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Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air ….

When I saw this week’s prompt I wasn’t sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under lockdown in varying degrees and fresh air is something of a commodity for many people at the moment. I’m lucky, I have a garden and as the weather has been mostly kind I have made the most of it. Although only a short drive to the beach we are obeying the rules and not driving there for a walk, neither are we driving the short distance to the nearby South Downs.

Comparisons have frequently been made between the conditions now and those in wartime and as Terry Waite, held captive for 5 years said, “Change your mindset, you’re not stuck at home, you’re safe at home.” Writing about fresh air suddenly seemed trivial to say the least.

Two people who made the decision to sign up to fly in wartime had very contrasting fortunes.

These pictures are from different eras – the right hand side picture is of my maternal grandfather who joined the Royal Flying Corp in 1916 and was discharged as medically unfit for duty in September the following year. I have been told that he had pneumonia and spent much of his time in and out of hospital before he was eventually discharged. His casualty card also says that he was “liable to be sent a statutory order on 21/9/18 requiring him to present himself for medical re-examination under the Military Service (Review of exceptions). He was clearly very lucky that he war was almost over by that time.

Looking at his Casualty Form is interesting – his date of enlistment shows that he was just shy of his 17th birthday (14th March) and his service wasn’t reckoned until the month after his 18th birthday. His occupation on joining was a farmer and  his Corps or Trade was given as a ?? aviator.

His younger brother was too young to join up, but he gained his Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates in September 1929 at the Phillips & Powis School of Flying; Reading and the certificate was taken on a D.H. Moth 60 h,p, Mark 1.

On the left is my paternal uncle Flying Officer Peter Lewcock.

He and his plane were presumed lost at sea on a mission between Fife and Norway in October 1944. He was 22, this was just two days before his first wedding anniversary and he left behind a pregnant wife – their daughter was born in the following June.

No. 547 Squadron

This squadron was formed in Coastal Command at Holmsley South on 21 October 1942. It was equipped with Wellingtons and was intended to operate in the anti-shipping role using both bombs and torpedoes. However in May 1943, it converted to the anti-submarine role by which time it was based at Davidstow Moor. A move to Thorney Island in October also brought re-equipment with Liberators, which it operated over the Bay of Biscay.

A further move occurred in September 1944, this time to Leuchars in Scotland, where it conducted anti-submarine patrols and anti-shipping strikes of the Scandinavian coast. It finally disbanded on 4 June 1945.

Liberator EW 299 of 547 Sqn (RAF) took off at 1604 hours on 27 October 1944 from (RAF) Station Leuchars, Fife, Scotland, to carry out an anti-submarine patrol close to the Norwegian coast from the Bergen area to the Skagerrak. The aircraft was due to return at 0345 hours on 28 October 1944 and failed to do so. No signals or messages were received from the aircraft. Assumed that aircraft and crew were lost at sea.                                                               

CREW MEMBERS

F/O Peter Frank Lewcock, RAFVR (55053) age 22, Pilot from New Malden, Surrey, England. 
P/O Thomas Keith Montgomery, RCAF (J35549) age 22 , 2nd Pilot from Lanark, Saskatchewan Canada.
F/O Robert Morse Cooper, RCAF (J17156) age 21, Navigator/Bomb aimer  from Montreal, Quebec Canada.  
WO Henry Charles White, RAFVR (1307039)  age 29, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.                                         
P/O David Kenneth Caldwell, RAAF (422408) age 28, WO/AG from Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia.
WO Jack William Steed, RNZAF (40585) age 24, WO/AG from Mt. Albert, Auckland, New Zealand.
P/O Gordon Harries Tindall, RAFV (55920) age 25, Navigator/Bomb aimer from Liverpool, England.
F/O Robert McNaughton Buist, RAFVR (170647) age 30, Air Gunner from Rutherglen, Larkshire, England.       
F/S Peter Ashley Noel, RAFVR . (910694) age 24. Flight Engineer from Coventry, England.                           
WO1 Robert William Richard Shaw, RCAF (R110325) age 32 Wireless Operator/Air Gunner from Powell River, British Columbia, Canada.


British Royal Air Force, Airmen’s Service Records 1912-1939

Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1910-1950

Extract from: Powell River’s Unsung Heroes Of World War II

No. 547 Squadron RAF

No 541 – 598 Squadron Histories

This squadron was formed in Coastal Command at Holmsley South on 21 October 1942. It was equipped with Wellingtons and was intended to operate in the anti-shipping role using both bombs and torpedoes.

However in May 1943, it converted to the anti-submarine role by which time it was based at Davidstow Moor. A move to Thorney Island in October also brought re-equipment with Liberators, which it operated over the Bay of Biscay.

A further move occurred in September 1944, this time to Leuchars in Scotland, where it conducted anti-submarine patrols and anti-shipping strikes of the Scandinavian coast. It finally disbanded on 4 June 1945.

 

 

 

Week 48: Gratitude

Week 48: Gratitude

Thank you very much .... The world of amateur genealogy would not be where it is without the selfless help of fellow genealogists. I learned enormous amounts from just reading other peoples' queries and the solutions. They gave me ideas of where to look and, more...

read more
Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

read more

Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

read more
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

read more
Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

read more

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

read more

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

read more

Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

read more
Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

read more
Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

read more
Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

read more
Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

read more
Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

read more
Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

read more

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website.

Perhaps it could be the group one from my paternal great grandparents, William and Kate Bradley, Diamond Wedding Anniversary Party where I am centre stage sitting on my mothers’ lap next to the happy couple?

Or maybe the picture of the double wedding in September 1890 in front of Aveley Hall?

Perhaps the glass one of my great grandmother, Susie Gillett with her nurse, from 1863?

Double Wedding. Aveley Hall. September 1890.

I think it has to be the third one. I vividly remember Granny showing me the picture as a young child and her telling me the story behind it and in part this is why I became interested in researching my family history. Thanks to her, whose parents’ wedding it was, I know who all the people are and have since worked out where they fit into the tree apart from one person, who I am told Granny referred to as “the interloper” – whether she meant anything derogatory or just because he was not family, I have no idea. When she died we came across the newspaper cuttings about the wedding too and writing this up will spur me on to transcribing those one day. 

