Tag Archives: Thomas


Sir Thomas More

I’m sure you have heard of Sir Thomas More as part of  your high school English theatre studies, if not from history, in the form of a 1960 Robert Bolt drama and a subsequent 1966 movie starring Paul Scofield, both called “A Man for all Seasons.” He was the Lord Chancellor for Henry VIII. It was not always good to be too close to King Henry because when he annulled his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his first wife, and wanted to marry Ann Boleyn, the spotlight fell on Sir Thomas.

Catherine had two girls, Mary and Elizabeth, but Henry considered he needed a male heir. He had Catherine sequestered to a convent in Dunstable (look for the Priory signs all around Dunstable and you’ll realise it was a formidable presence in Dunstable’s past) and held a convocation of bishops in the Blackfriars building, now the site of Sion Hall, next-door to the Old City of London School building, still standing on the bank of the Thames.

Sion House Victoria Embankment Henry Viii Convocation

Sion Hall, Victoria Embankment, site of the last Convocation of Bishops held by Henry VIII.

The convocation could not bring itself to agree to Henry’s actions so he dissolved it and declared himself head of the Church in England. He expected Thomas to declare his right to marry Ann Boleyn, but Thomas said nothing. Henry interpreted Thomas’ “thundering silence” as condemnation of his wish to marry, but Thomas said the legal meaning of silence is assent.

Sir Thomas More

Sir Thomas More

The king encouraged Thomas Cromwell to try Sir Thomas in a special court, which duly found him guilty of treason. He was sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered but the king commuted this to beheading and his head was set on a pike on London Bridge. His body was buried in the Tower of London. It is said that one of his daughters later claimed the head, and it is buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

I found the statue above on the corner of Carey St, off Chancery Lane, and I was interested in the caption which says “Some time Lord High Chancellor of England. Martyred July 5th 1535. The faithful servant both of God and the king.” It looks like a Victorian building and I was intrigued that even 350 years after he was executed, Sir Thomas’ admirers still insist that his actions were those of a true servant of the king.

The stained glass window below is in the church of St Lawrence Jewry, which is in the grounds of the Guildhall in Gresham St. To get there, walk across Holborn Viaduct, down Newgate Street, left into St Martins le Grand and right into Gresham St. Follow it to the Guildhall on your left. The church isn’t always open; you just have to be lucky.

Window in St Lawrence Jewry

Window in St Lawrence Jewry

I have been surprised that nothing of Sir Thomas is mentioned in Lincoln’s Inn, his Alma Mater. I could only inspect the chapel, of course, so perhaps there is some remembrance in the Hall, or the library. This picture of the gardens of Lincoln’s Inn shows the fountain with the Old Buildings behind, that back on to Chancery Lane. They bend the corner and run along Carey St to my right in this picture, to form part of a square.

Lincolns Inn, Old Buildings

Lincolns Inn, Old Buildings

The statue of Sir Thomas, is on a building attached to the back of the Old Buildings, so he has his back to Lincoln’s Inn and is looking at the Royal Courts of Justice. Since this building and the RCJ are both Victorian, perhaps our great-grandparents are reminding us of how government should work.

Sir Thomas More was born in Milk St, off Cheapside, almost opposite St Mary le Bow, and became a lawyer in Lincoln’s Inn. He coined the word Utopia as an island paradise of justice and good. In 1935, More was canonised a saint by both the Catholic Church and the Anglicans and was declared the patron saint of lawyers and statesmen. He gave his life in the firm belief of the separation of church and state. He was indeed, the Faithful Servant.


Tearle, Sydney Thomas, 1895, Hammersmith, UK (Royal Scotts)

Here is his service record from the CWGC:

Nationality: United Kingdom
Rank: Lance Serjeant Regiment/Service: Royal Scots
Unit Text: 1st/9th Bn.
Age: 21 Date of Death: 09/04/1917
Service No: 350354
Additional information: Son of Thomas and Pamela Tearle, of 47 Goodhall St., Willesden, London.
Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
Grave/Memorial Reference: V. A. 6.

