Long overdue.

Thomas Foord Waldron

 

 

 

 

 

Long before the fortnightly collection, humans used to dispose of their own rubbish mostly by burying it. It wasn’t much more than the burnt remains of the fire until far more recently.

In the 19th century and before there was no plastic to dispose of and no old microwaves or tumble driers to get rid of. Things were used and re-used until they couldn’t be used anymore. Then they were burnt and buried or maybe collected by people who would sort through the ash for usable items to sell on themselves. Bits of bone, buttons etc.

As time went on and the household rubbish began to contain things that wouldn’t burn well, tin  and glass for example, local authorities had to do something constructive about it and a more local organised collection began to emerge.

However sometimes people continued to use the old rubbish pit that they had dug in their garden many years before and then decades later people like my mum would be digging a hole in a border in the garden and then randomly find half a broken plate or a glass bottle stopper just where they were about to plant a tulip bulb.

I have to assume that litter bins were few and far between in the more rural areas at that time, because I am always finding bits of old Victorian crockery and such, sticking up out of the ground in woods and old trackways. It seems our ancestors were litterbugs too.

And as a result we have a nice little collection of cod bottles at home, pretty little blue poison bottles and stoneware bottles that we have discovered whilst out walking. We’ve got some lovely beer bottles, gin bottles and lemonade bottles. A Marmite jar, a few decorative milk bottles and a couple of Sainsbury’s pate pots. Even an old Bovril jar or 10.

And just for a little while, this very tactile mineral water bottle ‘lent’ to us by Mr T Foord. But he actually wanted this rubbish back. Yesterday.

I found Mr Foords bottle laying face down after a walk in the countryside with my children. After carefully retrieving it from its muddy tomb and cleaning it up (evicting the bugs!)  we could clearly read….

‘This bottle is lent by T Foord of Waldron and must be returned’

Oops.

Thomas Foord was born in Heathfield, East Sussex sometime around January 1841. He was the only child of George Foord, an agriculturial labourer and Eliza (possibly nee Knight). By 1851 the family had moved just along the road to the edge of the small village of Waldron, taking Georges widowed father, Jesse, with them.

Thomas grew up following his fathers occupation and then married local girl Philadelphia Stevens in May 1865, the bride had just turned 19 and the groom was 24. Their first child, Jesse – named after Thomas’ grandad, was born soon after. The couple would have 13 children in total.

Now something quite exciting happened around this time. I’m not quite sure how it happened but George Foord suddenly became his own boss, a farmer of 5 acres.

And his son Thomas started a business.

Family history says that Philadelphia Foord was a dab hand at brewing ginger beer, and Thomas saw the potential in this. Before long Thomas was selling his own bottled mineral water, ginger beer, potash and lemonade. Thomas became quite famous in the locality for his delicious drinks.  As his children grew some of them entered the family business too and eventually son Walter took over from his father, continuing to trade until the second world war when Foords was bought by a much larger mineral company, Hooper Struave from Brighton.

Thomas pops up frequently in the Sussex newspapers, he obviously took a keen interest in his local community. He had various hobbies and interests, he was at one time a bellringer, a member of a slate club and involved in the local bonfire society. What I particularly liked about him though is he seems to have ended pretty much every meeting he attended by performing a jolly or comical song!

I dragged persuaded the family to go for a drive over to Waldron churchyard to see if we could find any family graves. We found a couple but sadly not George and Eliza or Thomas and Philadelphia’s, we did however find Thomas’ and Philadelphia’s house still standing. I wonder how many bottles are waiting to be found there. Or if they pop up frequently  whilst the owners are gardening….

But what about Philadelphia who seems to have started the cottage industry? She was a farmers daughter and one of five surviving children. Her mother Ann is likely to have been the only daughter of Philadelphia Ashby of nearby Rotherfield.   This Philadelphia spent a large part of her life working as a live-in housekeeper on a farm. It would be interesting to delve further back into this maternal line to see if the brewing skill was passed down to Ann.

I contacted Sheila, who is a descendant of Thomas and Philadelphia, and she was kind enough to supply some of this information and this photo of Thomas.

Thomas Foord

He does look like a jolly chap doesn’t he?

