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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 variety of topics were covered in the magazine. Most articles were drawn from the authors’ own research into interesting relatives who they have come across, others inspired by questions posed in the forums. Alongside these, you will find in depth articles giving an historical context to our ancestors’ way of life. Some of the issues looked at specific occupations and related trades. 

Generally the magazine followed a loose theme in each issue, but there were also two series of special features, ‘My Kind of Town’ where members focus on a specific location, and ‘Family Treasures’ where members describe objects which have been passed down to them.

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...

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The Gillett Spoons

My parents had a motley collection of cutlery with various monograms, which had been passed down to my mother. This includes two incomplete sets of rather worn silver plated spoons, which are used every day. One set is monogrammed GAG, the other JSG but we weren’t...

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.

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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...

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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.

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Auctioneer of Reading

Robert Tompkins, a resident of Reading, Berkshire, was the second son of Robert Tompkins and Ann Osborn and seemed to have  led an interesting life. While browsing through some 19th Century newspapers recently, looking for a different surname entirely, I vaguely...

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The Gillett Spoons

My parents had a motley collection of cutlery with various monograms, which had been passed down to my mother. This includes two incomplete sets of rather worn silver plated spoons, which are used every day. One set is monogrammed GAG, the other JSG but we weren’t 100% sure who they had belonged to although we thought they had originally belonged to my great grandmother’s parents and grandparents. Apart from being very useful to stir one’s tea, they also helped me sort out some of my maternal family tree.

I knew that my great grandmother was born Susan Gillett, that her father’s name was John, that she was orphaned early, so she was initially brought up by one of her grandmothers and then later by John Tompkins as his ward. Susan married John’s son Osborne Tompkins and Osborne’s sister, Rosa Ellen, married Thomas Turner De Fraine in a double wedding in 1890. Later, the daughter of Osborne and Susan, Kathleen Mary Tompkins, married the son of Thomas and Rosa, Thomas Leigh De Fraine. They are my maternal grandparents.

We had a partial family tree drawn up by John Manning, a grandson of John Tompkins from John’s second marriage, but it didn’t go into any detail about the Gilletts, so some detective work was needed to fill in some gaps.

I remember my grandmother showing me the picture of the double wedding and talking about brothers and sisters marrying and mentioning adoption when I was little, but of course I never really took it in. In fact I had a very confused mental picture of two brothers marrying two sisters after one lot of parents dying in a car crash!!  Given the dates I now know, I don’t know where a car crash came into it. Stow-on-the-Wold was important somewhere in the story.

A Susan Gillett, aged 8, appears with John and Emma Gillett in 1871 in Maugersbury, Glos, listed as daughter. The 1881 census shows Susan living at the home of John Tompkins in Aveley, Essex and described as his ward – his wife’s name on this was Emma. We have a portrait photograph of John Tompkins wife – we knew that her name was Sarah Jane and that she was the mother of Osborne and Rosa, so Emma must have been his second wife.

The assumption from this would be that Emma was Susan’s mother. If you try to find Susan’s baptism on the FamilySearch website you would also assume from the Pedigree Resource File entry that her parents were John and Emma Gillett. Since I was fairly sure that Emma was not Susan’s real mother from what little I remembered from my grandmother, I had a strong feeling that this was wrong and it fact it proved to be so.

To be sure, I had to send off for her birth certificate. From the census entries, I knew Susan’s year of birth, and a trawl through the FreeBMD site gave me the birth reference.  The birth certificate named her parents as John Gillett and Susanna Gillett formerly Gillett which of course matched the JSG on one set of spoons, but which set of Gillett parents had owned the other set? (I was intrigued by her also being a Gillett, but that is another story of sets of cousins marrying and has been just as difficult to disentangle.)

I knew that Susan had been orphaned which was why she was taken in by John Tompkins and luckily a very short trawl through what was then called the 1837online indexes, now  findmypast, gave the reference for the death of Susanna, which when I had received the certificate gave me her age to work back from. I was very sad to see that Susan’s mother had died only 13 days after Susan’s birth on the 19th January, 1863 aged 25, of consumption which she had suffered from for some time.

I found a baptism for Susanna, as an extracted entry on the  International Genealogical Index (IGI), in 1837, daughter of a George and Ann Gillett in Brize Norton. This was unfortunately too early in the first year of Civil Registration to be able to obtain her birth certificate but remembering about the GAG monogram on the second set of spoons made me think that I had found my great great grandparents. To be as sure as I could, I sent for the marriage certificate for John and Susanna and this confirmed that her father’s name was George Gillett, farmer of Brize Norton.

So how did Susan end up as the ward of John and Emma Tompkins? Susanna had died in January 1863 and John Gillett married Emma Godfree in May 1864. He died himself in December 1871 when Susan was aged 8. Sarah Jane Tompkins had died in January 1872 leaving John with 10 children to raise and in September 1873 John married Emma, who happened to be Sarah Jane’s younger sister (!), and took her step-daughter in to his household.

