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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

02May/16

Sidney Thomas Tearle 1893, Willesden, UK (RASC)

Sidney Thomas Tearle was born to Zephaniah Tearle and Annie nee Buckingham on 7 March 1893 in Stonebridge, Willesden, London, and he was baptised a few weeks later. Because infant mortality rates were very high, particularly in London, parents wasted no time in getting their babies baptised. Helpfully for us, the minister has written Sidney’s birth date in the margin.

Sidney Thomas baptism in St Michael and All Angels, Stonebridge 1893

Sidney Thomas baptism in St Michael and All Angels, Stonebridge 1893

The genealogical details you need to know are that Zephaniah 1869 of Stanbridge was the son of single mother Jane Tearle 1844, of Stanbridge. She had three children: Minnie 1865 who died just a year later, Zephaniah, and Tryphena 1872, who tragically died in 1892, just 20 years old. Jane’s parents were John Tearle 1823 of Stanbridge and Eliza nee Irons. John was himself the only son of a single mother, Mary 1803 of Stanbridge, and she was a daughter of John Tearle 1770 of Stanbridge, and Mary nee Janes. And John 1770 was, of course, a son of John 1741 and Martha nee Archer.

The address, 23 Melville Rd, is the same for the 1901 census. Here, we find out that Zephaniah is a plate-layer on the railway and that both he and Annie had come directly from Stanbridge, in Bedfordshire. We will have a look much more closely at Zephaniah and Annie in another article, about them and their lives, and the other Tearle families who lived in Willesden. I thought I would show this page to help understand the neighbourhood that Zephaniah had moved to. He is working on or near the giant tangle of lines and trains that was Willesden Junction in the late Victorian and early 20th Century years. The people who live around him are decidedly working class; the one exception being the “Gentleman” Mr William Carpenter Hall, from 14 Park Rd.

In the 1911 census, Zephaniah and Annie have been married for 21 years, and have had five children, none of whom have died. Sidney is working for a butcher, as is Albert, his younger brother.

1911 Zephanaiah 1869 Annie 43 Bertram 20 Sidney 18 Albert 15 Lily 13 Stanley 11 in Harlesden

1911 census: Zephaniah 1869 and Annie, with Bertram 20 Sidney 18 Albert 15 Lily 13 Stanley 11 in Harlesden.

Since Sidney was 18 in 1911, then he was the perfect age (21yrs) to be dragged into WW1. Here is his entry in National Roll of the Great War:

Tearle Sidney Thomas National Roll

The note is both interesting, and chilling. The date, November 1917 is interesting, because he married in 1917:

Sidney Thomas 1893 marriage Florence May Fuller Emmanuel Paddington Westminster 1917

Sidney Thomas Tearle 1893, marriage to Florence May Fuller, Paddington, Westminster, 1917.

But look at the date! 26 December. Since he joined in November, and was on the Western Front in the same year, then there was not much time in which to have a wedding. You can see on the form that he was already a soldier (ASC) but that the army had signed him up and was about to use his butchering skills. I gather they were not expecting him to be engaged in too much fighting, because even basic training takes six weeks to two months.

The chilling part is that he was never out of range of the artillery, because he was delivering food and ammunition to the trenches – and then there is a list of some of the vast and most violent battles of the Great War. Arras, Vimy Ridge, Cambrai “and other sectors” says National Roll airily. Sidney was not in the Great War for as long as some of the other Tearles whose stories are told in National Roll, but he was in the thick of it.

There are just two items left in my catalogue of Sidney’s life: his medals card and his address once he returned to civilian life. Firstly, his medals card. However truncated the message is, it tells us most of what we need to know. This is another card that does not record a soldier’s entry into the Theatre of War, and as a result we have only the note from National Roll to tell us where he was, when, and what he did. In about 1922, he would have received by post his Victory Medal and his British Medal.

The last tiny dot of evidence I have for the life of Sidney Thomas is his address in 1932, from the Willesden Electoral Roll; Minet Gardens, NW10. We can see from the address that Sidney has not moved far from where his parents lived at 17 Minet Avenue, where they were in 1911. And Lilian Tryphena Noyce, living at number 11, is Sidney’s sister.

You take your culture with you; Zephaniah and Annie have brought the habits of the village with them, and living closely together is part of that culture.

