Category Archives: Roll of Honour

This Roll of Honour records the stories of Tearle men and women who died in war.


George Tearle, 1876, Dunstable, UK (1/Beds Regt)

On the Roll of Honour in the Dunstable Priory Church, and the War Memorial near the gates, there are two names, Tearle G and Tearle J. The first is George Tearle, born 1876 in Dunstable; the second is Jeffrey Tearle, born 1891 in Eaton Bray. At fourth cousins, they are only distantly related.

Panel of WW1 casualties on Dunstable Church

Roll of Honour at Dunstable Priory Church.

Here is George’s service record from the CWGC:
Name: TEARLE  Initials: G
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: Bedfordshire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st Bn.
Date of Death: 18/01/1920  Service No: 4967
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead Grave/Memorial Reference: E. 471.

Those details are from Roll of Honour.
TEARLE G Private 4967. 1st Bn., Bedfordshire Regt.
Died Sunday 18 January 1920.
Buried: DUNSTABLE CEMETERY, Bedfordshire, United Kingdom. Ref. E. 471.

This, is George Tearle’s WW1 CWGC headstone in the Dunstable public cemetery. Born in Dunstable in 1876, he joined the army at 18yrs and caught rheumatism in the trenches in France. He was also in India and Gibraltar.

George Tearle headstone.

Steve Fuller says:
“George Tearle is a strange one as it happens! I have been pondering him for some time and have finally understood his position in it all but he seems to have followed an unusual sequence that I have not come across before. His service number is that of the 5th Battalion (Territorials) and should not have been allocated until late 1914 / early 1915 according to the “normal” flow of things … BUT … he entered France with the 1st Btn 3rd December 1914 and was discharged 1st March 1919. This implies he served the entire war and survived, only to die of illness in 1920 (the Spanish Flu perhaps?). Maybe he was a Regular whose service had only just come to a close when war was declared but that would usually mean he would have kept his original number which would not have been in the 49.. area!

George 4967 army record p1

George Tearle attestation for the army, 1894.

George enlisted in the 3rd Bedfordshire Regiment on 20 June 1894, aged just 18yr 7m. He already had experience in the militia so that is probably the reason he went into the 3rd Battalion, the Bedfordshire Regiment, where he was given the regimental number 4967, which he kept for the rest of his life. He was 5” 5in and weighted 112lb; a Wesleyan, a labourer with hazel eyes, brown hair and a scar on the right side of his head. He signed up for a term of “7yrs with the Colours and 5ys in the Reserve.” I think this means 7yrs active service. The term was extended in 1901 when he was given an “unpaid” Lance Cpl rank.This was “deprived” a year later. He was re-engaged in 1906 and he passed his corporal’s exam in Nov that year. He was given a “paid” Lance-Cpl rank in Aug 1907 but he must have been a bit unruly because it was deprived again that Christmas and he stayed a Pvt for the rest of his service. 18 months after joining, George was sent to India for about 2 years, then after a spell at home he was in Gibraltar for 12 months in 1907 and 8. He was “Invalid to England” from Gibraltar Hospital with an eye contusion on 15 Oct 1908. The injury, he attested, was “not caused by active service.”

I cannot find any records about George until he embarked for France on 2.12.1914. There are no records that say where he went or what action he saw, but in April 1915 he was transferred to the 2nd  Field Survey Coy, 2nd Army as a “servant” for Lieut Lightfoot, and he stayed with the Field Survey Coy in France until he was finally sent home in January 1919. His WW1 medals card says he earned the British Medal, the Victory Medal and the Star, and that the Theatre of War was France.

George Tearle army medals card.

George Tearle army medals card.

George filled out a disability statement, and while we find out how his injuries feel, he gave us the crucial hint as to his identity – his home address was 14 Church Walk, Dunstable.

George 4967 army record p26aGeorge 4967 army record p26b

I had to cut the document in half to fit it on the page…

In the 1901 Dunstable census, this was the address of Charles Bowler Tearle and Constance. Finally, I knew who he was. On 2 Aug 1919, George was given his final discharge from the army because of rheumatism and a single page with a large Z on it shows his pension being paid. It says “Died 18.1.20.” George had gone through turbulent times and had served his country as a professional soldier.  His parents were Charles Bowler Tearle 1849 of Dunstable and Constance nee Dickens. Charles’ parents were James Tearle 1806 and Mary Ann nee Webb. James’ parents were Richard Tearle 1778 and Mary nee Pestel, and Richard’s parents were Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp. Thus, he is of the branch Joseph 1737.


John Gates Tearle, 1890, Wolverton, UK

I’d heard that there was a Tearle memorial in Cosgrove Church and it took me two trips there even to find it. However, the adventure was worth the trouble because this is a fascinating story. You can see below the memorial to “Those who served” in WW1 and amongst the names was John G Tearle.  His parents were Charles 1859 of Stanbridge and Lizzie nee Gates. They called him John Gates Tearle.  He had the service number 1469 and he fought with the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

WW1 Memorial on the wall of St Peter and St Paul, Cosgrove

WW1 Memorial on the wall of St Peter and St Paul, Cosgrove

Now, Lizzie Gates was the daughter of Ephraim Gates and Sarah nee Tearle 1837 Stbg, and Sarah’s parents were Abel 1810 Stbg and Martha nee Emmerton. This means she is on the branch Joseph 1737 via William 1769 and Sarah nee Clark. You can see the marriages of both Abel and Sarah in the Stanbridge banns register.  Thus Lizzie is on the branch Joseph 1737.

Charles’ parents were William 1832 Stbg and Catharine nee Fountain. William was the brother of my gg-grandfather James 1827 Stbg so Charles was a cousin of my g-grandfather Levi, the blacksmith of Wing. This puts him on the branch John 1741.

You can see John just 10 months old, in the Wolverton census of 1891.

1891 = Charles 1860 Stbg Lizzie 32 Rose L 7 John G 10m in Wolverton. Charles is a railway worker, like his father, and is living amongst a group of railway employees, possibly employee accommodation.

