October 16th

So, on this day in the past Oscar Wilde was born in 1854, Austen Chamberlain in 1863 and so was Eugene O’ Neil in 1888 and Michael Collins in 1890. It’s also the birthday of Edward Ardizzone, Enva Hodxha and Max Bygraves, Angela Lansbury and Günter Grass, and Peter Bowles the actor.

However, in our family we think of it as the birthday of my mother-in-law, my children’s grandma, Dorothy Alice Colgate in 1914.  She was born in Bletchingley in Surrey in a room above what became Lloyd’s bank. Her parents were Augusta, née Brown, and Ernest Colgate. Augusta Sarah, was the thirteenth child of John Brown and Emily Charlwood. Dorothy didn’t know her Grandfather Brown who died in 1915 at the age of sixty-six, and probably barely remembered her grandmother who died when she was only three years old, but she remembered her Colgate grandparents and often talked about them, John who died in 1926, and Sarah who died in 1943.

John and Sarah were born in 1855 and 1856, and it seems extraordinary to me that my children both knew and loved their grandmother who had memories of people born a hundred and sixty years ago…

Happy birthday, Dorothy…

Father and son

ernest and john 2 001The senior of these two fine gentlemen is John Colgate who was born in 1856, the son of Henry Colgate and Charlotte Jeal; Henry and Charlotte had moved from Kent to Surrey where the family continued to live. John Colgate was a farm labourer and he married Sarah Day whose life I have also followed. John and Sarah had four children, three daughters and a son, Ernest who is the fine young fellow in this picture. Ernest, born in 1881 and the third of the children, also worked on the land in various jobs, including being a ploughman. John lived to the good age of seventy, his wife Sarah, despite a very hard early life, lived to be eighty-eight. Ernest married Augusta Brown, and he was my husband’s grandfather. These two men in the photo are strikingly similar in looks; if you placed my husband beside them you would have no doubt that they are the same family.

Billy Rinds

Who was Billy Rinds? His name came up in our family tree research after a conversation with a distant cousin; he may have been a comedian, or the ‘straight’ man to a comedian… but who he was and how he’s connected I’m not sure.

There were several William rinds born in the nineteenth century, I think the original Rinds family came from Ireland. They may have come from Leitrim, although originally it is believed that the Rinds/Rind/Rynd/Rynde people came from Scotland in the eleventh century. There were at least two William Rinds who were in the army, and one of them may have married a woman called Maria, who married again after his early death at thirty-nine… So soldier Billy, but funny-man Billy…

I looked back at the notes we took after speaking to the cousin, and see that according to her, Billy may have married fanny… this rings a little bell and I look at my family tree, this time looking for Fanny… And he was not Rinds at all… he was Billy Rhymes!! is that a better name for a comedian’s side-kick? If I find out any more, I will report back!


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

100 years ago today

A hundred years ago today, Dorothy Alice Colgate was born to her mother Augusta, and father Ernest Colgate, in Bletchingley, Surrey. Augusta was the youngest of a large family of Browns, she was born in 1891, the youngest of eleven children. Ernest, in contrast came from a family of four, three sisters and he was the only boy. One of his sisters had died as an infant so his childhood must have been very different from Augusta’s.

Ernest was born in 1881, and he appears on the census for that year; his father John was an agricultural labourer, and his mother Sarah already had two baby daughters to look after. Ten years later John is still a labourer and the three children are at school. ten years further on, and Ernest is now working as a farm labourer, his father works on the roads, and his sisters have left home. Alice is living with her husband and baby daughter nearby, he works at the limeworks, and sister Annie is also married and living with her husband who is a cowman.  Ernest became a groundsman, and continued to live with his parents until he married Augusta in 1911, but after the census was taken that year.

Augusta was born into a very different situation; her father, also named John, was a bricklayer. When she was born, before the 1891 census, many of her brothers and sisters were still living at home. William was an under gardener, George was a bricklayer’s labourer, Alice was a general domestic servant, and Edward, John Rufus, Alfred, Charlie and Amanda were all at school. No doubt the family, especially the mother, Emily, was quite relieved that  Ellen had left home, but sadly another son, also called John, had died. Ten years alter, there are still a lot of Browns living at home; George, Edward, John junior, Alfred, Charles, Amanda and Augusta. John is still a bricklayer, as were two of his sons, the others are a gardener, two were  labourers. In 1911 Augusta was working for two elderly rich gentlefolk, brother and sister, Mr and Miss Noy. Later that year she married Ernest.

Dorothy Colgate, who would have been 100 today, married and moved to Newhaven; after the war she and her husband had a brief spell in London before moving to Cornwall. However the family ties were too strong for Dorothy, and she and her family moved back to Surrey where she lived until almost the end of her life.

The featured photo shows where Dorothy was born; she was born in the upper room on the corner of the building in the photo.

Bletchingley, the home of Horace Colgate

The little town of Bletchingley was the home of Horace Colgate for most of his life. He died serving his country in World war 1 leaving a grieving family of his mother, step father and four younger siblings.