My grandmother died in 2003 (aged 105) and recently, my mother discovered that Granny had kept a spoon which had once belonged to Susan. It is a well worn baby’s feeding spoon and the engraving reads:-

 “In memory of 
Susan Gillett  
died 19th Jany 1863

 Aged 25 Yrs.”

Had I known earlier about the existence of this particular spoon the detective work would have been a whole lot easier!

Also, tucked away in Granny’s writing case, there was a newspaper cutting reporting on the double wedding, which listed the wedding gifts and named the donors. My mother and I once spent a fascinating afternoon matching up the rest of the cutlery collection, and other bits and pieces which had been passed down through the family, with the list of gifts!

Sorting out Susan’s parentage is a tangled story which needed the BMD certificates to sort out and made the point to me very early on in my research about how important it is to confirm your sources. Unfortunately, once uploaded, mistakes are impossible to correct, so the error in the Pedigree Resource File may well be perpetuated by other researchers. This was a case of just relying on census returns and is an understandable mistake to make. Without the picture of Sarah Jane and the spoons, I too might have assumed that Emma was my great great grandmother and left it that.

 

An Important Envelope

Another piece of paper which Granny had tucked away, was an empty black edged envelope. It had been in my grandmother’s writing case with other seemingly insignificant bits of paper, some of which had been her mother’s. Unfortunately the envelope was empty, but even so, any family historian would understand my excitement when I saw it.

The sender was obviously in mourning, hence the black border, but why? A comparison of the postmark and my tree showed that a great(x2) great-uncle, Joseph Gillett, had died in the first quarter of that year. His mother, Ann, was living in Bampton at the time.

What was particularly exciting, was that I hadn’t been 100% sure that I had found the correct Gillett relations for my great grandmother, Susan Gillett,as by this time she had been taken in by the family of her stepmother’s second husband, with whom she was living in 1881. The letter had been addressed to her at the address of her paternal aunt where she was presumably visiting her grandfather!

Since then, I have found the announcement of Joseph’s death in Jackson’s Oxford Journal. He died on the 13th February 1882, the letter was sent on 17th February. The collection of postmarks on the back also show the way the letter travelled – postmarked the 17th in Bampton, Oxfordshire, travelling via Brize Norton and Moreton on the Marsh on the 18th to arrive in Maugersbury, Stow on the Wold also on the 18th.

Even though it is ‘only’ an empty envelope it tells me several stories and, more than likely, I also have an example of my great great great grandmother’s handwriting.

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...

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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...

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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...

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Gilletts of the Cotswolds

Susan Gillett was the mother of Molly de Fraine née Tompkins.Both of Susan Gillett’s parents were Gilletts. Her father, John, was the son of Richard and Ann Gillett and her mother, Susanna, was the daughter of George Gillett and Ann Andrews. John and Susanna were...

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The Gillett Spoons

My parents had a motley collection of cutlery with various monograms, which had been passed down to my mother. This includes two incomplete sets of rather worn silver plated spoons, which are used every day. One set is monogrammed GAG, the other JSG but we weren’t...

read more

George and Ann Gillett

  George Gillett of Brize Norton married Ann Andrews, daughter of William Andrews, butcher, by licence, on 16th August 1836 in Bampton. Thomas Burrows officiated and the witnesses were George Andrews and Mary Smith. [George Gillett has a niece called Mary Smith...

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The Gillett Tree

  I was contacted through an earlier version of my site by JG who has offered me his own collection of Gilletts to add to mine. He has been lucky enough to be close to the Gloucester Records Office and so has seen the original documents!! I am really pleased that...

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Butcher (and gentleman) of Bampton

  William Andrews, butcher (and gentleman), was the maternal great grandfather of Susan Gillett, future wife of Edwin Osborne Tompkins. He was the son of Charles Andrews, of Eynsham, who was a collar maker, and Elizabeth Lawrence, who married in Stanton Harcourt...

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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

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 still in use.) After the 1914-1918 war, housing was short and old railway carriages were often turned into small bungalows, but along the south coast between Portsmouth and Worthing carriages was placed right on the beach where land was free, and were let out as holiday homes in the summer. Their renovated remains can still be seen around Selsey and Pagham and hired for your holiday.

In 1935 we, that is me, my sisters, my mother and our mother’s help, stayed in one for a week right on the beach at Selsey Bill. The first time we had seen the sea. I think I can still hear the whoosh of the waves on the shingle and the fishy smell of the seaweed – but I am probably letting my imagination work overtime.

I believe my mother cooked on a paraffin stove and that there were oil lamps or candles when it got dark, but we were usually in bed by then. I do remember sleeping in narrow beds one above the other and worrying slightly about falling out – bunk beds of course. We dug holes in the pebbles, we played with a blown up inner tube in the water, carefully watched to see we did not get out of our depth, and we paddled in our woolly, tickly swim suits with our hands tightly grasped – only our mother’s help could swim.

We did not travel by train though. Father had brought us in the car, a large American Studebaker, which had a bench seat in the front to seat three, room for three more in the back plus all our luggage and the toddler’s pushchair. He went back to work and came to collect us at the end of the week, when I would think my mother was only too glad to go home again.