I was really pleased to be able to return Mr Foords bottle to his family. And even more pleased it reached Sheila in one piece!

Now, anyone want a Bovril jar?

 

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Shearley you can’t be serious?

Beatrice

Sometimes genealogy can be a disappointing hobby. Take this week for instance. My mum and I have been researching our family tree for many years, and one particular branch has us stumped.  No sooner do we think we have got somewhere when our ancestors laugh in our faces (possibly stick two fingers up at us too) and then do that annoying Ha-ha just like Nelson from the Simpsons.

First of all my mum received a Will she had ordered, it had mentioned the Executor as being one of our family. We could see no reason for this but of course on reading the Will all would be revealed and we would be able to work out everything that eluded us so far about this family. Oh we were excited, the Will would give us a clue that would lead us to the real baptism of great x many Grandad Francis Shearley.  And there his dad would be waving to us outside the church beckoning us in to join the family for the baptism and learn all kinds of names and dates to add to the family tree.

Not.

What a let-down that Will was. It told us nothing we didn’t already know. And to add insult to injury Francis and his wife Maria didn’t even get left anything in it. And it cost my mum a tenner! – looking closer  his dad obviously wasn’t ‘waving’ at us from outside the church. Ha-ha.

While waiting for this wonderful Will to arrive my mum found us a little diversion to keep us occupied.

My mums Grandma, Edith Shearley, had an older brother Frederick who, amongst his many children had a son named William.

William was born in Greenwich, London in 1889 and when he left school he started work at nearby Deptford Bridge Station as a parcel porter.

Every night after work he would return home to his parents house near Blackheath Common. Meanwhile a few minutes walk away lived Nellie Crowe a young woman from Tonbridge in Kent, who was working as a cook in a private house.

At some point in 1911 William and Nellie met and decided to get married. They were married in Lewisham in the spring of 1912 and errr, fairly soon after, their daughter Beatrice (named after Williams sister) was born. All good so far. However poor William died in 1915 leaving Nellie and Beatrice to fend for themselves. Nellie decided to move closer to home, and we next found her in Sevenoaks, Kent working at the station as a ticket collector.

Now all we really knew of Beatrice was that she died in 1917. We had to know why. We just had to.  My mum scoured the newspapers of the time and found an obituary  for the little girl.

Beatrice had lived in the Hip Hospital close to her home for a year and a half before her death. She was suffering from what was called ‘hip disease’. This was a very painful condition which caused inflamed joints, abscesses and could even dislocate bones. It is now believed to have possibly been a complication caused by tuberculosis. Many children died from hip disease and autopsies did show that some of them had TB deposits in their lungs.

After 16 months at the hospital Beatrice went home. It had become obvious that she didn’t have long to live and perhaps Nellie decided it would be for the best to take her daughter home and care for her there.

Beatrice was buried at the (then) fairly new cemetery near her home and as it is only about an hours drive away – via Marks & Sparks – we decided to go and find her. We were sure we would find her headstone and maybe it would help further our research.

Our outing was quite unusual, I managed to drive to the cemetery without getting too lost, we arrived to find not only was the cemetery office open but a kind soul was there to find the burial in the register and even walk us to the spot. My mum had forgotten her notebook and pen but not to worry I had my camera and …..

…..oh bugger, no headstone. Just a patch of grass, squished between two unrelated memorials. It must be the wrong place. Surely little Beatrice had a headstone? we walked around checking but no it was the right place. We stood there looking down at the grass, just where Nellie must have stood with her brother Percy and sister Alice beside her.  Some of the nurses from the hospital had attended the funeral too so there would have been quite a crowd there.

It has left us with more unanswered questions. Beatrice seems to have no family buried close to her.  None of her Shearley relatives attended her funeral.  She has no memorial to mark her last resting place and yet someone purchased the grave for her. Arghhh!

So yes, it is sometimes a disappointing hobby, but then it is one that gives us great satisfaction when things do eventually slot into place.

In the meantime if you ever find a Francis Shearley please do tell him we are looking for him, and give him a little ‘wave’ from us won’t you.

Return visit to beatrice

In memory of Beatrice Shearley aged 5.

