Category Archives: Tearle Stories UK

From England we are able to research the history of the Tearle Family. Here we will share what we have found in our research, and our travels around England, to find Tearle sites and Tearle graves.

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.

18Feb/17

Eaton Bray Tearle memorials

St Mary’s Church, Eaton Bray

The vicar of Stanbridge, Helen Gardiner, wrote to me to say she had seen mention of a Tearle in the Church of St Mary’s, Eaton Bray. She thought it was on the lectern. This was of great interest because Eaton Bray is one of the Tearle Valley villages, which we had visited, but on all occasions, St Mary’s was closed. This time (Feb 2017) we were lucky, a very pleasant and knowledgeable lady was arranging flowers for the coming weekend services and she was happy to have company while she did so. St Mary’s is an old and beautiful church built in the 1200s, so it is not a classic Norman design, but it is tall and of ample proportions, with a few additions that had been tidily added over the centuries of its life. Very few of its headstones are left; some are leaning against two perimeter walls, and a block of concrete had little plaques of the names of villagers who had been cremated. A war memorial took pride of place at the head of the pedestrian access to the building. We examined everything we could find for Tearle names, but there was nothing, in spite of there being Tearles in Eaton Bray since at least the early 1700s.

The first impression of the interior of the church is that it is filled with light and it is well maintained.

St Mary’s Eaton Bray interior towards the altar

A glance over your shoulder exposes the quite beautiful pipe organ attached to a wall behind which is the belfry. I asked the flower lady about the organ and she said there were recitals in the church, and they were well attended.

The pipe organ, St Mary’s Eaton Bray

Over time, some quite beautiful stained glass windows had been added.

St Mary’s Eaton Bray stained glass windows

We set about trying to find the Tearle memorial that Rev Helen Gardiner had referred to. First, though, was a complete surprise; a Roll of Honour with the name Robert Tearle.

St Mary Eaton Bray Roll of Honour

He had been born in Eaton Bray in 1887 and died in 1962. Below is the reference in closeup: “Beds” refers to his original enrollment as a private in the Bedfordshire Regiment.

Robert Tearle on St Mary Eaton Bray Roll of Honour

Then we found the lectern and the name of the Tearle we had come to find: it was Jeffrey, born in Eaton Bray in 1874, who died in 1952.

Lectern with Jeffery Tearle’s name

Here is a closeup of the memorial:

Jeffrey Tearle 1874-1952 in St Mary’s Eaton Bray

We were very touched; Jeffrey had continued his work as church verger, literally until he died.

But there was one more surprise; underneath the organ was a display which included a booklet on the Roll of Honour which, when it had been taken from its original hanging place was found to contain a note of all the villagers who had served in the Second World War, and amongst those was Jeffrey’s son Basil Jeffrey Tearle, who was born in Eaton Bray in 1921.

Basil Tearle St Mary’s WW2 Roll of Honour

Who were these men, and what do we know about them? Let’s start with Robert. He was born in 1887, so he was only 27 when WW1 started. He was always going to be drawn into that massive conflict which raged across Europe for four years at the cost of approximately 10 million military lives, and around 6 million civilian casualties.

Robert Tearle 1887, of Eaton Bray, was born to Alfred Tearle and Mary Ann nee Roe, also of Eaton Bray, on the 15 Sep 1887. His parents took a little while to baptise him, but that did take place, on 4 Sep 1890. He was the eldest of four children – Doris May in 1899, Arnott in 1900 and Aubrey in 1903 all followed him. Alfred and Mary Ann were married in 1887, in the beautiful church you can see above. In 1911, when Frederick filled in the census form, he was a bootmaker and poultry farmer, working from home. Robert was 23yrs old and he was a shoemaker and repairer, working on his “own account” presumably from the same address. The other children were at school.

In order to show you Robert’s ancestry, I need to digress for a moment and show you an outline of the Tearle tree from Alfred and backwards into history. Alfred’s father was William Tearle, born 1830, in Eaton Bray, who married Harriet Janes, of Eaton Bray, in 1851. They had three children, Hannah 1852, Tabitha 1854 and George 1856, who died in 1873. Remember Tabitha; we shall see her again.  In 1858 Harriett died, aged just 28yrs. I’m afraid I do not know why. With three small children on his hands, William married Ann Rogers of Leighton Buzzard in 1861, in the beautiful little church above, St Mary’s of Eaton Bray. At the time, she was a single mother with a son, John Rogers (named after her father) born 1857. The couple had seven children, of whom Frederick was second. Jonas, the first of their Tearle children was born and tragically died in 1861 at what cost to his parents, we cannot tell. Most of the Tearle children who were born after Alfred moved to the industrial areas of Northamptonshire, to become machinists and boot makers, and here is why: in 1849, a branch railway line was opened from Stanbridgeford to Dunstable; it was a walk of a few miles from Eaton Bray to the station, but only a few hundred yards from Stanbridge, and the people of Tearle Valley could take advantage of the opportunities in the new industrial cities to rid themselves of the sometimes intolerable grind of rural poverty.

William’s parents were George Tearle 1797, of Eaton Bray and Mary nee Hill of Hallibridge, near Spalding, in Lincolnshire. How they met is anyone’s guess, because people tended not to travel much outside their immediate countryside, if only because travel was difficult, dirty, expensive, and sometimes hazardous.

George’s parents were Thomas 1763 of Stanbridge, and Mary nee Gurney of Eaton Bray. In this marriage, we can see the movement of one family from the ancestral home of the Tearles in Stanbridge, to a village still in the same well-defined valley, about 4 miles away. And there they stayed, until the children of Alfred heard the call to the cities not particularly far from home.

Thomas’ parents were John Tearle 1741 of Stanbridge and Martha nee Archer. They had seven children, of whom Thomas was the second. John’s parents were Thomas Tearle 1709 and Mary nee Sibley. In another essay on this site, I have explored the relationships and events that lead to the marriage of Thomas and Mary, but the Tree now goes back to John Tearle of Stanbridge born about 1560, and with a few gaps here and there, the story of the Tearles in and around Tearle Valley goes back as far as the late 1300s.

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18Jan/17

John Tearle of Hyderabad – A hundred years in India

All Saints Church, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

All Saints Church, Marlow, Buckinghamshire

Introduction

John Tearle was a Lt Commander in the Royal Navy during the Second World War. He was awarded the Atlantic Star and the Africa Star. He had served on the DEVONSHIRE and the MANCHESTER.

He was awarded five medals in all, which he wore on a bar during formal military occasions. One was the War Medal 1939-1945 awarded to all personnel who had completed at least 28 days service between 3 Sep 1939 and 2 Sep 1945; then the 1939-1945 Star which was awarded for operational service between 3 Sep 1939 and 2 Sep 1945, and John certainly had plenty of that. Another was the Africa Star, the fourth was the Atlantic Star, and the fifth was the Defence Medal. Servicemen were only allowed five medals for fighting in World War 2, and John had a full house.

He would have won the Africa Star because he had served on the HMS Manchester in the Mediterranean, and the Atlantic Star because the Manchester had also served in the Atlantic convoys, joined the search for the Bismark, and she had also been engaged in the reinforcement of Spitzbergen. She had a very sad end when she was hit by a torpedo dropped from an enemy aeroplane on 13 August 1942, and was severely damaged off the coast of Tunisia. Her captain decided she was unable to make it back to port, so to save his men, he ordered the ship scuttled. He was court-marshalled, found guilty of negligence, and dismissed from service. It is likely that John’s children would be very grateful for the captain’s gesture.

It is not clear when John Tearle served on the HMS Devonshire because she was never sunk, and since she was built in 1926 and scrapped in 1954, he could have served on her at any time, and for any length of time. She is famous for rescuing the Norwegian royal family in 1940, for which they still supply a beautiful Norwegian fir every Christmas to stand, emblazoned with white lights, in Trafalgar Square. In a book by the author entitled William A J Tearle, Firefighter of Lostwithiel, there is recounted the story of Victor Tearle, who served on the Onslow, and escorted the Norwegian royal family back to Norway at the end of the war. The Devonshire was the flagship of that convoy. She also served in the Eastern Fleet in the Indian Ocean escorting ANZAC forces from Suez to Australia.

He had a brother and two sisters, known familiarly to the family as Uncle Frank, Aunt Kitty (married to Robert) and Aunt Betsy, married to Angus.

It was noted, also that John Tearle, engineer, had been recorded in shipping passenger lists to-ing and fro-ing from London to Bombay:

10 Mar 1950 from Sydney to Bombay on the Strathaird
16 August 1950 on the Strathmore (sister ship of the Strathaird)
23 May 1952 he arrives in Southampton from Durban on the Athlone Castle
30 May 1958 he arrives in Southampton from Bombay on the Carthage.

This is because he was the chief engineer at Singareni Coal Mines, not far from Hyderabad. His wife, Jean Tearle, had also made the trip to and from Bombay many times, often accompanied by one or more of her children, some of whom had been born in India.

It came to light that John Tearle’s father was John Herbert Tearle. He was a man well known in the records stowed in the Tearle Tree. Born in 1881 in Bisham, Berkshire, he married Mary Ward in Westminster City in 1900 and in the 1911 census he was an accountant. It is now possible to construct the family of which John Tearle was a member:

John’s family:

Parents: John Herbert Tearle and Mary nee Ward (married 1900, four children)

Violet Elizabeth 1901,
Francis John Enoch 1902,
Kathleen May 1910,
John Tearle 1916

It becomes immediately clear who the nick-names in the introduction belong to:
Uncle Frank was Francis John Enoch Tearle (even his obituary in The Times called him Frank)
Auntie Kitty was Kathleen May
Auntie Betsy was Violet Elizabeth.

The entire family must have lived a long time in the North, because John’s marriage to Jean Searle in 1941 was in the Northumberland registration district, although, without the marriage certificate, there is no way of telling where in that district the marriage took place. Once it was established that John Tearle 1916 in the Tearle Tree was John Tearle, Lt Commander RN above, this ancestry became clear:

John Tearle 1916 and Jean nee Searle
John Herbert Tearle 1881 and Mary nee Ward
Enoch Tearle 1841 and Elizabeth nee Jones
Abel Tearle 1810 and Martha nee Emmerton
William Tearle 1769 and Sarah nee Clarke
Joseph Tearle 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp
Thomas Tearle 1709 and Mary nee Sibley.

From the point of view of John’s grandchildren, they are looking at nine generations of their family’s history. It is now time to put some detail into the events that led to the construction of the family tree immediately above.

The trunk of John’s Tree

John Herbert Tearle has an army service record. It is an odd entry of just 3 pages, and on the first page (militia attestation) someone has scrawled diagonally across it in blue pencil: Purchased 6/12/96. At the top of the page, there is the number that John Herbert will live with for the rest of his life – 5610, his military serial number – and the unit he was joining – the 3rd Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment. There are some interesting answers to the questions on the form:

Born: Aldershot, Hants.            It is not clear why he said this, because his birth registration clearly states he was born in Bisham, Berkshire.
Living: Marlow, Buckinghamshire
Employer: Messrs Medmenham Pottery Co, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, for which company he was a clerk.
The second page tells us he was 5ft 8¼ in tall with scars on his left knee. A medical examination pronounced him fit for army service on 25 November 1896.
The third page (statement of service) is very short;
Length of service: 25.11.96 to 5.12.96. 11 days. Purchased.

This would suggest he had not liked the army and, since he was only 18, it is safe to assume his father had paid the fee. His father, it turns out, is a very interesting man indeed, with a biblical name that many of us would love to carry even today.

John Herbert’s family

Parents: Enoch Tearle and Elizabeth nee Jones (married 1869, seven children)
Jeffrey Jones T 1871,
Minnie 1874,
Emily 1876,
Martha Elizabeth 1877,
John Herbert 1881,
Katherine Mary 1885,
Samuel Hugh 1889

Enoch Tearle was born in Stanbridge, Bedfordshire, on 21 June 1841, the year of the ground-breaking census exercise that has taken a snapshot of British life every ten years since, with breaks in the war years. Abel, Amos, Enoch, Levi and Noah are some of the beautiful names liberally sprinkled amongst the Tearle families, matched by equally beautiful and historic names given to girls: Abigail, Ruth, Catherine, Charlotte, Martha and Phoebe to name just a few. The Victorians loved the Gothic as you can see from their churches and public buildings and even in the decorations on their more expensive houses. Gothic was part of the language of their belief in God, and so their children’s names reflected this spirit of their deep-seated Christian beliefs. What better way to express your devotion, than to give your children the names of His favourite sons and daughters?

From Bisham in Berkshire to Stanbridge in Bedfordshire we have, in one bound, leapt into the heartland of the Tearles. It is in this village, and in the little valley where Stanbridge nestles, that the Tearles have lived, worked, loved and died for at least five hundred years. The Tearles call it Tearle Valley, and the wider district is known as Tearle Country. The map of Stanbridge helps to delineate the boundaries: the village lies at the head of a valley aligned roughly north-west to south-east, with Stanbridge at the head. Even Eggington is not within Tearle Valley. There are limestone cliffs to the south-west. This limestone has been extracted for building blocks from time immemorial. It was called Totternhoe Stone and it was soft and carveable, but hardened nicely over time – perfect for lining the walls inside, for instance, St Albans Abbey, now St Albans Cathedral. Along the base of the upland runs the A4145 from Leighton Buzzard to Hemel Hempstead. On this road is Northall. An arch drawn from Northall across the north of Stanbridge to the A5 will describe the top of Tearle Valley. Following the A5 (Watling Street) to the junction of the Icknield Way – which, since ancient times, has followed the dry route along the tops of the hills through this part of Bedfordshire – will lead to the junction of the A4146, and everything inside is Tearle Valley, the ancestral home of most of the Tearles alive today. Inside the valley are Totternhoe, Eaton Bray and Edlesborough. Within ten miles are the country towns of Leighton Buzzard, Luton and Dunstable. These towns are in the wider area known as Tearle Country, and there are more Tearles in this small area of Bedfordshire than anywhere else in the world.

It turns out that the Tearles are a Bedfordshire, and indeed a Stanbridge family of rural folk who have worked the land as tenant farmers, and occasionally land owners, until the last Tearle who lived in Stanbridge died in a cottage on Peddars Lane in 1956.

And Enoch? He was the very model of a Victorian villager. His sister Ann was a strawplaiter who died young at just 47. She never left home and never married. His sister Sarah married a fellow villager, Ephraim Gates and went to Watford. Ephraim secured a job on the railways, but very sadly was killed walking along the line in the fog of an early Monday morning, in October 1872. It must have been desperately difficult for Sarah, a washerwoman, to care for her children after Ephraim’s death. His brother Amos moved to Walsall in Warwickshire, as a mining engineer. He married there and in the 1911 census he was a retired engine driver. His sister Phoebe was married in the beautiful little Stanbridge church in 1863 and also moved to Warwickshire where she registered the birth of three children in Nuneaton, only 20 miles away.. His sister Mary Clarke Tearle was baptised a Methodist in a tiny brick chapel next to what is now the Stanbridge school. The chapel no longer stands. Enoch’s youngest brother was Benjamin. He, too was baptised a Methodist. He was in the Royal Artillery (Southern) discharged on 15 February 1883. His regimental number was 23882, he was a gunner (ie a private) discharged at the end of his 1st period of service. He had accumulated no service towards his pension. This would appear to mean that either he was on a limited engagement, or that he had not served abroad. In the 1891 Stanbridge census, he was an agricultural labourer living with Alfred and Annie Buckingham. He died in 1900, never married.

When you look at these little vignettes of Enoch’s family from 1841 to 1900, it is possible to see the impact of waves of change that transformed the Victorian years. The eldest girl shows the farm-based life of the Bedfordshire village. Strawplaiting was not well paid and a plaiter had to make a length of about 6 yards a day. From time to time a plait dealer would sell the families bails of straw and then collect the plaited lengths and pay the family for them, by the 6-yard length. There is an excellent little display on this craft in the St Albans Museum near the centre of the city, and a very extensive and fascinating display of the strawplaiter’s art in the Wardtown Museum in Luton. It is an enlightening experience to see both the complexity of the task, and the simplicity of the cottage that housed it. The lengths of plait would be turned into straw hats, and whilst Bedfordshire is no longer the hat-making capital of the world, Luton even today has businesses that make the very best hats for people who are about to attend the most prestigious events, such as the horseracing at Royal Ascot. Children as young as five were working at plaitmaking – as long as their fingers could perform the motions, they were at work. It sounds terrible, and it probably was, but to the girls concerned, it gave them a freedom that few other women in England enjoyed – because they had their own money. This means that they could stay out of service. It meant they did not have to find a poorly-paid, and sometimes very difficult job, in someone else’s house performing menial tasks for long hours, and being constantly at the call of anyone their senior. Not having to be in service was an ambition very few people in Britain could hope to attain. In this respect, the Bedfordshire girls were lucky.

Over the one hundred years from 1841 to 1941, life in Britain changed beyond recognition, and Enoch and his family felt the full force of those irresistible changes. The major element of change for the Tearles was education. Methodism introduced free education for country children that had never been available before, and literacy allowed poor families such as the Tearles to take advantage of the other huge change that occurred in the 1840s – the railways. In about 1838 a line was laid from Leighton Buzzard to Euston Station via Dunstable – and suddenly London was only forty miles away; you could save up a fare and take a third class carriage all the way to London, and be there in a day. Elsewhere in tearle.org.uk I have discussed the Willesden Cell, a group of villagers living in London who traveled to and from Stanbridge. They lived in railway cottages and earned railway wages. Nothing could be further from the rural life than that. Their education, no matter how basic, equipped them to work in urban occupations and the railways supplied the means to travel there, and even the occupations in which to work. And that life banished crop failures and starvation for those families forever.

