‘Tim’ Shelford and His Daughters

 

Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he comes finds watching St Luke XII
In/memory/of/Thomas Shelford C.M.G./late of Singapore/died 12th January 1900, aged 60
Born at Preston Suffolk/died at Guildford Surrey
Also of Jessie Fullarton Shelford/wife of the above/died 29th March 1928. aged illegible
Also of Gwen More Shelford/born 21st Sept 1877/died 12th Dec 1961
Also of/Edith Shelford/died 5th February 1953. aged 73

 

Thomas Shelford was born on 23 November 1839, the fifth child and third son of William Heard Shelford, rector of Preston, Suffolk, and his wife Emily Frost Shelford, nee Snape, the daughter of another rector. His elder brothers William and Leonard became an engineer and a clergyman respectively, but Thomas was delicate, with a weak chest, and when his father died in 1856, he moved with his mother to Bury St Edmunds. She maintained him and his five younger siblings on income from her properties.

In 1861 or ’62, however, he travelled to South Africa and then on to Singapore, arriving in 1863. He joined a firm of merchants as an assistant, but, by the time of his retirement had become a partner and a significant player in Singapore’s civic and political life. Known to his friends as ‘Tim’, he became in 1872 Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and its representative in the Legislative Council of Singapore and later part-funded the re-launch of the daily newspaper the Singapore Free Press. He was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in 1892, a rare honour outside the civil service and the military

The town hall in Singapore

He married firstly Flora Hastings Lawrie, on 24 December 1867 at St Andrew’s church Singapore.

St Andrew’s church, Singapore

She was the daughter of George James and Laura Lawrie, who are both buried in St Leonard’s Churchyard, Hythe. They had five children before her death on 24 August 1873. She died, aged only thirty-two, while visiting her parents in Ayrshire, shortly after giving birth to a daughter.
‘Tim’ remained a widower for eleven years, before marrying another Scotswoman, Jessie Fullarton Baird in 1876. She was the daughter of Alexander Baird and Margaret nee Cowan, and was born in Ochiltree, Ayrshire, where her father was a cattle dealer and innkeeper.

‘Tim’ Shelford retired in 1897 and returned with his wife and the couple’s two daughters to the UK, where they lived in Guildford.  Apparently his wife and daughters could not adapt to life in the East.  Why he is buried in St Leonard’s remains a mystery. His former parents-in-law, the Lawries were dead and buried in St Leonards, and his first wife’s sister, Annie Adair Mackeson was still alive and living in the town. After her husband’s death, Jessie and her daughters also moved there, living at a house called ‘Holmwood’ and later at another called ‘The Dentalls.’

Mary Gwenmore Shelford (known as ‘Gwenmore’) was born 21 Sept 1877 in Wandsworth, the elder daughter of Thomas Shelford and his second wife, Jessie. Her younger sister, Edith, was born in the Straits Settlement of Malaysia. When the family moved to Hythe after their father’s death, Gwenmore and Edith both became Sunday School teachers at St Leonard’s church, and set up a children’s library there.

In early January 1907, notices appeared in the press announcing the engagement of Gwenmore to the Revd. Frank Hay Gillingham, a military chaplain and first-class cricketer who played for Essex. The marriage never took place. Frank eventually married someone else, but Gwenmore did not.

During the First World War she worked with the V.A.D at the Bevan Hospital in Sandgate. She died in Hythe, where she had been living at the Imperial Hotel. Edith had predeceased her by eight years.


In/loving memory of/Robert Lawrence St Colum Bland/born 22nd October 1905/died 26th January 1907
“Not my will but Thine be done”

Laura, the older half-sister of Gwenmore and Edith had married Captain Robert Norman Bland. They lived in Singapore where Robert was Resident Councillor of Malacca. Robert junior was their third child, and died during a visit to the UK. He and his mother were staying at Saltwood Gardens in Hythe. He is buried next to his grandfather and not far from his maternal great-grandparents George James and Laura Lawrie.

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The Jeweller’s Son and the IRA

Cibbie
Cibbie/In loving memory/of/our darling son/Cyril Ball Ninnes/born January 21st 1892/died September 9th 1904
In every heart he knew fond love/a sanctuary in every human face/and when God missing him in Heaven said come/it did not seem a solitary place/I think he only flushed in sweet surprise/to see the golden floor beneath his eyes
In loving memory/of/Basil Evelyn St Clair Ninnes/who died at Sandgate/April illegible 1933 aged 39 years
In memory of/Antonia Frances Ninnes/died June 4th 1941
In memory of/Frederick Ninnes/who died 3rd August illegible/aged illegible
R.I.P.
Of such is the kingdom of Heaven

Benjamin Frederick Ninnes  was born in Tunbridge Wells, the son of James Walker Ninnes, a watchmaker, and his wife Frances. Benjamin also became a watchmaker, and at about the time of his marriage, set up shop at 32 (later 64) High Street Hythe.

Ninnes Ad

 

He expanded his business to include silver and gold smithing, providing medals and buttons to, among others, the army and the Metropolitan Police. He also dealt in antiques, counting the author Joseph Conrad, who for a time lived at Pent Farm in nearby Postling,  among his regular customers. He donated a silver challenge bowl to Hythe Golf Club. He died in Hythe in 1927.

He had married Antonia Frances Ball ,  the eldest child of William St James Ball, an army captain and Queen’s Foreign Service Messenger, and his wife Priscilla.  She was baptised in Richmond, Surrey, on 8 April 1869. The fact of her father’s occupation was clearly important to Antonia: she included it on the memorial to her older son in St Leonard’s Church and in the obituary to her younger son in the local newspaper. Antonia kept at least the antiques side of her husband’s business going after his death and took up golf and, in her fifties,  driving a motor car, though she was fined for dangerous driving in 1933

Cyril Ball Ninnes was the elder of the sons of Benjamin and Antonia Ninnes. He was born and died in Hythe, baptised on  27 Feb 1892 at St Leonard’s and buried at the same church on 12 Sept 1904. The gravestone in the churchyard bears the legend ‘Cibbie’. a contraction of his initials, CB.  He is also commemorated on a plaque on the south wall of the nave.

Cibbie2

 

The family lived at 5, Hillside Terrace in the town and Cyril was apparently educated at home by a governess. Perhaps he was a sickly child. He died at home.

The second son, Basil Evelyn St Clair Ninnes was born on 24 January 1895 in Hythe and was baptised in St Leonard’s church on 16 April that year. He was educated at Hazlewood school, where he played football and cricket for the school and was a chorister.
On 5 January 1908, he entered the Royal Naval College Osborne and at Christmas 1909 went on to the Royal Naval College Dartmouth where he excelled at cricket and hockey. He left in 1911 for a posting to the armoured cruiser HMS Cornwall which went on a six-month cruise of the Canary Islands, the West Indies and of North America before returning in July 1912. A month later he was posted to HMS King Edward VII, was appointed as a Midshipman in the Royal Navy on 15 September 1912 and was sent to Malta. His naval records show that while he was average at most things, he was regarded as a steady young man who would make a good officer.

However, back in the UK in he became ill and was admitted to Chatham Hospital in 1914, where he was treated for suspected TB. He was invalided out of the Navy in March 1915, but made a short-lived recovery and was commissioned as a temporary 2nd Lieutenant in the Administrative Branch of the Royal Air Force in June 1918. He was sent to France in October, but was almost immediately injured. Although he had hoped for a permanent commission, the return of ill-health meant that he was transferred to the Unemployed List on 6 September 1919.

