Family connection

We had a phone call this morning. Some time ago, in the autumn, my  husband had written to an address in the village where he used to live because we had discovered that someone with  his family name was still living there, as the family  had done for over a hundred years.

To our surprise and delight we received a response to his letter in this morning’s phone call.The lady who rang shares the same great-great grandfather, a Henry Colgate (only distantly, very distantly related to the tooth-paste people!) We exchanged new of cousins, family stories, including the tragic death of Horace Colgate who died on his  birthday at the Battle of the Somme. She told us that her father had been a chauffeur to a rich family of jewellers; he drove their Rolls Royce, and had been taught to drive by the company of Rolls Royce!

How wonderful it was to make contact,and maybe we shall meet her when we are next in the area; the wonders of the internet!!

Thiepval (1)Horace is commemorated at Thiepval

Home view from abroad

I wrote yesterday about visiting the battlefields of World war One, and our wish to find the memorial to my husband’s relative, Horace Colgate. Here is a post I have previously published, showing the village where Horace, and my husband both lived as children, although some sixty years separated their boyhoods.

Horace Colgate died nearly a hundred years ago at the tragically young age of eighteen… his death was not unusual at that time; millions of young men were giving their lives on the battlefields of World War 1.

Horace came from the quiet Surrey village of Bletchingley where he had lived with his mother, step-father and four younger brothers and sisters. I know the village quite well as my husband’s family are Colgates, cousins of Horace. After I had written about Horace I returned there to try to place him in the pretty little village. The traffic going to and coming from the M25 was dreadful, but even on a chilly, damp Friday afternoon Bletchingley still looked charming.

war memorial 4

 

Horace Colgate, né Alfred Dodd, is commemorated on the war memorial in Bletchingley. There is still a Colgate living in Barfileds, where Horace lived with his brothers and sisters and parents before he went to war.

Houses on Barfields, Horace Colgate lived in this road

One of the many attractive old houses in Bletchingley

Stychens 1

Church Walk

A charming view

My mother-in-law, Dorothy Alice Colgate was born in Bletchingley in 1914, on Monday, October 16th. She was a second cousin of Horace but would never have known him.

The room where Dorothy was born

Dorothy’s father went away to fight in World War 1 as Horace did; luckily for Dorothy and her mother and sister, he returned. He must have walked past the war memorial many times and thought of his poor cousin Horace who never came home.

From Surrey to some foreign field

We are soon to be travelling to visit the battlefields of the first World war; we have a particular connection to these sites as my mother-in-law’s cousin died here on his eighteenth birthday. Here is a post I wrote some time ago about him:

The Bletchingley Colgates came from Kent originally, from Ightham a pretty little village near Sevenoaks. They moved to another Kent village, Plaxtol but it was from Penshurst that Henry Colgate moved to Bletchingley. He was married to Charlotte Jeal in 1846, he was about nineteen, she was a little older. There were families of Jeals already in the area although Charlotte was born in Horley and the Colgates settled in Bletchingley and their descendants are there to this day. Family tradition has it that she came from a richer family than Henry and he was her father’s coachman or gardener; however it seems more likely that they came from similar backgrounds and fell in love and married.

Henry and Charlotte had ten children, five girls and five boys , Mary, Martin, Henry, Catherine, John, Jane, Edwin , Charlotte, Susan and Thomas. Their children gave them at least thirty grandchildren, one of which was my mother-in-law Dorothy Colgate, daughter of John.

1970’s Bletchingley

Catherine Colgate, Henry and Charlotte’s second daughter married a young man of Irish descent, William Dagnell. His family came from County Wicklow, settling at first in Liverpool before moving to London. Somehow he ended up in Surrey and married Catherine, maybe he was drawn to her because his own grandmother was also called Catherine.

Charlotte and Henry’s youngest child was Thomas William, born in 1869 when his parents were in their forties, and in the same year as his own nephew, sister Mary’s son, Arthur. He was living at  number 3, Brewer street, and was a stoneman, no doubt at the local quarry when he met a young widow.  Emma Dodd, née Pither was probably  a couple of years younger than Thomas, and she had a one year old son Alfred. Alfred was born in Lambeth, London on July 1st, 1898 and after his mother married, he later took his step-father’s name.