In the midst of all this change, what did Enoch do? The best way to explore his life is through the censuses because without too much difficulty they can be download from ancestry.co.uk and the source documents can be examined. In 1841, his father Abel and mother Martha were living in a cottage in Stanbridge with Ann, Sarah and Amos, as well as his mother’s younger brother. Enoch’s father was an ag lab. This is a Victorian catch-all phrase for anyone, no matter how skilled, whose fundamental means of survival was working for a farmer. The census was usually around April, so Enoch does not appear here, but he is not far off.

Enoch’s family:

Parents: Abel Tearle and Martha nee Emmerton (married 1833, eight children)

Ann 1835,
Sarah 1837,
Amos 1839,
Enoch 1841,
Phoebe 1843,
Mary Clarke T 1846,
Benjamin 1848,
Elizabeth 1851.

In 1851, there is a picture of unchanging, stable rural life, as glimpsed through the kitchen window. Martha is an ag lab wife, Ann and Sarah are strawplaiters, Amos (11yrs) and Enoch (9yrs) are scholars (they are at school) and Phoebe, Mary, Benjamin and Elizabeth probably have the run of the village green. It is almost certain that Amos and Enoch were educated at a school in Stanbridge because in 1842 the Primitive Methodist congregation bought a thirty foot plot of land for £5 and built a chapel and school. It was a fervent belief of the Methodists that the individual needed to read the Bible. They had to know for themselves what the scriptures said, so they could fully understand God’s Word. In many English villages, if there is a Methodist chapel, it would have doubled for a couple of classrooms and it would have preceded a state-run school by several decades.

In 1861, Abel was a platelayer on the railway. No longer a mere ag lab, Abel was employed in permanent work. Platelayers, as the name suggests, built the railway track. For all that, it can’t have paid a huge amount of money because Martha, Ann, Phoebe and Mary were all still plaitmaking, while Benjamin and Elizabeth were attending to their studies at school. However, Enoch and Amos are not  there in Stanbridge.

Enoch married in 1869. Actually, he married twice; there is a certificate for their marriage in St Paul’s Liverpool, the details of which are:

17th November 1869 at Saint Paul’s Church, Parish of Liverpool, Lancaster.
Enoch Tearle:  Full Age:  Bachelor:
Father’s name   Abel Tearle: Profession: Platelayer
Elizabeth Jones:  Full age:  Spinster
Father Samuel Jones Profession:  Farmer
After banns
Witnesses Mary Drury and George Foster

And then he married again in a Methodist chapel, in Wales:

8th September, 1870 at the Wesleyan Chapel, Johns Street, Chester, Flintshire
Enoch Tearle:  Aged 28 years:   Bachelor:
Profession: Private 4th King’s own Regiment: Residence:  Chester Castle.
Father:  Abel Tearle:
Elizabeth Jones  Aged 21 Spinster:
Residence Shields Court, Castle Street, Chester.
Father Samuel Jones:  Profession:  Farmer
By certificate:
Witnesses: Richard Sanders and Esther Taylor

It would probably not be a surprise, given her name, that Enoch’s wife, Elizabeth Jones, was Welsh, and since the distance from Liverpool to Chester is not very far, perhaps Enoch and Elizabeth went to the nearest place in Wales from Liverpool while he was on furlough. Elizabeth came from Hope’s Place, Flintshire, which is a village not far from Wrexham. I wonder whose idea it was to have a second marriage ceremony in a Methodist chapel in Wales? It is a charming and romantic gesture. I am fairly certain that the St Pauls in question was the beautiful, classically Georgian building in central Liverpool demolished in 1931, almost inevitably, by the railways, and now the site of the Liverpool Football Club’s Anfield Stadium.

From the second marriage document it is clear to see what Enoch has been doing in the previous few years – he joined the army. And he has set a precedent. He has joined the King’s Own Regiment. Its full name is the King’s Own Royal Lancashire Regiment, usually shortened to the Royal Lancs Regt, or The King’s Own. The 4th Division (also known as the 4th Foot) has a home in Aldershot, Hampshire.

In 1871, the census people came to visit Enoch, and there is a lot more about his activities. For some reason he was counted twice, and that is most unusual. The first record has Enoch in the Chester Castle Barracks, he is a private in the 4th Foot, and he is from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire. Amongst the soldiers is a drummer from London and other men of the 4th Foot come from Liverpool, Chester, Ireland, Wareham, Northampton and Cambridge. The second 1871 census return is from Bridge St, Chester, where Enoch Tearle, aged 29 lived with Elizabeth Tearle, aged 20. Enoch described himself as private, soldier, 4th King’s Own Regiment, from Stanbridge, Bedfordshire, while Elizabeth was simply dressmaker, from Flintshire. This is not a military street, even though Chester has been a military town since Roman times. Chester Castle itself was built by the Normans and still stands within the city walls. In this street, there are another two dressmakers, a master painter, a stone mason, a butcher, a cashier in a millinery department, a draper’s assistant and a general servant. There is even a pupil teacher, the backbone of the profession in the early history of education in England. All of these are working people, but this neighbourhood is a long way, in kind and in distance, from Enoch’s village. There are no farmers and there are no ag labs. And, interestingly, in this street there are very few children.

In 1881, Enoch is much closer to his roots than in bustling, urban, militarised Chester, but the census return still tells a well-traveled tale. Enoch and Elizabeth are living in the village of Bisham, Berkshire, where he is a butler, and Elizabeth is a full-time wife. He says he is only 34 and she is 29. Enoch’s arithmetic is a little out of sync with his age because, since he was born in 1841, he was 40 in 1881. Enoch has left the army and he is working, to make up the gap between his military pension and what he needs to spend to keep his family in the manner he wants. The most senior person in a great house is the cook; the next most senior is the butler; Enoch would be on a good wage. He also has a family: Jeffrey Jones Tearle, Minnie, Emily and Martha Elizabeth. Jeffrey was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, the southern military training camp; Minnie was born in Woolwich, the London barracks; Emily was born in Athlone, Ireland and Martha was born in Aldershot. John Herbert was born in 1881 in Bisham, Berks, so he is not far away when the census enumerator comes knocking. That Emily was born in Ireland means that Enoch did his country’s duty in policing the Irish revolution that began in 1798 and finally ended with Irish independence in 1922.

The 1891 census shows Elizabeth living in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Neither Elizabeth nor Minnie, the eldest girl, give an occupation but Emily is a dressmaker and Bessie, John Herbert and Katherine Mary are at school while little Samuel Hugh is just two years old. The range of occupations is expanding in small town life – there is a foreman in a brewery, a locomotive fireman, two millers and a butler in Elizabeth’s street. Enoch was in London for this census, working at 24 Portland Place, not far from the present Broadcasting House and today houses the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music. In 1891 this imposing building was the home of three elderly Yorkshire sisters, all single. They had a household of no less than nine staff, and Enoch was their butler.

In 1901, things have changed a little. Enoch’s occupation as the enumerator wrote it is illegible because of a deep black cross over it, drawn by the person who was checking all the different occupations people gave and distilling them into a few codes. So, for instance, ag lab was still in use for a farm worker. Enoch was definitely a worker so he was employed, rather than running his own business. Elizabeth, Katherine and Samuel Hugh do not give an occupation, and at 11yrs old it is certain that Samuel is still at school, but at 15yrs, it is not clear whether Katherine might be still at school, although it cannot be ruled out. The situation, though, looks calm and peaceful. Marlow, Buckinghamshire, is a rural idyll on the banks of the River Thames with large English trees, an imposing spire on a tall and elegant church and a graceful weir down which the Thames tumbles and chortles on its way to London. Enoch has moved back to his comfortable place in rural England.

The 1911 census always gives a little more than one would expect from a dry catalogue such as a census. For instance, it notes that Enoch and Elizabeth have been married for 41 years and had a total of nine live births, of whom seven are still living. Enoch is nearly seventy years old, and says he was formerly Army. Katherine is a teacher (assistant), employed by the Buckinghamshire County Council. Enoch says they are living at home in Jubilee Cottage, Newtown, Marlow.

Having found out as much as possible from the censuses taken in Enoch’s lifetime, there are a few details that can be filled in on Enoch’s army record because his discharge papers from the army in 1879 are in the public record. Firstly, they tell us he enlisted at Bedford on 15 November 1858 into the 2nd Battalion, 4th Division, King’s Own Royal Lancashire Regiment, when he was just 18yrs old and worked as a farm labourer. He was 5ft 4in tall, had sandy hair and a slight frame. He had been in service for 21 years and 9 days, which consisted of a first period of 9yrs 145 days then re-enlistment for a further 11yrs 214 days. In that time he had collected a silver medal for long service and good conduct, plus 5 good conduct badges. He was rated as conduct very good, 5B, which would appear to be the best conduct of all, since conduct ratings ranged from fair, then good 1B to 5B, then very good 1B all the way to 5B. In a written note, his conduct is described as very good, habits regular, temperate. The Methodists were keen on temperance, so Enoch was following his up-bringing. His medical record says he was sick four times in Corfu, twice being treated for climate-related conditions, between 1858 and 1863, otherwise he was never injured and never wounded. That is why he was missing in the 1861 census – he was on the island of Corfu, off the coast of Greece. He was actually on service abroad for 9yrs.  Also formally noted was that he had never been entered in the regimental defaulters book and he had never been tried by court martial. His formal discharge date was 25 November 1879, he was 39yrs old, of sallow complexion, brown eyes, red hair and his occupation was labourer. His intended place of residence was Captain Yorkes, Bisham Grange, Gt Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

At this point two more documents concerning Enoch came to light. One was a listing in the Kelly’s Trades Directory for 1907 which shows Enoch was a shopkeeper in Newtown, Marlow. Presumably, he was trading from this cottage, or at least from a premise very close to it. The last document is the calendar listing for the probate on Enoch’s will. His date of death was 4 March 1920 and the administrator for the £161 worth of his estate, was Bessie Tearle, spinster. “Bessie” was Martha Elizabeth Tearle, born 1877 in Aldershot. Bessie died, still unmarried, in 1957, in Hastings, on the south coast.

The reason for spending so long telling Enoch’s story is because it has ripples and resonance for many of his descendants; to John and even to John’s children. Enoch must have been a larger-than-life, formidable character of a man, because his influence on the future of his family is far-reaching and plain to see. However, for the moment, the story is focussed on where the roots of John Tearle’s Tree are firmly planted.

Abel’s family

Parents: William Tearle and Sarah nee Clarke (married 1795, eight children)

Joseph 1796,
Joseph 1797,
John 1799,
James 1801,
Benjamin 1804,
Daniel 1806,
Mary 1808,
Abel 1810

There is already mention of Enoch’s parents, Abel Tearle and Martha, but a closer examination is rewarding. Abel was born in Stanbridge in 1810; he is one of a family whose christenings were recorded in the Stanbridge Parish Records (PRs) that were reported on earlier. Abel is almost at the end of the records that Emmison transcribed:

Abel son of William and Sarah Tearle was baptised on 15 April 1810

Held under lock and key and hidden in the grand old Victorian safe deep in the vestry, is the Stanbridge Church banns register. When I first visited Stanbridge Church in 1997, the churchwarden carefully lifted it from a shelf in the safe and, walking amongst the pews, finally stopped and laid the book on the wooden lid of the medieval font. He opened the blue cover and I saw that the first page was headed 1821 and the first entry was dated fifth day of June. On that day, William Millar and Mary Janes had heard called out in the church the first of their three banns. The book has many pages of printed forms and the churchwarden explained that the vicar fills out one form for each couple who are going to be married. All the entries are written in india ink, which is very dense and contains no acid. The vicar uses the same kind of dip pen that children used in primary school in the 1950s, with an inkwell in the corner of a battered wooden desk, with its flip-up seat and hinged lid. Asked why the book was not in a museum, or a historical collection, the churchwarden replied,

“Because we are still using it.”

Here is a book that opened in 1821 in a small church in a Bedfordshire village and it is still in use, recording banns for the villagers of Stanbridge who love each other and want to be married. In 2006, at the very first TearleMeet in Stanbridge Enid Horton, and her daughter Lorinda, made it their mission to transcribe all the Tearle events recorded in the register. There were thirty-one entries. The first was 9 September 1825 when John Tearle married Elizabeth Mead, and the last was 21 April 1923 when Ernest Webb married Mabel Edith Tearle. The record held thirty-one marriages in 98 years. Those names are a roll-call of the Tearle family in Stanbridge. On 23 June 1833 Abel Tearle had the first of the three readings of the banns announced for his marriage to Martha Emorton (sic). The vicar has carefully overwritten the e he wrote in Emerton with an o. After much research and checking with modern spellings it was noted that the most common spelling of the name was Emmerton, so that is how it will look from this point forward.

Abel and Martha were married in the little Tilsworth church a few hundred yards along the road from Stanbridge, on 9 July 1833, because at this time, marriages were not held in Stanbridge. It is notable that no-one in this ceremony could write, except the vicar. Abel, Martha, and the witnesses William Crawley and Eliza Emmerton all make their mark. We see nothing more of Abel until the 1841 census. Abel and Martha are living on the Leighton Road. For someone standing on the grass where the cars park outside Stanbridge Church, looking straight up Mill Road to Eggington, Leighton Road is to the left and does indeed go to Leighton Buzzard, about six miles away. Totternhoe Road, as it was called then, goes off to the right. It is now called Tilsworth Road and runs past that village towards the A5. Upon examination of the Stanbridge pages of the 1841 census, it is clear that anyone who does not work on the land has an occupation: Rebecca Hines is a plat (sic) Ann Emmerton is a strawplaiter, Thomas Gregory is a farmer, George Crawley is a butcher, Charles Horne is also a farmer, Charles Bridger is a tailor, John Flint is a shoemaker and Mary Mead is a bonnet sewer. All the rest of the males are ag lab, and all the rest of the women have no occupation at all. In the 1841 census, it is best to remember that adult ages were rounded down to the nearest age divisible by 5, such that someone who was actually 37 years old was recorded as 35. Children’s ages were near enough to their correct age. Abel Tearle, ag lab, then, is thirty years old, Martha is 25 with her father, Joseph Emmerton who is 65 and still an ag lab – and there are the following children:

Ann, 5yrs
Sarah, 3yrs
Amos 2yrs

We shall skip the 1851 census, partly because Abel is not there, and partly because Enoch is, and we have already looked at his page, above. Martha is described as an ag lab wife.

In the 1861 census, things have changed a lot. Abel is a platelayer on the railway. It is likely that Abel missed the 1851 census because he was in a gang laying the plates for the railway somewhere between Preston, Leighton Buzzard and London.

In the 1871 census, Abel is 61 and still a railway plate layer, while Ann (25) and Elizabeth (20) are straw plaiters. There are only two ag labs on this page. Things have certainly changed, because James Birch is a railway lab, David Giltrow is a dealer (in plait) John Ellingham is a dealer, and Elizabeth Hinde is a dressmaker. It is interesting to speculate that there might be as many men on the railways as there are left on the land. The Industrial Revolution is well under way.

In the 1881 census there is a sad story; Abel is 71 years old and is an agricultural Labourer. He could not retire, he has to keep working. He has gone back to the only other work he knows apart from the railways, and that is the land. It is unlikely he is earning very much, because his daughter Ann is at home helping Martha. Although the enumerator has not given her an occupation,  Ann’s straw plaiting would still be bringing in money that the whole house depended on. Abel died on 9 October 1882 and was buried on the 13th.

Stanbridge is an odd little church and parish, with a complicated political history. It was part of the Peculiar of Leighton Buzzard which meant it was not part of the Archdeaconry of Bedford, and its rector was a prebend of Lincoln Cathedral. In short, this meant that while baptisms and burials could be conducted in Stanbridge, marriages were performed in All Saints Church, Leighton Buzzard, or in the bride’s parish, hence the records of Tearles marrying in the Tilsworth church. A trip to Leighton Buzzard just to see its parish church is well worth the effort; the tower is so tall it can be seen for miles on the approach to town. The marriage of William Tearle and Sarah Clarke is noted in the Leighton Buzzard PRs:

William Tearle and Sarah Clarke were married on 12 November 1795

Very sadly, the Leighton Buzzard Parish records also record that Sarah Tearle died and was buried in the little cemetery that surrounds Stanbridge Church, in 1811, it seems not very long after the birth of her last child, Abel 1810, who was to become Enoch’s father.

The wife of William Tearle was buried on 11 October 1811

The Stanbridge census of 1841 reveals William Tearle (aged 70, so born around 1771) in Stanbridge, but he was married to a Judith who was 65 years at the time. The Stanbridge PRs tell who she was:

William Tearle and Judith Knight (of Tilsworth) were married on 9 November 1812

It seems heartless that Sarah died in Oct 1811, and William remarried in November the following year, but both William and Judith would have benefitted a great deal from this marriage – William would have had a wife to look after the children while he worked, and Judith would have had an income and a respectable home. We cannot criticise them. A close look at the 1841 census form indicates that William was an ag lab, so that is what he would have been all his life. It is not possible to know what sort of work he did, and almost all the men on this page of the Totternhoe Rd were ag lab, but there are some occupations listed: Thomas Buckingham was on parish support and Thomas Gadsden was a plait dealer while Sarah Bunker, Mary Turney and Sarah Corkett were all straw plaiters. You can see clearly how farming life completely dominated the village of Stanbridge until the railways arrived and people began to take advantage of them from the 1850s.

