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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Wordless Wednesday 2 Titheradge boys

The Titheradge boys of Walthamstow - Dad Edward with 7 sons and 2 sons in law 
30th September 2015

From left to right Jack Titheradge; Herbert Titheradge;
Lawrence Titheradge; Stanley Titheradge; Harold Titheradge; 
Sidney Ashpole, Francis Titheradge; Eric (Bob) Titheradge;
Leonard Sach and father Edward Hetreal Titheradge

Every Wednesday just a picture connected to the family names - a person, a place or an object.
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Friday, 25 September 2015

In Memory of Alfred James Titheridge (1894 - 1915) who died 100 years ago today

War Memorial on Southwick Green
In a quiet corner of Southwick Village Green in Sussex is a war memorial. It is inscribed “This memorial was erected to the memory or the men of Southwick and Fishergate who fell in the great war 1914-1919  Let those for whom they died see they be not forgotten” Amongst those individuals listed is A J Titheridge. Today we remember Alfred James Titheridge of Southwick who died 100 years ago today in World War 1.

Alfred James Titheridge was born in Southwick on 10 January 1894 the eldest son of Albert James Titheridge and Catherine West. He was one of 11 children born to Albert and Catherine, but five of the children died as babies. This branch of the Titheridge family is related to the Titheridges of Droxford and is ultimately descended from John Titheridge and Ann Quallat from Cheriton. Albert’s father James had moved from Droxford, Hampshire to Southwick, Sussex in about 1869.

School records show that Albert attended Southwick Green Council School (later known as Manor Hall) leaving there at the age of 14. On the 1901 census 7 year old Alfred is living at 15 Cyprus Cottage, Southwick with his parents and siblings Nora aged 8 and Beatrice aged 5 months. On 1911 census 17 year old Alfred is living at Cyprus Cottage with his parents and siblings Beatrice aged 10, Lillian aged 5, Bernard aged 3 and Leonard aged 1.  Father and son were both listed as market gardener labourers.

Alfred enrolled in the Army at Brighton and was in Royal Sussex Regiment 2nd Battalion. He was a Lance Corporal and his regimental number was 9855 and L/9855. The number 9855 shows he enlisted in the army in 1912 probably in January around the time of his 18th birthday. His war medal card shows he arrived in France on 12 August 1914.

The 2nd Battalion of The Royal Sussex Regiment were in Woking serving with 2nd Brigade, 1st Division when war was declared on 4th August 1914. They were sent to France in August 1914 and fought on the Western Front throughout the war, taking part in most of the major actions. In 1914 they were involved in The Battle of Mons and the subsequent retreat, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, the First Battle of Ypres and the Winter Operations of 1914-15, The Battle of Aubers Ridge and The Battle of Loos.

Alfred was killed in action at Hullach aged 22 on 25 September 1915 and is remembered on the Loos Memorial (Panel 69 to 73). The Loos Memorial is near Lens in France and commemorates over 20,000 officers and men who have no known grave and who died in the area from the River Lys to the old southern boundary of the First Army, east and west of Grenay. Alfred was posthumously awarded the Victory medal, the British Medal and the 14 star with clasp. He is also remembered on Southwick village memorial on the village green.

The Royal Sussex Regiment in 1915

1915 was a disastrous year for the 2nd battalion of the Royal Sussex Regiment. On 9th May 1915 they had been annihilated in the Battle of Auber’s Ridge. We can only assume that Alfred was involved in this action. A few months later on 25th September the battalion were involved in The battle of Loos. On this day 183 Officers and men of the second battalion fell. Among them was Alfred. Also killed in action on this day was Sergeant Harry Wells who was awarded the Victory Cross posthumously. This extract from the London Gazette in November 1915 helps us paint a picture of this day.
“War Office 18th November 1915
His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the grant of the Victoria Cross to the undermentioned Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men, in recognition of their most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty in the field: —
8088 Sergeant Harry Wells, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Sussex Regiment.
For most conspicuous bravery near Le Rutoire on 25th September, 1915. When his Platoon Officer had been killed he took command and led his men forward to within fifteen yards of the German wire. Nearly half the Platoon were killed or wounded, and the remainder were much shaken, but with the utmost coolness and bravery Sergeant Wells rallied them and led them forward. Finally, when very few were left, he stood up and urged them forward once more, but while doing this he was killed. He gave a magnificent example of courage and determination.”

