Category Archives: Toddington, UK

Tearle Family history in Toddington, Bedfordshire.

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.

19Mar/15

Lords of the Manor, The story of the Cooper Family of Toddington Hall

A short history of Toddington Manor

The Manor House c1850

The Manor House c1850

The manor of Toddington dates back to the 11th century at least when its fifteen and a half hides were held by Wolfweird ‘Levet’ before the Conquest. In the 1240s it was held by Simon de Montford by virtue of his having married Eleanor, sister of Henry III whose first husband, William Marshall, Earl of Pembroke had been granted the manor following that marriage. It later passed to Roger Bigod, the King’s seneschal who, when he died in London, ordered that his body be buried there, but his heart be buried at Toddington. In 1362, the manor was worth £12 12s 8d indicating how the manor had suffered from the plague earlier that year.

In the early 15th Century, Sir Thomas Cheney of Kent married Ann Broughton, heiress of Sir John Broughton in Toddington. There was no manor house at that stage for it was their son, Henry who began the building in 1559 following the death of Sir Thomas. In 1563, Henry was knighted here by Elizabeth I. The imposing mansion, based on three courts, was three storeys high with four-storey round towers at each corner, and a 210ft-long frontage from north to south. But Sir Henry died childless in 1587 and the estates passed to his widow, Jane. She was from the Wentworth family, daughter of the 1st Baron Wentworth. Though the manor was to stay in the Wentworth family for the next few generations, it had a chequered career. King James I was entertained there in 1608 but when Jane died in 1614 the estates passed on again to her great-nephew, Sir Thomas Wentworth, the 4th Baron and later Earl of Cleveland. Unfortunately both he and his son ran up massive debts. The manor, which had been sequestered by the Commonwealth, then passed to Cleveland’s  granddaughter, Henrietta Maria, Baroness Wentworth.

In 1683, her lover, The Duke of Monmouth, illegitimate son of Charles II was forced to hide at Toddington after being implicated in the Rye House Plot. He was exiled and Henrietta followed him, but returned to Toddington. Monmouth was executed in 1685 following the Battle of Sedgemoor and Henrietta died a year later. Sixty years later sees the manor in serious disrepair and partially dismantled by William Wentworth, the Earl of Strafford, the only parts remaining more or less intact being the North East Corner, the kitchens and one solitary turret.

In 1806, the ruin was bought by John Cooper Esq who, together with his son-in-law, William Dodge Cooper Cooper, set about restoring the manor to its former glory and this is how it stands today.

It is with John Cooper that our story begins…..

The Manor House 1860

The Manor House, 1860

 

John Cooper Esq

Not too much is known of John Cooper and his early life other than that he was born on 16th January 1759 and baptised on February 11th. He married Jane Gidden – who was probably from Wilmslow, Cheshire – and they had one daughter, Elizabeth. John’s father, Thomas, appears to have changed the family name from Cowper to Cooper and of the twelve children he sired, only two, John and Sarah, survived infancy. Sarah also died quite young as well – in her late teens – as she passed away in 1785. John must have been the lucky one.

When he bought Toddington Manor in 1804, he had already amassed a lot of property as far flung as Ashley, Timperley, Partington and Hale in Cheshire, Rayleigh, Gravesend and Ramsgate in Kent as well as a house in Finsbury Square, London. Property in West Thurrock and two small farms in Bayhouse were purchased in 1807. This amounted to some 706 acres. Between 1806 and 1809, John Cooper purchased the Highgate brewery – a business which was known to exist in the 1670s – in Highgate, London from John Addison who had purchased it himself from the Southcote family not long before. It cost Cooper £1,000 pounds and comprised three parcels of land (£480 + £420 + £100) and probably included the brewery and yard. Under Addison, the brewing activities relocated to Homerton and John Cooper dismantled the brewery and turned the lands into his Town House Estate, Park House. The total area was approximately twelve and a half acres. A more detailed history of Park House is described in a later section.

John Cooper was Sheriff of Bedford in 1812.

His daughter, Elizabeth, married her cousin, William Dodge Cooper Heap in 1803 and it can only be assumed that this was ‘arranged’ in order to keep the manor – and all other property owned by John Cooper – safe within the family. Part of the provision of this marriage was that William change his surname to Cooper which he officially did in 1819.

John Cooper died in 1817 and his will published in October of that year named Elizabeth Cooper as his heir.

William Dodge Cooper Cooper

17 Aug 1782 - 9 Aug 1860

17 Aug 1782 – 9 Aug 1860

William Dodge Cooper Heap was born at South Hayling – on Hayling Island in Hampshire – to the Curate of South Hayling,  Rev John Heap  and Anne Dodge Cooper, who was born and brought up in Bosden, near Cheadle in Cheshire. A custom of the times was to include past family surnames in a young child’s forenames, thus when young William he was baptised with the names of his maternal great grandparents.

The life of a Churchman would often mean a lot of moving around, and so it was with the Heaps: The Rev John would take his family to Westborne in 1795.

On 19th March, 1803, in the County of Middlesex (at St Luke’s Church, Old Street, Finsbury), William married John Cooper’s daughter and heiress, Elizabeth.

Because she was his cousin, part of the marriage agreement was that he changed his surname to Cooper in order to inherit. This he did in the year of 1819 by Letters Patent following the death of his father-in-law.

William Dodge Cooper Cooper was now Lord of the Manor in Toddington and a leading landowner in Highgate. He appears to have divided the majority of his time between the two estates and rather than sit back and play the country squire, was extremely active in his duties. He was a magistrate in both Bedfordshire and Middlesex and was Deputy Lieutenant in the former as well as being Sheriff in 1824.

He chaired the Assembly at the Gatehouse Public House in Highgate and was Chairman/Treasurer of Highgate Public School as well being on the Management Committee of the National School – now St Michael’s – a short walk along North Road from the public school. Book Society Meetings were also held at Park House.

William and Elizabeth had several children: John was born on 30th January 1804 but probably died in infancy as no further records can be found; Jane, who was both deaf and dumb, on 7th November 1805; Elizabeth on 30th November 1806; William was born 10th April 1810; Amelia, 15th November 1812; Caroline on 4th September 1813; Henrietta on the 2nd September 1815, but sadly died at the age of 5 on 7th June 1821. Lucy followed 1st November 1818.  Alfred John was born on 31st August 1819 but also did not survive infancy. James Lyndsay, 12th February 1821. Elizabeth married a Dutch count and Lucy was espoused to Henry (later Sir) Robinson of Knapton in Norfolk. Amelia’s marriage at the age of 36 was not so grand: Moses Tearle was a twenty one year old labourer, probably working for the Lord of The Manor at Toddington and one can only speculate on the circumstances of this liaison.

The stories of these three girls – Elizabeth, Lucy and Amelia – have been expertly told elsewhere, so I will not go into any significant detail here.

The London Gazette dated 12th February 1829 states that William and all other elected Sheriffs of their Counties were present at the King’s Court at Windsor – presumably for investiture by his majesty, King George IV.

There is a similar entry for 13th November 1827 and a notice of nomination on Nov 10th 1828. Commission signed by the Lord Lieutenant of the County of Bedford:

William Dodge Cooper Cooper, Esq. to be Deputy Lieutenant. Dated 27th March 1834.

William was very keen to encourage his labourers and was a leading light in allotting them small pieces of lands on his estate – allotments. In 1835, the secretary of Society for the Encouragement of Arts, George Atkin, wrote to the Lord of the Manor enquiring as to ‘how far the good results that followed the first introduction of this plan continue to be realized’. William replies – apologising for the delay as he was away from home (the letter was sent from Park House on the 5th of August, 1835) and assures Mr Atkin that he has made some observations which he trusts will not be unacceptable. In other words, we may gather that the scheme was a great success. The letter is signed as ‘Wm. D.C. Cooper’.

In 1839 it was noted that ‘William D.C. Cooper was the largest landowner in the parish with 706 acres’ – this would be his estates in West Thurrock and Bayhouse.

In the census of 1841, the family is living at Park House. Joining them is eldest son William’s wife, Laura (nee Ellis) and presumably their son William Smith Cowper Cooper who was born in 1832, the year after his parents were married. The house also boasts six household servants.

It was also noted in the Dover Telegraph of 1850 that William was ‘Present at Dinner’ on the 30th of November in Ramsgate, Kent. William had a house in Nelson’s Crescent, overlooking the harbour.

