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Sunday 23 January 2022

1921 Census and our Family Names

Part of 1921 Census form 

1921 Census

Earlier this month the 1921 census for England and Wales was released. This was a cause of great excitement for genealogists, especially since there will be no more censuses released until 2051 (the 1931 census was destroyed in WW2 and the 1941 census didn’t happen because of WW2). For many the excitement was dampened by the fact that to view each household’s census return would cost £3.50. Luckily you are able to search the 1921 census for free. Your free search reveals the names of individuals, their year and place of birth, and the parish where they are living in 1921. The additional information you would obtain if you paid £3.50 would be the exact age of the individual, the address of the property where they are living, the other people living at the address, the family relationships of all the individuals at a property, plus individuals’ occupations, employer and place of work.

Family Members

I set about researching our family members using the search feature, and searching for Titheridge, Titheradge, Tidridge, Tytheridge, Tutheridge, Teatheredge and Titteridge. I found 459 people who bore the family names. This is about the same number of individuals as on the 1911 census. I was surprised by the large number of transcription errors I found. As well as the 7 standard family surnames, there are some additional 30 spelling variations of our surnames, including misreading the T at the start for an F, L, S or Z. My favourite transcription error was Mabel Titheridge – who was transcribed as Wabel, and I smiled at the mixed gender names of Frederick Olive and Lois Walter!

There were also 20 individuals who might or might not be Titheridge family members but without seeing the original writing it is impossible to be sure. There are some individuals I know are missing from the individuals found so far. 

Different Surnames

The total number of family members found is 459. The breakdown of the occurrence of each surname is:
329 individuals with surname Titheridge (72%)
63 individuals with surname Titheradge (14%)
24 individuals with surname Tidridge (5%)
22 individuals with surname Tytheridge (5%)
12 individuals with surname Tutheridge (3%)
8 individuals with surname Teatheredge (2%) 
1 individual with surname Titteridge (less than 1%)

Distribution of the Family around England and Wales  

Most individuals with the family name lived in Hampshire. Nearly all family members were in counties in the south of England, with only 2% of the individuals living north of London.
The distribution was: 
221 individuals lived in Hampshire (48%)
116 individuals lived in London (25%) 
28 individuals lived in Middlesex (6%)
24 individuals lived in Surrey (5%)
16 individuals lived in Sussex (3%)
11 individuals lived in Essex (2%)
9 individuals lived in Kent (2%)
43 individuals lived in other counties, which each had with less than 6 individuals (9%) 

The Titheridges lived predominantly in Hampshire but there was also a substantial presence in London. The Titheradges were mainly in Hampshire, London and Essex. The Tidridges were mainly in Hampshire, with a small number in Glamorganshire. The Tytheridges and Teatheredges were mainly in London, while the Tutheridges were split between London and Berkshire. 

Distribution by Age and Sex

There were approximately equal numbers of females (228 individuals) and males (231 individuals). 

The age distribution is shown below.
80 individuals aged 0-10 years of age (17%)
78 individuals aged 11-20 years of age (17%)
86 individuals aged 21-30 years of age (19%)
78 individuals aged 31-40 years of age (17%)
53 individuals aged 41-50 years of age (12%)
33 individuals aged 51-60 years of age (7%)
33 individuals aged 61-70 years of age (7%)
13 individuals aged 71-80 years of age (3%)
4 individuals aged 81-90 years of age (1%)

Family Units

The individuals are found on the census living at over 170 different addresses. Most of the family units have less than seven individuals, that is 5 or less children living at home. In general, the large families of 6 -12 children seen in previous censuses have disappeared. There are just three families with 6 or more children at home, they are Edward and Rose Titheradge in Walthamstow with 9 children aged 21 – 0; Philip at Jessie Titheridge in Southampton with 8 children aged 21 – 4 and Benjamin James and Eva Titheridge in Alverstoke with 6 children aged 15 to 0. Many families were living in crowded circumstances with more than one family sharing a house and often families living with parents, in-laws or other family members.

Common Christian Names

The Christian names show that the commonest name was William for males, with 21 individuals called William. Other common names for boys were George, James, Albert, Alfred, John, Herbert, Arthur and Frederick. The commonest name for females was Annie, with 11 individuals called Annie. There was more variation in the women’s names with the other common names for women being Edith, Florence, Mary, Margaret, Dorothy and Ada.  

Find My Past

If you wish to look for your relatives on the 1921 census the link to the search page is

If you find anything interesting in your search do share the information. 

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Wallace Sutton Titheradge - Black Sheep of the Family

Wallace Sutton Titheradge was born into a highly respected theatrical family. He was the son of George Sutton Titheradge, a famous Victorian actor, and his first wife Isabella Murdoch, an actress. More information about George is available at this link . George and Isabella were married in Hendon, Durham in 1871. They had three who survived beyond childhood
  • Henry Augustus Lionel Titheradge born in 1873 in Newcastle (called Augustus)
  • Henriette Louise Titheradge born in 1875 in Portsmouth (called Louise)
  • Sutton Wallace Titheradge (called Wallace) born on 7 March 1877 in Leicester
The family tree can be found at this link  and then scrolling down to Tree 2F.
George and Isabella were happily married until 1876 when George had an affair with actress Alma Saegert. Several months after Wallace’s birth an illegitimate child was born to Alma. In October 1878 George went on a theatre tour of India but instead of returning to Isabella in England he went to Australia. He and Alma settled down together in Melbourne, Victoria and had seven children, including Madge Titheradge, famous actress and Dion Titheradge, famous playwright, producer and actor. 

Isabella was left in England with three children to look after. On the 1881 census she was living in Richmond with Augustus, Wallace and Henriette and her aunt. In 1883 Isabella filed for divorce from George on grounds of adultery and desertion. George briefly returned to England for the divorce hearing and in June 1883 decree nisi was granted, with custody of the children given to Isabella. 

In May 1886 13-year-old Augustus and 9-year-old Wallace were admitted to Latymer’s Foundation School in Hammersmith, having previously attended a private school. In 1888 Isabella remarried to Eugene Tily, a famous engraver and artist and a year later daughter Vera was born. On the 1891 census Isabella, Eugene and Vera were living in Wandsworth, but neither Augustus, Henriette nor Wallace is with them, nor can they be found anywhere on the 1891 census.  

Searching Australian newspapers revealed that 16-year-old Augustus was in Brisbane, Australia by December 1889 appearing on stage in the same play as his father. Searching through passenger lists to Australia I found “Mr Titheradge” a passenger travelling upper class on the Royal Mail Ship Liguria, which arrived in Sydney, New South Wales on 12 June 1889. Travelling with him was “Master Titheradge”. These passengers are Augustus and Wallace. The Liguria set sail from London on 26 April and took nearly 7 weeks to reach Sydney. I find it hard to comprehend that a 16-year-old boy and his 12-year-old brother should travel on their own for seven weeks on board ship to the other side of the world. The journey raises many unanswered questions including, why did they leave their mother? did their father invite them to join him in Australia? did they live with their father and his new family when they arrived in Australia?  

In 1893 tragedy struck when Wallace’s brother Augustus died in Black Heath, New South Wales age 20. Six months later in, May 1894, it would appear that Wallace was spending his father’s money and running up debts. The following was printed in The Sydney Evening News under Public Notices signed by G. S. Titheradge “I Hereby give notice that my son, Wallace Titheradge has no Authority to Pledge my Credit: and I caution tradespeople not to supply goods to him on credit”. The relationship between father and son deteriorated and all reports and articles on George Sutton Titheradge after this date fail to acknowledge Wallace’s existence, and his stepbrother, Dion, is always referred to as his “only son”. In George’s will of 1915, there is also no mention of Wallace.