Should you wish to read more about this day an account from survivors of this day and an entry from the war diaries can be read at

War Memorial Southwick Green

War Memorial Southwick Green

Southwick Village Church

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wordless Wednesday 1 Cheriton

Cheriton home of Titheridges from 1663
23rd September 2015

Church of St Michael and All Angels
Cheriton, Hampshire

Every Wednesday just a picture connected to the family names - a person, a place or an object.
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Friday, 18 September 2015

Peter Dion Titheradge BBC Radio Producer of “I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again”

Recently John Tidridge wrote to me and said “I am reading John Cleese's book “So, Anyway...”. quite revealing... funny... on pages 159 and 274 I  noted a mention [very complimentary] of Peter Titheradge... a BBC producer... Ann, tell us more!...” So here is my response.

Peter Titheradge is the four times great grandchild of Daniel Titheradge and Rebecca Baker who started the Titheradge line. He is the grandson of the great Victorian actor George Sutton Titheradge, son of the playwright, songwriter and actor Dion Titheradge and nephew of the famous actress Madge Titheradge. His surname is sometimes misspelt and erroneously appears as Titheridge. Professionally he used the name Peter Dion Titheradge and then after about 1968 it was shortened to Peter Titheradge.

Peter’s parents were Margaret Anne Bolton, from Northumberland, England and Australian Dion George Titheradge. They married on 16 October 1909 in Woolahra, New South Wales, Australia.  Their son, Peter Dion Titheradge, was born in Fulham, London on 18 September 1910 and daughter Margaret Diana Titheradge (known as Meg) was born in Brentford, Middlesex on 12 November 1918. Peter’s father Dion was an actor who made his stage debut in 1908 and then appeared in theatrical productions on both side of the Atlantic.  He was also a producer and writer of songs and playwright.  On the 1911 census the family was at 5 Fulham Park Road, visitors to the home of Mark Dickson Bell a professional footballer.  During Peter’s early life Dion was often away from home performing on the New York stage. Peter and his mother made several trips to America to join Dion and passenger lists show them travelling to Boston in 1913 and New York in 1915. In 1927 Margaret divorced Dion on grounds of adultery with a young actress in 1926 in Weybridge. After the divorce Dion married this actress, Madge Stuart, at St George Hanover Square in 1928. Peter’s father Dion died in 1934 and his mother in 1950.
Peter lived in London and electoral registers and telephone directories show us the following residences.
In 1934 Peter was living at 39 Boundary Road Marylebone with his mother.
In 1947 he was living at 7a High Street Marylebone with his mother, sister Meg and sister’s husband Keith West-Watson.
In 1950 he was living at 381 Wimbledon Park Road London
In 1959 he was living at 76 Dorset House, Gloucester Place off Marylebone Road and he continued to live there until his death in 1989.

Peter and Meg followed their grandfather, father and aunt into the theatrical world.  Meg appeared on stage in various small roles on the London stage between 1937 and 1943. Copies of the Radio Times show she also was involved in numerous radio shows and in some of her first shows her brother was also involved in the production and writing side of the programmes.

Peter’s early career saw him following his father’s footstep as a writer.  He wrote songs, some of which he wrote with good friend Ronnie Hill. Throughout his early career there are several references to Peter and Ronnie writing songs and revues together and also of working together on BBC programs. Peter also wrote revues and was noted as “a distinguished writer of West End revue material”. Peter was also a poet and one of his poems “New Improved Sonnet Eighteen” is a parody of Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVlll and is sufficiently famous for it to be studied in some English exams.   He told a fellow writer that he gave up writing because he was no longer angry any more at anything.

Military Records show that Peter was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery in 1942. For the first part of the war he was not in the army and was working at the BBC.  There is reference to “his adventurous exploits with the British Army in India” but I cannot find the documentation to further expand on this.  The Imperial War Museum has four pictures in its catalogue (which I have not yet seen) which are group pictures which include Peter Titheridge working for All India Radio/Forces Broadcasting Service. They are taken in 1944 in the Matapan Lines district of Delhi.

Peter’s career took him to broadcasting and he worked for the BBC.  In 1939 he is first listed in the Radio Times involved in the production side of broadcasting doing continuity, producing and writing.  During 1940 and 1941 his name frequently appears in the programme credits.  People have referred to his various roles at the BBC  as “script editor for the light entertainment department”, “organiser for the light entertainment department”, “writer”, “producer”, “talent scout”. An uncollaborated report from a friend of Peter’s family, suggested that he acted as censor to the famous radio show “The Goon Show”. He was co-producer of the iconic radio show “I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again”.  He also produced the radio version of "Dr Finlay’s Casebook" which was an adaption of the TV show and ran on radio 1970- 1978.

