Tag Archives: Bedfordshire

18Mar/18

George 1810 of Chalgrave and Elizabeth of Stanbridge

The origin of the Sutton, Surrey Tearles

By Ewart F Tearle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joseph 1804               James 1806                George 1810

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

17Sep/17

Jabez Tearle 1841, Hockliffe and the Bexleyheath Tearles

The Tearles of Bexleyheath

by Hazel King

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grace Tearle 1889-1968

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flossie (1891 – 1971)

Flossie Tearle standing

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

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

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

Frank (1893 – 1975)

Frank Tearle

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

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

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

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

Alice (1894 – 1985)

Alice Tearle

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

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

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

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

Herbert John Tearle (1896 – 1960)

Herbert John Tearle

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbert John Tearle WW1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbert John Tearle in hospital blues

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

T&B Supplies Ltd, Bexleyheath

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

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

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

Bust of George Tearle with the artist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Straw plaiting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Herbert John Tearle – war artist

115 Broadway, Bexleyheath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Pvt Green killed here today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

Inside the Boys Brigade hut

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18Feb/17

Eaton Bray Tearle memorials

St Mary’s Church, Eaton Bray

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

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

St Mary’s Eaton Bray interior towards the altar

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

The pipe organ, St Mary’s Eaton Bray

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

St Mary’s Eaton Bray stained glass windows

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

St Mary Eaton Bray Roll of Honour

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

Robert Tearle on St Mary Eaton Bray Roll of Honour

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

Lectern with Jeffery Tearle’s name

Here is a closeup of the memorial:

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

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

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

Basil Tearle St Mary’s WW2 Roll of Honour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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22May/16

Harry Edward Tearle 1900, Leighton Buzzard, UK (RN)

From the address in National Roll of the Great War, we can tell that Harry is the younger brother of Ernest John Tearle 1898, of the Bedfordshire Regiment. There are 17 Tearle men in National Roll, and Harry is the only Navy Tearle to have a piece written about him. Here is his entry:

Tearle Harry Edward RN National Roll

Since he was born in 1900, Harry would have been only 14 when the war broke out, so it is not surprising to see him join in 1918.

Here is his service record – it does not seem complete because he appears to have joined in 1919 for 5 years plus 7 years, and the record stops in 1922. Also, National Roll says that he joined in 1918, but there is no sign of that here. You can see clearly his service number: SS 119522

Harry Edward Tearle RN record

However, it does tell us a couple of things we did not know. Firstly, he joined after the war was over, so he was not eligible for a war gratuity, but he did qualify for a £20 bonus, and the HMS Repluse was his last posting, which ended on 8 June 1922. Before we look at the Repulse, I must say that Harry would have been hugely impressed by the HMS Emperor of India. She was a mighty beast, a battleship, and some called her a super dreadnought. She was a flagship on various occasions, but she missed the Battle of Jutland. I have not found a serious battle where she was engaged, and she came to (I think) an ignominious end as a target vessel for training purposes and then raised from the seabed to be scrapped.

The HMS Repulse, laid down in 1916, is the same HMS Repulse that was destroyed with the HMS Prince of Wales at the Battle for Singapore during WW2.

Make what you can of the document below, but it is important because it shows the medals that Harry won for Royal Navy service. I think they can be interpreted as follows:

ST = 1914-15 Star

V = Victory Medal

B = British War Medal

These are the same medals awarded to all the other services.

Harry Edward Tearle Royal Navy WW1 Medals

The man immediately above Harry in this list is Edward Tearle 1892 of Bramley, Leeds, in Yorkshire. He must have joined the navy very early in WW1 to be awarded the Star.

I am afraid I am at the end of my knowledge of Harry’s life and times. It would appear that he did not marry, and we know he died in Brent near London in 1979, nearly eighty years old.

The ancestry details I have written for Ernest John Tearle 1898 are the same for Harry Edward. He is on the branch of John 1741.

02May/16

Ernest John Tearle 1898 Leighton Buzzard (1/Beds Regt)

 

Ernest John Tearle 1898, of Leighton Buzzard, was called up for service in the Bedfordshire Regiment on 20 Nov 1916, having enlisted in March that year. He joined the 3rd Battalion on a D.W. engagement, meaning he would be in the army for the duration of the war. He was 18 years 4 months old, 5 feet 6in tall, with only “fair” physical development, and he was a labourer. Here is his entry in National Roll of the Great War.

 

Tearle Ernest John Pte National Roll

 

This is a very good potted war biography, but I do not want to hide the seriousness of Ernest’s survival problems. The battles above were killing fields on a vast scale – just look at the names – and Ernest surviving all of this must have been very rueful about being gassed in the last month. Here is the evidence that he scraped through the war:

Ernest Tearle 44700 WW1 army service record p2.

Ernest Tearle 44700 WW1 army service record.

You can see the number change, he was transferred to the Suffolk Regiment, I think mostly for administrative reasons, and they reviewed all his records, because it was the last regiment a soldier belonged to that determined the service medals that he would earn.