It is difficult to know any more about William than this; he probably did not own his cottage, and he probably had to move several times during his working life; possibly on the basis of different farmer, different cottage, and possibly also moving to a larger cottage to cater for a larger family. There is constant movement from one little cottage to another in and around Stanbridge, thrown sharply into focus every ten years. We cannot know what William did as an ag lab and we cannot know where he worked, or even if he had work on one or many farms. William died in 1846. We know a little about his parents. Here is William’s baptism in Stanbridge Church:

Ann the daughter of John and Martha Tearle was baptised on 5 February 1769

William the son of Joseph and Phoebe Tearle was baptised on 10 December 1769

These two baptisms in 1769 are for children (Ann, and William) of two separate families – John Tearle and Martha nee Archer, and Joseph Tearle and Phoebe nee Capp. The two men are brothers, and Joseph is the eldest son of his family. By checking for other Joseph-Phoebe births, it is possible to find the entire family. There is a very short note about each family that resulted:

William’s family

Parents: Joseph Tearle and Phoebe nee Capp (married 1765, twelve children)

Joseph 1766      married Mary Pointer, one child
Mary 1768         married Joseph Wright, 6 children
William 1769               (as noted above) married Sarah Clarke, 8 children
Phebe 1771 (sic) died 1771, Thomas 1771, died 1771
Thomas 1774    died 1776
Ann 1775            married James Sharp, 6 children
Richard 1778    married Mary Pestel, 8 children
Thomas 1780   married Sarah Gregory in Chalgrave (no children) then Mary (surname, and maiden surname, unknown) who already had two children in Luton, 3 children
Pheby 1782 (sic) no record beyond this
George 1785     married Elizabeth Willison, 6 children
John 1787          married Elizabeth Flint, 3 children. Died 1818

With a family such as this and so numerous in grandchildren, it is no wonder that Joseph’s branch is very influential amongst the Tearles. You can see clearly the children who have died because there is another with the same name, later. Joseph and Phoebe were determined to have a Thomas, named after Joseph’s father, and a Phoebe to ensure her name carried forward, too. In the case of the twins Phoebe and Thomas Tearle, there is a single burial record for them in 1771 but no baptism, so I am assuming that they died very soon after birth. There was another Thomas baptised 02 January 1774, for whom there is no burial record, but since there is a later Thomas (1780) there is, completely contrived, a death date of 1776. Thomas Tearle, baptised 1780, did survive and married Sarah Gregory in the beautiful little church of Chalgrave, across the A5 to the north-east of Stanbridge, in 1802. Just before leaving Joseph’s Tree, it is well to look at the memorial under the trees in Stanbridge Church to John Tearle (of this family, immediately above) born 1787, who died in 1818. His daughter, Hannah Tearle born 1816, married Henry Fleet, a fellow Methodist in the village, and the two of them went to Sierra Leone on a great Methodist mission and adventure. The two of them fell violently ill on the ship and died within weeks of each other, shortly after arriving in Africa. Their sacrifice for their faith and their idealism is memorialised on a tablet which hung on the wall of the Methodist chapel. It was rescued when the chapel was demolished and it is secured on the wall of Stanbridge Church itself.

We have now arrived at one of the roots of the Tearle Tree. Joseph Tearle and Phoebe are William’s parents, so John Tearle 1916, Lt Commander RN, descends from Joseph Tearle of Stanbridge.

Joseph’s family

Parents: Thomas Tearle and Mary nee Sibley (married 1730, eight children)

Mary 1731, Elizabeth 1734, Joseph 1737, Thomas 1737, John 1741, Jabez 1745, William 1749, Richard 1754

Although these boys, Joseph and Thomas, were baptised at the same time, they may not have been born at the same time. However, Joseph, because he was the eldest son, inherited a farm which included a piece of Muggington Field, comprising strips of land between Stanbridge and Leighton Buzzard. Without the money to develop and expand his farm, Joseph and Phoebe were forced into ever more desperate circumstances until finally, on the 9th of July 1788, the last piece of land owned by the Tearle family in Stanbridge was sold. Joseph and Phoebe died paupers. A strip of Muggington Field that was bought from Joseph and Phoebe was purchased at the time by the family of Lawrence Cooper, the churchwarden who opened the church on the morning of TearleMeet Two in 2008. 220 years after that sale, Lawrence still owned the land.

This Thomas Tearle, the father of Joseph, was born in Stanbridge in 1709 and married Mary Sibley from Houghton Regis on 27 May 1730. They had eight children, of whom seven survived. Thomas died in Leighton Buzzard in 1755 and Mary probably lived with Joseph and Phoebe until her death in 1792. Joseph died in 1790 and Phoebe, who was undoubtedly the leading force for Methodism in the Tearles, died in 1817.

An examination of the list of John’s ancestors on page 2 will reveal that all the people on that list have had their stories told, beginning with John Tearle 1916 and Jean nee Searle, and ending with Thomas 1709 and Mary nee Sibley. It is time now to look in a little more detail at the stories of those in John’s family who accepted a role in the military.

 Military lives

From the brief view above of the story of Enoch’s military life; it would seem that much of it was spent in Ireland, although 9yrs were spent on service abroad. It has already been recounted that he joined the 2nd Battalion 4th Division, The King’s Own Royal Lancashire Regiment, and he was discharged after 21 years, still with the rank of private. His boys were to change all that; no mere private rank for them. From a glance at their birth dates, it can be seen that two, at least, were prime candidates for joining the armed forces in the First World War:

Jeffrey Jones Tearle     1871
John Herbert Tearle     1881
Samuel Hugh Tearle     1889

John Herbert Tearle, John’s father, might have been 33 in 1914, but that did not stop the armed forces from recruiting men of that age, especially if they already had military experience. Between John Herbert and Samuel Hugh was Katherine Mary, born in 1885. A long search attempting to find her in one of the many women’s auxiliary forces, or in a women’s group, was carried out, but there appears to be no documentation. Her contribution has been lost amongst the myriad grains of sand in the great hourglass of events that was the First World War (WW1). Millions of women spent huge amounts of time and energy – and their lives – helping in the war effort and there is no doubt that Katherine Mary joined in that work. Now, however, it is time to start at the top of the list of Enoch and Elizabeth’s children – with Jeffrey.

Jeffrey Jones Tearle was born in the Aldershot Camp hospital in 1871, and baptised later the same year. The camp had a hospital, and given that Jeffrey consistently gave his birth address as Aldershot, It is a reasonable assumption that he was born on site, in a vast camp that usually held in excess of 10,000 people. It is difficult to tell if there were married quarters, but Enoch was fully engaged in his army duties, and his family were born wherever he was at the time. The camp had a Methodist chapel, and a Primitive Methodist chapel, so it is very likely that Jeffrey was baptised in one of them, and it is equally likely he went to a school in the camp.

On 28 October, 1886, Jeffrey joined the army, and not just any regiment, either; the Royal Lancashire Regiment – in other words, the King’s Own. Since he is following his father in this, and he signed up in the Buttervant Barracks, North Cork, it is also likely that he took his father’s advice on the next decision; he signed up for 12 years. He was 15 years and 3 months old, and he was already an office boy, perhaps employed by one of the companies in Aldershot town, or perhaps somewhere in Ireland. He was 5ft 4in tall and weighed 100lb. He had hazel eyes, auburn hair, a mole on his left thigh and he was given the military serial number 1824. However, page three of his record, entitled his statement of services, is unhappily short. His service started on 29 Oct 1886 and ended on 28 July 1890:

Discharged, private, having been found medically unfit for further service.

His service had lasted 3 years and 243 days. On page four, there is a detailed breakdown of Jeffery’s service – he had been a drummer in the 2nd Battalion, Royal Lancashire Regiment. His next of kin was Enoch Tearle, residence 21 Victoria Park, Dover. For 216 days (9 September 1887 to 12 April 1888) Jeffrey was in India. This is the first documented sight of Enoch’s family (other than Enoch himself) being out of the country, anywhere other than in Ireland. The Actions, Movements and Quarters archive of the King’s Own Royal Regiment Museum in Lancaster showed where the 2nd Battalion was at any time, and where it went next:

January 1886 Quetta
March 1888 Karachi and Hyderabad

But there is more; on the sixth page of Jeffrey’s record there are two appearances before a medical board:

Quetta  18.2.88               Valvular disease. Recommended change to England. There is a stamp – Station Hospital Quetta

Curragh 9 June ’90 Valve disease of heart. For Discharge.

Also, it is clear the army approved of Jeffrey: habits regular, conduct good.

On the back of this form, there is a breakdown of where Jeffrey was, and what brought him to the medic’s attention. More importantly, it documents exactly where he was and when he was there.

Buttevant (Barracks, North Cork) 4.11.86    Ulcer     18 days in hospital
HMS Crocodile   9.9.87                  No reason given
Bombay   6.10.87                            No reason given
Narela (Delhi, India)    12.10.87       No reason given
Quetta  (India)    15.11.87              Rheumatism sub-acute      17 days in hospital
Quetta  (India)    12.2.88                Val. dis. of the heart     9 days in hospital
HMS Crocodile    17.3.88                No reason given
Netley  (Hants)    12.4.88                Disability. Climate        25 days in hospital
Dublin    9.2.89                 Itch          5 days in hospital
Dublin     7.9.89       S. C. Fever       13 days in hospital
Curragh    1.3.90      Anaemia           46 days in hospital

It transpires that the HMS Crocodile was a troopship designed to carry a full battalion of infantry, families and auxiliaries, a total of 1202. On 7 September 1887 she left Portsmouth with Jeffrey on board and on the 9th, Jeffrey was examined by the ship’s doctor. On 5 October 1887 HMS Crocodile arrived in Bombay and the 6th, Jeffrey was again examined by medical staff, this time in the Bombay military hospital. On 17 March 1888 HMS Crocodile left Bombay and on 12 April arrived in Portsmouth. Jeffrey was admitted to the Royal Victoria Military Hospital at Netley, near Southampton, where he stayed for 25 days. A man can get amazingly sick in India.

The beauty of this page is that it tells us that a 5ft 4in 18-yr old of only 100lbs is not really British Army fighting material, even if he is only a drummer. Secondly, it spells out in very clear terms where Jeffrey was and when. Thirdly it tells us that Jeffrey was there when the British Raj was at its height – Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India in 1877.

The last sheet (dated 2.6.90) in Jeffrey’s army record details the process of leaving the King’s Own. He is now in the 1st Battalion (he started in the 2nd) and the first question on the form is:

What is the disability unfitting him for service?           Valve disease of the heart.

Its origin, date, progress?                                      Probably constitutional. Started with an attack of rheumatism.

Is it caused by his service as a soldier?              Has not been caused or aggravated by military service

Is the disability permanent?                                  Permanent, but he will be able to contribute a little towards ensuring a livelihood.

On 7 August 1897, still only 26yrs old, in spite of all his adventures, Jeffrey married Sarah Quarterman in St Ann’s Church, Lambeth, London. He describes himself as a clerk, and his father, Enoch Tearle, as a butler. His sister, Emily Tearle 1876 (the one born in Ireland) was a witness. The 1901 census reveals that Sarah was born in 1867 in Milton under Wychwood, a Cotswold village not far from Chipping Norton. The Gothic parish church of St Simon and St Jude dominates the countryside, which used to be mined for the yellow Milton Stone that was used for many local buildings. They are living at 47 Mayall Rd, Lambeth. It is close to the Brixton Tube station while the Railton Methodist Church is about 100 yards along and one street over. Jeffrey calls himself an O. C. shipping clerk. And they have a son, Reginald Herbert Henry Tearle, just 1yr old. The world has ticked over into the 20th Century, but the Victorians cling on; in this stretch of the road, there are many occupations: a general carman, a keeler groom, a dress wash, road labourer, railway guard, two greengrocers, railway labourer, laundry maid, bath attendant, milliner, shop attendant, and a traveling salesman. Most people here are Londoners, but only four houses are occupied by Brixton-born families. Jeffrey from Aldershot and the traveling salesman from Fyfield, Hants, are the only strangers from out of London. Little Reggie died in1904.

In 1911, Jeffrey and Sarah are living in 11 Kepler Rd, Clapham where he is a mercantile clerk for a provision merchant. Provisioning usually applies to the armed forces, in this case, probably the navy. They now have a second son, Edward Jeffrey Tearle aged 4, born in Lambeth. There is also a niece, Beatrice Soden, from Idbury in Oxfordshire. who is their housemaid along with a boarder, perhaps to augment the family income. Beatrice was born in 1882 in Chipping Norton to William Soden and Matilda nee Quarterman. They married in Chipping Norton in 1877. Matilda Quarterman 1856, of Chipping Norton, was Sarah’s sister. Their parents were Israel Quarterman 1822 of Denchworth, Berkshire (an ag lab all his life – the price you pay for living in the country) and Eliza nee Templer (probably Templar) 1822 of Curbridge, Oxfordshire.

The last document of Jeffrey’s life was the entry in the probate calendar of 1913. Jeffrey was living in 25 Kepler Road, Clapham. He died on 4 August 1913 at Guy’s Hospital, Surrey and had asked Benjamin Hewitt, a Prudential agent, to administer his estate of £249 14s 7d. Sarah died just over a year later, on 14 December 1914, asking Harriett Brewitt (the wife of Benjamin Brewitt) to administer her estate of £205 17s 4d.

There are two marriage records for an Edward J Tearle: one to Margaret Shelley in Essex 1935, and another to Leonora F Wedlake in Somerset in 1941. Until there is documentation to indicate exactly which Edward J is the son of Jeffrey and Sarah nee Quarterman, his story is suspended here.

John Herbert Tearle 1881

John Herbert Tearle, was born 1881 in Bisham, Berkshire, just too late for the census, but where, as noted earlier, his father was a butler. In 1891 he was 10yrs old, and a scholar, living with his mother, who was a dressmaker. Spittal Street in Gt Marlow had a Wesleyan chapel in 1891, and there was a Borlase school not far away, a free school for twenty-four boys. It is very likely that John H would have gone to the former, but he definitely went to the latter. The Slough, Eton and Windsor Observer of 8 January 1916 notes:

“The list of successful candidates in the qualifying examination for naval cadetships, to enter the Royal Naval College, Osborne, in January includes… Francis John Enoch Tearle (Borlase School) son of Mr J H Tearle, an old boy of Borlase, and grandson of Mr E Tearle, of New Town.”

In the not too distant future he would be an engineer and an accountant, so his education had to have been better than a plait school in Bedfordshire. There is no mention of the Wesleyan chapel being used as a school, but I am certain that you cannot rule it out.

After his very brief flirtation with army life, and some study and some experience in the intervening years, John Herbert married Mary Ward in 1900, in the Westminster district of St George Hanover Sq. in Central London. There are no further details. It is also difficult to find out very much about Mary, too, but it is likely she is the Mary 1881 who is in the 1881 Battersea, Surrey, census with her father William Ward 1835 born in Westminster, her mother Catherine, born in Buckinghamshire and three other children. Her father is a general merchant, described by the enumerator as living in a house at 12 Arthur St: “shop, dealership, rope, bottles, bones and old clothes.”

In 1901, John H and Mary Tearle are living in 107 Brook St, in the parish of St George the Martyr, Southwark. This is a darkly handsome church full of menace and foreboding, on a corner of Borough High Street. It is worth the train fare to London Bridge and a walk through Borough Market just to visit it. Mary is not given an occupation, but John H grandly calls himself accountant, and then reminds the enumerator (in brackets) that really he is only a clerk – oh, and an engineer. The enumerator dismissively encodes him as CC – commercial clerk.

Brook St, Southwark (nowadays called Brook Drive) is a very interesting, and a very mixed, street. There are new families from Germany and Ireland, and out-of-towners from Essex, Buckinghamshire, Wheathampstead, Portsmouth and Boughton. There is also a selection of Londoners from all around the city – such as Westminster, Southwark, Lambeth and Newington. The collection of accents you would have heard as you walked in old Brook Street, may have come as quite a surprise, but it does show London growing and diversifying. The occupations are mixed, too, comprised mostly of working class people wanting to move up the aspiration ladder to a better, more stable life. There is a police constable, three teachers, a stone mason, a commercial clerk, a coppersmith’s apprentice, a tailoress, a police sergeant, a home health worker, a bookbinder, a journalist, a housekeeper and a carriage maker. Only one couple is older than 41yrs in the entire street, and that is the 63-yr old bookbinder and his housekeeper wife.

As early as 1897, John H was working for the Metropolitan-Vickers Company (M-V). There is a history of the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Company Ltd, written by John Dummelow in 1949, and in a chapter entitled BRITISH WESTINGHOUSE from 1899, the first decade: the author describes the events of the first ten years. In 1907, John H is credited with a job of some authority, as both an accountant and an engineer. In 1917, he was assistant secretary and treasurer, and in 1920 (he was called the comptroller) he resigned, after twenty-three years with Westinghouse companies. Westinghouse is an American company, still well known, which made a large range of mostly industrial electrical items – motors for trams and generators for hydro-electric power stations, for instance. The Metropolitan-Vickers Company made products under licence from Westinghouse, firstly (ie before 1910) in Old Broad St, London City.

In the 1911 census, the last comprehensive view of John H and his family, he is in Lancaster. His address is Clifton Bank, Church Rd, Urmston. These days, it is just another suburb of Manchester, but possibly, in 1911, it did seem a bit further away than an easy commute, perhaps even a little bit countrified. However, the main reason for living there was to be reasonably close to Trafford Industrial Park, where the M-V company had built a substantial manufacturing plant. John is 30 and Mary is 31, she has been married 10yrs and has had three children, of whom three are still alive. John is an accountant for an electrical manufacturer. They are living in a nine-roomed house – and they have a 13yr-old maid, Ada Mason.

