or Tebworth, Chalgrave. In the first instance, the reference is to the hamlet, and the second reference is to the hamlet and parish. The same applies to Wingrave. A reference to Chalgrave may or may not infer its village. However it may be, you can rest assured that any reference to Chalgrave is to enclose only a few hundred acres of land.

To return to Richard 1778, we note that he is a son of Joseph Tearle 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp. Joseph was the first son of Thomas Tearle and Mary nee Sibley, so Richard is one of Thomas’ grandsons. His baptism is recorded in the Stanbridge PRs:   Baptism: 1 Nov 1778 Richard, son of Joseph and Phoeby.

Phoebe nee Capp, his mother, was an ardent follower of Methodism, and that allegiance followed her family for many generations. Some of the early Tearles baptised their children in the Dunstable Circuit, mostly at the rather imposing Wesleyan chapel in The Square, Dunstable.

In the Chalgrave Baptisms, there are only five Tearle entries:
5 May 1805     Mary dau Thomas and Mary Tale (unknown)
1 Nov 1812      Pheebe, dau George and Betty Tale (daughter of George 1785 and Elizabeth nee Willison. Died 1837 in Leighton Buzzard)
31 July 1814    William, son Richard and Mary Tail, Tebworth, Labourer (married Hannah Pratt in 1838)
25 July 1816    Thomas, son Richard and Mary Tail, Tebworth, Labourer (married Ann Jones in 1840)
24 June 1818  Mary, dau Richard and Mary Tail, Tebworth, Labourer (married Richard Fensome in 1843)

The Tearle Deaths list is even shorter:
24 June 1818  Mary Tail 39 years (Mary nee Pestel, wife of Richard 1778)
1 April 1820     Thomas Tail, 39 years (unknown)

It is a very telling entry; Mary Tail, the mother, died on the same day her daughter was baptised. This should close the book on the children of Richard 1778 and Mary nee Pestel, but it does not. Over several years we found Chalgrave “strays” – people born between 1803 and 1818 who said they were from Chalgrave.

To complicate things a little, there was another couple in Chalgrave parish who were having children: George Tearle 1785, from Stanbridge, and his wife Elizabeth (Betty) nee Willison. They married in Toddington on 6 October 1811, and their first child, Phoebe, was born in Chalgrave on 1 November 1812, as you can see above. George 1785 was a son of Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp, so he was a younger brother of Richard 1778, and cousin to John 1770.

The children of George 1785 and Elizabeth nee Willison (Betty) were:
Phoebe 1 Nov 1812                            Thomas 09 Apr 1815
John 20 July 1819                               George 09 Jun 1823
Ann 27 Mar 1826                                Joseph 30 Apr 1829

George 1823 was a successful businessman and merchant. He married Sophia Underwood, daughter of a wealthy and influential Luton business family. Their grandson, Ronald William Tearle 1897, was killed in 1917 and is buried in the Huts Cemetery in Dikkebus, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium. He is also remembered on the War Memorial outside the council offices in Luton.

Joseph 1829 was a straw bonnet maker in Bedford, and married Carolyn Haydon in Luton in 1854. One of their sons, Joseph Sydney Tearle, was baptised on the Luton Methodist circuit (probably in Chapel St) in 1861. He emigrated to Australia and died in Cooktown, Queensland in 1886, unmarried.

Apart from George 1823 and Joseph 1829, the children of George and Betty did not marry, and some died very young.

The reason I have covered the Tearle births above is because, having assured ourselves of the parentage of the Tearle children listed, and taken a lesson from the story of Charlotte that there were some undocumented children, we might be able (with Barbara’s help) to give a home to the other Chalgrave strays:

Joseph 1804               James 1806                George 1810

Joseph is the first. There is an extensive essay on the origin of the Preston Tearles and in that essay, we looked for Joseph’s parents. Richard and Mary nee Pestel looked the most likely couple because their first child was Phoebe 1803, then no more children until William 1814. Joseph’s death certificate of 1889 in Preston, said he was 90 years old, which took us back to 1799. We checked the 1841 census, and at that time both he and his wife Mary Ann nee Smith were 35 years old, so that meant 1806. As a group we settled on 1804, two years after the birth of his elder sister. We checked the 1851 census, where Joseph was boarding with his son, George 1825. Joseph was male, father, 48 years old, and crucially, he was from Tebworth. In the early 1800s George and Betty had not started their family, and only Richard and Mary nee Pestel were having children in Tebworth – starting with Phoebe. Joseph 1804 of Tebworth looked very comfortable in this family.

Next was James Tearle and Mary nee Webb. I was contacted by the gg grand-daughter of James and Mary, who considered that it was most likely that Richard and Mary nee Pestel were James’ parents: the first son was called Richard, and one of the girls was Phoebe. In the 1841 census, James and Mary were living in Dunstable with seven children. In the 1851 Dunstable census, James reported he was from Tebworth while Mary was from Little Brickhill, where they were married on 17 March 1825. Both James and Mary were 35 years old, so that made James born in 1806. We fitted him in between Joseph and Charlotte, and he looked quite at home there.

The last stray was George, who had married Elizabeth Tearle 1810 in Stanbridge on 15 May 1832. They had three children, so we tried the children’s name test. Elizabeth was named after her mother, and James 1834 was probably named after James 1806, above. Quite why they called the last boy Charles is anyone’s guess, but two out of three will do. We checked the 1841 census, and George said he was thirty, making his birthdate 1811. The early census birth-dates are more reliable because the numbers are smaller, and more likely to be closer to the actual birth date than later censuses. The 1851 census was enlightening in other ways: George was 41 (born 1810) a Post Boy who carried mail from town to town and he was from Wingfield. This means he was from Chalgrave parish. His death certificate said he was a groom, 80 years old and living in Dunstable. Details were supplied by Elizabeth Tearle Fensome (George’s daughter had married Charles Fensome in 1863) who was present at the death of her father. The 1810 date for his birth fits very nicely in the dates between Charlotte 1808 and William 1814.

There is just one final thing to do, and that is to explain how Richard 1778 had one more child – apparently after his wife Mary Pestel had died. John Tearle 1823 was baptised at Chalgrave on 27 April 1823, son of Richard and Ann. The writing is difficult, but it says Ann, and certainly does not say Mary. In the Chalgrave PRs, Richard married Ann Willis on 24 January 1822.

The postscript to this story is that George and Elizabeth’s son, James 1834 of Dunstable most likely left the town from Dunstable Church St station on the Great Northern Railway – third class, no doubt – and arrived in Euston Station on the same day. Nothing could be further from his forbears than this. It was like flying to the moon, but the landing was real – he was in London. On the 5th of May 1860 he married a Berkshire girl in Islington, Sarah Ann Jones. They had four children in Holloway, Islington then left for Sutton, Surrey, where John Thomas Tearle was born in 1871. He was followed by Laura Ellen in 1873 and Henry Arthur in 1875. James died on the second of July, 1876, only 43 years old. His legacy, though, lives on. The era of the Sutton, Surrey Tearles had started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17Sep/17

Jabez Tearle 1841, Hockliffe and the Bexleyheath Tearles

The Tearles of Bexleyheath

by Hazel King

Back row Flossie (Tot) Frank, John, Grace. Front row: George, Elizabeth and Alice.

“Our” branch of the Tearle family tree descends from John Tearle, who was baptised on 23rd August 1741 in Stanbridge, Bedfordshire.  On 30th October 1760, aged 19, he married Martha Archer and they had seven children between the years 1761 and 1773.