There was a little compassion, though. Armistice Day was 11 November 1918, but Ernest was still in France, probably helping to clean up the mess, when he applied for, and was granted leave to England. It was from 28 April 1919 until 12 May 1919. You would wonder how the ferry and the trains would get him there and back in such a short time. Finally, on 19 November 1919, fully a year after the Armistice, Ernest was allowed home – as a Class “Z” soldier. In other words if the army wanted him for anything, they were at their liberty to demand it of him. On 30 November 1919, he left France, hugely relieved, no doubt, that the war was over, and he had survived it. He would also have been relieved to remember that his brother, Harry Edward Tearle 1900, who had joined the navy, had also kept his head down and stayed alive.

His life after the war is difficult to trace. I can find no conclusive evidence he was ever married; a marriage of Ernest J Tearle to Thelma J Cole in 1953 may be our Ernest, but is very late in life, and would most likely preclude his having any children. Meanwhile, the marriage in 1926 of Ernest Tearle in Wellingborough to Ada E E Clifton was preceded by the birth, in Wellingborough, of Ernest Tearle in 1897, so this chap is not the object of our National Roll study.

We do know that he died in Luton in 1971, but I can find no trace of his will, or his probate, which may have helped to fill in a few of the details of his post-war life.

It’s my responsibility, now, to record his biographical details:

He was baptised in St Andrews Church, Leighton Buzzard, on 24 June 1912, having been born on 21 June 1898, at 12 Chapel Path Leighton Buzzard, the son of Ellen Tearle 1881 of Hockliffe. Ellen had four children all with the surname Tearle, and then in 1913 she married Harry Toms, followed by two Toms children. She was the eldest daughter of Jane Tearle 1856 of Hockliffe, who had four children in Hockliffe between 1881 and 1887. Her youngest son, Albert Tearle 1887 of Hockliffe, who would be Ernest’s uncle, was in the Royal Engineers during WW1. Jane’s parents were John Tearle 1823 of Stanbridge and Hannah nee Creamer. We cannot tell what John did for a living; he was classified as an Ag Lab in his census returns, while Hannah worked industriously as a straw plaiter. No matter how skilled John’s work was, the fact that he worked on farms, or for farmers, meant that he was simply an agricultural labourer.

John’s parents were Thomas Tearle 1792 of Ivinghoe Aston, just over the border in Buckinghamshire, and Jemima Cleaver. Thomas’ parents were John Tearle 1770 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Janes, and this John’s parents were John 1741 and Martha nee Archer. So our Ernest is on the branch of John 1741, the same as me.

16Apr/16

Edgar Tearle 1890, Stanbridge, UK (7/Beds Regt)

We have already had a look at Edgar’s brother, Frederick John Tearle 1884 of Stanbridge, who came back from WW1, wounded forever. He lived with his family in the house on Peddars Lane and finally died in 1956.

Edgar’s story is somewhat different, but it starts the same way. His parents were John Tearle 1861 of Stanbridge and Annie nee Walker. In the 1901 census, the family was living in the second house from the corner of Tilsworth Rd. John was a carter on a farm, and Frederick, the eldest son, was a “cowman” on a farm. The enumerator somewhat dismissively called John an Ag Horse, and Frederick an Ag Cattle, by way of job description. Edgar was seven years younger than Frederick, and at 10yrs old, he was still at school. Alice Agnes at 6yrs and 1yr old Mabel Edith made up the family.

In the 1911 census, there are a few changes, and we learn a little more about John and Annie. Firstly, John is now a County Council employee and he is working on the roads. Annie and John are in their late forties and they have had seven children, of which two have died. That may explain the seven-year gap between Frederick and Edgar. And there is one addition to the family, little Eric who is five years old, and he is at school.

Three years pass, and in that time cataclysmic forces rise steadily across Europe until finally what was to become the Great War fired the first shots in Sarajevo. The first months were gentle enough, not much different from previous small wars in Europe, and it appeared to many that it would all “be over by Christmas.” Edgar, caught up in the moment, volunteered. This would be quite an adventure, and not to be missed. Here is his entry in National Roll of the Great War.

Tearle Edgar National Roll

He was unbelievably lucky. He joined the war in the first few months, and was in Europe the following January, with just four months training. Professional soldiers are expensive to train, and expensive to replace. Volunteers, like Edgar and hundreds of thousands who followed him, were used in first-line positions to take the enemy fire and to probe the weak spots. How Edgar survived is a mystery. By the time he was wounded, he was a battle-hardened soldier who had a hastened return to the front line, to help show naive new troops how to fight, and stay alive.

Here is his medals card, showing his service awards, as noted above by National Roll.

Edgar Tearle 14397 and 590090 WW1 army medals record

You can see that he was in the Bedfordshire Regiment, number 14397, but interestingly, he was also in the Labour Corps. This was a huge operation to move supplies and maintain transport links.

Here he is, below, in his army uniform: this is a much-loved picture.

Edgar 1890 Stbg

He was always in danger. The battles he was involved in are legendary for slaughter and the waste of men’s lives. Loos. The Somme. Passchendaele. Cambrai. These battles, even today, are the stuff of nightmares. How he stayed alive is the first mystery; how he kept his sanity is another.

But somehow or other, he did both and in 1922 he married Louisa Jane Abraham, in Leighton Buzzard, and they had four children. Here is Louisa Jane with her second daughter, Daphne, taken in about 1930.

Louisa Tearle nee Abraham and Daphne

At the end of his working life, Edgar received the Imperial Service Medal, for his work in the Post Office.Notice of Imperial Service Medal to Edgar

On the next page is the medal he would have received with the note, above:

Edgar 1890 Imperial Service Medal

Edgar was living in a house at 12 Lamas Walk, Leighton Buzzard, when he was struck so sick he was moved to Churchill Hospital in Oxford, where, unfortunately, he died, aged only 60yrs.