He returned to his parent’s home the Blue House in Hillside Street, Hythe. What he did for the next year is unclear. It is possible he helped his father in the business. However, in December 1920 he joined the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary (ADRIC). This was a para-military police unit, which with very few exceptions, accepted only ex-officers from the British Army (or one of the Empire armies). They served as separate units from the Royal Irish Constabulary, which had little control over them. ADRIC should not be confused with the Black and Tans, which was made up of ex-British Other Ranks and served as part of the RIC.

Ninnes - ADRIC

In 1921 Basil was serving in Ireland with ‘L’ Company of the Auxiliaries which was stationed at West Muskerry, County Cork. The Company had to drive twice a week to Banteer to pick up supplies and drove the same route each time. A local unit of the Irish Republican Army had noted their routine and prepared an ambush for them. On 16 June 1921 the IRA men let the first convoy of the day pass by and return unhindered. The second convoy was also allowed to pass, but the ambush was arranged at the village of Rathcoole for their return. The convoy consisted of four vehicles and twenty-five personnel. Basil was travelling in the second vehicle. At 7.30pm the four lorries were passing through the ambush area on their return journey when three landmines, which had been placed on the road, exploded. One mine detonated as the last of the four lorries drove over it, a second mine was then detonated under the second vehicle in the convoy, and the final mine detonated under the leading vehicle which had turned around to go back to assist. A firefight developed. Most of the IRA positions were to the south of the road, but two sections were to the north to prevent the Auxiliaries using the walls on that side as shelter. The engagement lasted until about 9.45pm, when a stalemate was reached and the IRA withdrew without having sustained any casualties. Two Auxiliaries had died during the attack and a number had been badly injured, including Basil.
He was awarded £2000 compensation and went back to Hythe. He was still only twenty-six years old.
He maintained his links with the military, becoming club secretary of the Royal Air Force Club in Piccadilly, despite his very short association and continued to used his military rank of second lieutenant. In 1928 he became Secretary of the Folkestone Greyhound Racing Company, which was hoping to take a lease on fourteen acres of land off Danton Road, Cheriton, near Folkestone to build a track, complete with a ‘motor parking ground’. It was to open in 1929 and provide accommodation for ten thousand visitors. Greyhound racing in the area had previously been held at Westenhanger, but was stopped at the outbreak of war. The plan met with some local resistance on the grounds that it encouraged gambling, but in any event, the company seems to have collapsed within a very short time, and greyhound racing did not return to the area until the nineteen forties.

Ninnes greyhound 3 march 1928
In 1930 he married, in London, Ida Henrietta Blyth Tanare. Ida was the daughter of a local hotel manager and town councillor, James Tanare, who until his death had run with his wife the Royal Kent Hotel in Sandgate, near Hythe. Now Ida and her mother Sarah ran it together. Basil moved in with them at the hotel, which seems not to have been one of the most up-market outfits in the little town, its advertising being mostly based on its proximity to Shorncliffe camp, the nearby military base. By now, ill-health had forced his resignation as the RAF club’s secretary, and it was at the Royal Kent Hotel that he died on 7 April 1933.

Royal-Kent-Hotel-1908-Sandgate

Ida never remarried, but gave up the hotel business and ran an antiques shop in Folkestone. She died in 1952.

 

More Mackesons – and a Scottish Poet

The simple gravestone of the founder of Madras Christian College and his wife

In/memory/of/ George James Lawrie,D.D./Minister of Monkton, Ayrshire, born at Loudon Oct. 10th 1796/died at Hythe Feb. 14th 1878

And of Laura Louisa, his wife,/who died at Hythe April 25th 1896/ aged 91 years

George James Lawrie was the eldest son of Archibald Lawrie a minister of the Church of Scotland and Ann M’Kittrick Adair. He won an Exhibition to the University of Glasgow, where he gained his D.D. and became a Presbyter of the Church of Scotland at St Andrew’s Church, Madras (now Chennai) in November 1823.

St Andrew’s Church, Chennai, which was consecrated in 1821

He was Presbyter-in-charge from 1824 to 1839, but evidently found time to travel about the sub-continent and to meet Laura Louisa Ludlow, the second daughter of Samuel Ludlow F.R.C.S., Residency Surgeon of Delhi. The family lived there in a house built by her father locally nicknamed ‘Ludlow Castle’. She married George James Lawrie on 21 Aug 1827 at Calcutta.

‘Ludlow Castle’, Delhi

There, he and a colleague founded a school for boys, which originally had fifty-nine pupils, but has since expanded to become Madras Christian College, with a 365-acre campus and a huge student population.

Part of the present-day campus of Madras Christian College

On 11 January 1839, George resigned his post, and returned to take up the incumbency at Monkton, where he is remembered as being ‘sensible, upright, and kind-hearted, but possessed of a highly-cultured mind.’  Both his father and grandfather had been literary friends of Robert Burns, and George wrote, too, publishing Songs and Miscellaneous Pieces . In 1887 his poetry was used in Modern Scottish Poets. He is credited with having written the song Dae ye mind o’lang, lang syne: the first verse (of many) follows. It is to be sung to the tune of John Peel.

Do ye mind the sunny braes
Whaur we gathered hips and slaes,
And fell among the bramble busses,
Tearin’ a’ our claes;
And for fear they would be seen
We gaed slippin’ hame at e’en,
But were licket for our pains in the morning.

George and Laura had four daughters. The second, Annie Adair Lawrie, married Henry Bean Mackeson of Hythe and some years later her now elderly parents moved to the town to live near her, at a house called The Elms. George died of ‘natural decay’ aged eighty-two, and he and Laura are buried together in St Leonard’s churchyard. children.

 

Until the day dawn

In/loving memory/of/Henry Bean Mackeson/born at Hythe Dec. 11th 1812, died at Hythe Feby 29th 1894
Also Annie Adair his wife/born 26th of August 1835/died 26th of April 1913
Also of their daughter/Mildred Adair Murray/wife of/Colonel H.W. Murray/born at Hythe March 13th 1868/died at Hythe October 17th 1964

Henry Bean Mackeson was the youngest son of Henry and Mary Jane Mackeson nee Hayman. He was baptised at St Leonard’s church in the town on 8 January 1813. His father and uncle William were co-owners of Mackeson’s Brewery in Hythe, which they had bought a few years previously. Heavy investment in the business had paid off, and it was now a thriving concern and a major employer in the town.
Henry Bean followed his father into the family business, but it may not have been his first choice of occupation. in the 1820’s Peter Fisher, another uncle, wrote to his father that if Henry ‘be disposed to try the navy in a medical way I will do my best towards procuring him an assistant surgeon’s appointment.’ It was not, however, to be, and once decided on a life ashore, Henry threw himself into Hythe affairs with enthusiasm. Indeed, he appears to have been one of those tireless Victorians for whom nothing was off-limits.

The malt house at Hythe, one of the few remaining Mackeson brewery buildings


Besides running the business, he became a keen amateur geologist and Fellow of the Geological Society, and some of his work was published in A History of the Weald of Kent. He was town mayor nine times, in an unbroken run from 1872 to 1880. He was churchwarden of St Leonard’s church during the years when the vicar, Thomas Hall, was fund-raising and planning the renovations of the church, and his efforts are commemorated on a plaque in the church.

A modern edition of Henry Bean Mackeson’s work

The town council had, until a new town hall was built in 1794, met in the room over the church porch, the Parvis. Here, Henry discovered the ancient records of the town rotting away and had them removed to more suitable storage in the town clerk’s office. He found time to become a captain in the Cinque Ports Volunteer Rifles, and later in life to act as a director of the Elham Valley Railway.

His funeral on 8 March 1894 was attended by the entire town corporation, their pew draped in black, and one of his favourite pieces of music, Beethoven’s Funeral March, was played.