The following years 1936 and 1937 we were in Westcliff-on-Sea, but living in a house by now. Here we had sand to build castles and boat trips round the pier, and as the eldest I had a new woolly swim suit and my old one was handed down to my sister. I was allowed to try to swim in the inner tube, although it was a bit too big to do more than splash around.

A family friend thought one could learn to swim by being thrown in and nearly drowned me, everyone thought it was very funny but I do not recommend it. I did not learn to swim after that until I had proper lessons in a swimming pool.

There was much more to see at Westcliff, more people and lots of shops and the Walls ice-cream man with ice-lollies in their sticky paper wrappers or the occasional chocolate covered bar.

Sometimes we would visit the Kursaal to see the animals or to see a show or travel in the pier train at Southend, but there was not a lot of money to spare so they were exceptional occasions.

An especial treat, for which we were allowed to stay up late, was to tour the lighted tableaux along the front in Southend at Carnival time. There were dazzling strings of fairy lights for miles, with the pier and the Kursaal Dome all lit up. Nowadays in the age of computer generated animation it would seem very tame, but it was wonderful to us to see tableaux of fairy tale characters or a grotesque scene with moving figures lit in all kinds of colours high in the air, followed by the firework display, and the expedition was the highlight of the year.

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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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.

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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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Wartime Memories

Wartime Memories

I was born in Chartridge House in 1929 and lived there most of my life, first in Chartridge House and then in Old Cottage next door. 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. And then had to explain an air raid. I think we also all tried on our gas masks. I believe a practise siren sounded too to demonstrate how they would sound but maybe that was another time.

Later my father had the alarm for Chartridge on the house but that may have been during the cold war, in the 1950s.

My father was a Special Constable, a part-time Policeman, during the war, which meant being on duty at various places especially at night in case there was an air raid. He was on duty the night some incendiaries were dropped but as you know Chesham suffered very little damage. We could see the air raids over Slough, the sky was sometimes glowing red and we could hear the noise of the bombs if the wind was right.

When America entered the war American airmen suddenly appeared in the town from where they were stationed at Bovingdon, with their loud voices and different language they were quite unlike our own soldiers who were tired after fighting so long.

The army requisitioned Old Cottage and we went to live in Amersham. My father continued his Agricultural Engineering business, he mended the vehicles and tractors for the local farmers. Petrol was rationed but he was allowed it for travelling to his business and he would drop me off at school on the way, and pick me up again at the end of the day, or else I caught the bus from the Broadway.

My sisters started school in Amersham, but I went to Townsend Road Junior Girls School and had Miss Wheeler before the war and then Miss Hawkes. Miss Wheeler had her hair done in old fashioned ‘earphones’, tha

t is two long plaits were wound round and round and pinned over each ear. Miss Hawkes was much more modern, but they were both really good teachers.

We had to take our gasmasks to school every day and occasionally we would have to practise putting them on, and there was brown paper stuck across the windows in case they were broken in an air raid.. But really the war did not affect us very much in school, although it must have been worrying for the teachers. Lessons went on just the same. We learnt our tables and poems and songs by heart. We had Music and Movement from the wireless and country dancing in the hall, and played rounders in the playground. Once a week in the summer, we walked through the park down to the swimming pool at Waterside. And oh, it was cold, but most of us learnt to swim and were given Certificates to prove it.

We had a bottle of milk at play time but there were no school dinners so those of us who could not go home at lunch time took sandwiches. Girls came from most of the villages and Chesham Bois so there were quite a few who had to stay. Food was rationed of course so it must have been difficult sometimes for mothers to provide lunches every day and no body had a great deal to eat, an apple perhaps if it was the autumn but oranges were available very rarely and only for children and bananas did not come back until after the war.

Later we kept chickens and rabbits and even had three nasty tempered geese for a time. When it was time to eat one of the rabbits my mother would take it to the butcher and bring back what she said was a different one so we did not feel we were eating one we had known. The chickens were kept mainly for their eggs.

When I was in the top class I used to walk up Lowndes Avenue and Chartridge Lane to my father’s workshop at lunch time and have soup or sandwiches with him, and walk back to school. It was a long walk at ten years old but we thought nothing of it and I preferred hot soup to eating sandwiches at school.

One day my father’s dog followed me back as far as the shop at Berkley Avenue and ran off instead of returning home. But that one had been a stray in the first place. My father always had a dog as a watch dog around the works. It was difficult to feed dogs of course. Dog biscuits or cereals were very scarce and had to be bulked with stale bread and scraps etc. It was said if they did not have meat they would go a bit mad so my father had an arrangement to feed his on horse meat. I remember going with him to the nackers’ yard in Church Street (I think it was) to collect it once. We had to boil it up before it could be fed to the dog, raw meat was also said to be bad for them, and it smelt horrible.

Before the 11 plus came in children took a slightly different exam for the Grammar School. Both girls and boys went to Dr Challoners at Amersham. It did not become boys only until later. If you passed with high enough marks you were awarded a scholarship which meant your parents did not have to pay all the fees, unless they were very rich. If you passed with pretty high marks you could still go but your parents had to pay all the fees. My class took the exam in February 1940 and several of us were given scholarships.