And then we see them one last time in the Wolverton census of 1900.

1901 = Charles 1860 Stbg Lizzie 42 John 10 Nellie 6 in Wolverton. Charles is a railway platelayer and is living at 524 Glyn Sq, Wolverton. So I’m now fairly sure this was tightly-packed worker accommodation.

John married Violet Elmore in 1913 and they had a son in 1914 who they called Richard Elmore Tearle. This is where John’s story becomes very sad. Richard was working in Coventry during the Blitz of 1940 and he was tragically killed in a bombing raid. You can see his story on the WW2 page.

List of men from Cosgrove who served in WW1

List of men from Cosgrove who served in WW1

Detail of the list, showing John G Tearle

Detail of the list, showing John G Tearle


Rowland Grigg Tearle, 1916, London, UK (RAMC)

In the church of St Andrew, Yardley Hastings, there is the memorial to Rowland Grigg Tearle, and other young men who died in the Great War.

St Andrews, Yardley Hastings, Northants.

St Andrews, Yardley Hastings, Northants.

Here are his details from Roll of Honour:
Private 55930, 11th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps. Died at home 9th June 1916. Age 20. Born London, enlisted Northampton.
Buried near the East boundary in ST. ANDREW CHURCHYARD, YARDLEY HASTINGS.

WW1 memorial inside St Andrews Church.

WW1 memorial inside St Andrews Church.

His details as recorded by CWGC are exactly the same as this.

The army records that Susannah Rogers was paid two gratuities, as the sole person named in his will.

Rowland Tearle UK Army Effects

Rowland Tearle UK Army Effects.

Rowland’s (sometimes spelt Roland) WW1 army medals card recorded that he died 9/6/16 and that he had earned the British Medal, the Victory Medal and the Star. It noted that he joined the French Theatre of war on 27/5/15 and that he was in the Royal Army Medical Corps. I can find no other military record.

CWGC headstone for R Tearle in St Andrews Church cemetery.

CWGC headstone for R Tearle in St Andrews Church cemetery.

Given that he died at home, we can suppose either a horrible injury or a debilitating trench disease. I wonder if the local NHS would have any knowledge of him? I am often reminded of how short his life was; I do hope there is something more we can say for him.

There was a good deal of discussion about the origins of Rowland and why he was living with Susannah Rogers, so I sent off for his birth certificate. He was born Rowland Grigg Tearle on 8 Jan 1896 in Queen Charlotte Hospital, Marylebone Road. His mother was Elizabeth Tearle, Book Keeper, Hotel of Willesden. There is no recorded father. The informant on the certificate was E Tearle, mother, 20 Victoria Road, Kilburn. He was registered on 11 Jan 1896 in the Sub-district of St Mary, County of London. Here is a compressed version of his 1901 census return:

1901 = Rowland 1896 Paddington border Susannah Rogers 57 Mary 30 Frank Gordon 1 Calcutta India boarder in Yardley Hastings Northants

It seemed to me very odd that he should be just five years old and living in another family far away from London, where presumably his mother would still be. Since we had no father for young Rowland and that prevented us from knowing his mothers’ familial relationships, I hoped that Susannah Rogers would be able to lead us to her. I found Susannah in the 1861 Bozeat, Northants census –

1861 = Susannah Rogers 1844 Harrold wife Stephen 21 William J Robinson 8 brother in Bozeat Northants

She was just 18, born Harrold, Beds, and was married to Stephen Rogers, a Gamekeeper, of West Tytherley, Hampshire, which is half way between Salisbury and Winchester. They were boarding her younger brother, William J Robinson. So now we had a formal identification for her. She was Susannah Robinson 1843 Harrold. So that means this is her and her parents and her grandfather in the 1851 census:

1851 = Susannah Robinson 1844 Harrold Beds Mary 33 William 36 William Abrahams 83 in Northants

I found Stephen and Susannah with their first children, William and Mary Elizabeth, in the 1871 census –

1871 = Susannah Rogers 1843 Stephen 31 William 8 Mary E 9m in Cornwall

They were back in Buckinghamshire for the 1881 census, but there was a surprise for me –

1881 = Susannah Rogers 1843 Stephen 41 William C 18 James A 14 Mary E 10 Thomas J 6 in Weston Underwood Bucks

I tried to find James A 1867 Turvey, Beds, in the 1871, but he is invisible.

I did find him the the 1891

1891 = James Rogers 1867 Turvey Beds Valet in Northants

as well as Susannah and Stephen, now living in the Keepers House near Yardley Hastings, where Stephen was a Gamekeeper for the Yardley Chase forestry estate, not far from where Milton Keynes is now.

1891 = Susannah Rogers 1843 Harrold Stephen 51 Thomas J 16 Mary E 20 in Yardley Hastings Northants

Pat Field found the Buckinghamshire Records marriage of Mary Ann Tearle 1866 and James Abraham Rogers in Q1 1886 Newport Pagnell, Northants, 3a, p695. “Date 8 Mar 1887 Entry James Abraham Rogers, full age, bachelor, Servant of Little Linford son of Stephen Rogers, Gamekeeper married Mary Ann Tearle full age spinster servant of Little Linford dau of John Tearle deceased. Witnesses James X Johnson, Alice Sheargold Banns not found Parish Little Linford St. Leonard.

Mary Ann was the dau of John 1823 (the marine) and Sophia nee Walker. This is the first occasion where I found James’ middle name. He has been, as is often the case with Victorian families, given the surname of his maternal grandfather. James’ being on his own on census night meant that his family had to be somewhere else, and they were:

1891 = Mary A Rogers nee T 1866 Aylesbury Arthur Rogers 1 visitor in Sussex E Grinstead

In 1901, Mary Ann and James were in Knightsbridge, London

1901 = Mary A Rogers nee T 1866 Linslade James A Rogers 34 Arthur 11 Edith 8 in Lon

For Susannah, the 1901 census painted a different picture – she was now a widow, and there was a young chap – Frank Gordon, 1yr – born in Calcutta, India living with her, then Rowland, and Mary Elizabeth, her daughter.