He had married, on 18 April 1860, Annie Adair Lawrie, the second of the four daughters of George James Lawrie and Laura Louisa Lawrie nee Ludlow. She was born at sea off Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Her mother brought her back to the UK in 1837, and they were joined by the family soon afterwards, when her father became Minister of Monkton, Ayrshire. She married Henry Bean Mackeson in the church there. They had seven children, including twin daughters. She died in Tonbridge.

Mildred Adair Murray nee Mackeson was born in Hythe, the sixth child of Henry Bean Mackeson and Annie Adair Mackeson and baptised in St Leonard’s church on Easter Sunday 1868. In the same church, in 1899, she married Henry Walker Murray of the Royal Army Medical Corps.. They had a son and two daughters. Mildred travelled with her husband to his various postings, including to Nova Scotia and, his last post before retirement, Gibraltar. Henry died in Tunbridge Wells in October 1942. Mildred died in the Folkestone area.

The Porters of Moyle Tower: Architecture, Hieroglyphics and Marilyn Monroe

Three  generations of the Porter family are buried in St Leonard’s churchyard:

Inscription To the memory of/Fred.W.Porter/born 19th October 1821/died 17th November 1901
Illegible of Sarah

Remainder hidden behind tree stump.

Inscription In loving memory/of/Christine Palmer/born Oct 29th 1891/died June 30th 1909

I am persuaded that he is able to guard/that which I have committed unto/Christ that day

Geoffrey Hill 1927

Gerard Edward Palmer/born April 16th 1895/died March 2nd 1946

Inscription In memory of Ida Hill/born 2nd June 1854/died 19th August 1905/widow of Samuel Hill who died/and was buried at Cannes February 1894

Also in memory of Geoffrey/only child of Samuel & Ida Hill/ who was buried in this churchyard/born 28th August 1890/died 17th May 1927

A Dieu

Inscription In/loving memory/of/Charles Willis Palmer/born 25th March 1850/died 18th November 1898

And of Freda his wife/died 3rd July 1955/ aged 95 years

The paterfamilias was Frederick William Porter, the second son of William Edward Porter and his wife Anne (née Coultate). He was born on 19 October 1821 in Rathmines, Dublin, where his father, who came from Kent, was Clerk of Recognizance at the Court of Chancery.   As a young man Frederick studied architecture under Louis Vulliamy  in London, and subsequently returned to Ireland and took up residence in Kent Terrace, Dalkey, a suburb of Dublin. This was a terrace of four houses on Barnhill Road which had been built by his father in 1839. He set up his own practice as an architect here and exhibited three architectural designs at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1843.

In October 1848, he married Sarah Moyle in Liverpool and the couple moved to London, where Sarah’s parents lived in some style in the exclusive Russell Square in Bloomsbury.  The next year  Frederick and W.A. Boulnois exhibited a design for a county lunatic asylum at the Royal Academy. Frederick’s practice was then at 13 Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia. He was still there when he became a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1855.  Five years after this he became Surveyor to the Clothworkers’ Company an ancient London Guild which also had properties in Co. Derry.  Frederick took on other work in Ireland, too: in 1868-70 he designed the Church of Ireland church at Castlerock, Co. Derry.  It is typical of the High Victorian interpretation of the Early English Gothic style. The stone used is very dark basalt with white Glasgow trim to the windows and doors and banding. The plan is cruciform with a three-sided chancel with an engaged north-western tower providing access. Gabled buttresses support the tower and walls. The lancet windows, often in groups of three, originally had diamond panes.

The Church at Castlerock, Co. Derry, designed by Frederick Porter.

At about this time, Frederick was advertising in the Building Trades Directory that he had built ‘residences in England, Ireland, Spain, Shanghai, &c.’ although there is no evidence that he travelled to these more exotic locations. Although continuing to practise in London until at least 1874, by 1877 he was building himself a seafront house in Hythe, named for his wife, Moyle Tower (it did, in fact, have a small tower at the back, complete with flagpole) and they spent their retirement there, during which time Frederick became in 1886, Mayor of Hythe, despite not being an alderman.

 

mEDALmedal 2

The medal presented by the town of Hythe to Frederick Porter to commemorate his mayorality in 1886-87, which included the celebration of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee

Image result for moyle tower hythe

Moyle Tower in the 1920s when it had been acquired by the Holiday Fellowship. The ‘tower’, no longer with its flagpole, is at the rear of the house.

In 1895, he became Master, or Prime Warden,  of the Worshipful Company of Saddlers, a City of London livery company.

The silver-gilt Porter Ewer, presented by Horatio (Horace) Porter to the Saddlers’ Company in 1916 in memory of his father. Horatio was then  was Prime Warden of the organisation.

But then his health started to deteriorate. By 1898 he was described as ‘an invalid’ who needed constant care, and the following year could only go out in a bath chair. He died on 17 November1901 and left the very tidy sum of £39, 801 in his will.

Sarah, raised a Presbyterian, had become an Anglican on her marriage, but was apparently very open-minded in matters of religion, and took a great deal of interest in Hythe’s non-conformist churches. Her funeral was attended by most of the local Salvation Army congregation. She was a well-known philanthropist and hosted annual parties, or ‘treats’, for up to fifty needy children at Moyle Tower. Each child was given a toy and a warm garment (the parties were held in winter) before a sit-down tea and games. Apart from these occasions, however, she preferred the working classes to be kept at a distance, and complained to Hythe council about the troupes of minstrels who performed on the beach near her house. She was also a supporter of the Society for the Preservation of the Beauty of Hythe. For the last thirty-four years of her life she was a semi-invalid, and devotedly cared for by a Miss Digance, a nurse. There were four other live-in servants to care for her, and for her daughter Freda who lived with her in her final years.   At Sarah’s death, the Moyle Tower flag was flown at half-mast.

Sarah died on 5 March 1912, and was laid to rest with her husband in St Leonard’s churchyard on 9 March in a grave lined with moss and decorated with primroses.  The house contents were removed and those which the family did not want were auctioned off, including a 7ft 6in mahogany sideboard, two grand pianos, Axminster and Oriental rugs, and French and Italian bedsteads. It was suggested that Moyle Tower should be bought by the council for use as municipal offices, but the idea came to nothing and it was put up for auction in June 1913. It had, according to the auctioneers, five reception rooms, twenty-one bedrooms and dressing rooms, stabling and a garage. Whoever bought it seems not to have used it and it was requisitioned on the outbreak of war by the army and used to house men of the Devon Regiment. After the war it was offered for sale again, before finally being bought by the Holiday Fellowship in 1923.  The organisation provided (and still does, as HF Holidays) affordable activity holidays in the UK and abroad, and Moyle Tower existed in this capacity until 1979.

Another view of Moyle Tower,   from the back

Then, with the refugee crisis of the Vietnamese boat people, the British Council for Aid to Refugees acquired the building and transformed it into a reception centre for ninety people. Furnished by donations, it opened its doors on 8 November.  All the refugees were eventually rehoused across the UK, and the centre closed in Spring 1981. It was by now something of a white elephant, and not long afterwards was demolished and a block of flats – Moyle Court – erected in its place. It is nice to know that Sarah’s name is still remembered.

 

Moyle Court, Hythe

The house, when the Porters owned it, had boasted quite a large detached garden with tennis courts at the end of Ladies Walk.  Sarah’s executors leased this to Hythe Council for a number of years and it was used by Hythe people for tennis, band concerts, and, in 1914, for a mass meeting in response to Kitchener’s call to arms. During the First World War, the garden was taken over by the WAAC, based at nearby Princes Parade, for sports.