In early 1960s Peter Titheradge was sent out by the BBC on a mission to find new talent for radio. He went to universities looking at people who did comedy writing, directing and performing. One such talent spotting visit in 1963 took him and Ted Taylor to Cambridge where he watched the Cambridge University Footlights production “A Clump of Plinths”.  The actors included Humphrey Barclay, Bill Oddie and John Cleese.  John Cleese was about to graduate and go to into a career in law in the city when Peter offered him a job at the BBC writing comedy for radio.  Peter also offered Bill Oddie and Humphrey Barclay jobs at the BBC as producers and writers. So it is thanks to Peter that the actor John Cleese came into the acting world and later went on to form “Monty Pythons Flying Circus” and “Fawlty Towers”. It is thanks to Peter that Bill Oddie, Graham Garden and Tim Brooke Taylor went into comedy and later went on to form “The Goodies”. The Cambridge Footlights show “A Clump of Plinths” went on the West End renamed as “Cambridge Circus”.  After the West End run the show toured in New Zealand under the name “The Peter Titheridge Show”.  From this evolved the radio programme “I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again” often abbreviated to ISIRTA.  It starred John Cleese, Grahame Garden, Bill Oddie, Tim Brooke-Taylor, Jo Kendall and David Hatch. Peter’s claim to fame is that he co-produced ISIRTA with David Hatch. A pilot was broadcast on 30 December 1963 under name Cambridge Circus.  Nine series were then broadcast between April 1964 and December 1973 with a 25th anniversary show in 1989.  The program was a sketch show and featured puns, funny voices, bizarre situations, comic songs and sketches.  This BBC Radio Programme became an iconic radio show and I recall listening to it on the radio (or wireless as it was often called in those days!).

Peter gets a mention in several books written by actors / broadcasters of the times; always the reference is positive and complimentary.  Comments include
“Peter is pleasantly eccentric”
“Everybody’s friend”
“A dear friend and mentor”
“He used to sit in the box smoking furiously. He was unmarried, a certain type of man, very artistic, vey theatrical in his tastes, a delightfully charming man.”

In 1971 Peter suffered from cancer but he recovered and lived until he was 79.  He died on 21 March 1989 in Westminster London at St Mary’s Hospital.   The funeral was held at Golder’s Green Crematorium on 31st March 1989.

A quote from the book “I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue” by Jem Rober says that at Peter’s funeral Humphrey Barclay (a well-known television producer) paid tribute to Peter the poet, wit, adventurer and producer. Humphrey said “If someone were to ask what the following have in common Managing Director of the BBC Network Radio; the author of a Thames TV comedy success and this year’s Academy Best Film Actor anyone outside this circle of friends would have difficulty.   But for any of us, there is an instant answer. Peter. Peter the talent spotter, Peter the mentor, Peter the champion, Peter the wise, Peter the friend to whom David Hatch, Simon Brett, John Cleese among so many of us, acknowledge our unpayable debt.”

Peter is remembered by an award given to new comedy writers “The Peter Titheradge Comedy Award”. Peter’s legacy is to British Comedy. If Peter had not gone to Cambridge talent hunting, or had not been impressed with the Cambridge Footlights and if he had not offered them jobs then British comedy would have been poorer and names like “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” would not be part of our history and one ot the most successful radio shows ISIRTA would not have happened

If you can tell us more information or provide a picture of Peter please get in touch by email ( or by adding a comment.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Joseph Titheradge's family - a journey from Portsmouth to Texas

Titheradge / Pundt /Smith and Reylea Graves
Twelve year old Joseph W Titheradge’s grave was found in Old Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina as mentioned in the last blog. The plan of the grave is shown below along with some pictures of the grave.