Wallace’s life in Australia can be followed by the appearance of his name in the newspapers.

In 1896 Wallace sailed from Sydney to Melbourne. On 15 August 1898 he married Helena Maude Moran at St Patrick’s Cathedral Ballarat. In September of the same year he began studying at the School of Mines in Ballarat. This newspaper article appeared on 3 September 1898, “Wallace Titheradge, son of G. S. Titheradge, was married last week to a Ballarat girl. Young Titheradge is now at the School of Mines in Ballarat, doing what he hates – hard work. He tried the stage for a while, his last appearance being the second Indian in a blood curdling drama that ran a week. The rest of the family are living at their beautiful place, Oakbank, Morland.” 

Wallace and Helena had two children 
  • Waldemar Wallace Augustine born in, Ascot Vale Victoria in November 1900
  • Noel Tristram born in Coburg, Victoria in 1904.

Wallace left the School of Mines and tried to make a living on the stage. In June 1900 a review shows he was in a play in Numurkah, Victoria. By December 1901 he was trying his luck at Musical Theatre as shown by this review, “Mr Wallace Titheradge, who is a chip off the old block, has been travelling with small theatrical company to America since his marriage. He has recently taken to cultivating his voice under the care of Mr Robert Kennedy the Melbourne teacher of music and voice production. The young actor is showing considerable promise and is qualifying himself for the lyric stage, but will most likely be content with musical comedy for a start”

In March 1907 a newspaper review said “It is not generally known that Mr G S Titheradge has a son on the stage. Wallace Titheradge was occupying a position at the Ballarat School of Mines but left to join a touring dramatic company. He had previously played small parts in an obscure organization in Melbourne. He much resembles his talented father in voice and appearance. Indeed, the unconscious reproduction of some of the star’s mannerisms is ludicrous. Wallace Titheradge is the possessor of an excellent baritone and was a chorister in Mr George Musgroves’s last grand opera company.” 

Wallace was not successful at making a career on the stage. By January 1906 he was supplementing acting by working as an assurance agent.

Sometime before 1911 Wallace had left his wife, Helena, and their two children and went to New Zealand. I have found no record of a divorce and Helena never remarried. She remained in the Melbourne area and died in Coburg in 1929.

In December 1911 34-year-old Wallace and 20-year-old Eileen Mary Fanning had a son, Loyal Anthony Titheradge, born in Fielding, New Zealand. Their second child Mignon Marie Therese Titheradge was born in 1914 in Wellington, New Zealand. Wallace and Eileen returned to Australia and in 1922 a third child Rosary Alma Eileen Titheradge was born in Australia in Bendigo, Victoria. By 1931 Eileen and Wallace had separated and Eileen married in 1931 in South Australia. 

In November 1920 the first reports of Wallace’s wrong doings have been found in the newspapers, but there may have been other incidents before this. The newspaper reports show he was charged with false pretences. He had been posing as a travelling salesman from Melbourne and taking orders for his goods with advance payment, with the promise the goods would be sent from Melbourne. The goods never materialised for any of his orders. He was brought to the magistrate’s court at Riverton, South Australia and sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. In January 1921 he was charged with similar offences at Adelaide and sentenced to 6 months imprisonment for offences at Clare and 6 months for the same offences at Kooringa.

In October 1930 Wallace was in Grafton, New South Wales and was fined for being drunk. He was then arrested by Bellingen Police and charged on warrant for refusing to pay the sum of £3 12s and 3d for meals and accommodation. He was discharged for this offence.

By June 1931 Wallace was in Queensland and was charged at Bundaberg (near Brisbane) with intent to defraud. He was making false claims that a powder he was selling would produce a saving in the consumption of coal. He was held on remand for selling the powder under false pretences. 

In 1942 Wallace, aged 65, Wallace was living in North Adelaide and was reported as drunk and resisting arrest. He was fined for being drunk, but the other offence was dismissed. 

In 1949 Wallace was on the Electoral roll for Launceston, Tasmania and is listed as a pensioner. He remained in Launceston until 1955 when he died on 19 January age 77 and he was buried at Carr Villa Cemetery, Launceston.

Wallace seems to have led a very nomadic life. There are newspaper reports of him living in over 12 different places. The areas where he is known to have lived include 
1898-1900 Victoria
1911-1914 New Zealand
1920 South Australia
1922 Victoria
1930 New South Wales
1931 Queensland
1942 South Australia
1949 Tasmania. 
One cannot help but wonder if the constant moving was to evade justice from other charges of fraud and to avoid people to whom he owed money. There may well be other incidents of fraud which are yet to be found and Wallace is known to have used at least one alias of Wallace Tatham.

Please get in touch if you can add more to this story.

Saturday 31 July 2021

The Will of James Titheridge of Westminster - 1766

Westminster area of London today

When searching the National Archives website for the Titheridge surname I came across a 255 year old will. It was the will of James Titheridge, a carpenter from St Margaret, Westminster, London who died in 1766. 

The Will of James Titheridge

The will of James Titheridge is transcribed below, some bits were difficult to read and may not make sense. A “?” has been inserted where the words are illegible. 

James Titheridge

In the name of God Amen. 

This is the last will and testament of me James Titheridge of St Margaret Westminster carpenter.

I give to Sarah Gashey of St Albans the sum of ffive pounds.

I give to ? ?Dawson the sum of ffive pounds.

I give to James Burdon ffive pounds in trust to pay the same into the proper hands of Mary Carwood wife of William Carwood for her separate use.

I give all my leasehold and messuages or tenements situated in Strutton Ground and ?? in the parish of St John the Evangelist Westminster and elsewhere in Westminster and all my right ?tithe estate interest and term of years therein and also all the residue and remainder of my estate whatsoever real and personal unto Anne Burdon wife of James Burdon her executors administrators and ? forever and I appoint the said Anne Burdon Executrix of this my will and hereby revoking all other wills. 

I do declare this to be my last will and testament. In writing whereof I have here unto set my hand and seal this thirtieth day of January 1765. 

James Titheridge signed sealed delivered published and declared by the within named James Titheridge as his last will and testament in the presence of George Stubbs and George Stubbs junior.

The will was proved at London on 22 January 1766. Administration was granted to the named Executrix, Anne Burdon wife of James Burdon.

Who was James Titheridge?

James Titheridge was a mystery because in the records I had found there were no known Titheridge family members living in London area at this time.

James’ burial was recorded on 26 January 1766 at St John the Evangelist, Smith Square, London. His surname has been transcribed as Titteridge.  The burial record for James does not give an age so there is no clue to his year of birth.

The will suggests that our carpenter, James, had enough money and possessions to need a will. The lack of the Titheridge surname in the will suggests he had no living sons or wife.

Beneficiaries of the Will

I hoped the clue to James’ identity was would lie in the names of the beneficiaries of the will. I expected the beneficiaries to be James’ daughters. I looked unsuccessfully for Titheridge marriages to Burdon and Carwood, but nothing was found. 

There was no success in finding Sarah Gashey of St Albans, the nearest possibility I found was the death of Sarah Gazely in St Albans in 1769. The unknown person with the surname Dawson remained a complete mystery. 

