Tag Archives: Tearle


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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From vestry to altar the branch of John 1741

The origin, spelling and meaning of the surname Tearle

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

Tearles from Bedfordshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tearles from other parts of the United Kingdom

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

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

Tearle in Ireland

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

Jewish Tearle

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


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

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

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

Occasional variants occurring a few times only:
Tyrell (early eighteenth century north Buckinghamshire)

Derivation and meaning

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

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

What did Terle mean?  Where did it come from?

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

© Barbara Tearle
March 2016


Tearle, Sidney, 1891, Dunstable, UK (17/Field Bakery)

Here are his details from the CWGC.
Name: TEARLE Initials: S    Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Private Regiment/Service:
Army Service Corps Unit Text: 17th Field Bakery
Age: 26 Date of Death: 13/08/1917    Service No: S4/090768
Additional information: Son of William Tearle, of 2A, Portland Rd., Luton.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead    Grave/Memorial Reference: A. 61.

This cemetery is very close to the University of Alexandria. Sidney enlisted for the RASC in Rothwell, Northants, not far from Hinkley, where he was living at the time, but I know nothing of the circumstances of his death. CWGC says that most of the burials were of casualties who died in the Alexandria hospitals from action in Egypt and Palestine. I found that two old boys of the Edward Alleyn Club died in the same month and are buried in the same cemetery as Sidney, so I wondered what was happening in Egypt at the time. According to the CWGC, two troopships were torpedoed in Alexandria Harbour in Dec of 1917, so clearly the action was ongoing.

Wikipedia summed it up thus:
The Sinai and Palestine Campaign during the Middle Eastern Theatre of World War I was a series of battles which took place on the Sinai Peninsula, Palestine, and Syria between January 28, 1915 and October 28, 1918. British, Indian, Australian and New Zealand forces opposed the German and Turkish forces.

This area was known as the Middle Eastern Theatre of war, and Sidney has followed John Henry Tearle 1887 of Hatfield into it – not necessarily knowingly. But it is probable, that, like John Henry, Sidney fought alongside the ANZACS. When attempting to find some history of the 17th Field Bakery, there is simply nothing at all. The medals card below says that Sidney was in the Egypt theatre of war, but this included the Dardanelles, so it was a huge area, whatever the actual Theatre may have been called. Without a detailed dairy account of the activities of the 17th Field Bakery, we won’t know where Sidney was when he was killed or wounded.

The Long Long Trail, a very authoritative source for WW1, in discussing the ASC (the R for royal was added in 1918) had only this to say about the Field Kitchens:

The Supply section, Field Bakeries and Butcheries.
“The ASC provided an important service in the production of bread and meat for the troops in the field. Details to be added shortly.”

If Sidney was wounded, he would have been transported to one of the Alexandria hospitals. If killed, and buried immediately, the site of his body would have been noted and after hostilities ended, he would have been moved to the Alexandria CWGC cemetery. Since this kind of movement of the bodies of casualties was very local, we can assume at the very least that Sidney was killed in Egypt. One thing we do know is that the 17th Division was in Egypt on that day, but I do not know if that actually tells us much.

Sidney Tearle S4-090768 WW1 army medals record

You can see from the above medals card, that Sidney has been awarded the the 1914-15 Star, the British Medal and the Victory Medal.

Sidney’s parents were William 1869 of Eaton Bray and Ellen nee Rollings. His g-parents were William 1830 of Eaton Bray and Ann nee Rogers. This means he is descended from Thomas 1763 and Mary nee Gurney and that places him squarely on the branch of John 1741.


Tearle (nee Lees), Louisa, 1878, Lambeth (MN)

Here is her service record from CWGC

Name: TEARLE, LOUISA Initials: L Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Stewardess Regiment/Service: Mercantile Marine
Unit Text: S.S. “Falaba,” Age: 37
Date of Death: 28/03/1915
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: “C.” 272. Cemetery: NEWQUAY NEW CEMETERY

Locally, this is called the Crantock Street Cemetery, Newquay, on the Cornwall coast, and it is managed by the Restormel Borough Council. In addition to her listing on CWGC, you can see more of her story here, in the Lees section of the Australian Leaver family site.

This is a sad story; Louisa married Henry James Tearle in Lambeth, London in 1902 and they had five children, of whom I can find only three; Gertrude Louisa 1906, Donald Stanley 1910 and Ivor – for whom I have no birth date. Firstly their father was killed in Lagos, Nigeria in 1914 while working for the Elder Dempster Steamship Line. I have no information on the circumstances of Henry’s death. Sue Albrecht of NZ says that Henry was himself in an orphanage from the age of 10 and his sister, Fanny 1868, lived with her grandparents Joseph and Martha Hart from at least 1881, as shown in the 1881 and later Northampton censuses. Henry James was the son of James 1835 of Leighton Buzzard and Mary Emma nee Hart. James was in the Royal Marines, along with at least three of his brothers. His grandparents were John Tearle 1780 Northall and Sarah nee Claridge, so he is a member of the Theatrical Tearles family, which includes Sir Godfrey Tearle.

Louisa also worked for the Elder Dempster Steamship Line and in 1915, while she was a stewardess on the merchant ship “Falaba,” she was killed at sea, with 103 others, when the ship was sunk by a torpedo from a German submarine.

The Leaver site says: “The ship was torpedoed with the loss of 104 lives. March 28th FALABA. Steam Liner. 38 miles W. of Smalls enroute from Liverpool to Sierra Leone. Torpedoed by Baron Von Forstner’s U.28. Grave ref. C 272.”