Girls from left to right:
Florence Tompkins – Osborne’s half-sister. (Emma’s daughter. Never married. Was known as Aunt Floss.)
Can’t place her.
Frances (Fanny) de Fraine – Tom’s sister. (Married Cecil Knight in 1909.)
Katie Tompkins – Osbornes’ half-sister. (Emma’s daughter. Married Herbert Manning in 1907.)

Men standing behind left to right:
George de Fraine – Tom’s brother. (Became proprietor of the Bucks Herald.)
Herbert (Bert) de Fraine – Tom’s brother. Worked at the Bank of England.
George Parrot – “an interloper”
Joseph Tompkins – Osborne and Nellie’s brother. 

Bridal party left to right:
Ada de Fraine – Nellie’s bridesmaid. (Tom’s sister. Became Mrs Arthur Barton. Their daughter married Guy Dodwell and went to the USA.)
Mary Tompkins – Nellie’s bridesmaid. (Sister to Nellie and Osborne, married Henry Miles, brother of Arthur, and went to Canada.)
George Turner de Fraine – Tom’s father. (Bucks Herald )
Mrs George de Fraine (Henrietta) – Tom’s mother.
Rosa Ellen (Nellie) Tompkins – Bride. (Daughter of John Tompkins and Emma’s sister Sarah.)
Thomas Turner de Fraine – Groom. (Son of George Turner and Henrietta de Fraine.)
Susan Gillett – Bride. (Stepdaughter of Emma Tompkins née Godfree from her first marriage to John Gillett. The Gillett Spoons)
Osborne Tompkins – Groom. (Son of John Tompkins and Emma’s sister Sarah.)
Emma Tompkins – Osborne and Nellie’s stepmother and maternal aunt
John Tompkins – Osborne and Nellie’s father.
Emily Brookes – Susan’s bridesmaid. (Niece of Emma Tompkins née Godfree.)
Clara Hambidge – Susan’s bridesmaid. (Niece of Emma Tompkins née Godfree. Daughter of Robert Hambidge, Ascott Martyrs.)

Standing at the back in front of the porch:
Auntie Dolly – (wife of Godfree Tompkins)
Godfree Tompkins – (Osborne and Nellie’s brother. Gave Susan away at the wedding)
Arthur Miles – husband of Annie.
Annie Miles – (Osborne and Nellie’s sister)
Mrs Robert Tompkins (Louisa)
Robert Tompkins – brother of John Tompkins. (Auctioneer of Reading.)
Albert Tompkins – Osborne’s brother.

“This was compiled by (Molly) Kathleen Mary de Fraine née Tompkins, younger daughter of Osborne and Susan.”

She did not know how some of the younger girls were related but I managed to track them down and as I was adding some of the relationships to Granny’s comments just now, I realised that I have DNA matches with descendants of Ada de Fraine so I must contact them and see if they have this picture!

 

Week 48: Gratitude

Week 48: Gratitude

Thank you very much .... The world of amateur genealogy would not be where it is without the selfless help of fellow genealogists. I learned enormous amounts from just reading other peoples' queries and the solutions. They gave me ideas of where to look and, more...

read more
Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

read more

Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

read more
Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

read more
Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

read more
Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

read more

Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

read more

Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

read more

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

read more

Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still...

read more
Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

read more
Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

read more
Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

read more
Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

read more
Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

read more
Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

read more

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

de Fraines of Buckinghamshire

From Woburn to Chesham via Aylesbury.
Farmers, printers, publishers and hairdressers.

I take no credit for the bulk of the early de Fraine research. Several de Fraines will have in their possession a paper tree which was drawn up pre-internet by Phyllis de Fraine from her research in the Aylesbury Archives. I have tried to add details from other baptism registers, wills, the IGI, other online sources for BMDs and census returns up to 1911 and along the way have made contact with many other people who have de Fraine in their own trees which has enabled us to connect up some incomplete branches.

The earliest reference to the de Fraines we have traced so far occurs in Woburn, Bedfordshire when the christenings of the children of Peter and Joan are recorded between 1572 and 1588. At the same period, the christenings of the children of a Richard de Fraine and the marriage of a Dorothy de Fraine are recorded.

The first appearance of the de Fraines in Aylesbury is the marriage on the 31st July 1631 of John Sanders and Jane Defraine, followed by the marriage by Licence of Richard Defrayne and Ellen Lea on the 18th December 1638, both at St Mary’s Church.

There is far more research needed to confirm the earliest results e.g. the attaching of Richard and Jane to the de Fraines of Woburn is speculative.

Many of the articles below were written by Dawn Lewcock, oldest daughter of Thomas Leigh de Fraine.

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

de Fraines of Buckinghamshire

From Woburn to Chesham via Aylesbury.Farmers, printers, publishers and hairdressers. I take no credit for the bulk of the early de Fraine research. Several de Fraines will have in their possession a paper tree which was drawn up pre-internet by Phyllis de Fraine from...

read more

Servant of this house

  Herbert George de Fraine, son of George Turner, spent 55 years at the Bank of England and his recollections of life with the bank were published after his death at the age of 88, by his daughter in "Servant of This House" in 1960. From its earliest beginnings...

read more

G T de Fraine’s summer holiday

  Herbert George de Fraine also wrote about his family life in Aylesbury where his father was the publisher and printer of the local paper 'The Bucks Herald'. They lived a fairly affluent life. Herbert says that when his father had their bathroom installed it was...

read more

A Paper Chase

  While searching the digital newspapers, looking for information about John de Fraine, several entries for a certain G.H. de Fraine kept popping up in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle. As he was probably a distant relative I thought that I would...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

Bluestocking

  Towards the end of the nineteenth century, both my grandmothers went to the local school and when they were old enough were sent away to board for a short time at a young ladies boarding school where they learnt the three Rs, needlework, music and possibly...

read more
de Fraines of Chartridge

de Fraines of Chartridge

  Thomas Turner de Fraine was a son of the de Fraine family of Aylesbury, where his father published the Bucks Herald. He was unusual in his family in wanting to be a farmer and his father sent him to learn about farming to John Tompkins who lived at Ivinghoe and...