I found the marriage of Mary to William Carwood which took place on 8 August 1757 in St John the Evangelist in Smith Square, London. Her maiden name is recorded as Gray. The witnesses at the wedding are Hannah Cooke and James Titheridge. James has signed his own name as James Titheridge.

I found the marriage of Anne to James Burdon. They married on 26 February 1759 in St John the Evangelist in Smith Square, London. Anne’s maiden name was shown as Grasly in the banns and Gaseley in the marriage records. The witnesses at the wedding are Ann Nicholson and James Titheridge and again James has signed his own name.

It is possible that these beneficiaries are James’s nieces or cousins. Phonetic spelling and poor writing in the records are an issue, but it is tempting to speculate that Sarah, Mary and Ann all have the same surname, although what it is remains unknown beyond it starting with G !. 

Titheridge or Titteridge

James surname is clearly written as Titheridge in the will and both witness signatures. Reviewing the eighteenth-century records for Westminster shows there are no other records for Titheridges in the area. Individuals with the surname Titteridge were present in Westminster. This raises the question “Are these the same family group just with the surname spelt incorrectly or transcribed incorrectly?” Titteridges appear in Westminster between 1709 and 1790, sometimes the name is recorded as Tutteridge, as well as other spelling variations. By the 1841 census there are no Titteridges residing in Westminster or London. 

James Titheridge and the Titteridges all lived in Westminster, St Margaret.  The area of Westminster had grown up around Westminster Abbey, Parliament and the royal palace.  In the eighteenth century it was part of the county of Middlesex and was a separate place from the City of London. St Margaret was one of nine parishes in Westminster.  In 1700 Westminster contained a population of 130,000 inhabitants. In the 1700s London Rate Books and Land Tax records Titteridges lived in Palace Yard, St Ann’s Lane, Dacre Street, Lindsay Lane, Duke’s Court, Petty France and Gardner’s Lane. Today this is the area around Westminster Abbey and Victoria Station.  


The only baptism I can find for a James Titheridge who might be the right age is a James born to Joshua and Margery in 1696 in Kingsclere, Hampshire. This James disappears from the Hampshire records. The only evidence to support suggestion is on burial of James’ nephew, Joseph, in Basingstoke in 1736 it refers to his parents as “Joseph and Margery of London”. If James’ brother was living in London maybe James was too. There is also a record of Joseph Titheridge of Basingstoke who is in the Fleet Prison, London for debt in 1739. The connection is speculative and not proved. No records have produced a satisfactory answer to the question of “Who is James Titheridge”. Unless more records become available online containing a vital clue, then James’ identity will remain a mystery.

If you have come across any records that might help solve this mystery please get in touch.

Friday 4 June 2021

James Titheridge – A Habitual Criminal?

Register of Habitual Criminals

I recently discovered a new record set on Ancestry, “The UK, Register of Habitual Criminals”. The registers were created on the release of prisoners from prisons in England and Wales between 1881 and 1925. They were created for the purpose of enabling future detection of repeat offenders. The records gave the prisoner’s name, place and date of birth, description and details of convictions and sentence. When I searched the data set I found a few familiar names known to be on the wrong side of the law, but there was one name I had not come across in this context before - James Titheridge. 

In the register James was listed as born in 1854 in Eastleigh, Hampshire, 5 feet 11 ¾ inches tall, fair complexion with brown hair and blue eyes. His crime had been fowl stealing for which he served 3 months in Winchester Goal from 31 December 1895 to 30 March 1896. The records showed he had eleven previous convictions. His distinguishing features were listed as his tattoos described as “Front: woman and wreath; Back: woman, cross flags, cross swords and tree; Left forearm: heart pierced by arrow; Back left hand: ring first, second and third left fingers; Right forearm: peacock, cross, star and man holding flag”. My curiosity was aroused, and I wanted to find out more about James, this habitual criminal.

James Titheridge’s Family from Portswood

It is amazing how much you can find out about your ancestors, even ones who are just labourers, from the records now available online. With the aid of censuses, parish records, military records, GRO records and my favourite source, British Newspaper Archive, I have pieced together the story of James.

My first question was “Who was James Titheridge?” While Titheridge is a very rare surname, I had seven possible candidates for James Titheridge born within two years of 1854 in Hampshire. Research showed James was one of eleven children born to John Titheridge and Mary Ashton in the South Stoneham area of Hampshire. James’ family tree can be found at this link

James’ father, John, worked on the railways as a signalman. The family lived in the Bishopstoke and Portswood areas near Southampton. On the 1861 census 7-year-old James was living at 8 Barton Cottages, South Stoneham with his parents and siblings. On the 1871 census he was still living with his parents and sibling but now at Portswood Road, South Stoneham and he was working as a railway labourer. 

In August 1870 James’ name first appeared in the newspapers, charged with being one of 6 boys who stole a live goose from the Old Priory in St Denys. He was discharged with a caution.

James’ Service in the Royal Artillery

On 26 May 1873 James joined the Royal Artillery. He served for 6 years 100days. The records show that he was a gunner who served in the 10th Brigade of the Royal Artillery, serving for over 5 years in Malta. His Chelsea Pension and Discharge Records show his conduct was fair and his name appeared on the Defaulters Register three times, but he was never court-martialled. His medical records show lots of minor medical incidents but in May 1879 he suffered from heart palpitations while in Malta. He was sent back to England in July 1879 and appeared before the invaliding board at Herbert Hospital, Woolwich in August 1879. The result of this examination concluded that his disability was permanent and he was discharged from the army on grounds of ill health. It was thought that the disability would, to a certain extent, prevent him earning his own livelihood in civil employ. He was discharged with a pension, but it only appears to have been for 18 months.

23-year-old James returned home to his parents. In October 1879 he was employed as a cleaner on the London and Southwestern Railways based at Northam Station, Southampton. In June 1880 he left the post due to ill health. On the 1881 census James was again living with his parents and siblings in Old Porstwood and was now employed as a railway porter. 

Marriage of James Titheridge and Lily Bess Hand

Sometime between 1881 and 1891 James’ parents, John and Mary, moved to West Dean, Wiltshire, with John still employed as a railway signal man. It was in West Dean that James met local girl, Lily Bess Hand, who was a nurse, and was fifteen years his junior. They were married on 6 December 1890. On the 1891 census James and Lily were living in South Stoneham at 27 Andover Terrace with James now listed as a blacksmith, labourer on South Western Rail. The 1901census showed the family living at 13 Brooklyn Road, Portswood and the 1911 census showed them living at 95 Belgrave Road, Portswood. 

Lily and James had 11 children

Florence Mabel Titheridge born 1891 died 1893

Reginald Frank Titheridge born 1892 died 1930

Frances Ethel May Titheridge born 1893

Florence Lily Titheridge born 1894

Amelia Kathleen Titheridge born 1896 died 1897

Edith Ann Titheridge born 1898

Violet Winifred Mary Titheridge born 1899 died 1917

Victor James Titheridge born 1901 died 1986

Albert Edward Charles Titheridge born 1903 died 1941

William John Titheridge born 1904 died 1978

Frederick Sydney Titheridge born 1909 died 1989

Eight of the children survived to adulthood. Florence Mabel died age 2 and Amelia died aged less than a year. Violet was recorded as a cripple on the 1911 census and she died in 1917 age 17. The story of Amelia’s death has been written about at this link.    