In 1916, John Tearle was born in Barton upon Irwell, Lancashire, presumably while they were still living in Urmston, but certainly still close to Trafford Park. He is the man at the centre this narrative. For John H, though, the overall picture, with nine years of his career with Metropolitan-Vickers to go, is one of comparative wealth and some seniority. In 1917, he was listed amongst the senior officials of the company.

After 1920 there are only tantalising glimpses of John H’s life. Now that he is free from the constraints of the office, he takes up a challenge in South America, mostly Argentina, for which company there are no clues, but the voyage, and the ensuing adventure, do have consequences. The following is an entry in a ship’s passenger manifest:

Name:  John Herbert Tearle
Gender:              Male
Age:      42
Birth Date:        abt 1881
Departure Date:             20 Dec 1923
Port of Departure:         Southampton, England
Destination Port:           Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Ship Name:       Zeelandia
Shipping Line: Royal Holland Lloyd
Master:               A Dyker

This is three years after he left Metropolitan-Vickers, and there is a return journey:
Name:  John Herbert Tearle
Birth Date:        abt 1881
Age:      43
Port of Departure:         New York, New York, United States
Arrival Date:     2 Jul 1924
Port of Arrival: Southampton, England
Ship Name:       Almanzora

Although this transcript says the ship was returning from New York, the manifest itself says he was returning from Rio de Janeiro. John Herbert Tearle, 1881, engineer, is not to be confused with J Tearle 1892, engineer, who also traveled, this time on many noted journeys, to and from Buenos Aires and Liverpool. He was John Lawrence Tearle, the father of John L Tearle, scientist and author. The last, short, view we have of John Herbert is a mention in the National Probate Calendar of 1966. Address, 40 Villiers Ave, Surbiton. Died 25 October 1966, probate to Francis John Enoch Tearle, retired company director. £19023. We will see Francis later – we already know he is Uncle Frank – but there is so much more. The sum John Herbert left as his estate is handsome indeed.

Samuel Hugh Tearle 1889

The last child born to Enoch and Elizabeth Tearle was Samuel Hugh Tearle, born in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, in 1889. When recounting the results of her researches into this family, Mavis Endall of Melbourne, the grand-daughter of Minnie Tearle 1874 (the one born in Woolwich) called him Uncle Sam. The Australians will be part of this story later. Samuel has already appeared in the 1891 census as a baby and in the 1901 census as a schoolboy, where the enumerator’s handwriting made them look like the Harle family. In the 1911 census he is in the army, he is a 21-year old lance corporal from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, and he notes that his father was born in Stanbridge, Bedfordshire. He is on the island of Jersey. Samuel is in a list of soldiers on page 193 of the census, but flipping back one page reveals that he is in the Parish of St Peter’s, and for the name of the head of the family, there is: Officer Commanding 2nd The King’s Own, St Peter’s Barracks, Jersey. Samuel has joined the King’s Own Royal Lancashire Regiment, and he is in the 2nd Battalion, just like Jeffrey. His elder brother, Jeffrey joined the King’s Own in 1886 and here is Samuel, in 1911, already a lance corporal and beginning his career in an outpost. It is not particularly difficult to trace Samuel’s life and adventures in the army, particularly during the Great War.

Here, in an encapsulated form, is where the 2nd Battalion went and what they did there:

August 1914 Lebong, India
November 1914 Mobilised to be part of 83rd Infantry Brigade, 28th Division, at Winchester.
16 January 1915 Landed at Le Havre, France.
17 February 1915 Bayonet Charge at Zwartelen
21 February 1915 Repulse of Attack near Ypres
3 May 1915 Repulse of attack near Zonnebeke
8 – 13 May 1915 2nd Battle of Ypres: Battle of Frezenberg
8 May 1915 Repulse of attack at Frezenberg
25 Sept – 8 Oct 1915 The Battle of Loos
November 1915 Embarked for Egypt
January 1916 Landed in Macedonia (Salonika)
13 October 1916 Capture of Barakli Dzuma
March 1917 Battle of Doiran 1917
23 June 1917 Raid at Brest
25 February 1918 Raid on Bursuk
18 September 1918 Battle of Doiran 1918 and advance into Bulgaria.
10 November 1918 Moved to Chanak
December 1918 Turkey
13 March 1919 Reduced to Cadre
March 1919 Returned to Tidworth
July 1919 Disbanded and reformed

 

Those who have little knowledge of WW1 will still have heard of some of these battles, because they were the sites of vast bloodshed. Two in particular stand out: Ypres and Loos.

Ypres – you will have seen on television the recent excavations of battle trenches near this town in Belgium; English soldiers gave Ypres the name Wipers. Eeepr – can you imagine an Eastcheap cockney coping with that? The first battle of Wipers was a huge battle that lasted weeks, and then just died away. Hundreds of thousands of men (on both sides) were killed by machine guns and huge field guns that pounded the town and everything around it. Not a yard of ground was gained or lost. Then there was the second battle of Wipers. Same result. Then there was the third battle of Wipers, usually called Paschendale, being the name of a ridge that the armies fought over. There were half a million casualties. A huge memorial was built there, called the Menin Gate. It is the gateway into Ypres and has the names of 64,000 men whose bodies were never found. Those names filled the Gate, and the overflow of 8,373 men were written on tall tablets on the Tyne Cott memorial a few kilometres from Ypres

The battle of Loos is described in detail by the Western Front Association: www.westernfrontassociation.com  but suffice it to say that 75,000 British soldiers were involved, and that it marked the first time that the British army used poison gas. Samuel was involved in all its horrors from trenches on and near the front line. That is where the 2nd Battalion always was.

From January 1916, when Samuel landed in Macedonia, until he finally left Turkey, the 2nd Battalion King’s Own Regiment fought the battles that lead to the end of the Ottoman Empire. Chanak on 10 November 1918 refers to the surrender of Constantinople, and Turkey with it. The following day, 11 November 1918, the Germans surrendered. These days we call it Armistice Day. Samuel H and others of the 2nd Battalion, as members of the British Army, marched into Constantinople, to keep the newly-declared peace and to start the process of delivering the war-torn world back to the politicians.

It was necessary to outline these events to show that Samuel was there when WW1 started, and he was still standing when it ended. There is, in the King’s Own Regiment Museum, a photo of Lt Samuel Tearle taken with a group in Salonika. Samuel’s medal card is most interesting to study because it is, in a highly condensed form, the story of his life in WW1. Firstly, there is a big red stamp 1914-15. There is his name TEARLE, Samuel Hugh, then the Corps: Royal Lancashire Regiment. Rank – sergeant, and his regimental number – 10220. This means that in 1914, when the war started, Samuel was already a sergeant. There is no date given, but in blue there is recorded Lt and a red pen note saying comm’d, meaning commissioned. He had been made a full lieutenant, not just an acting one. The medal record goes on to say the THEATRE OF WAR was France. The official landing date of the 28th Division was 16 January 1915. Samuel was awarded the 1914-15 Star, for being in the war from that date, as well as the Victory Medal and the British Star. Interesting, also, is his address:

38 Cedar Terrace, Lancaster Gate, W.2.

Lancaster Gate is a handsome, stone-faced, multi-storey, 19th Century development in London, part of which borders Hyde Park.

It would be informative to see the Service Record for Samuel Hugh but it has never surfaced, and as a result, there is no record of how and when he left the army, but a note in the London Gazette of 10 February 1919 announces he was temporarily made a captain whilst he operated as an adjutant. That is a very good rank indeed, even more so because he rose to it from starting as a mere private.

Now, let’s go back to India. You will see in the Actions and Movements list above that Samuel was in Lebong with the 2nd Battalion in August 1914, then in London for the November merge with the 28th Division, then in France on 15 January 1915. I think it was Rosemary Tearle of Auckland who found this:

Marriage in India:
Groom’s Name: Samuel Hugh Tearle
Bride’s Name: Dorothy Kate Parkhurst
Marriage Date: 04 Dec 1913
Marriage Place: Colaba, Bombay, India
Groom’s Father’s Name: Enoch Tearle
Bride’s Father’s Name: William Parly Parkhurst
Groom’s Marital Status: Single
Bride’s Marital Status: Single

Now we know why he had a London address. Amongst the British expat community, he had found a London girl – and married her. Their first child, a son, was born in Lebong in 1914. They called him Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle. The records for Samuel and Dorothy are very scarce from this date on, and there is no indication of when, or under what conditions, Samuel left the army. In the London Electoral Roll of 1936 they are in Acton W11, number 39, 2nd Avenue. In 1939, they are in 39 Eastvale, Acton. Both addresses are Acton – North East Ward.

On 18 October, 1949, there is a passenger list for the R.M.S ORANTES of the Orient Line for Mr S H Tearle and Mrs Tearle, both 60yrs old, from 15 Vale Court, Aston Vale, London W3. They are sailing to Melbourne, where they intend to stay permanently. In the electoral roll of the State of Victoria, there is a hand-written addition to the Batman, Victoria, roll of Samuel Hugh Tearle. In the 1958 electoral roll of Footscray North, Gellibrand, Victoria, Samuel Hugh is living at 10 Macedon St, W10 where he is a clerk. There are other men, each with their wife, on this page, so I do not know where Dorothy Kate is.

The last sight we have of Mavis’ Uncle Sam is the information given to us on his death certificate of 11 May 1961. He was living at 28 Hawson Avenue, Glenhuntly, Victoria, he was 72 years old. He was married in India when he was 24 years old, to Dorothy Kate Parkhurst, and at the time of his death he was still married. He had a son, Jeffrey, who was deceased, and a daughter Geraldine, who was 42 years old. The certificate was signed by D. L. Endall of 7 Wyalong St, Sunshine, Victoria. I do not know exactly who D L Endall was, but we do know the Endalls; Samuel’s elder sister, Minnie, married Joseph Endall in Islington in 1894 and emigrated to Melbourne in 1924. We can now see that Samuel went to Melbourne to live near her. Dorothy Kate was still alive when Samuel died so I am still no wiser as to how the voting rolls have separated them while they were living at the same address, but we do know they were living together. Dorothy Kate died in Murchison, Victoria in 1984.

Since Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle 1914 is Samuel’s son, I will look at his story before moving on to the last of Enoch’s family to have a military career.

Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle

There is a scarcity of documentation for Jeffrey P that is frankly disappointing. There is a document called Army Returns, Births 1911-1915 which is only an index of the location of the birth records for the babies listed. However, it does indicate that Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle was born in Lebong in 1914.

I do not have any military records for Jeffrey P, but his death as recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is revealing:

Name: TEARLE, JEFFREY PARKHURST
Initials: J P
Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Sergeant
Regiment/Service: King’s Own Royal Regiment (Lancaster)
Unit Text: 2nd Bn.
Date of Death: 21/11/1941
Service No: 3709500
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: 12. D. 23.
Cemetery: KNIGHTSBRIDGE WAR CEMETERY, ACROMA

He, too, had followed Enoch into the 2nd Battalion, the King’s Own. He was 27yrs old and he had risen to the rank of sergeant when he died. It is likely that Jeffrey P volunteered to join the army otherwise, of all the units he could have joined, it is very unlikely he would have been conscripted into the 2nd Battalion The King’s Own. The assumption, then, is that he joined up when he turned 18 years old, and that in turn means he had been in the army since 1932.

If we have a look at the Actions and Movements section of the King’s Own, we can clearly see that for the first six years of his army life, he was in Britain. In 1938 the entire regiment was shipped to Haifa. This would appear to be in preparation for the Peel Commission plan to partition Palestine.

1920: The King’s Own Royal Regiment, Lancaster

March 1925 Rawalpindi, India
December 1929 Khartoum, Atbara and Gebeit
December 1930 Whittington Barracks, Lichfield
November 1934 Aldershot
September 1938 Haifa, Palestine

Then World War Two (WW2) broke out.

2nd Battalion King’s Own Royal Regiment, Lancaster

August 1940 Egypt
February 1941 Syria
September/October 1941 Tobruk
December 1941 Egypt
February 1943 Ceylon

Here is the story, as told by the Kings Own Museum, of what happened in Tobruk and it covers the events of 21 November 1941, the day Sgt Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle was killed. Briefly, the town of Tobruk was under siege by General Rommel’s forces.

A break-out from Tobruk was planned to coincide with an advance from Egypt by the Eighth Army.  The attack was launched on 18th November after many days of planning, mine clearance and careful preparation.

The fighting was indecisive at first and was in full swing on 20th November when 2nd King’s Own was ordered to attempt to break out.  Each section of the battalion was armed with a Bren gun and thirteen Bren magazines; each rifleman carried a hundred rounds in bandoliers and three grenades; in addition each platoon had two Thompson sub-machine guns and one anti-tank rifle.

On 21st November as tanks moved forward and broke the silence of the night, A and D Companies were in the front line when a tremendous artillery barrage opened up but most shells fell behind the battalion.  As British guns opened fire and the tanks moved forward followed by the carriers so many tanks were disabled by mines that most were knocked out before the infantry were ordered to move.  Despite this, D Company moved forward and took their position, ‘Butch’.  A Company advanced with C Company in support and found themselves held up by a strong point called ‘Jill’.

Whilst D Company was able to hold their position, A and C Companies were forced to withdraw from ‘Jill’ during the afternoon and, with the help of B Company, formed a new defensive position on ‘The Crest’.  As a result of this action the battalion took about 300 German prisoners and were able to hold ‘Butch’ until 24th November when they were relieved by 2nd Battalion Leicester Regiment. 

Francis John Enoch Tearle 1902 (Uncle Frank)

In the 1911 census, Francis was eight years old, and he had been born in the Regent’s Park district of London to John Herbert Tearle 1881 and Mary nee Ward. He was the elder brother of John 1916. This census demonstrates a growing trend in modern society; large numbers of people do not live in villages or communities any more, they live where their employment takes them, and they make what they can of the community they find themselves in when they get there. If they work for a large company, the company will send them wherever it is necessary for their workforce to be. If they do not wish to move, then their employment is terminated. It was noted earlier that Metropolitan-Vickers had an office, and probably a workshop, in Old Broad St, London, and they also had premises on the corner of Ludgate Hill and Farringdon Rd, in the very heart of London City, but since then they had built a huge manufacturing plant in the Trafford Park industrial zone, Manchester. This is where Francis first appears, living with his family in Church Rd, Urmston. Now, Urmston is only six miles from Manchester city, but Metropolitan-Vickers was still allowed to build a coal-fired manufacturing plant close by. The low-lying nature of the site meant they also had to build a water tower. Instead of it being an eye-sore, it is championed as a wonderful iron structure, of magnificent proportions. Its photograph adorns the wall of their head office. A modern, industrialised Britain cannot now blame the emerging nations for their pollution – it showed the way to modernisation, and that includes pollution on a vast scale, low working-class wages, and mass-migration. John Herbert’s life is a micro-dot of what is to come: born in Bisham, Berkshire, he takes a wife from Surrey, has two children in London and then has Kathleen May in Flixton, Manchester. He is no longer a Berkshire boy, he is an indigenous Englishman, and instead of living with the mores and customs of his boyhood locale, he has to learn what it means to be English, and to live his life within a much more open moral and social compass. In his case, he has his Methodist upbringing to guide him. Whether or not he has brought up his family as Methodists needs to be documented, but he has definitely brought them up with the highest standards of citizenship and morality. Francis John Enoch Tearle 1902 is an example of just how high an ordinary family can aspire, beginning with the illiterate but deeply moral and intensely hard-working Abel Tearle and Martha nee Emmerton.

A highly condensed biography was forwarded from Teresa of Brisbane, but the source document remains unknown:

“Tearle, Francis John Enoch, CBE (1965), s of late John Herbert Tearle; b 1902: educ RN Colls Osborne and Dartmouth and Manchester Univ; m 1926, Nettie Liddell, dau of late Matthew A McLean; served 1919-20, midshipman RN and in 1939-45 War as Lt RNVR in Middle East; chartered mechanical engr; gen man Metropolitan Vickers Electric Export Co 1949-54; man dir Associated Electrical Industries (Overseas) Ltd; dir Assocn E.L. Industries Ltd; pres Eutectric Co Ltd; master Worshipful Company of Broderers 1974-75; Travellers’ club and RAC; Shetland Park, Horsley, East Horsley, Surrey”.

Royal Navy cadets studied at the Royal Naval College Osborne, on the Isle of Wight, for two years, then went on to RN College Dartmouth. Osborne closed in 1921, but Dartmouth is still going strong. It is housed in a gloriously flamboyant Victorian building overlooking the harbour. It still trains naval officers with the aim:

To deliver courageous leaders with the spirit to fight and win.

After his two years study in Dartmouth, Francis went to sea and served a year as a midshipman, meaning an officer cadet. Osborne charged £75 a year to attend and some 30 cadets were subsidised to about £40. It is unlikely Francis was one of the latter, given the position his father had attained in Metropolitan-Vickers by 1919. Francis then went home to Manchester where he attended the College of Technology. It is now called the School of Mechanical, Aerospace and Civil Engineering, and since 1994 has been part of Manchester University. He applied to join the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on 26 April 1923, giving his address as C/- Mrs Clarke, “Hazeldene” Moss Lane, Bramhall, Stockport. He was required to seek a proposer who “from personal knowledge recommends him as a proper person to become a Graduate or Student”. His proposer was Professor Dempster Smith, MBE. A note about him from Manchester University says that during WW1

He was awarded the MBE for his work on the heat treatment of paravane blades. A paravane is made up of a strong steel cable and of two razor-edged blades. The cable is towed alongside a vessel such that the attached blades cut free the moorings of submerged mines.