Names I remember of those of us who started at the Grammar School in September 1940:~ Audrey Dean, Pamela Dejean, Heather Honour. June Reynolds.

When we were older, around 1943, Mrs Phyllis Heron started the First Chesham Rangers. She thought that girls ought to be taught how to cope as the war went on and that this older branch of the Girl Guides could provide the sort of training and experience that would prepare us to live in what ever situation we found ourselves in. She was something quite senior in the organisation, and was from one of the Chesham families, (she was a Francis I think) and had access to all sorts of people and places. She arranged proper classes from experts, asking the St John’s for First Aid Training, an army officer for Map reading and Drill, an historian to tell us the history of the town, an architect to explain the oldest buildings in the town. She included cookery classes and took us camping.

Our first camp was in the garden of her friend Lady Barlow at Wendover. I can still remember the smell of the grass in the tent and the hard ground under my sleeping bag (made from an old eiderdown, we couldn’t buy a new one in wartime) and we had social evenings in the Scout hut in the park to which we could invite friends including boys if we wanted. Rationing being so strict the refreshments were only minimal, but everybody contributed something, with squash to drink but we managed to have fun playing silly games. Later we graduated to the Saturday evening dances at the Laundry.

Every year we paraded through the town with the other youth groups, and helped with the Fete that was held in the field at Germains, raising money for all sorts of good causes as well as the Cottage Hospital.

After the war we went to the great All England Ranger Rally in Hyde Park and the Albert Hall on 18th and 19th May 1946 when the two Princesses took the salute at the March Past. And in July 1946 attended the Buckinghamshire County Rally at Hall Barn, Beaconsfield, when the then Princess Royal was present to see the pageant. In August 1947 several of us went to help at a camp arranged for the Chesham and District Guides by Mrs Heron at Charmouth Dorset.

On VE Day 8th May 1945, we had a holiday. One of us made up some little buttonholes from flowers from her garden in Church Street and we wandered round the town, not quite sure what we should do but enjoying the celebratory feel from everyone we met.

VJ day was 15th August 1945 and some of us had gone camping on a farm near Hampden. We decided we would leave our tents carefully tied up and go up to London, to see the celebrations. We had heard of those for VE Day and wanted to be part of it ourselves this time, we were not at all sure Mrs Heron would approve but decided to risk it, cycled from our campsite and caught a train from Missenden. We felt quite daring, we did not go on the train much anyway and some of us had only been to London once before when Mrs Heron had taken us for a weekend as part of the cultural education she felt we needed. We had stayed in Guide headquarters, been taken round the National gallery, seen lots of famous building and then gone to the opera to see Faust.

Knowing how to catch the train and how to use a map to find our way around gave us the confidence to go on VJ Day. It was a really exciting day, we just wandered around gazing at the other people, seeing people dancing in the streets and exchanging jokes and chat with all and sundry. In retrospect it was surprisingly good humoured, and I don’t remember any unpleasantness or excessive drunkenness. We certainly did not drink, not something we would have considered then although we were all around sixteen, and returned to our campsite that night very tired but very happy.

Chesham organised it’s own victory celebration for November with a torchlight procession and a service of thanksgiving. I do not know all the organisations which took part but the scouts, guides, rangers, church lads brigade were represented. It seems I kept the directions for this. I don’t know who wrote them but they seem to have considered everything:-

Torchlight Procession Friday November 30th

All youth organisations meet at Scout Hall 7.15 prompt. There we shall split up into two parties under two marshals and three sub-marshals. Taking the torches (unlighted) we shall then proceed, party no.1 via Whitehill and party no.2 via Beech Tree to walk to Dungrove. There we shall form one long line across the horizon, with a marshal at the head of each end and sub-marshals a third of the way along each two parties. The torches will be lighted at 7.35 by the marshals and sub-marshals. At 7.40 each party shall proceed back the way they came in single file till they reach White Hill School and the back footpath respectively, where the procession will form into threes, simply walking into position under the three sub-marshals. Both parties then proceed to the park. Party no.1 (White Hill) will turn left at entrance and Party no.2 (Beech Walk) will turn right at entrance, both parties then walking towards one another along the Avenue side of the pond until they reach the Bandstand steps which they will go up together, fanning out at the top round the sides of the bandstand. Then will follow the ten minute service. After the service each party will proceed to line the Avenue for the C.L.B band to Beat the Retreat. Each party of three lines of torches will split into two to line the Avenue. At the finish of Beat the Retreat the C.L.B. band will march to the Church end of the Avenue and, picking up the first torch bearers will march back down the Avenue between the torch bearers, but eventually drawing all torch bearers behind them and going to the Drill Hall. Marching round the quadrangle the torch bearers will then plunge their torches in the water buckets standing there, stand them against the wall and go in twos up into the Drill Hall and obtain their refreshments and continue round the Hall out of the way of others following behind. The evening will conclude with a short social. As it is hoped at least 250 will be taking part, will as many as possible read the above in order to know roughly what is happening.