In 1851, a very long winded document states that, for the lands that William Dodge Cooper and his wife (as well as other landowners) owned in the parish of Harlington that had been leased to tenants under the Act of Enclosure, the price of a bushel of wheat need be determined in order that a fair tithe, rent or corn rent could be established for the previous 10 years, these dues being payable to the vicar of the parish church of Harlington.

In 1855, William presented the village with a water pump, sited on the village green. Sources inform me that this was still in use during World War II and it was quite hazardous to collect the water as the Luftwaffe were continually trying to bomb the nearby tank factory! It is probably that the pump replaced a pond in the square which would have provided for townspeople and also visitors and there livestock ie horses. In all likelihood, two people with a large bucket on a stick carried on their shoulders would be the method of obtaining water.

The water pump William presented to Toddington

The water pump William presented to Toddington

Closeup of the presentation shield

Closeup of the presentation shield

Elizabeth, daughter of John Cooper and wife of William, died on 6th June 1855 – she was 72. We can only imagine the grief in the household. The more so as their daughter Jane died the following year on the 9th August 1856.

Hatchment of the arms of Elizabeth Cooper Cooper

Hatchment of the arms of Elizabeth Cooper Cooper

Hatchment of the arms of William Dodge Cooper Cooper

Hatchment of the arms of William Dodge Cooper Cooper

Memorial to the Cooper Cooper family in Toddington Church

Memorial to the Cooper Cooper family in Toddington Church

On the 2nd of March 1856, one Samuel Fletcher was convicted for stealing two steel rabbit traps of the value of 7 shillings, which were the property of William D C Cooper Esq at Toddington. Fletcher was was sentenced to 1 month of hard labour. Poaching was clearly a problem – as we shall see later in the story of William D. C’s son, William.

William Dodge Cooper Cooper died on 9th August, 1860 at the age of 78.

William’s will was proven in Her Majesty’s (Queen Victoria) Court of Probate on 6th October 1860 naming William Cooper Cooper and the Rev James Lyndsay Cooper Cooper as executors. A notice appeared in the London Gazette dated 17th March 1865 and was published by N C and C Milne – the family solicitors.

Major William Cooper Cooper

William Cooper Cooper

William Cooper Cooper

William Cooper Cooper

William Cooper Cooper (he doesn’t seem to have any other names) became the Lord of the Manor on the death of his father. He was 50 years old. When he was 21, he married Laura Ellis – on 26th April 1831 – and a year later their only son, William Smith Cowper Cooper, was born. Laura was the daughter of Captain Thomas Ellis of Tuy-dee Park, Monmouthshire. He was a Justice of the Peace as well as Deputy Lieutenant of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Whilst perpetuating the use of family surnames (was Smith from Laura Ellis’ side?) it rather looks as though William the father was looking at the earlier spelling of their surname when naming his child.

Commissions signed by the Vice Lieutenant of the County of Bedford name William as vice Lieutenant from 1843, and 3 years later on the 21st February 1846, William (Gent) enlisted in the Bedfordshire Militia as a lieutenant. At some point he was promoted to Captain, for the London Gazette reports on the 24th March, 1858, Captain William Cooper Cooper ‘be a Major’. It is not known when, but William left the militia sometime after that. In 1855, the regiment was sent to Ireland from Aldershot for garrison duty during the Crimea war. The Militia had been reorganised in 1852 because of the threat of invasion from Napoleon III.

Still surviving is a water colour painting, shown below, of a view of his office in Aldershot…

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…as well as this painting of a private of the Bedford Light Infantry Militia.

Clearly William had an artistic bent since he was known as a collector as well as being a pioneer in the art of photography. Here, below, we see a very early photograph taken by William, in 1854.

It was mentioned earlier about the nuisance of poachers. Well, the above photograph shows one caught by Norman Snoxall, the gamekeeper for the Toddington estate, who was a former police officer in another part of Bedfordshire. He died a couple of years after this photo was taken. What became of the poacher is unknown.

William’s apparent love of this artistic doesn’t just stop with painting and photography: some years earlier – 1836, when William’s father was alive – a Roman brooch was dug up by a gang of labourers and taken to William who, according to the story, promptly bought it. I have speculated elsewhere as to whether one William Tearle was amongst those labourers and even contemplated the possibility that he could have been the man who dug up the artifact. Probably, we shall never know.

Also in the William Cooper Cooper collection is the Toddington Brooch. An Anglo Saxon cruciform brooch, this has been dated to the 6th century and whilst it has been questioned as to whether it was found at Toddington, the describer (name and source unknown) points out that “Major Cooper Cooper is known to have collected material from Toddington”.

The gamekeeper, Norman Snoxall, and the poacher

The gamekeeper, Norman Snoxall, and the poacher

In 1844, William purchased at auction a carving entitled “Apollo and the Muses” – a piece that had previously been part of the old Manor House before its near destruction by the Earl Strafford. The myth of Apollo and the Muses is well known. The subject represents Apollo and the nine muses in concert, and is full of exquisite detail, the figures in high relief; The date is thought to be of the sixteenth century. It measures 6 feet by 4 feet two inches, and weighs about two hundredweight.

Apollo and the Muses

Apollo and the Muses

It might be suggested that the Cooper dynasty set about restoring the Manor – John and William Dodge with the structural building and William Dodge and son William concentrating on the more aesthetic aspect – for example, the grand fireplace:

The grand fireplace, Toddington Manor

The grand fireplace, Toddington Manor

William continued to photograph Toddington and it must be said that we have all benefited from his foresight. Some of these pictures are reproduced in the Miscellany section below.

On Feb 2nd 1867 William was present at the Queen’s Court on the Isle of Wight – Osborne House – for his investiture as Sheriff of the County of Bedfordshire.

William died in 1898 and his place as Lord of the Manor was taken by his son, William Smith Cowper Cooper.

And, sadly, here the story ends, for this William died a mere 7 years later in 1905. With no male heirs, the Manor house was sold as was the London residence, Park House.

William did have children, however – 4 girls:

Edith born 1860 – married Reginald William Borlase Warren Vernon,

Leila born 1862 died 1882 and appears on Caroline’s memorial,

Harriet born 1868 – married Lionel Tufnell,

Ida born 1870 died 1876.

All four girls had Cowper Cooper as their last two names and when the two surviving daughters married,that was the end of the Cooper surname.

The family were only residents at Toddington for a hundred years, but I like to think that their restoration of the building both inside and out and the way in which they conducted themselves as Lords of the Manor has left a legacy that has enriched the history of a little Bedfordshire village called Toddington.

Park House, Highgate

I have explained how John Cooper bought the land, sold the brewery that stood there and built his town house on the land. Here, exactly, is where it stood: the site of Park House and its grounds sits on a plateau of land in Highgate, a part of the Northern Heights of London, forming a triangle between Southwood Lane on the east side, North Hill to the west . On the northern side there is a steep bank known as The Bulwarks and Highgate Village is a five minute walk to the west. Beyond The Bulwarks, Highgate Wood – formerly The Bishop’s Wood – spreads towards Muswell Hill; Hampstead Heath is only a short walk to the west. In the days of the Cooper Coopers, and for very many years before, the surrounding land was used for rough grazing. Highgate is still is termed a Village today, but in those days it would certainly be more recognisable as such rather than a concrete extension of the crawling spider that is London now.

It is interesting to note that an unknown article dated 1851 refers to Park House being known as the residence of ‘Squire Cooper’, though whether this refers to William DCC – who would have been Squire at the time – or his father, John, is not stated. Either – or both – would often ride in the direction of Muswell Hill through Gravel Pit Wood (now Queen’s Woods) and my guess would be that the path would possibly take the course of Muswell Hill Road, which today separates the two forested areas. Whatever form it took, the ride was known as ‘Squire Cooper’s Ride’.

Wide and busy, the Archway Road, cuts off Highgate Woods from The Bulwarks; one can only imagine the true extent of uninterrupted scenery, with its sometimes gentle, sometimes steep undulations, deep forest and rough grazing land.

Not too many years ago, excavations very close to – and within the grounds of – Park House revealed not only cellars related to the brewery that had stood there, but also a series of tunnels. It would appear that these were made with intention of hiding Militia at a time when the threat of invasion from Napoleonic France was very real.