Arthur and Emma married in 1899, and lived with seventy-five year old Henry, now a widower. Emma’s little son was now called Horace, but he still kept his father’s name of Dodd. Three years after their marriage they had their first child, Edith Gertrude. When Horace was seven and little Edith was three, Ruby Emma was born in 1905.  In 1907 Yates Thomas arrived, and the family was completed in 1912 when baby Raymond William John was born. By the time Raymond arrived the family were living in Barfields and they continued to live there to this present day.

In 1914, when Alfred, now Horace was sixteen, the First World War started, and Horace joined up in the Royal West Surrey Regiment . He went to Flanders as a private in the 7th battalion shortly after his 17th birthday, 27th July 1915. No doubt his family were proud of him, his little brothers, Yates and Raymond must have wanted to join their big brother to be a soldier, maybe Ruby and Edith thought it was romantic. Probably Thomas and Emma, though proud, were anxious for his safety, and as the conflict progressed and others in the village returned home wounded or did not return at all, they must have become increasingly worried for his safety.  He had been in France for nearly a year and it was Horace’s eighteenth birthday in 1916 when he went into action… and ‘in some foreign field,’ he was killed.

 

Memorial

My next assignment for my archaeology course has several options; one I mentioned before is garbage or rubbish archaeology, where by looking at rubbish deductions can be made about individuals and the society in which they lived. I did consider doing this assignment but then I had a look at the other two options.

The second option is to discuss three burials and think about how the burial took place, what the archaeology tells us about the society of the individual or the individual themselves, and how different the burials are to modern ways of interring the dead. it sounds a fascinating option, but I think I would go way over the limit of 700 words… I could do 700 words on each burial i chose… which might be Tollund Man, found in a Danish peat bog, …, and maybe the newly discovered skeletal remains of Richard III… and might be a twentieth century murder victim… I could write a whole essay on each!

So, I am settling for the third option, after much thought, and that is to describe a tomb, memorial or battlefield I hope to visit one day; now dozens of things spring to mind on this one too, but I think it will be easier for me to write less on it and keep within my 700 words. I have narrowed my thoughts to two places, the first is  The Menin Gate at Ypres, which commemorates the dead of a World War I battle, including Horace Colgate, my mother-in-law’s cousin, who died when he was only 18.

https://loiselden.com/2012/04/16/a-drawing-down-of-blinds/

The second site is more controversial, it is the Liffey Falls in Tasmania. My great-great-grandfather went to Tasmania as a business man in the 1830’s and my great-grandfather was born there; however, the European settlers who arrived and colonised the island, displaced in various ways the original Aboriginal people who lived there. Many of the tribes people died through contracting European disease, many died from starvation or being chased from their traditional hunting grounds, the last remaining Aboriginal people were gathered up and sent to a completely different island named Flinders Island by the British authorities, but many, many were killed in the so-called Black War.  There are some sickening accounts of what happened between the incomers and the original people of Tasmania but it is a complicated story. Prisoners from Britain were transported there, and they probably didn’t want to be there anyway, the soldiers and prison officers who guarded them had probably been sent there too, and it was a minority of people like my family who went there because they wanted to. My family was Jewish so they were used to persecution as well.

There is no memorial to the Aboriginal people of Tasmania who were wiped out; the conflict started in 1804, and Truganini,  the last Aboriginal woman died in 1876, her body was exhumed and her skeleton put on display until 1947, and eventually cremated and scattered on the sea by descendants of Aboriginal peoples. Liffey falls is the site of a massacre of tribal peoples and there is a movement to have a proper memorial erected here. However there is still traditional attitudes held by some white Tasmanians, who resist such a tribute being made… but that’s a whole different story. I would like to visit Liffey Falls, with or without a physical memorial there, and remember the native peoples who were “eradicated” by British incomers.

