Tag Archives: Deptford

A story in a tattoo ~ Military Monday

Alexander Wright (1891-1956)

Alexander Wright (1891-1956)

It’s funny the things you overlook when you first read a document. Or even on the second or third time. I was in the middle of assignment work for my course with the IHGS, focusing on military records, and so had been going over what records and notes I had for my great grandfather, Alexander Wright, who fought at Gallipoli during World War I. He was one of the lucky ones who made it back home. And I’m lucky that he “left” the Royal Irish Fusiliers and joined up with the New Zealand Expeditionary Force at the outbreak of war, as that means his service record survives!

Upon reading over his service record, something in his physical description suddenly jumped out at me. The description of his tattoo. I had skimmed over it before and had idly wondered what the “clasped hands” might signify, but it was only when re-reading it again recently, that I noticed the name that he had tattooed on his right arm: H. Cavender. And I suddenly remembered that I had seen that name before, in a census return.

Description of Alexander Wright on Enlistment (NZEF service record 10/800)

Description of Alexander Wright on Enlistment (NZEF service record 10/800)1

Alexander’s mother Mary Jane, brother Joseph and stepfather John Carroll were living in Deptford in 1911, at 37 Prince Street2. Enumerated there at the time of the census were:

John Carroll Head 62 married General Labourer
Mary Jane Carroll Wife 55 married Household work
Joseph Wright Son 24 single Telegraph Clerk
George Archer Boarder 27 single Foundry Worker
Hilda Cavender Boarder 17 single Tea Factory
Bridget Carroll Visitor 30 single Nurse St Pancras Infirmary
Cecelia Stokes Visitor 26 single Nurse Children’s Infirmary

Hilda was a boarder with the Carroll family in 1911, maybe because it was close to where she worked. There is a building called the Tea Factory in nearby Brockley, which was built in the 1940s to replace the old warehouse that had been bombed during World War II3.

In the 1901 census, Hilda was living with her parents Alexander and Mary at 354 Evelyn Street in Deptford4. By 1911, her father and stepmother were living in 36 Woodpecker Road5, about 16 minutes walk away from the Carrolls (thanks Google maps!). Maybe Hilda didn’t get on with her stepmother?

And then I remembered where I’d also seen the name Hilda – in a postcard to Alexander from his sister Mollie (Mary Freeth).

Postcard from Mary Freeth to Alexander Wright, probably early 1910s

Postcard from Mary Freeth to Alexander Wright, probable date 10 Mar 1908

“… How are you getting on? also Hilda. I hope she is well – give her my love…”6

Sounds like Alexander and Hilda might have been sweethearts. So what happened?

All sorts of scenarios have run through my head. Alexander deserted from the Royal Irish Fusiliers at some point after this and before 1914, when he mysteriously turns up in New Zealand, and enlists in the NZEF. Did he run away because he was miserable with Army life, or perhaps Hilda had taken up with someone else? Perhaps she became pregnant and he couldn’t handle the responsibility? His mother Mary Jane was from a military family and it would have been so hard for him to face her after deserting – what could possibly have made him do it?

Looking again at Alexander’s attestation form, on his Military History Sheet, it asks for his “Intended place of residence on discharge” and Alexander has stated “London”. So, he meant to go back.

Did Hilda wait for him?

In the June quarter of 1916, a Hilda Cavender married William H. Danson in Wandsworth7.

Meanwhile, Alexander had been wounded at Gallipoli and was transported back to New Zealand, being discharged from the NZEF on 21 May 1916 as medically unfit1. He married Elsie Nunns on 7 June 1917.

