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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.


























All photos and documents on this page courtesy Tasmanian State Library and remain copyrighted to them.

The story of the Tasmanians starts for me with an email from Richard in March this year, 2007. He had found some Tearle headstones in a graveyard, on the Tasmanian State Library website.

“There are 5 pictures, but 4 are of the same stone and appear to be of:

  • Minnie Maud
  • Arthur W Floyd
  • Henry
  • Katherine
  • William d1919

But one of the pictures states also the grave of Lucy Ethel – though my poor eyes cannot see that!

The other stone is of Ernest, but pretty useless information wise…”

When I tried the site, and entered Tearle into the Search, I found the headstones, too. They were in the Lefroy General Cemetery, just outside Launceston. Rosemary deepened the mystery when she found a William Tearle who died in 1919 in Opotiki, NZ.

Here are the headstones that started it all – Henry and Katherine and their family

Henry and Katherine Tearle

Henry and Katherine Tearle

…and Ernest Tearle. But who were they, and what was their story?

Ernest Tearle

Ernest Tearle

I sent Aus $20 to Marie Gatenby, the researcher at the State Library, and she sent me some surprising information, and some pictures and documents she said I could reproduce here.

Firstly, there was a picture of the small bronze plaque attached to the base of the headstone above, in memory of Lucy Ethel.

Lucy Ethel Tearle

Marie wasn’t able to reproduce for me the headstone on Ernest’s grave because she said it wasn’t able to be photographed. However the inscription said:

“In Loving Memory of


Died 29th August 1956

Aged 75 Years.”

Then we took out the photo of the main headstone and we read what was written there.

Minnie Maud and Arthur W Floyd, Henry Tearle, William Tearle

So we now had the following family:

  • Parents; Henry Tearle 1846-1905 and Katherine 1847-1942
  • Minnie Maud 1874-1901 m Arthur W Floyd
  • Ernest 1881-1956
  • William 1884-1919
  • Lucy Ethel 1887-1983

But we needed more….

The envelope from Launceston had a little more valuable information:

The death notice in the local paper said Charles Ernest, son of Henry and Catherine, was the brother of Lucy Tearle of Lefroy.

A Digger notice in the Tasmanian Federation Index said Florence Annie married Josiah Freer in the Methodist Chapel in Launceston in 1911.

And finally, we see that Lucy Ethel was the sister of Minnie Floyd, Fred, Florence, Ernest and William

Our family is better sketched now:

  • Henry Tearle 1874-1901 m Katherine Birkham 1847-1942
  • Minnie Maud 1874-1901 m Arthur W Floyd
  • Frederic Henry 1876
  • Florence Annie m Josiah Freer
  • William George 1884-1919
  • Charles Ernest 1881-1956
  • Lucy Ethel 1887-1983.



Joan Perkins of South Australia added to the increasing knowledge:

“I discovered a Charles Tearle married an Ellen Charlotte Mary Rae (Ray) in Victoria in 1876. Just out of curiosity I checked for births between 1876 and 1884 this week (on microfiche). I found a William George born 1884 to Henry Tearle and Kate Birkham. How’s that? Henry and Kate also had Frederick Henry born 1876, Florence Annie born 1879, Charles Ernest born 1881. So far I do not have a marriage date for Henry and Kate. I also found George Errnest born 1882 to Charles and Ellen (Rose?). Charles and Ellen Rae also had Jessie Anna born 1884. They must also have had a daughter Charlotte as I have the death of a Lottie Tearle aged 25 in 1916 at a place called Fryerstown. I don’t know where that is. I have the death of Ellen Tearle aged 63 in Fitzroy North in 1919.”

We turned our attention to the story of William George 1884.

As far back as Dec 2005, Rosemary had become interested in the story of William George Tearle, who died in Opotiki, NZ in 1919. She wrote to us:

“A few weeks ago I found an entry in the NZ government archives for a William George Tearle, probate file 1920. I sent off for the information and found that:

“A few weeks ago I found an entry in the NZ government archives for a William George Tearle, probate file 1920. I sent off for the information and found that:

William George Tearle, a bushman, died 9 November 1919 at Opotiki, leaving behind a savings account in the NZ Post Office of 221 pounds, 7 shillings and 10 pence; and a horse and motor car to the value of 53 pounds.

I then sent for a print-out of his death certificate. It reads:

Name: William George Tearle

Occupation: Bush Feller

Age: 35 years.

