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Tearle Meet 2006

The first Tearle meet (inspired by a suggestion from Barbara Tearle) was held at St John the Baptist Church, Stanbridge, Bedfordshire, on 8 July 2006. I hoped about two dozen would attend and we welcomed 50. It was actually a really good number because many people were able to talk to each other and it was a comfortable number to fit in the church. We had people from a very wide area – Rugby, Warwick, Wales, Brighton – so people certainly gave a lot of their time to attend. Many people also brought documents and Jennie Pugh brought some artifacts from my great-grandfather Levi’s smithy in Wing.

Richard works with James of Stowe

Richard works with James of Stowe

As everyone arrived, we gave them a copy of the Tearle Memorials in Stanbridge pamphlet. Here are John and Pat Field, pamphlet in hand, scouting the memorials.

John and Pat Field arriving

John and Pat Field arriving

And here’s an idea, below, of just how big the Tree is when printed and glued.

The tree printed and glued together

The tree printed and glued together

We were very fortunate to have Enid Horton and her daughter Lorinda, below, who volunteered to examine the banns register and transcribe all the Tearle events therein.

Enid Horton and her daughter Lorinda working on the banns register.

Enid Horton and her daughter Lorinda working on the banns register.


The Dagnall Tearle's

The Dagnall Tearles

We had a visit from the Dagnall Tearles, above, and they lingered long over the John 1741 branch, then went off to Edlesborough to see the memorials there. An engaging group. Front left, Elaine Tearle of Dagnall.

One of our long-term supporters, Jo Smith, was there and she and daughter Tracy, below, met and worked with many of the visitors

Jo Smith and her daughter Tracy

Jo Smith and her daughter Tracy.

A group of us went on an expedition to Wing. Here we are at the cricket grounds inspecting the fencing and the gate that Levi built. I’m the one kneeling. The manager of Ascott House said they might call it Tearle’s Gate.

Front: John and Ewart Tearle and Ingrid Taylor. Behind: David Ashley, Sam Tearle, Barbara Ashley, Jennie Pugh and Barbara Tearle, James and Richard Tearle.

Front: John and Ewart Tearle and Ingrid Taylor. Behind: David Ashley, Sam Tearle, Barbara Ashley, Jennie Pugh and Barbara Tearle, James and Richard Tearle.

A copy of the typed version of the Bishop’s Transcripts had been given to the church and Rev Janet Spicer left it for us to refer to.

Bishop’s Transcripts

Bishop’s Transcripts

Barbara Tearle, below, is Richard’s sister and a world expert on the Tearles. Here she is on the left, meeting one of the visitors with Elaine in the background talking with Lorinda.

Barbara Tearle, left

Barbara Tearle, left

One of the highlights was a visit by a family who hadn’t seen each other for quite a while. Descendants of Mahlon, second son of Levi Tearle of Wing, are John Tearle in the centre, brother to Sheila, while James and Sam are his sons. Jennie Pugh, centre, is their aunt, a grand-daughter to Levi.

John Tearle in the centre, brother to Sheila, while James and Sam are his sons. Jennie Pugh, centre, is their aunt, a grand-daughter to Levi Tearle, blacksmith of Wing.

John Tearle in the centre, brother to Sheila, while James and Sam are his sons. Jennie Pugh, centre, is their aunt, a grand-daughter to Levi Tearle, blacksmith of Wing.

Richard sent his recollections

A fabulous day that began 24 hours earlier. I travelled down from Lichfield on Friday 7th having booked a room for an overnight stay. The journey was thankfully uneventful and I managed to take in an hour or so in Leighton Buzzard, spending much of that time walking around the graveyard of All Saints Church and then enjoying a much needed mug of coffee in their small cafe.

Then I took the bus to Dunstable, trying to take in every inch of the route. we came upon Stanbridge almost without warning. Suddenly there was a magnificent sign for the 5 Bells and my first fleeting impression was that this was one of the biggest pubs I had ever seen! I barely had time for that thought to register before we were passing the Church of St John the Baptist. And what a beautiful church it looked too. Atop a slight hill and with gravestones on all sides it looked the very epitome of a country church. The bus moved on through Tilsworth and soon we were moving out of the main area we call Tearle Valley: but the signposts all bore familiar names; Houghton Regis, Eggington, Edlesborough, Eaton Bray. I couldn’t help imagining my ancestors walking along these ways or working, perhaps, in some of the fields that flashed by on either side.