 

http://www.tearle.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Sidney-T-Tearle-M-380389-WW1-army-medals-record.jpg

Sidney’s medals card from the RASC.

 

Sidney Thomas Tearle, Minet Gardens, NW10.

Sidney Thomas Tearle, Minet Gardens, NW10.

31Mar/16

Charles Ernest Walter Tearle 1885, Southwark, London (Norfolk Rgt)

I first came across Charles Tearle 1836 and Annie nee Eastment in the mid-1980s while I was researching Tearles in the Family History Centre in Hamilton, NZ, run by the Mormans in a whitewashed brick building across the road from their impressive temple. Charles and Annie baptised several children in the Dunstable Methodist Circuit, one of whom was Charles 1863, their third child. Charles 1863 was, of course, the father of the man in the title of this piece. The parents of Charles 1836 were George Tearle 1809 from Wingfield and his cousin Elizabeth nee Tearle from Stanbridge. George’s parents were Richard 1778 and Mary nee Pestel, and Richard’s parents were Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp. Phoebe was a staunch Methodist, so I am not at all surprised to see Charles and Annie baptising children in the Methodist Church. You can walk from Stanbridge (where Joseph and Phoebe lived) to Dunstable; it would be five miles at the most. In 1848 a railway branch line from Stanbridge to Dunstable was opened, so for a few pennies on third class, you would not have to walk.

In the 1881 census, Charles 1863 was at home in Dunstable working at his trade as a boot clicker with his painter/glazier father and bonnet sewer mother, but with the railway so close, and London calling, Charles moved to Southwark, on the other side of the Thames from the City, where he married Louisa Caroline Green in the now-demolished church of Newington All Saints just three years later.

Charles marriage Louisa Caroline Green All Saints Walworth Southwark 1884

Charles 1863 marriage to Louisa Caroline Green in Newington All Saints, Surrey Square, Walworth, 1884.

A boot clicker is a skilled trade, which made the uppers for shoes and boots. The tradesman was responsible for getting the most possible from a length of material for using in shoes. Charles would have worked in a factory in Dunstable, and found out about the trade and how it worked in London. He would have spent a bob or two on a train ticket, and half a day later he would be knocking on the door of a London bootmaker – in the expectation of receiving better pay, presumably. This was not heaven, though; Walworth and Southwark were huge slums populated exclusively by the poor. Life would have been pretty tough going – imagine the din of steel horseshoes and steel wagon wheels echoing from the walls of brick cottages that lined narrow cobbled streets, the pungent smell of horse manure and human waste left to cure in the open, the bitter taste of coal smoke, the choking acid fog, and the swirling winds carrying sand and dust with great precision directly into your eyes. However it was for Charles and Louisa in particular, Charles’ sister Charlotte came to the wedding to see him off, and he and Louisa’s first child was Charles Ernest Walter Tearle, born on 25 February 1885 in 153 Trafalgar St, Walworth.

In the 1901 census, Charles E W was 16yrs old and already at work, in Barking, Essex, as a cropper in the “printing trade.”

He married Frances Catherine Stewart on 1 Oct 1910 in Edmonton, Essex. In the 1911 census he was a “Printers machine minder.” He was 26yrs old. In 1914 he was 29yrs old, and he chose to join the army; the Norfolk Regiment no less, but only, I suspect, because they got to him before any of the London regiments did.

There are only two documents in existence that tell the story of Charles’ military life. I think the most telling one is the record of his Silver War Badge.

Charles E Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Charles E Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

You can see he wasted no time signing up for war – he enlisted on 19 Dec 1914 and received the Norfolk Regiment number 21622. He definitely served overseas, for long enough, and well enough to be promoted to a full corporal, and somehow, somewhere, he picked up a sickness so bad he was discharged with a Para 392 “Not fit enough to be an effective soldier.” That is why he received a Silver War Badge; he could go home, wear his Silver Badge on his civilian clothes and demonstrate that he had done as much for his country as the British Army could wish.

The next document does not help to explain anything about Charles’ war. What it does do, though, is to confirm that Charles E Tearle, above, is definitely Charles E W Tearle. The fact that he is in the Norfolk Regiment, and he has the number 21622 in both documents, is unbreakable evidence.