Cause of death: Intestinal obstruction and post operative shock.

Name & Surname of Father, Maiden Surname of Mother, Occupation of Father: Not Known

Where born: Unknown

How long in NZ: 16 years

The marriage information box is empty. William was buried at Opotiki by a Church of England Minister, Thomas Fisher.

For those who don’t know NZ – Opotiki is a lovely spot in the Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island. Bushman/feller – this was a hard task as NZ “bush” is really a rain forest. William must have been a hard working young man.”

There was no question in my mind that Rosemary’s William George and the William on the Lefroy headstone and the William George found in Joan Perkin’s research above were the same man. Then new information came to hand that proved it conclusively.

At this stage Richard met Mia Saunders of Whakatane, NZ, who volunteered to go to Opotiki and look up William’s details for us. What she found was a goldmine. She has sent us a copy of the page in the location book of the cemetery and using this she has located the site of William’s unmarked grave. She has also sent us the page of the cemetery register that shows William being buried. All of this was deeply moving for us, and a wonderful gesture from her.

Given the date and place of William’s burial, we had identified him at last.

Entry for William in the Register of Burials, Opotiki, NZ 9 Nov 1919. Photo courtesy Mia Saunders.

Entry for William in the Register of Burials, Opotiki, NZ 9 Nov 1919.
Photo courtesy Mia Saunders.

Cemetery map for Opotiki Cemetary

Cemetery map for Opotiki Cemetary

location of William’s unmarked grave, in the triangle of grass nearest the camera, with a general view beyond.

location of William’s unmarked grave, in the triangle of grass nearest the camera, with a general view beyond.

have no further information on Frederick, but it looks as though he has left Tasmania and we may find his story on the mainland. We now know that all of the other Launceston Tearles have died. I met a lady in a cafe in Madrid and she said she was from Tasmania; Launceston, in fact. She knew the Lefroy cemetery and would have a look to see if there were any Tearles in Tasmania. I very much doubt now that she will find any. There may be Freer grandchildren in Tasmania and it would be interesting to know if they are aware of their Tearle connections.

In the meantime, Rosemary was working on another two passions of hers – the Kent Tearles, and the children of Richard 1754 of Stanbridge who came to Sandridge, near St Albans, married Mary Webb and started having children from 1778. One of their sons was Joseph 1788 and he married Mary Cook in St Peter, St Albans (which could have been St Leonard’s Church, Sandridge) and died in Sundridge, Kent in 1870. Through her research on Joseph, she was able to provide the link from the main Tree to Henry and Katherine nee Birkham. Here is Joseph’s story as told in the Sundridge censuses:

1841 Joseph 1791 (not born in Kent) Mary 50 Ann 30 Joseph 20 Charles 15 Henry 15 Mary 15 in Sundridge Kent

In 1851 only Joseph, Mary and Mary the dau are still together, and still in Sundridge:

1851 = Joseph 1788 (of St Albans) Mary 63 Mary 24 in Kent

And in 1861 poor Joseph is in the workhouse, still in Sundridge, Kent:

1861 = Joseph 1788 (of St Albans) pauper in Sundridge

In Sundridge Church there is the following inscription on a headstone near the tower:

“Mary, wife of Joseph TEARLE died February 17 1855 aged 67 years. The above Joseph Tearle died March 10 1870 aged 82 years.”

We followed the story of young Joseph born 1820 and Henry 1826, but Charles 1826 had a different story. Rosemary found this:

“Marriage in Parish Church, Sevenoaks, Kent

1846 10 May, Charles Tearle, of full age, Bachelor, Labourer, Sevenoaks Town, father Joseph Tearle, Gardener

Susan Oliver, of full age, Spinster, no profession, Sevenoaks Town, father James Oliver (Deceased) Labourer

Both signed, Witnesses Joseph Tearle and Mary Ann Wright or Loright. This Joseph is probably Charles’ elder brother.

Whatever age he is given in various censuses, Charles was actually born in London on 8 Aug 1821, christened 26 Sept Upper Street Independent Islington London,  the son of  Joseph Tearle and Mary Cook.   Charles and Susan had 2 children and with a third older child went to Australia 11 May 1849 on the “Eliza”. An interesting aside: the older child who went to Australia (above) was a Charles, born 4 years before the marriage of Charles and Susan.  I found a birth reg for a Charles Searle Oliver in June 1/4, Marylebone, 1841.”