Military Monday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Archives NZ, “WRIGHT, Alexander – WW1 10/800 – Army”; digital image, Archway (http://www.archway.archives.govt.nz/ViewFullItem.do?code=22022458 : accessed 26 Nov 2010)
  2. “1911 England Census, John Carroll (age 62) household, St Nicholas Deptford, London,” digital image, FindMyPast, (http://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed 14 Apr 2011), PRO RG14/2640, Greenwich registration district, Deptford East sub-registration district, ED 28, household 32, 02 Apr 1911.
  3. “The Tea Factory”, DPS Property Holdings, http://www.dpsproperty.com/gallerydetails.php?galId=3 : accessed May 2013.
  4. “1901 England Census, Alexander Cavender (age 33) household, Deptford St Paul, London,” digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 14 Jun 2013), citing PRO RG13/524, folio 79, p8, Greenwich registration district, Deptford North sub-registration district, ED 8, household 44, 31 Mar 1901.
  5. “1911 England Census, Alexander Cavender (age 43) household, Deptford St Paul, London,” digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 14 Jun 2013), PRO RG14/2608, Greenwich registration district, Deptford North sub-registration district, ED 14, household 62, 02 Apr 1911.
  6. Postcard addressed to Alec Wright, sent by Mary Freeth, dated 10 Mar 1908(?); digital image, original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], granddaughter of A. Wright.
  7. “England & Wales, FreeBMD Index: 1837-1983,” database, FreeBMD (http://www.freebmd.org.uk/cgi/search.pl : accessed 2013), marriage entry for William H. Danson and Hilda F. Cavender; Jun 1916 [quarter] Wandsworth 1d [vol] 1462 [page].

A close family in life, and in death ~ Tombstone Tuesday

When I received a transcript of Mary Jane’s burial details from Lewisham Council, I wasn’t surprised to see she shared a grave plot. But I was surprised to find out that she was sharing it with five other people! (My previous post describes my search for the grave at Brockley Cemetery.)

It’s been a fascinating exercise to see who all these people were.

The plot was originally purchased by “Mr Rio G M Stapley” of 131 High Street, Deptford, on 12th June 1896 for £3, and the memorial on the grave is described as “Flat stone & Curb set on Landing (Full Memorial)”.

I can find no “Rio Stapley” in the censuses, but living at 131 High Street, Deptford, in both 1891 and 1901 is Michael P. Fannen, an Irish-born Roman Catholic priest, along with two other priests and a couple of housekeeping staff. Should “Rio” be “Rev”? It looks like the grave was donated or paid for by the local church, or perhaps a kind parishioner.

Person no. 1
On the 15th of June 1896, 17 year old Edmund Carroll was buried there. From checking the censuses, it appears he was the second son of John and Honorah Carroll, born in Deptford, Kent. His birth was registered in the September quarter of 1878 in Greenwich. (John Carroll was my great great grandmother’s third husband.)

Person no. 2
Honorah Carroll was buried in the same plot on 10th of February 1900, and was 55 years old. The censuses show her to be John Carroll’s wife, and give her birthplace as Co. Kerry, Ireland.

In 1901, John Carroll married Mary Jane Wright (previously Freeth, formerly Clarke), my great great grandmother.

John and Mary Jane Carroll, November 1917

John and Mary Jane Carroll, November 1917

Person no. 3
The third person interred was 41 year old John Carroll, eldest son of John and Honorah, buried on 8th February 1918. He was also born in Deptford, and his occupation in the 1891 census was pupil teacher.

On the 18th of February in 1918, the ownership of the grave transferred to Mr John Carroll of 180 Evelyn Street, Deptford.

Person no. 4
Johanna Colligan (transcribed as “Colhgan” in the burial register copy) is listed as the fourth internment on 16th of March 1918. She was 44 years of age, and John and Honorah’s eldest child. She married Richard Colligan in 1901, and they appear to have had three children: Honora in 1902, Michael in 1905, and Margaret Mary in 1910.

By March 1918, John Carroll had lost his wife and three of their four children.

Person no. 5
John himself joined them on 26th of January 1923, aged 76 years.

Person no. 6
The last person to be interred there was Mary Jane at 76 years of age, on 17th of February 1932.

On 4th of March 1932, the ownership transferred to Mary Freeth (no address given), Mary Jane’s eldest daughter.

Tombstone Tuesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

The Luxtons sail the seas

Some of the photographs Lavinia sent her brother Alexander (my great grandfather) were ones taken in Bermuda.  What on earth was she doing there?  When I went searching two years ago, I’m sure I found her and her family in an outgoing passenger list from England on Ancestry – did I get a copy?  It appears not.  And can I find the list now?  No, I can not.  I wonder if I just imagined it?

However, last year at WDYTYA? Live in London, I snaffled a spot on the Ancestry stand and had fifteen minutes free access to their records, and discovered the family in an incoming passenger list, returning from Bermuda to England.