The Porters had seven children, although one, their first-born, died in infancy.  The eldest survivor was Bertha, born in 1853. Remarkably for the time, she studied Egyptian hieroglyphics in London under Francis Llewellyn Griffiths, a noted Egyptologist, and at the University of Gottingen under Kurt Sethe. She edited the Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings and was also employed by Oxford University in compiling The Dictionary of National Biography, for which she completed over a hundred and fifty biographies before her retirement in 1929.  In London, she lived with her brother Horatio, who had inherited the Russell Square house, but later moved to Oxford where she took lodgings in the Banbury Road. She died in 1941.

A volume of the huge work started by Bertha Porter and completed by her assistant Rosalind Moss.

The next eldest was Ida. Born in 1855, she married Samuel Hill in 1889 in London. Their only child, Geoffrey was born the next year. Samuel died in February 1894 at the Villa Alpina in Cannes, aged only forty-three. It is not known why he was there – perhaps it was for his health.  Ida and Geoffrey moved in with her parents in Moyle Tower, and Ida became a hospital nurse, another unusual occupation for a well-off young woman at the time. She died in Tunbridge Wells.

Geoffrey, born on 28 August 1890, was orphaned just before his fifteenth birthday. He had been a boarder at Seabrook Lodge School in Seabrook Road, Hythe, run by Henry Strahan who was also the Mayor of Hythe, but nothing is known of his later education except that he attended Cambridge University. In the vacations, he stayed with his mother’s sister, Ethel, in Ashford. He then became a member of the London Stock Exchange.

When war broke out in 1914, he was among the first to join up, on 3 August. He served as a gunner until commissioned on 6 November 1915. He was described as being six feet tall with fair hair and blue eyes. He was wounded on 22 April 1916 and sent home, and it seems that he did not then return to active service. He re-enlisted as a driver in the Territorial Service in 1921, but was discharged from this at his own request after only a year. The circumstances of his death are not known, nor why he appears to be buried with his cousins Christine and Gerard Palmer but is also commemorated on his mother’s gravestone.

A potted history of Seabrook Lodge School where Geoffrey Hill boarded.

The next Porter daughter was Ethel, born in 1857, who married James Turner Welldon, a solicitor and first class cricketer who played for Cambridge and Kent. The couple lived in Ashford and had a daughter, Ethel Barrow Welldon.

Another daughter, Freda, was born to the Porters in 1858.  She grew up to marry, in 1887, Charles Willis Palmer, District Commissioner for Forests in Burma. He had been born in Paddington, the son of Edward and Caroline Palmer. His father was a superintendent on the Great Western Railway, and in 1857 took up a post as Agent for the East India Railway in Burma (then part of India). He later became Chairman of the Railway Board, and retired in 1873. Charles meanwhile was educated at Lancing College, where he was a keen cricketer, before following his father to Burma.  He lived and worked in Burma for some years, was married and widowed there and returned to the UK to marry Freda Porter.

Freda Palmer nee Porter

Freda returned to Burma with him and all three of her children – Freda, Christine and Gerard – were born in the country.

Poongy Boy

‘Poongy Boy’, the ceramic figure young Freda Palmer brought back with her from Burma to Hythe.

On their return to the UK, they came to live in Seabrook, next to Hythe, where Charles died in November 1898. Freda had moved away from Hythe to Farthing Common by the time of her death. The younger Freda became an English teacher and worked at a private school in Sandgate, before marrying a vicar who had been an assistant priest at Hythe, Arthur Octavius Scutt.

Freda Scutt, nee Palmer

 

Arthur Octavius Scutt

Freda and Arthur (who was vicar in Appledore and Thurnham) had four children: Christine, a vet (remembered for jumping her horses over the pews at Thurnham when they were in the churchyard during spring cleaning); Avis who became an actress (as Avis Scott)  and worked with Noel Coward and Richard Burton, before becoming a BBC TV Continuity Announcer who was sacked for being too glamorous; Robin who, as ‘Mark Paul’, composed the music for Ruby Murray’s hit Softly Softly, and as Robin Scott, was awarded the Legion D’Honneur by De Gaulle for his work in the BBC French Service and later established Radio One (he was the first voice on Radio 1 before “Arnold” and Tony Blackburn!) and another son who, as a pacifist, was imprisoned as a conscientious objector, campaigned for peace for much of his life, studied Classics at Oxford and later in life a achieved a second degree in German.

The actress Avis Scott with a young Richard Burton in ‘Waterfront’, released in 1950

Avis Scott, the epitome of 1950s sophistication

Freda and Arthur married in February 1914, and Freda was given away by her brother, Gerard. He had been educated at Lancing College like his father, and joined the London Regiment during the war which ensued and fought at Gallipoli. He became a Captain and was awarded the Military Cross ‘for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when leading his company in a raid. He was responsible for killing a number of the enemy and displayed great energy in superintending the destruction of the enemy’s works’.

.In peacetime, he became a travelling salesman, who only comes to attention when he was fined for drunk driving in Aberdeen in March 1939. Later that year he married Violet Quick in Brighton, and eventually died in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.  He left an estate valued at just under £4000.

Of Christine Palmer, the middle Palmer child who died aged just eighteen, nothing is known.

Frederick and Sarah Porter finally had a son, Horatio, on 22 June 1861. He studied architecture under his father, and ultimately inherited his father’s positions as Surveyor to the Clothworkers’ Company and Prime Warden of the Saddler’s Company. . He was also architect to the Sun & Patriotic Insurance Company and designed a new office for the company in College Green, Dublin, in 1908, continuing the Irish connection. It was described as ‘quite one of the best contributions to the street architecture of Dublin during recent years’ with a ‘quiet and restrained use made of the classical tradition that is specially appropriate to Dublin’. Horatio, who in later life called himself Horace, also designed proposed alterations to the Sun and Patriotic’s old premises in Trinity Street in 1912.  He was Mayor of Holborn from 1911 to 1912, and like his father, a Freeman of the City of London.  He died unmarried in London on 29 July 1918.

College Green Dublin, the scene of Horatio Porter’s most important work.

In 1910, he paid for a new west door at St Leonard’s church, in memory of his father.  the window above contains the arms of the Porter family, together with those of the Saddlers Company and the City of London

20170928_123111The west door of St Leonard’s Church, Hythe 

The Porter’s last child was another daughter, Maud, born in 1866. She married Alderson Burrell Horne on 22 December 1887 at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury. He was an actor, owned a West End theatre and was a theatrical producer, known by the stage name Anmer Hall. He was evidently very successful, leaving at his death in 1954 an estate worth half a million pounds.  Maud had the financial means to travel widely, and took along her widowed sister Freda, her niece, another Freda, her chauffeur, Cornelius, and the Rolls-Royce.  Like her sister Bertha, Maud seems to have been particularly interested in Egypt, but also visited the Holy Land.

A trip to the Pyramids. Freda Scutt nee Palmer is on the far right, seated on a camel

An enlargement, showing Maud Horne ,ee Porter next to Freda, and Cornelius the chauffeur next to her.

The couple had a daughter, Janet, and a son, David, who became a distinguished character actor on the stage and later in film, appearing with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe in The Prince and the Showgirl.

David Horne, actor, who died in 1970. He would have remembered Moyle Tower as a family home and perhaps seen its transformation.

With thanks to Win Scutt for additional material and photos and to Boyd Porter for additional information.

 

 

Five Generations of Soldiers and Seafarers

In St Leonard’s churchyard in Hythe are commemorated five generations of the same family, many of whom served their country on land or at sea.

Generation one

The dynasty started with James Nelson, who was born in Scotland in 1781 and who joined the British army as a young man. He served as a private, first with the 78th West Highlanders, a regiment set up specifically to fight the French, and later with the Royal Staff Corps, a short-lived set-up, founded in 1800 and disbanded in 1837. It was a combat engineer Corps during the Peninsular campaign, and James served with it at the battle of Corunna in January 1809.