As you can see it was very carefully planned and I believe it looked quite spectacular as the lighted torches lit up across the hill and then moved down into town. I know those of us taking part felt it was something really special and we were proud to have taken part.

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...

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

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 but then we suddenly saw a foundation stone behind the nettles and a different search began. A Mrs John de Fraine had laid the stone on the 13th June 1870. This was my fairly unusual family name but we are a Buckinghamshire family and as I knew of no relatives in the area, this was intriguing.

In the churchyard we found several de Fraine graves which gave me some dates and names to research including John himself who died in 1910, and the hunt was on.

I found that John de Fraine had been a well known lecturer in the nineteenth century who had travelled the country talking to large audiences on leading a good Christian life and avoiding the demon drink

I was lucky enough to find a copy of his autobiography which gives the impression of someone totally self absorbed with his own affairs and with little time for anything outside what he saw as his mission in life.  The autobiography says little about his family life but lists the many places he visited, quoting extracts from the complimentary remarks when people praised him and noting when he met people of consequence like Dickens and Thackeray, and those in the temperance movement like the artist George Cruikshank, whose painting The Worship of Bacchus with its depiction of all kinds of drunken behaviour John saw at the private view in 1869. (It was on view at Tate Britain in 2001 after restoration.) There is a picture of it on the Tate Britain web page.

For his was very much a public life. He tells how he became a lecturer for temperance and the Band of Hope when a very young man after living with a drunken father as a child. He describes his father, Joseph, fighting imaginary ghosts and demons in the throes of delirium tremens, and of seeing his mother’s face all bloody from his father’s blows. However, when he was eleven his father joined the temperance society and took the pledge and John’s life was much happier after that. He speaks of Joseph as a kind and witty man but he never forgot the suffering the drink caused his mother.

He was born in Aylesbury in 1838 and belonged to a large family of de Fraines in and around the town but he does not mention any of these relations, and writes as if he was an only child yet the census shows he was the youngest of four, and perhaps therefore the closest to his mother whom he clearly adored. He was distraught when she died when he was twenty and, from the reports on his lectures, would use her life as an example of pure goodness under the immense hardship of the cruelty and poverty caused by her husband’s drunken behaviour.

He speaks feelingly of his wife, wrote a touching poem for their Silver Wedding, with a religious sentiment, and says how much he missed her companionship when she died, after thirty seven years. Yet he mentions none of his children by name and only once notes when they were born, and that because the birth occurred after a tragic accident.  In 1870 there was fire in the house and he makes much of the death of the dog who warned them, even writing to The Times about it, only adding almost as an afterthought in the autobiography that his wife presented him with a Valentine gift of a daughter next day. This would have been his second child, Frances Mary Elizabeth.   He says his eldest son, when seven years old, laid the foundation stone for the Reading room he added to the Mission Hall in 1875, but he does not name him. The 1871 census shows the son was called John too.

Three daughters are buried in the churchyard; Frances Mary Elizabeth born after the fire died in 1943, Ursula Maud born in 1871 died in 1946 and Marie or possibly Annie Maria who was born in 1874 and died in 1950. The three daughters are thought to have left the village when their father died but it is uncertain where they settled. It may have been one of them who was advertising from Cambridge to be a nursery governess to teach ‘first lessons, music, elementary French, needlework’ in The Times in the 1920s but that has yet to be proved. They may not have been particularly well educated for John clearly saw woman’s role as supporting her man so he can avoid the temptations of alcohol. In his lectures he often inveighs against servant girls who spend their money on fripperies and dress more finely than their station and in one asks:-

And now, can any of you tell of what use it is to teach a poor girl, who is to become the wife of a hard working labouring man, the height of a mountain, or the length of a river, or to have known fifteen fine names for a pudding bag when she knows positively nothing of that which is to fit her to be one of the lights of an English homes, and one of the mother’s of people brave and free. There’s plenty of ‘ism’ and ‘ology’ – but not enough scrubology, and sewology, and bakeology and boilology, and pudding-makeology, and the ology that would do something towards making a poor man’s fireside a more attractive spot, than the sanded taproom and the bright parlour of the Blue Badger and the Green Pig.

Although one must remember that he is always aiming his words at the labouring poor. There was another son, Thomas born in 1876, who was the parish clerk at West Wickham until 1908 while his father was Chairman of the Parish Council. Nothing is known of him after that and it is rumoured that he may have been an alcoholic which would have been extraordinarily sad.

John himself was very well educated for the time, not leaving school until almost fifteen and even then was encouraged by his local clergyman to continue reading. His delight was in attending lectures and public meetings, where he listened to speakers such as Livingstone, Disraeli and Samuel Wilberforce, whom he says gave him a taste for speaking in public himself.  He started when his father put him on the table in a public house to recite a poem and from seventeen to twenty spoke at many local meetings in the towns nearby, often in the open air. An early report of one of these meetings was not very flattering. Jackson’s Oxford Journal reports flatly that in Buckingham on 11th June 1857:

Mr John de Fraine delivered a lecture on “Total Abstinence” in this Market Place. There were not many people there and the affair was dull and spiritless.