This is the story of Joseph’s family, tracing the family from Portsmouth, England to America and through the states of Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, North Carolina and Texas.
1809 Portsmouth England
James Fabian Titheradge was born in Portsmouth in 1809 and was christened in St Mary's Portsea on 8 October 1809.  He was one of five children born to James Fabian Titheradge and Mary Heatrell and was the great-grandson of Daniel Titheradge and Rebecca Baker who started the Titheradge line. His middle name Fabian comes from his grandmother Mary Fabian and was a name given to many of the family members. English records, such as censuses, show that his two brothers Henry (born 1808) and Joseph Fabian (born 1824) moved from Portsmouth to London. However, we have found no English records for James Fabian Titheradge after his christening. For many years we wondered what had happened to this individual. Portsmouth is a port and naval base and many individuals in the town have occupations related to the sea and navy, but that line of enquiry also failed to produce any records of James.
1838 Baltimore Maryland
We now know that by 1838 James was a sailor and he had emigrated to America. On 23 April 1838 his marriage was recorded to Julia Ann Campbell in Baltimore, Maryland. The church is in the Fells Point area of Baltimore a few blocks from the docks, where James would have docked. Originally it was unclear that this marriage was James Fabian Titheradge as for some reason in the IGI the name is transcribed as Howard Titheradge. I offer no explanation for this weird transcription error, but the name has been confirmed as James Fabian Titheradge by a relative who has seen the original records.
James’ bride Julia Ann Campbell was born in Baltimore around 1812. She had already been married to Peter Shoman, whom she had married in Baltimore, Maryland on 17 April 1829.  We assume that Peter had died some time before 1838. James and Julia had two children, Amelia Jane Titheradge born in 21 August 1843 in Baltimore, Maryland and Joseph W Titheradge born in October 1845. A third child Sarah R Titheradge born in Maryland 1835, is more likely to be the child of Julia and her first husband, since she was born 3 years before the marriage to James and hence is a probably a Shoman not a Titheradge. On the 1840 census James and Julia are living in Baltimore, Maryland listed as James F Titheradge living with two females 20-29 and two children, one aged 5-9 and one under 5. James is marked as “a person employed in the navigation of the ocean”.
1847 Philadelphia Pennsylvania
In 1847 Captain James Fabian Titheradge fell ill while in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He went to the home of his friend of a year Daniel Howell. He died there, at 104 Front Street, on 14 September 1847. Mr Howell sent a letter to Mrs Titheradge (Julia) who at the time was living in Charleston, South Carolina with her cousin Charles Edmonston. Mr Howell told her that, because of their respect for Captain Titheridge, the other ships’ captains flew the ships flags at half-staff.  Research has shown that James was a Captain on a schooner called the Alcyona, although he is not always listed as the captain on this vessel.  The vessel sailed from Wilmington North Carolina to Philadelphia amongst other routes.  (Interestingly Julia’s cousin’s surname, Edmonston, is a name associated with wealth in Charleston in early 1800s but I don’t know if this Charles is part of the same family.)
1850 Charleston South Carolina
Julia was left with three children to care for alone, Sarah aged 12, Amelia aged 3 and Joseph aged 2. By the 1850 census Julia is now Julia Smith living with her third husband William Smith, a mariner, and her three children referred to on the census as Sarah Smith aged 15, Mary Jane aged 7 (presumably poor spelling of Amelia), Jose Wills Smith aged 4 and baby Thomas Smith aged 1. We are yet to find the records of this marriage of Julia to William Smith. In 1851 Julia’s eldest daughter Sarah married John Malcolm Pundt. On 16 December 1852 their first child John William Pundt was born in Charleston.  Sadly Sarah died of convulsions just after childbirth, aged just 17 years 11 months old. Her husband John purchased a plot in Magnolia Cemetery, Charleston, South Carolina where she was buried (See Headstone 1 in the diagram below and pictures of the headstone). The inscription on the headstone reads   “Sacred in the memory of my wife Sarah R Pundt who departed this life the 18th of December 1852 aged 17”. 
It would appear that Julia and her son-in-law kept a close relationship, perhaps she moved in to look after the new baby. By 1854 Julia is living at 23 Concord Street Charleston. Julia’s life went on to suffer further tragedy when on 5 August 1854 Thomas, her son by her third husband, died aged six from accidental drowning.  He too is buried in the same plot as his half-sister Sarah at Magnolia cemetery, the plot belonging to John Pundt. Although called Thomas on the census the headstone says William T Smith. The family are next recorded at 4 Haro Alley in Charleston. Julia’s tragedies continued when her other son Joseph W Titheradge contracted typhoid aged 12years 6 months and died on 7 April 1858. He too is buried Magnolia Cemetery sharing a grave and headstone with his half-brother William. (See headstone 2 on the the plan below. The stone is pictured below and the two names on this stone are visible but it is very difficult to read the inscription).
1860 Charleston South Carolina
About 1859 or 1860 Julia’s son-in-law John Malcolm Pundt married her other daughter, 17 year old Amelia Jane Titheradge. Their first child Daniel Pundt was born about this time.  The 1860 census shows John and Amelia living in Charleston with John W Pundt aged 8 and Daniel Pundt aged 1. On the same census Julia was also living in Charleston with her husband William Smith and son James E Smith aged 10. More tragedy was in store for the family as Daniel died aged two and was buried on 3 May 1862.  He too is buried in the same plot in Magnolia cemetery Charleston. (See headstone 3 in the plan and picture of the grave below). This headstone is inscribed “Our Little Daniel aged 2 years and 8 months” and the foot stone has the initials DP.
1870 Wilmington North Carolina
Between April 1861 and April 1865 the American civil war was fought, a war that started at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.  Land and sea battles were fought within a few miles of Charleston’s famous waterfront and the homes of Julia and Amelia.  The Confederates managed to hold the city until February 1865. There are references to a John Pundt who served in the confederate navy as an engineer on board CSS Sumter and Alabama but it is not known if this is the same John Pundt.
By the 1870 census the family have moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. The census finds Julia living with her daughter Amelia and husband John Pundt.  On the census the household are recorded as John M Pundt 37 a locom. engineer, Amelia Pundt 24, John Pundt 17 a sailor, Sarah Pundt 8, Alice Pundt 8months, William Smith 49 a ship rigger, Julia Smith 60 and James Smith 19 an iron moulder.
1880 Travis County Texas
By 1875 Amelia’s husband John Pundt had died and Amelia remarried to Frederick Small in Brenham, Texas on 4 November 1875. The 1880 census shows Julia living with her daughter Amelia and her new husband. The family is now living in Travis County, Texas. The census shows F R Small head of household, aged 38 a farmer from Prussia, Amelia Small 36 his wife, children Alice aged 9 born in South Carolina, Lulu aged 7 born in Texas, Willie aged 4 born in Texas, Fannie aged 2 born in Texas, Julia Smith 68 widowed mother born in Maryland and James Smith aged 28 brother born in South Carolina.
1890 - 1953 The last of the Titheradge name