Here is his entry in the National Probate Register:

Edgar Tearle entry in National Probate Register 1952

He was a fine man, and we can be proud that he was one of us.

15Apr/16

Frederick John Tearle 1884 (8/Beds Regt) and the last Tearles in Stanbridge

At the end of WW1, a private initiative began that tried to tell the stories of the soldiers of WW1. It was called National Roll of the Great War and while volumes were written, the work could hardly be called comprehensive. However, of the seventeen Tearle men whose stories are in the Roll, one volume does include the stories of two Stanbridge men, who were lucky enough to survive the war. The first is Frederick, and the second is Frederick’s younger brother, Edgar Tearle 1890.

Here is Frederick’s entry in National Roll:

Tearle, F J, Private, 8th Bedfordshire Regiment, who gave his address as Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge. Below is his entry in National Roll:

Tearle Frederick John National Roll

This man was Frederick John Tearle, 1884 of Stanbridge, regimental number 27560 Bedfordshire Regiment and 59749 Suffolk Regiment.

It is a little odd that National Roll says that Frederick earned the 1914-15 Star, because his service medal record leaves this off.

Frederick J 27560, 59749 WW1 army medal rolls

Frederick J Tearle 27560, 59749 WW1 army medal record.

Mind you, they do not mention which Theatre of War Frederick joined (France) and when, so perhaps the card is incomplete.

Frederick was a son of John Tearle 1862 of Stanbridge and Annie nee Walker. John’s parents were James Tearle 1823 and Hannah nee Philips. James’ parents were Richard and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth, and that means that Frederick was on the branch of John 1741.

In the 1901 census Frederick was 17, Edgar was 10yrs old and at school and there were Alice Agnes, 6yr, and Mabel Edith only 1yr. John was a carter on a farm and Frederick was a cowman. The 1911 census, as usual, is a little telling. The form is filled out by Annie, and that reminded me that on their wedding certificate in 1884, John made his mark, but Annie signed her name. It tells us that although in their late 40s, the marriage  had already run for 28yrs, that they had 7 live births, but that two had since died. John is a roadman for the County Council, and I think that would be a good step up, and would pay better, and more reliably, than carting farm produce. Frederick (27yrs) was still a farm labourer, and younger brother Edgar, now 20yrs old, was working at a plant nursery. Alice Agnes is 15yrs and still at home.

In 1914 the entire land mass of Europe shook with the oncoming rush of war. Britain’s treaties caused her to take sides, and she dived headlong into a disaster on a global scale. Edgar signed up first (it was going to be over by Christmas, remember) in September 1914, and Frederick, who was but a grain of sand on a beach pounded by mighty waves, signed up too. It was March 1915.

Three of the battles mentioned in National Roll were vast slaughterhouses over months of war. The gently rolling lands of southern Belgium and Pas-de-Calais in northern France, where the River Somme winds lazily to the sea, were battlefields carved deeply with dugouts, underground headquarters and trenches. Disease was rife supplies ran out, and often the enemy trenches were as close as 100m. In this terrain, men fought for days for no gain, and in that endeavour they died in their tens of thousands. Frederick was unbelievably lucky to survive. It looks as though his injury in the Battle of the Somme was sufficiently serious for him not to be sent back to the battlefield. He was also, I think mostly for administrative reasons, transferred to the 8th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment, which reviewed his documentation and approved the awarding of his service medals. This also explains how he was given two army numbers. He was finally free to go home.

Frederick John Tearle 59749 record of service medals

But in what condition did he return home? The noise, the carnage, the friends he lost, all of these would have taken an enormous toll on him. In the battle of Cambrai, it was noted that large rats ate the bodies of dead soldiers. That the daily toll of men was about 300, even when the artillery was not firing. And Cambrai, remember, was when tanks were first used on a large scale. The battle of Cambrai was also where Charles Tearle 1894 of Preston was killed, and Ernest John Tearle 1898 (on the same page, above) was gassed.

I mention this, because Richard Inns, a Stanbridge villager, told me that Frederick returned to his parents’ house, closed the curtains, and was seldom seen outside the house for the rest of his life.

Over time, this house saw sad events:

John 1862 died in 1927

Annie nee Walker, John’s wife, died in 1931

Alice Agnes died in April 1956

Frederick died in September 1956.

So far as I know, Frederick was the last person living in the house; I suspect that the loss of his sister would have hastened his death.

Four houses from the intersection of Pedders Lane and Tilsworth Road is the house where the last Tearles in Stanbridge lived. It has been added to, but it still exists:

Pedders Lane - the last Tearle house in Stanbridge

Pedders Lane – the last Tearle house in Stanbridge

When you read the service that Frederick did for his country, and the horrific battles he fought in, there can be no wonder that he could not (or would not) marry on returning to Stanbridge. It is also little wonder that his entire world was reduced to the interior of the last place where he had felt affection and security.

Edgar died in Churchill Hospital in Oxford in 1950, but he had been living in Leighton Buzzard until then; I am not certain where Eric was living at the time, but when he died in September 1968, he was the last person born in Stanbridge to carry the Tearle name. A name which had lived in this village since at least 1580, was gone.