An undated photograph of the mine-sweeping paravanes in production at Metropolitan-Vickers is reproduced on the same page as the photo of John Herbert, so it is possible to see how Professor Smith made Francis’ personal acquaintance, and this in turn tells us that Francis liked to explore the workshop at Trafford.

In 1926 he married Nettie Liddell McLean, but there is no trace of this marriage in England or in Scotland. In 1911, Nettie was a seven-year-old in Stretford, near Manchester. The registration district was Barton upon Irwell, the same district that would register the birth of Simon’s father in 1916. Her father, Matthew Adam McLean 1868 was a Scot from Mossend, Lanarkshire, near Motherwell. His occupation was described as Supervisor at an electrical Manufacturer, in other words, Metropolitan-Vickers. He was working at their brand-new plant in Trafford, and living not very far away from the site. At this time, a Ford Model T assembly plant was also built in the same park. Nettie’s mother was Janet Goodlet 1873 from Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, about 10 miles east of Glasgow. She and Matthew married in Glasgow in 1895. There is no indication so far as to who inspired the Liddell surname in Nettie’s name.

In 1941, Francis is aboard the CANADA, from Liverpool to Port Said. It is early in WW2 and Rommel has been very successful in battling Allied forces all over North Africa. He became very sick and flew back to Germany to be treated, and to meet with Hitler. The Allies have also found an Enigma machine, and the work in Bletchley Park is uncovering its secrets; Rommel is beginning to lose major battles. Francis says he is living at 95 Moss Lane, Sale, Cheshire, so he has not moved far from Trafford, and describes himself as a civil servant. In 1942, he is listed in the royal naval volunteer reserve as (SS) Francis John Enoch Tearle 13 Jan. It is safe to say that his voyage to Egypt in 1941 was on His Majesty’s Service, probably navy business. It can be seen from the very truncated biography above that he was a lieutenant in the RNVR in the Middle East, so it is no surprise to see him in Egypt.

There is nothing more about Francis until at the end of 1948 he was appointed managing director of the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Export Company Ltd because he had long Russian experience. On page 239 of the M-V history book, there is a photo of Francis, along with a photo of the Johannesburg office, with which, no doubt, he was very familiar.

On 9 May 1952, Francis and Nettie are to be seen in a passenger list on the SS ARGENTINA STAR of the Blue Star Line, traveling back to London from Rio de Janeiro. They give their address as Goldrings Rd, Seven Oaks, Surrey. He is a director, Nettie is a housewife, and their country of last permanent residence was Turkey (OHMS). It looks as though Francis’ company has been asked to report on something in Turkey, it has taken more than a year, and now that the work is done, Francis and Nettie are going home.

A passenger list from the CHUSAN in 1960, shows Francis sailing from Hong Kong to Bombay. Which means he has business in India, too. That is not unexpected since he is working in an export business, but it is one more tie with India. This is reinforced with the last sight of Francis in the Tearle Tree archive; a bio written on him as a contributor to the Journal of the Royal Central Asian Society Volume 52 Issue 3-4 of 1965:

  1. J. F. E. TEARLE, C.B.E., is Managing Director of Associated Electrical Industries Overseas Ltd. In 1964 he led an F.B.I. Mission to Pakistan to study and report on its economic situation, since when A.I.E. have investigated and reported upon the feasibility of manufacturing heavy electrical equipment there. In 1955 Mr Tearle negotiated the Heavy Electrical Project Agreement with Government of India under which A.E.I. Ltd. were appointed Main Consultants.

Volume 52, 1965 contained an article written by Francis called “Industrial Development in Pakistan” in which he presented views about the relative merits of encouraging development of East Pakistan at 60% of national expenditure on industrial development and 40% for West Pakistan, mostly because of the “menacing growth of population in the East”. Since then the East has become Bangladesh.

John L Tearle wrote to Mavis in Dec 2002:

“It so happens that some years ago I got in touch with Frank Tearle, onetime managing director of Metropolitan Vickers, who was one of several engineers engaged in installing generators in the USSR in the 1930s who were arrested on charges of sabotage (I have his obituary somewhere) He telephoned me on the 12th December 1980 (according to my notes) with some information about his family history; his father was John Herbert and grandfather Enoch. He didn’t know the name of his great-grandfather, but mentioned a great-uncle Zepharian, so Zep (as he was known) and Enoch were brothers.”

It is not hard to get arrested in Russia, then or now, and a book by Gordon W Morrell goes into the affair in great detail. Even the title is somewhat ominous:

Britain confronts the Stalin Revolution: Anglo-Soviet Relations and the Metro-Vickers Crisis.

In 1920, Lenin was most enthusiastic for the Soviet Union to be electrified in all its major industries. Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Engineering Company (MVEEC) was very active and very successful in helping Lenin, and then Stalin, towards that aim. That part of the book released on-line does not tell me what actually happened, but at the end of it all Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart said:

On the whole intelligent opinion here holds: (1) that the sentences are lighter than expected; (2) that there was some foundation for the Bolshevist case; and (3) that we mishandled the case from the beginning.  19 Apr 1933

Where have we heard that before?

Francis spoke at the trial, but according to Morrell, he was not arrested and he was not imprisoned. He was, however, a very calming and level-headed influence during the entire crisis; the reason the Russians accepted that he was not involved in any sabotage of electrical equipment was because he was a mechanical engineer and not an electrical engineer. The whole affair was highly politically charged and motivated. After the trial, Britain threw up a trade embargo and the two engineers who had been jailed found their sentences commuted to expulsion from the USSR. Anglo-Soviet relations cooled back to whatever was considered normal in the 1930s.

We can also note that if Francis was going to Bombay (rather than via Bombay) in 1955, then it is quite likely that the Heavy Electrical Project Agreement signed with the India government was only one of many, and probably the one that he was most satisfied winning. The initials F.B.I. refer to the Federation of British Industry, a fore-runner of today’s CBI. His military background and his engineering skills have seen Francis move in very high circles. We now know that Francis was involved at a very high level with the authorities in Egypt, South Africa, Turkey, Russia, Pakistan and India. However, you can see from the tone of his article that he is a thinking man who expounds a humanist vision. He was also one of the early globe-trotters. He was awarded the CBE for services to export in the New Year’s Honours List, January 1965. He was described as Managing Director, Associated Electrical Industries (Overseas) Ltd.

In his conversation on the phone with John L Tearle, Francis made mention of a great-uncle Zepharian. Enoch’s sister, Sarah 1837, married Ephraim Gates who worked for the railways in Watford. It is most likely that this is the man whom Francis and John L were talking about, and he was actually Enoch’s brother-in-law.

In 2015, Barbara Tearle of Oxford found that Francis had an entry on the Roll of Honour at Bletchley Park:

Mr F J E Tearle
Service  FO Civilian
Summary of service:
Wavendon 1940. Probably Commercial Section.
Commemorated On The Codebreakers Wall: No

There is also his certificate of service:

Barbara thought the FO Civilian referred to the Foreign Office, and reinforces the conviction I have that FJE’s trip to Egypt in 1941 as  “public servant” was in fact part of his work for Bletchley.

Francis died in Macclesfield, Cheshire, in October 1988, so he did not move far from his boyhood haunts of Manchester, just 19 miles to the north. Nettie Liddell Tearle, with whom he seems to have shared many of his adventures, died in 1990, also in Macclesfield. We lost a highly intelligent, well-educated and influential man. In the one hundred years from 1841, when Enoch was born, to 1941, when Francis was involved in kitting out the developing world with heavy electrical equipment, and John Tearle was moving up the rankings in the navy, their family had more than kept pace with a furiously and chaotically accelerating world. The most likely person to be the impetus, and even the inspiration, for it all was Enoch, aided by a determined work ethic from Abel, Enoch’s father, early education from the Methodists, and self-discipline, courage and a circle of very good contacts, thanks to the military.

If the military men are listed, with the highest rank they achieved, who were all descendants of Abel Tearle 1810, this is what results:

Enoch 1841       (private)
Benjamin 1848               (gunner)
Jeffrey Jones Tearle 1871          (private)
John Herbert 1881        (private)
Samuel Hugh 1889       (lieutenant)
Francis John Enoch 1902 (captain)
Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle 1914 (sergeant, killed 1941)
John Tearle 1916 (lieutenant commander)

Three generations of Abel’s family are listed here, and there is at least one man in the fourth generation who served in the armed forces, probably the navy. This is a very impressive muster from just one family. They can be proud of their contribution to the history of Britain.

Now that we have completed the stories of the military lives, we can take a look at how Enoch (and John Herbert Tearle, no doubt) affected the life of Francis’ extraordinary sister, Aunt Kitty.

Kathleen M Tearle (Aunt Kitty)

Whatever the actualities of the one voyage we have for John Herbert Tearle, and his work in Argentina, it is abundantly clear that South America, and Argentina in particular, completely changed the life of Kathleen May Tearle 1910.

Here she is on a voyage to Buenos Aires in 1937:

Name:  Kathleen M Tearle
Gender:              Female
Age:      27
Birth Date:        abt 1910
Departure Date:             27 Mar 1937
Port of Departure:         London, England
Destination Port:           Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ship Name:       Afric Star
Shipping Line: Blue Star Line
Official Number:            149755
Master:               C R Cooper

At this time, Kathleen is single, a stenographer, and along with another female passenger, also a stenographer, she is clearly going to join a company to work.

She is seen again, in 1939, on the AVELONA STAR, this time first class. The passenger manifest gives the names; Charles L Whitney aged 32, Fellmonger, of the Cumberland Hotel London W1, on his way to Buenos Aires, Argentina. With him is Kathleen M Tearle De Whitney, aged 28, no occupation, of the same address, going to the same destination. Their last permanent address was in Argentina.

The Fellmongers’ Company, a London City livery company, describe themselves in the following manner:

The Fellmongers’ Company was originally made up of skinners and glovers and was for long so described, but latterly it became known by its present title. A fellmonger is a dealer in fells or sheepskins, who separates the wool from the pelts.

It becomes very clear that they married abroad, and their children were born abroad, because the next sighting of Kathleen is when she and two daughters were recorded on a ship leaving Plymouth for Buenos Aires in 1947. Her address on the ship’s manifest was The Mill House, Denham Bridge nr Yelverton, S. Devon.

Name:  Kathleen Whitney
Gender:              Female
Age:      36
Birth Date:        abt 1911
Departure Date:             Jan 1947
Port of Departure:         London, England
Destination Port:           Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ship Name:       Columbia Star
Shipping Line: Blue Star Line
Official Number:            167259
Master:               C J W Jones

The most telling evidence is the manifest of the PARAQUAY STAR, arriving at London from Buenos Aires in October 1949:
Charles L Whitney 42 address c/- W. Weddel & Co, 14 West Smithfield, London EC1, Fellmonger
Kathleen Whitney, 39 (and three daughters.)
Dau Whitney 9,
Dau Whitney 5,
Dau Whitney 2

Since these children will still be alive today, their names are not given here. Three daughters appear to be the full extent of Charles’ and Kathleen’s family.

Weddel & Co of Smithfield were meat importers from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina in the pioneering days of frozen meat.

It was noted in the introduction to this book that Aunt Kitty’s husband was Uncle Bob, which does not preclude his nickname being different from his registered name. There is a birth for Charles Lawrence Whitney in Bradford in 1907 and this name and age certainly fits for the Charles L Whitney, Fellmonger, above. Who knows why and how Charles was called Bob? Perhaps it was a school nickname, perhaps he was always called Bob.

We can only conjecture how Kathleen fell for the magic of South America. John Herbert Tearle was in the Argentine in the 1920s. It is safe to say the voyage above was not his only trip to Argentina, so it is quite possible that his contacts enabled him to forward an offer of employment to Kathleen May. One possibility is that she met Charles in London or Buenos Aires, heard the stories of his adventures as a meat buyer for the Smithfield Market and couldn’t resist the romance of travel and adventure that her father John H, and even her grandfather, Enoch, had surely led her to believe. You can see above that she did not desert her family in England, and returned often to make sure her children knew their cousins, aunts and uncles, and their grandparents. The trip to and from Buenos Aires is neither hazard free nor short, so she is braving a huge ocean adventure with every voyage she undertakes.

We shall also take a quick look at Violet Elizabeth 1901 and the enigmatic “Uncle Angus”.

Violet Elizabeth Tearle (Aunt Betsy) and Uncle Angus

Violet Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of John Herbert Tearle and Mary nee Ward was born in 1901 in central London, somewhere in the Kensington area, according to the 1911 census. She remains in the shadows, even after she marries Arthur Lancelot Hunking, known universally as Angus. In the 1911 census he is 7yrs old, born in Cam, Gloucestershire, and his father, Arthur Herbert Hunking is 33. He married Eliza Emma Phillips in Dursley, Gloucestershire (Eliza’s home town) in 1901. He says he is a commercial manager, and the company he works for are agricultural implement engineers. Violet married Angus in 1947, somewhere in Paddington, London, but I can find no children for this couple. Also, I was not able to find Angus’ business in Bishop Auckland. There was an industrialist from Up North called Angus Hunking who liked to invest in bands, and once advanced £7000 to King Crimson, but I do not think that he is this Angus. Violet Elizabeth died in Kingston upon Thames in 1965 and Arthur Lancelot Hunking died in Bournemouth in 1976. So unfortunately, this thread has come to an end, but at least we have been able to find the man behind the name; Arthur Lancelot is definitely Uncle Angus.

The Tearles of India

The story of the family of Enoch Tearle 1841 and Elizabeth nee Jones is now finished. We have examined their military connections at some length, and their startling engineering ability, with its connotation of advanced mental and mathematics skills attached, have been examined, as well as their managerial skill, developing ever more with each generation, until Francis John Enoch showed us all how much can be achieved. What is now very plain is that there is no other family in the Tearle Tree with more exposure to, and more experience of India, than Enoch’s. What Enoch’s family has achieved is remarkable, in any family. Here is a synopsis:

Jeffrey Jones Tearle 1871 was there in 1886, and became very sick. This author can attest to how that feels.

Samuel Hugh Tearle 1889 was there in Lebong in 1914 and even married there. He was shipped back to England to be part of Britain’s military efforts in WW1.

Samuel Hugh’s son, Jeffrey Parkhurst Tearle was born in Lebong in 1914. He was killed in the defence of Tobruk, Egypt in 1941.

Francis John Enoch Tearle 1902 was in and about India for at least five years around 1955, working for the India government on industrial improvements.

John Tearle 1916 was an engineer in Hyderabad.

Several of John’s children were born in India, and spent much of their formative years there.

What has been outlined is a presence in India (although not continuously) of this Tearle family from 1886 until 1988, if the last of John’s children left permanently when they were, say, about 20. That is a snapshot of life to and from India for one hundred years. They have an immense and unparalleled accumulation of experience, unique in the Tearle Tree.

References

Tearle, John L Tearle A Bedfordshire Surname Lillydown House 1996 ISBN 0 9528131 0 6

The Duties of Servants: A Practical Guide to the Routine of Domestic Service Copper Beach Publishing Ltd 1993. Guide originally published 1894. No author attributed.  ISBN 0 9516295 9 X

Robson, Graham and Ware, Michael Classic British Cars Abbeyvale Press 2000

Morrell, Gordon W Britain Confronts the Stalin Revolution: Anglo-Soviet Relations and the Metro-Vickers Crisis. Wilfred Laurier University Press 1995.

Website URLs in order of appearance:

https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/search/                                          p1

http://www.lan-opc.org.uk/Liverpool/Liverpool-Central/stpaul/       p6

http://ukga.org/england/Hampshire/towns/Aldershot.html               p12

http://www.kingsownmuseum.plus.com/moves03.htm                         p13

http://www.worldnavalships.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8957 p13

http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42531             p15

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jim.lawton1/html/frontcover.htm    p15

http://www.kingsownmuseum.plus.com/moves04.htm                         p17

http://www.westernfrontassociation.com/great-war-on-land/61-battlefields/1318-the-battle-of-loos-1915.html                                                                                                   p18

http://www.kingsownmuseum.plus.com/tobruk.htm                              p20

http://www.dreadnoughtproject.org/tfs/index.php/Royal_Naval_College,_Osborne            p21

http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/The-Fleet/Shore-Establishments/BRNC-Dartmouth                            p21

http://www.mace.manchester.ac.uk/our-research/hall-of-fame/mechanical-engineering/dempster-smith/  (Notes on Prof Dempster Smith, MBE)                                         p22

http://tractors.wikia.com/wiki/Ford_Trafford_Park_Factory             p22

http://www.fellmongers.org.uk/history_heritage.html                           p25

http://rollofhonour.bletchleypark.org.uk/

Websites consulted:

www.british-history.ac.uk

www.bedfordshire.gov.uk  – for detailed information on Stanbridge and the Methodist chapels refer to:

http://www.bedfordshire.gov.uk/CommunityAndLiving/ArchivesAndRecordOffice/CommunityArchives/Stanbridge/StanbridgeIndexOfPages.aspx

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MI-f8mrJg8AC&pg=PA174&lpg=PA174&dq=Tearle+ussr&source=bl&ots=mDndmY9x_Y&sig=Hd_32RNpnymrBkezrPIiSsBAlBA&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Do29UquXMMithQfLv4GABw&ved=0CDwQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=Tearle&f=false (Britain Confronts the Stalin Revolution…. Is available as a printed book from this URL)

www.fellmongers.org.uk/history_heritage.html

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jim.lawton1/html/frontcover.htm  (History of Metropolitan-Vickers)

Tearle, J. H. 2, 16, 49, 52, 68, 88 (John Herbert)

Tearle, F. J. E. 191, 193, 239     (Francis John Enoch)

Photograph of John Herbert Tearle, and Prof Dempster’s mine-sweeping paravanes

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/jim.lawton1/html/page_191.htm

Photograph of Francis John Enoch 1948

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03068376508731910?journalCode=raaf19#.Urv7EPRdV8E (Francis John Enoch Tearle, CBE, Bio for journal article dated 1965)

http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/epw016096 (Trafford Park in 1919)

http://www.stantonyscentre.org.uk/heritage/ford-centenary-19112011.php (Ford at Trafford)

www.lan-opc.org.uk

www.kingsownmuseum.plus.com

www.mace.manchester.ac.uk

www.maps.thehunthouse.com

www.methodist.org.uk

http://www.qaranc.co.uk/netleyhospital.php

www.royalnavy.mod.uk

http://ukga.org

www.westernfrontassociation.com

27Nov/16

Patrick Matthew Tearle 1873, Willenhall, Staffs

In the 1871 census of England, Ann O’Loughlan, an Irish widow 70 years old, was living in a house in Willenhall, these days a medium-sized town, but of ancient Saxon origin, nestled between Wolfhampton and Walsall, in Staffordshire. It is embedded deeply in the Black Country culture and is (perhaps, sadly, was) most famous for its locksmithing and the humpbacked men who stooped heavily in the pursuit of making them. The Yale factory was here, too. That, and the Rushbrook Farthing, a local token that could be exchanged for goods or food and was peculiar to the district. The men here were iron workers, too, tough and grizzled from working in blazing heat amid showers of sparks and wary of huge troughs of red-glowing 1000-degree iron that they towed by hand, with no protective clothing. Their best friends were the miners of iron ore and coal. Remember this, because The Black Country (which could just as easily have been called the Iron Country) made the man who is at the centre of this story.