It is likely that he travelled there from Hythe with Sir John Moore’s forces, who had been sent to Spain to assist in resistance to Napoleonic rule. The little town of Hythe, with a population of under two thousand, was swamped by the presence of ten thousand troops at the height of the Napoleonic wars. Weatherboard accommodation and a temporary military hospital were built at the western end of the town and William Cobbett wrote that ’the hills are covered in barracks’.   Moore himself was based at Shorncliffe barracks, just a couple of miles away. He did not return from Corunna with his men. He was buried wrapped in his military cloak in the town ramparts, dying after he heard that the French had lost the day. Hythe commemorates him with a road named for him, and another for the battle in which he died, and he has a memorial on the seafront at nearby Sandgate.

After the battle of Corunna, the returning troops were paraded at Hythe, but were in a sad state. Unceremoniously disembarked at Dover, they had been obliged to make their own way back to the town. The hospital was full of the dying and injured, and the presence of maimed soldiers in the town was a common sight.

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Sir John Moore is fatally wounded at the Battle of Corunna…

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…and his memorial in Sandgate, where he lodged.

In 1813, James was back on the Iberian Peninsula, this time with the Duke of Wellington, who led the British forces there. On 21 June of that year, he fought in the battle of Vitoria, which finally ended the Napoleonic domination there.

Between the two battles, James had married Jane Hills, and their first son, James, was born the next year in Hythe.  Another son William was born in 1813, and then another, Henry, in France in 1817. Presumably Jane had accompanied her husband there. The birth is recorded in military records. A daughter, Jane, was born in Chatham in 1820, the year her father took James took his army pension of a shilling a week. Finally, another son, John, was born in 1825 in Hythe.

James had taken his family back to the town where he had been stationed,  and turned his hand to buying and selling. He worked as beerseller, dealer and chapman (trader or peddler) and grazier with land on the Innings between the town of Hythe and the coast. He lived with his family in Shoemakers Bridge Place, at what was to become in the next generation of the family, the Nelson’s Head Public House.

His wife, Jane Nelson nee Hills was baptized on 3 April 1785 at Chiddingstone, Kent, the  daughter of  John Hills and his wife Elisabeth. She married James Nelson on 13 August  1811 at Newington-next- Hythe.

Generation Two

The son born to James and Jane in France was Henry Nelson. As a young man, he first tried his hand as a slipper maker in London, but was perhaps unsuccessful and returned to Hythe where he worked as a labourer before he took over the licence of the Nelson’s Head public house in Bank Street from his brother John.  He married Mary Anne Back in Cheriton on 28 September 1836

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The building in Hythe, now a restaurant, which used to be The Nelson’s Head public house

 

Generation Three

Their eldest  son was Henry James Nelson.  He worked as an errand boy before joining the Land Transport corps, a very short-lived organisation founded in 1855 to deal with transport in the Crimea, where Britain was fighting Russia, and disbanded in 1856. It had been set up as a quasi-military organisation and recruited both civilians and regular army officers. Henry James died when the corps was involved in the siege of Sevastopol. The town was the home of the Russian tsar’s fleet, and a prime target for the British and their allies. It was besieged for a year from September 1854 to September 1855, and saw fierce fighting. It was presumably during the unsuccessful bombardment which started in April 1855 that young Henry died. He can only have been in the Crimea a matter of weeks.

The Siege of Sevastopol

The eldest daughter of Henry Nelson and Mary Anne Back was Jane Frances Nelson. She did not marry, but spent many years keeping house for her father’s brother, John Nelson. In her old age, she lived with her widowed younger sister Annie in Rosebery House, Parkfields, Hythe (now in Albert Road). Jemima Elizabeth Nelson was the sixth child of Henry and Mary Ann Nelson. She became a school teacher, and after a period teaching in Buckinghamshire, she returned to Hythe where she taught and lived with her parents until their deaths. In later life she lived in Corunna Cottage in Parkfields next door to her sisters Annie and Jane Frances. She did not marry.

Another sister, Alice Mary Nelson, who died as an infant is also buried in the churchyard.

The fourth child of Henry Nelson and Mary Ann was Charles Rice Nelson, born in Hythe in 1844 and baptised there on 1 December 1844.  He was apprenticed to a carpenter as a young man and carried on his trade after his marriage to Catherine Godfrey in on 12 November 1866. The couple lived in Theatre Street Hythe. For a few years, Charles also took on the licence of the Bell Inn in East Street, Hythe, but later returned to carpentry living in Nelson Villa in Albion Street.  After his retirement, he took employment as a collector for the gas company and secretary to a friendly society. Catherine died in 1915. The couple had ten children.

Image result for the bell inn hytheThe The Bell Inn, Hythe

Generation Four

John Henry Charles Nelson was the eldest child of Charles Rice Nelson and his wife Catherine. His first job was as an office errand boy, but he went on to become a builder and house decorator, and lived at 2 Bank Street Hythe.  He married Mildred Stoakes who was born in Stanford, not far from Hythe, the sixth child of John Stoakes, a master carpenter, and his wife Thomasina Dora. Before her marriage, she was in service with Dr Arthur Randall Davies in the High Street. She married John Henry Charles Nelson in 1893 in London, and they had six children.

The second son of Charles Rice Nelson and Catherine,   Edward James Nelson was baptised in Hythe on 13 September 1868 and died in London just after his eighteenth birthday.

The third son, Charles Rice Nelson jnr was baptised in Hythe on 14 June 1874.   As a young man he worked as a book stall assistant before joining the merchant navy as a general servant. He was among the 334 lost when his ship the ss Persia, on her way to India, was torpedoed seventy miles off Crete by a German submarine on 30 December 1915. SS Persia was attacked at 1.10 pm on a rising sea. She was struck on the port side and within five minutes the port side boiler exploded. She sank quickly. Passengers had collected their lifebelts and made their way to the lifeboats, but the incline of the ship hindered their launching and passengers slipped on the steeply canted deck and were washed overboard. It was reported two of the life boats floundered and went down. Four life boats made their way to safety and many of the remaining survivors were picked up by a trawler some 30 hours after the sinking, but Charles was not among them.

His name is recorded on the Tower Hill memorial in London

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The SS Persia

Henry Nelson was the fourth son of Charles Rice Nelson and Catherine. He started his working life as a servant with the Blyth family of Saltwood near Hythe, but very soon joined the Merchant Navy where he worked as a steward. His ship, the P&O -owned SS Kaisar-i-hind was launched in 1914 as luxury passenger ship sailing to India and Australia. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy for transporting troops to the Middle East and India, and survived several attempts to torpedo her. Henry’s death, officially recorded as pleuro-pneumonia, appears to have been from natural causes, and may have stemmed from an infection or underlying condition.

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The SS Kaiser-I-hind

His sister Flora, the second daughter of Charles Rice Nelson and Catherine, married Henry Beckwith, a merchant navy officer, and moved to Gravesend, where the marital home was called ‘Nelson Villa.’

Generation Five

Charles Edward Beckwith, the second son of Henry and Flora Beckwith, born on 26 October 1910, also went to sea, but chose the Royal Navy. He attended Dartmouth College, and saw action in both World War II and the Korean War. He later served in North Africa, Hong Kong, Malta and Gibraltar as Paymaster, and on leaving the navy took employment with the shipping line Niarchos. He then lived in Hampstead, but on retirement moved to Hythe, where he was a generous benefactor of St Leonard’s Church and an instigator and great supporter of musical performance there.