It is most likely, too, that my ancestor Moses Tearle – who married William DCC’s daughter Amelia  – spent some time at Park House with the family; they were married in Hornsey.

The untimely and early death of William Smith Cowper Cooper meant the end of Park House – as it did of Toddington Manor – and the Highgate residence was sold.

In 1848 it had been converted from a school for backward children into a refuge for prostitutes and in 1855 it was leased to the London Diocesan Penitentiary (later the House of Mercy) for, it would seem, the same purpose. The poet Christina Rosetti was a volunteer here. In 1900 it passed to the Clewer sisters but fell vacant in 1940.

The House survived for another 7 years before it was demolished to make way for the estate built by Hornsey Borough Council for the main purpose of housing those who had lost their homes during the war and new, young families. It was aptly named Hillcrest and still survives today, though many of the apartments are privately owned.

The seven blocks of flats were all named after leading military men of the second world war – Tedder, Dowding, Montgomory, Mountbatten, Cunningham, Alexander and Wavell. And it was into No 6, Wavell House that Leslie and Mollie Tearle, with their two young children Barbara and myself, Richard, moved in the year of 1949. It would be almost 50 years before this amazing coincidence of family history would be discovered.

The actual site of Park House is unknown and although this view and that of Wavell House (below) do look similar, I don't believe that they are compatible. The Hornsey Society article states that Park House faces North Hill and is located fairly centrally. If this is the case, it would have been a little behind and to the right of where the photographer was standing to take the picture of Wavell House.

The actual site of Park House is unknown and although this view and that of Wavell House (below) do look similar, I don’t believe that they are compatible. The Hornsey Society article states that Park House faces North Hill and is located fairly centrally. If this is the case, it would have been a little behind and to the right of where the photographer was standing to take the picture of Wavell House.

Wavell House on the Hillcrest Estate photographed in January 2011

Wavell House on the Hillcrest Estate photographed in January 2011

Entrance to the Hillcrest Estate in Southwood Lane. Park House Passage is on the left and leads to North Hill and the Wrestlers Public House.

Entrance to the Hillcrest Estate in Southwood Lane. Park House Passage is on the left and leads to North Hill and the Wrestlers Public House.

“The Bulwarks” from the junction of Park Road and Southwood Lane. The visible block of flats is the rear of Wavell House.

“The Bulwarks” from the junction of Park Road and Southwood Lane. The visible block of flats is the rear of Wavell House.

Miscellany

In writing this story there have been many ‘tangents’ which I have reluctantly ignored in the main body of the text as well as numerous photographs which, though of high relevance, might have distracted from the story. I hope to put some of that right in this section, though things will not be in any chronological order nor any particular order of priority.

Arms and crest of the Coopers of Toddington

Arms and crest of the Coopers of Toddington

Arms and crest of the Coopers of Toddington

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Mowing the lawn at Toddington Manor, date unknown

Old Lodge Farm, Toddington, c1860

Old Lodge Farm, Toddington, c1860

Cottages near the church, Toddington

Cottages near the church, Toddington

Cottages near the church, Toddington

Cottages near the church, Toddington

The stable yard

(Major William Cooper Cooper was known to have been the photographer for pictures 1,3 and 4 – perhaps others).

Brief mention has been made of other children of William Dodge Cooper Cooper and it is worth adding just a little more. Lucy married Henry Robinson of Knapton in Norfolk on 14th July 1842 and bore him five children. In 1845 he was knighted, but it transpires that he had a mistress and sired three children on her. The marriage continued, but one wonders about the situation and what grief Lucy must have endured. She died in 1889 aged 71 and her memorial appears with her husband’s in Knapton Church.

Elizabeth married a Dutch nobleman, Count Alexander Charles Joseph Vander Burch, chamberlain to His Majesty the King of the Netherlands. Much of her time would have been spent abroad, but there is evidence to suggest that she made visits to her sisters in Toddington.

Amelia’s marriage to Moses Tearle has never been recorded in any official records and their story is one of the most intriguing. Moses changed his name to Cecil (Cecill in some accounts) but no one has yet discovered the reason why! They moved away from the area and Wendy Skelley has given us an excellent account of the lives of their sons. See other articles on Egerton and Aubrey

Caroline Cooper Cooper lived at Toddington all her life, never marrying, and died at the age of 88 in 1901.

Caroline's grave in Toddington Cemetery together with Leila Evelyn, daughter of William Smith Cowper Cooper.

Caroline’s grave in Toddington Cemetery together with Leila Evelyn, daughter of William Smith Cowper Cooper.

Caroline's grave in Toddington Cemetery together with Leila Evelyn, daughter of William Smith Cowper Cooper.

Caroline’s grave in Toddington Cemetery together with Leila Evelyn, daughter of William Smith Cowper Cooper.

Still in existence is a cookery book signed on the front page by Caroline – that its recipes are for foreign food suggests that it may have been given to her by her sister, Elizabeth. It is dated 1848 in her hand.

Still in existence is a cookery book signed on the front page by Caroline – that its recipes are for foreign food suggests that it may have been given to her by her sister, Elizabeth. It is dated 1848 in her hand.

The South Window - “Faith Hope and Charity” donated by Caroline Cooper Cooper in memory of her parents

The South Window – “Faith Hope and Charity” donated by Caroline Cooper Cooper in memory of her parents

A window in Toddington Church was donated by Caroline.

Circa 1892, she wrote: “I have promised my brother Major Cooper that I will contribute whatever he may require up to £150 for the window now being erected in Toddington Church in memory of my late father and mother. If this is not paid before my death it will of course be a debt due on my Estate which I desire you to satisfy.

If the stained glass window is not paid for before my death £250 more or less to be paid for it – in memory of my dear father and mother.

The South Window – “Faith Hope and Charity” donated by Caroline Cooper Cooper in memory of her parents

James Lindsay Cooper Cooper was the youngest of the family and entered the Church quite early in his life. As patron of the Living of Toddington, his father presented him to the people in 1846 when he was aged 25. A year earlier, James had married Rebecca Singleton and their only child, also named Rebecca, died at just six months of age.

James resigned from the Church on inheriting property in 1862, but a mere 8 years later he, too, died at the young age of 48. A six and half hundredweight bell (no 2 at Toddington Church) and made by John Warner was inscribed in 1906: “To the glory of God and in memory of the Rev James Lindsay Cooper Cooper by his widow.”

“In addition to archaeological work carried out by professional archaeology units, some useful work was done by Victorian antiquaries.  Major C Cooper of Toddington Manor published several reports of finds from the Toddington district. Two early Anglo-Saxon brooches, believed found in the 19th century by Major Cooper in Toddington parish (exact provenance unknown), are in the collections of Northampton Museum.  One of these, a large cruciform brooch, is the subject of a detailed analysis by Kennet (1969).”

You can download the PDF from the list in the link to Kennet. The title is: A late 6th-century cruciform brooch from Toddington, Bedfordshire: an Anglo-Saxon connexion examined (pp 206-9)
Kennett, David H

I had hoped to include illustrations of this cruciform brooch as well as the ‘famous’ bronze elephant found on Major Cooper’s land, but the only ones I have found are in PDF format and cannot be reproduced here.

Notes by “Adams” on the works carried out by William D. C. Cooper and of the Apollo carving bought by his son, Major Cooper Cooper

Notes by “Adams” on the works carried out by William D. C. Cooper and of the Apollo carving bought by his son, Major Cooper Cooper

Sources, thanks and acknowledgements

In writing this account, I have borrowed from the stories of the Toddington Tearles excellently written by Barbara Tearle and Ewart Tearle and I have tried to knit these tales together without diverting attention away from them. Likewise from Wendy Skelley in New Zealand who with great kindness sent me just about all her research notes, so the hard work was hers and any mistakes have been my misinterpretations or conclusion jumping. It was her enthusiasm for the project when I first suggested that I attempt it that spurred me on. Thank you all.

Various publications have been used to gain some further snippets of information: The London Gazette (online), Bedfordshire at War, and numerous books on Bedfordshire. Also to Hornsey Historical Society for an article on Park house which I have used to base my narrative of that section. The picture of Park House also comes from that source.

Mention must be made of the Toddington Village page on Facebook and especially Phil Mead whose clear love of the village has led him to find out so much that has to do with the Cooper Coopers. He – and one or two others there – have answered my often stupid questions and also provided very valuable information that may not have been obtainable elsewhere. And it is them that I must thank, too, for so many of the illustrations of Toddington Manor and the general area.