The date of the census of 1871 would have been early April. Living with Ann was her daughter Bridget Murry, 33 years old, also a widow and also from Ireland, but she had three children with her – Mary Murry, Richard and Matthew. Not long after the visit of the census enumerator, Bridget met a bricklayer’s labourer fresh from Ireland, called Patrick Tyrls. He was born in 1836 in Roscommon, and with her children needing a breadwinner, Bridget married him. I have not been able to trace Bridget’s first marriage – there were Murrys in the Wolverhampton registration district. As you can see in the photo below, the three boys were lifelong friends.

Matthew Murry, Pat Tyrles and Richard Murry

Matthew Murry, Pat Tyrles and Richard Murry

In the 1881 census, Patrick, 45 years old, was the head of a house at 27 Walsall St, Willenhall, plying his trade of bricklayers labourer. He spelt his name Tyrles and Bridget, now 43, still had Richard and Matthew Murry with her, at 16 and 14 years old respectively, who had become locksmiths – as had most of the men in this street. Mary Murry married a local miner, William Parker, in Willenhall and was living in 14 Clarks Lane, just 3.5 miles from her mother and brothers. Patrick and Bridget’s children, Patrick, James and Bridget Tyrles, were duly noted as “Scholar”, even though Bridget was only 3 years old. Two 60-year old bricklayer’s labourers from Ireland were also living in the house, as lodgers. With the wages that men were paid in middle and late Victorian times, the woman of the house often had to have lodgers in order to help her husband’s wages last the whole week.

Mary Murry
In the 1891 census, we find out that Bridget was from County Clare, in Ireland, and Patrick (or perhaps the enumerator) was spelling his name Tyrls. I am going to concentrate on the three Murry children for the moment, so we can account for them until at least 1911. They were not in this house for the census. Mary, who had married and moved out before the 1881 census, and was now Mrs Parker, was with her family in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. Her marriage certificate tells us her father’s name was Thomas Murry and he was a brick maker. William Parker was a coal miner. This was a difficult and dangerous job. You will remember the Davy lamp that stopped miners from being killed from ammonia and coal dust; that invention, while saving lives, also made it possible for miners to work much deeper underground. If you could dig deeper, then you had to, and the hazards multiplied. William was still mining coal in the 1911 census. He called himself a “Coal Miner – Hewer”, which meant he was cutting material from the coal face, and he had done that for no less than 34 years. You have to admire his courage. Mary had added to her family – you will remember Thomas H Parker 1880, her firstborn, now she has Bridget 1884 born in Willenhall, along with William 1886 and Mary Parker 1890 both born in Bulwell.

In the 1901 census, Mary, at 42 years old, was a “Greengrocer shopkeeper – at home” by which I take it that she has some groceries for sale outside her house, or they are living above the shop. There is no sign of Thomas H Parker, but Bridget is called Bertha and she is a “Lace Mender” while younger brother William is a “Hawker (General)”, which would indicate he had a range of things in a suitcase and went door-to-door selling them. He was self-employed. Bridget was one of the 40,000 (mostly women) employed in the Nottingham lace industry, and she did literally mend lace. However, Mary’s family had grown some more: Charles 1893, James 1895, Winifred 1896 and George 1900 were all added to the family during the previous ten years in Bulwell.

The 1911 census is the last time we see the family, and they are still in Bulwell. As I noted above, William and Mary have been married for 34 years, and William has been underground at the coal face for at least that long. Mary 1890, the lace mender, has a daughter, Marjory Parker, who was just one month old on the day. Later, she was brought up by her grandparents, and adopted the name Marjory Selby Parker, after her father, Harold Selby, who never did marry her mother. Charles Parker 1893 (whom they call Chris) followed his father underground, because he, too became a coal miner, hewer. On the day of the census James 1895 was classified as unemployed, Winifred (Winnie, of course) had also joined the ranks of the lace menders and George 1900, the youngest, was at school.

To round off Mary Murry’s story, I am told the family of William and Mary Parker, lock stock and barrel, in 1916, climbed aboard a ship bound for Canada and moved to Paris, Ontario, where they all still live. So far I have only seen William on the Laurentic in 1914 and William with James in 1916 on the Corsican, bound for Canada. I shall keep looking. Marjory Selby Parker married in Paris, Ontario, and her family is in touch with me.

 

Bridget was 52 and the two boys, Patrick and James, were 18 years and 16 respectively. Patrick was called a “file cutter”, and he was the one who cut the grooves in files and rasps, whilst younger brother James was a brass finisher. If you have sat and polished brass with Brasso, you will have noticed the powerful odour. That comes from ammonia. It was a hazardous substance in late Victorian times too, but if you had a job as a brass finisher – polishing and perfecting items made in brass – you had to breathe it all day long; and men would often die young, of horrible lung diseases. A closer look at the next page of the census reveals that this house is in Court 8, Walsall St which is a cul-de-sac of about five houses, this house must be considerably bigger than No. 27 Walsall St. There are no less than six other men in the house, all “Boarders” and then there is Bridget Mildoon, 80 years old, who is a “retired lodging-house keeper.” It would appear that Bridget Tyrls has taken over the running of a lodging house, and she and her family have moved into it. The men, ranging in age from 17 to 73 years are all single, and except for the bricklayer from Birmingham, they are all from Staffordshire; one is a locksmith, three are bricklayers’ labourers, one is a retired carter and one is a salesman.

I do not think that it is too much of a stretch to say that Bridget, Patrick and their family have gone up in the world. It is very difficult to say who might have been the lead on this promotion, but I have written about some very brave and forthright Victorian women on this site, and it would not surprise me to know that Bridget was the driving force.

In the 1901 census, Bridget was 63 and a widow, but she was still living in Court 8, which, it transpires, was two houses from St Giles Church. Her daughter Bridget was 23 years old and married to Samuel Tomlinson, 29, with a son Thomas, just 2 years old. Since the rest of the family had left, there were two more boarders: eight of them all told. They ranged in age from 20 to 55 and all of them were locals, so they were engaged in the diverse skills young men developed in Victorian Willenhall.

 

03Jun/16

William Alfred John Tearle 1890, Firefighter of Lostwithiel

It was Richard Tearle, leader of the Tearle research group, who first came across the story of William Tearle, the Cornish firefighter. He wrote to me in January, 2009.

Ewart – whilst idly browsing, I came upon this article:

“In September 1939 the National Fire Service was formed with Lostwithiel being a part of the service. By this time, `Loveday’ was replaced by a trailer and drawn by a lorry that was kept in Skelton’s Garage, Bridgend. Lostwithiel was frequently called to attend fires in Plymouth, Devonport, and Torpoint during the blitz of 1940 – 1941. During one of these raids, Section Leader Tearle lost his life, he was one of Lostwithiel Unit’s earliest casualties of the war.”

There are no other details that I can find – do we have any records of Tearles in Cornwall? This man clearly died as a civilian, albeit a member of the fire brigade. ‘Loveday’, by the way was a horse drawn steam engine….

Tracy Stanton was quickly onto the story – she had found the death registration: Q2 1941 William A J Tearle Bodmin reg dist. vol 5c page 234. Age 51.

And she had found more –
On the Firefighters Memorial site the date is given as 26 April 1941 but his MI in Restormal Rd Cem. reads as 1 May 1941. He appears to be William Alfred J Tearle born 1890 Woburn district. I found him in the 1891 census in Toddington, mother Eliza. Ann born Falmouth, Cornwall.”

Pat Field added to the growing list of telling details:
“Could this be a grandson of John 1831 and Maria Major? They had a son William 1863 born in Toddington.
1901 census: 7 Albany Road Toddington gives us William Tearle (transcribed Searle) 37 Carter born Toddington, Elizabeth 38 Wife born Falmouth and children Elizabeth 19 born Acton, Violet 15 born Acton and William A J 11 born Toddington.”

We had found a Toddington man who had moved to London, married a Falmouth girl, had three children in London, moved back to Toddington and had one more. That lad, William, had moved to Lostwithiel, Cornwall, and died fighting fires in the Plymouth Blitz. Extraordinary. If he was 11 in 1901, then he was a perfect age to be dragged into WW1, which he obviously survived.

I found the Lostwithiel Museum and rang the curator, Tremar Menendez. I asked him if he knew of a William Tearle. “Oh,” he said, “You best talk to Gillian Parsons, she knows everyone and everything.”

Smiling, I rang the number he gave me. Gill Parsons did know everything. She and a fellow museum committee member had researched William and his death and had written an article for the Museum Monthly. She would send it to me. As a result of the article, the Firefighters Memorial Trust had carried out its own research and agreed that William’s name should be added to the Firefighters National Memorial at the head of the Millennium Bridge, close to St Pauls.

“I have seen that memorial many times and examined it closely twice. I have not seen a Tearle name on it.”

“His name,” she said, “was added in November 2008.” I had not been to see the monument since about August.

Her article, a letter and some photographs arrived by post a couple of days later. She had met Victor, William’s son, in the village – he had just been to London to see the monument and he was very pleased. “Apparently,” she wrote, “his father married Ellen Hambly from Covich’s Mill (a very small hamlet about three miles away) near Lostwithiel.” William’s name had been added to a memorial in St Andrews Church, Plymouth, and Victor remembered going to the ceremony many decades ago. Victor would be pleased to speak with me if I contacted him.

Unfortunately, Victor could hardly understand a word I said because he was very deaf. “Is it all right if I come and see you?” I asked. “I would like that,” he said.

“How would you like to go to Plymouth for a week in the holidays?” I asked Elaine.

“The furthest west we have been is Ilfracombe, so that would be good,” she said. “What’s the occasion?”

I told her my plan was to see the memorial in St Andrews Church in Plymouth and then go to Lostwithiel to meet Victor.

“Lost who?”

“Lost-with-ee-yall. Brunel country,” I said. “There is a fabulous bridge near Plymouth, a railway station in the village, and a Roman bridge.”

St Andrews Church, Plymouth.

St Andrews Church, Plymouth.

DSC_9436 William AJ Tearle memorial St Andrews Church PlymouthSt Andrews Church was in the very centre of Plymouth and overlooked a bombed-out church lower down the same hill. The firefighters memorial was a brass plaque mounted on the wall in a small chapel. It was deeply moving. Every man listed had died fighting fires in Area 19 (Plymouth) during WW2. Tearle, W. A. J. was clearly visible at the bottom left.

The outside of the chapel was lined with several small cabinets containing large books of people’s names; victims of both wars.Two of the volumes were of National Roll of the Great War. I asked a churchwarden if I could see the contents and he gleefully brought me the key. The books were beautifully printed on stiff, cloth paper, but there were no Tearles in them. Another cabinet had a hand written volume of remembrance for the Merchant Marine. I looked for Louisa nee Lees, but again, there were no Tearles. We spent the rest of the afternoon on Plymouth Hoe, examining all the monuments on Monument Hill, including those of the Crimean War and the Boer War. The Plymouth Naval Memorial took the longest, because out of sight of this view, below, is another huge semi-circle of names. There were no Tearles.

Plymouth Naval Memorial

Plymouth Naval Memorial

The following morning we arrived in Lostwithiel; it was a voyage of about 20 miles and the roads that William had traveled to fight fires in Plymouth would not have been as good as the one we had driven on. How did he manage it? It was raining heavily. We met Gillian Parsons. “I’ll show you around the village and then I’ll take you to meet Victor. First, though, is the museum.” We walked down an alley near the river. “This is the Fowey River,” she nodded towards the building on the other side, “and the big building is Brunel’s warehouse. The other buildings were part of the railway station, but have been converted to apartments. Brunel’s building is untouched.”

“The railway?” I asked.

Lostwithiel Museum

Lostwithiel Museum

“We are on the line from Paddington to Penzance via Plymouth,” she said. “It wasn’t dug up by Dr Beeching so it still works.” She stopped. “Here is Fore St. It used to be called High St, but not now. Mind you, it still is the high street.” She unlocked the door of the museum. “I’m afraid you can’t take any photos,” she said, “but this is the very first Lostwithiel fire engine, given to us in 1716 by Lord Edgcumbe. Alongside it are the bellows from the smithy.”

I looked at the tangle of wooden spars and wheels. It was like something out of a storybook that had suddenly come to life. The fire appliance was tiny, and obviously horse-drawn. How on earth did it ever put out fires? There was no tank; where did the water go? “It delivered men to the fire, not water,” she said. “When they got there, they fought the fire with buckets and beaters.”

“When I first heard about the Lostwithiel Fire Service,” I said, “they mentioned a horse-drawn fire appliance called the Loveday. Is this it?”

“No,” she said. “That was the third appliance the service owned. It was bought in 1904 and was definitely our most famous. The Loveday was named after her daughter by the then mayoress of Lostwithiel and this building was the old fire station that the Loveday set out from for any of the village fires. The new fire appliance was a trailer pump unit, drawn by a lorry, which was garaged in Bridgend. It’s only just up the hill so the men did not have far to go to get it.” She opened a drawer and showed me a remarkable photograph.

William Tearle 1890 right rear with the Lostwithiel Fire Service team

William Tearle 1890 right rear with the Lostwithiel Fire Service team.

“Here is the Loveday,” she said, “a steam-powered, horse-drawn pump. By late 1939, shortly after this photo was taken, the National Fire Service was formed and we took delivery of our new appliance.”

I studied the picture with William, marked with a cross, sitting proudly at the front of his beloved fire engine. “The Loveday was a Merryweather appliance, quite well known in London, where they also had self-propelled versions. Ours may have been horse-drawn, but it still put out fires and it still saved lives,” said Gill.

“What happened to it?”

“Victor said it has ended up in a museum in America,” she said a little wanly. “It’s sad that the local people did not value their treasures years ago. The new fire station is at the entrance to the town car park, it’s called B17. We had to campaign for years to get it. We are a volunteer service now, but we used to run a Green Goddess.” She waved her arm around the interior of the building. “Did you know this used to be the Corn Exchange?”

“I suppose there wasn’t a lot of corn to sell,” I said, taking in the size of the room. I am used to the St Albans building. In both cases, the telephone rendered the building superfluous to requirements.

“Upstairs was the Guildhall and it is still the council chambers.”

“The council meets upstairs?”

“It has for hundreds of years.” I looked at the squat, round form of the bellows with its long handle folded back over the top. It was a little like a small, over-fat barrel, and was possibly made of leather with a wooden plate on the top. I didn’t dare touch it. “The smithy was used until quite recently,” said Gill, “and it was sold when the last blacksmith died. Actually, I’m not sure you’d call him a blacksmith; he made wrought iron art objects rather than shoeing horses.” She smiled, “Would you like to see it?”DSC06807 William and Ellen house and smithy

On the corner of North St and Church Lane stood this unprepossessing, square three-storeyed building and next to it was a much older slate-roofed squat building with a big bay window.

“The smithy is a seventeenth-century building and you can see its double doors, including this half-door. The last blacksmith made the sign above the door.”

William Tearle 1890 in the smithy at Lostwithiel.I looked closely at the sign “LOSTWL SMITHY” and the vents in the roof. “It’s a private dwelling,” she continued, “and not connected to the house any more, but that’s where your William worked, and the house on the corner was where he and Ellen and their children lived.”

She produced another picture. “Here’s a photo Victor loaned me which shows William at the smithy.” I looked at the picture and the building in front of me. I could see the opening to the forge, now covered by a bay window, and I could see the main door fastened back against the left-hand wall, with the business sign just visible above it. “There was more than one smithy in Lostwithiel,” she said, “but this used to be quite a hub of village life. William was close to the high street and used to make horseshoes in a variety of sizes and hang them in the smithy ready for use. If someone turned up unexpectedly, William could always find shoes to fit. He gave a very good service, too. When he shod a horse he cleaned each foot, trimmed it and polished it so that the owner, when he paid, felt he had received a lot for the price he paid. In winter, William had one of the few warm places in town, so that anyone with time on his hands, and a word to spare, would drop in on the smithy and have a nice conversation, while he warmed up with his back to the forge!”