1901 = Rowland 1896 Paddington border Susannah Rogers 57 Mary 30 Frank Gordon 1 Calcutta India boarder in Yardley Hastings Northants

They had must have moved into the village after Stephen’s death, and Mary was earning some money for them as a dressmaker. Rosemary wrote to tell me she had seen Rowland still living with Susannah in the 1911 census in Yardley Hastings. For me, Susannah was now officially an In-Law, and has her place on The Tree.

There was a definite family connection, then, between Susannah Rogers and the Tearles, specifically John 1825 and Sophia nee Walker, but this didn’t explain why Rowland was living with her, and whether there was an equal familial relationship with his mother, Elizabeth. I did the Tearle births calculation: 22 years for the boys from the birth of their first child, perhaps as few as 18 for the women. Elizabeth had to be born earlier than 1878, but probably not earlier than 1866.

Sophia died in 1880 and was buried in All Saints, Leighton Buzzard. Rosemary reminded me of the 1881 census return, with the kind of blinding insight that only Rosemary does. In the 1881 Leighton Buzzard census there is recorded the contents of a house in Vandyke Rd. This is so important to the story that I have reproduced the essential viewing portions of both pages of the return.


Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

The head of the house is Mary 1822 LB, there is her brother John 1824 LB, Greenwich pensioner (navy) and her other brother Charles 1827 LB also a Greenwich pensioner, then Harriett 1860 LB a niece, then Alice 1862 LB a niece, then Charles H 1865 LB a nephew, Charles E 1866 from Morpeth, and Eliza 1869 and Elizabeth 1872 from Linslade.

Since everyone in the house is either a brother, nephew or niece of Mary 1822, then all of them are direct descendants of John 1780 and Sarah nee Claridge.

In the 1871, Mary had two of Edmund’s children, plus her own.

1871 = Mary 1822 LB Sarah 1846 LB Alice 9 Charles 6 in LB I couldn’t find Harriett 1860 anywhere.

Harriett 1860, Alice 1862 and Charles 1865 all come from another of Mary’s brothers, Edmund 1833, who lived just round the corner in Hockliffe Rd, but who died in 1867 and his wife Harriett in 1869. In 1871, Edmund 1855 who would become a well-known stage manager and actor, was already in Liverpool working in an office, so he was independent.

Charles Edward from Morpeth is the son of Charles 1827.

That means that Eliza and Elizabeth from Linslade are John’s children. I don’t have a birth cert for Elizabeth, but this is probably her: Q3 1871, L.B. 3b 156. Until the certificate turns up and proves me wrong, I think it is acceptable that this Elizabeth 1871 is John and Sophia’s girl. The only other family having children in Linslade were John’s brother Thomas 1821 and Sarah Jane nee Elliott. Their last child was George 1862 and adding Elizabeth 1871 is not impossible (Sarah would have been 47) but unlikely.

We found one late clue which helped convince us; Pat Field sent me the Leighton Buzzard baptisms of All Saints Church:

1 Jan 1883 ELIZABETH dau of John & Sophia Tearle of Leighton Pensioner

Sophia nee Walker, John’s wife, died in 1880, so this was simply a late baptism for Elizabeth. It certainly helps to show that he had a daughter Elizabeth and one supposes this is not Eliza.

Which brings us back to Rowland. Rosemary had much earlier seen the wedding of Mary Ann 1866 and James Rogers, and had raised the question:

“Susannah’s daughter-in-law was Mary Ann Tearle, born Linslade in 1866.

Mary Ann’s parents were John (1825) and Sophia, nee Walker.  Her siblings were Sarah Jane (1863), John (1864), Eliza Sophia (1868) and Elizabeth (1871).

Because of the relationship between Mary Ann and Susannah, I am of the opinion that Mary Ann’s sister Elizabeth is Rowland’s mother.”

We found Elizabeth in 1891:

1891 = Elizabeth 1872 Linslade, barmaid, in Rugby but she was not in any 1901 census.

Rosemary spent some time looking at what may have happened to Elizabeth and following up on the lead of young Frank Gordon from Calcutta living with Susannah, Rosemary looked to records from India. Tantalisingly, there was a Miss Tearle 28yr on the ship Rewa bound for Calcutta, India in 1897. She found that in 1899 an Elizabeth Tearle (26yr) father John, dec, married Arthur Brown (27yr) in Calcutta, but we cannot tell if it was our Elizabeth. As Rosemary tells it, “Since Arthur was 27, perhaps Elizabeth lopped a few years off her age…”

Rosemary now had a long look for Rowland’s possible father and I’ll let her tell the story in her own words:

As to who was Rowland’s father – Rowland Grigg is an unusual Christian name and I pondered as to whether this could have been the name of his father.  I tried to see if there was a famous Rowland Grigg about when Rowland was born, but could find nothing on Google. So looked to see if a Rowland Grigg did indeed live in England.

There is a Rowland Grigg who was born, lived and died in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight – 1872 – 1901.  This seemed to be too far away from where Elizabeth lived and worked.  But then I found that Mary Ann’s two children were born in Ashurst Wood Sussex, not all that far from the Isle of Wight.  Could Elizabeth been staying with her sister Mary Ann?  Could Elizabeth and Rowland Grigg and have met?  Brighton, that most famous of holidaying sites, was near to both Mary Ann’s and Rowland’s residential areas.  The Isle of Wight itself was also a  well-known holiday destination popularised by Queen Victoria.

Rowland Grigg of the Isle of Wight was the son of a draper and had no occupation recorded in the census before he died.  His, too, was a short life.

So I think we have finally told the bare bones of Rowland’s remarkable story. He is a member of a proud and illustrious family – the theatrical Tearles. We have established that his mother was Elizabeth 1871, the daughter of John 1825, the marine, and Sophia nee Walker. I am sure there is still a story to be told about why she was in Rugby in 1891 and why she was working in Willesden about the time of Rowland’s birth. His family’s times were difficult, and children were brought up by the extended family rather than by their parents. All the evidence shows, though, that they were still well brought up. Rowland heeded the call to war, and signed up to save lives rather than to take them. This decision cost him his own life, and we can only speculate on the misery it may have caused him as he lay dying in Susannah’s house. We have established his family connections, and we have acknowledged the debt we owe to Susannah Rogers and the generosity she showed him.