But he was only nineteen. The experience did not put him off and he continued to travel round the district addressing open air meetings, which must have taken some courage but would have trained him in the techniques necessary to use both his voice and his subject matter to hold an audience.

After his mother’s death he was invited to go to London by the National Temperance League as their clerk and from there he soon started on his career as a lecturer on total abstinence from alcohol, receiving his first professional fee at Leamington Spa in November 1858 when he was just twenty. He was told years later than a man who had heard him at that first meeting was so impressed he named his new house De Fraine Cottage.

The British Association for the Promotion of Temperance had been formed by working men in Preston in 1832. At first the members only abstained from spirits but soon the society was pressing for total abstinence. The Band of Hope for working class children was formed in Leeds in 1847 and organisations such as the Salvation Army and the Quakers became actively involved in campaigning with non-conformists, Baptists and congregational ministers.

While never ordained John must have been popular with these various groups for the ministers would invite him to stay in their houses and ask him to return to address their congregations many times. The meetings usually started with a hymn and a prayer and were often chaired by a clergyman. .At Kenilworth the Band of Hope greeted him with a song composed specially for him

Welcome to John de Fraine,
We’re glad he’s come again,
Long live de Fraine
May Heaven’s best gifts descend,
On our twice welcome friend,
On God his hopes depend
God bless de Fraine

Newspaper accounts were soon lauding his oratory in meetings as far away as Jersey and Belfast. In 1861 he spent a month touring and speaking in Ireland where The Belfast Newsletter spoke of “this youthful orator of two and twenty years who spoke on The Battle of Life.”  The reporter wrote that he

related several well told anecdotes and incidents illustrative of his subject, and, in most thrilling eloquence, repeated several pieces of poetry upon the point of his subject under consideration, of which no idea can be conveyed in a mere outline of his oration, and concluded by urging upon young men to fight the battle of life, having trust in truth and faith in God, and after a most eloquent appeal upon this head he resumed his seat amidst prolonged applause.

It seems that at first much of his appeal lay in his youth. The Newcastle Daily Chronicle said he “appeals as a young man to young men with great earnestness , and we are certain that if the lecture he delivered on Friday night be a fair example of his budget,  all who listen to him will be the better for his teaching.”

This kind of complimentary remark is repeated in the many reports of his speeches as the years go by. He published several books of his lectures and addresses and they show that, although he was always giving the same message that one should lead a moral life and that it is easier to do so if one avoided alcohol. He larded his remarks with humour, told stories and illustrated his points with quotations or used poems from writers like Tennyson or the American Longfellow as metaphors. This stirring extract is from one of his best known lectures The Battle of Life.

Onward – upward –higher! Excelsior! Up the mountain of knowledge and culture, be the height ever so dazzling, and the summit ever so distant; Excelsior! though the road be rough and rugged, and the stones be sharp under the toiler’s feet; Excelsior! with high resolve and proudly beating heart, for ever listening to that music from afar which beckons forth the better hope; Excelsior ! Step by step, with a spirit to conquer or be conquered, breaking the huge stones of difficulty till from powdered dust you can pick up the gems of precious worth; Excelsior!! for health and strength, and just as travellers climb some Alpine steep to revel in the joy which lies in fertile vales, and ever widening plain; Excelsior!

In life’s rosy morning,
In manhood’s fair pride
Let this be your motto
To comfort and guide;
In cloud and in sunshine
Whatever assail
We’ll onward and conquer,
And never say Fail.

As well as providing his audiences with a varied and wide ranging hour’s talk he must have had a pleasant, clear and attractive speaking voice at a time when there was no amplification. It is difficult for us with all our different kinds of amusement to appreciate how much the Victorians liked a good talking to, but his halls were usually full and often packed out. Nevertheless it entailed an enormous amount of travel sometimes in atrocious conditions. For example, in 1874 he left home for three months speaking in the Midlands, the North and the Scottish Highlands. He writes of twelve hour train journeys, of trudging through snow, of walking twelve miles to reach his hosts after hours on a train.   It must have been financially worthwhile for he seems to have earned enough from his appearances to keep his family in some style, bring up five children, and raise the money for the building of the Mission Hall and its Reading room.

The Mission Hall was opened a year after the foundation stones were laid. There had been a fete and free teas for the children with the band of the 17th Essex Rifle Volunteers for that occasion.

At the actual opening on Easter Monday of 1871, of the 45 by 21 foot hall, there was a hymn followed by a prayer by the vicar and John gave an address, after which there were free teas for all the poor of the village, the Haverhill Choral Society sang and “Mr and Mrs Gurteen presided at the piano and harmonium.”

In his address John explains that he had built the hall for the young agricultural labourers where they could have lectures, readings, music “and such other things as I hope will, in the language of the circular that invited you here, promote what Tennyson beautifully calla ‘the common love of good; will rouse the sinful from their sleep of death, and win the vacant and the vain to a heavenlier and better life.” He hoped the hall would continue to “be a light to the whole neighbourhood” and that after his death his children would continue its work “for the moral, and social, and religious elevation of a people yet unborn.”