Julia and daughter Amelia both died in the state of Texas.  It is thought Julia died in 1895 but this is not confirmed as I have not found this record. Amelia died 18 December 1890 and is buried in Abilene Cemetery in Abilene Texas.  Amelia’s daughter Lula was the last family member to carry the Titheradge name - Lula Titheradge Pundt.  Lula never married and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery, Houston, Texas; born 24 November 1872 and died on 8 September 1953. One of Amelia’s other children Sarah Pundt (married name Countryman) died in Houston Texas in 1934. Pictures of all three graves can be seen if you search on “Find a grave” website on the Internet 

The grave in Magnolia Cemetery
So in a grave in Magnolia Cemetery Charleston we still have two unknown figures, buried in the grave with the missing headstone (head stone 4in the plan below). They are now known to be John Malcolm Pundt’s sister Ann Jane Relyea who was buried on 18 November 1900 aged 50, born in Charleston died at Sullivan’s island, near Charleston. Sharing the grave is her husband Captain Charles J Relyea who died on 10 October 1920 he was born in Kingston New York and died at 334 King Street, Charleston aged 73 years from acute dilation of the heart. In the civil war there was a ship’s captain in Charleston called Charles J Relyea who captained the confederate ship Planter. The ship was seized by enslaved pilot Roberts Smalls who took the vessel from Charleston and surrendered it to the Union fleet. Captain Relyea was court-marshalled, for going ashore and leaving the vessel in the hands of slaves, however his sentence was commuted, and he served no time in confinement. It is unknown if this is the same Charles J Relyea.
Our research has shown how tough life was for early American settlers with James Fabian dying aged 38 while Julia lost 3 husbands, 3 children at ages 17, 12 and 6 plus a grandchild aged 2.

If there are any of your relatives mentioned in the story please get in touch by email or leave a comment. If you can fill in some more details or supply missing details on any aspect of this story we would love to hear from you.

Plan of Joseph Titheradge's grave in Magnolia Cemetery

Titheradge / Pundt /Smith and Reylea Graves

Titheradge / Pundt /Smith and Reylea Graves

Titheradge / Pundt /Smith and Reylea Graves
Daniel Pundt's Gravestone

Sarah Pundt's gravestone

Sarah Pundt's gravestone

Gravestone of
William Smith and Joseph Titheradge

Gravestone of
William Smith and Joseph Titheradge