There is one other memorial we discovered; on the wall of the Yardley Hastings Memorial Hall that faces the road is a memorial to the young men who died in WW1 and WW2: Rowland is with them. He has been called Greg, but we are aware of exactly who he was.

War Memorial on hall, Yardley Hastings.

War Memorial on hall, Yardley Hastings.

DSCF5681 Rowland Gregg Tearle on war memorial Yardley Hastings Northants

Close-up of names on the War Memorial Hall.


Edward Kefford W Tearle 1907, Lexden, UK (CMP)

Elaine and I got quite a surprise, even a shock, to see the name E TEARLE on a WW2 memorial outside St Marys Church in the pretty little village of Old Welwyn. Welwyn Garden City is close to St Albans, and you can walk to Old Welwyn from Hatfield. It took us a while to gather the information needed to tell his story, but here it is now.

The E Tearle honoured on WW2 section of the Old Welwyn memorial is Edward Kefford W Tearle, of the military police, b1907 in Essex.

WW2 names Old Welwyn

WW2 names Old Welwyn.

The memorial itself is next to St Marys, Old Welwyn.

War memorial closeup Old Welwyn

War memorial closeup, St Mary’s, Old Welwyn.

Here is the information supplied by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Lance Corporal
Regiment/Service: Corps of Military Police
Date of Death:31/05/1940
Service No: 7683659
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Plot 2. Row C. Grave 26.

This Edward Kefford W Tearle b1907 Lexden, Kent, was the son of Edward Kefford Tearle 1878 of Hatfield and Maud Sarah nee Micklefield, and as far as I know, he was their only son. He was the grandson of William 1857 of Soulbury and Sarah nee Kefford. He was the great-grandson of John 1831 Soulbury and Harriet nee Figg.

 Both these families are descended from Richard 1805 and Martha nee Walker, the parents of all the Soulbury Tearles. Leslie James T, John Henry T and Edward Kefford W Tearle are all descended from John Tearle 1830 and Harriet nee Figg, while Norman is descended from Richard 1843 (John’s brother) and Elizabeth nee Ellingham. All the Soulbury Tearle families are on the branch of John 1741.

WW2 names detail Old Welwyn

Detail of the WW2 names, Old Welwyn.

The CWGC said of Edward’s last hours: “The British Expeditionary Force was involved in the later stages of the defence of Belgium following the German invasion in May 1940, and suffered many casualties in covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. De Panne village was the site of the final General Headquarters of the BEF in 1940, and there was a Casualty Clearing Station on the beach, which was an embarkation beach for the evacuation. From 27 May to 1 June 1940, the Germans strove to prevent the embarkation of the troops by incessant bombing, machine-gunning and shelling. The first German troops reached the village between 14.00 and 15.00 hrs on 31 May, and after heavy fighting, the commune was completely occupied by about 9.00 hrs on 1 June.”

Jonathon Tearle wrote to me on 20 Sep 2006

“This is my grandfather who was killed at Dunkirk in WW2. Although the evacuation was considered a great success, some poor souls got left behind to slow down the German advance. Edward was one of these brave men, and he wasn’t even a regular.”

Here are the results from our visit to the De Panne Communal Cemetery. We took the bus from Ypres to De Panne and a tram trip from De Panne to the cemetery below.

The Great Cross De Panne Communal Cemetery

The Great Cross; De Panne Communal Cemetery.

Edward Kefford William Tearle 7683659 De Panne Communal Cem

Edward Kefford William Tearle 7683659; De Panne Communal Cemetery.


John Tearle and Harriett nee Figg were shockingly poor – they lived in cottages in Simonsyde (off the Coopers Green Lane to Stanborough) and they spent time in the Hatfield Union Workhouse. To compound their tragedies caused by poverty, John and Harriet’s grandsons were killed in WW1: Leslie James Tearle was killed in France and John Henry Tearle was killed in Gallipoli. Then, in WW2 this man, their g-grandson, was tragically killed defending the beaches of Dunkirk as the British and French armies made their escape, on the very same day that his second cousin, Norman Tearle, was killed trying to ferry men from the beaches to the waiting warships. Norman went to war from Soulbury, while Edward’s family had left the village two generations earlier.

We went to see Norman’s grave in Oostende, by tram, later on the same day that we visited De Panne.

Edward Kefford W Tearle, above, died in May 1940, but his father, Edward Kefford Tearle (John Henry’s brother) died in September the same year. So poor Maud Sarah Tearle nee Micklefield lost both her son and her husband within six months.


Leslie James Tearle, 1915, St Albans, UK (1st Herts Rgt)

The War Memorial, St Albans.

The War Memorial, St Albans.


Initials:L J    Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private    Regiment/Service: Hertfordshire Regiment
Unit Text:1st Bn.    Age: 19    Date of Death: 11/07/1915
Service No:2007
Additional information: Son of Edward and Emma Tearle, of 49, Culver Rd., St. Albans, Herts.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead    Grave/Memorial Reference: I. B. 9.

His parents were Edward Joseph, b 1869, Simonshyde, Hatfield and Emma Warner b1872, Hatfield. Edward was the son of John b1831 Soulbury and Harriet nee Figg. John was the son of Richard 1805, Stanbridge and Martha nee Burnard. Richard was one of the many sons of Richard 1773, Stanbridge and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth – my ggggg-parents. And this Richard was the son of John 1741. Thus Leslie is of the branch John 1741.

LJ Tearle on the St Albans War Memorial. Leslie James Tearle

LJ Tearle on the St Albans War Memorial. Leslie James Tearle

WW1 memorial St Albans Town Hall

Leslie is remembered on the Honours Board in the Old Town Hall.