Richard Tearle

February 2012

19Mar/15

Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil, born 1878, on board the vessel ‘Scottish Prince’

Born: 10th September 1878 onboard the vessel ‘Scottish Prince’

Died: 25th August 1918 in Brisbane, Australia

Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil served in the 3rd Queensland Contingent, Roll number 205.

This photo of Aubrey shows him in the uniform of the Third Queensland Mounted Infantry Contingent. His hat is adorned with the traditional Emu feathers. At the conclusion of his tour of duty, Aubrey signed off in South Africa and re-enlisted at Pretoria on 20th April 1901 with the Bushveldt Carbineers for further service in South Africa.

The Honourable Aubrey Bruce Cooper, Corporal, No. 46, of the Bushveldt Carbineers and the Pietersburg Light Horse, Australian, is featured in the book below containing the Campaign trail and the country traversed by the BVC / PLH.

Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil

Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil

Cover of the book "Bushveldt Carbineers"

Cover of the book “Bushveldt Carbineers”

He qualified for the Queens South Africa Medal with clasps (below):

  • Cape Colony 11 October 1899 – 31 May 1902
  • Rhodesia 11 October 1899 – 17 May 1900
  • Orange Free State 28 February 1900 – 31 May 1902
  • Transvaal 24 May 1900 – 31 May 1902
  • The King's South Africa Medal, with clasps

    The King’s South Africa Medal, with clasps

The Queen's South Africa Medal, detail

The Queen’s South Africa Medal, detail

Aubrey was discharged from the Pietersburg Light Horse at Pretoria on 13th February 1902, and his Kings South Africa Medal with the two date clasps (above left) was issued from the Pietersburg Light Horse roll.

During 1911, while Aubrey Bruce was in England, he departed from Liverpool onboard the ‘Medic’ and arrived in Sydney, Australia, 10th November 1911. The following year 5th June 1912 he married Sarah Watt (nee Lisk) in Toowong Presbyterian Church, Brisbane, Australia. Sarah was 10 years older than her husband. She was also a widow with seven children aged between 6 and 25 years old.

Aubrey was a Clerk in 1913 while living with his wife at 17 (or 178) Ann St, Brisbane. The census shows Sarah at home looking after the children.

It was only five years later on the 26th August 1918 that Aubrey Bruce died. He was only 40 years old. They had been living at Station Road, Indooroopilly near Brisbane. He is buried at Toowong Cemetery in Brisbane, Site Portion 2A Section 32 Grave 2. (Along with Sarah’s first husband, and later, Sarah).

Grave in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane

Grave in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane

Close-up of headstone

Close-up of headstone

Aubrey Bruce and Sarah had no children together and Sarah later remarried.

On www.ancestry.com there is probate order dated 14th October 1931, reproduced here.

Aubrey's probate order

Aubrey’s probate order, in London, 1931.

19Mar/15

Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil, 1881, Chiswick, UK

Contributed by Wendy Skelley, Auckland, New Zealand.

Born: 16 June 1881 in Chiswick, Middlesex, England

Died: 28 February 1967, Mt Albert, Auckland, New Zealand

Egerton was a young man when his father died in 1900. It was not long after that he became a soldier.

Boer War as an Australian soldier

Service Number 99, of the 6th Queensland Imperial Bushmen (6th QIB);

Served in the Second Anglo Boer War in South Africa from May 1901 to May 1902.

Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil

Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil

Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil
Description on Enlistment
Number…………………………………99
Rank…………………………………….Private
Name……………………………………Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil
Hair…………………………………….. Dark Brown
Eyes…………………………….……….Hazel
Complexion……………………………..Dark
Height……………………………………5 feet 5.5 inches
Weight…………………………………..8 stone 12 pounds
Chest measurement……………………..32.5 inches
Chest Expansion…………………………34.75 inches
Age………………………………………22 years and 7 months

Badge of the Queensland Imperial Bushmen

The 6th QIB departed from Australia at Pinkenba, Brisbane on April the 4th 1901 on the British transport “Victoria”. Upon arriving at Cape Town on May the 2nd 1901, the convey moved out and proceeded to Durban arriving on the 7th of May. Near Ermelo on the 21st Boers sniped at the flank with the 6th QIB suffering a few casualties; however they succeeded in capturing 15 Boers and much stock.

June 2nd, sustained their first loss to enteric fever. Brisk engagement on the 11th at Kaffir’s Spruit. Surprised and captured a laager on the 13th at Kopjesfontein on the right of the Vaal River. On the 21st June captured two Boer conveys suffering some casualties. June 22nd fighting at Lindique Drift with some casualties.

During August made substantial captures at Bultfontein. September, October and November in operations at Wakkerstroom district and east of the Transvaal. During December marched to Newcastle by Botha’s Pass and through Drakensberg to provide protective cover during the construction of blockhouses in that corner of the Orange River Colony.

On the 2nd of February 1902 at Liebenberg’s Vlei the 6th Imperial Bushmen joined with the New Zealanders and pursued a Boer convey in the area then charged the enemy’s rear guard with much gallantry, whilst the South African Light Horse bravely rushed the centre. Three guns with 3 wagons of ammunition, 26 prisoners (including 2 captains and a field cornet), 150 horses and mules plus 750 cattle were taken. Five Boers were killed and eight wounded. By the end of February after a big drive 300 prisoners had been taken.

During March and April several drives were undertaken with similar success. The 6th QIB embarked at Durban on May the 17th, 1902 in the Transport Devon and arrived at Albany on the 5th of June, Sydney on the 13th and Brisbane on the 17th then disbanded on the 23rd June 1902.

E.B.C. Cecil as a private was paid 5 shillings per day. A proportion amounting to 1 shilling was requested to be paid in South Africa for personal needs with the balance of his pay of 4 shillings to be forwarded to his mother Mrs. A.C.Cecil C/- Albion Post Office, Brisbane.

Mrs. A.C.Cecil resided in Brisbane at the corner of Milne Street and Old Sandgate Road (now Bonny Avenue), Albion in a residence named “Fernmount”.

E.B.C. Cecil was issued, upon arrival in South Africa, with a Lee Enfield Cavalry Carbine Mark 1* Serial No B394 in .303 British calibre. He carried this weapon throughout the campaign and suitably engraved the butt stock to commemorate his contribution.

This particular specimen with the serial number B 394 was the 10,394th in a production run of 26,647 for the Lee Enfield Cavalry Carbine Mark 1*. Manufactured at Enfield in 1900, The Mark 1* was the last of the line of the Lee Enfield Carbines.

This mark or model replaced the Lee Enfield Cavalry Carbine Mark 1 as a result of the abolition of all clearing rods in British service in 1899. The Mark 1* was the same in all respects with the exception of the omission of the clearing rod. The mark was introduced into British service on August 7th 1899 and replaced in 1902 by the standard British all Services weapon the Short Magazine Lee Enfield Rifle Mark 1.

Lee Enfield Cavalry Carbine Mark 1* used in the Anglo Boer War of 1899 to 1902..

Lee Enfield Cavalry Carbine Mark 1* used in the Anglo Boer War of 1899 to 1902..

The engraved butt of Burleigh’s rifle.

The engraved butt of Burleigh’s rifle.

Egerton’s Boer war history and gun are featured in the book “Carvings from the Veldt” written by Dave George.

Information on his record indicates E.B.C. Cecil was not wounded or incapacitated by illness and returned to Australia healthy.

Private Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil was issued with a Queens South Africa medal and two clasps ‘SA 1901 and SA 1902’.

Carvings from the Veldt

Carvings from the Veldt

Private Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil was issued with a Queens South Africa medal and two clasps   ‘SA 1901 and SA 1902’.

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During 1902 Egerton returned to Durban, Natal in South Africa to obtain employment. His brother was also in Natal at this time. It is unknown if he obtained employment, but while there he met Katherine Tebay (nee O’Keeffe), who was also in South Africa with her husband.

New Zealand

By 1907 Egerton is living in New Zealand with a Catherine Tebay (nee O’Keeffe). She was also known as Kathleen Frances Cecil and Kathleen F Tebay. She had married Mr Robert Tebay at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia in September 1900. It is unknown what happened to her husband. No record of him after their marriage has been found.