26Mar/16
From vestry to altar the branch of John 1741

The origin, spelling and meaning of the surname Tearle

The origin, spelling and meaning of the surname Tearle
By Barbara Tearle
March 2016

Tearles from Bedfordshire

Most people bearing the name Tearle in England, Australia, New Zealand and Canada today can trace their descent from a family in the village of Stanbridge near Leighton Buzzard in south Bedfordshire. Some American Tearles are also descended from Stanbridge families but there are other derivations of the name Tearle in the USA.

The evidence for the name – how it is spelt and where it originates –  comes mainly from parish registers, wills, manorial documents, court cases, deeds and census returns.

The earliest records date back to the middle of the fifteenth century, where the name was spelt Terle:

  • In 1443 Richard Terle was on a jury held at Aylesbury to enquire into the ownership of the Edlesborough lands of Alice wife of John Adam (Cal IPM 21-25 H6 1442-1447 p.41)
  • and in 1444 John Terle was on a similar jury held at Leighton Buzzard into the Bedfordshire lands of Sir Walter Lucy (Cal IPM 21-25 H6 1442-1447 p.161)

These juries were standard procedure for inquisitiones post mortem – enquiries held on the death of major landholders into their property so that the King knew what dues were owed to him.  The presence of two Terles on juries in the mid-fifteenth century shows that the family was of good status locally and that they lived in the south Bedfordshire or adjacent Buckinghamshire area.

During the remainder of the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries a succession of John Terles (with the occasional Robert Terle) are recorded as holding property in Stanbridge and – in one instance – in Marlow, Buckinghamshire.

The family continued in Stanbridge until the name died out there in the mid twentieth century.  In the intervening centuries, it spread to nearby parishes in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.  Eighteenth century and subsequent occurrences in north Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire are almost certainly from the same family and they continue living there to this day.

The few occurrences in London in the early and mid-eighteenth century were of the goldsmith Thomas Tearle who was from Stanbridge but who appears to have had no surviving descendants and another family whose origins have not yet been traced.

During the nineteenth century the family spread from Bedfordshire to northern England (Preston and Liverpool in particular); Willesden in London as railway workers; south London by the latter half of  century; and a few elsewhere around the country.  The spread seems to have been due to seeking work; joining the military; entering the church; becoming teachers; taking to the stage as provincial touring actor/managers.

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries were also the period of emigration, with Tearle families going to the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Tearles from other parts of the United Kingdom

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the name Tearle or Tarle appears in parish and other records well away from south Bedfordshire.

Tearles in Sussex and the south coast are variant spellings of Tourle, which is an established surname in that area.   Tearle in the West country may be a variant spelling of Terrell/Tyrrell, although there appears to be a family with the name, not merely random occurrences.  Tarle, Terle or Tarles in East Anglia, Staffordshire and London are a mystery.  There are no obvious family connections between any of them and the Bedfordshire Tearles, although of course there may be a medieval connection that has not yet been uncovered. These are research projects waiting to be explored for anyone conversant with medieval sources around the country.

Tearle in Ireland

A few people in nineteenth and early twentieth century English censuses recorded that they were borne in Ireland.  One or two of them were the children of the two English actor/managers (Osmond and Edmund Tearle).  Some are children of Stanbridge-descended soldiers stationed in Ireland.  Not all the Irish Tearles have yet been accounted for.

Jewish Tearle

There is a Jewish family called Tearle which has no connection with the Stanbridge-descended family.  The Jewish family originated in two brothers, Isaac and Lewis, who came to England from Lithuania around 1900 and settled in the Jewish community in Liverpool, then Manchester.  It needs an expert in Jewish naming to know if that was the name they used in Lithuania or if it was adopted on arrival in England (though why would anyone in their right minds want to saddle themselves with a name that no-one can spell or pronounce?).  According to genealogical sources (FamilySearch, censuses, etc) there were Jewish migrants to USA about the same time called Terle.

Spelling

The form Terle was the normal spelling until the middle of the sixteenth century when Tearle emerged.  For many decades the two forms, Terle and Tearle, were used interchangeably until Tearle gained the ascendancy during the seventeenth century.  While it is inappropriate to be too fussy about spelling (our ancestors weren’t), in this instance the older spelling and the change to the current one are worth noting. The best explanation may lie in other spelling changes of the sixteenth century. For example, during the same period the spelling yere was giving way to yeare and erth to earth.  What more natural for scribes to apply this model and write Tearle for Terle?

At the same time as this standard change was taking place, there were many other ways of spelling the name, probably explained by local pronunciation and phonetic spelling.  Those variations for the Stanbridge-descended Tearles in the Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire area include:

Common variants, in alphabetical order:
Tail
Tale
Tarl
Tarle
Tearl  (mainly in Northamptonshire)
Terl (early nineteenth century instances)
Terle  (throughout the sixteenth century in Stanbridge)

Occasional variants occurring a few times only:
Tayle
Teale
Teall
Tealler
Tearel
Teirle
Terill
Terrle
Terull
Tiarl
Tiarle
Tirle
Turl
Tyrell (early eighteenth century north Buckinghamshire)

Derivation and meaning

Surnames were adopted over a period of several centuries during the middle ages, stabilising into hereditary names sometime later.  In order to have a chance of determining the probable derivation and meaning of a surname, its earliest occurrence must be sought because it will be nearest to the original use and reason for adoption.