THE GRAVES

 

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Inscription In/loving memory/of/Edward James Nelson/the beloved son of/ Charles Rice and Catherine Nelson/who died 21st October 1886/aged 18 years

Also/Charles Rice Nelson/Late of P&O. SS Persia/who was drowned at sea/30th December 1915/aged 41 years

Also/Henry Nelson/late of P&O SS Kaisar I-Hind/who died of pneumonia 31st May 1918/in hospital at Alexandria/aged 41 years

And of/Charles Rice Nelson/who died 5th November 1925/aged 81 years

Commander/Charles Edward Beckwith/son of/Henry and Flora Beckwith/nee Nelson/died 27th July 2002/aged 91 years

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Inscription  In memory of/James Nelson/born 16th June illegible/died 16th Novr illegible

And he said unto me my illegible/ for the illegible/..this made perf.. illegible

Also of John Henry Charles/Nelson/died 23rd March 1942/aged 75 years

And of/Mildred Nelson/died 12th Novr 1943/aged 76 years

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Inscription Illegible/Henry Nelson/born 8th March 1817/died 26th August 1881

Illegible died 20th January 1898

And/Jane Frances/daughter of the above/born 2nd May 1842/died7th January 1922

Jemima Elizabeth Nelson/born 6th October 1849/died28th October 1926

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Inscription In memory of/James Nelson, formerly of the 78th West Highlanders,/and the Royal Staff Corps who after/serving his King and Country in Holland, Spain and France from 1800/ to 1821  settled at Hythe and died/April 29th 1849 aged 68 years

Also of Jane his wife/died April 13th 1848 aged 65 years

Also of Henry Nelson/grandson of the above/Sub Superintendant Land Transport/Corps who died before Sebastapol/ June 4th 1855 at the early age of 17 years.

Enter not into judgement with Thy /servant O Lord

 

Inscription

Headstone: Illegible memory/Alice Mary/the beloved daughter of/Henry & Mary-Ann/Nelson/who departed this life/January 26th 1866/aged illegible years and 10 months

Remainder illegible

Footstone: A M N 1866

Nearly a centenarian – Edward Palmer

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Inscription In/loving memory/of/Edward Palmer

Remainder illegible except for the name Harriet Palmer

Edward Palmer was born in Coningsby in Lincolnshire in 1812 and baptised there on 1 January 1813. He was the son of Robert and Jane Palmer. He became a teacher and worked in the National Schools, at first in Yorkshire, where he met and married Harriet Sharp of Lincoln. The couple’s first two children were born in Guisborough, before they moved to Tamworth in Staffordshire, where a third child was born.

National Schools were religious educational establishments run by The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church throughout England and Wales – usually, for obvious reasons, abbreviated to The National Society.  They had started setting up schools in 1811, in response to a similar initiative by the non-conformist British and Foreign School Society.

Edward and Harriet settled in Hythe in 1849, and he became headmaster of the town’s National School, then situated in Stade Street in a ramshackle old building.  He soon proposed and then oversaw the building of new school premises next to the town Green, which was used as a school playing field for games and recreation.

 

20170120_125311Hythe National School, viewed from the Green. The buildings are now private houses.

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And Hythe Green, which has provided a recreation area for the town for hundreds of years.

Edward also served as schoolmaster at the School of Musketry in the town, and became the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths.  Meanwhile, Harriet gave birth to another seven children.

After Edward’s retirement in 1875, when he and Harriet were presented with a marble clock, he was appointed School Attendance Officer for Hythe, at a salary of £20 per annum. Harriet died in 1886, aged sixty-three.

Edward was a supporter of the Liberal Party, and was agent for the town’s MP, Baron Meyer Amschel de Rothschild from his election, unopposed, in 1859 until his death in 1874 (until 1950, Hythe formed a separate parliamentary constituency). Rothschild was a scion of the banking family, and appears to have left no mark on British politics: his main interest in life was hunting. However, the electors of Hythe seemed to like him, and the town’s lifeboat was named ‘Meyer de Rothschild’ in his memory.

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Baron de Rothschild

Aged eighty-five, Edward retired to Farnham to live with his daughter Jane, also a school teacher, but they had returned to Hythe by 1905, when he was reported to be ‘in the best of bodily health with mental faculties unimpaired’. He lived in Oak Walk, near St Leonard’s Church in the town,  where he died in 1912 aged 99.

 

A Soldier of the Crimea

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(illegible) memory/Osmond John Macmillan

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Barbara Ann MacMillan/widow of the above/who died January 4th 1900/in her 77th year

Although William MacMillan’s name has now faded, we know that he is buried in this plot, since his widow’s epitaph refers to him, and a photograph of his grave (then in better condition) appears in the edited version of his diaries.

William MacMillan was born a long way from Hythe, in Dumfries in April 1825.  His father was a farmer, and William himself went to work for another farmer at nearby Ellisland. Remarkably, we know exactly what it looked like, as it has been very much sketched and photographed and is now a museum, kept as it was two hundred years ago. It was the home of Robert Burns for a couple of years during his most creative period and where he wrote Auld Lang Syne

 

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Ellisland as it was during the lifetime of Robert Burns

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Ellisland as it is today

 

By the time William MacMillan got there it was owned by a Mr Taylor, who thought very highly of him. When William left him in 1844, he wrote:

He kept good company, was sober, honest and of good character. He attended church regularly. I hope he will not depart from the path of virtue’.

William went off to become, of all things, a tea dealer and somehow made his way to Taunton, in Somerset. Perhaps he was not a very successful tea dealer, because in another abrupt change of direction, he joined the Coldstream Guards in 1848, when he was twenty three years old.

For the next ten years he served as a private, and just before the outbreak of the Crimean War he was sent down to Hythe, to the School of Musketry. It seems likely that it was then that he met the Hythe woman he was to marry, Barbara Ann Elgar, although that would be a few years later.

After the School of Musketry, he was promoted to corporal and was sent to the Crimea, where war had broken out the previous year, 1853

What is remarkable about William is that during his time there he kept a diary, which he brought home with him and which was given after his death to the Coldstream Guards who put it in their archives. There it was discovered in the 1980s, by Keith Hingle, who wrote this book:

SHOW BOOK

He has transcribed most of the entries, and filled in the background to Sgt. McMillans’s life with the help of the late Jack Barker, a Hythe historian.

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A page of William’s Crimea diary

William travelled to Crimea via Malta, where he was very impressed with the cheapness of the rum and brandy and of the cigars, and very daringly for a time when sea bathing was not yet fashionable, he had a dip in the sea. He liked the island very much, but on Sunday 2nd of April 1854 he writes:

Most beautiful morning, sea so calm there is not even a ripple upon it. Not a breath of air stirring. Oh how I should like to be at Hythe with Barbara.

At the end of April he sailed for Constantinople, now Istanbul. He thought it ‘the most wretched place I was ever in’. It was crowded and dirty and there were snakes and lizards and he didn’t like the Turks and disapproved of the way the women covered their faces. It is in Istanbul that he starts to write the diary as if he is addressing someone, and I think that the diary forms a long letter to Barbara in Hythe.

 

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After Istanbul, he was sent to Varna, which is in modern day Bulgaria. He didn’t like it there either. There were more snakes and lizards , and clouds of locusts, and the locals kept black people as slaves which he disapproved of.  There were continual outbreaks of cholera.

It got worse.

In September 1854, just I time for winter, he sailed to the Crimea and started the march to Balaclava and on to the siege of Sebastopol. Someone stole his socks and he had to spend that bitterly cold winter without any, as apparently the army did not provide spare pairs, He describes one night sleeping outside without a tent.