Louisa’s younger sister Margaret Lees married a John Hastings and when they went to Australia, they took Donald Stanley Tearle with them. Donald signed up with the ANZACs for WW2 and was a prisoner of war in Changi, and won the Military Medal. Ivor stayed in England and died at 16yrs. Bill Babbington of Australia tells the full story of this family in the Leaver family site. I have added Margaret and John Hastings to the Tree because of their familial relationship in the story of Donald.

They are on the branch of William 1749.

I was of the understanding that there was a memorial to Louisa and the crew of the Falaba in London, and I found it on the Merchant Navy Memorial in Tower Hill Gardens, Tower Hill, London.

Here is the crew list; Louisa is Gearle S.

DSC_1654 The crew of the Falaba including Louisa Tearle nee Lees WW1 Merchant Navy memorial Tower Hill

Merchant Navy WW1 memorial Tower Hill

Merchant Navy WW1 memorial, Tower Hill.

This view of the WW1 memorial building (above) has the Tower of London to my right, just across the road. Louisa’s memorial is on the far end, at the top of all the names.

It is indeed a shame that Louisa’s name is recorded incorrectly, but no doubt it was taken from a hand-written crew list.

In Newquay, North Cornwall, where the wind hurls huge waves at the rocks that line Fistral bay, where the surfers enjoy a long right break, and Rick Stein makes perfect fish and chips, we found the Crantock St Cemetery and within it an odd mystery. Firstly, we found it at the post code TR7 1JW and here is the gateway:

Newquay Crantock St Cemetery entrance

Newquay, Cornwall; Crantock St Cemetery entrance.

You can almost see Louisa’s headstone from this view, and it certainly did not take long to find it. Interestingly, it is a CWGC headstone with a gap in front of it. That must surely mean that there is a body, and the family have asked for the epitaph at the base.

Crantock St Cemetery Newquay Louisa Tearle nee Lees grave

Crantock St Cemetery, Newquay; Louisa Tearle nee Lees, grave.

There are no other casualties of the “Falaba” mentioned in this cemetery, and Newquay does not seem to be the closest landfall to the place where the “Falaba” was torpedoed, and where one would expect the victims to be buried. Where are the other 104 graves, or was Louisa the only casualty who was rescued, but died?

Here is the headstone itself:

Crantock St Cemetery Newquay Louisa Tearle nee Lees headstone

Crantock St Cemetery, Newquay; Louisa Tearle nee Lees, headstone.

DSC7617 Ewart studies the grave of Alfred, Florence Mary Tearle and Annie nee Hodges Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford wl

Watford Tearle Memorials

Vicarage Rd Cemetery

Elaine and I visited the Vicarage Rd Cemetery in Watford on 24 Apr 2011, armed with a printout of Tearle names and grave numbers given to Iris Adams and me by the warden of Watford North Cemetery when we went looking for Tearle graves there a couple of years previously. At Watford North, we had found Reginald Frank Tearle.

To start with, the Vicarage Rd Cemetery is pretty big. Without a map, it would be almost impossible to find any particular grave, and even with a map, the layout is somewhat chaotic, due mostly, I should think, to the number of times it has been enlarged, and re-numbered. One of the saddest things was that some of our earliest graves, and therefore the most important, had been re-used, and if there had ever been a headstone, it was now long gone. The only clue was in the catalogue number of the particular site.

There was a WW1 Great Cross close to the main entrance, and visible from Vicarage Rd as you drive past the Watford football stadium, to indicate that there were CWGC headstones in the cemetery, but there was no enclosure of a group; the headstones were wherever you could find them.

Vicarage Rd Cemetery War Memorial, Watford.

Vicarage Rd Cemetery War Memorial, Watford.

We paid our respects at the War Memorial, took our list of grave numbers and gradually found them all.

The triangle in the lower foreground is grave D-DED 441, for Charles Tearle b/d1879. The headstone on the left of the picture was also placed in 1879. Charles was the infant son of Jabez 1844 and Susannah nee Payne.

Grave D-DED441 the triangle Charles Tearle d1879 Vicarage Rd Cemetery

Grave D-DED441 the triangle Charles Tearle d1879 Vicarage Rd Cemetery.

We called this Tearle Corner; the highest concentration of Tearle graves close to each other we had ever seen. There are actually three graves, but they are occupied by eight people in total

Tearle Corner Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

Tearle Corner, Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

This is a general view of site 953-K: George 1902-1931, Edward Joseph T 1874-1933, and Jane 1871-1944. George 1902 was the son of Edward Joseph Tearle and Jane nee Picton.

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

Tearle Corner grave K953: George 1902-1931, Edward Joseph T 1874-1933 and Jane nee Picton – Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

The headstone for 953-K. Edward Joseph Tearle was the son of Jabez 1844 and Susannah nee Payne. Jabez was the son of George 1818 and Annie nee Haws. Thomas 1737 via Fanny 1780

DSC_9597 Tearle Corner headstone K953 George 1902-1931 Edward Joseph T 1874-1933 and Jane nee Picton Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

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

William 1852 married Catherine Newsham Hodson in 1875. He was the son of John 1824 and Sarah nee Bishop of Slapton, and when John died young, William was brought up in Watford by his uncle George 1818 and his aunt Annie nee Haws.

Tearle Corner grave K862 William Tearle d1913 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford.

Tearle Corner grave K862 William Tearle 1852-1913, Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

There is one name on each wing of site 861-K, the grave of Mabel Tearle 1884-1955, Elizabeth Strickland 1821-1903, Elizabeth Louise Tearle 1852-1924 and George 1854-1945.