Rosemary sums it up thus:

“Family that went to Australia on “Eliza” on 11 May 1849 is: Charles 27 Ag Lab, Susan 27 wife, Charles 7 years, Henry 2 years, Anna infant (I think Charles 7 years, may have been the Charles Searle Oliver born Marylebone 1841)

Arrive Port Adelaide 23 Aug 1849

Susan dies 30/8/1852 aged 30 (born 1822)

Joseph dies 13/10/1852 aged 5 months (born May 1852)

Henry marries Kate Birkham circa 1873 or 4.”

And the rest, as they say, is history. A footnote: Apart from the NZ connection with William George, I have another, much closer, connection with the Tasmanian Tearles; I live 15mins walk from St Leonard’s Chruch, Sandridge, where Richard 1754 of Stanbridge and Mary nee Webb married and lived, where Joseph 1788 of St Albans was born and raised, and where this story started.


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

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

Died: 25th August 1918 in Brisbane, Australia

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

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

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

Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil

Aubrey Bruce Cooper Cecil

Cover of the book "Bushveldt Carbineers"

Cover of the book “Bushveldt Carbineers”

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

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

    The King’s South Africa Medal, with clasps

The Queen's South Africa Medal, detail

The Queen’s South Africa Medal, detail

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

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

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

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

Grave in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane

Grave in Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane

Close-up of headstone

Close-up of headstone

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

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

Aubrey's probate order

Aubrey’s probate order, in London, 1931.


Aubrey Cooper Cecil, 1847, Toddington, UK

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

 The Manor House, Toddington, about 1860

The Manor House, Toddington, about 1860

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scottish Prince

The Scottish Prince

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A further news item notes the following:

4th December 1882

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

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

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

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

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

The Cecil home, Brisbane, Australia

The Cecil home, Brisbane, Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

1908 picture courtesy of www.brisbanehistory.com

1908 picture courtesy of www.brisbanehistory.com

Thursday 24 February 1887 from The Argus,


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

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

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


13th July 1889

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


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

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

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


The Brisbane Courier

Friday 9th February 1900

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

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



Tearle Meet 2011, Brisbane

By Ewart Tearle
August 2011
Photographs courtesy Elaine Tearle

Since the Tearle family is a world-wide one, it is always an exciting event when we can arrange for a group of us to meet as a family, and for no other reason than that we are a family and have the desire to see each other. So it’s always nice to receive an invitation to meet others anywhere in the world where Tearles can congregate. Elaine and I received just such an invitation to meet a remarkable and well-knit group at the home of Doug and Deborah Tearle in Brisbane.

Ray Reese had proposed a Meet in Brisbane when he heard that Elaine and I were going there on holiday after a visit to our home town of Hamilton in New Zealand. “Deb is a wonder of organisation and energy,” he said. Deborah had written to us and invited everyone to her place. Each person would bring a plate and, like the story of the loaves and fishes, we would eat as at a feast. I sent her a half a dozen pages of a chart for this family and Deb would add some mementos of her own to the exhibition on her table.

We spent the late afternoon of our first day in Brisbane walking and photographing the central city, and we found a beautiful and well-kept city; compact, confident, wealthy and modern. Glass high-rise buildings jostled for space with much older colonial block buildings, many of which were under repair by a progressive and caring civic community. The city centre was aligned with the river which was followed by aerial highways and criss-crossed by at least a dozen bridges. A university and a huge museum and art gallery give intellectual gravity to a charming coastal city. The remnants of the Exhibition of Australia crowded the opposite shore with a giant ferris wheel and a landing for a water-borne taxi service. A long blue catamaran raced from wharf to wharf in pursuit of customers.

Across the river from downtown Brisbane

Across the river from downtown Brisbane.

Doug picked us up from our hotel in central Brisbane and drove us on a circuitous sightseeing drive through the Brisbane suburbs to Wynnum, because I had never been to Brisbane before and although Elaine had been there twice, she hadn’t been able to see very much of it. He drove past bays and beaches and showed us where the Brisbane Tearles had worked and lived; a modernist bridge arched like a skeletal hill over the river with toll booths lined up like teeth across its approaches.

City skyline and aerial highways

“Look at these houses,” said Elaine. “They are all on stilts, like the ones in tropical jungles.”

