Tag Archives: Wright

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].

Picture Palace, Helmia Camp ~ Military Monday

Poster for entertainments at the Picture Palace, Helmia Camp, Cairo - 1915

Poster for entertainments at the Picture Palace, Helmia Camp, Cairo – April 1915

This is a poster advertising entertainment at Helmia Camp in Egypt, and was amongst a collection of photographs, newspaper clippings, and postcards, all belonging to my great grandfather Alexander Wright. It shows he was a bugler (and could sing!), and places him in Cairo on April 19th, 1915: the date of the entertainment starts on a Monday in April, either the 19th or 29th. The only dates between 1915 and 1917 (when he was back in New Zealand) that this occurs is April 19, 1915. (www.dayoftheweek.org)

Military Monday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

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.

Mary Jane’s grave ~ (Not so) Wordless Wednesday

Last week I posted a couple of photos of Brockley Cemetery in Lewisham. This is where my great great grandmother, Mary Jane (Clarke) Freeth/Wright/Carroll, was buried in 1932.  I’d found her entry in the Greenwich Union death register and discovered she had been buried “by friends” in Brockley Cemetery1.  In May 2012 I contacted Lewisham Council and a lovely staff member there sent me Mary Jane’s burial details, as well as a map marked with the location of her grave. Eureka!

My mother was visiting from New Zealand at the time, and together we set off to find Mary Jane’s grave. This is what we were confronted with in the Roman Catholic section of the cemetery:

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London - June 2012

Brockley Cemetery, Lewisham, London – June 2012

You can see how overgrown the area was – it was almost impossible to read any of the gravestones, even where the inscriptions were still legible.  After an hour, we gave up the search.

My next step is to contact the Friends of Brockley & Ladywell Cemeteries, in the hope that they may be able to pinpoint the grave location more accurately. And to buy some heavy-duty gardening tools.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

  1. Board of Guardians, Workhouse Woolwich Road (Greenwich Union, London, England), “Register of Deaths”, Mary Carroll death, 12 Feb 1932; digital images; Ancestry.com, London, England, Deaths & Burials 1813-1980 (http://www.ancestry.co.uk : accessed 23 Jun 2011).

Wrights of Boxford & Polstead, Suffolk, England: Burials

Around this time last year I was in Bury St Edmunds record office, Suffolk, tracking down my Wright ancestors. An IHGS assignment required me to record register events for a family over a period of at least 50 years in one parish, and then construct family trees from those events. Knowing (from census records) that my Wrights had lived in Boxford and Polstead, I chose to research both parishes. You can find the baptisms and marriages online at FamilySearch, though Boxford’s data appears to be limited in date range and includes entries taken from the bishop’s and archdeacon’s transcripts (BTs), which are sometimes noted as “Boxford BTs”, but also noted as being from “Sudbury”, the name of the deanery. However, burials aren’t included, and I thought it might be useful for others if I listed the burial entries I found.

I viewed the parish registers on microfiche, and in some cases the entries were quite difficult to decipher.  As with any transcription, errors may be lurking!

Wright burials in the parish of Boxford, Suffolk 1759-1848

Burial date Name Age Residence
3 Jun 1759 Gabriel Wright from London
14 Oct 1762 John Wright 89
26 Aug 1790 Elizabeth Wright 27
26 Dec 1809 William Wright 22 Boxford
15 Jan 1816 Mary Wright 47 Boxford
24 Oct 1817 William Wright 64 Hadleigh Hamlet
1 Apr 1819 Mary Wright 4 Boxford
5 Mar 1820 Charlotte Wright 4.5 Boxford
1 May 1820 Robert Wright 6 months Boxford
7 Jul 1834 Samuel Wright 3 months Groton
19 Mar 1835 Mary Wright 25 Boxford
19 Nov 1837 Mary Wright 2.5 Boxford
19 Mar 1848 Matilda Wright 19 Groton
6 Dec 1848 William Wright 42 Boxford
10 Dec 1848 Harriet Wright 17 Boxford