One of these children was John, who was baptised on 29th July 1770 in Stanbridge. He married Mary Janes on 14th January 1792 in Tilsworth, Bedfordshire, and in 1841 John is listed as being 70 years old and a carpenter, with his wife Mary, 65.  They were living on Leighton Road, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.  John died in the last quarter of 1849.

John and Mary had nine children between the years 1792 and 1817.  The eldest son, Thomas, was born about 1792 in Ivinghoe Aston, Buckinghamshire and on the 6th January 1823 he married Jemima Cleaver in the church of St Mary in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

Thomas and Jemima had 10 children.  By the time of the 1841 Census they were living in Hockliffe, Bedfordshire with their growing family.  Thomas was an agricultural labourer.  By 1851 Jemima had died and Thomas was 59 and working on the land.  He was left with 4 daughters still at home and his son, Jabez who was 9 and at school.  The four daughters were straw plaiters, Susan (26), Ann (24), Sarah (12) and Elizabeth (6).  Bedfordshire was one of the main centres for straw plaiting in England at this time.  More about that later.

Thomas was still working on the land at the time of the 1861 Census.  Jabez (19) was still at home and was a “farm servant” and Elizabeth was still a straw plaiter, aged 16.  Thomas died in 1866 aged 75.

His son, Jabez, had been born in 1842, and on the 10th October 1862 he had married Mary Clarke, at Battlesden, Bedfordshire.   Jabez was then 21.  By 1871, Jabez and Mary were living on Watling Street in Hockliffe.  They had three children by then, George (7), Louisa (5) and Alice (3).

By 1881, George was no longer living at home and Alice, then 13 was a straw plaiter.  .James had been born by then and he was 8 and still at school.  Jabez was employed for many years at “The Grounds”, a farm in Hockliffe.

Bedfordshire Archives and Record Service hold details about The Grounds, dated 1903 (ref AD 1147/98) and describe the property as “Being a farmhouse, buildings, 2 cottages, 29ac 3r.8p and a farmhouse and buildings in Hockliffe with 77ac 3r.8p plan”  According to Historic England Archive, The Grounds was part of the Hockliffe Grange Estate.

As we look through the census records of 1891, 1901 and 1911, Jabez and Mary were living on their own, on Woburn Road and Jabez was still working at the age of 69.

On 3rd June 1912 Jabez died from “Cerebral Paralysis”, aged 70.  His daughter, Alice (by then Alice Tucker) was the informant of the death.  He is buried in the church yard in Hockliffe.

His wife Mary, was to live until she was 92.  She went to live with her daughter Louisa (by then Louisa Hogkins) and died at “Fairholme”, Brackendale Avenue, Pitsea, Essex, on 3rd November 1932.  She was buried at Hockliffe, presumably with Jabez on 8th November 1932.  Her son George had been the informant of her death.  The causes of death given were 1a Heart failure, b Bronchitis,  2 Senility. The death certificate records that there was no post mortem.

George, the eldest child of Jabez and Mary had moved from Hockliffe to Bexleyheath in Kent and by 1881 aged 18 was living on “Main Road, Southside Cottage” as a ”servant” and “gardener’s labourer” at the home of a Sarah Markham , a gardener.  Actually, George and Sarah were related.  Sarah had been born in 1815 to Elizabeth Ashpole and Thomas Markham.  She had moved to Bexleyheath sometime before the Census was taken in 1851 with her parents.  Sarah was related to George on his mother’s side of the family.

George met an Elizabeth Clark and on 29th May 1887 they married at Christ Church, Bexleyheath.  The Vicar was Rev. G. Graham and Thomas Grandy and Ann Clark (Elizabeth’s mother?) were the witnesses.  His occupation is listed as “Porter”.  Elizabeth’s parents, Edward and Ann Clark lived a few doors away from George, at “The House Decorator’s Shop” with their family, so presumably that is how they met.  No doubt the flowers for the wedding came from the nursery!

In 1891, George was 26 and an Auctioneer’s Messenger.  He and Elizabeth had a daughter Grace, then aged 1.  She had been born on 5th September 1889.  This was my grandmother.  In Kelly’s Directory of 1899, George is listed at The Nursery 115 The Broadway and by the time of the 1901 Census, Grace, then aged 11 had been joined by Flossie (9), Frank (7) and John (2).  George was a florist and gardener.  They were still there in 1911 and the family was complete with the arrival of Alice, who had been born in 1904.  George was later to comment that Alice wasn’t planned but had come in mighty useful!  (Presumably in the Nursery).  Grace had left by this time and was working as a Nanny in Beckenham, Kent.  George was helped in the business by Elizabeth, Flossie (19) was a housemaid and John (12), was still at school.

In 1912, George’s father Jabez died in Hockliffe, Bedfordshire.

George at the grave of his father, Jabez (1842-1912) Hockliffe Bedfordshire

The Nursery at 115 The Broadway had been rented and when the site was to be redeveloped and Woolworth’s built in 1929 George was paid the sum of £800 to vacate the premises.  (Just over £35,532 in today’s money).  The family moved to Albion Road.

George and Elizabeth moved to “Hockliffe”, 95 Woolwich Road around 1930, a house that John built, to live with John and his business partner, Arthur BarwellElizabeth died here on February 18 1932 and was buried in Bexleyheath Cemetery on 24th February 1932.  She had breast cancer .  Her death certificate records there was no post mortem.

When John built “The Grange” Broomfield Road, Bexleyheath in the mid 1930’s, George moved there with him and Arthur and continued to live there after John and Gladys were married.  He died there on 27th February 1951, aged 87.  His death certificate indicates pancreatic cancer and myocardial degeneration.  He was buried in Bexleyheath Cemetery with Elizabeth on 5th March 1951.  His grave is No. 1951.  I presume the ashes of Flossie and Alice were later buried here too as  their names have been added to the headstone.

Grace Tearle 1889-1968

Grace nee Tearle and Richard Withall; probably a wedding photo.

Grace was born on the 5th September 1889 at 115, The Broadway, Bexleyheath.  On leaving school she became a nanny and by 1911 she was working for a family in Beckenham, Kent.  She was 21 and was working at the home of a Sydney Frederick Wright and his wife Maude.  They had 3 children, Kenneth (8), Hayden (6) and Dennis (2).  The family also employed a cook, Lee and a housemaid, Caroline CookSydney was a Draper and they lived at 6 Hayes Way, Park Langley, Beckenham.  During WW1, Grace worked in the Army Pay Corps.

Grace Tearle married Richard Withall (Dick) at Bexleyheath Congregational Church in 1918.  So the Tearle name has gone from our branch of the family.  Dick had lost both legs at Mons in WW1.  He had already served 7 years in the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers in India, before returning home and being sent to France as one of the “Old Contemptibles”.  How they met, I am not sure, as Dick was born in Tilford, Surrey, so how he came to be in Bexleyheath after the war I do not know.

They lived in Ethronvi Road, Bexleyheath and later moved to “Hockliffe”, Woolwich Road when John moved to “The Grange”.  Grace and Dick had two daughters, Marjorie Frances, born 7th September 1920 and Iris Joyce (always known as Joyce), born 15th September 1921.  Dick was unable to work but had been trained to do basket making and as he had worked as a Nurseryman before joining up, he worked in the garden and had several greenhouses where he grew all sorts of fruit and vegetables.  He and Grace were actively involved in the British Legion and Margaret believes they held garden parties to raise funds.

Marjorie and Joyce were both in the WAAF in WW2.  Marjorie was a plotter and Joyce worked on Barage Balloons.  Marjorie met Charles William Eyles, a Bomb Aimer with PFF during the war and they married on 28th June 1945 at Bexleyheath Congregational Church.  The reception was held at Woolwich Road, Marjorie’s house.