In 1906 The Newmarket Journal reports that John had allowed use of the hall for a variety entertainment in aid of the West Wickham cricket club which included comic songs and sketches and at which his daughters played the piano and his son Thomas played a gramophone. However after his death the hall was sold as part of his estate. It became a Methodist Chapel but was eventually sold to a builder and became a private house.

In some ways John seems to have acted as the squire of West Wickham. He writes of visiting the poor of the village, and provided them with Christmas goods and free teas on special occasions. There is something admirable about his benevolence but it is perhaps tinged with a slight sense of self-righteousness.

In 1888 he stood for the first Cambridgeshire County Council, and served for one term but would not stand again.  Saying he “did not think the work was congenial to me” and that he could not afford the time or the means to continue. It was probably hard for him to work as a committee man having been his own master all his life. He continued to travel the country to lecture and wrote several short books all based on his addresses. He remarks that some years earlier he had begun to give his lectures for free trusting in the collections to defray his expenses. He did draw the crowds, and remarks on their generosity but there was little left over once all the travelling and other expenses were cleared and he says he will never make his fortune. He finishes his autobiography by explaining why his lecturing was so important to him.

My earnest desire is to promote the Glory of God, extend the Redeemer’s Kingdom, advance the great cause of Temperance, and raise the moral and intellectual tone of the people [….] My earnest desire is to draw lessons from noble life, and historic fact, and deathless deed, and poets song, and show how grand a thing it is for all of us to do our duty and know how sublime a thing it is to suffer and be strong. My earnest desire is to cheer the toiler, and encourage the timid, and strengthen the weak and battle with evil, and throw a ray of heavenly light down the cold and starless road of doubt and despair. In this desire I have lived, God grant that in it I may die.

He lived another ten years. Dying at his long time home in West Wickham in 1910 where he was buried alongside his wife Ursula. He appears to have had one grandchild, although this has to be confirmed, another John who was always known by his second name of George. George worked at the Cambridge University Library for forty four years occasionally appearing in print with an anthology of hymns and with comments on various musical topics.  He died in 1965.

Sources.

I am indebted to Janet Morris of West Wickham for correcting some assumptions and filling in many gaps.


The Autobiography of John de Fraine or Forty Years of Lecturing Work, and Recollections of the Great and Good 1900

Lectures and Addresses by John de Fraine nd.

The archives of The Times and various local newspapers.

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

Schooldays

On the same page as Ethel Louise de Fraine in 1901 [Bluestocking], I had spotted a Dorothy Emily Gillett.

There are many Gilletts around and not all are connected to our Gillett line, so she wasn’t necessarily going to be one of ‘ours’ but following her, I found that she was. In fact, she was the second cousin of  Susan Gillett. Ethel Louise was the second cousin of Thomas Turner de Fraine. The families were connected by marriage from 1890, so they may well have been aware of their ‘relationship’.

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. Often they are of an age not to have appeared on the previous census and are not with their own families in the following census, but appear then as visitors with members of the families with whom they were at school or have even married into the family.

As early as 1841, I have found several different sets of two or three female, or very young male, Gillett cousins listed as pupils/scholars and staying in the house of an aunt or other older female relation who are enumerated as a schoolmistress. Rather then applying for posts as governesses, it looks though they may have made their income by educating their own relations. Finding these mixed households have often helped me to disentangle families who have a habit of marrying their cousins.

Later on the girls tend to appear in larger establishments which sometimes, but not always, are listed by the name of a school, and again familiar surnames appear on the pages. The families did not seem to send their offspring to the elite Public Schools, but to small independent schools. The boys seem to go at about 9 years old and the girls at 11. A fairly typical school at the time will have been the one included on this website (page 6) Mr Galland’s Academy.In 1851, GT de Fraine aged 9 was a pupil at what became Trinity School, Old Stratford, Passenham. Two of his sons, Thomas Turner, aged 14, and his younger brother Herbert George, aged 11, are listed there in 1881. Edwin Osborne Tompkins, then aged 12, was at the same school in 1871.

Thomas is listed as one of the pall bearers at the funeral of the headmaster:

 

The Northampton Mercury November 24th 1883

DEATH OF THE REV. JAMES THOMAS. We deeply regret to announce the death of the Rev. James Thomas, which occurred on the 12 inst., after an illness of only three days. On Saturday last the funeral took place in the pretty little churchyard of Passenham.