On arrival in Dunstable I sought out my accommodation: a little further out than I had imagined, but the Tearle antenna found it without difficulty. I booked in, time to freshen up, unpack, take a rest and appraise the brilliance of Federer and the immense potential of Nadal and then it was out for a pre-arranged dinner appointment with Barbara. Time flew by before we realised that we had spent close on 3 hours indulging in excellent Italian cuisine and recalling family stories, childhood memories and the idiosyncrasies of various relatives from both sides of the family. By the time I got back it was gone eleven o clock and logs could learn a thing or two from me about sleeping!

And then the day dawned…

The sun shone and there was a bit of a breeze which meant that temperatures did not feel too high. Barbara met me where I was staying and within a few  minutes Jo and Tracy arrived to pick us up, as had been arranged. Tracy took us through the country side while Jo gave as a fascinating running commentary – neither of us had really been in these parts before. We arrived at the Church bang-on 10.00 and there were already half a dozen or so cars parked on the grass verge.

The first people we met were Pat and John as they arrived at exactly the same time. Ewart was waiting for us all at the entrance to the church, already surrounded by half a dozen earlier arrivals. Ewart then proceeded to hand out the pamphlets he had made up about the Tearle memorials in the graveyard and we set our stuff out on tables for people to look at. Meanwhile, people were pouring into the church – and I am not exaggerating! – and introductions were flying around left, right and centre.

It was heartening and, as Ewart later put it, humbling, to hear the words “I’m not a Tearle but read about today in the Parish Magazine and thought I’d come along as I used to live in the village.” This occurred on a number of occasions. At one stage I counted over 40 people in the church and expectations were exceeded!

Elaine arrived with print outs of the tree and these were laid out on the floor. At times it was impossible to get to them because of the number of people interested. There were a number of old photographs of various family members and one item that was always popular was the Scrapbook that Jo had compiled about old Dunstable.

I am hoping that someone  who has a better memory than me can post an account naming people who were there, because I will miss out many and I apologise to them for that.

To give you an idea of how successful it was, Elaine had to go to the 5 Bells to warn them that nearly three times as many people as had been notified to them were intending having lunch there!

I managed to take five minutes to look around the churchyard and meeting up with James and Sam, the sons of John (who had come away from the Llagollen Eistedfodd to attend – serves them right for picking the same day as us!)

All too soon 12:00 arrived and we had to vacate the church. CDs that Ewart had brought along were sold and the money donated to the church. And then most of us repaired to the 5 Bells.

Lunch was a wonderful, relaxed affair. It was very gratifying to see people who had never met before chatting away and making notes of telephone numbers or e-mail addresses. A word should be said about the staff of the 5 Bells: faced with an influx of some 25 Tearles, they organised things magnificently and were friendly and helpful throughout.

Ewart made a short speech, followed by an even shorter one by myself and the day began to wind up, but there was one more treat for some of us. Ewart had arranged that we visit Wing and look at some of the things relating to Levi the Blacksmith. We saw the iron railings and gate that surround the cricket ground at Ascott House and our thanks go to Patrick, the Estate Manager who allowed us to do this, accompanied us and gave us some insight into the stories behind the Rothschilds and life in those times.

Then we went to Wing and looked at Levi’s cottages and the where the smithy had stood. Ewart took us to the Church and we saw Levi’s headstone. At this point, I had to leave and I must thank Elaine for taking the time out to drive me to Leighton Buzzard station.

Special mention must be made of Jennie, Levi’s granddaughter, who was with us the whole day.  At 91, I hope I am that sprightly and compos mentis when I get there! She told some wonderful stories of Levi and was clearly moved by the whole event. I would like to nominate Jennie as Guest of Honour and her presence brightened an already brilliant day!

To sum up, then: an unqualified success of great value to all who were there and, I hope, an inspiration to all members. My personal thanks go to Ewart and Elaine whose organisational skills are second to none and to all those who turned up and made it the success it undoubtedly was.

We will be back!

Richard Tearle 09/07/06

Jo sent me her notes on the day’s events:

I have just read Richards account of his day at the meeting, from start to finish, he obviously absorbed every moment from the time he arrived in Leighton Buzzard to the time he got back on the train to Litchfield & it was lovely to read his memories of the day.