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Old Cottage, Chartridge Lane

Old Cottage, Chartridge Lane

  Old Cottage, as far as we know, was a two up two down cottage with a cellar, next to a large double doored barn, in the 1920s. My father took the barn down and extended the house into that area. He and Ted Wells did most of the work themselves. My first memory...

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Summer Holiday 1930s

Summer Holiday 1930s

  What happened to the railway carriages in which Herbert and his family travelled to Ramsgate in the 1880s? As the new carriages became fitted up with upholstered seats and lavatories the old ones were sold off for sheds and chicken house. (Some of which are...

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Wartime Memories

Wartime Memories

. I remember it was a lovely sunny Sunday morning the day war broke out.. We listened to Mr Chamberlain’s speech on the wireless in the kitchen, the only wireless we had, and my parents were very serious and shooshed us when we, my two younger sisters and I started to speak, not really understanding what it was all about. My father took us across to the air raid shelter he had made in an old underground farm slurry tank and said that we would have to go into this dark, damp and smelly room if there was an air raid.

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Newspaper Proprietor

George de Fraine was born in Aylesbury in 1808, the son of Luke who was a hairdresser and later a gardener and seedsman. He married Elizabeth Turner, the daughter of John Turner, in 1829. Their son, George Turner de Fraine became the proprietor of The Bucks Herald from 1872. The first issue under his regime being published on October 5th, 1872. His eldest son, Thomas Turner, wanted to be a farmer so the business then went to two other sons, George Lee and Alfred Charles.

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George Turner de Fraine’s second marriage

  George's first wife, Henrietta née Lee, had died on the 5th May 1905 and George remarried in Bournemouth on the 15th May 1906. His second wife was a widow, Mary Brunton née Mayne. Mary was born in Aylesbury and married there in 1869. She was in Aylesbury for...

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Servant of this house

Herbert George de Fraine, son of George Turner, spent 55 years at the Bank of England and his recollections of life with the bank were published after his death at the age of 88, by his daughter in “Servant of This House” in 1960. From its earliest beginnings the bank has been referred to as ‘the House’ rather than ‘the Bank’ by the employees, perhaps because its first permanent premises were built on the site of the house belonging to its first Governor.

Herbert began his career with the Old Lady, as he also called her, in 1886 as a boy of sixteen, and for over two years spent all day counting the bank notes removed from circulation. Some sixty thousand were returned each day and every one had to be examined, placed in its appropriate section with the signature torn off and then entered in a ledger by hand, before being bundled for burial in the vaults, where it stayed for seven years before being burnt. But not before, Herbert says, the balance had been checked, for the value of the notes withdrawn had to match the value of record of those handed over the counter, and the young men were kept back until everyone’s lists tallied. It sounds a tedious and boring job, but reminiscing later Herbert thought himself very lucky to have had it. The clerks were always appointed on the recommendation of one of the twenty six directors, or were sons of clerks already working for the bank. Herbert’s father knew one of the directors and asked him for the nomination. As the director died shortly afterwards Herbert thought himself doubly lucky.

His reminiscences show that he was someone who was interested in everything around him. He recalls travelling by horse tram and the dirt and mud underfoot which necessitated having to use clothes and shoe cleaning brushes before starting work. He was earning £42 a year at first, which he says had to be supplemented by his father, but was nevertheless, “princely in comparison with the current wage for a farm labourer”. But, as he adds, he had to pay for lodgings and clothes suitable for working in the bank – which included a black silk hat, which had to be refurbished several times a day in bad weather (that is, Herbert had to take it to the hatter who smoothed it with hot irons, for free). In Summer the silk hat was changed for a straw one, but the rest of his outfit stayed the same. He wore a dark blue overcoat with a black velvet collar, compulsory gloves, and carried either a walking stick or an umbrella. In the Bank he had to wear trousers without turn ups, black button boots and a tailcoat over a starched shirt with a stiff white collar and cravat. The whole outfit was set off with a gold watch-chain across the waistcoat. He notes that one could smoke a cigar, or even a cigarette in the street, but a pipe was quite forbidden. His book is a mine of information for social historians.

After a year his pay was raised to £54 and he was given a week’s holiday, and at the end of the second year he was raised to £80, which was a really good salary for a young man at the time. Even so, although he became engaged to be married in 1890, they were not able to marry for another seven years and his fiancée earned her living as a governess, which was, as Herbert remarks, the only respectable occupation for women but extremely poorly paid. He spent his spare time sightseeing at first, but was soon going to music halls and the theatre, as well as riding the new safety bicycle he bought with his first overtime payment for volunteering to work in the evening for a special job.

Discipline in the Bank was very strict. Talking as they worked was forbidden, visits to the WC were timed and they were allowed exactly thirty five minutes for lunch. This formality extended to personal relations and Herbert says he never called anyone by his Christian name however friendly they became.

He became fascinated by the working of the Bank and within three years he managed to pass the necessary exam to become a full employee with pension rights against stiff competition. On his promotion Herbert became ‘unattached’, which meant he could be sent anywhere to work, which gave him an excellent knowledge of the various workings of the Old Lady. The book of
Discipline in the Bank was very strict. Talking as they worked was forbidden, visits to the WC were timed and they were allowed exactly thirty five minutes for lunch.

His reminiscences give many details of the various departments of the Bank and the ways in which the Old Lady controlled things through three people; the Chief Accountant, the Chief Cashier and the Secretary. For a time he was in the Shutting Office, so called because it was were the books were shut before a dividend was declared, and the payment warrants made out. As he says, when it was not time to declare a dividend there was really no work to be done and he found that it was quite a leisurely affair.

He spent time dealing with stockbrokers, buying and selling stock, and in the dividend payment office where the cashiers were so busy that they had to work in relays on the pay-out days, for people expected to receive cash in their hand. The Old Lady thought payment by warrant was risky and it was only done on request.

Having sampled several different sides of the Bank, Herbert was given the choice of working on the stock or the cash side of the Old Lady for the rest of his career. He chose the cash side because there was a greater chance of becoming a Cashier in the Bank’s Treasury, which had a higher final salary and thus an increased pension. He says he came to realise that actually promotion in the Bank depended more on string-pulling or on catching the eye of someone with influence than on hard work.