Tearle Corner grave K862 William and K861 Mabel Tearle 1884-1955 Elizabeth Strickland 1821-1903 Elizabeth Louise Tearle 1852-1924 George 1854-1945 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

Tearle Corner grave K862 William and K861 Mabel Tearle 1884-1955 Elizabeth Strickland 1821-1903 Elizabeth Louise Tearle 1852-1924 George 1854-1945. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

Elizabeth Strickland was the mother of Elizabeth Louise, so she was George’s mother-in-law, and Mabel’s maternal grandmother.

Elizabeth Strickland 1821-1903.

Elizabeth Strickland 1821-1903.

When you are given a printout of the grave numbers for a person, or number of people, there is also a rather vague map of the general locations (eg K) but the only way to tell where you are is to refer to the grave numbers, such as is shown here.

How to tell the exact grave number.

How to tell the exact grave number.

Mabel 1884-1955 is variously called Lizzie, Lizzie Mabel and Mabel, depending on the document in question.

Lizzie Mabel 1884-1955

Lizzie Mabel 1884-1955.

Elizabeth Louise (as here, or Louisa, sometimes) 1852-1954 was a London girl from Stepney, who married George 1854 in St Pancras in 1879.

Tearle Corner grave K861 Elizabeth Louise Tearle 1852-1924 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

Tearle Corner grave K861 Elizabeth Louise Tearle 1852-1924 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

George 1854 was also a son of John 1824 and Sarah nee Bishop. He was firstly a grocers assistant in Dunstable but by the time he met and married Elizabeth Louisa Strickland, he was in London working as a railway clerk. Watford has strong railway links, so George has added family links in coming to Watford.

Tearle Corner grave K861 George Tearle 1854-1945

Tearle Corner grave K861 George Tearle 1854-1945

E-CON 76, the grave for Sarah Ann 1851, Elizabeth Amelia 1821, George 1818, Jabez 1844 and Lucy 1857; potentially the most important grave of all. It probably never had a headstone, and you can see that, sadly, the site is re-used.

E-CON76a grave for Sarah Ann 1851 Elizabeth Amelia 1821 George 1818 Jabez 1844 Lucy 1857 reused

E-CON76 – grave for Sarah Ann 1851 Elizabeth Amelia 1821 George 1818 Jabez 1844 Lucy 1857 reused.

E-DED 441 is the grave for Albert Edward Tearle 1906-1907. It is the unmarked grave in the centre foreground. Albert was the son of John Leinad T 1876 and Alice nee Allainey, and grandson of Jabez 1844 and Susannah nee Payne.

E-DED441 Albert Edward Tearle 1906-1907 unmarked grave Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

E-DED441 Albert Edward Tearle 1906-1907 unmarked grave Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford.

F-974 Alice Mary Tearle 1868-1917 was the daughter of Thomas 1847 (the railway engine driver) and Mary nee Bowler. She is descended from John 1780 and Sarah nee Claridge. William 1749.

F974 Alice Mary Tearle 1868-1917 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

F974 Alice Mary Tearle 1868-1917. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

F-892 The grave of Thomas Tearle 1847-1925 and Mary nee Bowler is immediately behind that of their daughter, Alice Mary 1868. Thomas is the son of Thomas 1820 and Sarah Jane nee Elliott. He is the grandson of William 1749.

F892 Thomas Tearle 1847-1925 and Mary nee Bowler Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

F892 Thomas Tearle 1847-1925 and Mary nee Bowler. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

615 H-CON (Below) Arthur Fred Elliott Tearle 1877-1948, Florence Mary 1905-1907 and Annie nee Hodges 1872-1954. Arthur is a son of Thomas 1847 and Mary nee Bowler, so he is the brother of Alice Mary, above.

615 H-CON Ewart studies the grave of Alfred, Florence Mary Tearle and Annie nee Hodges. Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford.

615 H-CON Ewart studies the grave of Alfred, Florence Mary Tearle and Annie nee Hodges. Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford.

Here is a general view of the graveyard showing the site of the grave of Arthur and family.

615H-CON Arthur F E Tearle 1877-1948 Florence Mary 1905-1907 Annie nee Hodges 1872-1954 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford wl

615H-CON Photo to show the location for the grave of Arthur F E Tearle 1877-1948 Florence Mary 1905-1907 and Annie nee Hodges 1872-1954. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

561-L Mildred Annie Tearle 1884-1908. Unfortunately, this grave, too has been re-occupied and Mildred Annie’s name is no longer on it. Mildred was the daughter of Anne Elizabeth Tearle 1859 before Anne Elizabeth married Joseph Moore in 1888.

561L - foreground reused grave Mildred Annie Tearle 1884-1908 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

561-L – Foreground, reused grave of Mildred Annie Tearle 1884-1908 Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

The grave is definitely 561-L which is listed for Mildred Annie Tearle. Here is a close-up of the corner post showing (just) its number. She is the grand-daughter of Abel 1833 and Sarah nee Davis and g-granddaughter of Joseph 1797 and Maria nee Millings.

Marker post for grave 561-L

Marker post for grave 561-L

Below is a picture of plot 1150 L-CON for William 1857-1933. The clipboard marks the site. William married Mary Jewell nee Trust nee Cox. He was the son of Abel 1833 and Sarah nee Davis, so he was the brother of Ann Elizabeth 1859, and Mildred Annie’s uncle. Joseph 1737.

grass plot 1150L-CON William 1857-1933 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

Grass plot 1150L-CON William 1857-1933. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

Grass plot 1150L-CON William 1857-1933. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

Grass plot 1150L-CON William 1857-1933. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

A general view showing the location of 1150 L-CON. The headstone beyond is for a chap called Rogers.