Joyce and Marjorie both worked at Hides in Bexleyheath before the war and for John in the office of T & B Supplies Ltd after the War.  Sadly Joyce died at Ramsgate, at John’s cottage from an asthma attack, on 28th March 1957.  She was only 35.  She had gone there for a holiday with a lady I knew as “Aunt Lil”.  She had a long-term fiancé called Ron (no surname known).  Marjorie and Bill had 2 daughters, Hazel Ann, born on 23rd January 1947 and Susan Janet, born 23rd July 1950.

Grace and Dick continued to live at “Hockliffe”, Woolwich Road until 1959 when Grace suffered a severe stroke.  By this time we had moved to Ipswich, Suffolk, as Dad had got a job with the AWRE at Orfordness.  Grace spent some time in hospital and when she was well enough to leave hospital, she and Dick came to live with us at 232 Brunswick Road, Ipswich.  They lived in our front room – Grace in a single divan and Dick had a Z bed which we pulled out every night.  There wasn’t room for 2 beds in the daytime.  They were only able to bring a few small pieces of their furniture with them.  By today’s health and safety standards, it wouldn’t be allowed, but we managed for many years while I was a teenager.  Dick loved to be working in the garden and we had a greenhouse for him.  At some point it became too much for Mum to manage and Grace and Dick moved into a home in Felixstowe and eventually Grace was admitted to Bythborough Hospital where she died.  Her funeral was held back at the Congregational Church at Bexleyheath.  She was buried in Bexleyheath Cemetery with JoyceDick went to live in a British Legion Home – Halsey House in Cromer, Norfolk, where he used to help out in the gardens there when he could.  He died in May 1971 and was also taken back Bexleyheath for his funeral and buried along with Joyce and Grace.

Flossie (1891 – 1971)

Flossie Tearle standing

Flossie (also known as Tot) was born on the 10th July 1891.  When she left school she worked as a Parlour maid and on 4th November 1917 she married Edward West, a railway guard.  They had one son, Douglas, born in June 1921.  They lived at “Dougville”, 2a Abbey Road, in a house believed to be owned by her brother JohnDouglas was in the RAF in WW2 and he married Joan D Tarrant in September 1948

On 23rd June 1950 they emigrated to Australia on the “Strathmore” destined initially for Adelaide.

Their UK address is given as 9 Poole Valley, Brighton; Douglas is listed as a shopkeeper and Joan as a housewife.  We never saw them again. Marjorie kept in touch with him over the years and sent him Flossie’s rings when she died.  Flossie died on 3rd February 1971 and was cremated.  Presumably her ashes were put in her parents’ grave and her name added to the headstone.   So this branch of the Tearle family has died out.

Frank (1893 – 1975)

Frank Tearle

Frank Tearle was born in Bexleyheath on 10 August 1893.  After leaving school he went to work at Hides Department Store in the Outfitting Department.  At the outbreak of WW1 he joined the Royal Field Artillery as a Gunner.  His regimental number was 618.  He went to France on 21st December 1914 and survived the War.  Margaret thinks he may have gone to Malta at some point, but so far I have no evidence for this.

After the war, Frank returned to Hides and eventually became a Director there.  On 20th August 1919, he married Rosa Ellen McGill, presumably at the Congregational Church, Bexleyheath.  Frank and Rosa lived at 100 Latham Road, Bexleyheath, their phone number was Bexleyheath 7158!

They had 3 children, Alan, Eric and Margaret.   Alan was born on 1st April 1922 and died aged 3 on 17th July 1925.  Eric was born on 10th May 1927.  Margaret was born on 21st February 1935.  Frank was very involved in charity work, particularly through the Rotary Club and was a founding member of the Veterans Club in Bexleyheath.

As said previously,  Frank worked at Hides all his working life and eventually became a Director there.  I remember Eric bringing Frank and Rosa to Ipswich to see Grace and Dick when they lived with us. Frank died on 8th February 1975, and his wife Rosa died about 10 months later.

Alice (1894 – 1985)

Alice Tearle

Alice was born on 10th November 1904 and as I said before she was a mistake!  A very precious mistake though.  My mother Marjorie was very close to Alice and I loved going to stay with her when I was young.  I remember going round Bexleyheath with Auntie Alice collecting rent from some of John’s tenants .  Alice carried an old music case to put the money in!  Not much thought about Health and Safety in those days.

She was obviously very useful in the Nursery when she was growing up.  During WW1 John used to send her little notes and drawings while he was away.  At the time of writing I do not know what Alice did when she left school she may have worked in the Nursery.

Alice married Fred Cracknell in A/M/J 1930.  When I was a child, they lived at 210, Woolwich Road, Bexleyheath.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any children, so again this branch of the Tearle tree has also died out.  They did adopt a daughter, Sheila, who married and had 3 children.  Fred worked at AWRE Aldermaston in the latter years of his working life and they moved to Wolverton near Basingstoke, where Fred eventually died after suffering from MS for a number of years.  He died in 1968 (A/M/J).

Alice moved back to Bexleyheath and by July 1969 she lived at 55 Woolwich Road, a house owned by her brother John.  She eventually ended up in Bexley Hospital and died, aged 80 on 2nd January 1985.  Her funeral was on 10th January 1985.  She was cremated and presumably her ashes were put in the grave of her parents.  Her name has been added to the headstone.

Herbert John Tearle (1896 – 1960)

Herbert John Tearle

Herbert John Tearle (always known as John) was born at 115 The Broadway, Bexleyheath, Kent, on 16th July 1898.  At the time of the 1901 Census, he was just 2yrs old.

By 1911, George and Elizabeth were both in the business.  Grace had left home by then and was working as a Nanny in Beckenham, Kent.  She was working for a Sydney Frederick Wright and his wife looking after their 3 children Kenneth 8, Hayden 6 and Dennis 2.  Sydney was a Draper.  They also employed cook and a housemaid.  Flossie was 19 and working as a Housemaid, but living at home.  Frank 17, was working at Hides, a departmental shop in Bexleyheath in the outfitters department.  He was later to become a director of that company.

John, then aged 12 was at Upland Council School and by 1916, his headmaster was able to give him a very good reference.  He left school at 14 and went to work at Hides too.  In school holidays, he sometimes went to stay with relatives at The Nutley Inn in Maresfield, Sussex.  There is a picture of him plucking a goose there! The Inn was run by Lewis Waters.

In the wider world, things were not good and when Arch Duke Ferdinand was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip on 24th June 1914, it triggered events leading to WW1.

There is a complementary story of his war years elsewhere on this site.

On 22nd September 1914, John enlisted as a Private in the 3rd Battalion Fusiliers (London Regiment).  His number was 4201.  Officially he was too young and the recruiting officer told him to “go through that door and when you come back in you will be 18”.  His Short Service Card says he was 19 and he was a Draper.

Herbert John Tearle WW1

He left for France on 12/13th May 1915 and went to Ypres with the British Expeditionary Force.  How frightening to have been so young.  He took Rowney Sketch Books with him and diaries and recorded what he saw.  In the back of one were photos of Grace (his sister) and Rosa (later to marry his brother Frank).  On 25th May he was wounded, “Gunshot wound to buttocks”, (actually left thigh).  He was taken to No. 3 Casualty Clearing Station and then to No. 8 Ambulance Train and returned to England.  He arrived in England on 26th May 1915 after only 2 weeks at the front.  He was taken to Shorncliffe Military Hospital (3 miles west of Folkestone).