I have to say that it was a truly lovely 4 hours for myself & Tracy. Tracy came along but thought she might be bored with all this family chat, but found she enjoyed herself. We were sorry we had to leave early as we would have liked to have gone to Wing, but Tracy had to get back to relieve her partner of the joys of looking after two very energetic boys, one being 3 1/2 & the other nearly two.

I was also pleased to see so many people in the church & also the people who weren’t related but just wanted to join in with us. I would like also to thank Richard, for making the day possible through his web site & to Ewart & Elaine for bringing along the now huge family tree, the CD’s & memorial information. It was also good of the Rev to set out the parish records for us to see.

Hopefully this meeting will be one of many, & we can get to know each other better, but like Richard said we will have to discuss that & see how the membership numbers go. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Jennie in the Restaurant & when she proudly announced to Tracy & I that she was 91 we found it hard to believe as she looks years younger, & she is an inspiration to us all, a very lovely lady.

Here is Barbara’s account:

The TearleMeet 2006

The Tearle family get together, announced in the last issue of the journal, took place on one of those idyllic summer days of sunshine, warmth, and gentle breezes.  It was successful beyond the wildest dreams of the organisers.  They would have counted it a winner with a dozen people, so they were overwhelmed to find that it had attracted about forty.  The day could not be called a Tearle reunion as we had not met before and in fact only a few people had ever met any of the others.  

The day was organise by Ewart Tearle, a New Zealander now living in St Albans.  It developed naturally from his contribution to the Tearle webgroup run by Richard Tearle.  Ewart has been entering everyone’s individual family research on a giant Tearle family tree and touring the area of “Tearle valley” photographing gravestones and the churches of our ancestors, so the obvious next step was to gather the living Tearles together so that we could meet each other.

The TearleMeet attracted Tearles from the south coast and the Midlands as well as from the Leighton Buzzard, Luton and Dunstable area.  We met for two hours in Stanbridge church by kind permission of the vicar, who had announced the event in the parish magazine with our invitation to any parishioners who might be interested – and they were!  Several Stanbridge ladies told us about the last Tearles in the village, two sisters who were there in the early part of the 20th century.  Their deaths ended the family’s association with the village which goes back to 1470 and possibly earlier.

Ewart’s wife Elaine spread the family tree  – made up of 60 or more A4 sheets of paper stuck together – along one of the side aisles.  Several people brought scrapbooks and photographs.  Ewart brought a yoke and a piece of ironwork made by Levi Tearle, a blacksmith in Wing in the late 19th century.  Throughout the morning, people were crawling over the tree working out were they were – or rather where their ancestors were because it contains no-one born after 1917.  I failed miserably to find Zephaniah Tearle (b. 1868) for one lady who wanted to know where he fitted in, only to be told by Ewart that he was not on the tree as it is not yet clear who his parents were.  I had more success tracing the ancestors of the actor Tearles, Sir Godfrey, his brother Malcolm and half brother Conway Tearle, who was not a Tearle at all.  Someone else remembered the son of Trelawney Tearle, from the era of the First World War.  Lest anyone think that all Tearles have unusual names, most are John, Thomas, Robert, William, George, Jane, Sarah, Mary and Elizabeth, so the different ones stand out as welcome points of reference.

Two hours passed very quickly amidst crawling on the floor, looking at photographs, finding the Tearle graves in the churchyard and the memorial in the church (to the Tearle wife of a Methodist missionary to Africa, both of whom died within months of leaving England) and meeting other people.  Many introductions began with the phrase “I’m from the Eaton Bray branch” or the Totternhoe or Luton or Wing branch, meaning that their ancestors moved there from Stanbridge during the 19th century.  But no-one was from my branch, the Toddington Tearles.

At noon, we crossed the green to the Five Bells who had been warned during the morning of a group of 25 for lunch.  They set aside one end of the restaurant for us to continue chatting and served food and drink with great speed.

Several of us spent the afternoon in Wing viewing the places connected with the blacksmith Levi Tearle, in the company of a delightful lady who admitted to being 91 and remembered living in his house or one of the cottages he built.  We were also taken on the Ascott estate to see the iron gate and railings which Levi made and which surround the cricket pitch.