790-M As the corner post shows, the grave for Olive Archdeacon Tearle 1881-1985. This is not the name on the grave, so it’s another re-used site. She was the sister of Lizzie Mabel, featured above.

790M corner post for Olive Archdeacon Tearle 1881-1985 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

790M corner post for Olive Archdeacon Tearle 1881-1985. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

Olive Archdeacon T is the daughter of George 1854 and Elizabeth nee Strickland. She was born in 413 Commercial Rd, Tower Hamlets, and George was in the railways as a clerk in those days.

reused grave 790M Olive Archdeacon Tearle 1881-1985 Vicarage Rd Cemetery Watford

Reused grave 790M for Olive Archdeacon Tearle 1881-1985. Vicarage Rd Cemetery, Watford.

The families:

There are three separate families associated with the headstones above:

Family 1.

Abel 1797 and Hannah nee Frost. He was the son of Fanny 1780 and g-son of Thomas 1737 and Mary nee Sibley. Two of his boys were the fathers of families as follows –

John 1824 and Sarah nee Bishop of Slapton – William 1852 and Catherine nee Hodson, George 1854 and Elizabeth nee Strickland.

George 1818 and Annie nee Haws’ son, Jabez 1844 and Susannah nee Payne and three of their sons, Alfred George 1872, Edward Joseph 1874 and John Leinad 1876.

Their sister Elizabeth Amelia 1821.

Family 2.

William 1749 and Mary nee Prentice

John 1780 and Sarah nee Claridge, whose children were all born in Leighton Buzzard. John was a member of the 2nd Dragoon Guards and father to a line of theatrical Tearles one of whom was Sir Godfrey Tearle, the movie and Shakespearean actor. He was also the father of many sons who joined the Royal Marines – at least four that I know of. Thomas 1847, the railway engine driver, married Mary Bowler. Their daughter is Alice Mary 1868 and their son is Arthur Fred Elliott T 1877. He married Annie Hodges and their daughter Florence Mary 1905 is featured on their headstone.

Family 3.

Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp. Their grandson Joseph 1769 and their gg-gson William 1857.

Joseph 1797 and Maria nee Millings. Joseph was the son of William 1769 and Sarah nee Clark, and grandson of Joseph 1737.  Mildred Annie 1884 is their grand-daughter, the daughter of Ann Elizabeth 1859 and grand-daughter of Abel 1833 (and Sarah nee Davis) who was a son of Joseph 1797 and Maria nee Millings.

William 1857 was the brother of Ann Elizabeth 1859 and Mildred Annie’s uncle. He married Mary Jewell nee Trust nee Cox.


Stanbridge Tearle Memorials

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

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

Stanbridge Church rock

Stanbridge Church rock

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

Stanbridge Church clock

Stanbridge Church clock

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

He is on the branch of John 1741.

John Tearle 60 years sexton of this parish

John Tearle 60 years sexton of this parish

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

Kate and Eliza Tearle, Stanbridge.

Kate and Eliza Tearle, Stanbridge.

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

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

Phoebe Horne nee Tearle and George

Phoebe Horne nee Tearle and George

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

Headstone Annie Rose d1950 and Charles Rose d1951

Headstone for Annie Rose d1950 and Charles Rose d1951

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

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

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

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

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

James Tearle d1887 and Mary d1914.

James Tearle d1887 and Mary Tearle d1914.

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

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

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

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

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

Charles and Caroline Shillingford, Stanbridge

Charles and Caroline Shillingford, Stanbridge

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

 John Tearle d1818 and Elizabeth Rickard Stanbridge

John Tearle d1818 and Elizabeth Rickard Stanbridge

John Tearle d1818 and Elizabeth.

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

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

The headstone of William Rickard

The headstone of William Rickard.

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

John Olney and Deborah

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

Hannah Tearle Olney

Hannah Tearle Olney.

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

John and Deborah Olney's four children.

John and Deborah Olney’s four children.

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

Catherine Conder and Thomas Olney Conder, the Methodist missionary.

Catherine Conder and Thomas Olney Conder, the Methodist missionary.

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

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

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

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

Hannah Tearle and Henry Fleet memorial

Hannah Tearle and Henry Fleet memorial.

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

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

Methodist graves under the trees

Methodist graves under the trees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Tearle and Mary headstone Stanbridge Church

