Tag Archives: UK

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.

02May/16

Edward George Tearle 1896, Hemel Hempstead, UK (Labour Corps)

It is not very often, in the 20th Century, that a man and his son go to the same war, but for Edward Joseph Tearle 1874 of Watford, and his son, Edward George Tearle 1898, that is exactly what happened. I shall start with the entry in National Roll of the Great War:

Tearle Edward George National Roll

Edward George is a little bit lucky. The phrasing of the middle sentence exaggerates his importance a little bit, and “frequently in forward areas” means he was not very often in the line of fire. It is true, though, that Labour Corps men were used for replacement battalions, and often Labour Corps units were kept within the range of artillery for long periods. So we are not to downplay the danger, nor the effect that artillery, and the stench of death and disease would have on a twenty-year old fresh from the rural quietness of early Hemel Hempstead.

In the 1911 census he is living with his family in Watford, and although at 13 years old is still at school, he has an after-school job as an errand boy. At the outbreak of war, he was only 16 years old, so he would not be eligible to go to war until he was at least 18 years old. When he did so, his occupation was Cocoa Presser, he was 5feet 11in tall (which was tall for those times) and 20years 4months old, with a scar on his left knee; and he did not want to go into the navy. He enlisted on 2 March 1916, and he was called up on 19 June 1918. The war still had five months to rage, and a lot of men died in that time. On Armistice Day alone 11,000 soldiers perished, more than were killed on D-Day in WW2.

When he was eventually called up, the medics pronounced him fit for training, in spite of “an old fracture of the right elbow. Very deficient action of right forearm.” He was posted to the BEF (France) and moved three times to different Labour Corps groups. It is not possible to say where he was or what he was doing at any time, but on 18 Oct 1919, he signed a form to say “I do not claim to be suffering from a disability due to my military service.” And that is the end of Edward’s military experience. Here is the sheet that tells you where and when he went; to me it is completely obscure:

Edward George 643043 WW1 army service record p8

Edward George 643043 WW1 army service record p8

In 1921, he married Nellie Elizabeth Boultwood in Watford and there would appear to be only one child from this marriage; Donald Edward Tearle 1922, born in Watford.

Edward George died in Watford in 1948 aged only 50. I think we will always wonder if the war was even partly responsible for this. Here is the notice of the probate of his will:

Edward George Tearle National Probate 1948

Edward George Tearle, National Probate 1948

Edward’s ancestry information are the same as for his father, Edward Joseph Tearle 1874 of Watford.

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.

03Apr/16

Joseph Tearle 1878, Preston (4/Loyal Nth Lancs)

The Preston Tearles are all descended from one marriage in Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, between Joseph Tearle 1803 and Mary Ann nee Smith. They had (amongst many children) a son called Joseph, born in 1838, who married Sophia Kibble in Preston, Lancs, in 1858. Other members of the family drifted up to Preston on the Euston-Dunstable-Preston railway line and became part of the Lancashire business culture that Joseph had joined. Unsurprisingly, the parents of Joseph 1803 were Richard 1778 and Mary nee Pestel, and Richard’s parents were Joseph 1737 of Stanbridge, and Phoebe nee Capp.

Now, the son of Joseph 1838 (of interest to us militarily) was Joseph 1878, who had married Rachel Elizabeth Parker in 1900, in Preston. In the 1901 census, they were living in the house of Rachel’s parents and Joseph was working as a drysalter – basically, as a chemist. You would have thought that a man with three children in 1911, and 34yrs old in 1914, would be safe from the recruiters, working busily to send men to WW1. Not so for Joseph. I have precious little documentation, but his medals card speaks volumes:

Joseph 4029 WW1 army medal rolls

Joseph Tearle 4029 WW1 army medal rolls.

Firstly, on 31 June 1915 he joined the 4th Battalion, Loyal North Lancashire Regiment and was given the number 4029 and the rank of private. His discharge date is odd – in the middle of 1916, fully two years before the armistice of 11 Nov 1918. In the next column is the reason for his early release – he was given a Para 392 discharge. Paragraph 392 of the King’s Regulations refers to a medical or physical condition (eg wounds) so serious that he “is not fit enough to be an efficient soldier.” I cannot find the Chelsea records that would document the process of this decision, but I do have the document that grants him the Silver War Badge. This badge would allow him to go home and wear it on his civilian clothes to indicate that he did everything he could to go to war, that he had caught a dreadful sickness caused by active service, and to the highest standards of the British army, he was in no condition to fight.

Here is his record in the awarding of the Silver War Badge, as well as the document itself:

WW1 Silver War Badge
Name:    Joseph Tearle
Discharge Unit:    4th L.N. Lancs.
Regiment Number:    4023
Rank:    Pte.
Badge Number:    117528
Unit:    Infantry (Preston)
Piece:    3085
List Number:    TH 0401-0800
Record Group:    WO
Record Class:    329

Joseph Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Joseph Tearle 4023, WW1 Silver War Badge.

The hand-written numbers in the central column are the serial numbers of the badges awarded to each soldier. You can see that he was given a Para 392 discharge, and that he had not fought overseas.