James’ Criminal Activity

Using the Habitual Criminal Register and British Newspaper Archive I have managed to put together the criminal activities of James. His crimes are summarised below:-

November 1881 Stealing Money, sentenced to 1 calendar month imprisonment

February 1883 Trespass in search of game, case dismissed

October 1884 Stealing a spade(worth 1s 6d), sentenced to 1 calendar month imprisonment

August 1892 Stealing a fowl sentenced to 1 calendar month imprisonment

September 1892 Stealing a saw sentenced to 21days imprisonment

October 1983 Stealing sash fasteners, sentenced to 21 days imprisonment

December 1893 Stealing a fowl, sentenced to 6 weeks imprisonment

January 1896 Stealing seven fowl (worth 14s), sentenced to three calendar months imprisonment 

November 1899 Trespassing and stealing conies (rabbits) sentenced to 21 days imprisonment or £1 fine

May 1900 Trespassing in search of conies fined 30 shillings

September 1901 Trespassing in search of conies, fined £2 or a month imprisonment.

There were also 4 other poaching offences between 1882 and 1895. All the gaol sentences were served in Winchester gaol. After 1901 there appears to be no more charges brought against him - at least none have been discovered. Did he reform? or did he get better at avoiding detection when poaching?

Death of Lily Titheridge and James Titheridge

Lily died in 1914 age 45. The eldest son was 22 and the two oldest girls were married but this left James to look after 6 children Elizabeth 16, Violet 15, Victor 13, Albert 11, William 10 and Frederick 5. Nothing further is known about James. He does not appear on the 1939 register and it seems most likely that he is the James Titheridge who died in Winchester in September quarter 1936 age 83. The location of Winchester is possible as his son, John, was living in Winchester in 1939.

A Habitual Criminal?

Do I think my research has found a habitual criminal? No I don’t. Eleven of the offences were for poaching for fowl or rabbits and the others for stealing very small items. I think James, like many agricultural labourers, struggled to feed his large growing family on a labourer’s wages. He was willing to provide for them by any means at his disposal. In Victorian rural society poaching was accepted among the working classes as a normal part of rural life, often essential for survival.

Thursday 29 April 2021

Calamity at 69 Moscow Road, Bayswater

The headlines in the newspapers said, “Calamity at Bayswater”. This blog is the story behind these headlines. The story is set in the Bayswater area of London and begins on 30 September 1869, a day which lead to tragedy for the Titheradge family.

In these days Bayswater was mainly an upper-class area full of splendid houses for the wealthy and prosperous. Set back from the main roads were other smaller roads that housed the less well-off and were slum areas. Quarter of a mile from Queen Victoria’s Kensington Palace was Moscow Road and this was one of these slum areas. It was a narrow, overcrowded thoroughfare that led onto Queens Road and consisted of small terraced houses squashed together. Towards the Queens Road end of Moscow Road was a row of little shops; a baker, a grocer, a confectioner, a butcher, then came Poplar Place and on the other corner was the Kings Head pub. In the confectioner’s shop (69 Moscow Road) lived Edward Titheradge. He rented the property from the Metropolitan Railway Company which had opened the nearby Bayswater Station in 1868. 69 Moscow Road consisted of four rooms plus an underground kitchen at the back of the house. The front room was the shop, with the parlour behind and on the first floor were two bedrooms. There was no bathroom and a water closet (toilet) was situated at the end of the garden. 37-year-old Edward lived there with his wife Eliza and their six children, Sarah 15, Henry 13, Anne 12, Elizabeth 7, Emma 5 and Edward 3. To make ends meet Edward rented out the front bedroom to Mrs Jack and her children, Agnes 17 and Henry 14. On this fateful day Mrs Jack’s 28-year-old son Stewart, a teacher, was also visiting for the school holidays. Twelve people were living in this small terraced house.

On this overcast day of Thursday 30 September everyone in the house began their daily routines, no one aware of the horrors that were to happen. The family arose and the younger children, Henry, Anne, Elizabeth and Emma, went off to school at nearby St Matthew’s School. With the children at school, Eliza began her daily chores, keeping an eye on Edward at the same time. Using her mangle, she did washing for the neighbourhood, an occupation that brought in extra money that the family needed for survival. 

Sarah went into the shop and opened up for the day. At 15 years old she had finished her education and she looked after the family shop. Edward had previously been a plumber but had to give this up as he was suffering severe rheumatism and was in constant pain, unable to move freely and some days he was bedridden. Edward lay on the settee in the parlour and from there he could see into the shop through the glass door. He would give instructions to Sarah as needed. The little confectionery shop sold sweets, tobacco, haberdashery, newspapers, stationery, toys, fireworks and “red and green fires” (these were used in theatres). The fireworks consisted of rockets, catherine wheels, squibs, roman candles and crackers, which were all safely stored in the glass cabinets on the walls between the shop and the parlour. Edward had previously held a licence to sell fireworks but his renewal application had been refused, so the fireworks were being sold illegally. Sarah passed the day serving the customers and tidying the stock. As evening approached the light faded and Sarah lit the two gas lamps in the shop and the gaslight in the parlour for her father.

At teatime Eliza fed the family and then the young children, Elizabeth, Emma and Edward said goodnight and went upstairs to the back bedroom and quickly fell asleep in the double bed. At seven o’clock Sarah closed the shop for the day and went off to stay with friends for the night. Henry had a friend called Charles Newton visiting and they went downstairs to the underground kitchen, they chatted and then fell asleep. Anne changed for bed then sat on the sofa with her father and rested her head on him and fell asleep. At 10.30 Eliza said it was time for bed. She went into the shop and put the gas lights out, leaving the gas light on in the parlour. Eliza went up the stairs leaving Edward on the settee, as he could no longer climb the stairs, with Anne sleeping beside him. Eliza settled down next to her three sleeping children and quickly fell asleep.

In the front bedroom, above the shop, Mrs Jack, Agnes and Henry had had an exciting day welcoming home Stewart for the school holidays. As evening arrived the family celebrated Stewart’s return with a meal cooked in their room and then sat round and chatted. The Jack family settled down for the night, put out their candles and went to sleep.

The only person left awake in the house was Edward. He tossed and turned unable to sleep because of the pain. Eventually, exhausted, he closed his eyes at 2.30 and dosed, blissfully unaware of the ensuing danger.

In the streets around Bayswater two policemen walked their lonely beats, it was a quiet night. As the policeman walked past 69 Moscow Road all was quiet. The clocks struck twelve and the first day of October arrived. One o’clock and all was well. Two o’clock and all well.

In the Queens Road fire station, the fireman on duty slept soundly, the rest of the crew slept in a nearby house in the neighbourhood.

All was quiet, time passed and fire smouldered. At five to three Edward awoke with a start – a hissing noise, a red glow through the door to the shop, the smell of smoke wafting through the door from the shop – a fire!! “Mother come down” he shouted in panic. Anne, woken by the shout, was terrified by the sight of the flames and the red glow coming through the glass door from the shop. She screamed “Mother” and then she ran out of the parlour into the passageway and out of the front door into bracing cold night air Moscow Road dressed only in her nightshirt. She ran to bakers, next door but one, and knocked furiously on the door looking for help, “Go away” the baker shouted. 

In the house Eliza came down into the parlour and saw the flames “My children” she screamed. She called for Henry in the basement and then turned and ran back towards the stairs. By this time the flames had spread from the shop into the passageway and onto the stairs. The acrid smoke hit her throat and she could not breathe, the heat was intense – she could not reach the upstairs bedroom where her children were. With the passageway ablaze, she could not reach the front door. She ran back into the parlour and to back door, the only means of escape.