Wright burials in the parish of Polstead, Suffolk 1773-1845*

Burial date Name Age Residence
21 Apr 1773 Mary Wright
4 Sep 1788 Susan Wright 45
2 Jan 1803 Mary Wright 45
16 Dec 1804 Judith Wright infant
9 Mar 1806 Phoebe Wright 21
14 May 1809 Mary Wright 1
10 May 1810 Mary Wright 72
10 May 1810 Benjamin Wright 72
6 Jul 1810 James Wright 1
27 Aug 1810 Sarah Wright 37
20 Jun 1813 Robert Wright 5 weeks Polstead
25 May 1817 Elizabeth Wright 39 Stoke
30 May 1820 Clarke Wright 41 Boxford
19 Feb 1823 Sarah Wright 57 Polstead
22 May 1823 William Wright 78 Boxford
20 Jan 1827 Joseph Wright 2 months Polstead
13 Jul 1829 John Wright 4 Polstead
8 Jul 1845 John Wright 69 Polstead

Boxford Parish (Suffolk, England), Parish Registers, Burial entries, Fiche no. 10 (1754-1807), Fiche no. 11 (1807-1808), Fiche no. 16 (1808-1831), Fiche no. 17 (1831-1858), Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds.

Polstead Parish (Suffolk, England), Parish Registers, Burial entries, Fiche no. 8 (1772-1783), Fiche no. 11 (1783-1788), Fiche no. 12 (1789-1813), Fiche no. 15 (1813-1825), Fiche no. 16 (1825-1858), Suffolk Record Office, Bury St Edmunds.

*There appeared to be a gap in the register of burial entries for Polstead parish between 1781 and 1788.

Genealogy Resolutions 2012

It’s that time of year for resolutions, and I’ve been inspired by other Geneabloggers – this is my list for 2012:

Organisation

  • Complete updating my records in Reunion
  • Plan a scanning schedule for my certificates

Writing

  • Post on this blog at least twice a week
  • Begin writing my maternal grandmother’s biography

Education

  • Complete assignments for IHGS Lectures 4 to 12
  • Complete TNA’s online paleaography and Latin courses

Research

  • Find the Burkes’ townland in Co. Mayo
  • Visit Scotland and take a looksee round where the Burkes and Philps lived
  • Continue research on Wright line

St Mary’s Church, Polstead, Suffolk ~ revisited

Some weeks back I posted a photo I took of St Mary’s church in Polstead, Suffolk.  It’s a beautiful old village church, and when we visited back in August, we could just walk in and take a look around.

Inside, I picked up a copy of Polstead Church and Parish1 for a small donation, and the following information comes from there.

Interior of St Mary's church, Polstead, Suffok ~ August 2011

Interior of St Mary's church, Polstead, Suffolk ~ August 2011

The  church was built early in the reign of Henry II, probably about 1160 A.D. and was dedicated to Saint Mary.  There have been two major alterations to the orginal twelfth-century Norman church, one towards the end of the fourteenth centur and another about 1510-1520.

The interior of the church is given a unique appearance by the use of brick and tufa blocks (a porous stone used for building at Rome and Naples) in the construction of the nave arches – Norman arches of brick are very rare; there is no other church like this in the whole of Suffolk.

Baptismal font c.13th century, St Mary's church, Polstead, Suffolk ~ August 2011

Baptismal font c.13th century, St Mary's church, Polstead, Suffolk ~ August 2011

The plain baptismal font probably dates from the 13th century, and was completely restored in 1961.  The original base has been enlarged and the lead bowl with drain has replaced the original.   The original 17th century wooden font cover has been replaced by one made of fibre-glass, in a symbolic design design of the Dove and undulating waters of Baptism. (It was designed by a nun of Oxford, who had trained at the Slade School of Art.)

There is much architectural joy to be discovered in this church.  I found it to be a very lovely and simple place of worship, with lots of historical bits and bobs to savour.  It’s where some of my Wright ancestors were baptised and married, and some buried in the graveyard.

St Mary's church graveyard, Polstead, Suffolk ~ August 2011

St Mary's church graveyard, Polstead, Suffolk ~ August 2011

  1. Polstead Parochial Church Council. Polstead Church and Parish, based on an original history by Laurence S. Harley FSA, first published in January 1951, Polstead Parochial Church Council (Suffolk: 2005)

Task list ~ Sorting Saturday

Well, we’re over halfway through December already and I haven’t even thought about a task list for the month!   So much for being more organised…

Anyway, a quick look at how I did on my November tasks:

  • outstanding emails    –  half done, need to finish the rest before Christmas
  • lecture 3 assignments   –   a miracle indeed, finished and submitted!!  Have even started on lecture 4 assignments
  • regular blogging (including finishing my West Yorkshire research trip series)    –   not done so well here, though completed my West Yorkshire posts
  • filing and inputting data for maternal side   –    ummm…
  • book tickets for WDYTYA? Live in February  –   yup indeedy, tickets bought and workshops booked.  Even have hotel booked, woohoo!