Later he convalesced in Deal at Sholden Lodge.  He was there by 21st June as there is a picture of a cat drawn on that day!  On 13th July he drew Sholden Lodge showing wounded soldiers in the grounds.  John drew little sketches for Alice, then about 10, including one on the 17th December entitled “Any port in a storm” showing a soldier sitting in the open door of a grandfather clock, presumably in the Hall of Sholden Lodge and one of 115 The Broadway which also shows a gun with a cockerel perched on top (a symbol of France?).

Once recovered, John went back to France on 6th April 1916 with the B.E.F—this time with 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers, (by then the 3rd Battalion had gone to Egypt) and his sketches in his books show something of the awful things the soldiers saw.  One incident in particular stands out—the death of Private Green, Killed in K1 trench at Kemmel, Flanders on 26th April 1916 by a trench mortar.  John had drawn the trench before and after the attack.  By this time, he was Lance Corporal and Private Green may have been one of “his” men.

Under the sketch of the trench before the attack John has written “In memory of Pte. Green who was killed by a Trench Mortar”.  Another sketch, done at home and dated 20th September 1917, shows the aftermath of war and three wooden crosses.  Underneath John has written “Greater love hath no man—that he lays down his life for his friends.—From one who went in Kitchener’s first hundred thousand.  Your’s etc. John Tearle late Royal Fusiliers”.

I have found out a little about Private Green.  His name was Frederick Thomas Green.  He was born in about 1892 in Battersea, London.  He was the son of Fred and Annie H Green of 2 Balvernie Grove, Southfields, London.  Fred was an engineer/fitter.  Frederick had a brother, Leonard—born about 1894 and two sisters, Mavis (1896) and Helen D (1900).  He was in 4th Battalion Royal Fusiliers and his regimental number was SR1525.  He was killed in action on 26th April 1916.  He is buried in Kemmel Chateau Military Cemetery, West-Vlaandern, Belgium.  There are 1,135 Commonwealth burials there from WW1.  The cemetery was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. In the UK Army Register of Soldiers’ Effects Frederick had £5.11.6 and a war gratuity of £7.10.0 was due.  Presumably this was given to his parents.

In one of John’s sketch books, he has drawn a picture of a concert party for the troops at Rouen.  The banner at the top declares “Boys Brigade Hut of the YMCA” with the motto “Sure and Steady”.  These concerts were very popular for keeping up the morale of the men.

By 18th May 1916, John was suffering from shell shock and was in Etaples Hospital.  “Today to my surprise I found myself in Etaples Hospital having had a relapse.  Torn wire on windows”.  On 25th May his diary tells us that the Dr. had marked him as “Blighty” and the Colonel had signed his papers to go home on Sunday 28th May.  He arrived back in England on Monday 29th at Dover.  His war record says “Napsbury Hospital” which is in Middlesex but John  writes that he went from Dover to Eastbourne by train to the Red Cross Hospital at Upperton Road, Eastbourne.  He records that on the Wednesday the “German Fleet was thrashed at the Battle of Jutland Bank.  A great victory for us at a cost”.  From his bed he could see “a wee bit of the Sussex Downs and very nice they look too”.

He seems to have done quite a bit of painting—he was in Edith Cavell ward by Thursday 8th June and he mentions a painting of a yellow boy.  He mentions receiving letters from Rosa, Tot (Flossie) and Grace.  He was writing back too.  On Wednesday 14th June, Mr Bold (?) gave him a blanket bath and he had plenty of flowers.  On 15th June the Dr told him he was sending him to “a quiet place”.  He also reports on 16th that “Sister Coates stuck pin in my head”.  He went to Mayfield, to Clayton VAD Hospital, Sussex on 17th June 1916.  Later that week he says “Mrs (Miss) J Luckenback, the commandant is so very nice and a German lady”.  He wasn’t so complimentary about the sister however—”The Sister is a cow bugger her”!  Many days he was unable to write anything in his diary, but on 13th July he wrote “Speech very bad as well as my bally head” and on the next day “Am feeling absolutely fed (up).  When shall I get up”.

At the time of writing I am unable to ascertain if he was ever at Napsbury.  He might have been too sick to remember that he was there.

Eventually John was considered “unfit” for Military Service and was discharged from the Army on 1st June 1917.  He was given a Silver War Badge (No. 192145).  There is a photograph of him taken in Hastings on 8th August,  wearing civilian clothes and wearing his badge.  He was only 19 years and one month.

At the beginning of 1917, John had enquired about going to Art college and I think he was offered a place at the Slade.  There is also a letter from the Director of The Press Art School, Percy V. Bradshaw responding to a request to “think it over”.  He writes “I specially want you to join because I honestly believe that, in a short time, you will be able to do work which will be a never-ending source of pleasure to yourself and friends”.  He also suggests that John could pay the fee by 10 monthly installments of 10/6d instead of five amounts of a guinea.

His sister Flossie was married on 4th November 1917 to Edward West, so it is likely that John attended this wedding.

In January 1918 John was sufficiently recovered to go to Malta as a civilian with the YMCA to work with the troops there.  He traveled via Rome and Syracuse, Sicily.  In an article entitled “Convalescent Camps in Malta (1915 –1919)” we read:-

“The British Red Cross Society, The Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the Church Army and private individuals all co-operated to create an ambiance where the troops could relax, read newspapers, write their letters and recover their strength”.

“A series of first class concert parties brought out from England by the Red Cross and the Y.M.C.A did much to cheer the sick and convalescents throughout the island.  The Y.M.C.A. had its familiar and popular tents in many of the convalescent camps and hospitals and was able to increase them as required.”

Herbert John Tearle in hospital blues

Malta had become “the nurse of the Mediterranean”.  It received the sick and wounded from the Dardanelles (25 April 1915—8 Jan 1916) and from the Campaign in Salonica (5 October 1915—30 September 1918).  Because of the mildness of the climate in Malta, many soldiers could be treated in the open air.  Balconies and verandahs became extensions to the main wards.

I am unsure at this time of how long John spent in Malta, his sister Grace (my grandmother) married Richard Withall on 23rd April 1918 so he may not have been at their wedding, but he was back home by 20th August 1919 when he was best man at his brother Frank’s wedding to Rosa McGill (The same Rosa whose picture John had taken to the front and who had written to him).  Frank had already written to Rosa “I have decided for the present that I do want you “.  (1913) on a card that John had drawn.  The card seems to have been sent with some long expected gloves.

After the war, John opened a florist shop at Market Place, Bexley Heath with the phone number Bexleyheath 109.  He would go up to Covent Garden to get flowers and vegetables.  He ran this shop until about 1932 when his mother died and he presumably rented it out to someone else to run.  In “The Record” dated March 1931 his name is still on the shop and M&TJ Watney,  The Woodlands, Poultry Farm were supplying him with eggs.

In 1929, the Nursery at 115 The Broadway, Market Place, Bexley Heath was sold to make way for the new Woolworth’s Store.  George Tearle and those before him had only rented the premises.  The lessor was a James Thomson and George had rented the Nursery from him from 14th August 1919.  George was to be paid £800 to vacate the premises (just over £35,532 in today’s money).  He had to dismantle all “his buildings, pipes, plant erections and premises on the land” within 21 days.  The family moved to Albion Road.

At the beginning of the 1930’s, John and his friend, Arthur Barwell, bought a piece of land on the corner of Woolwich Road and Pelham Road in Bexleyheath.  They traded under “John Tearle, Woolwich Road” and sold “Turves, Manure (stable or hop), Ballast, Sand, Gravel, Cement, Loam, Rockery, Burrs, Crazy Paving and Stone”.  Kent was well known as a hop growing region, so there would have been plenty of waste to use as manure.  John was “the office” and Arthur drove the lorry, initially.  The local area was quickly becoming urbanised with the 1930’s housing boom and John and Arthur rode the crest of the wave.