He worked in the Clearing House which was where representatives of other banks would come together physically to exchange their cheques and bills of exchange with each other and with the Old Lady. As he mentions, everything had to be entered, scrutinised and computed by hand. As he became older and more experienced, Herbert was sent round a district to distribute and collect bills of exchange, dividends, cheques and warrants from various businesses, and at one time was collecting from Government offices as well as the small private banks, and once from royalty at Marlborough House.

In 1894, women graduates were recruited into the Bank as clerks, with some as typists on the new typewriters, and they were given a separate department with a separate entrance and exit from the men. Herbert says they were not allowed even to catch a glimpse of a male nor enter an office where one might be present because, “behind the closed doors lurked horrible males with hairy goat legs waiting to pounce on them as they passed”. They had their own Superintendent in Janet Elizabeth Hogarth, who later wrote about the tedium of their work. Even today, the Bank is said to try to regulate the female employees and recently issued a memo on the appropriate dress at work saying that they must wear make-up and high heels. Although Herbert is not always clear it seems that around the same time, the young men dealing with returned bank notes were replaced by young girls of the same age who were found to be more dextrous than the men, and Herbert also has a reference to girls aged from fourteen to sixteen replacing the boys in the printing shop, where they worked as messengers distributing the paper. The boys had been encouraged to take up apprenticeships afterwards, but he does not say whether this applied to the girls.

The Old Lady was compassionate to her employees and when Herbert was ill with chronic bronchitis and then found to suffer from asthma, she paid for him to go to Madeira to recuperate for a month. He paints a horrifying picture of people there suffering from advanced tuberculosis, which as he says many did not believe was infectious, but he met with a doctor who warned him against too much contact and he decided to leave early and returned home, where the Old Lady set him on light duties clearing the desk of someone who had just died of TB, which he found disconcerting.

In 1911 after being Deputy Principal for four years of the Bills Office where he had begun his career, Herbert was made Principal of the Printing Department responsible for overseeing the printing of all the bank notes, warrants and other papers the bank issued. This suited Herbert, his father was the printer and publisher of the Bucks Herald in Aylesbury, and Herbert had always been interested in engineering and machines and he says he devised various improvements in the working of certain areas. The job included wide ranging responsibility for much of the housekeeping of the Bank, the buying of fuel and other supplies, and overseeing much of the maintenance of the building and equipment.

Herbert encouraged many recreational activities at the printing works, they had their own sports ground, their own orchestra and choir, all kinds of clubs from chess, to the rifle club, to the ramblers, and the girls had a gymnasium class for which his wife played the piano.

During the 1914-1918 war he was ordered in great secrecy, and working with only two others under lock and key, to supply forged documents and papers which were delivered to the Admiralty for, he guessed, distribution to the Secret Service agents working against the Germans.

After the war he oversaw the building of the new printing works in the old St Luke’s Lunatic Asylum in the 1920s, which continued as the Bank’s printing works until the 1950s. When in charge of the printing works he had been partly instrumental in some research into phthisis, a disease rife amongst printers who were inhaling the silica dust from the type, and he installed and implemented the use of large scale permanent vacuum cleaning of the workshops in the new building, which became general practice in similar workplaces. At the time, the works were producing a weekly output of between eleven and twelve million of plate-printed notes, each of which took some forty days to go through the various process. This was just in notes; the works were also printing many other items, including at one time pension books, postal orders and pay records for the services, as well as the necessary warrants and dividend sheets.

By 1928 the works were fully working with the latest machinery. This was the climax of Herbert’s career, although he did not retire until 1931 when work was stopped for an hour (as he says at a cost of £1 a minute!) to say farewell with a grand party, including entertainment, put on in his honour by the various clubs and societies and presentations of all kinds, including the Queen Anne writing desk at which he was photographed.

(He was second cousin to Ethel Louise de Fraine and second cousin once removed to both John de Fraine, and George Henry de Fraine, who have all appeared in the Magazine previously, and my grandfather’s younger brother.)

Sources

Servant of this House; Life in the Old Bank of England by H.G .de Fraine. Constable. 1960

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Magazine Articles

The Family Tree Forum Online Magazine was written and put together by the members of The Family Tree Forum. As one of the editors, I was able to twist some arms and  the following articles were originally written for the Family Tree Forum Online Magazine. A wide...

read more

de Fraines of Buckinghamshire

From Woburn to Chesham via Aylesbury.Farmers, printers, publishers and hairdressers. I take no credit for the bulk of the early de Fraine research. Several de Fraines will have in their possession a paper tree which was drawn up pre-internet by Phyllis de Fraine from...

read more

Servant of this house

  Herbert George de Fraine, son of George Turner, spent 55 years at the Bank of England and his recollections of life with the bank were published after his death at the age of 88, by his daughter in "Servant of This House" in 1960. From its earliest beginnings...

read more

G T de Fraine’s summer holiday

  Herbert George de Fraine also wrote about his family life in Aylesbury where his father was the publisher and printer of the local paper 'The Bucks Herald'. They lived a fairly affluent life. Herbert says that when his father had their bathroom installed it was...

read more

A Paper Chase

  While searching the digital newspapers, looking for information about John de Fraine, several entries for a certain G.H. de Fraine kept popping up in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle. As he was probably a distant relative I thought that I would...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

The Preacher

  Some thirty years ago while house-hunting we went to see what the agent said was a small chapel ‘ripe for conversion’ in the village of West Wickham in Cambridgeshire. The chapel was tiny and needed far too much done to it for us to afford to make it habitable...

read more

Bluestocking

  Towards the end of the nineteenth century, both my grandmothers went to the local school and when they were old enough were sent away to board for a short time at a young ladies boarding school where they learnt the three Rs, needlework, music and possibly...

read more
de Fraines of Chartridge

de Fraines of Chartridge

  Thomas Turner de Fraine was a son of the de Fraine family of Aylesbury, where his father published the Bucks Herald. He was unusual in his family in wanting to be a farmer and his father sent him to learn about farming to John Tompkins who lived at Ivinghoe and...

read more
Old Cottage, Chartridge Lane

Old Cottage, Chartridge Lane

  Old Cottage, as far as we know, was a two up two down cottage with a cellar, next to a large double doored barn, in the 1920s. My father took the barn down and extended the house into that area. He and Ted Wells did most of the work themselves. My first memory...