Edward managed to move from the sofa to the floor despite the pain and dragged himself to the back door, then rolled down the steps into the garden. Henry and Charles rushed from the basement to see what all the commotion was about and helped Edward to the safety of the water closet at the end of the garden.

There was no sound heard from the Jack family in the front bedroom.

The policeman was in Bayswater Road when he saw smoke, then flames and sprung his rattle to raise the alarm and ran towards the source of the smoke. In Victorian London there were no phones, no source of quick assistance. When he arrived at 69 Moscow Road the flames licked the front of the property, rescue of the occupants was impossible. Aroused by the noise, a second policeman arrived and he ran to the fire station, just 400 yards away to raise the alarm. 

The flames danced and smoke billowed and suddenly, without warning, there was a mighty explosion that blew out the front of the shop and the shutters and the upstairs windows of the bedroom over the shop. Neighbours opened their windows to see what was happening. The cry of “fire” could be heard along the road. Many neighbours rushed to help, seeing entry to the front of the house was impossible they ran to the back of the house. They tried to find a ladder, but none could be found. Eliza screamed hysterically “My children, my children”. Someone said, “the children are safe”.

At the fire station the fireman on duty was woken by the policeman. The fireman ran to a neighbouring house to wake the other two sleeping fireman. He then ran back to the station and telegraphed other stations for additional engines and an escape ladder. He then prepared the fire engine and attached the horse to it. Finally, the horse powered engine and three firemen set off. At the inquest the fireman said they got to the fire in less than 8 minutes but the consensus of opinion of the witnesses in Moscow Road said it was 20 minutes before the firemen arrived. During this time all the horrified neighbours could do was stand and watch 69 Moscow Road burn. 

When the firemen arrived, they set to work. Other firemen arrived to assist including the fire escape ladder. The fire was put out relatively quickly, but it had already virtually destroyed the house. The firemen had been working for a while before anyone told them that there were people unaccounted for. As dawn broke the bodies of the Jack family could be seen in the first-floor bedroom on the upstairs rafters. When the firemen entered the building, they found 3 little bodies of the Titheradge children in the back bedroom. The cry that the children that were safe had referred to the children next door, not to Edward and Eliza’s children. 

The seven dead bodies, Elizabeth, Emma, Edward, Mrs Jack, Stewart, Henry and Agnes were taken to the Paddington dead house. 

69 Moscow Road after the fire. 

In daylight the extent of the damage could be seen, a shell of a house was all that remained, even the roof had gone. Luckily the fire had not spread to the adjoining properties which were only slightly damaged. Edward was taken to St Mary’s Hospital, the family were taken in by nearby family and distraught Eliza was comforted. A fund was started to support the family with £56 raised. The West of England Fire and Life Insurance paid out £200 compensation on the insurance policy. A week later the Jack family and Titheradge children were buried in Old Paddington Cemetery, which was situated in rural Willesden.

An inquest was held on the seven dead. It was set to be held at a public house but the crowds were so great it had to be moved to Vestry Hall. A doctor gave evidence that the cause of death of the seven victims was suffocation from the smoke. The Fire Service gave evidence that the fire had originated in the shop. The cause of the fire was debated. The fireworks or the “red and green fires” were cited as a possible cause, but spontaneous combustion was considered impossible by an expert. The gas meter was also considered as a possible cause, but it was concluded it exploded as a result of the heat and was not the cause of the fire. The jury concluded that the was no evidence to show how the fire originated, but it was agreed the fire was intensified by the presence of the fireworks. The inquest recommended that the fire service in Queens Road should be improved. The alarming fact to everyone was that a house a few minutes’ walk from a Metropolitan Fire Station could be destroyed and so many lives lost.

The Titheradge family moved to 75 Moscow Road and by the 1871 census 69 Moscow Road had been rebuilt. Edward died in 1874 and Eliza remarried in 1876. Sarah, Henry and Anne all married and had families, Henry being my husband’s great grandfather. The slum houses of Moscow Road were rebuilt in the late 19th century and then redeveloped again, probably around 1960s. All that remains as a landmark is the Kings Head pub and that too has been rebuilt. 

The tragedy was extreme even by Victorian times and the accident was reported far and wide in newspapers from Scotland to Cornwall. It is from these hundreds of accounts of the incident in the British Newspaper Archives that I have been able to put together this story. There are many conflicting facts in the newspaper reports and this account is the best guess of what happened based on the evidence. Sadly, the tragedy that happened at 69 Moscow road was a story that was forgotten in the family. By 1990 there was no knowledge of this dreadful event among any branch of the family.

Monday 5 April 2021

Hazards of the Road

I always assumed that road safety was a modern problem, but reading old newspaper reports on the British Newspaper Archive suggests that it is a problem that has been around for many years. I have found historic reports of accidents and misdemeanors involving family members and all forms of transport including horse, horse and cart, bicycle, omnibus, motorbike, lorry and motor car. Here are a few of the reports I have found (quotes from the newspaper are written in italics).

Hampshire Advertiser 21 August 1869

“On Sunday, Henry Titheridge, a lad of 10 years of age, was knocked down by a horse on Bevois Hill and sustained several severe bruises about the head which rendered him insensible for some time.”

London Daily News 13 June 1877

The paper reported the case of John Teatheredge who was a driver of an omnibus and who was charged with manslaughter after hitting a pedestrian. He was later found innocent of the charge. His story has been told at this link. 

The Hampshire Independent 28 April 1883

“William Titheridge, a well-known dealer, at Swanmore, made his appearance before the Bench to answer to a summons charging him with being drunk whilst in charge of a horse and cart at Waltham on 21st inst. Defendant denied the charge, but as there were several witnesses called to prove the offence, the bench fined William £1 and costs. The same defendant was also summoned by the police for furiously driving his horse and cart on the same day and place. William drove furiously and ran into a cart, and it was well proven that he was not in a condition to hold the reins: fined £1 and costs.”

Hampshire 23 September 1885 

“Street Accident – At ten minutes to six o’clock on Monday evening Alfred Tidridge, Amplefield Cottage, Foundry Lane, Millbrook, was driving a horse and cart, the property of Mr Lowman, up East Street, when a boy named Frederick Leavey , of 6 St George’s Place ran across the street, and before the man could pull up the boy was knocked down, the wheels passing over his back, but the boy did not appear to be much hurt”

Portsmouth Evening News 16 November 1903

“Noah Titheridge, of Waltham Chase, summoned for driving a cart to which no lighted lamp was attached on the 7th inst. He explained that his candle had burned out and he was waiting for the lamp to cool before inserting another. The explanation was accepted and the summons dismissed.”

Hampshire Chronicle 3 September 1904

“Sleepy Driver – Noah Titheridge, a carter, was summoned for being asleep whilst in charge of a horse and cart on the Portchester Road. Police Constable Ballard said he found the man asleep and had previously cautioned him. Defendant admitted being “dosey” as he has not had any sleep for three nights. He was ordered to pay the costs.”

The Salisbury Times 17 August 1906

The paper reported the case of a “motor smash”, at Shedfield and the subsequent claim for damages. The plaintiff was Noah Titheridge, a market gardener, of The Chase, Bishop’s Waltham and the defendant, Dr Marsh, of Amesbury. The plaintiff’s claim was for £29 1s 11d for damage sustained by reason of the negligent driving of a motor car by the defendant, while the defendant entered a counter claim of £28 19s for damage sustained by the negligence of plaintiff’s servant or agent, when in charge of a horse and cart.