Here is a closeup of Leslie's name on the board.

Here is a closeup of Leslie’s name on the board.


Leslie is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in All Saints Church, Hertford.

Leslie is also remembered on the Roll of Honour in All Saints Church, Hertford.

Here is the header section of the memorial.

Header section of the memorial.


Leslie and Alfred Tearle on the Hertford War Memorial.

Leslie and Alfred Tearle on the War Memorial in All Saints, Hertford.

The first Tearle name on the list above in All Saints, Hertford is Alfred Edward Tearle 1897, of Watford.

Leslie James was killed on 11 July 1915. The Long Long Trail says of that time: “there was no general change in the situation on the Western Front. It was a period of static warfare, where the army suffered average losses of 300 men a day from sniping and shellfire, while they continued to gradually improve and consolidate the trenches.” and “The army continued to suffer from a shortage of material, notably heavy artillery and machine guns (although Lewis guns were officially issued from 14 July onward).”

He is buried in Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy, a village on a canal (with a lock) in Pas de Calais, with a four-hourly train connection.

Below is the view from the road of Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy. There was no one battle here; the area was always in range of German guns as was Woburn Abbey, the name given to a house nearby, which was used as a battalion headquarters and dressing station. No details are given by CWGC about the circumstances in which young Leslie died.

Woburn Abbey Cemetery Cuinchy

Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy.

Leslie James Tearle in the Book of Remembrance; Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy

Leslie James Tearle in the Book of Remembrance; Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy.

His parents would have written the epitaph for his headstone, pictured below:
“He died a noble death fighting for his country.”

Leslie James Tearle Woburn Abbey Cemetery Cuinchy

Leslie James Tearle headstone, Woburn Abbey Cemetery, Cuinchy.


John Henry Tearle 1887, Hatfield, UK (Inniskilling Fusiliers)

Here are the details supplied by the CWGC

Initials:J H
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank:Lance Serjeant
Regiment/Service: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Unit Text:1st Bn.
Date of Death: 29/06/1915
Service No:9054
Additional information: Son of Mrs. Sarah Tearle, of 71, Port Hill, Bengeo, Hertford.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 97 to 101.

The parents of John Henry Tearle 1888 Hatfield, were William Francis Tearle 1857 Soulbury and Sarah nee Kefford. Bengeo is a suburb of Hertford. I have a special affinity for John – he died in Gallipoli. The CWGC says of the Helles Memorial: “The Helles Memorial stands on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula. It takes the form of an obelisk over 30 metres high that can be seen by ships passing through the Dardanelles.”

The Helles Memorial.

The Helles Memorial, Gallipoli.


There is no memorial in Hertfordshire for John Henry, but the “Helles Memorial for the English” gives John Henry full benefit for his sacrifice.

John Henry Tearle on Helles Memorial.

John Henry Tearle on Helles Memorial.

There is a section on John Henry Tearle in the article and booklet “A Visit to Gallipoli”.

William’s parents were John 1831, Soulbury and Harriet nee Figg. William and Edward Joseph, were brothers, so John Henry of Hatfield and Leslie James of St Albans were first cousins. Thus John Henry is also of the branch John 1741.


Charles Tearle 1894 Preston, UK (Loyal Nth Lancs Regt)

Here is his service record from CWGC

Name: TEARLE, CHARLES Initials: C Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st/5th Bn.
Date of Death: 30/11/1917
Service No: 36932
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 8.

Charles was killed during the Battle of Cambrai, which started on 20 Nov 1917. When the Germans regrouped and attacked on 29 Nov, after initial Allied success, Charles was killed in the following 5 days of fierce action. Cambrai Memorial was established to commemorate those who have no grave.

Son of Charles 1860 of Preston and Jane nee Swarbrick. His mother was Sarah Tearle 1831 who had made her way up to Preston following her father and brother, hoping for a better life. She married Thomas Hoole in Preston in 1868. Sarah’s parents were Joseph 1803 of Tebworth and Mary Ann nee Smith, who died in 1849. Joseph’s parents were Richard Tearle 1778 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Pestel. And Richard’s parents were Joseph Tearle 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.

There is a lot more written about the story of the Preston Tearles here, some of it occasioned by the discovery of the story of Charles Tearle, soldier.


Pte Charles Tearle 1st/5th Bn The Loyal North Lancaster Regiment.

The army record of gratuities to his family (below) show two sums sent to his father, Charles, in Preston.

Charles Tearle UK Army Effects


Here is the Cambrai Memorial in the grounds of the Louverval Military Cemetery.

Cambrai Memorial Louveral Military Cemetery

Cambrai Memorial Louverval Military Cemetery

Across the countryside Louveral Military Cemetery

Across the countryside Louverval Military Cemetery

The headstones in Louverval Military Cemetery mark the graves of fallen soldiers; however for those whose bodies were never found, the names are inscribed on the Cambrai Memorial.

Charles Tearle in Book of Remembrance at Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Charles Tearle in Book of Remembrance at Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Charles Tearle on the Cambrai Memorial in Louveral Military Cemetery

Here is Charles’ name on the Cambrai Memorial.


Albert Ernest Tearle, 1889, Sutton, Surrey, UK (RFA)

Died 16 Apr 1917, Mesopotamia.

Mesopotamia is not a country, or even a region, it is a Theatre of War. Since he is buried in the CWGC Baghdad War Cemetery, this points to Albert being killed in Iraq.

Here is his service record from CWGC:

Name: TEARLE Initials: A E     Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Acting Bombardier
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery
Unit Text: 8th Bty. 13th Bde.
Date of Death: 16/04/1917
Service No: 46587
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: XIV. G. 8.

Rosemary Tearle of NZ found out about this chap, whom I had found in “Soldiers died in the Great War”. This is what she told me:
I did know about Albert Ernest Tearle, although with a slightly different place of death. Michael’s Aunt Evie (Evelyn Mary West nee Tearle) sent me some family history info before she died. She had Albert Ernest “Killed in action in India 1917 – He was single”. I will amend my records here accordingly.