Almost all the British casualties in this cemetery died in April 1917, says the CWGC. Given the date and the place, it is likely that Sydney was fighting for Bapaume with the ANZACs and the Canadians, not far from Calais, in Flanders. He was in the Lothian Regiment (!) says SDGW (Soldiers Died in the Great War) because he was working in Glasgow at the time he signed up. He was a railway employee, and he had done well to be promoted to Lance Sergeant in such a short time.

Given the family’s address – Willesden – I have discovered and written up the story of the relationship of Sydney’s parents with Elizabeth, the mother of Rowland Grigg Tearle, who was also a WW1 casualty and close in age to Sydney. Sydney’s parents were Thomas 1859 of Stanbridge and Pamela. nee Andrews 1860 Eggington. His grandparents were William 1832 of Stanbridge and Catherine nee Fountain. The parents of William 1832 were Thomas 1805 and Mary nee Garner, so you can see William is the brother of James (my gg-grandfather) and John the sexton, of the side-by-side headstones in Stanbridge.

John 1840 and James 1827 headstones in Stanbridge

John 1840 and James 1827 headstones in Stanbridge

Thomas’ parents were Richard 1772 and Elizabeth nee Bodsworth and Richard’s parents were John 1741 and Martha nee Archer. Thus Sydney is of the branch John 1741. Here are the census summaries for Thomas. You can see that in 1871, at 13yrs he is a servant for John Olney, a farmer on the Tilsworth road very close to the intersection with the Eggington Rd, almost opposite the church, so he is not living on the farm itself, I shouldn’t think.

1871 = Thomas 1858 Stbg servant in Stbg

In 1881 we find out that the newly-married Thomas is a Railway Labourer and living in Linslade. This probably means he was working on the Leighton Buzzard railway, which goes to Euston Station in London. We see that Pamela is from Eggington; we can assume that he has met her while he worked for John Olney, living so close to Eggington.

1881 = Thomas 1859 Stbg Pamela 21 in Linslade

In 1891 Thomas and Pamela are in Letchfold Gardens, Hammersmith, London. They have had two children in Leighton Buzzard (Linslade is 200m from Market Sq, LB) and two children in Hammersmith. They are living next door to John Backhouse from Leighton Buzzard and they may have followed him down to London, because their youngest children are close in age, and all born in Hammersmith. Unfortunately, they are listed only as Labourers, so there is no telling if he is still working on the railways.

1891 Thomas 1859 Stbg Pamela 31 Maud 7 Dora 5 Emily 8m in Hammersmith LON

In 1901 we can see young Sydney. Thomas and Pamela are living in the Railway Cottages, Hammersmith, not far from Hythe Rd. Thomas is definitely working on the railways – he is a Railway Engine Driver.

1901 = Thomas 1860 Stbg Pamela 40 Maude 17 Dora 12 Emily 10 Horace 8 Sidney 5 Mabel 4 Harold 5m in Hammersmith.

This looks like his birth certificate:

Name: Sidney Thomas Tearle Year of Registration: 1895 Quarter of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec District: Fulham County: Greater London, London, Middlesex Volume: 1a Page: 191

There is a memorial to Sydney  on the World War 1 memorial to Caledonian Railway Employees at the Glasgow Central Station. Richard says the line ran from Glasgow to Carlisle.

And, of course, there is his memorial in the Nine Elms Cemetery.

The gate - Nine Elms Military Cemetery

The gate – Nine Elms Military Cemetery.

Towards the Gt Cross Nine Elms Cemetery

Towards the Great Cross, Nine Elms Cemetery.

Lance Sergeant Sydney Thomas Tearle in the Book of Remembrance Nine Elms Cemetery

Lance Sergeant Sydney Thomas Tearle in the Book of Remembrance Nine Elms Cemetery

Lance Sergeant S J Tearle Nine Elms Cemetery

Lance Sergeant S J Tearle headstone in the Nine Elms Cemetery.