“At 10.15pm on 22 June plaintiff’s son, Noah John Titheridge was driving a horse and empty cart. The road was straight for about 500 yards and at the time Titheridge was driving in the centre of the road, which was from 16ft to 20ft in width. He saw a motor car coming along the centre of the road towards him, and he pulled to the near side of the road, close to the grass patch. When the car was 20 yards off Titheridge shouted “Hi Sir” to the motorist, “look where you are going”. The car, which was going at 12 to 15 miles an hour, was being driven by the defendant, and it swerved to the wrong side of the road and went straight into the plaintiff’s horse. The car was three inches from the wrong side of the road when the collision occurred. It lifted the horse on to the motor car, its feet hanging over the steering wheel. The force of the impact threw Titheridge out of the cart and the horse was struck on the foreleg and had to be destroyed.”

Evidence was given for the defendant, but the judge considered the plaintiff’s version as the correct one and found in favour of Noah. The paper reported the judge said

“Motor car drivers assumed that they had a right to the road as against everyone else. They thought that all they had to do was to sound their hooters, and then they were justified in mangling a person out of the way if he did not move and with reckless disregard of the property of poor people they rushed through villages.”

Hampshire Chronicle 22 August 1908

"Asleep in Charge – Noah Titheridge, a market gardener, of Bishop’s Waltham, was fined 5s for being asleep in his wagon on Porchester Road, Cosham." 

Newcastle Journal 2 May 1914

"The inquest into the death of a boy: “Arthur Charles Titheridge, a chauffeur in the employ of Mr Peter Norman Haggie, The Chase, Whickham stated that on Thursday he was driving home from Newcastle. When he heard children playing on the village green he slowed down to about five miles per hour. When about ten yards from the village green he saw a boy dash out on to the road after a ball. The boy was running fast and seemed to have his attention concentrated on the ball. As witness was blowing the exhaust whistle, he thought the boy would notice it, but he did not, and witness shouted. Witness saw than an accident was inevitable and pulled the car on to the pavement. The boy was caught by the left mudguard. Witness picked the boy up and took him to Dr Smith’s surgery, where he died about five minutes later. A verdict of accidental death was returned."

The Thanet Advertiser 24 May 1919 

The paper report the fatal accident of Ainslie Burton Tytheridge killed while riding a motorcycle. This story has been told previously on the blog at this link

East Kent Gazette 2 October 1926

The paper reported a claim for damages in a case of a collision between a car and a motorcycle which occurred on May 4th on Graveney Bridge, on the Whitstable Road. Alfred Henry Jackson who was the rider of the motorcycle, claimed £20 damages against the car drive, Edward H Titheradge of Walthamstow. The latter counter-claimed for over £14. 

“The Plaintiff said he slowed down to 12-15 miles an hour to cross the bridge and was only 3ft from the parapet on his correct side when the car came from the opposite direction and caught him on the offside. The defendant’s story was that the plaintiff came round at forty miles an hour with his head down and swerve to his left. Other evidence showed that the motorcycle was on the cyclist’s near side of the road about 4ft from the parapet. His honour found for the plaintiff for the amount claimed and dismissed the counter claim”

Portsmouth Evening News 25 October 1938

“There was a sequel to the accident on the Winchester Road Wickham on October 5, in which a car driven by Henry E Preece, a public works foreman, of the Bold Forester Inn, Sorberton, was alleged to have swerved across the road and overturned a car driven by Rupert V Titheridge, garage proprietor of Templeogue, Southbourne. Preece was fined £5 and had to pay £1 5s costs and his licence was suspended for one month for driving without due care and attention and later Titheridge was summoned for driving an uninsured car, and Coron S Biddlescombe, a Prinstead school teacher, owner of the car, was summoned for permitting the offence. The case against Titheridge, who said he understood the car was insured was dismissed under the Probation of Offenders Act, and that against Biddlescombe was proved and dismissed on payment of costs.”

Hampshire Telegraph 15 September 1939

The paper reported the accident on 12 September 1939 when Dayrell Titheridge was killed when his motorbike collided with a car at Selbourne. This story has been told in an earlier blog at this link.

Hampshire Telegraph 29 December 1939

The paper reported cyclists who were fined for failing to halt at a traffic sign when riding their auto-cycle, the list included Grace Titheridge of Highfield Road, Gosport.

Portsmouth Evening News 19 September 1949

“Killed in Alton Collision: Irene May Daniel (28) of East End, East Finchley was killed and her husband and parents Percy Daniels and Mr and Mrs H W Fisher of Crowborough Road were seriously injured, on Saturday evening, when the car in which Mrs Daniels was in collision with a lorry on the Winchester Road, Alton. Mr Daniels and Mr and Mrs Fisher were taken to Alton General Hospital and were detained. The lorry was laden with potatoes. Its driver, James Walter Titheridge, of 9 Council Houses, North Boarhunt, near Fareham was uninjured. The inquest opens at Alton this afternoon.”

Uxbridge and W Drayton Gazette 18 December 1953

The paper reports an Ambulance driver, Stanley Edwards, who was £3 with £8 10s costs at Uxbridge Court on Monday and had his licence endorsed for careless driving. A summons of dangerous driving was dismissed.

"The driver of the lorry involved, Edward Titheridge, of Wealdstone said that he was driving his lorry loaded with oxygen cylinders, down Station Road, Hayes on August 20 when, at the junction with North Hyde Road an ambulance which was crossing the road put on speed and there was a collision. “he hit me and my lorry turned over and I was trapped in the cab but unhurt”, he said. PC Miles said that he went to the scene of the accident and Edwards told him “I was crossing Station Road from North Hyde Road going from West to East. I had stopped behind some stationary lorries. After they had gone, I followed them, looking both ways. There was ample time for me to follow on. The lorry came on and hit my nearside rear”. In court Edwards said that he had helped extricate the driver after the vehicle had overturned. He could not account for how the accident had occurred."

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Alfred Titheradge and The Home for Little Boys

From the British Newspaper Archive
 Morning Advertiser 22 December 1865
The result of the ballot for entry into the Home for Little Boys
An entry for the 1871 census for the Home for Little Boys in Horton Kirby reads :
“Alfred Titheridge, inmate, unmarried, age 11, scholar, “no information available” for where born.

Alfred was one of 270 inmates at The Home for Little Boys on the 1871 census. Since first finding this record I have asked the questions “What was the Home for Little Boys? and “Why was Alfred in a Home for Little Boys, 25 miles from home, when both his parents were still alive?”

What was The Home for Little Boys?

In 1863 W H Williams, Robert Culling Hanbury MP and A D Charles met and agreed to create a home for little boys. These three philanthropists wanted to create an alternative to the grim institutions that were available in Victorian London. Unlike the other institutions they planned to only take children under 10 years old, whereas the other institutions only took older boys. They wanted to provide a place for homeless and destitute boys and those that were in danger of falling into crime. The aim was to feed, educate, clothe and train the boys. The children were to be educated “in the fear of God and the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures” but the education was to be unsectarian.

The home was established in 1864, with the original premises situated at Coombes Croft House, on the Tottenham High Road. The first inmates were admitted in April 1864 and by August of that year the home had 77 boys. In less than 2 years the house was full. The committee decided more space was needed and in January 1866 the committee agreed the best land on offer for expansion was in rural Kent, near the Farningham Road Station, in Horton Kirby. They purchased the 19 acres of land for £1800. Later they expanded with the purchase of more acres. On 7 July 1866 Princess Alexandra of Denmark (wife of Edward VII) laid the foundation stone for the new buildings.