For the record here is what I know of Albert Ernest.:
Albert Ernest Tearle, born 2 Jan 1889 at Sutton Surrey. Parents: William James Tearle 1860 and Lucy Ann nee Laine. (Tearle Grandparents, James 1834 and Sarah Ann nee Jones; great-grandparents, George Tearle 1808 and Elizabeth Tearle 1810)

Siblings: William Charles 1885, Reginald Arthur 1893 (who married Edith Maud Tanner and is in the wills section) and Grace Ellen 1900.

His brothers were butchers and his sister married a butcher, (he also had an uncle, John Thomas Tearle 1871, who was a butcher in the 1901 Sutton census) so perhaps he may have done a bit of butchering before he went to the War. William Charles Tearle also went to the War – he was a driver in the Service Corps and was mustard gassed. I don’t know if Reginald Arthur Tearle was in the War.

Enlisted Kingston-Upon-Thames, died Mesopotamia 16 April, 1917. He is listed on the Sutton Memorial in Manor Park, Carshalton Rd, Sutton.

I think the cause of the error in Aunt Evie’s report to Rosemary was because the 13th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery, of which the 8th Battery was a member, fought with the 14th (Indian) Division in Iraq.* It was composed of battalions of the regular British Army, the British Territorial Force and the British Indian Army.  This does not mean that Albert ever lived or served in India. The 14th Division was engaged in battle in Iraq from 14 Dec 1916. In March 1917, the 14th Division had fought the Second Battle of Kut, and then captured (or freed from the Ottomans, depending on your viewpoint) Baghdad, under the leadership of Major-General Sir Frederick Stanley Maud. On 30 April 1917, the 14th Division fought in the Action of the Shatt Al Adhaim, but Albert never saw this. His record of Army gratuities, below, shows that on 16 Apr 1917, he was killed in or near Basra, and at a later date his body was removed to the GWGC cemetery near Baghdad. I shall let you make what you will of this document. It is very interesting. I ought to point out, too, that a Bombardier in the artillery was the equivalent of a Lance Corporal elsewhere in the army during WW1. So in this case he was an Acting Lance Corporal. Even so, he had responsibilities and duties to go with his new rank.

* Moberly, Brig Gen F. J. , The Campaign in Mesopotamia 1914-1918, 1923, London, HM Stationery Office.

Albert Ernest Tearle UK Army Effects

Albert Ernest Tearle UK Army Effects.

Rosemary was absolutely correct; Albert is remembered on the Sutton War Memorial. Here is the memorial itself, in the 4-acre grounds of Manor Park that have been set aside for it “For ever.”

Sutton War Memorial Manor Park Carshalton Rd

Sutton War Memorial Manor Park Carshalton Rd

Here is the dedication of the memorial for the casualties from Sutton:

Dedication of the Sutton Memorial to the war casualties.

Dedication of the Sutton Memorial to the war casualties.

And finally, here is that part of one of the many panels on the memorial that contains Albert’s name:

Bom Albert Earnest Tearle on Sutton War Memorial closeup

Bombardier Albert Earnest Tearle on the Sutton War Memorial, closeup.


Alfred Edward Tearle, 1897, Watford, UK (1/Herts Regt)

Here is his service record from the CWGC
Name: TEARLE Initials: A E Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private Regiment/Service: Hertfordshire Regiment
Unit Text: 1st Bn. Date of Death: 10/05/1916 Service No: 4605
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: III. R. 8.

His parents were Alfred George Tearle 1872 Watford and Minnie M nee Cyster. His grandparents were Jabez 1844 Borehamwood and Susannah nee Payne.

Jabez’ parents were George 1818 of Dagnall and Annie nee Haws, who founded an Australian family. George’s parents were Able 1797 Edlesborough and Hannah nee Frost, and of course, this Able was the son of the famous Fanny 1780, possibly the daughter of Thomas 1737 Stanbridge and Susannah nee Attwell. So that makes Alfred a member of the branch Thomas 1737.

I note from the Hertford site that the 1st Bn in 19 August 1915 was transferred to 6th Brigade, 2nd Division, and on 29 June 1916 was transferred to 118th Brigade, 39th Division. Since Alfred was killed on 10 May 1916, he was never in the 39th Division. If you look up the activities of the 2nd Division, the poor chap never stood a chance of lasting the war. It looks as though he was killed between Loos and La Bassée during the battle of Loos.

His Army record of gratuities to his family shows only that he was killed “In Action”, and that two small gratuities were sent to his sister.

Alfred Edward Tearle UK Army Effects

Alfred Edward Tearle UK Army Effects

Alfred Edward is remembered on the War Memorial in All Saints Church, Hertford.

War Memorial All Saints Hertford

War Memorial, All Saints, Hertford.

War Memorial header, All Saints Hertford.

War Memorial header, All Saints, Hertford.

WW1 memorial names EA Tearle LJ Tearle All Saints Hertford

WW1 memorial names E A Tearle L J Tearle in All Saints Church, Hertford.

The second Tearle soldier on the memorial above is Leslie James Tearle of St Albans

The gate - Guards Corner and Windy Corner Cuinchy

The gate – Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

The massed graves of Windy Corner Cuinchy

The massed graves of Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

Alfred Edward Tearle Windy Corner Cuinchy

Alfred Edward Tearle headstone in Windy Corner, Cuinchy.

Alfred Edward Tearle in the Book of Remembrance Windy Corner Cuinchy

Alfred Edward Tearle in the Book of Remembrance, Windy Corner, Cuinchy.


The Top of the Tearle Tree

I have been working on the difficult task of drafting a chart that shows the Tearle family tree from its beginnings in Stanbridge, to the middle of the eighteenth century. The sole criterion was that the line of Tearles it described had to be unbroken, from the first name to the last. Barbara Tearle of Oxford started the project off by posing a scenario that was solidly rooted in fact, but sounded like the start of novel:

Jan 2006:

“In 1610 John Tearle, yeoman of Stanbridge, bought land in Stanbridge.  He could have been making this purchase near the beginning of his farming career, or more likely near the end.  He could have been anywhere in age between 25 or 50.  He could have had a young family or a grown family.