read more
Summer Holiday 1930s

Summer Holiday 1930s

  What happened to the railway carriages in which Herbert and his family travelled to Ramsgate in the 1880s? As the new carriages became fitted up with upholstered seats and lavatories the old ones were sold off for sheds and chicken house. (Some of which are...

read more
Wartime Memories

Wartime Memories

. I remember it was a lovely sunny Sunday morning the day war broke out.. We listened to Mr Chamberlain’s speech on the wireless in the kitchen, the only wireless we had, and my parents were very serious and shooshed us when we, my two younger sisters and I started to speak, not really understanding what it was all about. My father took us across to the air raid shelter he had made in an old underground farm slurry tank and said that we would have to go into this dark, damp and smelly room if there was an air raid.

read more

Newspaper Proprietor

George de Fraine was born in Aylesbury in 1808, the son of Luke who was a hairdresser and later a gardener and seedsman. He married Elizabeth Turner, the daughter of John Turner, in 1829. Their son, George Turner de Fraine became the proprietor of The Bucks Herald from 1872. The first issue under his regime being published on October 5th, 1872. His eldest son, Thomas Turner, wanted to be a farmer so the business then went to two other sons, George Lee and Alfred Charles.

read more

George Turner de Fraine’s second marriage

  George's first wife, Henrietta née Lee, had died on the 5th May 1905 and George remarried in Bournemouth on the 15th May 1906. His second wife was a widow, Mary Brunton née Mayne. Mary was born in Aylesbury and married there in 1869. She was in Aylesbury for...

read more

G T de Fraine’s summer holiday

Herbert George de Fraine also wrote about his family life in Aylesbury where his father was the publisher and printer of the local paper ‘The Bucks Herald’.

They lived a fairly affluent life. Herbert says that when his father had their bathroom installed it was only the third in Aylesbury. Even so, he says that the children thought a bath in the corner of an unheated room was a poor substitute for a tub in front of the nursery fire.The family had an annual seaside holiday and this is Herbert’s account of one year.

“My father took us to the seaside in August, and oe year we went to Ramsgate, where he had rented from an Admiral a large furnished house.

The London and North-Western Railway provided a special coach which had four compartments, two on each side of a small one for baggage. When the exciting morning came, behold us, father, mother, eight children (one in a pram), governess, nurse-maid, cook, housemaid and possibly a cat or two. My father and mother took a compartment to themselves inviting the older children in from time to time. We were hitched to a fast train to Euston which shed us at Willesden Junction. There we were shunted by an enormous and jolly old Shire horse, who, when he heard his chains being hooked onto our coach, immediately put his back into the job without waiting for the word of command. Then we bumped and bumped across the points at the huge junction, the horse’s great hairy hooves picking their way daintily over all the obstacles.

By strange routes and several more shuntings we got on to the London, Chatham and Dover line. Sometimes we stopped for long periods at stations, and this, as the provision of lavatories on trains had not been thought of yet, was found convenient. All this took a great part of the day. At Ramsgate Station, most of the family got into ‘growlers’, while my father stopped to oversee the unloading of the luggage into the railway van provided by the company. Besides clothes, etc, for fourteen people, (if you count the baby as only one) there were hampers of fruit and vegetables, and sacks and sacks of potatoes. Silver was rarely included in a let, so there would be boxes of that as well, and also of linen, although not so much bed-linen was needed as would be nowadays as all the beds were double.

Next day we went down to bathe. The machines were on four wheels, and were on the move all day long as the tide rose or fell. They were pulled by horses, not in the least like the jolly one at Willesden, but crushed by the misery natural to those whose feet are never dry. They were often mounted by small boys, who were presumed to be immune from female attractions. Mixed bathing would have shattered all right-thinking people, and the group of women’s machines were separated by two hundred yards of innocent sea from those of the dangerous male sex. Each women’s machine had an awning which could be pulled down to within a few inches of the water, for use by the most coy, and the whole group was superintended by a woman, who, like the horses, spent her time in a foot or two of water. She was nothing short of a tyrant, and if coaxing failed would seize her frightened victim and not only haul her into the sea, but duck her too.

They wore a long, ill-fitting sort of over-all, on top of out-size bloomers reaching below the knee and suitably flounced. So modest indeed were some that they wore stockings as well. No rubber caps existed, but a hideous mop-cap, big enough to contain all their long hair, was drawn down nearly to their eyes. The men wore a one-piece combination affair, with sleeves, striped all the way down like a football jersey. We boys got away with bathing drawers.

One morning we arranged to meet our sisters in No Man’s Land. But the Ramsgate powers-that-be had foreseen this terrible thing might happen, and engaged a burly old waterman to lie offshore in a tub of a boat. Drowsy as he looked, he spotted us, shouting dire threats and began pulling on his oars. We judged it wise to retreat, and thus prevented a front-page scandal. Twenty minutes was the absolute maximum for a bathe, and afterwards we were hurried to the nearest confectioners and given hot tea or cocoa, which was rather silly for us boys, after our spartan bathing at school.” [Herbert went to a school where the boys had to dive into the freezing river every morning before breakfast].

He was about thirteen at the time of this holiday and was the third in the family of eight with an older brother of sixteen, an older sister of fifteen, three younger sisters of eleven, six and three, another brother of nine and the baby was a boy.

Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

read more

Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

read more

Magazine Articles

The Family Tree Forum Online Magazine was written and put together by the members of The Family Tree Forum. As one of the editors, I was able to twist some arms and  the following articles were originally written for the Family Tree Forum Online Magazine. A wide...

read more

de Fraines of Buckinghamshire

From Woburn to Chesham via Aylesbury.Farmers, printers, publishers and hairdressers. I take no credit for the bulk of the early de Fraine research. Several de Fraines will have in their possession a paper tree which was drawn up pre-internet by Phyllis de Fraine from...

read more

Servant of this house

  Herbert George de Fraine, son of George Turner, spent 55 years at the Bank of England and his recollections of life with the bank were published after his death at the age of 88, by his daughter in "Servant of This House" in 1960. From its earliest beginnings...

read more

G T de Fraine’s summer holiday

  Herbert George de Fraine also wrote about his family life in Aylesbury where his father was the publisher and printer of the local paper 'The Bucks Herald'. They lived a fairly affluent life. Herbert says that when his father had their bathroom installed it was...

read more

A Paper Chase

  While searching the digital newspapers, looking for information about John de Fraine, several entries for a certain G.H. de Fraine kept popping up in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle. As he was probably a distant relative I thought that I would...

read more

Schooldays

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for.

read more

The Preacher

  Some thirty years ago while house-hunting we went to see what the agent said was a small chapel ‘ripe for conversion’ in the village of West Wickham in Cambridgeshire. The chapel was tiny and needed far too much done to it for us to afford to make it habitable...

read more

Bluestocking

  Towards the end of the nineteenth century, both my grandmothers went to the local school and when they were old enough were sent away to board for a short time at a young ladies boarding school where they learnt the three Rs, needlework, music and possibly...

read more
de Fraines of Chartridge

de Fraines of Chartridge

  Thomas Turner de Fraine was a son of the de Fraine family of Aylesbury, where his father published the Bucks Herald. He was unusual in his family in wanting to be a farmer and his father sent him to learn about farming to John Tompkins who lived at Ivinghoe and...

read more
Old Cottage, Chartridge Lane

Old Cottage, Chartridge Lane

  Old Cottage, as far as we know, was a two up two down cottage with a cellar, next to a large double doored barn, in the 1920s. My father took the barn down and extended the house into that area. He and Ted Wells did most of the work themselves. My first memory...

read more
Summer Holiday 1930s

Summer Holiday 1930s

  What happened to the railway carriages in which Herbert and his family travelled to Ramsgate in the 1880s? As the new carriages became fitted up with upholstered seats and lavatories the old ones were sold off for sheds and chicken house. (Some of which are...

read more
Wartime Memories

Wartime Memories

. I remember it was a lovely sunny Sunday morning the day war broke out.. We listened to Mr Chamberlain’s speech on the wireless in the kitchen, the only wireless we had, and my parents were very serious and shooshed us when we, my two younger sisters and I started to speak, not really understanding what it was all about. My father took us across to the air raid shelter he had made in an old underground farm slurry tank and said that we would have to go into this dark, damp and smelly room if there was an air raid.

read more

Newspaper Proprietor

George de Fraine was born in Aylesbury in 1808, the son of Luke who was a hairdresser and later a gardener and seedsman. He married Elizabeth Turner, the daughter of John Turner, in 1829. Their son, George Turner de Fraine became the proprietor of The Bucks Herald from 1872. The first issue under his regime being published on October 5th, 1872. His eldest son, Thomas Turner, wanted to be a farmer so the business then went to two other sons, George Lee and Alfred Charles.

read more

George Turner de Fraine’s second marriage

  George's first wife, Henrietta née Lee, had died on the 5th May 1905 and George remarried in Bournemouth on the 15th May 1906. His second wife was a widow, Mary Brunton née Mayne. Mary was born in Aylesbury and married there in 1869. She was in Aylesbury for...

read more

A Paper Chase

While searching the digital newspapers, looking for information about John de Fraine, several entries for a certain G.H. de Fraine kept popping up in the Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle. As he was probably a distant relative I thought that I would follow them through to see what I could find out about him, and so I began a systematic, chronological search.

The first mention of G.H. de Fraine is in 1866, in two reports of cricket matches at Southsea played by the Southsea Diocesan School pupils, in which he batted first and then bowled out most of the opposing side. I assumed that he must have been a boarder, as many of the de Fraines were sent away to school, but thought I should check the census returns to find out his age. On these I found a George Henry who had been born in 1836 in Berkhamsted, the seventh child of William, a hairdresser/perfumer, and his wife Ann. He was still there in 1851, but next appears in 1871 in Portsea, Hampshire, at the Southsea School. This must have been the same person, although at the time of the cricket matches he would have been thirty and probably a teacher rather than a pupil.  Having confirmed his identity, I concentrated on what I could glean from the newspaper reports.

No more sports reports appear with his name, but he begins to be listed as giving readings as one of the participants in entertainments for charity. The paper’s readers are not often told what he read or recited but once his audience enjoyed Lord Macaulay’s ‘The Lay of Virginia’.

In October 1868, the first advert for the Southsea Diocesan Grammar School, Southsea House, appeared in which George Henry is given as ‘Principal and Headmaster’, and which says he was “sometime lecturer in the English Language and Literature at the Universities of Leyden and Utrecht”. The advert adds that he “is assisted by Staff of Certificated Masters” and that “THE SCHOOL is under the inspection of the Winchester Diocesan Board of Education, and in union with the Royal College of Preceptors, London”.

The link with the College of Preceptors may help explain the letters after his name. LLB usually stood for Batchelor of Laws and in the nineteenth century this meant a broadly classical education rather than the strictly legal one students take today. Occasionally he has ‘London’ after it and it is quite possible he was an undergraduate at college in London and took the London University exams. MRCP then and now usually stands for Member of the Royal College of Physicians, but as George Henry does not seem to have been any kind of medical practitioner, it is possible the letters stood for Member of the (Royal) College of Preceptors, which is now the College of Teachers, as the advert mentions it, although the history of the college gives a different nomenclature for their members then and now. In 1869 there is a report of the school’s sports day at which he presented a cup.

Also in 1869, he is one of the founder members of the Portsea Island Society for the Culture of Science and Literature. This society was formed to have monthly meetings at which members would give an address on a topic of interest and initiate a debate. George Henry gave one of the monthly talks on “Education, its means and great end”, which was reported very fully in the paper.

It is a rather rambling argument in which he gave an account of the history of education and suggests that there should be some empirical analysis of exactly what education is and what is to be achieved by educating the young, and gave some examples from the continent.  He says the end of education “is the full perfection of our being in another world, through faithful discharge of our duty here – those means, for the full development of our double nature, for the ultimate accomplishment of that end. Such I believe to be the great purpose of all human existence, the great object to which all human existence should unceasingly be devoted”.