The new premises were organised on the “cottage home principal” with a little village of cottages. There was a husband and wife in charge of each house, with 30 boys living under their roof. The first five houses were staffed by a tailor, baker, gardener, farmer and drill sergeant. Other houses were added later making 10 in all and further trades were added to include printing, carpentry, boot making and laundry. Buildings included a school (which was also a chapel), workshop, stores and dwelling houses. The aim was to educate the boys and to teach them a craft and to give them an opportunity to take an apprenticeship in a trade, then send them out to the world equipped for life.

On 5 June 1867 the first four houses at Horton Kirby were complete and the boys were brought from Tottenham to Farningham Road Station. From there they marched a mile to the home, led by a drum and fife band.

The home was financed by subscriptions from benefactors. It took in boys of all ages under 10 and from all backgrounds. The boys that were admitted to the home were destitute, extremely poor and with no means to provide for themselves. Some were orphans, some were forsaken by their parents and in some  cases the parents were just unable to look after them. One of the aims of the home was to prevent the boys becoming vagrants or criminals. In the year 1862, in Victorian London, 311 boys under the age of 10 had been apprehended by the Metropolitan Police for a variety of offences. There were certainly more children needing the home than there were spaces. 

Admission was done periodically on a ballot system. Each benefactor had one or more vote depending on how much they had donated. A list of applicants was put together and the benefactors voted for who they thought were the most deserving cases. Each child was seen and approved before being added to the list. The particulars of each child were on the voting paper and subscribers were asked to vote on the merits of each case. The children with the most votes in the ballot were awarded places, the number of places depending on the number of vacancies.

For over 80 years the home flourished. However, the Children’s Act of 1948 had an adverse effect on the institution and financial difficulties followed. In 1952 it was taken over by Kent County Council and closed in 1961.

Who was Alfred Titheradge?

Alfred was the son of Edward Eatrill Titheradge. Edward’s family had left Portsmouth in search of work and a better life and had arrived in the Paddington area of London in 1836. They lived in the Moscow Road area of Bayswater. The road was just a quarter of a mile from Queen Victoria’s Royal Kensington Palace, but London brought together the richest houses with the poorest slums. While many of the roads in the area were full of large houses belonging to wealthy men, Moscow Road was an area of poverty. Perhaps not quite the utopia that the family had been hoping for when they left Hampshire.

Edward married Eliza Peters on 31 May 1852 at Paddington, St James. They too settled in Moscow Road, moving around the rented properties. In 1861 they were at 85 Moscow Road, in 1869 at 69 Moscow Road and 1871 at 75 Moscow Road. There is evidence to show that in 1869 Edward and Eliza lived with their children in a small 2 bedroomed terrace property. They shared the house with another family of four. The Titheradges occupied a parlour,  one bedroom and a basement kitchen. The front of the property was a little confectioners shop where they made a living. Eliza also took in washing to make enough money to feed the family. The conditions were overcrowded and almost certainly unsanitary and squalid. Edward initially worked as a painter but by 1861 his trade was a plumber. However, Edward suffered from poor health and by 1869 was an invalid suffering what was described as “rheumatic gout”. He was forced to give up plumbing and make his living from the confectioners shop at the front of their house, with his eldest daughter Sarah as the salesperson. 

Edward and Eliza had 8 children. These were 
Emma Eliza Titheradge born 1852, died 1862 age 9
Sarah Ann Titheradge born 1854 died 1910
Henry John Titheradge born 1855 died 1915
Annie Sophia Titheradge born 1857 died 1929
Alfred Titheradge born 1859 died 1902
Elizabeth Emma Titheradge born 1862 died 1869 age 7
Emma Eliza Titheradge born 1864 died 1869 age 5
Edward Hetrell Titheradge born 1866 died 1869 age 3

How did Alfred come to be at the Home?

In December 1865 the family consisted of 6 children Sarah 11, Henry 10, Annie 8, Alfred 6, Elizabeth 3 and Emma 1. Saturday 16 December 1865 was the day that gave Alfred the chance of a new beginning as there was a vote for places at the Home for Little Boys and Alfred’s name was on the ballot paper. We do not know what was written on the ballot paper, but whatever it was must have been very convincing that Alfred needed help. The ballot paper had 33 names and the results gave Alfred 204 votes, the second highest, and he was one of the 6 boys that was given a place at the home. We do not know why he was admitted. Had he got in trouble with the police, perhaps for stealing? Had he run away from home and was a vagrant? Or did his parents request he be taken into the home either because they couldn’t feed all their children or because they could not look after him?

We believe his admission to the home, which was then on Tottenham High Road, was on 22 December, his age just 6 years old. Nothing in known of his life in the home, although research suggests the records exist but are not accessible. Presumably he was clothed, fed and educated. While many of the boys at the home were orphans, Alfred had two parents alive; how he must have missed them and how lonely he must have felt separated from his parents and siblings. It is not clear if parental contact was encouraged but from reading the minutes of the committee meetings it appears that parents were allowed to visit the boys at Christmas but the boys were not allowed to return home. The committee did their best to provide things for the boys and committee meetings show that a space for a playground was provided, that fireworks and bonfires were organized for 5 November and Christmas presents were provided. 

Originally at the age of 11 boys had to leave the home, but after a few years this was raised to 13. Alfred celebrated his 13th birthday on 3 September 1862 and he left the home and returned to his parents in Moscow Road. The school records for St Matthews School, Paddington show he began school there on 16 September 1872. The entry showing he had come from the Home for Little Boys, the family were living at 75 Moscow Road and his father was a described as a huckster (a person who sells small items from a stall).

Life after the Home for Little Boys

Alfred returned home to very different family circumstances than he had left seven years earlier. His three youngest siblings had suffered a tragic death while he was away (a topic for another blog) and sister Sarah was married. This left brother Henry age 17 and sister Annie age 15 at home. His father’s health was deteriorating and two years after he arrived home his father died age 42. Two years later his mother remarried. By the 1881 census Alfred was married to Phoebe Perrett and working as a saddler. By 1887 he had emigrated to America, apparently without Phoebe. In Philadelphia he had 8 children with Elizabeth, but sadly all but one of the children died before they were a year old. Alfred died in Philadelphia as the result of a freak accident in 1902 age 42 (details of this can be found at this link).

A new beginning for better or worse?

The story raises many unanswered questions 
  • How must a 6-year-old child feel when sent away from his parents? And how must a mother feel having to let her 6-year-old son go into a home?
  • Did Alfred feel rejected and abandoned when he was sent away or was home life so awful that he felt blessed and realised it was an opportunity for a better life?
  • How often, if at all, did he see his parents during the seven years in the home? 
  • How did he feel when reunited in the family home after 7 years away, happy, or sad? And did he struggle to fit back into family life?
  • Did this opportunity of a new start in life at the Home for Little Boys save him from becoming a criminal and ending up in prison or some other institution?
While I appreciate that this new beginning in a children’s home might have provided Alfred with a better life, I find the story very sad. The founders of the Home for Little Boys had the boys’ welfare at heart and offered orphans and destitutes a chance of a new life. In a time when there was no welfare state there can be no doubt that Alfred received food, clothes, education and training which he would not have received if he had stayed at home. However, he paid the price of being separated from the love of his parents, siblings and wider family. How awful to be removed from your family, for whatever reason, at such a tender age.