The day brought home to me some of the geographical and social conditions of our Tearle ancestors.  For centuries all but a handful of escapees lived in an area radiating for no more than about five or six miles from Stanbridge – but maybe that is the subject of another article.

We all enjoyed the day and hope to repeat it in two years time.  It would not have been possible without Ewart’s immense work and enthusiasm and the goodwill of the vicar.  The moral of the event for family historian is that an impromptu, low key, gathering is relatively easy to organise and brings a new interest to family history.

Barbara Tearle


Tearle Meet 2008

Held in Stanbridge on Sat 5 July 2008.

The highlight of the whole day has to be the huge distances people had come to be there. We had families from Australia and Canada, Rugby and Southampton – and everywhere in between. When we set off to the 5 Bells pub in Stanbridge for lunch, we had 50.

Here are the Canadians – mother Sheila Rodaway (on right of the picture) and daughters Sharon Mallette and Diane Hill. Incredibly, they were on the Thomas 1737 branch and as descendants of Jabez, they were closely related to John L Tearle the author.

The Canadians - Sharon Mallette, Diane Hill and Sheila Rodaway.

The Canadians – Sharon Mallette, Diane Hill and Sheila Rodaway.

Somehow a TearleMeet is not complete without Jennie Pugh, but today’s Meet was extra special for her, because it marked the reunion of the Wing Tearles. Jennie is descended from Levi, the blacksmith of Wing and Alan Gibbs is descended from his brother Amos. For many years, Amos was the blacksmith’s assistant. Jennie and Alan  swapped stories and memories of Wing for a long time.

Jennie Pugh and Alan

Jennie Pugh and Alan

We had a little attendance book and Barbara volunteered to be hostess and ensure everyone signed it. Here she is overseeing brother Richard while he does the honours. Elaine had brought Jennie Pugh from Luton and she is lining up to sign as well.

Barbara Tearle, Richard Tearle and Jennie Pugh with the registry book

Barbara Tearle, Richard Tearle and Jennie Pugh with the registry book

Here  is half the Australian attendance on the day. Helen Manning nee Tearle and family are examining the John 1741 branch to see from where on the branch they descend. A charming family, they involved themselves fully all day in the ongoing activities.

Susan and Allan Manning

Susan and Allan Manning

We also had a visit from the Soulbury Tearles. Here they are, right, studying at lunch. I told them the story of Norman

Soulbury Tearles

Soulbury Tearles

Lawrence Cooper, an ex-villager and still an owner of ancient Stanbridge land, gave us a presentation on Victorian Stanbridge using his collection of postcards and photos.

Lawrence Cooper

Lawrence Cooper

In the picture are Helen Manning, Susan and Allan, Pat Field, Alan Gibbs and Ray Reese from Australia, watching the presentation.

Helen Manning, Susan and Allan, Pat Field, Alan Gibbs and Ray Reese from Australia, watching the presentation

Helen Manning, Susan and Allan, Pat Field, Alan Gibbs and Ray Reese from Australia, watching the presentation

For a small branch, William 1749 was well represented. Here are Peter and Viv Rolfe, examining the printout.

Peter and Viv Rolfe

Peter and Viv Rolfe

Alan Manning and I, swap stories. He was keen to take with him Lawrence’s presentation so that his family could be reminded of their fabulous day in Stanbridge.

Alan Manning and Ewart Tearle

Alan Manning and Ewart Tearle

In the picture above is the Joseph 1737 branch of the tree. At the last Meet in 2006 the whole tree fitted here, a testament to the hard work of all its contributors.


Joseph 1737 branch of the tree


The First Meet of 2006 was a hard act to follow: this, the Second Meet of 2008 will be even harder. The day, for me, began at 6.45 with the arrival – on time – of a taxi to take me to the station. The clouds were low, dark and threatening and, sure enough, by the time I boarded the train, it was raining quite heavily. But no amount of rain was going to dampen my spirits: too much planning, so many e-mails flying back and forth and so much anticipation were not going to be spoiled by a few drops of rain! By Milton Keynes it had almost stopped and blue skies appeared to the East: Leighton Buzzard saw the first sunshine of the day and by the time I arrived at Stanbridge, the weather looked very promising indeed.