Tearle burials in Stanbridge 1813-1968

Stanbridge burials 1813 to 1968

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

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

Year Name Abode Date Age
Dau of Richard 1773 and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth.
Martha nee Archer wife of John 1741.
John 1741, hus of Marther nee Archer.
Phoebe nee Capp, wif of Joseph 1737.
John 1787, son of Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.
Hus of Elizabeth nee Flint; see Methodist graves.
Son of Thomas 1807 and Mary nee Garner.
Dau of John 1799 and Elizabeth nee Mead.
Son of John 1770 and and Mary nee Janes.
Dau of Thomas 1807 and Mary nee Garner.
Son of Richard 1773 and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth.
Judith nee Knight 2nd wife of William 1769.
William 1769, son of Joseph 1737 and Phoebe nee Capp.
Hus of Sarah nee Clarke.
John 1770, hus of Mary nee James.
Richard 1773, son of John 1741 and Martha nee Archer.
Hus of Mary nee Bodsworth.
Elizabeth nee Mead, wife of John 1779.
Son of Joseph 1823 and Mary nee Turney.
Unknown parents.
John 1799, hus of Elizabeth nee Mead.
Eliza nee Irons, wife of John 1823.
Thomas 1807, hus of Mary nee Garner.
Son of John 1799 and Elizabeth nee Irons.
Elizabeth nee Bodsworth, wife of Richard 1773.
Mary nee Janes, wife of John 1771.
Dau William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain.
Dau John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
Dau of Abel 1810 and Martha nee Emmerton.
Dau Jane 1843, dau Thomas 1816 and Ann nee Jones.
Dau William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain.
1872 MARY TEARLE STANBRIDGE Dec-20 1yr 10m
Dau Sarah Tearle, dau James 1823 and Mary nee Andrews.
Sarah married George Blake in Dec 1877.
Mary 1803, dau John 1770 and Mary nee Janes.
Son of William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain.
Mary Ann nee Turpin, wife of Richard 1816.
Nathaniel’s mother.
John 1823, hus of Eliza nee Irons.
Son of John 1840 and Maria nee Bliss.
Son of James 1823 and Hannah nee Philips.
Unknown parents. Birth cert: 1881, Q2, Leighton Buzzard,
Bedfordshire, Vol 3b, Page 430.
Abel 1810, hus of Martha nee Emmerton.
1882 JEFFRERY TEARLE Dec-08 10
Son of William 1832 and Catherine nee Fountain. UPPER HOUGHTON REGIS
Dau Abel 1810 and Martha nee Emmerton.
Unbaptised burial, authorised by bishop. Unknown parents.
Birth cert: 1883, Q3, LB, Beds, 3b, 391
Maria nee Bliss, wife of John 1840.
Joseph 1823, hus of Mary nee Turney.
Died in Hemel Hempstead Hospital.
James 1827, hus of Mary nee Andrews.
Parents unknown. May be Arthur Henry Tearle 1887.
Birth cert: 1887, Q3, LB, Beds, 3b, 393.
1892 SIDNEY TEARLE WING Jan-03 19m
Son of Amos 1861 and Martha nee Timms.
Hannah nee Philips wife of James 1823.
Catherine nee Fountain, wife of William 1832.
Dau of Jane 1844, dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
Son of John 1840, the sexton, and Maria nee Bliss.
Son of John 1861 and Annie nee Walker.
Son of James 1823 and Hannah nee Philips.
James 1823, hus of Hannah nee Philips.
Son of Abel 1810 and Martha nee Emmerton.
Elizabeth nee Chapman, wife of Joseph 1823.
Dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
1914 MARY TEARLE WING Jun-04 83
Mary nee Andrews, wife of James 1827.
Dau of John 1823 and Eliza nee Irons.
Dau of John 1840, the sexton, and Maria nee Bliss.
William 1832, hus of Catherine nee Fountain.
Died at 1 Grovebury Rd, Leighton Buzzard.
John 1840 “sexton of this parish for 60 years.”
Hus of Maria nee Bliss.
John 1861, of Back Lane, Stanbridge.
Hus of Annie nee Walker.
Annie nee Walker, wife of John 1861.
Thomas 1870 son of James 1823 and Hannah nee Philips.
Died at 11a Dunstable Rd, Luton.
Dau John 1840 and Maria nee Bliss.
Living at 7 Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge, died in Kempston.
Dau John 1840 and Maria nee Bliss.
Living at 7 Tilsworth Rd, Stanbridge, died in Kempston.
Son of John 1862 and Annie nee Walker.
10 Peddars Lane, Stanbridge. WW1 soldier.
Dau of John 1862 and Annie nee Walker.
10 Peddars Lane, Stanbridge.
Son of John 1861 and Annie nee Walker.
10 Peddars Lane, Stanbridge. WW1 soldier.



Rosemary Tearle and Nightingale - August 2009, Kaeo, Northland, NZ

Goodbye Rosemary Tearle, Auckland, NZ

Rosemary Tearle and Nightingale - August 2009, Kaeo, Northland, NZ

Rosemary Tearle and Nightingale – August 2009, Kaeo, Northland, NZ


Hello Ewart, it is with great sadness that I write on behalf of Michael to let you know that Rosemary died very suddenly on Sunday morning. She died in her sleep and it has been very shocking for Michael and her family. Her funeral will be this Friday. Jacqui and John are coming to Kaeo to be with their father.

Michael would be grateful if you could please let the Tearle group know of our sad loss.

Kind regards, Barbara (Rosemary’s sister).

Dear Richard

It is with the greatest sadness that I have to inform you of the death of our beloved Rosemary on Sunday morning, 29 May 2011. Her sister Barbara tells me that she died suddenly in her sleep at her home in Kaeo, Northland, New Zealand and she asked me to convey this news to you and the Tearle group.

We will all miss Rosemary’s unbounded enthusiasm for our work, her razor-sharp intellect and her incredible persistence to find the stories of members of the Tearle family. For me, her most memorable accomplishment was to find the details of the life and times of Rowland Grigg Tearle, his mother Elizabeth and the follow-up story of their lives in India. Through her efforts and determination, Rowland has been given a lasting memorial. Rosemary was also the one who figured out the relationship between the George Tearle and the Elizabeth Tearle who had married in Michael’s tree, and as a result of her work, we were able to place Elizabeth within her family, as one of George’s cousins. She also researched and wrote up the lovely story of Lionel Victor and the Lowestoft Tearles and their remarkable meeting with Arnold, the Liverpool Tearle.