Few surname dictionaries include Tearle.  Henry Harrison in his Surnames of the United Kingdom gives a derivation from old English þearl meaning strict or severe.  This may be based on the similarity in spelling.  Barber’s more recent British Family names – their origin and meaning explains it as being from the Dutch personal name Terlet.  Given the late emergence of the spelling Tearle and the earlier spelling as Terle, the þearl explanation does not hold up to scrutiny.  Its origin should be sought in an earlier period.

What did Terle mean?  Where did it come from?

I can offer no explanation.  However a project which is examining the surnames of the United Kingdom may add something to this account and enable a stab to be made at its meaning.  The project is called FaNUK – Family names of the United Kingdom. It is based at the University of the West of England and the results of its work are scheduled for publication in 2017.  They will be published as an online database and as a new surname dictionary by Oxford University Press, Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland.  I look forward to seeing it and finding out whether it can shed light on Tearle and similar sounding names – Dearle, Hearle, Learle and Thearle.

© Barbara Tearle
March 2016

16Feb/16

Stanbridge Tearle Memorials

The parents of almost all the Tearles alive today are a Stanbridge man called Thomas b1710 and his wife, Mary nee Sibley. They had five sons who carried the Tearle name – Joseph b1737, Thomas b1737, John b1741, William b1749 and Richard b1754. There was a Jabez b1745, but he never married and had no children. In order to positively identify any Tearle, I trace them back to one of these men. So where you see the statement, for instance, that John, below is on the branch of John 1741, you will know they are a descendant of John 1741 above. The Tearle Tree is built on this basis and we can trace almost any person who enquires to one of these branches.

In line with the south entrance of St John the Baptist Church, is a carved stone with a very old cross on it. Although it does not signify occupation in and around it, this stone does server to remind us that Stanbridge has been place of significance since before Roman times.

Stanbridge Church rock

Stanbridge Church rock

The clock on the church was donated by the villagers who raised money for it to celebrate the end of WW1. It was unveiled by the daughter of Lily Robinson nee Cox.

Stanbridge Church clock

Stanbridge Church clock

The memorial below is for John Tearle b16 Jan 1840 in Stanbridge; “For sixty years sexton of this parish.” Also on the memorial are other members of John’s family: Maria nee Bliss b1844 in Totternhoe, Frederick b1871 in Stanbridge and Sabina b1875 in Stanbridge. John Tearle was sexton while the Rev Thomas Green was making major upgrades to the fabric of St John’s during the 1890s.

He is on the branch of John 1741.

John Tearle 60 years sexton of this parish

John Tearle 60 years sexton of this parish

The site below is for Eliza Tearle b1873 and Kate Tearle b1873, who died within months of each other in 1954 and are in this grave by the footpath.

Kate and Eliza Tearle, Stanbridge.

Kate and Eliza Tearle, Stanbridge.

They are the twin daughters of John the  sexton (mentioned above.)

Very close to the foot of the grave above, is the memorial to Phoebe Tearle b 1877 Stanbridge. She married George Horne, also of Stanbridge, and they left to seek their fortune in Leeds.  Phoebe is one of the daughters of John 1840, the sexton, and Maria. Note how close her memorial is to that of her sisters, Eliza and Kate. I am not certain that she is buried here.

Phoebe Horne nee Tearle and George

Phoebe Horne nee Tearle and George

Annie Rose is the sister of Kate and Eliza and thus a daughter of John the sexton. She died in 1950.

Headstone Annie Rose d1950 and Charles Rose d1951

Headstone for Annie Rose d1950 and Charles Rose d1951

This little cluster of graves is interesting because others close by may be similarly related. You can see below that the graves of Eliza, Kate, Phoebe and Annie are a close little grouping. Research is continuing to see if other sites nearby are also Tearle graves by another name.

Foreground, Kate and Eliza, with Phoebe Horne and Annie Rose

Foreground, Kate and Eliza, with Phoebe Horne and Annie Rose

This headstone below is for James Tearle b15 Apr 1827 in Toddington and Mary nee Andrews, b1830 in Eggington. They were married in Stanbridge 26 July 1846.

James and John the sexton are brothers. James is my gg-grandfather. While his son Levi went on to become a skilled blacksmith, running a successful business in Wing, James always described himself simply as an agricultural labourer. After his father died, Levi travelled from Wing to see his mother, Mary Tearle nee Andrews, in Stanbridge almost every weekend.

James Tearle d1887 and Mary d1914.

James Tearle d1887 and Mary Tearle d1914.

James, too, is on the branch of John 1741.

The memorials to John and James are close together. It seems likely that the church paid for John’s headstone, while Levi Tearle of Wing, their son, would have paid for James and Mary’s headstone.

The memorials to John 1840 and James 1827 are close together.

The memorials to John 1840 and James 1827 are close together.

In an odd sort of way, this headstone below for Caroline Shillingworth and Charles is also a Tearle memorial, since in 1888, he married Mary Tearle, the widow of James Tearle, above. When he died in 1891, Mary went to his funeral as Mary Shillingford, widow of Charles and it was as Mary Shillingford that she married William  Tearle in the registry office in Watford. This William Tearle was the brother of both James and John above. His first wife was Catharine Fountain, universally known as Kate. Mary died in her son Levi’s house in Wing in 1914 and William died in 1 Grovebury Rd, Leighton Buzzard in 1920. I have never found his burial, but it is in the Stanbridge churchyard.