At a quarter past-two the sad procession started from the scene of so many years’ loving labour. The order was as follows—The hearse, with coffin of plain oak, with brass mountings, consisting of a Latin cross, a star, and a shield bearing the following inscription;—” James Thomas. Feel asleep Nov. 12th, 1883. Aged  56.” The following pupils —T. T. De Fraine, A. Barton, A. Plummer, G. Bailey. C. C. Wheldon, M. Mead -having requested to be allowed to bear the coffin from the hearse to the grave, as last token of love and respect for their late dear master, were allowed to act a pall bearers, their strength not being sufficient to bear the corpse. The carriers were old servants of the deceased and residents in Old Stratford. Then followed five carriages, containing the family and relatives of the deceased ; and after them the rest of the pupils and the household servants. The coffin was met at the churchyard gate by the Rev. G. M. Capell (rector of Passenham), Rev. J. Wood (vicar of Old Wolverton, and rural dean), Rev. F. W. Harnett (vicar of St. Georges Wolverton), with the choirs of Deanshanger and Old Wolverton. On entering the church the solemn strains of the ” Dead March ” in Saul were heard. The prayers were impressively read by the Rev. G. M. Capell. When the pall was removed the coffin was covered with wreaths of the choicest flowers, many of which came from a distance, as tokens of love and respect for deceased. Hymn 265,” Thy way, not mine, O, Lord,” was then stung, and after the two psalms were chanted, the lesson was read by the Rev. J. Wood. On coming to the grave, hymn 260, “Hark, my soul, it is the Lord,” was sung, and the remainder of the sad ceremony performed by the Rev. G. M. Capell ; then all that was left on earth of one who was endeared to everyone who knew him by hit kindliness and consideration was committed to its last resting place. When the coffin was lowered, the hymn 140, “Jesus lives,” was sung, and then the beautiful service closed with the Blessing. Amongst those present were the Rev. B. Cadogan, rector of Wicken, and Rural Dean ; Rev. J. B. Sams rector of Grafton ; Rev. J. M. Lester, vicar of Stony Stratford ; Rev. P. G. Macdonall, rector of Cosgrove ; Rev J. W. Spark, W. H. Bull. Esq., Messrs. W. H. Robinson, J. Hudson, J. A. Scrivener, W. Reeve, H. Roberts, &c., and many ladies. © Old Stratford

The number of pupils at Trinity School was 22 in 1851 and by 1881 there were 35. The school had closed by 1891 when it was time for George Lee de Fraine to be sent away to school. He is listed then at the Grammar School, Oxford Road in Thame.

Having read Tom Brown’s Schooldays and Nicholas Nickleby, I wonder what the regime was like for the boys there.

The Victoria County History for Northamptonshire, quoting from Kelly’s Dir. Northants. (1885), advts. p. 32., describes the school, which by that time also took day boys:-

In 1885 the bishop of Peterborough and the rectors of Wicken and Passenham were described as the school’s ‘visitors’; the classrooms and dormitories were said to be ‘lofty and well arranged’; the 8 a. of grounds included facilities for football, cricket and tennis; there was a swimming bath; and the school had its own dairy. The fees were 35 guineas a term, ‘strictly inclusive’.

Thomas later went to Osborne’s father to learn about farming and went on to marry Osborne’s sister. It would seem logical to think that this is how they met since the families had no connection other than through the school as far as we know. Herbert George later married one of the daughters of the headmaster of Trinity School in 1897.The Northampton Mercury September 3rd 1897

MARRIAGE OF MISS E. A. THOMAS. An interesting wedding was celebrated at St. Giles’ Church on Tuesday, the contracting parties being Miss Emma Sophia Thomas, third daughter of the late Rev. J. Thomas, of Trinity School, Old Stratford, and Mr. Herbert George de Fraine, second son of Mr. G. T. de Fraine, of Walton, Aylesbury. The bride, who was given away by her mother, was attired in a simple costume of white alpaca, and wore a large white hat trimmed with lace and roses. She carried a beautiful shower bouquet, the gift of the bridegroom. The bridesmaids were: Miss Thomas, Miss B. Thomas (sisters), and Miss F. de Fraine (sister of the bridegroom). They were dressed in costumes of grey cashmere, and wore white Toreador hats trimmed with pink roses. The officiating clergymen were Rev. J. Thomas, of Thornhill, Dewsbury (brother of the bride), and the Rev. C. H. Scott. Mr. G. de Fraine acted as best man. Miss Walford presided at the organ, and played Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” at the close. The presents were of a useful and handsome description. © Old Stratford

The Tompkins sisters were also sent away to school. In 1871, Sarah Jane Tompkins was a pupil in Paddington aged 13, and Annie Maria Tompkins, aged 14, was a pupil at Grove House, High Street North, Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Rosa Ellen Tompkins (later to marry Thomas) was a pupil aged 15 at Packfield College in Lewisham in 1881, and in 1891, their half sister, Alice, aged 13, was a pupil at a Ladies School at 133 Green Lanes, Islington – along with Constance and Edith De Fraine. They were 13 and 11 years old respectively.

Checking for other names in a census listing for a school threw up something else interesting just this week. Previously, I had idly wondered how Osborne’s niece Ethel Tompkins, brought up in London and Aveley, Essex, had met and married a William Grimwood Boocock, from Yorkshire in 1907.

When trying to track down another branch, I came across a Mortimer Eve in 1891 at the same school as a WG Boocock of Yorkshire. Mortimer’s family were in the vicinity of Aveley and they were related to the Mannings who were related to the Tompkins of Aveley. Maybe Mortimer took William home for the holidays?? Who knows … … … …

 

 
 

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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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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