William John Luxton (41), Lavinia Ellen Luxton (42), Eileen Mary Luxton (15) and Lavinia Alexa. Luxton (11) sailed from the West Coast of South America with the Pacific Steam Navigation Company vessel Oropesa, arriving in Liverpool, England on 30 December 1924.  They travelled 2nd class, and William is listed as a “Civil Servant.”1

What were they doing in Bermuda?  What could have brought them out there? And why did they return?

Searching again on Ancestry today, I found another record – a Declaration of Passenger to Canada (Form 30A) from William John Luxton.2 He sailed from England on 26 June 1921 on the S.S. Minnedosa, “On passage to Bermuda”.  He declared that he was 38, married, and that his wife was not travelling with him.  His occupation is “Storehouseman”, the same as in the 1911 census.  Further down the form it asks:

12. By whom was your passage paid? H.B.M Admiralty

14. Destined to H. M. Victualling Yard Bermuda

So, that answers a couple of questions at least.  I wonder if Lavinia and the children followed on their own later, or if he travelled back to bring them over?  Lavinia is listed as his nearest relative “in country from which [he] came”, living at 48 All?? Road, Deptford, London SE8.

She must have travelled over fairly soon afterwards, as she sent her brother Alex photographs of herself, and her daughters, taken in 1922.

Eileen and Lavinia Luxton, February 1922, Bermuda

Eileen and Lavinia Luxton, February 1922, Bermuda

Eileen and Lavinia Luxton, February 1922, Bermuda (reverse)

Eileen and Lavinia Luxton, February 1922, Bermuda (reverse)

Still, how did William get a job in Bermuda? He was working for the Admiralty in 1911, so maybe it was a job transfer?

From Bermuda Maritime Museum‘s website:

The British naval base at the western end of Bermuda was constructed as a direct result of the independence of the English American colonies in 1783, when the British were left without a base between Halifax and the West Indies. The British soon identified Bermuda as a strategic mid-Atlantic location where a secure anchorage for the Navy’s fleet and a dockyard, victualling yard and ordnance depot to maintain the ships could be developed.

In 1795 a base was commissioned in the island’s east end at St. George’s, but it soon proved inadequate and the area known as Ireland Island in the west end was purchased by the Navy for the major naval base. Construction of the North America and West Indies Station, as the base eventually became known, began in 1809 and continued into the early 20th Century. Construction of the Dockyard–including its breakwaters, fortifications, storehouses, workshops, and barracks–was a monumental effort that involved large land reclamations and the labour of thousands of convicts from Britain.

And what exactly was the Victualling Yard? From Blair Howard’s Adventure Guide Bermuda:

The Victualling Yard was the heart of naval operations within the Dockyard. It was here that food and supplies were prepared and stored. The yard is surrounded by a high, stone wall to keep supplies safe from pilferage. Today, it has become a park within a park. Where once hundreds of British seamen ran back and forth across the stone-flagged yard there are now trimmed lawns and benches surrounded by the ruins of massive stone warehouses.

 

According to The Companion to British history by Charles Arnold-Baker, a naval yard was established in Deptford around 1490. But later “as the navy had increasingly to adopt a world role.. Deptford became a victualling yard..” So, seems to make sense that he may have worked at the Deptford yard, become well-regarded, and grabbed an opportunity to work in Bermuda.

I came across a research guide to military  records regarding the Naval Dockyards held at the National Archives, but all seem to be for much earlier time periods.  Will have to keep my eyes peeled for later records, to see if I can discover anything more about the family’s time out there.

And here’s Aunt Lavinia again, bless her heart (and her photo captions!):

Lavinia Luxton, Bermuda 1924

Lavinia Luxton, Bermuda 1924

  1. “UK Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960″, digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 27 Feb 2010); from The National Archives, Class: BT26; Piece: 762; Item: 77.
  2. “Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924″, digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 22 Apr 2011), declaration of passenger to Canada, 1921, William John Luxton, 249; Microfilm Reels: T-14939 to T-15248.

Ephraim Wright

Mary Jane‘s second husband was my great great grandfather, Ephraim Wright.  He was born on January 8th 1860 in Polstead, Suffolk, England.1 His parents Benjamin Wright and Mary Ann Peggs had married on October 23rd 1858 in Boxford, Suffolk – Benjamin’s home town.2

I haven’t been able to find Ephraim and his parents in the 1861 census, though there are a couple of likely candidates for his father, both of whom are in jail!

