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Military Monday - Percival Richardson. Royal Engineers Part I

I've recently added my 2x Great Uncle Percival Richardson to Lives of the First World War . I've already posted a few posts abo...

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Friday, 13 January 2017



My 3x Great Grandfather Thomas May seems to have had an eventful life.

Born in Hinckley, Leicestershire in 1819 Thomas was the fourth child of William May & Catherine Townsend.
William was working as a tailor in Castle Street at the time of Thomas's birth, he later became a master tailor & draper and hosiery manufacturer. He was also a publican and an agent for Royal Exchange Assurance.



In the 1841 census Thomas was working as a warehouseman, previously he had been in a partnership with his father as an insurance agent for Fire & Life.

By 1843 Thomas had followed his father into the hosiery business in Hinckley and had also married Sophia Lapworth, the daughter of John Lapworth and Mary Ann Hunt, in Coventry.

During the next ten years Thomas is noted in the local trade directories as a hosier; by the 1851 census he is a master hosier employing forty men, so obviously doing quite well for himself and his family. At this point he and Sophia have three children; William, Alice and Mary Ann.

Their eldest son, William, was born in Manchester in 1844, which seemed odd, so I researched a little further to find a reason for this. I found that Thomas's older sister, Elizabeth, had married John Evans in 1833. In the following years John had many varied occupations in different parts of the country, railway porter, inspector of police (I find that a little difficult to believe!), sawyer, labourer and publican. In 1843, Elizabeth and John had a daughter, Catharine, in Manchester, so it's possible that Thomas and Sophia were with them around this time.

Between the years 1846 and 1854, according to the local directories,Thomas May was also a publican; he had the Star at Stockwell Head in Hinckley.

Stockwell Head, Hinckley

In 1854 Thomas and Sophia had twins, Louisa and Richard Henry, both baptised on the 29th June at St. Mary's Hinckley. Thomas's occupation is noted here as hosier and grocer. Sadly, Richard died on the 4th December the same year and was buried at St. Mary's.


Following this there is no further trace of Thomas in Hinckley. The Star's landlord in 1855 is John Huston. There is a mention of a Thomas May as a landlord of The Grapes in Leicester in March 1856, but there's no proof that this is the same man. if it is him, he's running a disorderly house!


The proof of where Thomas & his family ended up is in the 1861 census. They were living in Dale Street, Sneinton, Nottingham. Thomas was employed as a warehouse man and there was a new addition to the family, a daughter, Julia, born in Nottingham in February 1857. So they must have been in Nottingham by early 1857.

I found a possible mention of Thomas in the newspaper court reports of 1858. It appears that Thomas had bought some shop fixtures from a Mr Slingsby in 1856 that were not actually his to sell. Thomas ended up paying the shop landlord for the items and was attempting to reclaim his money from Slingsby. Thomas lost this case, which may have been quite a blow to the family finances.



If this is the right man then he must have arrived in Nottingham sometime in 1856. I'm reasonably confident that it is him; there are other Thomas Mays living in Nottingham in both the 1851 and 1861 census but none of their occupations fit and my Thomas was working in a warehouse in 1861. He may have been trying to set himself back up in business in his new city.

In 1862, his wife Sophia died aged 42 of a malignant disease of the womb and was buried at St Stephens in Sneinton.



Thomas was an executor of his Uncle Richard May's will in 1869, he swore an oath in Leicestershire and was described as a hosier living in Belgrave.

In the 1871 census 52 year old Thomas was recorded as a visitor at the Pump Tavern in Aston, Birmingham. His older sister Elizabeth & her husband John Evans were the keepers of the pub.






Thomas's son, William, had married Emma Carr; they spent a few years in Nottingham and later moved back to Leicestershire. His daughters Alice, Mary Ann, Louisa and Julia remained in Nottingham and were living together in 1871 at High Pavement.