 ‘I was wet through, my blanket was wet and I lay shivering on the cold ground. I could not sleep. It blew a hurricane and the rain descended in most drenching showers all night.’ 

Later, the rain stopped and it started to snow. The men got lice, there was no wood to light fires and they lived on half-rations of biscuit and salt meat. Unsurprisingly, dysentery and frostbite were rife.

 

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Eventually, in spring, William was sent back to Balaclava. There he saw, for the first time ever, a western woman wearing trousers. She was French, of course.

Then it was back to the front. It got hot again and there was another epidemic of cholera, but he survived the war and saw the fall of Sevastopol.

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The ‘official’ version of the Coldstream Guards after Crimea

 

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 Another view of the Guards after the war, recovering at their barracks in London

After the Crimea, William came home, was promoted to sergeant, signed on for another 11 years in the army and came to Hythe to marry his Barbara. She was the daughter of Henry Elgar, a Hythe smith, and his wife Eliza. The family lived in Chapel Street in Hythe. She married William Macmillan in London in 1858 and stayed with him when he was posted in the London area for some time after that. Their four children were born there.

However, in 1868 William was discharged as unfit for service, suffering from paralysis in his left leg.  The authorities decided that this must have been brought on by his experiences in the Crimea and awarded him a pension of two shillings a day. William and Barbra went back to live in Hythe, where Barbara had family, and set uo home in Park Road,

A doctor friend, however, tells me that it sounds as though he was suffering from motor neurone disease. He lived for another twenty five years, but the paralysis grew worse, and for some years before his death he was immobile, though unaffected in his mind.  He died in 1893.

It must have been hard for him. He had seen his younger son, Osmond (who is buried with him) die young, and had to apply to a local charity, Weller’s Gift, to get his older son tools for an apprenticeship.  Although money was tight, the one thing he never sold were his Crimea medals, with four clasps, for Alma, Sevastopol, Inkerman and Balaclava.

Sources: Keith Hingle: The Diary of Sgt W.Macmillan: The Coldstream Guards (undated)

The Worthington Family, Coachmakers

 

Worthingtom William

This is the grave of William Worthington and his wife, Blanche. The inscription reads:

William Worthington /entered into rest March 12th 1893/ in his 72nd year.

Only good night beloved, not farewell/a little while and all his saints shall dwell /in hallowed union indivisible/ good –night good -night

Because I live you shall live also John XIV 19

Also of Blanche Worthington /widow of the above/died Jan. 31st 1912/aged 92

Jesus Christ who died/that we should live together/with Him. Thes. 5. 10.

William Worthington was the founder of the business which became the Worthington coachworks on East Street in Hythe, on the site now occupied by Worthington Court.  He was born in 1821  in the town in relatively humble circumstances and lived in Elm Terrace in Hillside Road as a boy.  

He became a wheelwright by trade, but was obviously an ambitious young man. He married the girl next door, Blanche Lucas in 1843 and four years later, when he was twenty-six, he set up the Worthington Carriage Works.  

His business flourished and so did his family. He and Blanche had nine children. By 1871 they had moved to The Avenue in Hythe living in this house overlooking the Royal Military Canal and very near the works.

 

Worthington House

By the time he was sixty, when he was employing a workforce of nine, he had bought ‘The Gables’ in North Road, an even bigger house, high up above the town and the church.  It was clearly a step up from in the world in more ways than one.

One of his more unusual jobs was building the carriages for the Sandgate Hill lift in 1891. It was one of four cliff lifts in the Folkestone area taking visitors up and down from the beach to the grassy Leas and the town above. This one was a  hybrid between a water balance lift and a conventional tramway.

Worthington Hill left

William and Blanche had three sons, Robert, William and Frederick and after their father’s death, their business became Messrs Worthington Bros, Coach Builders. By 1909 they had become Worthington Brothers Ltd.

This is their advertisement.

Worthington advert

(the date of 1847 written on the card is incorrect!)

William, the middle son, was the first to die.

Worthington grave2

The inscription on his grave reads:

In/loving/memory/of/William/Worthington/born Nov. 22nd 1854/died Nov. 7th 1906

Not slothful in business/fervent in sprit/serving the Lord. ROM.XII.II.

And of Mary Ann/wife of the above/born April 3rd 1857. Died March 7th 1925.

Also Arthur./ dearly loved son of the above/who was killed in the battle of Arras

Remainder illegible

William had married Mary Anne and had four children and they lived in his father’s former home overlooking the canal.  William had to overcome a disability in order to succeed in life, as he had been born with only one ear, and poor hearing in the other one. He relied to a great extent on lip reading. He was, like his brother Robert, a stalwart of the Methodist Church in Hythe and was a Sunday School teacher, steward and trustee. He took his duties seriously. Apparently if he missed someone at church on Sunday, he would find out where they lived and looked them up. As he worked all day, the only opportunity he had for doing this was in the evenings.  In the countryside round the town, the nights were very dark in winter.  

One evening in November 1906, when he was 52, he left the house at about half past seven in the evening. It was drizzling and later rained hard, but he did not take a coat with him. He didn’t tell anyone where he was going.  This was in the days when there was a railway line running from Sandling station, which is still in use,  down to Hythe station which has long since closed.

Shortly after nine thirty, the driver of the train from Sandling to Hythe felt a bump and felt his ballast shift, as if he had hit something. It was too dark to see anything, but when he got to Hythe, he and the Station Master went back up the line in a spare carriage. At the Saltwood crossing, where a footpath crossed the railway line, they found William on the line, dead from terrible head injuries.

There was an inquest two days later at Saltwood, which returned a verdict of accidental death, as the jury supposed that William could not have heard the train coming. This despite the fact that the evidence of the train driver and the Station Master was that William had clearly been lying down, between the tracks and parallel with them, when the train hit him.  It seems likely that the verdict was a kind decision on the part of the jury designed to help William’s family and widow, and not just from the stigma of suicide.  He had two insurance policies on his life, but they only covered accidental death. In the event, he seems not to have left his family very well off. After his death Mary Anne ran a boarding house in Cobden Road. Perhaps he did have money worries.

Things did not get better for Mary Anne.Her son Arthur worked in the family business, as a manager.  When war broke out in 1914, he combined this with working as an evening driver to transport medical staff and volunteers to the Bevan Hospital at Sandgate.  He was also organist at the Methodist Church where he played every Sunday.  I can’t find out when he joined up, but he was killed in the Arras offensive on 3 May 1917, although his body was never found. His mother had to wait fifteen months after his disappearance for the War Department to declare him dead.  

 

Worthington Arthur

Robert was the next Worthington brother to pass away.

 

Worthington Grave 3

In loving memory of/Emma/the dearly loved wife of/Robert Worthington/born March18th 1856/died May 10th1906

Also the above/Robert Worthington/born October 15th 1845/died December 19th1908

“In  Your presence is fullness of joy” PS XIV 11

Like his father, Robert became the father of nine children, including three sons, and his public life flourished, too.  He was another stalwart of the Wesleyan church, Secretary of the Hythe institute and had been a member of the fire brigade. He lived in a house called ‘Kildrummie’ on Tanners Hill, Hythe.  A substantial house, with six bedrooms, a dining room, drawing room and morning room, and large garden it was just the place for a successful business man. It was also within site of the works.

kildrummie

One Saturday evening in December 1908, when he was 64, he was off to Folkestone, and walking along the Seabrook Road flagged down a motor bus. Once on board he was taken ill and the coach diverted to the nearest doctor’s surgery, Unfortunately, by the time they got there Robert was dead, so the doctor made all the other passengers get off the bus so that it could take the body back to Hythe.