The family turn up in the 1871 census at Potash Lane, Polstead, Suffolk. Along with his parents Benjamin 40 and Mary A 37, the 11 year old scholar Ephraim is living with his 8 year old brother Arthur.3


View Polstead & Boxford, Suffolk in a larger map

At the time of the 1881 census, I think he is living at 56 Railway Grove, St Paul Deptford.  There is an Ephraim Wright, 21,  labourer, living with a 63 year old widower by the name of George Boxhall, who is also a labourer.  Ephraim’s birth place is given as Suffolk.4 It’s possible this is not my man  – there are several other Ephraim Wrights born in Suffolk around – but given that this is a year before he marries Mary Jane in a neighbouring area, I think it’s likely to be the right one.

On March 13th, 1882 he marries Mary Jane Freeth (formerly Clark) at St Stephen’s church, Lewisham, Kent.  At the time he was living at Brookbank Road, Lewisham, and his occupation is “Fitter”.5

By 1891, Ephraim and Mary Jane and five children are living at 11 Alvar Street in Deptford. Thirty year old Ephraim’s  occupation is listed as General Labourer and Mary Jane (35) is a Laundress.6 The children are:

  • Mary Freeth 14, Ephraim’s stepdaughter,  Mary Jane’s daughter from her previous marriage, born Meath, Ireland
  • Lavinia Wright 8, daughter, born Deptford
  • James A  Wright 6, son, born Deptford
  • Joseph Wright 4, son, born Rotherhithe, Surrey
  • Ephraim G Wright 2, son, born Deptford

My great grandfather Alexander was born just after the census, on June 27th 1891.

Sadly, Ephraim died three years later at the age of 34 on November 26th 1894 at the South Eastern Hospital in Deptford.  His address was given as 23 Berthon Street, Deptford, and occupation “Engine fitter”.7 (By the time his son Alexander marries in 1917, Ephraim’s occupation has been upgraded to “Engineer”.)

The cause of death was Enteric Fever, another name for typhoid, “a common worldwide illness, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces [sic] of an infected person… The impact of this disease fell sharply with the application of modern sanitation techniques.”8

I’d love to find out where Ephraim was in 1861.  If his father was in jail, where would his mother have gone with a baby?  I did search a couple of years ago, looking at his mother’s family to see if she’d gone there, but found nothing.  Time to have another hunt.  I also want to know what his father was in jail for, if indeed that’s where he was.

And why did Ephraim move away from Suffolk?  I would think it would be because of work, or lack thereof.  Maybe following up what happened to his brother Arthur could offer some clues.

I also want to check out the places Ephraim was living in against the Charles Booth poverty maps of London, to see what kind of housing it was, what it might have been like.

  1. England, birth certificate for Ephraim Wright; 08 Jan 1860, Cosford, Suffolk; citing 1860 Mar [quarter] 04a [vol] 456 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  2. England, marriage certificate for Benjamin Wright and Mary Ann Peggs; 23 Oct 1858, Boxford, Suffolk; citing 1858 Dec [quarter] 04a [vol] 925 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  3. “1871 England Census, Benjamin Wright (age 40) household, Polstead, Suffolk,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 11 Sep 2008), citing PRO RG10/1723, folio 96, p 2 & 3, GSU roll: 830763, Cosford registration district, Hadleigh sub-registration district, ED 19, household 11, 02 Apr 1871.
  4. “1881 England Census, George Boxhall (age 63) household, St Paul Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 11 Sep 2008), citing PRO RG11/708, folio 58, p 16, GSU roll: 1341165, Greenwich registration district, St Paul Deptford sub-registration district, ED 34a, household 81, 03 Apr 1881.
  5. England, marriage certificate for Ephraim Wright and Mary Jane Freeth; 13 Mar 1882, Lewisham; citing Mar 1882 [quarter] 01d [vol] 1019 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  6. “1891 England Census, Ephraim Wright (age 30) household, St Paul Deptford, London,” Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed 01 Oct 2010), citing PRO RG12/494, folio 67, p 63, GSU roll: 6095604, Greenwich registration district, St Paul Deptford sub-registration district, ED 2, household 323, 05 Apr 1891.
  7. England, death certificate for Ephraim Wright; 26 Nov 1894, Greenwich; citing Dec 1894 [quarter] 01d [vol] 552 [page], General Register Office, Stockport.
  8. Wikipedia “Typhoid fever”, article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoid_fever accessed: 2 April 2011.