I've just realised that I've been absent from here for far too long. As previously mentioned, I've been tidying up and trying to fill in missing references.....and getting sidetracked, of course!
My genealogy Christmas present to myself was another set of parish registers; well, ok, two sets. Whittlesey, in Cambridgeshire, has two parishes and thus two sets of registers! A surprising number of people form different parts of my tree seem to have passed through the place so there is plenty of scope for useful finds.
I've also discovered a line of the Bigley family which went to Canada in the late 19th century and settled in Ontario, whose online records are available on Ancestry.
So, all this together with my usual end of year tidy-up has kept me away from here. But I hope to be back more regularly now.
On this Armistice Day let me introduce you to my sixth cousin twice removed George Frederick Culpin.
Fifth of the six children of Thomas & Emma (nee Carter), George was born in Thornhaugh, near Peterborough in 1888. In the following two census returns he is shown at home with the family and presumably, as soon as he was able, he followed his father and older brothers into life as a farm labourer.
But not for long as, by the 1911 census, he was serving in India as a private in the 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch, having enlisted in Edinburgh. The battalion returned from India at the outbreak of war and George, by now promoted Sergeant, was killed on 11 November 1914.
He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Menin Gate and the Thornhaugh War Memorial.
Langford was my great-uncle, born on 4 June 1891 in Stretham, Cambs, the
youngest of the eight children of Isaac & Emma (nee Quince) and christened
on 25 July 1894 at St James’ church in the village. In 1896 he and two older siblings, Kate &
Freeman, went to live with their aunt Rose Ann Vaughan (nee Bigley) in Newnham
Road, Ely. By July 1897 all three were
enrolled at the Market Street School and, in the 1891 census, the Vaughan
family plus the three Langfords were living in Nutholt Lane, in the house next
to the Vicarage.
Ben was a 19-year-old bricklayer’s labourer still living with his aunt, and he
completed the census form – which at least proves he could read and write, so
that education wasn’t wasted! And then
came the Great War…….
living in Stretham but enlisted in Bedford, joining the 2nd
Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment.
On 4th October 1914 the 2nd Battalion embarked at
Southampton, arriving Zeebrugge on the 7th. After a lot of marching, they arrived at
Ypres on 14th October and joined the 21st Infantry
Brigade on the front line. There
followed ten days of heavy artillery and the brigade was ordered to “hold on”.
October the Brigade was relieved and moved back to rest….for one day, after which they
moved forward again. Much more shell
fire and the Bedfordshires were ordered to cover the withdrawal of the 20th
Brigade from the Ypres salient. On 31st
October there was more heavy shelling and the Bedfordshires withdrew to a new
line at dusk. The fighting was very
fierce and there were many casualties, with the Battalion “losing their CO and
Lance Corporal 9921 Ben Langford. The
story is that he was in the trench and lifted his head to get a cigarette out
of the breast pocket of his tunic. He
was shot by a sniper.
no known grave and is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres and the Stretham
Found in the Chelmsford Chronicle, 15 December 1922:
The Chingford Fire
Brigade had just sat down to the annual brigade dinner when the fire alarm
sounded. Hurriedly leaving the table, the firemen discovered that the outbreak
was at Low Hall Farm, of which the owner was Mr J Soper, one of the guests at
the dinner. It was a haystack fire, and the brigade were kept busy until after
midnight. Portions of the dinner and liquid refreshments were sent to them at
the farm, while their guests, after waiting vainly for the brigade to return,
proceeded with the function at the hotel.
Charged with setting
fire to a stack, the property of Mr Soper, and doing damage to the extent of
300 pounds, James Webb, of Stewardstone, was committed for trial at the Essex
I suspect that Mr Soper would've preferred a string quartet as entertainment, but I like the idea of sending some of their dinner to the firemen!
Last weekend was one of those rare genealogical moments when I was struck dumb by the events unfolding in front of me.
I was idly researching a Culpin branch: Sarah Jane Culpin married William Thomas Pridmore in Thornhaugh, Northants, in 1877 and they moved to Sheffield. Over the next twenty years or so they begat eleven children (including nine sons), raising all but one to adulthood. And then came the Great War.
To sidetrack slightly, when I find sons of military age I first look to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, but I couldn't be sure what I'd found. So Ancestry helpfully gave me De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour of the Great War and I found a young Pridmore in there......
Topped and tailed in the index by three of his brothers. And, as if it could get any worse, two of them died within four days of each other. Speechless is one of the words you could have used to describe me.
John Thomas Pridmore, third son, was born in 1881 and enlisted in the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) in 1899, serving in the Boer War and then with the Expeditionary Force in France in 1914. Married to Harriet, with whom he had two children, he died on 14 October 1914.
Arthur Edward Pridmore, fourth son, was born in 1883 and followed his brother into the KOYLI, also serving in South Africa and France. He died on 18 October 1914. Neither brother has a grave, but both are commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
Albert Pridmore, second son, was born in 1879. He was married to Margaret and they had four children. He enlisted in the Yorks & Lancs Regiment in 1915 and died in Bradford hospital on 22 June1917 from wounds received in May that year.
George Harry Pridmore, presumably named after his brother George who died in infancy, was the eighth son. Born in 1896 he too joined the KOYLI before the war, enlisting in January 1914. He served in France in 1916 and then returned to Blighty to train as an officer. Gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the West Yorks Regt, and by now married to May (nee Foster), he was sent back to France in January 1918. He died on 31 August 1918.