I also fitted in a day course at IHGS on The Parish and the Manor, and a day’s research up in Suffolk on the Wright side of my family.

The rest of this month will kinda be taken up with Christmas activities, but I’m also hoping to:

  • complete two lecture 4 assignments
  • undertake more Wright research up in Suffolk
  • do some prep work for my New Zealand trip in January
  • maybe some filing…?? ho ho ho

Sorting Saturday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

My Nanna and me ~ Wordless Wednesday

Jean (McGonnell) Wright and me, Auckland, NZ

Jean (McGonnell) Wright and me, Auckland, NZ

Today is my birthday – the first one without my Nanna.

Wordless Wednesday is an ongoing series at GeneaBloggers.

Deserted, pardoned, enlisted ~ Military Monday

Following up from yesterday’s post,  where I was wondering how and when Alex Wright (my great grandfather) came out to New Zealand, I do know that he arrived before the outbreak of World War I, because he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) on 23 August 1914 at Awapuni.1

War had been declared just 19 days earlier, and the army had set up a training camp on the grounds of the Awapuni Racecourse, Palmerston North.

AWAPUNI CAMP

PALMERSTON N. Aug 25

The military camp at Awapunu is the largest in New Zealand, and it is understood it will be continued for some time.  General Godley expressed himself yesterday as highly delighted with the arrangements and suitability of the site for military training.

The Manawatu Racing Club has been warmly thanked for placing their grounds at the disposal of the military authorities.  Fresh troops are expected to arrive shortly for training purposes.

The parade state to-day showed the following men in camp at Awapuni: Infantry, 31 officers and 1165 men; mounted rifles, 21 and 640; artillery, 4 and 203, ammunition column, 5 and 230; field troop engineers, 3 and 80; divisional signal company, 4 and 116; mounted signal troop, 1 and 26; field ambulance, 2 and 43, army service corps, 1 and 86; reservists, 71; total 75 and 2662.2

At the time of enlistment, Alex was single,  working as a labourer with the Public Works Department in Gisborne, and living at 53 Bright Street.  In his attestation, he declared that he was a deserter from the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers.  He gave his mother, Mary Jane Carroll, of 180 Evelyn Street, Deptford, England, as his next-of-kin.

His medical examination describes him being 5 foot 9 inches tall, weighing 11 – 4lb and having a dark complexion, brown eyes, and dark brown hair.  His religious profession was Roman Catholic.  Distinctive marks:  Tattoo, Clasped hands Left, Clasped hands Right, H. Cavender on Right arm.  He was assessed fit and he joined the Wellington Infantry Battalion as a Private with the regimental number of 10/800.

A couple of unidentified newspaper clippings that the family had kept were an interesting find:

"Pardon For Deserters", from unidentified publication, Aug 1914

"Pardon For Deserters", from unidentified publication, Aug 1914

PARDON FOR DESERTERS

WELLINGTON, this day.

The Defence Department has requested the Press Association to distribute the following cable: “London, Aug. 7.   Give the widest publicity to the following army orders:  War Office, August 7th, 1914.  Pardon for deserters.  The King has been graciously pleased to sanction pardon being granted to soldiers who were in a state of desertion.3

Clipping from unidentified publication, 1914

Clipping from unidentified publication, 1914

As showing the fighting spirit of the true Britisher, it may be mentioned that two reservists, who were deserters from their regiments, have offered their services to proceed to the front.3

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. “AWAPUNI CAMP”, Hawera & Normanby Star, 25 August 1914, page 7; digital image, National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past (http://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/ : accessed 01 Aug 2011).
  3. “PARDON FOR DESERTERS” and Untitled clipping, clippings from unidentified publications, dated August 1914; photocopy, original held by [NAME AND ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], grandson of Alexander Wright.