On 18th February 1932, Elizabeth died.  She was 66 and had cancer and a collapsed lung.  His mother’s death had a profound affect on John and I’m sure on the rest of the family too.  He wrote a poem “The day my mother died” which tells of the details of that day, who was there and how he felt.  In 1934 he added another verse, saying he did not go to the funeral.  In the obituary from the local paper there is a John Tearle but it might be someone else.  Her funeral was held at Christ Church Bexleyheath and she was buried in Bexleyheath Cemetery.  The vicar at the time was the Rev. J N Mallinson.

Later that year, on 3rd November, John’s grandmother, Mary Tearle, died at her daughter’s home in Pitsea, Essex, aged 92.  She was the widow of Jabez Tearle and was buried in Hockliffe Bedfordshire on 8th November.  The obituary doesn’t say whether John was there, but his sister, Grace, was.  After Elizabeth died, as said previously John let someone else run the florist shop.

By 1934, John and Arthur had set up “Garden Supplies” from the site on Woolwich Road/Pelham Road.  This was to be the forerunner of T & B Supplies.  They later built two pairs of semi-detached houses on this site.  John also built a house at 95 Woolwich Road.  He named the house “Hockliffe” after the village in Bedfordshire where George had been born.  He moved in here with his parents George and Elizabeth and Arthur BarwellElizabeth died there.

In 1938 John built “The Grange”, 4 Broomfield Road, Bexleyheath.  According to the 1939 Register, he was living there with his father, George, Arthur Barwell and Mrs Watkins who was their housekeeper.  There was also another person living there, whose record is still closed.  Eric Tearle thinks that this was a Tony Chapple, Arthur Barwell’s nephew who was about the same age as Eric and was at Graham Road school with him.  Eric believes his parents went and Arthur took him under his wing.

After John moved in to “The Grange”, my grandparents Richard (Dick) and Grace Withall, moved into Hockliffe with my mother, Marjorie and Joyce.  When I was a child a Mr and Mrs Wykes lived with my grandparents there.

On 7th August 1940, John married Gladys Winifred Saunders at Christ Church Bexleyheath.  It was a Wednesday and a half day closing!  Marjorie and Joyce were the chief bridesmaids and Margaret one of the little ones.  The newspaper report said it was “a wedding that attracted a great deal of attention” and that John was a “popular member of one of the old Bexleyheath Families”.  John’s brother, Frank was best man.  The wedding reception was held at the home of Gladys’ parents, who lived at Milton Villa, Church Road, Bexleyheath.  The Rev. W H Bass M.A.B.D officiated at the marriage.

Alison Gunary says that one of her first memories was of going to John’s wedding.  Her parents, Alick and Edith Beaumont were guests and Alison’s Aunt took Alison and her eldest sister to see the “Happy Couple” leaving the church.

Following the wedding, John and Gladys spent their honeymoon at the Langton Hotel Cheltenham (still there today).  This was at a time when the Battle of Britain was going on.  On returning from honeymoon, they lived at the Grange, with Mrs Watkins as housekeeper.  In the first week back, tiles and windows at the front of the house were blown out and the second week the same at the back.  A large part of the wooden fence on the Gravel Hill boundary was blown down and John had it replaced with a brick wall—bricks were then cheaper than wood!  He never wanted to spend money unnecessarily!

John continued in his partnership with Arthur Barwell, forming T & B Supplies and later forming a limited company, becoming T & B Supplies Ltd.  Later they added “Builders Merchants”.  Eventually they owned 4 shops selling everything for the building trade except wood.  They had two shops in Bexleyheath, one in Welling and one in Dartford.  They also had a yard in which to store building materials.

T&B Supplies Ltd, Bexleyheath

As a child, I grew up at 150, Upper Wickham Lane and John owned the whole row of cottages, I think.  In later years, Alice lived at 55, Woolwich Road, Bexleyheath and that was one of John’s houses too.  He always looked after his family.

John’s business was his passion—he had a desire for independence at work and to strengthen the family for the future.  In one of his business books he wrote “To strengthen the family name”.  Although he was a well known local businessman, it seems he did not socialise much in Bexleyheath.  In this respect he differed from his brother, Frank who was very much involved with Rotary and who helped to set up the Veterans Club in Dawson Road, Bexleyheath.  However he did look after his family and provided them with homes, as he did for some of his work force as time went on.  He employed various family members at T & B’s including my mother and Joyce, both in the office.  As a child I remember making rubbings from the wallpaper sample books and being allowed to play with the old invoices!

At some point during WW1, a Monsieur Lambert, known as Pappy, stayed at 115 The Broadway with the Tearle family.  He was from Belgium.  This started a connection with the Belgians and years later, presumably after the second World War, a Willie Doumoulin from Liege stayed with the family in Bexleyheath.  He made a plaster bust of George Tearle and also of John.

Bust of George Tearle with the artist

What happened to this bust I do not know, but from the picture, he created a very good likeness of George.  We seem to remember that there was a shed at the bottom of the garden at “Hockliffe”, Woolwich Road where he made the models.

By 1956, John had purchased a cottage at 45 Hereson Road, Ramsgate in Kent.  He had loved going to Ramsgate with the family in boarding houses and bought the cottage for family holidays.  He liked to take Gladys and the children, in the school holidays at weekends, and leave them there, go back to work and then go back to Ramsgate to collect them again.  His best friend, Harry Stewart, had married a girl from Ramsgate and this was probably how the connection was made.  Unfortunately Harry’s wife Babs, was killed in WW2 by a bomb.  Harry never had any children, but he was godfather to one of the boys.  Harry said he regarded his friendship with John as one of the most important events of his life.  Gladys described Harry as John’s truest friend.

Among our memories of childhood was one with John queuing in London to file past the coffin of George V1 in 1952 and going to Museums and Art Galleries in London.  John and the boys also “discovered” All-in Wrestling by watching bouts in the Coronation Ballroom on the sea front at Ramsgate.  For a couple of years after this discovery, John and one of the boys used to go to Barnhurst with a builder friend, Tony Mortimer and his son, to watch the wrestling.

David’s love of History came from his visits to Museums with John and also from a set of cigarette cards that his father had of all the Kings and Queens of England.  John was a heavy smoker and presumably collected these cards from this addiction.  In later years, when he was ill, he said he had been a “fool” to smoke.

Having grown up in a Nursery, John loved plants.  He always wore a flower in his buttonhole and especially loved roses, growing many in the garden at “The Grange”  Harry Stewart remembers going to a dance at Crayford Town Hall with John when they were young (he loved to dance) and John walked swiftly back to 115 The Broadway to cover the plants because a frost was expected.  He often picked flowers from his garden and took them when he went to visit family or friends.  David was told that John used to take flowers to his local pub “The Royal Albert” and the publican would say “the first one’s on me John”  He usually only had that one drink!  Always frugal.

John was interested in many things – We remember he liked to watch a programme called “Free Speech” which was on in the mid 1950’s when a second channel was launched and he helped out with an essay on “World Government” when one of the boys was at Bexley Grammar School.  He liked antiques and had a collection of a variety of things in the room that was once George Tearle’s bedroom.

As a young man, he would occasionally drop into the Law Courts in London to see what was going on.  He was a member of the British Legion for many years – probably joining after his time in WW1.  He was friendly with a Mrs Baker-Beall who lived on Gravel Hill close to the Grange. She was probably head of the local British Legion and was sure he would have been a donor to the branch.

There are family memories of being on the beach at Ramsgate one night in November 1957 with John to see the much advertised emergence in the night sky of Sputnik 2, with the dog Laika on board.  I remember being invited to The Grange in June 1953, with quite a number of family members to watch the Coronation of Elizabeth 2nd—we didn’t have a television at that time and we all peered at quite a small screen and watched—in black and white of course!