Ewart, Elaine, Barbara and Laurence – the Churchwarden – were already there when I entered the Church of St John at around 9-15.  I thought my early arrival might enable me to contribute something to the preparation of the event: not so – it had already been done! Barbara was acting as hostess and I signed a Visitor’s Book that Ewart had provided – evidence of a lesson learned from last time. I was also able to place my lunch order as copies of the menu were available. Another excellent idea.

Please don’t ask me in which order people arrived: the Visitor’s Book would only prove my memory to be a lie, but I recall that Pat and John Field were there early as were Ray and Denise Reese with Alan and Helen Manning and daughter Susan. At this point I began to realise the importance of the event: Ray’s party were from Australia having timed their holiday, I believe, to enable them to attend! And when Charlotte from Ottawa and Sheila (also from the Southern Hemisphere) arrived I knew we had something special. Steadily, more and more people arrived – Jo, Ingrid, Tracy, Joan, Alan Gibbs, David, Paul and others.

I had brought along some of my Godfrey memorabilia as well as The Bottle which caused both amusement and interest from those who had not seen it before. There, I thought, it exists! Barbara had brought along a folder containing descriptions and many prints of Thomas Tearle the silversmith’s work. A beautiful catalogue which drew admiration from so many.

Ewart, of course, had done so much. Prints of the layout of the Churchyard, envelopes for the afternoon’s project, flyers containing all of our website addresses and the provision of a scanner/copier – no stone was left unturned. The Trees were laid out on pews, but two of them had to be laid out on the floor as they were too big.

Mid morning, and Laurence began his slideshow of Old Stanbridge. By this time, the sun was shining brightly and warmly and most of us were equipped with coffee or tea (supplied by Ewart) and Elaine’s delicious melt-in-the-mouth shortbread. Thanks, too, to John Field for facilitating that morning tea. Thanks, here, to Laurence for a most interesting display and commentary on village life.

More people arrived, including Jennie Pugh, our star guest from 2006. Despite recovering from a recent, minor, operation, Jennie was delightful and very definitely ‘on form’. Although 93, she has promised to be at the next Meet!

Now, here’s a story for you. On  Thursday night I received an e-mail from Christine who had been sent a clipping from the LB Observer advertising the event: she outlined her connection and hoped to be there. On Friday night, I received another e-mail from Joan saying she and Jenny Fellowes would be attending and reiterated her connection through the Soulbury line. So, there was Joan and Jenny and their cousin Christine who had not seen each other for 40 years!

Ian, his uncle David, cousin Stephen and their respective families arrived and were immediately enthusiastically studying the various trees, tying up what they had with what we had. This was good stuff – it is what it is all about!

Incredibly swiftly, lunch time arrived, but not before we were visited by the Rev Janet Spicer who commented, (somewhat ruefully?) that ‘she had a congregation’. We were able to fulfil our promise that ’50 for lunch’ had been promised to the 5 Bells – exactly 50 it was, according to a swift head count. We were looked after by the staff there and despite a couple of hiccups (not being caused by the food, I should add!), all went well. Ewart gave a short speech and an explanation of his plans for the afternoon. It must be said that Ewart played down his role, both for the day and his maintenance of The Tree: Barbara quite rightly, stood up and thanked him and reminded us all of the tremendous amount of work he puts in to that ‘maintenance’ and  the huge debt of gratitude that we all owe him. Hear, hear.

After lunch, I sat in the garden for a while, bathed by warm sunshine talking to David.  David’s nephew Ian seems to be the prime mover in the research side for that branch, but all of that family have a great interest. David, it turned out, is the brother of Alf Tearle, who was mentioned in despatches during WWII. Another heart-warming moment. Timetables and schedules precluded me from taking part in the activities Ewart had planned and, following some long goodbyes, Elaine kindly took me to LB station and I began a long and wearying journey home – but that’s another story!!

To close, I would like to apologise to anyone I have missed in the above, or have written incorrect details about. Above all, I must once again express my deepest gratitude to Ewart, Elaine, Barbara, Pat and Laurence and everyone who freely gave their time and support whether or not they were able to attend. Finally, to all who did attend, but – and I trust you will understand – especially to our overseas visitors who not only came but also must have brought their native sunshine with them!!!

Richard Tearle, July 2008


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)