“There’s a good reason for that, said Doug. “Actually, several good reasons. Did you know they are called Queenslanders? It’s a domestic architectural form unique to Queensland and caused by the climate. The stilts keep the bulk of the house above ground and that helps to keep bugs and snakes outside, where they belong. The stilts also allow the house to be built on hillsides without having the extra expense of earthworks, and the air and water – it rains quite heavily here from time to time, as you have probably heard – can pass underneath the house, which stays both cooler and drier as a result. The houses here very seldom get washed away. Ours is a Queenslander, you know – verandas, corrugated iron roof and all.”

Brisbane Museum and Art Gallery

“We grew up with the sound of rain drumming on a corrugated iron roof ,” said Elaine. “We can’t hear it in England because we have a tile roof, but I loved it when I was kid.”

A tour of the attendeesFred Tearle and Lyndal greeted us as we pulled into the driveway, and Richard Tearle came out of the house to see us as well. The transom of an aluminium power boat peeked shyly from behind the garage door. The interior of the house was light, airy and pleasantly welcoming. The floor was laid with marble tiles to keep the house cool in the hottest days of summer. Deb saw me admiring the tiles.

“They seemed a good idea at the time,” she said, “and they do keep the house cool in summer. Trouble is, they are a bit hard on your feet and legs if you stand on them all day.” She paused, “And nothing bounces. I’ve got a lot fewer cups and glasses now than I used to have.” She busied herself, with Lyndal’s help, carrying plates and glasses out of the room and off to my left.

I caught Ray as he walked past. “Ray, was anyone we know affected by the floods?”

“None of the Tearles, if that’s what you mean,” he said. “We are all on high ground, but that doesn’t mean Brisbane wasn’t affected.” He disappeared for a moment and returned with a home atlas opened to a map of eastern Australia. As he placed it on the table he said, “The Brisbane River became a dragon. Have you been to see the museum and the Performing Arts Theatre?”

“We stood on the bridge last night and saw it, but it was getting dark so we didn’t cross the bridge,” I said.

“The whole of that side of the river was flooded. There was an artificial beach outside the theatre, near the ferris wheel, and the whole thing has disappeared. Gone, like it was never there. You can see the stone embankment – it looks new because it is new. The entire length of the river was a raging monster.” He waved a finger accusingly in an arc covering a huge area a little to the north and a lot the west of Brisbane. “All of that flooded. Most of the water drained into the Brisbane. The city itself didn’t get flooded, but the effect on the river was enormous.”

“There’s another flood, too, that didn’t get much reporting, but it was several magnitudes bigger.” He drew his finger from Brisbane to the west and a little south. “There’s high ground there, a range of hills, but certainly not mountains, and they pooled water into a huge basin that flowed south all the way to Sydney and then further south into the headwaters of the Murray River. It got little or no press because not very many people live in all that area.”

“It’s almost impossible to imagine flooding on that scale,” I said. “It’s 1000km to Sydney and another 500 or so to Melbourne.”

Deb waved us into a large room down a couple of stairs where a table set with flowers, bowls of fruit and plates of snacks was the centrepiece in a circle of comfortable chairs lined against all the walls in the room. Aluminium screens built over glassless windows let in lots of light and cool air, but were impervious to outside people getting in. A safe, cool ,comfortable, family-oriented room. Above one of these screens was a framed award to Commodore Doug Tearle. As I was reading it intently, he said, “It was a retirement gesture by my work colleagues. They promoted me to Commodore of the Boat Club because I have a 14ft aluminium runabout.”
Doug’s award

Doug’s award

For me, the story of the Meet was all about Richard and Fred. Richard had flown from Bangkok to Melbourne and then he had flown another 6 hours from Melbourne to Brisbane, just to be at the Meet. Fred and Lyndal had driven all the way from Sydney to Brisbane “We haven’t seen each other for the best part of twenty years,” said Richard. “And I’m not sure when I saw Doug last.”

Richard and Fred Tearle catch up

Richard and Fred Tearle catch up

The chart I had sent Deborah had started with George Tearle who was born in 1851 in Hockliffe, not far from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire. He had married Louisa Finch in her home village of Houghton Regis, just north of Dunstable in 1877. One of their sons, born 1884 in Tebworth, was James Henry Tearle who married Edith Lydia Morgan in the lovely old Parish Church of Dunstable. Their son Frederick William Henry Tearle was born in Dunstable in 1906 and on 11 May 1912, they took the ship Shropshire from Liverpool to Australia.