 

I found Emma…

I came across Emma Colgate, née Emma Pither Dodd when looking at the Colgate family tree. She was the mother of Horace Colgate, né Alfred Dodd, who died in WW1

https://loiselsden.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/searching-for-emma/

I found her family in census records and on a recent trip to Bletchingley in Surrey, I found her:

Emma’s grave, beloved wife of Thomas Colgate, died in 1923, aged 57. She died five years after her son Horace

Searching for Emma…

I get these bees in my bonnet. Horace Colgate, né Alfred Dodd, born in London… who was his father, who exactly was his mother? I knew her name was Emma Pither Dodd and that she married Thomas Colgate. Her birth place in the census was stated as Ascot in Berkshire but I just seemed to stumble blindly around the records trying to find her. She had her son and I assumed she was a widow although I couldn’t find an Emma Pither Dodd in any records, nor a marriage between an Emma Pither and a Mr Dodd. I couldn’t find a convenient death of a Mr Pither or Mr Dodd  either.

I have just had a sudden inspiration… and how silly of me not to have thought of it before; supposing Alfred was illegitimate? Supposing her mother had been a Miss Pither who married a Mr Dodd? I looked at marriages in about 1865-70, as Emma was born in the early 1870’s. Yes! Emma Pither married Henry Dodd in 1871! It fits! I check the 1871 census and there are the two young people, unmarried but living near each other; Henry with his brothers and widower father, Emma with her widowed mother and grandmother in a pub, The Carpenters Arms.

I look at the 1881 census; young Emma should be about eight or nine… but she appears as a newborn, date of birth 1881… this is strange especially as I cannot find her birth recorded… Maybe it is an error, maybe she should have been aged 10, but when I look at the census image it clearly states she is 9 months old. What is more confusing in the 1891 census there is no Emma but two sons William and Edward. I can’t find a death record for Emma.. it is a mystery. But supposing there was an Emma in this family, maybe Emma has left home and is working somewhere else… I will check!

I’ve checked. There is an Emma Dodd, born in the right place working as a servant in Kensington, London… and London was where her little son, Alfred Dodd was born eight years later. London. But this may be jumping to conclusions because this Emma says she was born in 1869… I’m never going to know and any more is conjecture. I do know that Henry Dodd married Emma Pither and had a daughter also called Emma who had a child named Alfred.

It may be that Henry and Emma’s daughter was the young woman employed by Max and Tilley Mayer in London. No doubt Max Mayer filled in the census form and maybe he guessed at Emma’s age, or had she told them she was a few years older in order to get her position in their household? Max was a ‘merchant of precious stones’ no doubt a wealthy man. He was born in Germany and was 31 years old in 1891, his wife six years younger was also of German origin. The only other person in the household was Augusta Tuck, a young German cook. In my imagination, Max took advantage of Emma and became the father of her son, or maybe some other man did and Emma had to leave the Mayers’ employment. How ironic it would be though, if Max, born in Germany, was the father of a young man who died fighting the Germans, ironic and tragic.

My research can only take me so far… and I’ve described what I have done to show how frustrating trying to find ancestors can be. Even people with unusual names are not necessarily the only ones with that unusual name… although I am the only Lois Elsden!

There’s only one of me!

Trying to see the past

Horace Colgate died nearly a hundred years ago at the tragically young age of eighteen… his death was not unusual at that time; millions of young men were giving their lives on the battlefields of World War 1.

Horace came from the quiet Surrey village of Bletchingley where he had lived with his mother, step-father and four younger brothers and sisters. I know the village quite well as my husband’s family are Colgates, cousins of Horace. After I had written about Horace I returned there to try to place him in the pretty little village. The traffic going to and coming from the M25 was dreadful, but even on a chilly, damp Friday afternoon Bletchingley still looked charming.

war memorial 4

 

Horace Colgate, né Alfred Dodd, is commemorated on the war memorial in Bletchingley. There is still a Colgate living in Barfileds, where Horace lived with his brothers and sisters and parents before he went to war.

Houses on Barfields, Horace Colgate lived in this road

One of the many attractive old houses in Bletchingley

Stychens 1

Church Walk

A charming view

My mother-in-law, Dorothy Alice Colgate was born in Bletchingley in 1914, on Monday, October 16th. She was a second cousin of Horace but would never have known him.

Dorothy Colgate was born here

The room where Dorothy was born

Dorothy’s father went away to fight in World War 1 as Horace did; luckily for Dorothy and her mother and sister, he returned. He must have walked past the war memorial many times and thought of his poor cousin Horace who never came home.