There is a marriage of John Tearle to Joan Hale in Upper Gravenhurst in 1607.  The Stanbridge PRs show baptisms of children to John Tearle from 1611 to 1618, but they are incomplete for the next few years.

In 1653 John Tearle yeoman of Tilsworth (wife Joan) settled the same land on his son Thomas and his new wife Mary Smallbone.  Also involved was William Tearle of Stanbridge and there is a reference to a John Tearle of Stanbridge who may be a different person from John of Tilsworth.

Is the newlywed Thomas Tearle son of John bap 1618?  If so, he would have been 35 when he married.  Rather late, but they were troublesome times and people might have put off marriage.  

In 1699 Thomas Tearle of Stanbridge transferred the land to Thomas Tearle jr. of Hockliffe and John Tearle of Stanbridge.  If this is the same Thomas who married in 1653 he would have been 81.  Is this likely or is there another generation?  One of the witnesses was William Greenhough who then grants a mortgage to Thomas Tearle sr. and jr.

Using William Greenhough as a point of reference, Thomas Tearle who transferred the land, is the testator of 1699 who died in 1704.  As the testator’s sons were Thomas and Joseph, the John Tearle mentioned in the transfer is probably from a different family.  He may be the John Tearle who made his will in 1701, who is from a different family because he only mentions one brother (Thomas) and different sisters and brothers-in-law.

In 1717 Thomas the new landholder of 1699 and his brother Joseph remortgaged to Elizabeth Haines.  This may confirm the identification of the two Thomases as the testator of 1699 and his son.

In 1732 Joseph Tearle dies and his son Thomas administers his property.  The various mortgagings until the sale of the land in 1788 show that this Thomas was married to Mary and that his son was Joseph who was married to Phebe Capp.”

I mulled this over for a long time and slowly gathered the documents together that would allow me to draw my chart. Barbara had provided me with an outline, but I needed much more. The only documents extant from the period are the parish records of Stanbridge Church, (hereinafter referred to as the PRs) the wills left by some of the men Barbara had mentioned, and some land transfer documents that mentioned Tearle owners or neighbours. All of these documents are held by BLARS, the Bedfordshire history centre in Bedford, and each is numbered. I shall be quoting those numbers throughout this account. There is also an excellent book on the subject of Tearle history called TEARLE, a Bedfordshire Surname, written by John L Tearle. I shall refer to his book as JLT, plus relevant page numbers. Since most people who own the book have the 2nd Edition, then that is the one the page numbering refers to.

There is also a convention I use that gives a man’s name and birthdate as a short code, such that a Thomas Tearle born in 1709 will be referred to as Thomas 1709, if he marries then he and his wife will be referred to as Thomas 1709 and Mary, nee, her maiden surname. If there are various people from different places, then their place name will also form part of their identifier. So this man would be Thomas 1709 of Stanbridge, or shortened to Thomas 1709 Stbg, and he and his wife will be referred to as Thomas 1709 Stbg and Mary nee Sibley. I have not seen this convention before; I had to develop it to give a unique but plain English identifier to the people who will be mentioned in this chart. I shall be using the convention here.

To return to Barbara’s outline, then, I found the baptisms of children of John 1610 and Joan nee Hale in the Stanbridge PRs:

1611, February 28, Elizabeth, daughter of John Tearle.

1614, July 22, Susannah, daughter of John Tearle

1618, September 20, Thomas, son of John TARLE

If we now look at JLT pp67-69, the author asserts that these are the children of John 1585 and on p68 he states that we should look for a son John who was born in 1610 (ie be the firstborn) who would inherit the property coming down from his father. There is plenty of time between the marriage in 1607 and Elizabeth’s birth in 1611, for a firstborn son, John. If the man buying land, above, is indeed John 1585, then in 1653 his son John 1610 is settling the land he inherited onto his son Thomas who had just married Mary Smallbone. This means that BOTH John 1685 and John 1610 married a Joan.

It also means that John 1610 is a grandson of John 1560. It further means that John 1585 is alive in 1653 (he’d be 68, not impossible) or there must be a will or land transfer document missing that transfers the land to John 1610.

I have checked the BLARS documents that Barbara referred to in other correspondance (for example GA 499) and the question Barbara posed above with regards to John who died and left a will in 1701 was answered just a little later – this John is the son (1654) of Thomas and Mary nee Smallbone.

William Greenhough is probably the one who married Alice 1682, the daughter of Thomas 1655 (the elder) of the 1704 will.

There are four men mentioned in GA 501 who are quite similar to the names in the Poll Books of 1695 –

William Tearle of Stanbridge

John Tearle of Stanbridge

John Tearle of Stanbridge, son of Thomas  (John 1653-1701)

Thomas Tearle of Stanbridge (Thomas 1632)

In this list “John Tearle of Stanbridge, son of Thomas” is surely the son of “Thomas Tearle of Stanbridge”, so there should be a Thomas, son of John

Thomas 1655 who died in 1704 had a wife Mary, but she certainly was not Mary nee Chynn. I have checked the online ( trees and Mary Chynn is universally noted as marrying on 24 July 1660. This was the date Thomas 1632 married Mary Quinney. No-one quotes the actual record, just points to the Ancestry tree where it is stated that Mary Chynn married Thomas 1655. I have deleted the surname from this Mary in our Tree.

Disagreements and inconsistancies:

If (JLT p102) John 1667 is the author of the 1701 will, then Thomas his brother is Thomas 1674 (who married Sarah Pepyat) of the 1720 will.


Barbara says the author of this will is John 1654, the son of Thomas 1632 and Mary nee Smallbone. So that means that there is another generation and the wife of William Greenhough is Alice 1620, the daughter of John 1654. Also, we have a timeline for John 1667 from the Stanbridge PRs:


1667, October 2, John son of John Tearle


1699, May 8, John Tearle

So I think that Barbara is correct.