In spite of now being an Australian, James still volunteered for service in the Australian Army in July 1915, to fight in Europe in WW1, perhaps because of his 8 years in the militia reserve in Dunstable, which he had joined in 1903. He was enlisted in the TCC 3rd ANZAC Battalion, 13th Company. He was tiny, just 5’ 2”, with “3 bad teeth and two missing.” Harry Leslie Vernon Tearle was born in South Fitzroy, Victoria, in 1916, and Edith Ella Irene Tearle in 1919. Since this is near Melbourne, I assume the good ship Shropshire called in there on its way to Sydney.

I have no record of how or why he moved to Brisbane, but he died here in 1969. Harry 1916 married Elsa Vera Gourley in Brisbane (I’m afraid I don’t know when) and they had eight children. William married Patricia Bridget Cotter in 1941 and to the best of my knowledge they had two sons. Harry also enlisted for the militia in 1935, in the First Corps of Signalers, the cable section, where he became a corporal in 1936 shortly before he was discharged. I have one last picture of this family: the 1937 Brisbane Electoral Roll, which shows James Henry and Edith with their sons Harry Leslie Vernon and Frederick William Henry all living in a house on the corner of Fagan Rd and Butterfield Rd.

As far as I knew, all the members present at the Meet today would be the descendants of Harry Leslie Vernon Tearle and Elsie, and possibly Frederick William and Bridget, so I checked the chart to see who to look out for:

Helen, James, Kevin, Richard, David, Frederick, Douglas and Denice from Harry & Elsa

and perhaps Edward and Michael from Frederick William & Bridget.

I had met four already from Harry’s family:

Our hosts Doug and Deborah

Ray and Denice Reese

Ray and Denice Reese

..and here is the fifth, David, with Fred

Deborah had organised everyone to bring a plate of their own favourite food, and in the spirit of the generous Australians that they most certainly are, I think everyone had brought at least two dishes. In the end lunch was both delicious and bountiful. For a community that had only just overcome the worst of the most terrible flooding one could possibly imagine, this wonderful family had hearts as big as their continent.

Diane and David Tearle

As soon as lunch was over I gave the Meet a short introduction to the story of the Tearle family, from their roots in Tearle Valley in rural Bedfordshire to our present spread through most countries on Earth. Here, I am showing the group around Tearle Valley and Tearle Country. Watching are Helen, Ron, Liz & James and Teresa.

Ewart’s address

Ewart’s address

A tour of the attendees

Sparklers on the cake - Doug, Ethan and Corey, James & Liz, Helen, Honorah.

Sparklers on the cake – Doug, Ethan and Corey, James & Liz, Helen, Honorah.

Diane (and everyone else) congratulates Deborah

Diane (and everyone else) congratulates Deborah

Ready for a chat: James, Eva, Honorah, Helen, Tlisa, Andy, Chris, Teresa & Carl Vogelsang, Denice Reese and Ron Tearle gather around the sumptuous table Deborah had prepared.

Ready for a chat: James, Eva, Honorah, Helen, Tlisa, Andy, Chris, Teresa & Carl Vogelsang, Denice Reese and Ron Tearle gather around the sumptuous table Deborah had prepared.

Helen-Marie Sutton

Helen-Marie Sutton

Leah, Doug, Nathan and Richard.

Leah, Doug, Nathan and Richard.

Ron Tearle

Ron Tearle

Liz Tearle and Eva

Liz Tearle and Eva



Everyone - from the front, left to right: Corey, Teresa, Ethan, Ewart, Helen, Leah, Honorah, Fred, Lyndal, Denice, David, Liz, James, baby, Noreen, Chris, Tlisi, Deborah, Diane, Ray Reese, Doug, Richard, Eva, Carl, Andy, Leonie, Nathan, Ron.

Everyone – from the front, left to right: Corey, Teresa, Ethan, Ewart, Helen, Leah, Honorah, Fred, Lyndal, Denice, David, Liz, James, baby, Noreen, Chris, Tlisi, Deborah, Diane, Ray Reese, Doug, Richard, Eva, Carl, Andy, Leonie, Nathan, Ron.

Thank you for a wonderful occasion!


16 Aug 2011


RSVPs for this event are coming in and just over 30 people have indicated their attendance. (I don’t think that includes Ewart and Elaine our special guests).