After Robert’s death, the business was run by the surviving brother, Fred, assisted by his nephew, William’s son Arthur.  Fred was very much the baby of the family, 19 years younger than his brother Robert. The firm  already had a good reputation for producing carts, carriages and even a coach for one of the royal house of Siam. They moved with the times, and invented a hybrid mode of transport called the Worthington cycle car in 1912, which seems to have been a sort of motor bike.

At the same time, they were developing a car,  the Worthington Runaraound. Only one was ever built. This is its specification:

It was originally powered by an 8hp horizontally-opposed twin engine, but this was replaced by an 8.9hp V-twin J.A.P. The transversely mounted engine drove by two chains to a countershaft, final drive being by belt.

It was intended to sell the car for £90,  but the company overstretched itself and got involved in the other latest transport craze, the aeroplane and in the end failed to produce either car or plane. I  don’t know when the company stopped trading, but Fred, who lived at Twiss Villas in Twiss Road, later worked as a ‘coach painter’. He didn’t die until 1948, aged 84, but was survived for some years by two daughters who lived in the town.

Many of old William Worthington’s other descendants emigrated to Australia, Canada and the USA.

 

The Wilks Family of Hythe

The next two plots in St Leonard’s Churchyard are dedicated to four generations of the Wilks family of Hythe.

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The first was George Wilks who was born in Ospringe, Kent, and baptised there on 18 January 1836. He was one of the fourteen children of Edward Frederick Wilks, a farmer, and his wife Maria. By the age of twenty-five he was a qualified solicitor and had married Fanny Stringer. She was the daughter of William Stringer, an Attorney of New Romney, and his wife Mary. After their marriage, in 1861, the couple lived in Mount Street in Hythe, later moving to a house in the High Street next to George’s office, where eleven children were born to them. George was Town Clerk for over thirty years and also Treasurer and Manager of the Hythe Church of England Girls’ School. Many schoolchildren and their teachers attended his funeral on 2 July 1900. After his death, Fanny moved back to New Romney to live with her sister Laura, and died there

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This stone commemorates George Stringer Wilks and his cousin Charles Edward Wilkes

Their eldest son was George Stringer Wilks, baptised at St Leonard’s Church on 14 March 1862. By the age of nine he had been sent away to school at Rocky Hill House in Maidstone. After school, he followed in his father’s footsteps and at nineteen was an articled solicitor’s clerk.

In 1886, newly qualified as a solicitor, he married Florence Gertruda Lovegrove and took a house in Church Avenue, Hythe.  Two daughters were born: Sibyl in 1887 and Katherine in 1889 .   George practised law together with his father from their offices at 54 (now 114) High Street, Hythe, and he joined the volunteer battalion of the Buffs East Kent Regiment, something which seems to have been expected of local gentlemen. Obviously a good shot, in 1889 he was appointed an Instructor at the Hythe School of Musketry. Originally established in the mid-19th Century, the school taught skills in firearms and marksmanship to Army officers.  Always a busy man, George also served as Town Clerk, a post he had inherited from his father,  and Clerk to the Magistrates of Hythe.  In 1889 published ‘The Early History of Hythe’

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114 High Street, Hythe, where George Wilks and his son George Stringer Wilks practised law and raised their families. Now a Red Cross charity shop, it is decorated for the biennial Hythe Festival.

His sister, Mildred Stringer Wilks also rests here. She was the sixth child of George and Fanny Wilks and lived at home until her late twenties, when she took up a post as matron of a girls’ boarding school in Lancashire. She returned home later in life and died in the Folkestone area.

The first George Wilks had a much younger brother, Charles, a farmer at Chislett, who married and had a son, Charles Edward  Wilks. Charles senior died young, and his wife sold the farm, of 754 acres, and took her children to live in South Shields, where she had been born. Charles junior became a chartering clerk with a shipping broker there.  However, in 1917, he returned to Kent, and married Sibyl, the daughter of George Stringer Wilks, and his own second cousin, in Hythe.  They are buried here together.

The son of Charles Edward  and Sibyl Wilks was John Wilks, born in  London in 1918. He was a member of the Friends Ambulance Unit which, during WWII transported medical supplies into China for civilians and worked alongside the Chinese Red Cross in tending casualties. He later became a surgeon at Bolton Hospital. He married Wu Shih Tsen, ‘Doris’, who was born in China and was a fellow member of the Friends Ambulance Unit . They had two children. Both John and Doris Wilks are commemorated on this plot.

Sibyl’s sister Katherine is also named here. She married Charles F.H.Baines in Kensington in 1924.  They later lived in Fulham where Katherine worked as a beautician. Charles died in 1958, and in 1967 Katherine married the artist Mordaunt  Mauleverer  Parker who died three years later.

 

 

The Middling Sort – Part Five

The middling sort was often able to give their sons, and occasionally their daughters, some sort of formal education.  A degree of prosperity was required to release a child from the necessity of working to put bread on the table as soon as he could and to send him to school instead.   Nationally, there had been a huge expansion of education after the 1550s. Religious and more secular concerns had both played a role in this. Protestantism encouraged the devout to read and learn from their bibles.  The concurrent expansion of internal trade meant that by the seventeenth century tradesmen needed basic literacy, the ability to read a bill and sign a contract, in order to benefit from the growth in trade in foodstuffs and other goods.  There was also an increase in job opportunities open to the literate, in the church, in medicine and particularly in the law – there had been a big expansion in litigation towards the end of the sixteenth century.

Schoolmasters in Kent were licensed by the Diocese of Canterbury and Hythe had a licensed schoolmaster throughout the period. Often it was the curate, who usually had a university degree. Sometimes a man who was judged to be literate enough was given the post, as were Edward Grawnte in 1602, John Crumpe in 1620, and Matthew Mantell in 1640. All were also jurats, and Mantell described himself as a gentleman, although that was wishful thinking on his part as his family’s fortunes had collapsed when his great-grandfather was executed for his part in Wyatt’s rebellion.

It is likely that teaching was carried out in the church, as it was in other towns, and St Leonard’s church had the perfect schoolroom in the Parvise, a commodious chamber over the south porch. Reading and writing were taught separately, reading first, and then, at about the age of seven or eight, writing. By that age, children were becoming useful in the workplace, and many would not have learnt to write beyond a signature or just an initial. Many of Hythe’s tradesmen could sign, however, more or less legibly, and produce written bills.

The signature of William Gately, Blacksmith (Canterbury Cathedral Archives)
The signature of William Gately, blacksmith (Canterbury Cathedral Archives)
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The bill of John Banbury, carpenter, for work done at the alms house barn (John Osbourne)

For the well-off there were grammar schools after elementary education. One of Hythe’s M.P.s, Norton Knatchbull, endowed a ‘free’ grammar school in Ashford, and there was another one in Canterbury. This latter cost twelve pounds a year, to which a parent would have to add the cost of the loss of a son’s labour. It was a big investment, and beyond the means of most.

Only very occasionally does anything more complex than bills and accounts survive as evidence of literacy, although James Pashley’s letters of 1658 are one example. This was because they were written to Henry Oxinden of Denton, a member of the minor gentry, to whom Pashley, a yeoman and Hythe jurat,  had become related through marriage, and who was a man who kept all his correspondence.  A grammar school education was a possibility for a yeoman’s son, and Pashley’s turn of phrase suggests an education beyond the elementary schoolroom:

‘Cousin, I hope there will be no doubt but you shall effect your desire, for I find Mr Lushington and Mr Arthur and all their party very constant for you, and my friends stand fast and do promise me to their utmost power; therefore I think you need not make any doubt’

Oxinden was standing for election as one of Hythe’s representatives in Parliament and his ‘cousin’ Pashley was canvassing for him. Oxinden lost, and the relationship rather fizzled out after that.