“How much did he charge?”

“For shoeing horses? In the 1930s I should think around three shillings per horse.” I thought about it. “In 1960, my dad said to me it would make all the difference to him if he was earning five pounds a week. So seven horses a day would be a guinea and six days a week would be six guineas. He’d have to line them up, wouldn’t he?”

Gill smiled, “Would you like to see the cemetery now?” DSC06826 Ewart cleans Williams headstone LostwithielWe opened the gate to the Restormal Rd Cemetery and secured the lock. “I have catalogued all the headstones in the cemetery, so I really do know everyone here,” said Gill. “The churchyard was closed a long time ago and for a while this was a kind of churchyard extension, kept tidy by the sexton. These days, it is owned by the council, and they maintain it.” She led us down a cleanly mown strip of grass, slippery in the wet. “There is the headstone,” she said. “It has been moved for some renovations to the cemetery, so I am not sure where the grave actually is.” I cleaned the headstone the better to read the inscription.

DSC06828 Detail on William Tearle headstone Lostwithiel“That’s lead lettering in Lostwithiel granite,” said Gill.

I stood up and took a pace back to see the headstone sitting in the grass, glistening in the rain and surrounded by dancing spring flowers. Each of us stood for a moment, reading the inscription and thinking of what had brought us together in this place and at this time. “I’ll take you to see Victor now,” said Gill. “I promised Mavis we’d be there by 1pm.”

It wasn’t far from the Restormal Rd Cemetery to Victor’s and from their cheery wave we could see we were well received. Gill, pictured on the right with Elaine, introduced us to Victor and Mavis and left.

“What a lovely lady,” said Elaine. “The museum is lucky to have her; she went so far out of her way to help us today.”

Mavis had put lunch on the table for us and while we ate Victor showed us the relics his father had left behind, and told us the story of his life. “Here’s a picture of the family,” he said.

Tearle family album Myrtle Victor Raymond Hambly T Ellen Rosina nee Hambly Frederick Hambly T William Alfred John Olive 1927

He carefully lifted a small sepia print from the mantelpiece and pried off the back of the frame, the better for me to see it.

“He was born and bred in Brentford, London,” he said, “and he had two sisters; Myrtle and Olive. That’s Myrtle standing on the left, then me, Victor Raymond Hambly Tearle sitting on my mother’s knee. Her name is Ellen Rosina nee Hambly. Standing in the middle is my brother Frederick Hambly Tearle, then my father William Alfred John Tearle, then Olive.” He looked up.

“But there’s one missing – ten years after this photo, my mother had a younger brother for everyone, whom she called William. He was a quantity surveyor and yard foreman for Churchill and Johnson, a building firm in Basildon. He went there to live with Myrtle and Olive. He was killed in a lorry accident near Luton and he is buried in the Leyndon cemetery near Basildon.” He looked at me carefully. “He was only 7yrs old when Bill (my father, William; they always called him Bill) was killed.” He continued, “Myrtle was born in 1916 and she married Donald Jones in 1939. Now, Olive was born in 1920 and she married Alf Mitchell. Fred, he married Evelyn and I was born in 1925 and I married Joan Goodman in,” he thought for a moment, “1947/48/49. She died of breast cancer when she was only 34yrs.” He looked intently at the photo as if to drag from it some insight into these family tragedies. He scanned the photo and his eyes stopped on the picture of his gently smiling father.

“He became a blacksmith in Brentford, and he joined the Royal Horse Artillery to fight in the Great War. They sent him to Cornwall and he was carting gunpowder from Trago Mills. That’s how he met my mother. They married after the war in Braddock Church and they lived in Taphouse, then in Sandylake Cottage just out of Liskeard, then they came to Lostwithiel and moved into the house on the corner of Church Lane. My father set up the smithy in that little building alongside the house. It had five bedrooms, so when my grandparents came to live with us, it was a good thing the house was a big one. My grandfather, William, was an employee of the Greater London Council. My father wanted me to become a blacksmith like him, but I joined Coop and Brewers the local bakers, who were also my father’s best customers. I took an apprenticeship with George Brewer.”

“My father worked with the Loveday, you know,” he said. “He joined the Lostwithiel Fire Brigade in the 1920s and it may be in a museum now, but he fought fires with it. In those days, the brigade was owned by the council, and they supplied the uniforms, but the men had to buy their own trousers. That museum you went to was the Fire Brigade building. In 1939 the Loveday was retired and there was a new fire pump, which was mounted on a trailer and drawn by a lorry. That was the time when the National Fire Service was formed and my father became Section Leader Tearle. They would call him the Station Manager now. During the Plymouth Blitz, the men worked during the day, then they’d get the call at night to fight fires in Plymouth. He would take the fire engine to Saltash – you’ve seen the Brunel Bridge?”

I nodded.

“It’s a railway bridge, no way across for a vehicle. So they loaded the fire unit – lorry and trailer – on to the ferry and crossed the river that way. In those days the ferry was drawn across the river by chain. My father was in command of the fire brigade and he would work all night long and then come home, and have to work all day in the smithy as well.”

He had come to the hard part. He put down the picture. “The lorry had the ladders on it and the trailer with the pump got pulled along behind. The men sat up on the lorry amongst the ladders. The lorry fell into a bomb crater and my father was thrown out onto the road, with the ladders falling on top of him. He was taken to Bodmin hospital and died there 4 days later. Peritonitis.”

“Let me show you what kind of son he was.”
DSC_9581 Present from France from William for his fatherVictor opened the glass door in the cabinet behind me and brought out two small objects, a cutlass and an anvil. “Bill brought home the  knife and the anvil from Calais after WW1. They DSC06832 Present from William to his fatherwere made in France. The cutlass blade says “Souvenir of Calais” and Bill had the handle engraved “To my dear father.”

I tried to distract him, “What did you do in the war?”

“I joined the Royal Navy as a baker on the HMS Onslow. Fred joined the navy, too, as a petty officer shipwright. One of my best friends, also a baker’s mate, was on the HMS Exeter. He died when she was torpedoed. My first wife, Joan, was a WREN.”

“I saw the Exeter on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, I said. “Your friend’s name would be there.”

“The Onslow was Cap’n Dee’s destroyer,” said Victor, resuming, “and it was sold to the Pakistan government after the war, to help form the Pakistan Navy. She was torpedoed, too, when I was working on her, but the torpedo didn’t explode. Do you know what that’s like?” He pointed to his left, “The officers’ quarters are aft,” he waved to his right, “and the rest of the crew is for’ard, but the kitchens are amidships. That means we sit above the magazine. When you are torpedoed in the magazine there is a hell of a big bang.

We heard the torpedo hit, then later we heard it explode, but out to sea on the other side of the ship. I can’t tell you how relieved we were. We worked the North Atlantic route guarding convoys taking supplies to the Russians from Scapa Flow. I have a service medal given to me by the Russians but I wasn’t allowed to wear it until quite recently because of the Cold War.

After the war, we were part of the escort that took the King of Norway back to Oslo. We were met by a fleet of little boats, some of which had been three days at sea, waiting for us.”

Victor’s service record below includes his citation from the Norwegians.DSC06829 Victor Tearle and citation

And on the right are his service medals.DSC_9607 Victors medals

Below is a recent medal from the Russians celebrating sixty years since the Russian relief supply convoys first operated.

DSC_9610 Victors Arctic Convoy medal

“Victor,” I said, “Your grandparents came to live with you in Lostwithiel. Did they die here?”

“Oh, yes, and I can show you where they are buried in the Restormal Rd Cemetery. Would you like me to take you there?”

I would be delighted, but first a little caution. “It’s raining and underfoot is very slippery. With steel replacement knees, are you going to be safe doing this?”

“If I’d wanted the safe option all my life, I wouldn’t have joined the navy,” he said shortly. “I’ll cope.”

We drove round to the cemetery and Victor opened the gate, clipping the latch back. “Over here, the third site from the gate.” He looked around. “I thought there used to be a headstone. There has been some work done in this cemetery and either they have removed it, or perhaps there never was one.”

DSC_9617 William and Elizabeth Ann Tearle unmarked grave Lostwithiel

Above is the unmarked grave of William 1863 and Elizabeth Ann Tearle in the Restormal Rd Cemetery. The site itself is between the two graves in the foreground. We stood for a moment and paid our respect to the unmarked grave. We carefully walked down the mown strip and stopped at William’s headstone. “It’s not very well maintained,” said Victor, “and the council is saying that all memorials that are unsafe in their view will be removed. There are a few that have been pushed over, a few that have fallen over and a few that are in poor condition. I would rather they restored the memorials than simply carted them away. What a loss!”DSC_9620 Victor Tearle stands next to his fathers grave Lostwithiel

We stood at William’s headstone silently, each with our own thoughts. “When they put in this path, I reminded them that it ran right over Bill’s grave, but it’s done now, so what can I do?”

“The grave is under the path?”

“Yes. They have moved the headstone a little and it’s not lined up properly, but right here, underneath the path and at right angles to it, is my father’s grave. You know he was the only man in the Lostwithiel Fire Service to be killed in the Plymouth blitz? And he was only 51.”

Myrtles Wedding to Donald Jones with Lostwithiel Fire Brigade honour guard Cornish Guardian No 429

We returned to Victor’s house and he rummaged in a drawer in his lounge for a moment. “You won’t have seen this,” he said. “It’s one of several pictures of my sister Myrtle’s wedding in 1939. The Lostwithiel Fire Service turned out for her guard of honour. My father was so proud of that. The fire service was part of the National Fire Service then and they had their standard uniform – mind you, they still had to buy their own trousers. They were right pleased with their new fire engine, too. You know Myrtle joined the Fire Service after Bill died? That young chap there is Donald Jones. Myrtle and Olive went to Basildon and ran a transport company and it was when my younger brother William joined them that he was killed in the lorry accident.”

“I have a little present for you, now, Victor,” I said, and I lay out on the table the six pages of the hour-glass chart that I had printed of the branch of William 1863 of Toddington. “Your grandfather was a Toddington man. These days it’s a trucking stop, but many Tearles have come from there.” I pointed to William 1863. “There’s your grandfather, with Elizabeth Ann of Falmouth. Did you know her maiden name, by the way?”

“No,” he said slowly, “I never heard it.”

“It’s there for you now: Elizabeth Jane Cox. And there’s your father, William Alfred John Tearle, who has married Ellen Hambly. This is a history chart so we don’t keep it up to date with births later than about 1920.”

He nodded and scanned William’s family, “Auntie Lizzie, Ellie and Violet. She never married, you know, Violet; she ran Waylet’s cafe on the main arterial into Southend. Aunt Ellie married a chap called Colbeck. He had lost a leg in WW1. They came to Lostwithiel from Putney when I was about seven years old and took in foster children with mental problems. Aunt Lizzie was the manageress of Lyons corner shop in the centre of London. You know I can’t remember her husband’s name. He was killed during the War. Where are you?”

I said, “There are your great-grandparents, John Tearle and Maria nee Major. You can see that John was born and bred in Toddington, as well as your grandfather. Beyond them are William Tearle and Catherine nee Fossey and it was he who made the jump from Stanbridge, where the family originates, to Toddington.”

Victor examined the chart, “Born Stanbridge, died Toddington.” He counted on his fingers, “William, William, John and William; so four generations in Toddington.”

I nodded. “The last William, see how his father is Richard? His wife, Elizabeth, had her first child at 18yrs old in 1796 and her last child, possibly twins, in 1823. Thirteen children in all, and we don’t know how many died as stillbirth or as infants.”

Mavis gasped, “Thirteen children over 27 years.”

“You can see that you are descended from William, a son of Richard and Elizabeth, and I am descended from Thomas, William’s brother. Richard and Elizabeth are our common ancestor. I may be a distant cousin, but we are both members of the same family.” I traced his tree back to John 1610.

“1610,” said Victor. “That’s a while ago.”

“I have some more,” I said and pulled out the 1891 Toddington census return. “Here’s your father, William, just one year old, and you can see in the right margin that he was born in Toddington. Here’s your grandmother Elizabeth Ann, born in Falmouth.” I took out the 1901 Toddington census and he examined it intently. “Here’s your father, now 11 years old and your grandfather, a carrier. For whatever reason, he has left his London job and come to work in Toddington for at least eleven years. A trucking man, too. You can see they have come from London because Elizabeth, Eleanor and Violet are all shown as born in the registration district of Acton, a London address. We can’t always account for everything, but we document what we find.”Victor and Mavis Tearle, Lostwithiel.

Victor and Mavis Tearle, Lostwithiel, 2009.

Over our last cup of tea, he gave me a piece of advice – how to eat a Cornish pasty. “You put the crimped edge into the palm of your hand and start at the pointed end. That way you can fold down the paper bag as you eat it and the pasty will hold the hot gravy in until you make your way down to it. Don’t forget, I’m a baker so I know. Next time you come here, let me know a little more in advance and I’ll make you some pasties. Mavis and I often do for family gatherings and she’s a very good pastry cook.”

I stopped for a moment. “You put the ingredients into the pastry and then cook the pasty? I thought you cooked the ingredients in a pot, like a stew.”


“No!” they said in unison. Victor said, “In the old days you would take your pasty in your pocket with you, all nice and hot, and keep your hands warm on cold winter mornings.”

We collected our gear and loaded it into the car while we thanked Victor and Mavis for their hospitality and generosity. We had met, one way or another, three generations of the Toddington Tearles. William 1863 and his wife Elizabeth Ann nee Cox, from Falmouth, had joined William 1890,  the blacksmith and firefighter and his wife Ellen nee Hambly, here in Lostwithiel after he retired from local government. William’s family included Victor, the third generation in Lostwithiel, their grandson and son respectively. I had learnt a great deal about William and his family, not the least because I had met Victor and seen the influence that William had had on him. He is a man of deep conviction and solid humanity. A salt of the earth man, a working man. A man we can be proud of. From the tantalising fragment Richard had supplied, we had uncovered a story of bravery, commitment, patriotism, loyalty and family pride.

Our last view of Lostwithiel - their new fire station.

Our last view of Lostwithiel – their new fire station.

 

DSC_1430 Firefighters National Memorial at St PaulsWe went to London to see the Firefighters National Memorial and to record the additional plaque with William’s name. The memorial stands across the road from St Pauls Cathedral, on the walkway approach to the Millennium Bridge.

It already has hundreds of names on it, from firefighters killed in the line of duty fighting fires throughout Britain during WW2. Since William was killed under just such circumstances, then it is right that he is remembered along with the others. We were pleased to see that his bravery in running towards a fire when everyone else was evacuating, and the sacrifice he made in the execution of his duty, has finally been acknowledged at a national level.

DSC_1475 William Tearle on Firefighters National MemorialThe recently added plaque is near the ground but very easy to find. Here is a detail of the plaque with William’s name clearly legible.

The night of 26/27 April 1941 was in the middle of what was to be called the Plymouth Blitz. William was critically injured racing to a fire in Devonport, and died in Bodmin Hospital on 1 May 1941, hence the two dates that Tracy had found.  

We are very grateful to the staff and researchers of the Lostwithiel Museum for uncovering William’s story, and for their actions in ensuring that William was remembered for the work that had cost him his life.

Post script

I have uncovered a potted, but detailed, History of the HMS Onlsow, part of a much larger piece on the ships of the Royal Navy written by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason RN (Rtd)

* After the allied landings in Normandy (operation NEPTUNE) in May 1944, the Onslow was leader of a flotilla ordered to patrol the English Channel to keep secure the Allied hold of the French coast. The torpedo strike Victor recounted above happened on 18 June 1944.

* On 5 June 1945 the Onslow (and others) escorted the HMS Norfolk to Oslo, taking home the Norwegian king, for which there have been celebrations in Trafalgar Square every Christmas since.

* HMS Onslow was deployed by the Pakistan Navy as the TIPPU SULTAN until 1957, being returned to Royal Navy duties as an anti-submarine frigate in 1960. She was finally taken off service and scrapped in 1980.

* HMS Exeter was one of the fleet, which included the New Zealand cruiser the HMS Archilles, that famously won the Battle of the River Plate, in Dec 1939. There is a wonderful picture of the huge amount of damage she sustained during this battle. She was then engaged in the Battle of the Java Sea with the Australian Navy against the Japanese and after a great deal of fighting during February, was finally sunk by torpedo on 1 March 1942. This was a towering warrior of a ship and a true friend of the ANZACs.

Ewart Tearle, May 2009

Epitaph:

August 2016

I received a very tearful call from Mavis in September 2011 to say that Victor had died, and Elaine and I determined then that we would visit Mavis, see Victor’s grave, and pay our respects to his memory, as the last chapter in this story. In these August holidays we have visited Lostwithiel and made good our intention. Mavis was delighted to see us and coincidentally we met Vivienne, Victor’s eldest daughter.

The road to the Lostwithiel cemetery is as steep a climb as a car can be coaxed. We looked for Victor’s grave, but found that he had been buried with his first wife.

Here is their grave:

Grave of Joan and Victor Tearle

Grave of Joan and Victor Tearle

Here is the text on each of their headstones:

Headstone of Joan Tearle nee Goodman

Headstone of Joan Tearle nee Goodman

Headstone for Victor Tearle

Headstone for Victor Tearle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and here is the view to their grave from the cemetery gate.

Joan and Victor Tearle grave location from Lostwithiel cemetery gate

Joan and Victor Tearle grave location from Lostwithiel cemetery gate.

You can see the vase of flowers in the middle ground on the left diagonal from the front headstone.