The inscription at the base of the headstone would have been written as his epitaph, by his parents:

Inscription at base of headstone for LSgt Sydney Thomas Tearle Nine Elms Cemetery

Inscription at base of headstone for LSgt Sydney Thomas Tearle at Nine Elms Cemetery.

We organised a trip to Glasgow Central Railway Station to find the plaque of the names of those who had been killed in the Great War. It is a large plaque, just inside the Gordon St entrance of the ornate Victorian station.

The impressive Victorial interior of Glasgow Central Station

There are 712 names on this most impressive monument.

Great War memorial Glasgow Central Station

Great War memorial Glasgow Central Station

The stone inscription to those who were killed in WW2 was added recently, but no names are listed. The header section of the monument is ornately carved stone.

Great War memorial Glasgow Central Station headpiece
We soon found the name of Sydney Thomas Tearle, in the middle of the last column.

Sydney T Tearle on Glasgow Central Station Great War memorial

Sydney T Tearle on Glasgow Central Station Great War memorial


Thomas Tearle, 1830, Dagnall, UK, and Jane nee Draper

This is the headstone of Jane nee Draper, wife of Thomas born 30 Sept 1830 in Dagnall.


Edlesborough and Dagnall are very close together. After Jane died, Thomas married Bethia Smith and moved to Dunstable, where he died in 1909. Thomas is on the branch of Thomas 1737

This is another story of the grandchildren of Fanny Tearle. Her son, Abel 1797 of Edlesborough, married Hannah Frost of Tilsworth, near (very near) Stanbridge. Hannah died in 1839 and you can see Abel with his second wife, Ann Jones, living in Dagnall in the 1841 census. Abel and Hannah’s son Thomas b1830 in Dagnall, is not living with Abel and Ann because he is staying and working (Man Servant) at the house of Benjamin and Charlotte Johnson, farmer at Church End, Totternhoe.

1841 = Thomas 1830 (not born Beds) in the house of Benjamin Johnson in Totternhoe. This Benjamin Johnson (b1816) is Fanny’s son by her second husband, William Johnson of Northall. Benjamin went on to become a Morman and his family moved to Utah after his death.

In 1848 Thomas married Jane Draper and this is how I first became interested in this family. Elaine and I went to Edlesborough to have a look at St Mary’s, Edlesborough. We found the headstone (above) for Jane, the beloved wife of Thomas Tearle of Dagnall, who died in 1886, at 59 years. We wondered who they were. Thomas must have been pretty successful, because a headstone was expensive, and one this size even more so. We were entranced by the deep love expressed by the memorial and the erudition of its sentiment.

I found the story of Abel, Hannah and Ann, as well as Thomas and Jane, in the censuses from 1841 to 1901, and from them the connection of Thomas and Jane to the rest of the Tearle family. Thomas followed in Abel’s footsteps as a maltster; he was the head brewer for James Batchelar in Dagnall and must have been good at it. Calling himself Thomas Tearle of Dagnall is in itself a statement of self-confidence. The 1861 census is the best picture of this family and you can see that the names of the first three children – Susannah, Abel and Fanny – do help to add substance to the story that Fanny 1770 was a child of Thomas 1737 and Susannah nee Attwell. It would certainly suggest that this family was close to Thomas and Susannah.

1861 = Thomas 1830 Dagnall p1 Jane 34 Susan 12 Able 10 Fanny 7 Joseph 5 in Dagnall.

1861 = Thomas 1830 Dagnall p2 Elizabeth 3 John 1 in Dagnall

The 1871 census shows that Jane’s father, who is living with them at the time, was Abraham Draper of Little Gadsden, Herts. She was a lady of great heart, because her father spent his last years as an “Imbicile with age.”

Thomas married Bethia Smith from Pitstone (near Ivinghoe) in 1888 after Jane died. Thomas is buried with Bethia in Dunstable; I think the one at Priory Church, but possibly the Dunstable public – I haven’t found the memorial yet. I think that Thomas intended to be buried with Jane, hence the room left on the memorial, but events did not work out that way, it seems. It is also worth noting that Thomas is the brother of Susanna Tearle 1827.