John was not a sportsman, but he was a good swimmer. There was an occasion at Ramsgate where he seemed to swim out much too far, but he was a strong swimmer and all was well.

When the annual Oxford v Cambridge boat race took place, John and Frances supported Cambridge and Gladys and David supported Oxford!  The same thing happened in our house with Dad and I supporting Oxford and Mum and Susan supporting Cambridge!

John had two novels by his bed—one by Zane Grey (cowboy stories) and another by Edgar Wallace (a murder/mystery).  He also had a New Testament and a bible belonging to George Tearle in his bedside table.  John doesn’t seem to have discussed any faith that he may or may not have had but he was keen for his children to go to the Sunday School at the Congregational Church in Bexleyheath.

He had a love of Scottish Terriers—one even appears on one of his wedding photos!  By the 1950’s he had a Scottie called Tessa, she was devoted to John and he often took her to the various T & B shops with him.  In about 1959, Tessa had a litter of puppies and we had one of them who we called “Whisky”.  John always liked to stop and chat to people and no doubt many opportunities came to John’s attention through these wide ranging conversations—for example, possible property purchases which would add to his already expanding investment portfolio.  He never liked to miss a bargain!

Alison Gunary, a family friend remembers John very well, she says “he was generally regarded by my parents as almost eccentric”.  I wonder what had given them that impression?  She goes on to say that “John seemed to know everyone in Bexleyheath and was often seen talking on the Broadway.  My mother and he would engage in friendly banter about how Mother went up in the world by marrying into the Clarke family.  He didn’t get away with that!”  Alison also remembers him jumping on and off buses before he had learnt to drive.  Alison’s father used to say that “T&B Supplies were the only firm he dealt with who watched their half pennies on their accounts”.  It seems to be a case of “look after the pennies (or half pennies in their case) and the pounds will look after themselves”.

John had wanted security for his family and his astute business acumen enabled him to provide just that after his death on 14th May 1960 at Charing Cross Hospital (now Coutt’s Bank).  Family were very important to John—he had been very close to his sisters Grace, Flossie and Alice and over the years provided them all with homes.  Grace and Dick lived at Hockliffe, Woolwich Road for many years until Grace had a stroke and they moved to Ipswich to live with us.  Flossie and Ted lived at 2a Abbey Road and Alice in later years moved to 55 Woolwich Road—another of John’s properties.

As children, we lived at 150 Upper Wickham Lane, Welling—one of John’s houses.  He would provide the materials from T & B’s and Dad would do the decorating.  When he came to visit us he would park his car away from our house because if the tenants in the other houses in the row knew he was there, they would push notes under the door!  When I passed the 11+ and was given a place at Dartford Grammar School it was John who paid for my uniform because presumably Mum and Dad couldn’t afford to do so, something I was unaware of at the time.

After John’s death, the family found it too difficult to work with Arthur Barwell, but in a letter written to his relative, Ted Waters, who had emigrated to Australia early in the 20th century John wrote of his “wonderful partnership” with Arthur.

In a letter to Ted in Australia, Alice wrote “Certainly still seems unbelievable that John is gone. We all miss him, everyone liked him.  Like you we will all miss his letters very much, he always wrote each week, more if any special news to report.  The only comfort I feel is that he was not in pain, also he would have hated to have been an invalid.”

He called Gladys his “rock” and they were married for just under 20 years. Gladys understood business and was proud to say that her husband was the “T” in T and B Supplies.

Straw plaiting

Bedfordshire was one of the main areas for straw plaiting in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries.  At that time, hats were formed from lengths of straw plait and so the two industries co-existed and dominated home life for a large proportion of the inhabitants of Bedfordshire, especially women and children.

At the start of the 19th Century, many plaiting schools were established.  Children were taught the basics of plaiting at home before being sent to a plait school between the ages of 3 and 4.  Even younger children were capable of chipping the loose ends of straws.  At least 10,000 children attended such schools in Bedfordshire during the first half of the 19th Century and as many as 13,000 during the peak of the industry in the 1890s.

The schools charged weekly fees of 2 or 3 pence and children would be expected to earn between 9 pence a week aged 8, to as much as 3 shillings a week by the age of 14.  They would work at the plaits while walking around—they worked at them almost constantly.

Plaiters would often be paid more than farm labourers and domestic servants, so sometimes an employer had to pay more in order to find workers.  It was said that the extra money the women earned could make the men lazy!

In our family tree, the four daughters of Jemima Cleaver and Thomas Tearle were all straw plaiters.

Richard Tearle (1794 -1887), uncle to Susan, Ann, Sarah and Elizabeth was a Straw Plait dealer and his step-daughters Lucy Sanders (14), Ruth Sanders (11), and Suzannah Sanders (8) were all straw plaiters in 1851.  By 1861, Lucy (23) and Suzannah (18) had become straw hat makers.  (A note here, the 1851 census lists Lucy, Ruth and Suzannah as daughters-in-law but Richard’s second wife was Ruth Sanders, so I think these were, what we would call today, his step-daughters).

One of Richard Tearle’s sons, David also became a plait dealer.  By 1861 he was a straw plait dealer/grocer and by 1871 he was a grocer, and had a post office, with his father, Richard, living with him as a widower.  He gradually changed his occupation with the decline of the straw plaiting industry.

Herbert John Tearle – war artist

115 Broadway, Bexleyheath

A sketch of John’s home in Bexleyheath. The date tells the story.

In memory of PK Green who was killed by a trench mortar

Tragedy strikes. John’s grief gives way to an iconic scene of life in the trenches, and how chance can deal the cruelest blows. The detail in this picture is remarkable.

Pvt Green killed here today

Herbert John Tearle “The Cathedral of St Martins, Ypres.”

This last drawing is of a concert party for the troops in Rouen.

Inside the Boys Brigade hut

07May/17

Sqn Ldr Alec Raymond Tearle MBE 1929, Wing, Buckinghamshire, UK (RAF)

Alec and Beryl Tearle

I knew my cousin, Alec Tearle, although only slightly. He rang me once in New Zealand, and I remarked then on his beautiful, cathedral-filling, gravelly voice, with perfect diction. He and his wife Beryl took us to a wedding in Langtoft, Lincolnshire, where they were in the church choir for the ceremony. He modestly called himself a “wedding singer,” and he had an effortless baritone.

He told me one story of his military life. He had just been promoted to Base Commander of an aerodrome where he was in charge of the Queen’s Flight. His first morning in the control tower was cold and foggy, but as the fog lifted and the tower began to count down to the first of many flights that morning, he saw a small woman in a tweed coat walking a dog on the macadam.
“Who the hell is that!” he stormed. “Get her off the runway!”
“Excuse me, Sir.”
“What!”
“That’s the boss.”

In 1946, immediately after WW2, RAF Benson hosted Kings Flight; it became the Queens Flight in 1952. That Alec was in charge of Queens Flight means this incident occurred at RAF Benson. Queens Flight was disbanded in 1995 to become part of No.32 Squadron at RAF Northolt.

Alec’s MBE was notified in a Supplement to The London Gazette of 3rd June 1972, page 6261.

London Gazette

Here is his MBE alongside his RAF Long Service Military Medal

There are other small but valuable snippets in the London Gazette. The earliest would appear to be his promotion on 29 June 1971, page 6948:

In the Gazette of 18 July 1978, p8265 was Alec’s promotion to Squadron Leader. As you can see, he already had his MBE:

Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader:
K. F. DAVIES (4022524).
C. J. ORME (4335409).
A. R. TEARLE, M.B.E. (4025695).
J. ROLLS (583369).