On p102, John L has a tree starting with John 1610 and another starting with John 1620 (which goes back to John 1560 on p92) but he does not assert that this is the John 1610 he was keeping an eye out for on p68. What if this is that John? What if this man was the  John Tearle whom Barbara introduced who was buying land, or possibly increasing his holdings, in Stanbridge, for his brand new son, John 1610, and future children, now that he was married?

Both William 1620 and John 1620 are placed on the Tree as possible sons of John 1585, but if we place John 1610 as the elder brother of Elizabeth 1611, and both as children of John 1585, then detach John 1620, it might make the above story much less complicated. It certainly is not an impossible scenario, since in Stanbridge in 1704 Joseph and Alice nee Hyde are christening their daughter Mary and in 1701 and 1706 Thomas and Sarah nee Pepyat are christening their new children; this is a clear sign of these two families living and working in the same village at the same time.

Here is the story as I now see it.

GA 500: in 1607 John Tearle marries Joan Hale and in 1610 he buys a parcel of land in Stanbridge from Alice Iremonger more or less coinciding with the birth of his first son, John 1610. There is no record of how John raised the £310 to buy the land. This man is John 1568, son of John 1560. John 1610 as his son is postulated by JLT p68.

During his life he wills the parcel to his son John 1610 and subsequently dies. This is probably the only way the parcel could pass to John 1610 (unless there is a land transfer document missing) because John 1610 was too young to buy the property from Alice Iremonger himself.

GA 501: in 1653, John 1610 sets up a trust with William 1620, his brother, and John 1620 of Stanbridge who is a neighbouring landholder, to hold the land until both he and his wife Joan are deceased, then to pass it to Thomas 1632 and Mary nee Smallbone.

Barbara notes the four adult male Tearles of 1653: John 1610 of Tilsworth, Thomas 1632 his son, William 1620 his brother and John 1620 of unknown parentage, but who must be closely related or he would not be so trusted.

Again, the land in GA 501 must have been willed to the next owner, because in 1699:

GA 502: Thomas 1655 is transferring the parcel to his son Thomas 1678. The John Tearle mentioned is his brother John 1653 (of the 1701 will) and William Greenhough is the husband of Alice 1682, the sister of Thomas 1678 ie Jnr.

GA 503: father and uncle assure the right of the property to Thomas 1678

GA 504: The property is mortgaged to Williamm Greenhough, but through Alice, it is still in the family…

Then in 1717

GA 505: The will of 1704 by Thomas 1655 gives the land to Joseph 1676 (and Alice nee Hyde) on production of a male heir, and so it passes to his son, Thomas 1709, via GA 507, 508 and 509.


GA 513, the property is held by Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp, as well as Mary nee Sibley, Joseph’s mother, wife of Thomas 1709.


GA 515 to GA 521 the property is sold off and Mary dies a “pauper” – in other words, she is on parish relief, as per the Stanbridge PRs:


1792, March 15, Mary Tearle, widow, pauper.

I have cross-referenced a couple of things to see if I am consistent and compared GA 502 (1699) with the Poll Book of 1695:

GA 502:

1.         Thomas Snr

2.         Thomas Jnr, of Hockliffe

3.         John T

Poll Book:

4.         William T

5.         John T

6.         John, son of Thomas

7.         Thomas

Who are these men?

1.Thomas 1655

2. Thomas 1678

3. John 1653 (of the 1701 will) brother and uncle to 1. and 2. respectively.

4. William 1656, brother of John 1653 and Thomas 1655; but might also be William 1649, or even William 1670.

5. John  – poss John 1667.

6. John 1653 (of the 1701 will) the only John, son of a Thomas alive at that time.

7. Thomas – this is not John’s father Thomas 1632, otherwise the land would still be in trust. It is Thomas 1655 because he still held the land and thus probably got the vote. It is likely that Thomas 1678 did not at that time hold the land, so he may not have qualified.

I have not turned the world on its head with this view of the top of the tree, I just think it looks more likely that John 1560 begat John 1585 who begat John 1610 and so on down to us. That still leaves John 1620 in a tree of his own, along with Thomas 1674 and Sarah nee Papyat in a tree that grows parallel to ours and within which lives the charismatic Nathaniel, so I have called this nearby tree Nathaniel’s Tree. I was hoping that the view I had would amalgamate the two trees, but John 1610 and John 1620 cannot belong to the same parents and there is no grandfather for John 1620 to provide an ancestor who would unite the two trees. I notice that on page 102, JLT has them on separate trees, so that would appear to be the natural order of things.

The essence is that if John 1610, as the first of the children of John 1585, is more likely than John 1620 being the last of them, then our Tree starts with John 1560, not John 1610, and Nathaniel’s tree starts with this John 1620.

GA499 onwards give us the proof, which is that John 1610 is the first recipient of the parcel that was bought in 1563, so it follows that he was not the original purchaser, which then has to be his father, John 1585. The rest – from John 1610 all the way to Thomas and Mary nee Sibley, simply follows.

So our Tree is:

John 1560

John 1585 and Joan nee Hale

John 1610 and Joan

Thomas 1632 and Mary nee Smallbone

Thomas 1655 and Mary

Joseph 1676 and Alice nee Hyde

Thomas 1710 and Mary nee Sibley

and from the link below you can download the pdf of the chart of the descendants of John 1560 to the children of Thomas 1710 and Mary nee Sibley. This is the Top of the Tearle Tree and you are welcome to download it, print it, paste it up and frame it on the wall of your living room. It is from here that we trace our ancestry and it is from this village in central Bedfordshire that we made our way into many countries all over the planet. But even today, there are more Tearles in the countryside around Leighton Buzzard, Luton and Dunstable than anywhere else in the word. We are essentially a Bedfordshire, and indeed a Stanbridge family of rural folk who have worked the land as tenant farmers, and occasionally owners, until the last Tearle who lived in Stanbridge died in a cottage on the corner of Peddars Lane in 1956.


Tearle, John L: Tearle a Bedfordshire surname, Lillydown House, 1996