Charles and Caroline Shillingford, Stanbridge

Charles and Caroline Shillingford, Stanbridge

Under the trees, to the south of the church, are the Methodist graves, and some of these are highly significant for us.

 John Tearle d1818 and Elizabeth Rickard Stanbridge

John Tearle d1818 and Elizabeth Rickard Stanbridge

John Tearle d1818 and Elizabeth.

John, b1787 in Stanbridge, married Elizabeth Flint of Stanbridge on 4 May 1813. They had three children before he died in 1818, and they certainly made their mark.

Elizabeth remarried, to William Rickard, but you will notice his headstone nearby has his name only on it, whilst Elizabeth is written on John’s headstone, but as Elizabeth Rickard. You will see John on the branch of Joseph 1737, because he is a son of Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp. This is one of the Methodist graves.

The headstone of William Rickard

The headstone of William Rickard.

John and Deborah Olney  – notice the wonderful age they lived to. He owned and worked a 154 acre farm near Stanbridge, employing 6 labourers. They probably did not live on the farm since their house is in the village near the church. Deborah is a daughter of John 1787 and Elizabeth nee Flint, above. Also on this headstone is their son, James Olney b1837 Stanbridge.

John Olney and Deborah

Deborah often gives her children the name Tearle as a middle name eg Hannah Tearle Olney – who may have died of cancer. She is named after Deborah’s younger sister.

Hannah Tearle Olney

Hannah Tearle Olney.

This small headstone is to their four children who died – Thomas and William can be seen written there, but the other two cannot.

John and Deborah Olney's four children.

John and Deborah Olney’s four children.

Close to the headstone of John and Deborah Olney is this dark headstone to Catherine Conder who died in 1892. There is also Ethel Mary Conder who died just eight months old in 1891. And tragically recorded is the death of their son Thomas Olney Conder who died in Wega, W Africa, in 1897, in a scene mirroring that of Hannah and Henry Fleet, below, because he, too, was a Methodist missionary. Catherine Conder is Deborah’s fourth child, born 1840 in Stanbridge.

Catherine Conder and Thomas Olney Conder, the Methodist missionary.

Catherine Conder and Thomas Olney Conder, the Methodist missionary.

Hannah Tearle b 30 June 1816 and Henry Fleet b1817. They were married in St Johns, Stanbridge in 1838.

Their memorial is inside the church and tells the story of their sad and early deaths. Hannah is the second daughter of John 1787 and Elizabeth, above, and was Deborah’s younger sister.

The graves under the trees and this memorial to Hannah are of Methodists. There were two Methodist chapels in Stanbridge: the Wesleyan Chapel in Leighton Rd, from which this memorial was transferred to St Johns, and the Primitive Methodist chapel, which was next door to the school on Tilsworth Rd.

The memorial reads:
Hannah, the beloved wife of Henry Fleet and daughter of John and Elizabeth Tearle of this parish, who while on a voyage with her husband to Africa, was called to her eternal reward. Jan 1, 1839, aged 22 years.
Also of the above Henry Fleet, Wesleyan Missionary, who died at Sierra Leone, Western Africa, May 30 1839, aged 22 years.

Hannah Tearle and Henry Fleet memorial

Hannah Tearle and Henry Fleet memorial.

An English custom worthy of note to the family historian; in England, it is the venue that is licensed to perform marriages. Since neither of the Methodist chapel had such a licence, marriages were performed in the Parish Church, in this case, St Johns. Likewise, burials could take place only in the St Johns churchyard; hence the Methodist marriages and the Methodist graves in a Church of England venue. It is sad to note that Methodist sites, until very recently, were on “unconsecrated ground” and the Parish Church did not have the the responsibility of their maintenance.

Another interesting thing about the Methodists is that according to “The Citizen”of Leighton Buzzard, 26 Feb 2004, “The village’s first school was opened in June 1876 at the Primitive (Methodist) chapel. It catered for 80 children but was soon full and so a new school was built next door in 1881.” I have often noticed in my wanderings around England that Methodist schools attached to, or run inside Methodist chapels often precede parish schools. The Methodists believed in reading the Bible, so of course you had to be able to read. Look up the story of the Tolepuddle martyrs. Methodism was for the poor, and the modern trade unions are the direct descendants of the early Methodists. The Tearles were at the very centre of that activity in Stanbridge.

Methodist graves under the trees

Methodist graves under the trees.

At the end of WW1, a private initiative began that tried to tell the stories of the soldiers of WW1. It was called National Roll of the Great War and while volumes were written, the work could hardly be called comprehensive. However, it does include the stories of two Stanbridge men, who were lucky enough to survive the war.

Tearle, F J, Private, 8th Bedfordshire Regiment, who gave as his address Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge. National Roll says:

He volunteered in March 1915, and in the same year was sent to France. During his service on the Western Front he was engaged in the fighting on the Somme, at Arras, Bullecourt and Cambrai, and was wounded on the Somme during the retreat of 1918. He was demobilised in November 1919, and holds the 1914-15 Star, the General Service and Victory Medals.