Charles E W Tearle 21622 WW1 army medal rolls

Charles E W Tearle 21622 WW1 army medal rolls.

He has been awarded only the British Medal for service, so it is likely that he spent much of his time in the army somewhere in the UK, possibly Ireland, which was considered Home in 1914, so it did not count for pension or service. There is no Theatre of War here, so it is difficult to square with his Silver War Badge card saying that he did serve overseas. This is all very enigmatic, so I shall leave off looking at it pending the receipt of other documentation that will illuminate it. I now have a couple of pictures that will help to illustrate the man; my thanks to Paul Ailey.

03 Charles EW, a boxer

Charles E W Tearle, a boxer.

01 Charles EW (standing) date

Charles E W Tearle, standing.

I am sure he is young in the first photograph above, probably under 20yrs, and in the second photograph he is in the army, aged somewhere between 29 and 34yrs old, obviously on the younger side because he is a lance corporal here, and he left the army a full corporal, with two stripes.

Charles’ son, Charles Francis Stewart Tearle 1912, Edmonton, joined the navy to fight in WW2. His story is told elsewhere on this site.

28Mar/16

Bertie Tearle 1900, St Albans

I know frustratingly little about Bertie, but this is what I do know: he was awarded the Silver War Badge. Here is the documentation, from which we can deduce a few things:

Bertie Tearle Silver War Badge documentation

Bertie Tearle Silver War Badge documentation

Firstly, you can see that he joined the war late, but then he would, because he was only 14 when the war started. The Cause of Discharge column indicating a Paragraph 392 reason simply means that he was so wounded, he was not fit enough to be a soldier. He joined the war on 4 Feb 1918 and he is wounded beyond repair by 31 Dec 1918. He was just 19yrs.

No records from Chelsea Hospital survive for Bertie, so we cannot know the state of his injuries, nor even when he received them, but he has been in two different regiments; the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) 4th battalion and 2nd battalion. This is also the regiment that Arthur Walter Tearle joined, as well as Herbert John Tearle.

The war ended on 11 November 1918 and the 2/2 London Division was in Palestine for much of 1918, so we can assume Bertie was injured, or caught some awful desert disease, in Palestine.

We can now turn to two more sources of documentation, both reserved for Bertie’s service medals.

Bertie Tearle 60996, GS92961, GS92961 WW1 army medal rolls

Bertie Tearle 60996, GS92961, GS92961 WW1 army medal rolls

There is firstly a list of the fighting units he belonged to, and it’s worth remembering that the GS/ notation refers to a General Service soldier, and that in turn simply means Territorial and that means volunteer. He is awarded the Victory medal and the British War Medal.

Bertie Tearle Silver medal

Bertie Tearle service medal allocation documentation.

You can see that the medal card refers to this document; in the top right-hand corner is the number 4484, which is the “Page” number on the medals card. It is the Royal Fusiliers which sets out the medals to be awarded, and this was the last regiment to which young Bertie belonged.

The only other documentation I have (except for turn-of-the-century censuses) is Bertie’s entry in the National Probate Calendar of 1961.

Bertie Tearle probate

Bertie Tearle probate notice, 1961.

He still lives in St Albans, he has married, but he has no children, and he owns very little. The “effects” of £592 shown here is probably the value of his house. We do not know if he worked anywhere, and we do not know if he even walked. He has lived to 61yrs old, but that is not a great age; his sacrifice in going to war has been ongoing for the rest of his life.

Now, who was Bertie? His parents were Edward Joseph Tearle 1869 and Emma Elizabeth nee Warner. Edward grew up in the Symonside Cottages, just off Coopers Green Lane, between St Albans and Stanborough. His parents were John Tearle 1830 of Soulbury and Harriett nee Figg. Both of these parents spent time in the Hertford Workhouse, incarcerated because of debt and grinding poverty. John’s parents were Richard Tearle 1805 of Stanbridge and Martha nee Walker, the founders of the Soulbury Tearles. Richard was a grandson of John 1741 and Martha nee Archer.

Edward was a younger brother of William Francis Tearle  1857 and the uncle to John Henry Tearle  who was killed in 1915, so Bertie was a cousin of John Henry’s, and was himself the uncle to Edward Kefford William Tearle, who was killed at De Panne in WW2.