In September of 1871, Thomas married Sophia Staples, a widow, nee Sault, at St Pauls in Aston. John & Elizabeth Evans were the witnesses.









I have been unable to find much information about Thomas's life after this time. In 1873 his daughter Alice married William Oldknow Oldham in Nottingham and gave her father's occupation as publican.

Thomas died aged 55 on the 9th August 1874 at the home of his sister, Elizabeth in Belgrave, Leicestershire. Her husband John Evans was present at his death and was the informant. Thomas was buried at St Peters church, Belgrave.



The cause of death was hepatic dropsy; related to the liver and possibly cirrhosis.

I've been unable to find out why Thomas & Sophia left Hinckley in 1854/5. It seems quite a fall in status from an employer of 40 men in 1851 to a warehouse man in 1861. The May family did have money; they were landowners in Sutton Cheney, Leicestershire. Thomas's father, William, had been described as gentry in one local directory, and he owned his own house in Hinckley. Thomas was the eldest surviving son so it would be usual for him to have inherited the majority of his parent's estate.

I suspect that alcohol may have been part of it exacerbated by his run of bad luck beginning with the death of his infant son in 1854, his loss in status, loss of money in Nottingham and then the death of his wife. His lifelong proximity to alcohol is obvious and the cause of his death most likely alcohol related.



Credits:
Tailor; https://unsplash.com/search/tailor?photo=FQ83tBxftJc 
Stockwell Head; http://www.hinckleytimes.net/news/local-news/appeal-photos-peoples-album-9200190
Richard May death; The Leicester Chronicle. 16 December 1854
The Grapes; Leicester Journal 14 March 1856
May vs Slingsby; Nottingham Daily Guardian, Nottingham October 1858
Sophia Lapworth death; Nottingham Daily Guardian, Nottingham, 24 January 1862
High Pavement Nottingham; my photo
St Pauls Aston; https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/File:Aston_St_Peter_%26_St_Paul_Birmingham.jpg
Thomas May death; Leicester Chronicle and the Leicestershire Mercury August 22, 1874

Wednesday, 30 November 2016



A few more people from Great-Aunt Joy's photo albums. I'd be very grateful for any information on the people in these photos as I am only able to identify a few of them myself.




Eric ? East Africa 1943
Frank ? Cairo 1942
George ? 1943



George ? and Frank ? Cyprus 1944



Kingy
Leslie ? Nov. 1940
Mr. Grice. Royal Observer Corps



Freda ? 1948
Maidie J Bucknall & Pam ? 1942



Mr. Rench's wedding. St. Swithun's Church, Bournemouth. 19th July 1939

I believe this is the wedding of Basil A. Rench (born 30th November 1913) and Patricia E. Slade. I found Basil in the 1939 Register on Find My Past. On that particular night (29th September) he was on duty with the Poole AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) on Bournemouth Road. His usual occupation was an estate agent. I've been unable to find Patricia on the register.



Wednesday, 24 August 2016


Places in Great-Aunt Joy's photo albums, dating from around 1938-1943.


Castle Mill, Linby, Nottinghamshire c1940


Milton Abbey & Durley Chine, Dorset  1938


Round the Isle of Wight
Ryde, Cowes, Southsea c1938


Portland Ships c1938

Monday, 15 August 2016


Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

Following Armistice in November 1918, Uncle Percy continued with his Unit. I haven't been able to find much detail of this period but they were working in camps at Longpre, Oissy and Dreuil les Amiens.



At the end of April 97th Field Company returned to England via Havre and Percy was given fourteen days leave. Following this he rejoined his unit and was promoted to Acting Corporal and then to Acting Sergeant.

On the 27th October 1919 Percy was transfered to the 14 SAT Company RE and then to the 219 Field Company RE Rhine Army on the 28th November. So Uncle Percy was part of the British Army of the Rhine - set up to occupy the Rhineland as part of the Armistice deal.