Elaine and I first met Rosemary in the early nineties when researching a Tearle family in Auckland, to find that Rosemary’s Michael Tearle of Avondale was not the Mike Tearle of Avondale whom we had gone to see. She was a lady of wit and charm and we instantly liked her and her family. We also found we had similar experiences in NZ. Rosemary and Michael had been herd testing (testing cows for pregnancy after AI) in the Otorohanga area and had even got married in the Otorohanga Church. Elaine and I had lived and worked in the Waitomo/King Country since 1977 and we were very familiar with all the places that Michael and Rosemary had been. As rural folk ourselves, we knew exactly how they had lived and we had lots of laughs over stories of farming life and farming families. We were looking forward to seeing her on our trip to NZ in August.

She was an endlessly kind lady, a generous, wholehearted person, and a devoted wife and mother. She has been our friend and our compatriot for the past 15 years. Elaine and I will miss her very much and we extend to Michael, Matthew and Jaqui our very deepest sympathies in their hour of sorrow.

Ewart and Elaine Tearle

From Teresa, Brisbane:

Ewart, thank you for passing on this most sad news. My sincere condolences to her loved ones, she will certainly be missed.

From Pat Field:

This is indeed a great sadness and shock.

I personally will miss Rosemary and her amazing knowledge of Family history in particular our Tearle family. She has become a friend over the past few years and it was lovely meeting Michael’s two sisters at our last Meet. Our big tree would be much smaller and less interesting without her huge influence.

My love and sincere condolences go to Michael and the family at this time of great sorrow.

Pat Field

From Richard Tearle, leader of the Tearle Yahoo Group

Ewart – this is just so devastating and I am shocked and stunned. Rosemary was one of our first members, as I recall, and through the time she has provided us with not only information, but theories, useful contacts and tremendous results from her own endeavours. She was ever helpful to our members, new or old, and would willingly take on a project that was to the common cause rather than her own, personal interest in the Tearle family.

Our group will be a sadder place without her, but for those who have met her or, like myself, have corresponded with her over the years then our whole world will be very much emptier.

I heartily applaud – and thank you for it – your decision to devote a page on your site to her memory: hopefully future members and visitors will be able to recognise the enormous contribution Rosemary made to our researches as well as our lives.

From Wendy and Tony Skelley


I would also like to acknowledge Rosemary and her dedication to this family research. We had many email conversations, and I was looking forward to meeting her one day here in New Zealand.

Rosemary was very inspiring and her memory will live on.

Regards to everyone that knew her.

Wendy & Tony Skelley in NZ

From Ewart and Elaine:


We have spent the afternoon with Ray and Denice Reese and we drove to see Tebworth, the home village of Denice’s grandfather, James Henry Tearle 1884, and to call in his at home parish church, All Saints Chalgrave. While we were there, we took the opportunity to ask Ray, who is a Salvation Army chaplain, to say a few words for Rosemary.

It was a lovely little ceremony, and would have touched the deeply Christian side of Rosemary’s character.

God speed, Rosemary; we will miss you.

Ewart and Elaine

From Pam:

Dear Ewart

Words cannot express how shocked and saddened I am by this news. I had an e-mail from Rosemary just three weeks ago saying that they were OK and still self sufficient on the farm.

I was fortunate to meet Rosemary in the days when she came to Auckland regularly to see her mother. She would pop in to see me and we had lunch together on several occasions.

A lovely lady who will be sorely missed by her family and all those who knew her.

God speed Rosemary, I will definitely miss you greatly.

kind regards to all


Auckland NZ.

From Wendy Skelley:

Two weeks ago I sent to Rosemary my first draft of Aubrey’s Boys, and she was very excited about it, she even mentioned she got goosebumps when reading some parts. Her enthusiasm was amazing and I am so glad that she got to read it, we had often talked about the coincidences and I will miss her interest.

Ewart – when you come to New Zealand we shall certainly celebrate her remembrance.


From Sue Albrecht:

A very sad day for the NZ nest of Tearles and indeed for the worldwide Tearle group. Odd how people one has never met, one has no physical mental picture, and who are not part of your day to day existence can become significant in one’s life. I have always thought of Rosemary as someone I met through a genealogy group but who became more than that – she led such a multifaceted life that it was not hard to find common ground with her in other areas as well. I saw a picture of her today for the first time ever on Ewart’s site, and it was a strange feeling, cos I’d only ever known the “essence” of Rosemary, not her physical being, and had warmed to it immensely. I just thought I would write my immediate thoughts down, because the same thoughts apply to you, Barbara and Ewart. I guess many others in the group would feel the same way. Sue Albrecht.

From Tracy Stanton:


I would like to pass on my condolences to Michael and the family. Rosemary liked to follow things through so thoroughly and her work helped fill gaps for many of the wider group. This work will carry on her memory and be a lasting legacy for Tearles still to come.

My thoughts are with you all.

Tracy Stanton

From Barbara Tearle

This must be a devastating time for Rosemary’s family and I join with everyone in the group in thinking of them and sending condolences.

It is also a sad loss to the Tearle group. Rosemary’s enthusiasm, persistence, research skills and lateral thinking contributed so much to unravelling the human stories behind the bare records of our Tearle family. As we got to know her, the world became smaller and we all became much closer. I loved hearing the odd snippets about the farm and could visualise her caring for the animals then turning to her computer for a change of scene.

She will be missed by so many people.

Barbara Tearle

Message from the group to Rosemary’s family:

Thu 2 Jun 2011

Dear Michael, John, Matt, Jacqui and Robyn,

First of all, may I offer condolences and sympathies from the entire Tearle Family Group following the passing of our dear friend Rosemary.

The sad news came as a complete shock to us all and our thoughts are first and foremost with you, the family, and I hope that knowing that Rosemary was much loved and respected will help give you strength through this tragically difficult time.