If anyone thought that moving from Soulbury to Hertfordshire would give them a better life, I do not think it really panned out that way.

13Mar/16

Herbert John Tearle 1898, Bexleyheath

Herbert was born in Bexleyheath in 1898, a near-perfect date for him to be drawn into WW1. His parents were George 1863 of Hockliffe and Elizabeth nee Clark. I do not yet have a reason for George’s move to London, but he married Elizabeth in Dartford in 1887 and in the 1911 census George and Elizabeth were living at 115 Broadway, Bexley Heath, Kent, where he said his occupation was a florist. It is likely, then that the location was a flat above a shop. When he died at 87 years old, it was in a place called The Grange, in Bloomsfield Rd, Bexley Heath, Kent. His will named his executors as Frank Tearle, Company Director, and Herbert John Tearle, Builders Merchant, so his family has followed their father’s interest in small business. His parents were Jabez 1841 of Hockliffe and Mary nee Clarke. Jabez traces his ancestry back to John 1741.

In the same 1911 census, Herbert was at school, 12yrs old.

On 22 Sep 1914, at the Hounslow recruiting office, Herbert joined the Royal Fusiliers on a Short Service attestation as “Three Years with the Colours,” unless the war lasted longer than that, in which case “you will be retained until the War is over.” This is the same London regiment that Arthur Walter Tearle joined, except that Arthur was a Territorial in the Royal Fusiliers (City of London) Regiment, and Herbert has joined the Royal Fusiliers as a regular, but none-the-less a member of a London Royal Fusiliers regiment. He said – and they believed him – that he was 19yrs old! He was 5ft 11″ (very tall for the times) with a scar on his left knee, fresh complexion, 132lbs in weight, blue eyes and black hair. He gave his religious denomination as “Congregational” but he must have picked that up in London, because his father was baptised on the Dunstable Methodist Circuit. He was given the Regimental number 4021 and he was initially inducted into the 6th Battalion.

On 5 May 1915, the eve of going into battle with the B.E.F. (British Expeditionary Force) somewhere in Europe, Herbert was instructed to write his will. It is painfully short:

“In the event of my death I give £6-6-0 (six guineas) to my mother Elizabeth Tearle and I give my remaining property to my father George Tearle.
Herbert John Tearle
No. 4021
2 Company, 3rd Battlion, Royal Fusilliers
Dover.
5-5-1915”

His service record has a number of interesting highlights, but the page below tells most of the story. You can see when he became a lance corporal, lost it, then regained it, as well as his very short stint (only 14 days) on the Western Front.

Herbert John Tearle 4021 WW1 military record p9

Herbert John Tearle 4021 WW1 military record p9

Why he was returned to Home (which could have been anywhere in England, Wales, Scotland or Ireland) I cannot fathom. The Royal Fusiliers went to Egypt in October 1915 and then Salonica in December. Herbert joined them on 6 Apr 1916. He was wounded on 27 May 1917 and returned Home. You can see that he spent some time in Napsbury Hospital, near St Albans.

West Wing, Napsbury Hospital, St Albans

West Wing, Napsbury Hospital, St Albans.

I must remind you that this Napsbury is now a village of flats, but it was originally a mental asylum, sometimes housing those who were genuinely mentally afflicted, but very often a permanent prison in which families hid away their errant daughters who had children out of wedlock. In WW1 and WW2 it was a major hospital for treating wounded soldiers, and Herbert was invalided with them. Many ANZAC soldiers owed their lives to its dedicated care; those who did not survive are buried in the Hatfield Rd Cemetery, St Albans. Herbert’s wounds were so severe that on discharge from Napsbury Hospital he was declared “No longer fit for War Service” under paragraph 392, on 1 July 1917. Herbert’s part as a soldier in WW1 was over. He was awarded the Silver War Badge:

Herbert John Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Herbert John Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge.

In the 1920s he was sent the 1915 Star, the British Medal, and the Victory Medal. If you review the story of Arthur Walter Tearle, you will see Herbert’s Royal Fusiliers and the 2nd, 3rd and 6th battalions written on the Cornhill War Memorial.