The family story is that Egerton & Catherine met in Pretoria, South Africa and returned to New Zealand together. Egerton’s brother Aubrey was also in Pretoria in 1902. Robert Tebay’s brother, John, died in Natal about 1902; I cannot find war records for either of them.

After they settled in New Zealand together, Egerton and Catherine lived at Arahiri, Putaruru in the North Island where he was a sawmill hand, they were still living there on the 1911 census.

They had two children: Burleigh Victor Cecil (1907) and Melba Doreen (1908). Both children were registered without a father’s name, and with their mother’s married surname – Tebay. However, Egerton accepted responsibility for his illegitimate children, and in 1917 his son’s birth certificate was amended with his name certified as father. (They are also acknowledged in his estate after he died.)

Vic, Burleigh, Kath and Dolly

Vic, Burleigh, Kath and Dolly

During 1914 the family lived at 1 Montague Street, Newton, Auckland. Egerton was working for the New Zealand Railways.

Sadly in 1916 things got rough and Egerton was convicted of assault and sentenced to six months hard labour in Auckland. Due to circumstances the children were taken from Egerton and Catherine and became wards of the state. Egerton and Catherine separated under difficult circumstances.

Before Egerton left for war in 1918 he married Edith May Viall (who already had a young daughter called Lily) and they lived together in Mahurangi, Rodney, Auckland. Egerton was working as a clerk.

Egerton embarked on the 16th May 1918 at Wellington, New Zealand.

While he was away at war his brother, Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil, died in Brisbane, Australia.

WW1 as a New Zealand Soldier

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The Ionic, one of the ships used in the transportation of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force to join British troops in WW1.

The cover of the on-board magazine and the details of the transportation.

The cover of the on-board magazine and the details of the transportation.

The following is sourced from Egerton’s WW1 Medical Files:

5 November 1918  Injury to his right ankle while in France when his trench was blown in by a shell explosion.

28 November 1918   While he was in hospital he developed influenza.

10 January 1919  Medical notes from NZ Command Depot, Codford, Wiltshire, England    2 month med cert.

9 April 1919   HMNZTS Paparoa, 3 month med cert.

24 June 1919   Certificates sent from Sick & Wounded records to Base records.

20 August 1919  Letter for report of medical prognosis from military base.

7 October 1919  Auckland base, 3 month med cert.

We have no record of when he became a sergeant.

It is noted however, on Egerton’s medical records that he was wounded on the 5th November 1918 in France. It is possible that he was involved with the recapture of the French town – Le Quesnoy.

One report says:

“As recently as a week before the Armistice, on 4 November 1918, New Zealand troops had been involved in the successful recapture of the French town of Le Quesnoy. The attack cost the lives of about 90 New Zealand soldiers virtually the last of the 12,483 who fell on the Western Front between 1916 and 1918.”

New Zealand had the highest per-capita loss of any nation involved in WW1.

Another report notes:

“Just a week before the end of the First World War in November 1918, the New Zealand Division captured the French town of Le Quesnoy. It was the New Zealanders’ last major action in the war. To this day, the town of Le Quesnoy continues to mark the important role that New Zealand played in its history. Streets are named after New Zealand places, there is a New Zealand memorial and a primary school bears the name of a New Zealand soldier. Visiting New Zealanders are sure to receive a warm welcome from the locals.”

The War Effort of New Zealand; The Codford Depot

New Zealand Command Depot, Codford (circa 1918)

New Zealand Command Depot, Codford (circa 1918)

To give you a little flavour of the times, above is an illustration of the NZ command depot, Codford, pictured in the War Art archives

… when the wounded or invalided soldiers were sufficiently recovered to leave Hornchurch, they were sent to the Command Depot at Codford to be “hardened” for further active service training.

… This, also, was the first stage on the return journey to the trenches.

Life after the War

After Egerton came back from the war, he moved with Edith May and her daughter Lily to 9 Edgerley Ave in Epsom, Auckland. The house has since been demolished to make way for what is now the Newmarket overpass for the motorway.

Egerton became a motorman and worked for the Transport Board. They had two daughters together, Thelma and Winifred (pictures at end of Egerton’s story).

Egerton and Edith May Cecil

Egerton and Edith May Cecil

Egerton’s mother, Elizabeth, was living with the family in Epsom when she died in 1929. She is buried in an unmarked grave at Waikumete Cemetery, west of Auckland.

The unmarked grave in Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland, of Elizabeth Cecil nee Peadon, Egerton Burleigh’s mother, is in the very foreground of this photo.

The unmarked grave in Waikumete Cemetery, Auckland, of Elizabeth Cecil nee Peadon, Egerton Burleigh’s mother, is in the very foreground of this photo.

It was only four years later when sadly Edith May Cecil died in a car accident in November 1933 in Waiuku, south of Auckland. Edith is buried in Hillsborough Cemetery in Auckland. Her grave is covered in burnt shells.

The desperately tragic story of the death of Edith May Cecil is told in these three pictures.

Edith's grave

Edith’s grave

Detail of Edith’s headstone

Detail of Edith’s headstone

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After the death of his first wife, Egerton lived alone at their house in Epsom. Then in 1944 he married Cassie Carter Dent (nee Natzke), who already had two children – Frank and Evelyn. Cassie was the sister of renowned opera singer Oscar Natzka; a brief biography is planned.

By 1949 Egerton and Cassie had moved to Te Mata near Thames. Egerton was retired but it was not long before they moved back up north to 6 Sidmouth St, Mairangi Bay in Auckland.

Together they lived there until Cassie died in 1962. His granddaughter Ninette remembers visiting him, his ankle always gave him grief and she remembers his limp.

Egerton’s last move was to the Ranfurly Veterans’ Rest Home in Mt Albert, Auckland.

Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil died of Myocardial Degeneration on the 28th February 1967.

On his death certificate it says that he was cremated at Waikumete Cemetery. They have no records of this so we don’t know what happened to his ashes, or if indeed he was actually cremated there.

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Ranfurly veterans home, Mt Roskill, Auckland, New Zealand

Egerton was a true Anzac soldier. He fought in the Boer War as an Australian soldier and in WW1 as a NZ soldier and in WW2 as an Instructor.

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Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil 1881 - 1967

Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil 1881 – 1967

Egerton’s children

Burleigh Victor Cecil Tebay (Vic) with his wife, Beatrice

Burleigh Victor Cecil Tebay (Vic) with his wife, Beatrice

Melba Doreen (Dolly) Hare

Melba Doreen (Dolly) Hare

Lil and Joe Sunich

Lil and Joe Sunich

Winnie McNae and Thelma Barnie

Winnie McNae and Thelma Barnie

Footnote

‘Aubrey’s Sons’ has been compiled by Wendy Skelley in New Zealand, 2011 (wendy.skelley@xtra.co.nz)

Thanks to Egerton’s granddaughters Ninette Skelley and Lorraine McNae for some background details and photos, Herbert Rogers for his amazing Boer War details and photos, Barbara Tearle for the ‘A Victorian Mésalliance, or, Goings on at the Manor’ and her inspiration to carry on the story and most of all a big thank you to my life-long partner, Tony Skelley, for enduring the hours while I tippity tapped away.

19Mar/15

Aubrey Cooper Cecil, 1847, Toddington, UK

Aubrey Cooper Cecil  – born 10th March 1847 at Toddington Manor, Bedfordshire, England.

 The Manor House, Toddington, about 1860


The Manor House, Toddington, about 1860

The story of Aubrey’s ancestry and childhood has already been told in ‘A Victorian Mésalliance, or, Goings on at the Manor’ written by Barbara Tearle.

Here, the story of Aubrey and his family continues from 1870 onwards …

On the 1871 census Aubrey is listed as the ship’s surgeon onboard the ‘Alibi’ in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. His medical training has never been established, and he was known for his prankster antics so he may well not have been a medic.

During 1876 Aubrey and his brother, Egerton Dodge Cooper Cecil, played cricket for Hampshire. However it was a short-lived sporting career. Aubrey was a right-handed batsman and represented Hampshire in a single first-class match in 1876 against Derbyshire, scoring six runs.

On the 24th August 1878 Aubrey married Elizabeth Peadon at the All Saints Church in Southampton, Hampshire, England. Elizabeth was the only child of William Peadon and Mary Mathews. They were Innkeepers from Chard in Somerset, England. William was deceased at the time of marriage and Mary was living with her old Aunt.