Going off on a tangent……

samuel joseph  I found this funeral card in a box of odds and ends at a boot sale.  I thought it looked interesting so I bought it and took it home.  Later that evening I sat down to see what I could find out about Samuel.  This is where my troubles started.  I began by looking on the census for Samuel, and I was really lucky to find him aged just 7 days old on the 1861 census. This doesn’t happen too often to be honest, usually I find people that are born in a census year are born just after it was taken, so I have to miss out a whole 10 years of their lives until I can find them on the next one. Even more annoying is when people  pass away in a census year just before a census is taken- especially if this is the 1911 census which is oh sooo interesting, although now I am thinking about it perhaps the most thoughtless  unhelpful people are those who are widowed but marry again just before a census so have a different name as well as changing the surname of all their children to their new spouses name ( I can hear Kristoff now … you got engaged to someone you JUST met?!*) anyway I digress…

Back to Samuel,  born in Hackney, East London he was the son of Fanny and Charles Billson and he was one of 11 children. His dad Charles was a Pianoforte Maker, and when I saw this I thought oh that sounds interesting.  So  I began reading up on Victorian piano makers thinking Mr Billson probably had his own factory, maybe had his name engraved on metal plaques inside each of his pianos etc etc when I discovered that just because someone has the job title pianoforte maker doesn’t necessarily mean he actually made the piano. He could have just made part of it. He could have put the strings inside or put the legs on or polished the lid. But what I did discover a census or two later was his eldest son was a Pianoforte Maker Journeyman, i.e he had made it to the top of his trade and probably did a lot more than fit the keys. And it may be that his dad did too but I had spent so long reading up on the piano business that I hadn’t found out.

Back to Samuel. Again. In April 1871 Samuel’s father died and by December 1872 his mother had married again.  I found the family living together in 1881 and noticed a small addition to the household. A 5 year old girl named Minnie, and  although she had the same surname as the head of household she was listed as an orphan. So I wondered where she had come from, I searched for her birth, I looked for her parents, her christening, I tried to find her in a workhouse. I found nothing to help me trace her start in life.  I found her in 2 more censuses the 1891 with the once again widowed Fanny and a last glimpse of her in 1911, aged 34 and alone in the workhouse. I could have cried for her.

I think this has been a good example of how fascinating researching the past can be, and how easy it is to go off on a tangent and totally forget what you were trying to do in the first place.

I feel bad for Samuel. I had all good intentions of researching him, and I suppose to some extent I have done. He grew up, got married and had 9 or 10 children. He lived and died in East London. He became a Bootmaker and later on in life a window cleaner. But in a way by having a peek into his life we have learnt a little about some of the people around him so I thank you for that Samuel.

I would still like to know more about the little orphan though……

*For those fortunate enough not to have seen the movie Frozen this is a quote from it. To those of you have seen Frozen apologies for starting THAT song off in your head. Again.

So where were we….

Like many people I like a quiet walk through a churchyard, I like to explore the old stones and sometimes take note of a name or two and see what I can find out about them. About 15 years ago I was walking around a Sussex churchyard with my mum and the thought occurred to us …why not record some of these stones? many of the memorials were from the early 1800s and were rapidly falling victim to weather – the soft sandstone losing the lettering once carved into it. So we began to spend our spare time there, on hands and knees with paper and pens (yes it was in the days before Tablets!) and in all weathers, desperately trying to read inscriptions that were terribly faint and almost illegible.

In the end we recorded well over a thousand headstones. It was a very difficult project, we didn’t get it right in some cases but we tried our best, visiting local archives to try and get as many names and dates right as possible.  We purchased death certificates, read obituaries in local papers dating back to Victorian times. But it was great, and we had fun doing it. When complete we felt we had achieved something, and many people who had long since gone were remembered and now have become like old friends to us, albeit some of them probably have the odd chuckle at my expense about that ant incident.

One nice part of our project was the people we met, both in person and online. We received photos of Edwardians now residing in our churchyard whose families had since emigrated, we were able to help people find long lost ancestors buried in a church miles away from where they should have been and we learnt a lot about the history of the area and its people.

So back to the name of the blog…. One of the oldest headstones we recorded had the rather sad inscription ‘Seized by death and prisoners made, three infant children’ and I was intrigued……..