Some long lost “cousins” have been found, I am told.

For those who are still wondering if they will attend. It is at the home of Douglas and Deborah Tearle at Wynnum, Brisbane at lunchtime on Sunday 28th August.

Deborah as usual is doing a great job as organiser and has been contacting people with suggestions as to what to bring as we are self-catering.

Deborah can be contacted at dndtearle@optusnet.com.au


(Ray Reese :husband of Denice Tearle)

19 Aug 2011

Have a marvellous time! I was in Tearle valley today, visiting Whipsnade Zoo with my daughter and granddaughter. It was, and still is, rich agricultural land.

Best wishes to all Australian cousins


 30 Aug 2011


What a wonderful time we had at the Brisbane meet on Sunday. I did not count how many were there but I am sure we must have numbered about thirty.

Our thanks to Deborah and Douglas Tearle for hosting us and to everyone for their contribution to the most delicious and filling lunch.

I know it was a real pleasure for Denice (nee Tearle) and I to meet with Ewart and Elaine once again and I am sure everyone else really enjoyed their visit.

Ewart gave a talk, ably assisted by Elaine, and amazed everyone with his knowledge and enthusiasm for things “Tearle”.

We remembered the last Brisbane Meet when Richard visited us from England and thought about others whose apologies were sent for this occasion.

Love and peace


1 Sep 2011

Hi everyone,

I just wanted to second Ray’s thoughts. It was just wonderful to meet Ewart and Elaine and to catch up with the QLD Tearles once again!

I hope that one day my family and I can make it to one of the Tearle Meets in England sometime in the future!

Kind regards,

Teresa (Vogelsang)




The Gold Coast, Australia

For a final treat after the 2011 Tearle Meet in Brisbane, Ray and Denice took Elaine and I on a whistle-stop tour of the Gold Coast. It was breathtaking. We loved every mile. Here are some pictures of that memorable journey.

Life on the Gold Coast - boating from city to city

Life on the Gold Coast – boating from city to city

Ibis - an icon of the Coast

Ibis – an icon of the Coast

Highrises on the coast road, Surfers Paradise

Highrises on the coast road, Surfers Paradise

Relaxing on the Gold Coast - there’s a hamper full of tinnies in the sea

Relaxing on the Gold Coast – there’s a hamper full of tinnies in the sea

Cheekie little chappie on a restaurant table

Cheekie little chappie on a restaurant table

After a hard day’s surfing, you take the taxi back to shore

The beach at Surfers Paradise

The beach at Surfers Paradise

The lifeguard’s hut

The lifeguard’s hut

Balmy days of glorious skies and calm blue seas

Balmy days of glorious skies and calm blue seas

Even the public seating is a statement of the lifestyle

Even the public seating is a statement of the lifestyle



Centaur Remembrance Walk

Centaur Remembrance Walk

The end of our trip along the Gold Coast was the Queensland-NSW border. At this point, there is a lighthouse containing a brass strip which marks the border exactly, and a memorial walk. Along the guardrail that overlooks a precipitous drop to the sea are small plaques, one for each of the ships that have been unfortunate enough to founder along the Queensland coast. We looked for the ship which had brought Elizabeth Cooper Cooper and her new son, Egerton, to Australia, the Scottish Prince, but we could see no sign of her. She is nowadays a dive wreck in Moreton Bay, not too far from Brisbane itself. I wonder if Elizabeth called her son Egerton Burleigh, after this place? Because this is Burleigh Heads.

Burleigh Heads Lighthouse

Burleigh Heads Lighthouse

The end of a truly memorable day. Ewart with Ray and Denice Reese near the capstain of the Centaur on the border of Queensland and NSW. The memorial is also, or perhaps is primarily, a lighthouse.

The end of a truly memorable day. Ewart with Ray and Denice Reese near the capstain of the Centaur on the border of Queensland and NSW. The memorial is also, or perhaps is primarily, a lighthouse.

The last memory of our day belongs to a fabulous creature: about a mile out to sea, a pod of whales threw huge plumes of spray into the air and lunged and porpoised in the waves. On a warm evening in Australia, walking and talking with our family and friends, life could get no better.

Thank you Ray and Denice for the invitation, for your time and your generosity, and thank you Deborah and Doug for your very kind hospitality. We wish all our Australian cousins the very best that life can give them, and we look forward to meeting any of you here in England.