Within the next few weeks Aubrey and Elizabeth left England and the next record of them is appearing in Australia in 1878.

When they left England Elizabeth was heavily pregnant and on the 10th September 1878, on board the vessel ‘Scottish Prince’, she gave birth to their first son, Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil.

It is hard to imagine how difficult that voyage must have been.

They arrived with their newborn son 16th December 1878 in Townsville, Australia.

Aubrey began working in Australia but returned to Hampshire in England after his mother’s death in August 1880.

The Scottish Prince

The Scottish Prince

The 1881 census was conducted on the 3rd April and Aubrey was living with his wife and son, boarding at a policeman’s house.

Their second son, Egerton Burleigh Cooper Cecil, was born 16th June 1881 at Chiswick Cottages, Middlesex, England. Egerton was named after Aubrey’s brother.

The couple and their two children then returned to Australia not long after.

In the Shipping News published in the South Australian Register Monday 9th January 1882 it lists Mr & Mrs Aubrey Cecil arrived on the Lusitania, a steamer, that left London November 24 1881. They had travelled staying in the second saloon to Sydney. The Lusitania was built in 1871 and owned by the Pacific Steam Nav. Co.

Aubrey became a Government Agent on ships voyaging to the Pacific Islands.

The following are extracts from Brisbane’s historical papers online.

 19th May 1882 “The licenses for plying in the recruiting trade have been received from Brisbane, and are now in the hands of Mr. H. St. Geo. Caulfeild, Polynesian Labour Inspector, who expects the May will sail towards the end of the week. Mr. Aubrey C. Cecil, for some considerable time on the Lochiel, has been appointed Government agent on board.”

19th May 1882 “The licenses for plying in the recruiting trade have been received from Brisbane, and are now in the hands of Mr. H. St. Geo. Caulfeild, Polynesian Labour Inspector, who expects the May will sail towards the end of the week. Mr. Aubrey C. Cecil, for some considerable time on the Lochiel, has been appointed Government agent on board.”

 29th July 1882 “Aubrey C Cecil to be a Government agent, on the supernumerary staff, to accompany vessels licensed to carry Pacific Islanders under the provisions of the Pacific Island Labourers Act of 1880.”


29th July 1882
“Aubrey C Cecil to be a Government agent, on the supernumerary staff, to accompany vessels licensed to carry Pacific Islanders under the provisions of the Pacific Island Labourers Act of 1880.”

A further news item notes the following:

4th December 1882

“Mr Aubrey Cecil, Government agent of the Chance, who most kindly hastened to render all the aid in his power to the shipwrecked ‘Jabberwock’.”

In 1887 Aubrey and Elizabeth had another son, Vernon Digby Cooper Cecil, who sadly was only one when he died.

Aubrey was away at sea often, so it is likely that the boys didn’t see a lot of their father growing up.

The Cecil family home was at 75 Milne Street, Clayfield, Albion, Brisbane, Australia.

Clayfield has always had a reputation as an exclusive Brisbane Suburb and has not diminished with the newer development. Many of the older more substantial homes have fortunately survived.

The Cecil home, Brisbane, Australia

The Cecil home, Brisbane, Australia

A detailed story on the history of the Clayfield area where they lived was documented by an old resident whose family moved there in late 1899. To give you an idea of the environment the family lived in on land, I have included excerpts in this story …

… The main arterial roads such as Breakfast Creek Road, New Sandgate Road, Old Sandgate Road (now Bonney Avenue – so named to commemorate the memory of Flores Bonney, who gained considerable fame as an aviatrix) had some semblance of being formed, but the subsidiary roads were more or less reservations, 66 feet wide and with a plough furrow down each side to act as a gutter and water table – the centre was more or less of the old three track style now very rarely seen, even in the country, the two outside tracks made by the vehicle wheels and the centre track made by the horse.

These roads were naturally very dusty and so an occasional water cart was used in an endeavour to abate this nuisance. One seldom travelled on any road in any type of vehicle without a dust coat.

… The Clayfield area was close enough to be able to enjoy the Brisbane River and in addition was served by two main waterways, Breakfast Creek and Kedron Brook. The former, however, apart from the boat anchorage was of little value, but Kedron Brook rising in the back hills of The Gap, flowed into Schultz’s Canal, The Serpentine and so on into Moreton Bay.

… Almost everybody had a horse drawn vehicle of some sort as in those days most houses had room to run horses and most conveyances were drawn by a single animal, although occasionally in town one saw pairs, but very seldom tandem.

… The main industry really on the outskirts of Clayfield was the Pottery on the western side of Lapraik Street and almost down to Crosby Road. This works turned out pots of all descriptions plus agricultural pipes and bricks. Two sawmills were

1908 picture courtesy of www.brisbanehistory.com

1908 picture courtesy of www.brisbanehistory.com

Thursday 24 February 1887 from The Argus,

THE NEW HEBRIDES

The Government agent of the labour schooner Helena, now at Bundaberg, Queens-land, Mr. Aubrey C. Cecil, has addressed the following letter to the assistant immigration agent there:-“During the voyage of the Helena the following intelligence was given to, and the facts ascertained by, me relative to the movements of the French in the New Hebrides, which I trust you will communicate to the Chief Secretary. When in Port Sandwich on the 9th December the French officers told me that they were about to erect forts for the protection of the port, one at the North Head, one at the end of the harbour facing the entrance, and one near the company’s store; and also that the number of soldiers was to be increased to 220, and that new barracks were to be built. Whilst in Uraparapara, on the 8th January, the natives reported that a French warship had been there, and had pegged off land near the entrance to the harbour on both sides of the heads, on which it was said that they intended to erect small batteries. Whilst at Point Olroy, or Espiritu Santo, the French despatch vessel Guichen came to the anchorage, and landed a white missionary priest. I boarded her, and was told by the commander that they had within three days prior landed three other priests, two at Mate, in Villa Harbour, Sandwich, and one on private properly at Proctor’s Bay, which has been or will be bought by the Wesleyan missionary body.”

(special note …. Article later published in 1937, as below)

Three weeks ago Mr Aubrey Cecil, Government Agent on the labour schooner Helena, reported to the Government of this colony that the French were preparing to occupy the islands in the New Hebrides Group of which they at present hold possession, and that they intended to increase the number of troops there. The report was cabled to the Home Government through the Agent-General in London. The British Government promptly made representations to the French Government and asked for confirmation or denial of the report. The French Government denied the correctness of the report, but whether the denial was or was not qualified in any way cannot be judged from the information received by cable.

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13th July 1889

“Mr. Aubrey Cecil, Government agent on board the Brigantine Hector, which has just returned from the South Sea Islands, has, at the request of the Under Secretary for Agriculture, presented to that department a number of plantain, yam, taro, and other plants obtained by him at the South Sea Islands. These will be despatched today for propagation at the Mackay State Nursery.”

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21st May 1892 reported in The Queenslander, “The schooner May will probably sail in a few days on a recruiting trip to the South Seas. Mr. Cecil goes as Government agent.”

22nd March 1893 reported in South Australian Register, “The South Seas Hurricane, Brisbane, March 21st The barque Empreza, whose loss in the recent hurricane in the South Seas was reported, left Brisbane on January 11th with Captain Malcom in command, and Mr. A. C. Cecil, Government Agent, who took 153 return islanders for the New Hebrides.”

Aubrey Cooper Cecil died 22nd January 1900 and was buried at sea, he was only 52 years old. On his death certificate it says he as buried at Lat 105. S Long 161.13 E, near the Santa Cruz Islands north of Australia.

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The Brisbane Courier

Friday 9th February 1900

“The reported death of Mr. A. C. Cecil at sea has caused a painful shock to his very wide circle of friends. The Coquette returned to port on Tuesday, and reported the demise of the Government agent as having occurred on the 22nd January. The deceased gentleman was the senior Government Agent on the staff, and was first appointed to the service in July, 1882. He bore a very high reputation, and was always regarded as one of the most valued and efficient Government agents, and his unexpected death has caused much regret, for although Mr. Cecil had not been in good health for some time prior to embarking on his last voyage, there was no reason to suspect that the end was so near.”

After her husband’s death, Elizabeth Cecil continued to live in Australia until about 1912 when she moved to New Zealand, to be with her son Egerton.