Many of our members have asked if they could pay their respects and it was decided that it might be better for me to write to you on behalf of everyone. Some personal tributes are already visible on Ewart’s Family site.

Rosemary was an inspiration to all of us in the field of family research and her tenacity and perseverence solved many a problem for us. But more than that, Rosemary’s commentaries on ‘life on the farm’ were joyful to read and her warmth and vivacity as a person shone through.

Be assured that our thoughts will be very much with you on Friday: Rosemary will be sorely missed by all of us.

Richard Tearle, Barbara Tearle, Ewart and Elaine Tearle, Pat Field, Pam Whiting, Susan Albrecht, Wendy Skelley, Tracy

Hello Ewart and members of the Tearle group,

This is Robyn, Rosemary’s eldest daughter and 2nd in line of 4 siblings. I am writing on behalf of Michael, her husband, my siblings, Rosemary’s 3 sisters, her mum, and 4 grandchildren.

I’m writing on behalf of the family to express our heartfelt thanks to the folks in your group who have written such loving comments about our mum. It has touched us deeply, and reinforces to us how loved our mum was. She threw herself into things boots and all with her enthusiasm and drive, leaving no stone unturned in her quest to get things done and discovered. She loved a challenge, whether it be the family history or building up her farm from a scrubby gorse ridden paddock. We are heartened that she had so many interests that really excited her – the Tearle Family Tree, being a huge one. Mum loved people and the interaction with people, and she loved the process of finding out about people and their history and how their lives connected and crossed paths. Being part of the Tearle Group was a huge source of enjoyment and provided huge satisfaction for mum on many levels. So thankyou all for being colleagues and friends to our mum. It has warmed us all to know she had so many friends.

Matthew the youngest sibling wrote this eulogy below for mum’s funeral, which was Friday (NZ time), and is happy for it to be included in this email of thanks. It sums up how we feel about mum.

Thanks again for being wonderful friends and colleagues to our mum.

With much love from the Tearle’s and extended family.

Rosemary’s eulogy – written and presented by Matthew Tearle

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.

“Who can find a virtuous woman?” the Book of Proverbs asks. Well, we did.

Mum, I feel that I should be able to say that when I heard the news, I collapsed in tears. But… I didn’t. Not because of lack of sorrow; not because of inner strength; just because it didn’t make sense. It was like being told that gravity didn’t work anymore or the sky was now orange. It’s incomprehensible. It’s not how the universe works. It’s not in the script.

So I didn’t really know what to do. At the time, I was building a chicken coop. So, not knowing what else to do, I kept building… which, I guess, is appropriate for a child of the virtuous women who eateth not the bread of idleness.

I think you’d like the chicken coop, mum. First, of course, it will house chickens. Second, I’m doing it myself, even though I really have no idea what I’m doing. And third, it’s going to be ridiculously overbuilt. That’s something I know I got from you. We all did – none of us can do anything in half measures. You never did. But I’m glad that at least now you can rest. I think you’ve earned it.

And I’m glad that, if it had to happen, at least you didn’t know it was coming – it might have caused you consternation. Not that you’d have feared death; you would have accepted it, clothed with strength and honour. But you would have worried about everyone else; you would have felt it was your responsibility to plan the funeral, stock the freezer, make arrangements for the livestock, pay the bills,… In other words, to looketh well to the ways of your household. To take care of everyone else before yourself. Well, not any more. Now you can rest and be at peace, and your children call you blessed.


Soldiers Died in the Great War

Soldiers Died in the Great War

Collated and annotated by Ewart Tearle
May 2010

Many of these names are included in other collections on this site, however for those who came across this database on CD, here are some notes on the genealogy of each man who died, along with the link to the post wherein his story is told.

Name: Jeffrey Tearle

Birth Place: Eaton Bray, Beds
Residence: Dunstable
Death Date: 31 Oct 1914
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Dunstable, Beds
Rank: Corporal
Regiment: Bedfordshire Regiment
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Number: 3/6459
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of George 1861 and Sarah Jane nee Horn. Brother of Frank 1898 and John Henry 1885, both of whom survived the War. William 1749.

Name: John Henry Tearle

Birth Place: Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Death Date: 29 Jun 1915
Death Location: Gallipoli
Enlistment Location: London
Rank: L/Sergeant
Regiment: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers
Battalion: 1st Battalion
Number: 9054
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Balkan Theatre

Son of William Francis T 1857 and Sarah Ann nee Kefford. G-uncle of Edward Kefford W Tearle who was killed in WW2 while covering the withdrawal to Dunkirk. A son of the Soulbury Tearles. John 1741. See also A Visit to Gallipoli

Name: Leslie James Tearle

Birth Place: St Albans
Residence: St. Albans
Death Date: 11 Jul 1915
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: St. Albans
Rank: Private
Regiment: Hertfordshire Regiment
Number: 2007
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Edward Joseph T and Emma Elizabeth nee Warner. Has a memorial on the St Albans War Memorial in St Peters St as well as in the foyer of the Old Town Hall. Descendant of the Soulbury Tearles and cousin of John Henry immediately above. John 1741.

Name: Alfred Edward Tearle

Residence: Watford, Herts
Death Date: 10 May 1916
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Hertford
Rank: Private
Regiment: Hertfordshire Regiment
Number: 4605
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Alfred George T and Minnie nee Cyster. G-gson of George 1818 and Annie nee Haws. Thomas 1737 via Fanny 1780.