He continues by describing what he sees as the faults in modern education, that the children should be educated to their later station in life, that they need to be taught how to memorise facts and then apply them, “add knowledge afterwards, which will lead to the doing better of each particular work”. In passing he comments that, “The ten Commandments are as obligatory as ever”. The talk gave rise to some debate. A clergyman hoped he did not mean that anything other than faith in Christ was all that was necessary for eternal life. He advocated learning Latin to train the memory but added that all the repetition in the world would not make a scholar. George Henry responded by saying that in Germany, “they could scarcely find a single artisan who could not play an instrument, write his name, and read his mother tongue, he could not see why it should not be so in England”.

At the registration court held in September 1869 to determine who could vote in the election for Parliament, when people had to be property owners, or to have been lodgers of property of a certain value, or tenants for at least a year, he is noted as renting his house. There was some dispute over how long he had lived there, but he was allowed his vote. Soon he is reported as sitting on the committees that arranged the charitable entertainments with the Mayor of Portsmouth and with an admiral in the chair, George Henry was beginning to be known in influential social circles.

There is a record of his marriage to Sarah Ann Harris in Berkhamsted in 1862, and she is reported in the paper as giving birth to a daughter at Thornbury Hall, Southsea, on 22nd July 1867, a son at Southsea House, Southsea, on 9th March 1869, and another daughter at the Diocesan Grammar School, on 26th July 1870.  The addresses are interesting. During 1869 two Diocesan Grammar Schools were advertising themselves. One was given as at Thornbury Hall, the other at Southsea House.  One might conclude that George Henry had been a teacher at the Thornbury School and then set himself up at Southsea House, and that the adverts for the school at Thornbury Hall had been paid for in advance and continued even though the school itself had moved and changed hands.  The census gives the children’s names as Augusta, Ernest Edward, and Marian (she had another son, Reginald Harris, in 1875, but this was not reported in the paper).

In 1871, George Henry stood for election to the Portsmouth School Board, but was not successful. The School Boards ran the local education under government guidelines, the near equivalent of today’s LEAs, so it was quite a prestigious and powerful body. The same year he is listed as subscribing ten shillings and sixpence (half a guinea) towards the presentation of a silver cradle on the birth of a son to the mayor. In July he served on a jury at the quarter sessions and in September was present at a complimentary dinner. Meanwhile, reports of his readings and committee work for the charitable entertainments continued and he is also reported as being on the committee for subscribers to the Portsmouth School of Science and Art, which provided day and evening classes in subjects such as naval architecture, geometry and machine construction and drawing, building construction, mathematics, animal physiology, and geography for young men.

In August 1874 he attended a grand ball on board the Duke of Wellington, the Admirals’ flagship, at which some one thousand “of the elite of the neighbourhood and several from great distances were received on board”. He was certainly moving up in society and on this occasion he was accompanied by his wife. She was probably present in the audience for the readings and entertainments, but she is not mentioned in those reports.

In October 1875 he was advertising for “A steady LAD, to make himself generally useful. Apply to Mr De Fraine, Grammar School, Southsea”. In 1876 he was assisting at a public spelling bee and in January 1877 he stood for election to the School Board again.

School Board Election For Portsmouth 1877

Ladies and Gentlemen

At the request of many influential residents in the borough, I have consented to OFFER MYSELF as a CANDIDATE at the forthcoming elections.
I have been engaged in the practical work of education for more than twenty years and venture to suggest that the benefit of my experience might be of service to the Burgesses. I have no hesitation is saying that Education not coupled with the Bible is worthless.
It cannot be denied that the Voluntary Schools have done and are still doing, great service, and believing that the Elementary Education Act was never intended to Supersede but to Supplement them, I should at all times look favourably on them, if kept in a state of efficiency, as their continuance will materially save the pockets of the ratepayers.
Respectfully soliciting the favour of your confidence and support,
 I am, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yours obediently, G.H. De Fraine

This time his cleverly balanced appeal to the ratepayers’ religious beliefs, as well as their pockets, won him the seat and his letter of thanks appeared on 20th January.

School Board Election 1877

Ladies and Gentlemen

I take the earliest opportunity of tendering my best thanks for the great honour conferred on me by placing me in so good a position among the list of successful candidates. I also beg to assure you that nothing shall be wanting on my part to merit the continuance of that support which has been so generously given me.
I am, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yours very truly,
G.H. De Fraine

At the March meeting George Henry initiated a debate on standards and argued for an amendment which was carried after a fierce debate. At the other meetings he was again pressing his point of view on various topics. He was clearly not prepared to be a ‘yes’ man. In April 1877 he was elected as the ‘People’s Warden’ at St Jude’s Church in Southsea, and was making suggestions at the annual vestry meeting for improving the seating and perhaps acquiring a new bell. At the same time adverts for the school appeared regularly.

Southsea House, Castle Road, Southsea.

Principal Geo. H. de Fraine LL.B. MRCP

In the above school the Sons of Gentlemen are received and thoroughly taught. More than two hundred Pupils educated in this School have successfully passed the entry examinations for the Royal Navy, Law, and Medicine, as well as for the Universities and Public Schools. In the Mathematical Tripos (January, 1876) an old Pupil took the position of Tenth Wrangler.
A JUNIOR DEPARTMENT (in a separate, large and well ventilated Room) will be opened next Term for boys from seven years of age.
DUTIES will be resumed on Wednesday January 24th.

In March 1878 he attended an enquiry into the condition of the Southsea roads, and the same month appears as Brother De Fraine at a Freemasonry meeting, proposing the toast to, “The Past Masters of the Portsmouth Lodge”, and has the letters P.P.G.S.D after his name, which imply that he has held office in the Lodge.

He was re-elected as People’s Warden at St Jude’s in 1878 with a comment on, “the indefatigable manner in which Mr De Fraine has carried out the duties of his office”. In early January 1880 he was re-elected to the Portsmouth School Board, with 4956 votes, of a total of 6553 voters. He seems to have been attending the monthly meetings assiduously, as well as being involved in those other committees with which he was connected.

Suddenly, in the report of a meeting of the Southsea Hospital for the Sick, in late January 1880, he is listed as Rev G. H. De Fraine, which might have been a simple misprint, except that it happens again in the report for the March annual meeting of the Portsmouth and Portsea Free Ragged Schools, and at the celebration of the centenary of Sunday Schools in Portsmouth, the Rev G.H. De Fraine gave a special sermon at St Jude’s for the children. The Rev. G.H. De Fraine examined pupils in geography, history, arithmetic and English.