And finally, in the Gazette of 28 August 1984, page 11701, there was this announcement:

Retirement
Air Commodore W, J. J. NORTHMOKE, C.B.E., C.Eng.,
M.I.E.R.E., M.R.Ae.S., 10th Jul. 1984.
Wing Commanders :
BULLOCK, Bi.Sc. (504033H), llth Jul. 1984.
H. HUGHES, C.Eng., M.R.Ae.S., M.I.W.M.,
M.B.IM. (3035291J), 20th Jui. 1984.
Squadron Leader A. R. TEARLE, M.B.E. (4025695B) (at
own request), 14th Jul. 1984.
Flight Lieutenant W. D. JAMES (4116333P) (at own
request), 12th Jun. 1984.

At one stage, he was the president of the Langtoft and Deepings branch of the Royal British Legion.

His official obituary was published in The Telegraph of 12 January 2016:
TEARLE Sqn.Ldr Alec M.B.E. (ret’d) passed away peacefully at Peterborough City Hospital on 22nd December 2015, aged 86 years. Dearly beloved husband of Beryl, treasured father of Stephanie, Simon and Timothy and beloved grandfather of Gemma, Andrew, Elizabeth and James. He will be sadly missed by all his devoted family and friends. The funeral service will take place on Tuesday 12th January 2016 at 12.00 (noon) at Peterborough Crematorium, Marholm.

He is remembered with great affection by his family. His son, Timothy, sent me this fine obituary:
In recent years Alec and Beryl lived in Langtoft, Lincolnshire, a small village just outside of the picturesque market town of Market Deeping strangely enough just inside Cambridgeshire.
They enjoyed a significant number of years in happy retirement, being active in the local Church, the local village hall and events therein. Their garden, their pride and joy, an oasis of colour and scent in the Flat Lands of the Fens.
It is with sadness that we, Stephanie, Simon, Timothy and our wonderful mother Beryl, lost Alec to a brief but troubling illness in December 2015. He passed away peacefully at Peterborough General Hospital 22nd Dec 2015.
Father was an incredible man of quiet nature, but huge achievements. His engineering skills embraced the introduction of modern technology to the Royal Air Force, seeing the transition from the most advanced Piston Engine Propulsion, to the fledgling, and latterly the high tech world of supersonic jet propulsion. Being a unique man, his craft of Air-Frame and Engines meant that he was frequently called upon to pioneer procedures on the new fighters, bombers and specialist aircraft entering service with the Royal Air Force throughout the 1950’s and well into the 80’s.
His grasp of engineering led him to refurbishing and re-commissioning a gas production plant in Bahrain. This enabled the Armed Services to have valuable assets in terms of liquid gasses at their disposal in an area where tensions were ever fraught, and the constant supply of liquid gasses essential to the operational capabilities of both maritime and airborne services in the Middle East during the 1970’s.
This successful project, together with work on the Island’s only power plant, (4 Rolls Royce Aero engines converted for running on gas) to secure a constant and uninterrupted power supply to the Island, were recognised with the award of his MBE. There are many other major achievements that we children know too little about to list in any detail!
He was born to Harry and Millicent, 15th June 1929 in Wing, Bucks, the eldest of their children, and brother to Thelma (Sheppard), Roy (who died very young from TB), Denis and “little” Rachel.
On the 20th Jan 1951, he was married to Beryl Jean Proctor at St. Barnabas Church, Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire.

Their love and strength together enabled them to celebrate 64 years, and very nearly 65 years of marriage before his passing.
During their life together they lived a happy and varied life, encompassing over-seas postings, periods of enforced separation, and very many moves at the behest of the Air Force.
We children grew up in a happy, loving and, in a great many ways, privileged household. We enjoyed the trappings of Father’s continued successes most ably assisted by Mothers constant loving, support, and drive, to enable him to excel at every task he undertook.
Beryl was lovingly cared for by Alec up to the final days before he went into hospital. Beryl in later years developed Vascular Dementia and the demands this uninvited condition placed upon Alec were considerable. He did, however, deal with it as with everything in his life, stoically and with love, tenderness, compassion and considerable good humour. Proving how even at this most delicate and demanding of tasks, he excelled.
Beryl is now living close to Stephanie and Simon in Oxfordshire, close to RAF Benson where Alec was stationed as Ground Engineering Officer in the late 1970’s.
We are all able to visit regularly and at time of writing, I am delighted to report that she is very well, comfortable and happy.

The pioneer years:

The photographs below are privately owned, and supplied by Tim Tearle, Alec’s son. If you compare Alec in his wedding photo above, with the photos of him below, then the first four photos were taken in the 1950s, but the location is unknown.

Tim says that Alec was at RAF Benson in the late 1970s, and that is possibly the setting for the story of the “lady on the runway” because he would have had sufficient seniority to be in charge of Queens Flight.

Alec, left, and compatriot.

 

Gloster Meteor, the only jet fighter of the Allies in WW2, and the first civilian-registered jet aircraft in the world. Five Meteors worldwide are still airworthy.

 

Alec, standing centre, with fellow engineers. The aircraft in the background looks like a Gloster Meteor.

 

Alec Tearle

 

Alec Tearle

 

Alec Tearle, centre.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to Tim Tearle for sending me the resources above with the request that I write an article about his father. Without Tim’s help, there would have been no story.

Thanks also to Barbara Tearle of Oxford who alerted me to the London Gazette postings, above.

07Apr/17

Katherine Mary Tearle 1885 – Pioneer of the WPS

The details I have of Sgt Tearle of the Women Police Service (WPS) are sketchy and incomplete, but I know who she was, and a little of what she achieved in her very short career, which, in the documents I have, is sandwiched between the 1911 census when she was a teacher, and 1919, when she married a farmer.

I think this is what started it all, an advertisement in The Times of London of 26 April 1917 headlined:

Women Police Wanted.

“The Ministry of Munitions has need of several hundred policewomen to take up posts in His Majesty’s factories and the Ministry has appointed Miss Darmer Dawson, Chief Officer, and Miss M. S. Allen, Chief Superintendent, of the Women Police Service, as agents to supply women for this work. The Women Police Service offers the necessary training, and this, which takes place in London, occupies three weeks. An allowance is granted during training and good salaries are offered on appointment. Three hundred women are wanted immediately.”

On the very next day, The Times of London published this advertisement:

“The Women Police Service and National Training School for Women Police – Recruits wanted.  Salaries commencing at £3 per week on appointment.  Allowance during training. Provide own uniform. Preference given to teachers, social workers and women trained in drill and corps discipline.  No vacancies in London district.  –  Apply for interview between 2.30 and 4.30 except Saturday.    Recruiting Officer, Women Police Service, St Stephen’s House, Westminster.”

The Women Police Service was initially set up by Nina Boyle and Margaret Damer-Dawson, with Mary Sophia Allen as the second in command. She took over as Commandant following Margaret’s death in 1920 – Nina had already left by about 1915. Various experiments in how the service should be run, and what it should do were tried, but its biggest impetus was in 1916, when the Police, Factories, etc (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act of 1916 brought the WPS members’ pay into line with that of policemen. It was at this stage, too that the Ministry of Munitions asked the British Prime Minister (Lloyd George) to provide women police to supervise the workers in the munitions factories. In order to supply the Allies with the huge explosive shells needed on the European front line, factories were constructed, and women were hired to fill the big brass shells with high explosive chemicals. These factories had grown to huge proportions and some housed as many as 12,000 female workers. One of the jobs of the WPS was to search the workers when they arrived at work, and again as they left. Women police were needed for this, hence the advertisements.