Name: Rowland Tearle

Birth Place: London
Death Date: 9 Jun 1916
Death Location: Home
Enlistment Location: Northampton
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Army Medical Corps
Number: 55930
Type of Casualty: Died
Theatre of War: Home

Rowland Grigg Tearle, son of Elizabeth 1871 of Linslade, and grandson of John 1825 (the marine) and Sophia nee Walker. Brought up by Susannah Rogers who lived in the house close to Yardley Hastings church. He caught a dreadful trench disease and died at home. Buried with a CWGC headstone in the Yardley Hastings churchyard. His story is told in detail elsewhere on this site.

Name: Albert Ernest Tearle

Birth Place: Sutton, Surrey
Death Date: 16 Apr 1917
Death Location: Mesopotamia
Enlistment Location: Kingston-On-Thames
Rank: A/BDR.
Regiment: Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery
Number: 46587
Type of Casualty: Died
Theatre of War: Asiatic Theatres

Son William James 1860 and Lucy Ann nee Laine. Buried in Bagdad. Grandgson of George 1809 and Elizabeth Tearle. Joseph 1737.

Name: Charles Tearle

Birth Place: Preston
Death Date: 30 Nov 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Preston
Rank: Private
Regiment: Loyal North Lancashire Regiment
Battalion: 1/5th Battalion (Territorial Force)
Number: 36932
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Charles 1860 and Jane nee Swarbrick. Gson of Sarah 1831 and g-grandson of Joseph 1803 and Mary Ann nee Smith. A true Preston Tearle, mentioned on the headstone in Preston cemetery. Joseph 1737.

Name: James Henry Tearle

Birth Place: Paddington, Middx.
Residence: West Kilburn, Middx.
Death Date: 16 Mar 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Hammersmith, Middx.
Rank: Rifleman
Regiment: Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own)
Battalion: 12th Battalion
Number: S/21464
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Son of Jonathon 1862 and Alice nee Kearns, his usual name was James Harry Tearle. Gson William 1832 and Catharine nee Fountain, hence a nephew of my g-grandfather James 1827. See also the story of the Willesden cell and Mary nee Andrews elsewhere in this Tearle Stories section. John 1741.

Name: Ronald William Tearle

Birth Place: Luton
Death Date: 4 Oct 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Luton, Beds
Rank: Gunner
Regiment: Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery
Number: 141935
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Only son of William Underwood T and Mary nee Bird of Luton. Listed on the War Memorial alongside the Luton Town Hall. Grandson of George 1832 and Sophia nee Underwood, a well-known Luton family. Joseph 1737.

Name: Sidney Tearle

Birth Place: Dunstable, Beds
Residence: Rothwell, Northauts
Death Date: 13 Aug 1917
Death Location: Egypt
Enlistment Location: Hinckley
Rank: Private
Regiment: Royal Army Service Corps
Number: S4/090768
Type of Casualty: Died
Theatre of War: Egyptian Theatre

Son of William 1869 and Ellen nee Rollings. Buried in Alexandria. Grandson of George 1797 and Mary nee Hill. John 1741.

Name: Sydney Tearle

Residence: London, N.W.
Death Date: 9 Apr 1917
Death Location: France & Flanders
Enlistment Location: Edinburgh
Rank: A/L/Sergeant
Regiment: Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment)
Battalion: 9th Battalion
Number: 350354
Type of Casualty: Killed in action
Theatre of War: Western European Theatre

Sydney Thomas Tearle 1895 was working for the Caledonian Railways in Edinburgh when he enlisted, hence this odd regiment for a Hammersmith boy. There is a memorial at Glasgow station which bears his name, along with 708 others. Son of Thomas 1858 and Pamela nee Andrews. Grandson of William 1832 and Catharine nee Fountain, hence 1st cousin to James Harry above. John 1741.


George Tearle 1818, Dagnall, UK

Grandfather of the Watford Tearles

This is another story of the family of Fanny Tearle 1780. We have elsewhere discussed the origins of Fanny, and John L Tearle (Tearle, a Bedfordshire Surname) tells her story at some length. George 1818 is the founding father of the Watford Tearles and what I intend to do is to show the development of the Watford Tearles and the highlights of their 150 years in Watford. Let’s start with George’s father.

Fanny Tearle had one son, Abel, born 1797 in Edelsborough. He married Hannah Frost of Tilsworth on 16 Oct 1817 in Edelsborough. We can catch up with them in 1841. Here they are in Dagnall, working oln the farm of Thomas (?) Mead. Dagnall, Edelsborough and Northaw are so close together they are almost one village, strung along a country road. You can see that George has already left home.

1841 = Abel 1795 Bucks Ann 35 John 15 William 4 Joseph 6 Jabez 5 in Dagnall.

He is down the road a bit, in Slapton. He is working for Mary Gurney, who calls herself a Victualler, and is probably a pub-keeper. George learns his craft here. He will go on to be a brewer. Now, the choice of Slapton is interesting because John 1824 Dagnall, George’s younger brother also goes to Slapton and he, too, works for Mary Gurney and you can see him in the 1851 census in Slapton. This time she is calling herself a Maltster and Victualler, while John is a Malt Maker. John’s story is an interesting one – or more correctly, the story of his wife, Sarah nee Bishop. Look up this story under John 1824 of Dagnall.

1841 = George 1821 Bucks MS for Mary Gurney in Slapton

1851 = George 1818 Dagnall Ann 31 Jabez 6 Catharine 2 Sarah Ann 1m in Elstree

As a point of interest, George’s sister, Susanna 1827 Dagnall, is featured on one of the headstones in the Dunstable public cemetery.