 

19Mar/15

A Victorian Mésalliance, or, Goings On at the Manor, Toddington

By Barbara Tearle

‘Reproduced from Bedfordshire Family History Society Journal, vol. 17, no. 2 June 2009, pp.15-19, by kind permission of the Society’s editor.’

In the early 1800s two men moved to Toddington.  John Cooper was at the top of the village’s social scale and William Tearle was at the bottom.  This is the story of how their descendants’ lives converged.

Toddington

Toddington during the 19th century was a small country town with a population of 1143 in 1801, rising to 2800 in mid-century and declining to 2000 by 1900.  Shepherd’s 1818 picture of carters unloading in Toddington (in Joyce Godber’s History of Bedfordshire) shows a substantial stone church and two farmhouses with wooden frames and brick infill, and a contemporary account talks of brick-built Georgian houses round the Green where five roads converge.  

There were shops, craftsmen, and chapels for several denominations in addition to the parish church and schools. The weekly market was revived for some years during the century.  The Holyhead road, now the A5, ran a few miles to the west of the town and in 1868 the railway was built through the east of the parish and the nearest station was Harlington, but Toddington did not have its own station.

The overall impression is of a small town which was just not appropriately situated or sufficiently prosperous to take advantage of the conditions for industrial expansion such as occurred at Luton.

  

The Coopers

John COOPER arrived in 1806 when he bought Toddington Manor from a descendant of the Wentworth family.  His daughter and heiress Elizabeth married her second cousin William Dodge Cooper HEAP, who changed has surname to COOPER in 1819 as a condition of inheriting his father-in-law’s property, which he did in 1824 – William Dodge COOPER COOPER, which is cumbersome but easy to find in records amidst all the other Coopers..

In addition to Toddington, he had property in Chester and Essex and a house in Highgate (redeveloped as flats after World War II where, coincidentally, I  grew up during the 1950s).  He was a Justice of the Peace for Bedfordshire and Middlesex, Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, and High Sheriff of Bedfordshire in 1829.  

William and Elizabeth had two sons and five daughters.  The two sons married modestly.  The elder, William COOPER COOPER (b 1810), inherited in 1860 and his descendants remained in the manor until early in the 20th century.  The second son, James Lindsay COOPER COOPER (b 1821) became a clergyman, was presented to the living of Toddington in 1846 by his brother who was the patron of the living.  He resigned in 1862 on inheriting property.

Of William and Elizabeth’s five daughters, the marriages of two (Elizabeth and Lucy, the youngest) were advantageously upwardly-mobile and are well documented.

Elizabeth married Alexandre Charles Joseph VAN DER BURCH on 27 May 1828 at Hornsey, which is not far from the family’s town house in Highgate.  He was the eldest surviving son of Count van der Burch of Ecaussines, which is about 25 miles from Brussels and 15 miles from Waterloo.  The Count was a soldier and politician and the son was a diplomat or courtier, being secretary of the Dutch legation in Denmark and chamberlain to the first two Kings of the Netherlands after the defeat of Napoleon in 1815.  In 1830 the southern part of the Netherlands broke away to form the Kingdom of the Belgians, with fighting round the area where the van der Burchs lived.  Elizabeth and Alexandre had several children.  They probably lived in Belgium and certainly visited their COOPER COOPER relations in Toddington.

William and Elizabeth’s youngest daughter Lucy COOPER COOPER married Henry ROBINSON Esq. of Knapton Grove, Norfolk, at Toddington in 1842.  In 1840 he had been appointed Standard Bearer of the Queen’s Bodyguard of Gentlemen-at-Arms.  In 1845 he became their Lieutenant Commanding and was knighted.  Later he became Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk.

William and Elizabeth’s daughters, Jane and Caroline never married.  Jane (1805-1856) was deaf and dumb, an affliction which also affected her brother William’s son.  Caroline (1813-1901) lived in Toddington all her life, and did the typical maiden aunt thing of mentioning all her nieces and nephews in her will.  More of Amelia (1810-1880) later.

This COOPER COOPER’s life style could almost be the stereotypical background for a Jane Austen novel.

The Tearles

Maybe a decade after John COOPER bought Toddington Manor, William TEARLE arrived, probably having been hired to work on a farm.

William TEARLE had been born in Stanbridge in 1797, the eldest of a family of 12, from one of several large TEARLE families in the village in the late 18th century.  All were labourers by then, although earlier TEARLEs had been yeoman farmers and the family had lived in Stanbridge since the 15th century.  Arriving from Stanbridge with a population in 1801 of 262 to most of whom he was related to Toddington with nearly five times that number and whom he did not know must have been a shock.

William duly married Catherine FOSSEY who came from a prolific family of Toddington labourers.  Or to be more accurate, Sarah, daughter of William and Catherine TEARLE was baptised on 2 January 1824, followed by their marriage on 29 January.  William and Catherine had two more children, Moses in 1827 and John in 1831.  

In 1841 William and Catherine TEARLE with Sarah, Moses and John were living at Lodge Farm where the whole family were shown as agricultural labourers.  The farmer was William Martin and it looks as if the TEARLE family were living in as they are on the same entry in the census as William Martin and his family.  Possibly they were in a tied cottage on the farm. The next household listed on the schedule was that of William Dodge COOPER COOPER and his family at Park House, Toddington Manor.

Sarah had a son Joseph in 1844 and married several years later.  She was a straw platter, laundress and took in lodgers.  Her husband was an ag lab and her son Joseph was a straw platter, then an ag lab and later an innkeeper. Most of their descendants remained in Toddington well into the 20th century.  I am descended from Sarah – or not, depending on how one interprets a birth/baptism//marriage sequence in the 1860s.  John was also an ag lab, then later a general labourer living in Acton, London.  Most of his family moved away from Toddington.

The Coopers and Tearles unite

At this point, let’s revert to the COOPER COOPER family and Amelia in particular.  The official sources (Burke’s Landed Gentry) say nothing about a marriage or family for her.  However on 10 March 1847, when she was 35, she had a son, Aubrey.  No record of her marriage nor of the child’s birth or baptism has yet been found, unless he is amongst the unnamed male births for the March or June 1847 quarters.   Aubrey’s date of birth comes from family papers now at BLARS.  In the 1851 census he is aged 4 and born in Paddington;  in all later documentation his place of birth is given as Toddington.  I am inclined to think that Paddington was a mistake for Toddington made by the census enumerator, but it is worth bearing in mind.  A Paddington place of birth would have provided anonymity for Amelia if this was an illegitimate birth to the daughter of the Lord of the Manor.

Then in August 1848 36-year-old Amelia married 21-year-old Moses TEARL in London.  The marriage was preceded by a generous marriage settlement providing for Amelia and Moses, but tying up the money so that Moses could not dispose of it.  In fact Amelia became responsible for their trust funds.  Moses was given an annual income for life if Amelia predeceased him and he did not remarry (a neat reversal of the usual provision).

Moses and Amelia moved to Speldhurst in Kent.  Their children were born in Worthing. As they were not living there, possibly Amelia went there for superior natal care.  Later they moved to Portsmouth where their address was Melbourne House, which was in a comfortably middle class area.  But it was rented out to a major in the Marine Artillery and they lived in a more modest area.  Moses worked as a commission or estate agent and the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle contains several advertisements he placed for house and shops to let.   He entered into local society, at least to the extent of becoming a freemason.

Moses and Amelia had four children all registered under the surname CECILL:  Dodge Cooper born 1850;  Elizabeth Dodge Cooper born 1851; Egerton Dodge Cooper born 1853; and Amelia Dodge Cooper born 1854.  They also appear in census returns as CECILL or CECIL.  The next generation were also registered under the surname CECILL, beginning with Aubrey’s son in 1872.  On his marriage certificate, Aubrey called himself Aubrey Cooper CECIL, formerly Aubrey Cooper TEARL.   Moses went beyond merely adopting the surname CECILL.  In many official documents and directories he calls himself Henry T. CECILL or Henry Moses T. CECILL.  It would have been difficult to trace this family’s change of name had it not been for the fact that Amelia made her will under the surname TEARL.

Amelia died in 1880, and Moses lived on until 1907, not marrying again and thus benefiting from the annual income under his marriage settlement.  At his death he was living at Clarence Road, Richmond.