Now, there is an odd codicil to this story. Wounded as he was, and invalided from the army, Herbert joined the YMCA and sailed for Malta, arriving there on 10 Jan 1918, still in the heat of WW1. The hospitals of Malta tended to the wounded of two major campaigns, the Dardenelles (Gallipoli) from 25 Apr 1915 to 8 Jan 1916, and then the Salonica Campaign, when the Allies gave support to Serbia in its war with Bulgaria, from 5 Oct 1915 to 30 Sep 1918.

As far as the YMCA in Malta is concerned, it is difficult to find any documentation of their activities. However, as early as 1916, a YMCA marquee was erected for the treatment of malaria and dysentery in patients from the Salonica Campaign, in the grounds of St Pauls Camp, Hutment Hospital.

The local branch of the YMCA was not started until 1974, but it has this to say about the history of the YMCA in Malta:
Although it is known that the YMCA in Malta existed during the time that Malta was a British colony, this YMCA activity stopped when Malta became independent in 1964. It is assumed that this YMCA activity was an extension of the British YMCA specifically geared to serve the military forces then stationed in Malta.

So perhaps Herbert served at St Pauls, helping wounded servicemen and even sick medical personnel to recover, since there seems to be no other documentation on the role of the YMCA in Malta during WW1. What we do know is that Mr Herbert J Tearle, of the YMCA, received the British Medal for his work. He now has two British Medals: one for Pte Herbert J Tearle, and one for Mr Herbert J Tearle, and here is the documentation for the second medal:

Herbert J Tearle YMCA WW1, British Medal, Malta, 1918.

Herbert J Tearle YMCA WW1, British Medal, Malta, 1918.

Note:

At the time of writing the above article, I had no further information on Herbert John, but recently (2017) Hazel King has sent me the text of a family history for this branch of the Tearles, beginning with Jabez Tearle 1841, of Hockliffe, Bedfordshire. Hazel’s story is here:

21Mar/15

Staples Inn

Staples Inn is not so much an institution as an experience. It used to be one of the Chancery Inns that legal students signed up to and then moved on to Gray’s Inn. These days the buildings are full of (mostly) legal chambers, but they do not appear to have a teaching motive, as Gray’s Inn does. Dickens had a very soft spot for Staples Inn and you can see why in the pictures on this page. If you leave Holborn and go up to High Holborn, you’ll see an archway under the big black and white Tudor building on the intersection of Grays Inn Rd and High Holborn. You will walk into the cool, dappled light of the courtyard right. You can read the signs over the doorways and discover that when they rebuilt the buildings after a bomb destroyed them in the Blitz, they used as many timbers from the original buildings as they could find. There is an archway in the building on the other side of the square and you then walk into the beautiful garden immediately below with its lovely fountain.

Staple’s Inn courtyard

Staple’s Inn courtyard

Dickens described Staples Inn as a ‘little nook composed of two irregular quadrangles’ in Edwin Drood. You have to agree with him. It’s not public land like a park, but there are no restrictions except you can be removed by the servants if you make noise or enter with a dog….

Staple's inn

Staple’s inn

Dickens: “It is one of those nooks the turning into which out of the clashing street, imparts to the relieved pedestrian the sensation of having put cotton in his ears, and velvet soles on his boots. “ I couldn’t agree more, the atmosphere is still exactly as Dickens described it.

Dickens further says, “Moreover, it is one of those nooks which are legal nooks; and it contains a little Hall (below) with a little lantern in its roof: to what obstructive purposes devoted, and at whose expense, this history knoweth not.”

The Hall, Staple’s Inn

The Hall, Staple’s Inn

The clock, dated 1757, is accurate. You won’t be late back to work. You can just see this clock on the Hall, by the windows above the door.

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21Mar/15

St Paul’s Cathedral

One thing about St Pauls that always takes your breath away is just how magnificent it is. It’s not just huge, it’s not just majestic and it’s not just tall, St Pauls is a monument on the grandest scale; one man’s vision of how God himself should be housed. We have this world landmark  building within 10min walk of us and it has always inspired. It was once a huge, square Norman church with a tall crossing tower, that glowered over London but the flames of the Great Fire of 1666 were so hot the lead from its roof ran molten down the streets and the church was destroyed. From such destruction came the inspiration to build in a way that would awe even the Romans. The view in the photo on the right is from Canon St across St Pauls Gardens.