An advertisement in January 1881 by the High School for Girls at Gosport says that the Rev G.H. De Fraine examined pupils in geography, history, arithmetic and English, and in the same edition he is listed as being present at a ball given by the mayor for and at the lunatic asylum. The distinguished guests, which included their Serene Highnesses Prince and Princess Edward of Saxe-Weimar, danced with some 159 of the inmates to the band of the Royal Marine Light Infantry. Later in the year he is judging an “Elocutionary competition”, which is so popular that it is repeated the following February.

George Henry now designates himself ‘Reverend’ in the school adverts too, and at the vestry meeting in April 1881 he is no longer the People’s Warden, but is addressed as Reverend. This is all confirmed in the census for 1881 where he is still at the school address but now gives his occupation as ‘Curate of St Jude’s,  Southsea’. However, nowhere in the newspapers is there any report of his actual ordination. To discover when and how that took place would need some investigation into Anglican Clergy records and is outside the scope of this piece.

In June 1882 he is reported as being in the clergy procession at the consecration of a new church, St Michael and All Angels at Landport, and in September was preaching the sermon for the Harvest Festival in Newton on the Isle of Wight.

Adverts for the school continue to appear with his name, but the next report on George Henry himself is when he attended the annual meeting of the Royal Portsmouth Hospital in January 1884. The following month there is a report of a presentation to him of “silver salts, pepper box and spoons in a morocco and velvet case, bearing the following inscription – A gift to the Rev G.H. De Fraine from the children of St Jude’s, Southsea, February 1884”.

In September at the Guild of All Saints at Landport, there was a ‘special service’, although it does not report what for, at which George Henry read the prayers. In October he was at a meeting at All Saints Church, Landport, and agreeing to hold an exhibition and sale of work to raise money to clear the debt on the church.

It was reported in February 1885 that there was a “Fashionable Wedding at Southsea between Mr Edwin John Harvey junior and Miss Madoleine De Fraine […] the eldest daughter of the Rev. G.H. De Fraine of Langside, Victoria Road, Southsea (now assistant minister of All Saints’ parish Landport and Chaplain of the Royal Portsmouth, Portsea and Gosport Hospital, formerly curate at St Jude’s and principal of the Southsea Diocesan School)”. This brings us up to date with George Henry, but the odd thing is that Madoleine is named as his eldest daughter and Augusta and Marion are given as two of her bridesmaids, who were “led by Master Reginald De Fraine the youngest brother of the bride”.  Suddenly we find that George Henry had five children including a daughter and a son, whose births were not reported in the newspapers. The census should tell us more about them, but that is for another time. Here we are following George Henry’s career. The list of wedding presents gives “satin pincushions and dressing case from domestics at Langside”. There were thirty or forty guests at the wedding breakfast “at the Rev G.H. De Fraine’s residence“, and in the evening “the bride’s parents entertained upwards of fifty guests at a ball”. All of which implies that George Henry could afford to have more than one servant and had a large house.

In May 1885 he was conducting the funeral of the vicar’s wife at All Saints, in June was speaking as chaplain of the Hospital as to the good character of a prisoner at the Police Court, who he had visited in hospital, and in November performed a marriage at All Saints. Also in November, he was present at a large meeting held to discuss disestablishment of the church, but is not mentioned as speaking at it.

He still belonged to the Masons and in January 1886 was present as one of the chaplains at an installation of a Worshipful Master. In February he was at the annual meeting of the Royal Portsmouth Hospital.

Then in June it was reported that he had been presented with the living at Stoke St Michael, Somerset, and adds that he “for sometime filled a curacy at St Jude’s Southsea, and has latterly been curate at All Souls Landport and the Chaplain of the Royal Portsmouth Hospital. The rev gentleman was instituted by the Bishop and was inducted at the close of last week […]the cordial way in which he has been received shows there is every prospect of a good congregation being secured and mutual happiness reigning. Mr De Fraine, who will permanently commence his duties at the end of the present month, will leave Portsmouth amid the regret of many of his friends”. 

The last mention of George Henry in Southsea is on 1st June 1886 when he officiated as the Rev. G.H. De Fraine, Vicar of Stoke St Michael, Somerset, at the second marriage of the vicar of All Saints, Portsea, whose first wife he had buried the previous year when he was the curate at All Saints. In The Times archives for June 1886 the Rev G.H. De Fraine LL.B, is listed in the ecclesiastical appointments put out by Lambeth Palace as “Vicar of Stoke Lane, Somerset”, and The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post for 10th June lists him by his full name as having preferment to the vicarage of Stoke Lane. He does not appear in the papers so frequently in Somerset, but in 1888, The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post reports his presence at the reopening of a local church at Lamyatt in October. Again in The Times in June 1890, the Rev G.H. De Fraine, Vicar of Stoke St Michael, Bath, is reported as assisting at a marriage at St Barnabas Church, Kensington, London. He is next found in The Bristol Mercury and Daily Post for 12th March 1894 giving evidence of the presence of oil in the water in Somerset, including contamination of his own well water at Stoke St Michael vicarage, in a report about oil springs at Shepton Mallet. The paper reports his presiding at his annual parish meeting in 1896.

Two years later in December 1898 the paper reports from Stoke St Michael,

The Rev G.H. De Fraine, vicar of this parish, who died on Friday week from apoplexy, was buried on Tuesday afternoon. A large number of people were present to pay their last tokens of respect, and many neighbouring clergy and gentlemen attended.

The paper does not mention who of his family were present.

George Henry had come a long way in sixty two years. To give a complete picture of his life one would need to go to other records to find out how and where he had been educated and when he was at the Dutch Universities, when he was actually ordained, where and when he met his wife, and where his eldest daughter was born.  But this has been concerned with what information about one man can be gleaned from newspapers, with a little help from the census. Luckily of course this man had a very distinctive name, led a very public life and his activities were often reported. Nevertheless he does show it is possible to draw quite a detailed picture of someone’s career in this way, given a lot of patient on-line ferreting.

And yes he was a distant relation, another of my great grandfather’s second cousins (the de Fraines of Aylesbury had quite large families.)

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