Amelia may have disgraced herself and her family with an illegitimate birth and a socially unacceptable marriage, but her family did not cast her off.  In addition to the marriage settlement, Moses, Amelia and the children maintained contact with the COOPER COOPER family in Toddington.  They were involved in family business transactions and the children received bequests from their grandfather’s and maiden aunt’s wills.  On one official document, Aubrey gave his last place of residence as The Manor, Toddington.

The boys began their education at Eagle House Academy in Portsmouth.  Whatever their later education was (and I have not yet traced it), it was sufficient to proceed to middle class careers.  They were also all cricketers, playing for the East Hants club and Hampshire during the 1870s.

Aubrey was listed as a surgeon on board ship at Peterhead, Aberdeen in 1871, although I have not yet found any trace of qualifications, but by 1881 he was living on private means in Chiswick – not as grand as it sounds as he and his family were boarding with a policeman and his family.  During the 1890s he emigrated with his wife and two sons to Brisbane where he was a government agent accompanying Pacific Island workers returning to their homes.  He was involved in a Brisbane botanical society, donating specimens collected on his South Sea voyages.

Dodge obtained a commission as ensign in the 47th Foot by purchase in June 1870, but sold it in October 1871.  His regiment was stationed in Dublin, and it may be there that he married as his eldest child Frederick W (who eventually emigrated to Australia where he was a farmer) was born in Dublin about the time Dodge resigned his commission. Despite the short time in the army, he continued to proclaim himself a retired officer in the 1881 and 1891 censuses.  By 1901 he was living on his own means in South Bersted, a hamlet not far from Bognor.

Elizabeth gave her occupation in 1891 as a Professor of Music, presumably a music teacher.  By 1901 she was living on her own means in a house in Willesden with several other single, independent women.

Egerton was a civil servant, becoming an abstrator in the Science Division of the Science and Art Department.  He was living in Brentford and maybe he actually worked at nearby Kew.

Amelia married James Marley, a Scot twenty years her senior.  In 1901 they were living, with their children, in Horsham, Surrey.  

What next?

The family certainly kept in touch with their COOPER COOPER relations but did they have any contact with their TEARLE cousins or did Moses and his whole family put his past behind him?  That is something that may never be discovered and, similarly, the real story behind Moses and Amelia’s mésalliance and Aubrey’s parentage may also never be discovered.  However, much more about their lives and those of their children and grandchildren can be pieced together.

Barbara Tearle

Sources:

Burke’s Landed Gentry 1853 and 1875

Certificates and census returns

Cooper Cooper papers at BLARS

London Gazette

Newspapers

19Mar/15

The Scottish Prince

There is a sad post-script to the story of The Scottish Prince.  This was the ship that little Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil was born on, 10 Sept 1878

The SCOTTISH PRINCE, launched in Aberdeen in 1878, was a 64 metre steel masted iron barque of 950 tons. She came to grief early on the morning of the 3rd Feb 1887 with a cargo of iron, beer, whiskey and other goods whilst bound for Brisbane. She now lies in 10 meters of water almost 2 kilometres south of the Gold Coast Seaway, and approximately 800 metres from the beach. Today it serves as a popular dive site.

 Photo of Scottish Prince from Picture Queensland


Photo of Scottish Prince from Picture Queensland

19Mar/15

William Major Tearle 1899, Toddington, UK (2/Beds Regt)

Tearle, W M
Private, 2nd Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire

National Roll of the Great War” says:

Tearle William Major National Roll

Barbara has written to me about this chap and he is William Major Tearle 1899 of Toddington, son of Major Tearle 1874 of Toddington and Elizabeth Ann nee Turvey. Major is the son of Joseph 1843 of Toddington and Lois nee Major. Joseph is the son of Sarah Tearle who married John Garner and were hosts to niece Martha for very many years. Sarah was the dau of William 1796 of Stanbridge and Catherine nee Fossey. William is a son of Richard 1773 of Stanbridge and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth and Richard is a son of John 1741 and Martha nee Archer. 

I have an interest in the Toddington Tearles because my ggg-grandmother was Mary Garner 1805 of Toddington. She married Thomas Tearle 1807 of Stanbridge and their first child James 1827 was born in Toddington. James is the father of Levi Tearle 1850 of Stanbridge, blacksmith of Wing, my g-grandfather. Thomas took Mary back to Stanbridge and the rest of the family was born there. However, since Mary was a Toddington Garner, then she would be related to other Toddington Garner families.

 

19Mar/15

William Marlow Tearle 1892, Toddington, UK (MGC)

Tearle, W
Private, Machine Gun Corps

Tearle Willie (William Marlow) MGC National Roll

J Tearle and W Tearle of Toddington are brothers of course, since they are from the same address. The first man, J Tearle, is John Tearle 1896 Toddington and W Tearle is his elder brother William Marlow Tearle (Willie Tearle) 1892 of Toddington. These are the boys of Joseph Marlow Tearle 1865 Sundon and Emily nee Evans. Joseph is the son of John Marlow and Sarah Tearle 1846 of Tebworth, with a history of name changes for her children between Marlow, Tearle/Marlow and Marlow/Tearle. She is the daughter of Joseph 1798 of Stanbridge and Maria nee Millings. Joseph is the son of William 1769 of Stanbridge and Sarah nee Clarke, and William is a son of Joseph 1737 of Stanbridge and Phoebe nee Capp.

19Mar/15

John Tearle 1895, Toddington, UK (7/Beds Regt)

Tearle, J
Lance Corporal
7
th Bedfordshire Regiment of “South View”, Princess Street, Toddington, Bedfordshire.

Tearle John L-Cpl National Roll

This is John Tearle 1896 of Toddington, son of Joseph Marlow Tearle 1865 and Emily nee Evans. Military serial number 16521, 7th Beds Regt. I am not sure why National Roll has him in the 6th Regiment, because his medals card (below) clearly says 7/Beds.R.

Here he is in the 1911 census:

1911 Joseph Marlow Tearle 1867 Tod Emily 42 May 22 William 18 John 16 Percy George 13 Joseph 11 Violet Emily 8 Frederick Hector 6 Victoria Daisy 1 in Toddington

His father, Joseph appears to be working a dairy herd on his own farm. His mother, Emily, and May, his elder sister are machinists for a hat manufacturer. It is not clear if the factory is in Toddington, or whether the women are working at home on machines they have been supplied with. The evidence above suggests that Emily has her own machine, and May walks to work. This is in the fading times of the straw hat business in Bedfordshire, but a large number of women, girls and boys were employed in the straw-plaiting and hat-making industries.

William is in a cement works and John would appear to be the runner who delivers telegrams for the Post Office.

The only other morsel of evidence I have for John’s entire life is his medals card:

John Tearle 16521 WW1 army medal rolls

You can see how early he started in the war, but National Roll tells us that he joined the 7th Battalion, The Bedfordshire Regiment, in September 1914. Was he one of those brave young men who really did think the war would be over by Christmas, and it was an adventure not to be missed? His effective date for war pension and service medals was 26 July 1915, the day his ship dropped him and others of his unit in France.

If you look carefully at the statements by National Roll, John was thrown into the very thick of the greatest battles of The Great War. He was at Arras, he was in the Somme, he was at Wipers. How on Earth did he survive? Someone took pity on his injuries and he was sent to England (and anywhere else in the then UK) to perform light duties for the army. It is impossible to imagine what was in his head every time he heard a loud noise, whenever he went to bed, what nightmares he endured even when he was awake. When you are 18-23, things that happen to you then, stay with you vividly and uneraseably for the rest of your life. It must have been a doctor or a senior officer who had some streak of humanity to see that John was no longer fit to be a soldier, who devised a way to get him to safety. Surely he had served his country with distinction, and he was good enough to have been promoted to lance corporal.

As far as I know, he never married. Little wonder, I think, if you look at his length of service, the battles he was engaged in and the number of times he was injured and returned to service. He fought through the entire First World War, and then at the end of hostilities he still had to wait another six months before he could go home.

His grandmother was Sarah Tearle, an unmarried mother of three when she married John Marlow of Toddington in 1868. Judging by the names she had given the first three children, all born in Sundon, Bedfordshire, they look like John Marlow’s children, and Joseph himself was the second one. Sarah married John Marlow in Toddington, in August 1868. Because of his name we follow John’s ancestry to Sarah’s parents who were Joseph 1797 and Sarah nee Millings, Joseph’s parents were William 1769 and Sarah nee Clark, and William’s parents were Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.