The training schools were based in London, Liverpool and Bristol, and more than 1000 women were posted to positions all over Britain. The first batches of women police were sent to Queen’s Ferry, Gretna, Waltham Abbey and Pembrey.

I have three glimpses of Katherine in the newspapers of Walsall, Staffordshire. The first is from the Walsall Observer dated 11 May 1918. Katherine has arrived at Walsall with Miss Williams. They have been recruited by the Borough Force after having been trained in London and gained experience in several other towns and have gone to Walsall from a Hereford munitions factory. The Town Council will be asked to “sanction the policewomen’s rate of payment” of 36s per week plus 10s war bonus.

The only munitions factory I know of in Herefordshire was called the Royal Ordnance Factory, Rotherwas. It was active in both WW1 and WW2 and employed 12,000 men and women. There was a police force of about 30 in Rotherwas, but the only photo I know of is exclusively men. The WPS, apparently did not count as police – in spite of their name – but no-one else would have been allowed to search women workers.

Be that as it may, the next article from The Walsall Observer describes a court case on 8 June 1918 when Constable Tearle and Williams caught young boys playing betting games in the street. They ran off, but Constable Tearle gave chase, caught one of them, and he gave details of the others. Some were placed on probation, and another was fined 10s. On the same day the constables caught a group of men playing cards in a park, and while most of them got away, one surrendered to Constable Tearle, and the court fined him 5s.

By 24 August 1918, Katherine had won her sergeant stripes. In the Staffordshire Advertiser of that date, “Sergt Tearle” gave evidence in the trial of a young woman who had struck her because she “lost her temper.” She was fined 10s.

We know Katherine was at Gretna. Here she is sending her signature “K.M.TEARLE (SGT. W.P.S.)” in friendship and humour to the patients of 3rd London General Hospital at Wandsworth. This hospital has a remarkable story.

The munitions factory at Gretna opened in April 1916. It was vast – 9 miles long and 2 miles wide. Codenamed Moorside it employed 20,000 workers. It is difficult to decipher exactly when Katherine was at Gretna, certainly not 1916; the folder contains lots of miscellaneous pages in no particular order, so her signature is not necessarily of this date. This decision is taken on the evidence of the three Walsall newspaper articles. Sergeant Tearle must have left for Gretna after August 1918, with perhaps just a few months of WW1 remaining.

The picture above of Sgt Tearle was from a 1917 Women Police Service newsletter, so this service predates her experience at Walsall and would potentially have helped her get the job. The newspaper clippings quoted above talk about the need for new women police to be experienced and cites her and PC Williams having previous experience at a munitions factory in Hereford.

Nina Boyd says: “The work undertaken by the WPS in the munitions factories was extremely exacting and dangerous: their duties included patrolling the factories, canteens and nearby towns; general policing and petty crime; searching women for smuggled items such as cigarettes and hairpins, which were strictly forbidden in the vicinity of high explosives.”

After the war, the service was given official thanks, and asked to disband as quickly as possible, says Nina Boyd.

The Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police set up the Metropolitan Women Police Patrols (MWPP) and it recruited some WPS members. In 1920, the Met wrote to the WPS telling them that their uniform resembled that of the MWPP and that anyone wearing the WPS uniform could be fined £10 for “masquerading” as a police officer and that the WPS was “unofficial and unauthorised”. It was the death-dell for the WPS.

Women who try to change the world will not be tolerated.

I assume unblemished from her role in the WPS, and with many stories to tell, Katherine left the disbanding organisation and went home to Bisham, Berkshire.

Who was she, this country girl who adapted so quickly to big city ways, who was able to cope, and even thrive in a life with the police? What was she made of? How did she work?

Read the story of John Tearle of Hyderabad elsewhere on this site. Katherine Mary Tearle was his aunt. She was the daughter of Enoch Tearle born 1841, of Stanbridge, Bedfordshire and Elizabeth nee Jones of Flintshire, Wales. Enoch joined the Kings Own Regiment and the couple had children in Aldershott, London and Ireland. When he left the army and settled in Bisham, Berkshire, they had John Herbert 1881, Katherine Mary 1885 and Samuel Hugh 1889. As you can see from the story of John Tearle of Hyderabad, they all had active, interesting lives…. It is possible, but I do not know for certain, that she might have known her grandmother in Stanbridge. She could have taken the rail to London Euston and from there to Dunstable, changing finally for the branch line to Stanbridgeford, and a short walk to see Grandmother Martha. She was only 10 years old when her grandmother died, but I have seen other children of Stanbridge parents taking the train from London to Stanbridge. In the event, her childhood was in the centre of a country idyll and she watched her father as he worked.

I thought Katherine Mary had the quiet life, but everything changed soon after the start of WW1 and she showed she had metal, the same metal as her father and any of her military brothers. If the WPS had not been disbanded, Katherine may well have stayed on in the police force, but that did not happen, she returned to Bisham, Berks and met and married Charles Leonard Randall, of Hyde Farm in Bisham.

He had applied for, and successfully gained, a conditional exemption from volunteering for WW1 soldier duty, because he was a farmer. If the farmers do not farm, because they are not on the farm, then the entire country could be crushed by famine. The Reading Mercury of 20 January 1917 reported the result of the tribunal’s decision. In 1919, he married Katherine in Maidenhead, Berkshire. A little research into the Randalls showed they had been in Bisham since at least 1827, and most of the men had been blacksmiths; in fact, in the Bisham census of 1841, only a farmer, a bootmaker and the two village blacksmiths had their occupations recorded; all of the other men in the village were recorded as Ag Lab; an agricultural labourer, no matter how skilled their work. By the time Charles was born, the Randalls had been in the village for four generations.

I have not been able to find any children for Charles and Katherine, and Charles died in the Windsor hospital on 31 May, 1931, aged just 50 years. Katherine was given probate on his will.

This story ends in Surrey, though I do not know exactly where, with the death of Katherine Mary Randall nee Tearle in 1967. She had brought honour, courage and resourcefulness with her from her family, and she showed those who would judge her that she was a woman of substance and determination.

It has been a pleasure to find such a rich story, and to be able to recount it.

Acknowledgements:

Thank you very much to the West Midlands Police, especially Corinne Brazier Museum@West-Midlands.pnn.police.uk who asked me about Sgt K Tearle, sent me many resources to help me in the search, and set me off on a voyage of discovery into the history of the WPS. It has been fascinating.

Thank you also to Barbara Tearle of Oxford who found the newspaper articles and other resources I have been able to work with on this assignment. She has come to my rescue yet again!

Thank you also to Richard Tearle, leader of the Yahoo Tearle Group, who is always supportive of the work I do and whose enthusiasm on all things Tearle is infectious and endearing.

References:

Boyd, Nina, From Suffragette to Fascist: The Many Lives of Mary Sophia Allen History Press, 2013. ISBN: 9780752489179   Product Code: 22743

Woollacott, Angela On her their lives depend: Munitions Workers in the Great War.
University of California Press. ISBN: 9780520085022, May 1994.

Mary Allen: Policewoman – a short essay on Mary Sophia Allen

History of Met Women Police Officers: a somewhat truncated and biased version of the events during WW1. I very much doubt that Katherine Mary considered herself an extremist.

The Women Police: The Open University is dismissive of the WPS (“links to militant feminist causes”) but notes that the Met’s women police, which started in 1919, who were forbidden from being sworn in as constables, and had no claim to pension, were axed in the Geddes post-war austerity measures of 1922 because what they did was “not proper police work.” They couldn’t “do proper police work” if they couldn’t arrest anyone. Once the WPS was out of the way, the Met could – and did – drop any pretense at wanting female police officers.