02Apr/16

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle 1912, Edmonton, Essex, UK (RN)

Charles EW & son Charles FS

Charles E W & son Charles F S Tearle

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle 1912, of Edmonton, Essex was the son of Charles Ernest Walter Tearle 1863, of Southwark, London, who fought with the Norfolk Regiment in WW1 and was awarded the Silver War Badge because of the severity of a sickness he caught on active duty. If you look up the reference above you will be able to see the ancestry details of Charles 1912, who is on the branch of Joseph 1737.

In the photograph the two men, Charles E W on the left and Charles 1912, are having a lark with the photographer (Mrs Tearle?) As you can see Charles Jnr is in full navy uniform. Here is the record of Charles 1912 from CWGC:

Name: TEARLE, CHARLES FRANCIS STEWART
Initials: C F S    Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Able Seaman    Regiment/Service: Royal Navy
Unit Text: H.M.S. Culver
Date of Death: 31/01/1942    Service No: P/JX 235706
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: Panel 65, Column 1.
Memorial: PORTSMOUTH NAVAL MEMORIAL

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle

Charles Francis Stewart Tearle

The Royal Navy archives note that the Culver was American-made:
Type: Sloop
Class: Banff
Pennant: Y 87
Built by: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. (Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.A.)
Laid down: 20 Jun, 1928    Launched: 27 Nov, 1928
Commissioned: 30 Apr, 1941
Lost: 31 Jan, 1942

A short history of the ship noted the following:
Former name: USCG Mendota (It was originally built for the US Coast Guard, and you would wonder if a 1928 ship was going to cut it in a 1940s conflict.)
History: At 23.31 hours on 31 January 1942, U-125 fired a salvo of four torpedoes at the convoy SL-98 and observed two hits and a large explosion. Schuch thought that he had hit an ammunition freighter, but in fact it was HMS Culver (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Gordon-Duff, RN) that had blown up in position 48.43N, 20.14W with the loss of the commanding officer, seven officers and 118 ratings.
Hit by U-boat. Sunk on 31 Jan, 1942 by U-105 (Schuch).

Charles FS (behind) HMS Culver

Charles F S Tearle (behind) on board the HMS Culver.

In the Royal Navy, ship’s companies seldom wore life-jackets, although they were carried aboard all vessels. Since the ship was observed to have blown up in a huge explosion, it was likely that few would have survived the first seconds of the incident, and those who did would probably not have access to a life-jacket in the short time it took for the Culver to sink.

You can see above that Charles’ permanent memorial (and the only one I know of) is his name on the Southsea Naval Memorial in Portsmouth. The Portsmouth memorial looks identical to the Plymouth memorial. Here is the obelisk:

Southsea Naval Memorial

Here is Charles’ name on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial on Southsea Common on Panel 65, Column 1, just where CWGC said it was.

Charles F S Tearle Portsmouth Naval Memorial

A Hertfordshire archive gave me a little more information on the ship:

HMS Culver was a Sloop of the Banff type, built by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. (Quincy, Massachusetts, U.S.A.). She was launched on 27 November 1928. At 23.31 hours on 31 January 1942, U-105 fired a salvo of four torpedoes at the Sierra Leone convoy SL-93, west of the Bay of Biscay, and observed two hits and a large explosion. Although the U-boat thought that they had hit an ammunition freighter, they had in fact hit HMS Culver (Y 87) (Lt.Cdr. R.T. Gordon-Duff, R.N.) that blew up with the loss of the commanding officer, seven officers and 118 ratings. There were only 13 survivors.

A history of the US Coast Guard gave me some information on the Mendota:

Mendota, 1929 (later – HMS Culver, Y-87)
The cutter Mendota was named for the largest of the “Four Lakes” near Madison, Wisconsin.

Builder: Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, Quincy, MA
Launched: 27 November 1928
Commissioned: 23 March 1929
Displacement: 2,075 tons
Dimensions: 250′ oa (236′ bp) x 42′ x 12′ 11″ draft (mean)
Machinery 1 turbine-driven electric motor (General Electric), 2 boilers, 3,350 shp, 14.8 knots (cruising), 17.5 knots max
Propellers: single, 4 blades
Complement: 97 (1940)
Armament: 1 x  5″/51; 1 x 3″/50; 2 x 6-pdrs (1929)
Cost: $900,000 each (hull & machinery)

“LAKE”-CLASS DESIGN

The 250-foot class cutters were designed by the Coast Guard and were, in many respects, modernized 240-footers.  Captain Q.B. Newman, USCG, designed its innovative turbine-electric-drive power plant, which developed an amazing 3,350 shp.  These were the first to have alternating current, and a synchronous motor for propulsion.  The whole ship ran off the main turbine.  The auxiliary generators were tied into the main generator electrically, after sufficient speed was attained.  At that point, no steam was required to drive the turbines on the auxiliary generators.  The propulsion plant achieved remarkable efficiency.  The counter stern and plumb bow of the older class had given way to the flared stem and cruiser stern.  These features were an attempt to improve sea qualities over the 240-foot class, particularly to eliminate the heavy shocks common in the North Atlantic Ice Patrol.