Tearle, E, Private, 7th Bedfordshire Regiment, also of Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge. National Roll says of him:

He volunteered in September 1914 and in the following January proceeded overseas. He served on the Western Front and fought at Loos and the Somme, where he was wounded. On recovery he rejoined his Battalion, and was engaged in the fighting at Passchendale, Cambrai and in the Retreat and Advance of 1918. He was demobilised in March 1919, and holds the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory Medals.

The house on the corner of Peddars Lane. Occupied by John and Annie Tearle and then by Frederick, Alice Annie and Eric until 1968, when Eric, the last Tearle in Stanbridge, died here

The house on the corner of Peddars Lane. Occupied by John and Annie Tearle and then by Frederick, Alice Annie and Eric until 1968, when Eric, the last Tearle in Stanbridge, died here

These two boys, not surprisingly, were brothers, sons of John 1862 Stbg and Annie nee Walker. The first was Frederick John Tearle, 1884 Stbg regimental number 27560 Bedfordshire Regiment and 59749 Suffolk Regiment, and the other was Edgar Tearle, 1890 Stbg number 14397, Bedfordshire Regiment and 590090 Labour Corps. Edgar married Louisa Jane Abraham in 1922. They had a son Alan Richard T in 1926 and Edgar died on 1 Nov 1950 in the Churchill Hospital, Headington, Oxford, having lived in 12 Lamas Walk, Leighton Buzzard until his transfer to Churchill Hospital.

Alice died in April 1956, Frederick died in Sep 1956, and Eric, John and Annie’s youngest son, died in July 1968.

John 1862 Stbg, was a son of James and Hannah nee Phillips. Here are John, Annie and family in the 1901 Stanbridge census:

1901 = John 1862 Annie 35 Frederick J 17 Edgar 10 Alice Agnes 6 Mabel Edith 1 in Stbg

As the enumerator walked down Tilsworth Rd, John and Annie were in the 59th house, just inside Pedars Lane.

When you read the service these two boys did for their country, and the horrific battles they fought in, there can be no wonder that Frederick could not (or would not) marry on returning to Stanbridge.

When Eric died in 1968 he was the last person in Stanbridge to carry the Tearle name. A name which had lived in this village since at least the late 1300s was gone.

16Feb/16
James Tearle and Mary headstone Stanbridge Church

Tearle burials in Stanbridge 1813-1968

Stanbridge burials 1813 to 1968

Collated and annotated by Pat Field, from the Stanbridge parish records.

Considering the paucity of Tearle headstones in the Stanbridge burial ground that surrounds St John the Baptist Church, there have been a large number of Tearle burials in the parish. Pat Field has compiled the list below to illuminate the families and their associations and you will notice that the earliest in the list include Phoebe nee Capp, as well as John 1741 and Martha nee Archer, who are at the head of two of the main branches of the Tearle family tree. As this list opens, we can see the people who would have been familiar, as children, and grand-children, with the heads of the Tearle tree.