When Sir Christopher Wren was given the sole charter to rebuild the churches of London City, he also submitted a plan to redesign the streets in the grand manner of the piazzas of the great cities of Italy. However, local laws and landowners rights overruled him and he had to stay within the existing street patterns. What a difference he would have made to London if he had been allowed! In the event he fudged his plans for St Pauls and made the church much bigger than he had permission for.

St Paul’s Cathedral from Canon St

St Paul’s Cathedral from Canon St

Below is Cardinal Cap Alley on the Bankside end of the Millennium Bridge. Sir Christopher Wren lived in this little white block cottage and often stood in the alley to survey his beautiful, growing creation.

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St Pauls is more than just a building; it is an inspiration on the grandest scale. There are always people sitting, meeting and chatting on its steps. Visitors to London who come to see it are often moved to express themselves and their cultures in the amphitheatre created by its steps and the magnificent background of its columns. This busload of students could not contain themselves and in sheer exuberance leapt from their coach and danced in the sunlight on its steps.

On the steps of St Paul’s

On the steps of St Paul’s

21Mar/15

Sir William Walworth

This chap was Sir William Walworth. He was lord mayor of London in the late 1300s, during the reign of Richard II. Washington Irving said of him: “That doughty champion, William Walworth, knight, who so manfully clove down the sturdy wight, Wat Tyler, in Smithfield; a hero worthy of honourable blazon, as almost the only Lord Mayor on record famous for deeds of arms:- the sovereigns of Cockney being generally renowned as the most pacific of all potentates.” You will remember Wat Tyler from your high school history as the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt, a group protesting a Medieval poll tax. In those days, protest was regarded as treason and therefore a capital offence. The group fought its way into London to see the king, who offered to meet them in Smithfield.

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After Wat Tyler had given his demands to the king, Sir William mortally wounded him, and then later dragged him from his death bed in St Bartholomew’s Hospital and beheaded him. “Thus ending his miserable life,” said the chronicler. Tyler was, after all, only a peasant. The king gave everyone in the protest a pardon and let them disperse, even escorting the Kentish contingent over London Bridge to ensure safe passage. He then send “messengers” all over England to hunt for and summarily execute all the peasants who were in the revolt in London that day. Walworth was awarded a knighthood and a pension and it is his dagger which is in the left-hand corner of St George’s cross, which is the emblem for London City.  Dick Whittington was Lord Mayor very soon afterwards.

This beautiful and elegant Victorian bridge (below) over Farringdon St is Holborn Viaduct. Sir William’s statue stands on the first floor (see below) of the stone building above the stairs.

Holborn Viaduct from Farringdon Rd

Holborn Viaduct from Farringdon Rd

Sir William was a member, as was his father, of the Fishmongers Guild, from which he rose to be alderman and then mayor. He was buried in St Michaels Church, Crooked Lane, which was destroyed by the Great Fire. The replacement Wren church was demolished in 1831 to make way for King William St, which takes you from London Bridge up onto Cheapside. I have asked all the churches in the area and no-one knows where he lies now, nor where his memorial is.

This is Walworth House, and there are three identical buildings on Holborn Viaduct sitting as guardians of the stairs down to Farringdon Rd.

Walworth House, Holborn Viaduct

Walworth House, Holborn Viaduct

21Mar/15

The Great Fire

I’m sure you know more about the Great Fire of London in 1666 than I do. It’s as much folk lore as it is fact, so I thought I’d have a look at the fire from street level.

This fellow (below) the Golden Boy of Pye Corner, is a quirky sign of how the fire was viewed in its day. Because the fire started in Pudding Lane, and ended at Pye Corner, some blamed it on gluttony and the fire was therefore seen as a message from God himself that Londoners should mend their ways and not be so greedy. This chubby little statue in Giltspur St, leading to Smithfield Garden, is a reminder of that message.

King Charles II himself is credited with rallying the population and organising the defence of London against the flames; because he was one of the few men in London with enough influence to affect a result, and he was the one who acted.

The Golden Boy of Pyes Corner

The Golden Boy of Pyes Corner

It is possible that the fire more or less killed off the Plague. Probably this was caused by the flames destroying the infrastructure that the fleas which spread the Plague lived in – straw, debris, rats and the food the rats lived on.