Royal Engineers manning a searchlight on the Rhine 1919


The British were based in and around Cologne and remained there until 1929. Percy wasn't there for that long though; in January 1920 he was discovered to have a hernia and was demobbed back to the family home at 605 Berridge Road, Nottingham on the 3rd January 1920.

Percival Richardson 1889 - 27 August 1965





Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Another handful of photos from Great Aunt Joy's albums. These date from around 1938-1939.


Baby Joy & Chummy




Derek (aged 6) & Margaret (aged 4)

Bubbles at Lulworth Cove 1939
Two Joys at Lulworth
Little Moira Holland aged 2

Margaret & Mrs Tatham
Monday, 4 July 2016


Some time ago I heard about a project to research and preserve the WW1 Roll of Honour at St Stephen's church in Hyson Green, Nottingham. As my Great-great Uncle Harold Richardson is mentioned on it I contacted the church and was invited to the first meeting.


St Stephen's Bobbers Mill Road


I was able to provide some information about Harold and was keen to return a few weeks later to the final presentaion of the project. It was lovely to see so many members of the community of different ages & backgrounds taking an interest in their local history.




Roll of Honour


Harold - top left-hand side









At the time the church was being built in 1901, Harold lived directly opposite at 29 Bobbers Mill Road. It's sad to think that fifteen years later he would be commemorated, along with many others from this area, on the church wall.







Picture Credit: http://southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk/hyson-green-st-stephen/hintro.php
Sunday, 3 July 2016

Sunday 3rd July 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the death of my Great-Great Uncle Harold Richardson.

Born in Nottingham in 1881, Harold was the eldest son of Robert Richardson & his wife Sarah (nee Percival). He had joined the army prior to the war, in 1911 he was serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers and based at the Hillsborough Barracks in Sheffield. At the outbreak of war in 1914 he was an acting sergeant with the Fusiliers, number 8434.

Hillsborough Barracks


Most of the following information was kindly supplied by Mel Siddons following a Trent to Trenches event in Nottingham.

The 12th (Service) Battalion The Northumberland Fusiliers was formed at Newcastle in September 1914 as part Kitchener's Third New Army and joined 62th Brigade, 21st Division. The Division concentrated in the Tring area, training at Halton Park before winter necessitated a move into local billets in Tring, Aylesbury, Leighton Buzzard, High Wycombe and Maidenhead. The artillery was at High Wycombe and Berkhamsted, RE at Chesham, and ASC at Dunstable.

In May 1915 the infantry moved to huts at Halton Park, whilst the artillery moved to Aston Clinton with one brigade staying at Berkhamsted and the RE to Wendover. On the 9th of August they moved to Witley Camp. They proceeded to France during the first week of September and marched across France their first experience of action being in the British assault at Loos on 26th September 1915, suffering heavy casualties, around 3,800, just a few days after arriving in France.

In 1916 they were in action in the Battles of The Somme, including The Battle of Morval in which the Division captured Geudecourt. On the 1st July 1916 the 12th Battalion were fighting in Shelter Wood.


At dawn on the 2nd of July our troops advanced to the storm of Fricourt Wood, the Contalmaison Road, Shelter Wood, and as much of the bootshaped plateau as they could take. As they advanced, the massed machine guns in all the trenches and strongholds opened upon them. They got across the field of this fire into Fricourt Wood to an indescribable day which will never be known about nor imagined. They climbed over fallen trees and were caught in branches, and were shot when caught. It took them all day to clear that jungle; but they did clear it, and by dark they were almost out at the northern end, where Railway Alley lay in front of them on the roll of the hill. Further to the north, on the top of the leg of the boot, our men stormed the Shelter Wood and fought in that 200 yards of copse for four bloody and awful hours, with bomb and bayonet, body to body, till the wood was heaped with corpses, but in our hands.* 

It is most likely that Harold died in the fighting in Shelter Wood, either in action or later, of his wounds. His body has never been recovered and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial.







* 'The Battle of the Somme' by John Masefield