Year Name Abode Date Age
1813 ANN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jul-24
Dau of Richard 1773 and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth.
1814 MARTHA TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jan-02 80
Martha nee Archer wife of John 1741.
1816 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jun-30 75
John 1741, hus of Marther nee Archer.
1817 PHEBY TEARLE STANBRIDGE May-02 72
Phoebe nee Capp, wif of Joseph 1737.
1818 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Dec-22 31
John 1787, son of Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.
Hus of Elizabeth nee Flint; see Methodist graves.
1829 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE May-17 8wks
Son of Thomas 1807 and Mary nee Garner.
1833 PHEBE TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jun-16
Dau of John 1799 and Elizabeth nee Mead.
1836 JABEZ TEARLE STANBRIDGE Sep-24 19
Son of John 1770 and and Mary nee Janes.
1837 SARAH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jan-15 2
Dau of Thomas 1807 and Mary nee Garner.
1838 GEORGE TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-23 24
Son of Richard 1773 and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth.
1842 JUDITH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-11 64
Judith nee Knight 2nd wife of William 1769.
1846 WILLIAM TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-22 76
William 1769, son of Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.
Hus of Sarah nee Clarke.
1849 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Nov 79
John 1770, hus of Mary nee James.
1850 RICHARD TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jan-06 76
Richard 1773, son of John 1741 and Martha nee Archer.
Hus of Mary nee Bodsworth.
1850 ELIZABETH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Sep-10 46
Elizabeth nee Mead, wife of John 1779.
1855 RICHARD TEARLE STANBRIDGE Mar-15 6mo
Son of Joseph 1823 and Mary nee Turney.
1855 MARY ANN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-26 17
Unknown parents.
1855 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE May-25 59
John 1799, hus of Elizabeth nee Mead.
1856 ELIZA TEARLE STANBRIDGE Dec-20 38
Eliza nee Irons, wife of John 1823.
1857 THOMAS TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-05 50
Thomas 1807, hus of Mary nee Garner.
1859 GEORGE TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-23 6
Son of John 1799 and Elizabeth nee Irons.
1859 ELIZABETH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Dec-22 81
Elizabeth nee Bodsworth, wife of Richard 1773.
1860 MARY TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-16 88
Mary nee Janes, wife of John 1771.
1862 SARAH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jan-11 6
Dau William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain.
1863 HANNAH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-02 18
Dau John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
1863 MARY CLARKE TEARLE WATFORD Oct-09 17
Dau of Abel 1810 and Martha nee Emmerton.
1866 MINNIE TEARLE STANBRIDGE Mar-23 16m
Dau Jane 1843, dau Thomas 1816 and Ann nee Jones.
1868 ELIZA TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-05 8m
Dau William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain.
1872 MARY TEARLE STANBRIDGE Dec-20 1yr 10m
Dau Sarah Tearle, dau James 1823 and Mary nee Andrews.
Sarah married George Blake in Dec 1877.
1873 MARY TEARLE STANBRIDGE Feb-10 68
Mary 1803, dau John 1770 and Mary nee Janes.
1874 ALFRED TEARLE STANBRIDGE Oct-29 3yr 6m
Son of William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain.
1876 MARY ANN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Oct-24 60
Mary Ann nee Turpin, wife of Richard 1816.
Nathaniel’s mother.
1877 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Oct-04 59
John 1823, hus of Eliza nee Irons.
1880 THOMAS TEARLE STANBRIDGE Feb-17 5w
Son of John 1840 and Maria nee Bliss.
1881 FREDERICK TEARLE STANBRIDGE Feb-07 17
Son of James 1823 and Hannah nee Philips.
1881 ALBERT TEARLE STANBRIDGE Dec-25 8m
Unknown parents. Birth cert: 1881, Q2, Leighton Buzzard,
Bedfordshire, Vol 3b, Page 430.
1882 ABEL TEARLE STANBRIDGE Oct-13
Abel 1810, hus of Martha nee Emmerton.
1882 JEFFRERY TEARLE Dec-08 10
Son of William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain. UPPER HOUGHTON REGIS
1883 ANN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-23 47
Dau Abel 1810 and Martha nee Emmerton.
1883 WALTER TEARLE EATON BRAY Aug-08 7w
Unbaptised burial, authorised by bishop. Unknown parents.
Birth cert: 1883, Q3, LB, Beds, 3b, 391
1883 MARIA TEARLE STANBRIDGE Oct-08 40
Maria nee Bliss, wife of John 1840.
1886 JOSEPH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Oct-10 61
Joseph 1823, hus of Mary nee Turney.
Died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital.
1887 JAMES TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-17 60
James 1827, hus of Mary nee Andrews.
1890 ARTHUR TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jan-28 2
Parents unknown. May be Arthur Henry Tearle 1887.
Birth cert: 1887, Q3, LB, Beds, 3b, 393.
1892 SIDNEY TEARLE WING Jan-03 19m
Son of Amos 1861 and Martha nee Timms.
1892 HANNAH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Mar-31 61
Hannah nee Philips wife of James 1823.
1892 KATE TEARLE UPPER HOUGHTON REGIS Apr-29 57
Catherine nee Fountain, wife of William 1832.
1892 TRYPHENA TEARLE STANBRIDGE Dec-16 19
Dau of Jane 1844, dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
1895 FREDERICK TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-23 24
Son of John 1840, the sexton, and Maria nee Bliss.
1896 HORACE TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-28 10
Son of John 1861 and Annie nee Walker.
1898 GEORGE TEARLE STANBRIDGE May-05 32
Son of James 1823 and Hannah nee Philips.
1898 JAMES TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jun-19 79
James 1823, hus of Hannah nee Philips.
1900 BENJAMIN TEARLE STANBRIDGE May-18 51
Son of Abel 1810 and Martha nee Emmerton.
1908 ELIZABETH TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jan-29 78
Elizabeth nee Chapman, wife of Joseph 1823.
1908 MARY ANN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Mar-10 67
Dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
1914 MARY TEARLE WING Jun-04 83
Mary nee Andrews, wife of James 1827.
1915 JANE TEARLE TILSWORTH Apr-03 71
Dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
1915 SABINA TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-23 40
Dau of John 1840, the sexton, and Maria nee Bliss.
1920 WILLIAM TEARLE NORTHALL Feb-12 87
William 1832, hus of Catherine nee Fountain.
Died at 1 Grovebury Rd, Leighton Buzzard.
1920 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Oct-20 80
John 1840 “sexton of this parish for 60 years.”
Hus of Maria nee Bliss.
1927 JOHN TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jun-18 65
John 1861, of Back Lane, Stanbridge.
Hus of Annie nee Walker.
1931 ANNIE TEARLE STANBRIDGE May-16 66
Annie nee Walker, wife of John 1861.
1945 THOMAS TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jan-15 73
Thomas 1870 son of James 1823 and Hannah nee Philips.
Died at 11a Dunstable Rd, Luton.
1954 KATE TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-03 81
Dau John 1840 and Maria nee Bliss.
Living at 7 Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge, died in Kempston.
1954 ELIZA TEARLE STANBRIDGE Sep-21 81
Dau John 1840 and Maria nee Bliss.
Living at 7 Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge, died in Kempston.
1956 FREDERICK TEARLE STANBRIDGE Aug-02 72
Son of John 1862 and Annie nee Walker.
10 Peddars Lane, Stanbridge. WW1 soldier.
1956 ALICE AGNES TEARLE STANBRIDGE Apr-11 60
Dau of John 1862 and Annie nee Walker.
10 Peddars Lane, Stanbridge.
1968 ERIC TEARLE STANBRIDGE Jul-05 62
Son of John 1861 and Annie nee Walker.
10 Peddars Lane, Stanbridge. WW1 soldier.

 

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