This picture is in St Brides Fleet St. It clearly shows how St Pauls dominated London in the early 17th Century. St Pauls was completely destroyed as the lead from its roof ran molten in the streets. You can also see the distinctive spire of St Mary le Bow as it was before the fire.

Drawing of London found in St Bride’s, Fleet St

Drawing of London found in St Bride’s, Fleet St

The Samuel Pepys Exhibition building, below, in Fleet St, opposite Chancery Lane, marks the westernmost extent of the fire. Everything to the left was destroyed; this lovely building remains. They say no-one was killed, because the flames moved quite slowly, but it’s likely that peasants, serfs and villeins didn’t count. If you stand in the middle of the road in front of this building (not for long!) you can see St Pauls on Ludgate Hill to the east. It’s not very far from there to here, so you can see that 17th Century London was not a very big place, but you can also see from the cramped buildings, tiny lanes and narrow footpaths that it was a very compact city, dominated by foot traffic. Immediately after the fire, thatched houses were prohibited. The Globe Theatre in Bankside, built in the 1990s, was the first new thatched building in London since 1666.

Samuel Pepys Exhibition building, Fleet St

Samuel Pepys Exhibition building, Fleet St

21Mar/15

The Norwegians

The Norwegians arrived in Britain some time after the Saxons (who were invading as the Romans left) but they had a roughly similar language, which was probably the same Germanic language in the distant past. Along with the Danes and the Swedes, they were together called the Vikings and they arrived in England in large numbers after 800AD, setting up almost their own country, called the Danelaw, which was dismantled by William the Conqueror after his invasion of 1066. Viking history and its deep and lasting influence in England is worthy of study; the Danelaw, for instance was all that area east of Watling Street (the A5) from north of London, so Yorkshire, Lancashire, the Lake District and Lincolnshire, as well as Scotland, owe much of their local accent and dialect to the Vikings, while father, blackmail, egg, knife, crooked, window and ill, are some of the words we still use from the Old Norse. Look up your Oxford English Dictionary for more.

In Holborn you can easily walk to see evidence of the Vikings because if you cross London Bridge, descend Nancy’s Steps and then go to your left under the bridge, you will see St Olaf’s House and a sign on the ground for St Olaf’s churchyard. In an unsuccessful attempt to capture London, King Olaf invaded from the Thames and pulled down London Bridge in 1009. This is believed to be the inspiration for the children’s rhyme “London Bridge is falling down.” Mind you, it was a wooden bridge so it was subject to fire and flood anyway and had been rebuilt several times before.

Which brings us rather circuitously to the picture of the Christmas tree below. Every 7 Dec, a representative of the Norwegian government (last year it was the Crown Princess of Norway) turns on the lights for the Norwegian Christmas Tree in Trafalgar Square. The tree is presented to the Mayor of Westminster in a ceremony beginning at 1745hr.

Photo Jern Tomter

Photo Jern Tomter

Last year was the 60th time this ceremony had been performed.

When the Germans invaded Norway during WW2, King Haakon VII escaped to Britain and set up a government in exile. This tree is presented each year in thanks for the assistance Britain gave to that government, and to the people of Norway. The tree itself is always a Norwegian spruce from near Oslo and is usually about 60ft tall and 60years old. It is felled in a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Westminster in Oslo during November and brought to London by ship free of charge. It is lowered into a hole 4ft deep, secured with a dozen wooden wedges and lit with only white lights, for snow.  Members of the choir from nearby St Martin-in-the-fields will sing carols around the tree every night until Christmas, and there will be a collection for selected charities as well. Those of us who went in the coach to the Accenture Christmas function last year will remember driving past the tree as it stood, scattered with its little white lights, in Trafalgar Square.

If you go to St Mary le Bow you will see there a bronze relief of St George slaying the dragon, which was a gift to the church in memory of the stirring sound of the Bow Bells, giving hope to many parts of the world, as they were played for each broadcast of the BBC World Service. Interestingly for an impartial news service, included in the broadcasts were coded messages to the Norwegian resistance.

Bronze relief of St George slaying the dragon

Bronze relief of St George slaying the dragon