I cannot overstate the admiration I have for Victor, and for his father, William AJ Tearle. Mavis said that at heart Victor “was just a Cornishman,” and if that means he was a generous, full-hearted man, with a love of life and a deep appreciation of his obligations, then we can leave that thought as his epitaph.

31May/16

Wilfred Tearle 1896 Bramley, Yorks, UK (7/Yorks Rgt)

 

National Roll of the Great War says this of Wilfred Tearle:

 

Tearle Wilfred National Roll

Wilfred Tearle 1896 of Bramley, Leeds is the immediately younger brother of Horace Tearle 1892 of Wortley, Leeds. You will find there the common threads of their story, as well as their family history. Horace joined the Yorkshire Hussars, so the two men did not have to share the horrors of the battlefield with each other. The writers of the National Roll captured Wilfred’s story, but for some reason did not retain their copy of Horace’s, if we assume that someone told them. Both these men had a war of nightmare proportions and this is the extent of Wilfred’s: Ypres in Belgium, Albert on the Somme, being wounded twice in one battle and then in another. When you watch newsreels of WW1 soldiers running over the parapet of their trenches, charging towards the enemy (and often only walking) wearing a tin hat for protection and carrying a .303 rifle with bayonet fixed, you know that no-one in his right mind would ever do such a thing willingly, but Wilfred did it multiple times, and at some cost to himself.

 

 

If we have a quick look at the 1911 census, again.

1911 William 1860 Leeds Annie 50 James 25 Annice 21 Horace 18 Wilfred 15 Laura 13 Edmund 10 George Henry 8 Clifford 5 in Leeds -1

you will see that Wilfred is a cloth finisher, most likely in a woollen mill, where they used combs to tease out the surface of the cloth. It is not without its dangers, in comparison with mining, but freely rotating wheels and long leather belts that swished about in the air were a constant menace. Nothing to guard them from hitting the workers, of course.

If National Roll had not written about Wilfred, I would never had known he had a military career, except for an enigmatic medals card, that awarded no medals.

Wilfred Tearle 12181, 5056 WW1 army medal rolls

He arrived in France on or about 13 July 1915 and he was finally allowed to go home in June 1919. Most other soldiers were allowed home in January or February 1919, but I suppose it may have been something to do with the conditions he signed up to that held him back, probably helping to clean up the mess in Europe. From this card, we can safely say that Wilfred was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal and the British Medal. The second regiment (I think it is the Irish Regiment) was a procedural transfer only. Many of the regiments that started in the Great War were so decimated at the end of it, that their headquarters were amalgamated into offices large enough to accommodate the staff needed to process the demobilisation of several million men coming back to England. I doubt that Wilfred ever met a single soldier of the Irish Regiment.

When he was finally allowed home, he married Dorothy Gladys Thornton on 14 Apr 1922, in the church and parish we introduced you to with Horace –

Wilfred Tearle Dorothy Gladys Thornton marriage 1922 Wortley Leeds

St John the Evangelist, Wortley-de-Leeds. And who should be a witness at his marriage? Horace. The two families at this wedding are working-class to the core, Wilfred is a cloth presser, his father is a miner and Dorothy’s father is a book-maker. I do not think you will find him in a shop or a factory, you will find him at the race-track and the dog-track.

Wilfred and Dorothy had just one child about whom I know very little; Wilfred Bryce Tearle, born in Bramley, Leeds in 1924 and died in Blackpool in 2003.

Wilfred’s injuries would have had a profound effect on the rest of his life. The pain of those injuries would have dogged his every move, and the nightmares occasioned by the dreadful things he had seen and done would have accompanied him to bed every night of his life. Dorothy must have been an angel.

I’m afraid I have no knowledge of when he died, the Yorkshire authorities are always changing Tearle into something else – Teale, Tearly – whatever name it might be, I cannot find it.

If anyone knows the story of Wilfred and Horace better than I do, please contact us using the email address on the Contact Us page; I would be very happy to fill out this story with much more detail.

31May/16

Henry Charles Tearle 1887, Edlesborough, UK (327th Inf Wks Coy)

 

National Roll of the Great War said this of Henry Charles:

Tearle Henry Charles RF National Roll

This man is the brother of Horace 1893 of Edlesborough, and you are welcome to compare the military history of the two men, as well as allow the two posts to share the same story of their family history. In the 1911 census, below, we can see that Henry was already 23 years old, and married. We can also see that the family had some skills: Mary 1889 and Charlotte 1897 are machinists, Horace 1893, Henry Charles and Henry’s wife Elizabeth work in a paper mill, and William Samuel 1894 is working for a blacksmith. Unfortunately, at only 46yrs old, Ellen is already a widow. We saw the marriage of John and Ellen in the story of Horace 1893, but John had died before he turned 40 years old.

1911 Ellen Tearle nee Dyer 1865 Edles Mary 22 Horace 18 William Samuel 16 Charlotte 14 Alexander 12 Elsie Violet 10 Nellie Sarah 8 Henry Charles 23 Elizabeth DiL 22 in HH - 1

 

Henry had married Elizabeth Winter on 4 June 1910:

Henry Charles Tearle 1887 marriage Elizabeth Winter Parish Ch Hemel Hempstead 1910

In comparison with his parents, whose marriage is pictured on Horace’s post, Henry could read and write, and so could Elizabeth. The Mary Tearle at their wedding was Mary 1889, Henry’s immediately younger sister. The best he could say for his job was “Labourer,” but he had a skilled job in a paper mill, at the heart of the printing industry. Unfortunately, these days there is no Card Finisher, and whatever it meant in 1911, it was given the code 811, which means Paper Manufacture – other. It is entirely likely that Horace, Henry and Elizabeth are all working at the same paper mill.

Henry went to the recruitment centre in Watford 24 May 1916 and signed up. On 9 Apr 1917 he was called up to the 3rd Infantry Works Company. He was 29 years 10 months old. He should have been in peak form. When he turned up at the testing centre in Bedford, they were not too sure. They gave him a Category Cii – a low medical grade – and they transferred him to the 327th Inf Wks Coy, with the regimental number 176875. They also filled out several forms for the purposes of opening records in his name – his wife, his family, his disabilities (none) his physical appearance and so on. He was “Posted” to a duty unit on 24 April 1917. I can find nothing in his record that says he did anything or went anywhere, but that is true of any soldier’s record when he is serving at “Home” that is, anywhere in the UK, including Ireland.

On 15 Feb 1919 he was transferred to the army reserve on Demobilisation. He was free to go home, but could be called up at any time if required. A highly satisfied form, I think, dated 7 Jan 1919 attested that on the matter of discipline “Certified no entry while serving in this Coy.” He had served in the war, and no-one had ever shot at him. He picked up the form from the No1 Dispersal Unit that allowed him to travel home, and noted that he was prohibited to wear army uniform after 28 days from 18 Jan 1919. He was allowed to wear his greatcoat, but if he handed it in at his local Post Office, they would give him £1 for it. He was free of the army, he could go back to his family and hopefully his old job, and he could tell a nice tale of his adventures.

31May/16

Horace Tearle 1893 Edlesborough, UK (RFA)

National Roll of the Great War had this to say about Horace:

Tearle Horace RFA National Roll

Horace fought in some of the bloodiest and most brutal battles of the Great War. Look at the names. Ypres (a town in Belgium, called Wipers by the soldiers who fought there) the Somme, a beautiful, gently rolling farming countryside in Pas-de-Calais, France where more than 19,000 men on the Allied side were killed on just the first day of the battle. These were vast killing fields where upwards of 500,000 men of both sides fought each other to a standstill and poured artillery fire and machinegun spite at each other in the hope that something they were doing would finally work, while their leaders tried to find an action that would finally break the deadlock. Horace joined early in the war, and survived. We know nothing about his wounds.

Horace’s parents were John Tearle 1863 of Edelsborough and Ellen nee Dyer. Here is their marriage in 1884:JOHN TEARLE marriage to ELLEN DYER Edles 1884

You can see that John could not write, but Ellen Dyer could. Ann Maria Tearle was John’s younger sister, and in 1885 she would marry the Arthur Rollings who had joined her as a witness at her brother’s wedding.

John’s parents were George Tearle 1831 of Eaton Bray, just a few hundred metres from Edlesborough. and Hannah Maria nee Janes. George’s parents were Jabez Tearle 1792 of Northall, a hundred metres across a field, and Mary nee Green. Jabez’ parents were William Tearle 1749 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Prentice. This means that Horace is on the branch of William 1749. This branch has some of the most famous Tearle names ever, including Sir Godfrey Tearle the Shakespearean and movie actor, and a long and glorious tradition of military service. Horace was in very good company. His elder brother Henry Charles Tearle 1887 had joined the Royal Fusiliers, and his younger brother William Samuel Tearle 1894 had joined the Royal Field Artillery, although much later than Horace had. Henry and Horace had received written recognition of their efforts in the National Roll of the Great War, but for some reason, William Samuel had not.

Here is the medals card that determined the service medals that Horace received:

Horace Tearle 1421, 890597 WW1 army medal rolls - 1

He would have received the medals, in the post, during 1922.

In 1919, Horace married Ethel L Lake and so far as I know, they had one child, Herbert J Tearle 1930 in Bury St Edmonds, Suffolk. Here he is in 1933, amongst other Tearle families at addresses in Hemel Hempstead:

Hemel Hempstead Directory 1933-1

The first name is probably Alexander Tearle 1898, the second is possibly Horace, the third is most likely Henry Charles 1887, but I do not know who Daisy E is.

Horace died in Dacorum (the town of Hemel Hempstead lies in the district of Dacorum) in 1979, aged 85, and we hope that in the years after the Great War, Horace was able to piece together those parts of his character that make life worth living, for himself, and for his family.

In his own lifetime, Horace saw a grateful village honour his contribution to the effort to defeat the Germans. In Studham Church, Bedfordshire, there is a Roll of Honour. The names in gold are those who lost their lives and the names in red are those who were thankfully welcomed home. Horace is listed in red:

Studham Church Roll of Honour.

Studham Church Roll of Honour.

I have reproduced here that part of the Roll that records his name:

Horace Tearle on Roll of Honour in Studham Church.

We thank Paul and Edith Tearle of Studham for bringing this to our attention, and for taking us to the church to view this most touching of memorials.

Studham Church, Bedfordshire.

Studham Church, Bedfordshire.

28May/16

Horace Tearle 1892, Leeds, Yorkshire, UK (Yorks Hussars)

There really is a parish called Wortley-de-Leeds, and it was in St John the Evangelist Church of that parish, little Horace Tearle was baptised on 5 June 1892. The fear of babies dying drove Victorian parents to the the church as soon after their baby’s birth as possible. The church records show Horace was born on 28 April 1892. That is how anxious they were.

Horace Tearle 1892 baptism Wortley Leeds

At the time of Horace’s Christening, William 1859 was a miner in Fromeside, Wortley, Leeds.

To put this family in context, William Tearle 1859 of Bramley, Leeds, married Annie Lee Lavers on 21 October 1882 in Wortley, Leeds. His parents were George Tearle 1825 of Leighton Buzzard and Maria nee Franklin. George and Maria’s first child, Julia, was born in Leighton Buzzard. Their next two children, James 1852 and Edward 1855 were born in Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, and this James married Mary Abigail Ryder in Bramley, Leeds in 1875 and then emigrated to Australia in 1883. George and Maria moved to Leeds in about 1856, and the rest of their family – George 1857, William 1859, Elizabeth 1862 and Harry 1864 were all born in Leeds. George’s parents were Joseph Tearle 1803 and Mary Ann nee Smith. This is the family who moved from Leighton Buzzard to Preston and started the Preston Tearles. As you can see, George did not follow them to Preston, Lancashire; he went to Leeds, in Yorkshire. Charles 1894 of Preston and Horace 1892 are second cousins. The parents of Joseph Tearle 1803 were Richard Tearle 1778 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Pestel, and Richard’s parents were Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp. Thus, Horace is on the branch of Joseph 1737.

In the 1800s we were living in the grip of the Industrial Revolution, where some families made vast fortunes, whilst their factories blew contamination into the air, poured pollution and poison into the rivers, and allowed their workers’ conditions to be little better than slaves. No wonder their babies died. It was also a time of upheaval and mass migration. As mechanisation modernised farming, and fewer labourers were needed, so the farming life became untenable when people could no longer make a living from the land.

George and Maria moved North. William became a miner; here is his marriage:

William Tearle Annie Lee Lavers marriage 1882 Wortley Leeds -1

It is a poignant reminder of the life they left behind; far from rural Bedfordshire, William was a miner, and George, who had been an Agricultural Labourer, was now a “labourer in a brick works.” Annie, the local lass, cannot write, but William signs in a beautiful copperplate hand and one of the witnesses is his brother James’ wife, Mary Abigail nee Ryder. Within a year, they would be in Australia.

1901 William 1860 Leeds Annie 40 James 15 Maud 13 Annie 11 Horace 8 Wilfred 5 Laura 3 Edmund 11m in Potter Newton Yorks -1

The 1901 census, above, notes that William is a coal miner, and son James is working in a wool factory. You will have noticed that William and Annie’s first child was called James, no doubt after William’s favoured elder brother. Horace is eight years old.

1911 William 1860 Leeds Annie 50 James 25 Annice 21 Horace 18 Wilfred 15 Laura 13 Edmund 10 George Henry 8 Clifford 5 in Leeds -1

The 1911 census tells us (as usual) quite a lot more. But amongst all the data, William, James and Horace are “Below ground” miners. Unfortunately, William and James do not tell us their exact roles in the mine, but Horace does. He is a “hurrier.” His role was to pull heavy carts of coal along the underground pathways to exits where the cart would be winched to the surface. The hurrier was tied to the cart with a heavy chain, and usually, at the other end of the cart, there would be a girl who was the “thruster,” pushing the cart with her hands and forehead, usually while kneeling. She would lose her hair over time due to the pressure of the cart on her head. Fortunately, Annice and Wilfred are in cloth-making factories, rather than the dreadful life girls had underground. Still, working in a factory was a job of long hours, low pay and awful working conditions. It is nice to see that all the younger children are at school, because in the 1840s children as young as five years old were working underground, in mines. Also in this picture of 1911 is Horace’s immediately younger brother Wilfred Tearle 1896 of Bramley, Leeds. He would share Horace’s story.

Goodness knows what drew Horace into The Great War, perhaps getting out from under ground to help in the developing adventure in Europe might have been a pull, or he was volunteering before he was conscripted? For whatever reason, Horace signed up on 4 Oct 1915 (the day he attested for “4 years service in the United Kingdom”) a full five months before conscription was enforced in March 1916. He was given the number 3398 and was inducted into the 3/1 Yorkshire Hussars. He was 23 years old, 5ft 6in tall, he had good vision and good physical development. He was kept on “Home” duties, meaning anywhere in the UK including Ireland, and during that time he married Annie Elizabeth Peat, on 3 June 1916. Married life came to an abrupt halt on 10 Nov 1916 when he boarded a ship in Liverpool, bound for Greece, which arrived in Salonica on the 21st. He was in the MEF, the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. Fortunately he was a few months too late to join the action in Gallipoli, but he would have been told that his role was in warfare over Greece, the Balkans and Turkey.

I have one document that tells a great deal about how the war treated Horace. Here it is:

Horace Tearle 3393 and 643197 and 76203 WW1 army service record p8

Firstly, you can see that he has learned another skill; he is a mechanic. In a later document he is referred to as an engineer. Perhaps when he gets back home, he may not have to be a miner. On 3 Aug 1917, Horace was driven to a field hospital with an unknown condition. On the 4th, he had an extremely high temperature, and on the 12th he was diagnosed with malaria. His life had now changed forever; you do not recover from malaria, you simply get used to coping with it. In November he is returned to his unit. On the page after this one, there is a stern order stamped on his card:

“Malaria case – Not Available for a Theatre of War where MALARIA is Prevalent.”

The fact that the order is stamped on his record shows us that this was a common event. He was posted to other units – the Royal Dragoons and the Derby Yeomanry, but he was moved on – somehow he did not fit their needs. He was finally transferred to the Labour Corps. When he was well he could work, and when he was having a malaria “turn” he could rest. On 2 Nov 1918, he joined “A” Company, the Labour Corps. He would be used to move goods and clean up after the war. Armistice day arrived on 11 November 1918, and Horace’s service was reviewed. He had enlisted on 4 Nov 1915, been in the MEF from 10 Nov 1916 to 10 Jun 1918 and then on “Home” duties until 7 Nov 1918, a total of 3 years and 35 days. During that time, Horace was transferred to Aldershot Barracks, in Hampshire. In August 1918, with too much time on his hands, Horace got into a drunken state and overstayed his leave by almost half a day. He was loudly admonished, and given three days confined to barracks as a punishment, and probably sent on parade-ground cleaning duties. It was the only blemish on his military record.

On 7 Nov 1918, Horace was transferred to soldier class “P”. He was now the reserves, he could go home, but he might also be called up at any time until his four years was up. To all intents and purposes, he was free.

Horace Tearle 76203, 643197 WW1 army medal Rolls -1

Here is his medal card, which shows that the Labour Corps (his last unit) had gathered sufficient information to award him two service medals – the Victory Medal and the British Medal. In 1922, Horace signed for the receipt of his medals. With his malaria always threatening, and boiling over at times, it must have been difficult for him to accept that this is all he got for the pain he would endure for the rest of his life.

I know very little about what happened next, except that he and Annie had a girl, Joan, in 1920, and that Horace died in 1929, just 36 years old. Malaria still kills millions of people each year, and Horace’s fight with it in the 1920’s would have been difficult, and often very painful and debilitating. It is a very sad end for a man who had hoped for so much more.