Bletchingley hasn’t changed greatly, apart from the traffic and the housing estate built at Coneybury where Horace’s cousins Dorothy, Adeline and Frances lived with their families after the Second World War. Horace was born in London in 1898; I can find no  record of his mother Emma Pither Dodd having married either a Mr Pither or a Mr Dodd, and I cannot positively trace her or her family. She married Tom Colgate of Bletchingley and Horace was adopted by the Colgates, and in turn adopted their name.

By 1891 the Bletchingley family of Colgate was well established; Henry and Charlotte had been living there forty-five years or more and most of their children still lived in the area.

Their eldest son, Martin was doing well in 1891; he was now a farm bailiff and living in Park Lane, Reigate; his nephew, Arthur was no longer with the family but the children still lived at home, Catherine no doubt helping her mother round the house, and maybe helping her father on the farm, William was a milk retailer, and Martin junior  a carpenter’s apprentice. Arthur had stayed in Bletchingley and was a groom and domestic servant; he lived with his grandparents Henry and Charlotte and Uncle Thomas in Brewer Street.  Henry and Thomas continued to work on the land as agricultural labourers. At some time over the next eight years, Tom will meet Emma and her baby Horace.

Henry Colgate junior and wife Harriet and three boys had a little girl in the family, Fanny, no doubt named after Harriet’s sister. They lived in Stychens; Henry was a general labourer, Harry a Baker’s assistant and Burt a grocer’s assistant.

John and Sarah Jane  now lived not very far away from Bletchingley in Whitehill Lane, Godstone. John was still an agricultural labourer and his young family were all at school. Like Martin, younger brother Edwin had also moved away from Bletchingley; he lived in Dorking on Roman Road and was a domestic coachman. His wife was Fanny née Elsey, sister of his brother Henry’s wife Harriet.

As for Henry and Charlotte’s daughters, Mary still is a mystery and cannot be traced in the census. Susan was a domestic servant living in Nutfield, and Charlotte junior, now Mrs Alfred Bryant was living in Barfields with her husband and daughters Flora, Mabel and Charlotte, 6, 4, 2.  Alfred was a domestic groom, and so was his brother-in-law, John Betts, married to Jane Colgate and living in Lewisham with her and their daughter Florence. Catherine had married William Dagnall and lived in Reigate with him and their five children, Catherine, William, Winifred, Margaret and Henry.

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Great change had come to the life of Tom Colgate by 1901; he was married and had a young step-child, named Alfred Dodd at birth, but soon to become Horace Colgate. Tom and Emma lived in Brewer Street at number 3, with his widowed father, Henry, 75 years old and still working as the foreman on the  roads, still labouring. What a hard life ordinary folk had in those days. His wife, Charlotte had died in 1896 after fifty years of marriage… I hope she lived to celebrate her golden wedding anniversary.

Martin and Ellen had moved from Reigate; he was still a farm bailiff but they were now living in Sussex,  and had a cousin staying with them, Mary Maskell. Their son William was married, still living in Reigate and no longer a milk retailer but a brewery dray-man and father to 3-year-old Harrie. Young Martin too was married, to Anne and with a small son of his own, Stanley. No longer an apprentice, Martin was a carpenter. Sister Catherine, married to George Boxall, was living in Guildford… the Colgates are moving away from Bletchingley.

Henry Colgate junior and his wife Harriet were now living at 7 Barfields, still in Bletchingley. Their sons Burt and Martin were still living with them, Burt  a brick-layer, Martin still at school and their father worked in the quarry.  Their son Harry was living away from Bletchingley now, with his wife Mabel, née Grice, and  sister Fanny. They are living in Eton, Buckinghamshire and Harry is a baker. Sydney is an assistant butcher, to a business run by widowed Mrs Mary Sendall in Nutfield, not too far away.

John was living not far away from his brother at 6, Stychens, with Sarah Jane and Ernest now a farm labourer, his father was a road man… maybe in the same gang as his father, old  Henry? Their sister Alice didn’t live far away, in Merstham with her husband James Knight who was a kiln filler at the lime works at Merstham. Her sister Annie lives in Old Merstham, not far away, and her husband William Jones was a stockman.

Jane Colgate, now Betts was living in Croydon with her husband John who has progressed from being a groom to being a coachman; their daughter Florence was a dressmaker. Jane’s brother Edwin and family don’t appear in the 1901 census for some reason, and nor do the Bryants, Alfred and Charlotte and their children, Flora, Mabel, Charlotte and baby Dorothy. Susan has married Charles – Charlie Fairs who was a domestic gardener and they are living in Cuckfield in Sussex… another Colgate has left Bletchingley.

From a single man arriving from Kent, the family grew, and then spread out again, moving away from the small Surrey town. Now, today there are still Colgates in Bletchingley, and the name of Horace Colgate will be forever on the war memorial.

war memorial 4