Initially this class was made up of ten cutters, all of which were transferred to Great Britain under Lend-Lease in 1941.  They were to be replaced in the USCG inventory by the 255-foot Owasco-class vessels, laid down in 1943. Three vessels were lost while in British service, one was not returned, and the remainder turned back to the Coast Guard in 1946.

A 250-feet long ship is quite a sight, and in 1928, the Mendota would have been a modern and sizeable fighting vessel. As we can see above, she was used for patrolling convoys that carried goods to and from India, Africa and the US during WW2. It was simply desperate bad luck that the Culver was struck by a torpedo while on convoy duty. Of the ten cutters hired to the Royal Navy only three were lost, and sadly for us, the HMS Culver was one of them, and we lost Charles Francis Stewart Tearle along with her.

All the photographs in this story are thanks to the generosity of Paul Ailey, and my sincere thanks to him are recorded here.

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.

29Mar/16

Edward Joseph Tearle 1874, Watford (Royal Engineers)

Let’s start with Edward’s entry in “National Roll of the Great War” because although the paragraph below was written at the end of his service, it will help us introduce him – not least because he is now on my list of men who fought in Gallipoli. And so far, none have come out unscathed.
Tearle, E J (Rgt No: 101941)

Tearle Edward Joseph RE National Roll

You can see from “National Roll” that Edward’s WW1 experience was definitely in two halves. He was wounded in Gallipoli, recovered, went to Egypt, and then he was sent to Europe where he was kept out of the firing line, but was still working. There is one document that spells this out:

Edward Joseph Tearle 101941 WW1 army service record p4

Edward Joseph Tearle 101941 WW1 army service record p4

This is the document from Chelsea that tells us most about Edward’s career. You can see that he joins the Royal Engineers on 1 June 1915, but in only a month’s time, he is in the MEF, the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, and off to war somewhere in the Middle East – or so. One month’s training? I found the reason – Edward had already been involved with the 2nd Volunteer Battalion, Hertfordshire Regiment. It is commendable that he joins the war effort so soon after war is declared but another thing you may have calculated by the title of this story, was that he was 40yrs old at the time.  He said he was a stone mason, so he was signed up for the Royal Engineers.

After a short but memorable stint in the MEF, Edward was sent to Europe with the BEF (the British Expeditionary Force) and it would appear he was kept well out of trouble, but obviously still able to work. He accumulated a total of 3yrs 363 days of overseas service and left Europe in early 1919, to spend a few months being assessed, and then being discharged on a Para 392 “Not fit enough to be a soldier”. As you can see from the document below, it was due to sickness.

Edward Joseph Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Edward Joseph Tearle WW1 Silver War Badge

Edward J Tearle 101941 WW1 Army medal roll

Edward J Tearle 101941 WW1 Army medals award card.

We can speculate all we like in the absence of documented evidence, but there is a range of very nasty diseases you can get from fighting in Gallipoli or Egypt; and Edward could have caught his, as Arthur Walter Tearle did, from hospital. Without the documents above, we would never have found out about Edward’s Silver War Badge, because below that is the card that recorded his service medals.

He did not get the 14/15 Star because he was not overseas in 1914, but you can see he has been awarded the 1915 Star, the British and the Victory medals. I assume the date of 21 July 1915 (and not 1 July 1915, which was his MEF starting date) being recorded as his entry into the Egypt Theatre of War, is the date his ship anchored at Suvla Bay, in preparation for the landing in Gallipoli on 6 August.

Edward left the army and went back to civilian life on 29 June 1919. Twenty years earlier, he had married a Hemel Hempstead girl (who lived barely 10 miles away) by the name of Jane Picton, in 1897, and his eldest son, Edward George, was born in 1898. In 1914, he was 16yrs old. On 22 June 1918, at a little over 20yrs old, he joined the Labour Corps and went to war, too. His war was short, of course, but he did go to France.

Edward’s sickness never left him. He died on 23 June 1933, at 60 Vicarage Rd, Watford, only 59yrs old. His entry in the London probate register is pretty grim, and probably reflects the debilitating condition that the war had given him.

Edward Joseph Tearle Watford probate 1933

Edward Joseph Tearle Watford probate 1933

When Elaine and I visited the Vicarage Road Cemetery in Watford, we found a corner that had so many Tearle graves and headstones, we called it Tearle Corner. Edward’s second son, George, was there, as were both he and Jane. The grave reference is K-953.

Tearle Corner headstone K953 George 1902-1931 Edward Joseph T 1874-1933 and Jane nee Picton Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

Tearle Corner headstone K-953. George 1902-1931, Edward Joseph Tearle 1874-1933 and Jane nee Picton. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

The ancestry information on Edward that you need to know is as follows: his parents were Jabez Tearle 1844 and Susannah nee Payne, his grandparents were George 1818 and Annie nee Haws, the grandparents of many Watford (and Australian) families today, and George was the son of Abel 1797 and Hannah nee Frost. Abel, of course, was the son of Fanny Tearle (who became Fanny Johnson) who was a daughter of Thomas 1737 and Susannah nee Attwell.