How lucky we are not to live in Victorian England and to live at a time where there is a welfare state.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

John Tytheridge A Publican at The Marlborough Head In London

Ann Bennett (nee Tytheridge) sister of John Tytheridge 

I first came across John Tytheridge’s name 30 years ago when manually searching probate records. I could find nothing about John other than he was publican at The Marlborough Head public house in central London. In those days there were no Internet records and looking for John among the London Records was like looking for a needle in a haystack.

This week I decided it was time to investigate again, aided by all the online records now available. This blog recounts what I have learnt and illustrates what an amazing amount of information can be found online 

John Tytheridge’s Parents in Mitcham

John’s parents were John Tytheridge and Ann Sprules who married at Christ Church, Spitalfields on 3 November 1816. They were recorded as of this parish and a bachelor and a spinster. At the marriage John signed his name and Ann, unable to write, put her mark. 

John and Ann moved to Lower Mitcham in Surrey where John was employed as a gardener. Ann was from Mitcham, baptised in Mitcham, St Peter and St Paul on 2 July 1786, daughter of William Sprules.

In 1818 John and Ann’s son was born, he was also called John. His baptism took place in the strangely named church of “City of London Lying-In Hospital” situated in City Road, Finsbury. The baptism records for 31 May 1818 show John baptised, son of John and Ann Tytheridge of Lower Mitcham, John is shown as a gardener. The City of London Lying in Hospital was a maternity hospital for the wives of working men and it had a chapel attached to it. I do not know why John was born and baptised here 10 miles from Mitcham. In 1821 John’s sister Ann was born. She was baptised in the local parish church of Mitcham, St Peter and St Paul, on 8 April 1821. Her parent’s residence is recorded as Mitcham and John shown as a gardener. Their surname in this record is written as Tetheridge.

In these day Mitcham was a Surrey village, about nine miles from London, although now it is a suburb of London. There were many large houses in Mitcham where John could have been employed as a gardener. It is also possible he was employed in the growing of lavender, since the area around Mitcham has grown lavender since the 1500s. The famous company Potter and Moore was set up in Mitcham in 1749 to extract lavender oil.

John and Ann Tytheridge in Wavendon

Sometime before 1832 John and Ann and family had moved to the small village of Wavendon, Buckinghamshire,  where John worked as a gardener. The evidence for this comes from an apprenticeship certificate for son John. John died on 26 March 1839 in Wavendon age 61. His age given suggests he was born about 1778. The cause of death was consumption (tuberculosis). His death was registered by Sarah Chance not by his wife. He was buried in the parish church of Wavendon on 29 March 1839, records show he was “husband of Ann”. 

Ann Tytheridge in Woolley

Ann, now a widow, moved to Woolley in Yorkshire. It is unknown whether she moved to find work or to be near a relative. She died 7months after John, her age was given as 53 or 55 in two different records. She was buried on 7 October 1839 in Woolley Parish church, her residence was shown as Woolley Park. Woolley Park is now a Grade ll listed building and was home of the Wentworth family. The transcription of her burial record shows her surname as Tetheridge.

The Index to Death Duty Registers suggest both John and Ann died intestate, with Ann granted administration of John’s estate and John (the son) administration of Ann’s estate. It looks like tax was due on their estate, tax was due on any estate over £20.

John Tytheridge’s Life 

While John junior’s early life was spent in Mitcham later the family moved to Wavendon. At the age of 14 John was sent to London to be an apprentice to David Francis Powell a citizen and patternmaker of London. An indenture was signed on 17 December 1832 and the basis of the agreement was David Powell would provide food, clothes, lodging for John and teach him his craft. In return John would work for David and learn the trade. During John’s apprenticeship there was a list of things he could not do including gambling, haunting taverns and playhouses and he could not get married. This indenture was binding for 7 years. John would have finished his apprenticeship just after his mother died.

On the 1841 census 21 year old John and his 18 year old sister Ann were living together at The Minories in London, residing with James and Elizabeth Miller. John is listed as a tailor and Ann is shown as no occupation. The Minories was a street that ran north from the Tower of London. London Land Tax Records show John paying tax at The Minories, Portsoken, City of London from 1844 to 1848. In the Post Office directory of 1845, he is shown as a tailor at 139 The Minories.

On 7 May 1845 27-year-old John married Jane Short in Walthamstow, St Peter in the Forest, Essex. There were no children from the marriage. 

From 1846 to 1851 John is shown on the electoral register for Bow, living in a house on the High Street. On the 1851 census John and Jane are living at 1 High Street, Stratford le Bow. It shows John age 32 from Mitcham, a victualler living with Jane his wife age 30 from Bristol. Also living with them are two servants and a niece, Mary Ann Short. The Post Office Directories show that the pub they ran was called the Black Swan, probably situated on the corner of Bow High Street and Bow Street.  

In 1852 a newspaper advert shows the lease on The Marlborough Head, 32/33 Great Marlborough Street was for sale. John was granted a licence to run this pub in March 1893. The pub was situated in central London near Regent Street, near Liberty’s, probably at the top of Carnaby Street and opposite The London Palladium. The pub was still there in 1966 although had been rebuilt but it has now been replaced with modern buildings. 

John Tytheridge’s Death

John and Jane lived at The Marlborough Head until John’s death on 27 December 1858 age 40. He was buried at Brompton Cemetery on 31 December 1858 after a service at Westminster, St James. He was buried in Grave B71, a map of the cemetery shows plot B is just to the right of north entrance.

John's will was written in 1854 and left everything to his wife Jane. Probate records show the estate was worth under £1500, (probably around £1400).

In March 1859 Jane put the lease of the Marlborough Head pub up for sale. Jane is missing from the 1861 census but in 1871 lodging at Stanley Villas Chelsea with William Nailer and wife and describes herself as a publican. On the 1881 census Jane is living with William and Mary Titmus (her niece) and family at 5 Cavendish Villas, Richmond. Jane died on 4 July 1886 at 1 Maple Villas, Maple Road Penge, age 67. 

As John and Jane had no children the Tytheridge surname died out from this line. 

The Tytheridge Surname Lives On

Despite John having no children the Tytheridge name has been preserved to the current day by the family of John’s sister Ann who was very proud of her Tytheridge surname.

On 16 April 1841 Ann Tytheridge married William Bennett in St Catherine Creechurch, both were of full age and from Jewry Street. Ann was probably only 20 and her father is shown as John Tytheridge but it doesn’t mention he is deceased. Her brother was one of the witnesses at the wedding. 

William and Ann Bennet had 4 children born in London.
William Bennett born 1842 died 1843
John Edward Bennett born 1845 died 1860
Elizabeth Bennett born 1846 died 1851
Isabella Bennett born September 1849 died Dec 1848

On 1851 census they were living in Stepney. In October 1852 they emigrated to Australia with their only surviving son, John. They sailed on the Koh I Noor, leaving London and sailing to Port Phillip, Victoria. In Australia Ann had 5 more children

George Bennett born 1853 died 1853
Maria Bennett born 1854 died 1934
Charles Henry Bennett born 1858
Ann Bennett born 1860
-• Frederick William Bennett born 1863 died 1926

Four of the children survived, but John who had travelled with them from England died in 1860. Ann died in Yarra, Victoria on 12 October 1902, her husband William died in 1904. 

At least one of Ann’s grandchildren were given the middle name Tytheridge, Frederick William Tytheridge Bennett. This Christian name has been handed down the generations and is still in evidence today. Also, a piece in the local newspaper showed that the family house of Frederick Bennett was called “Tytheridge”.

Looking for John Tytheridge Senior

Unfortunately, despite finding out so much about the children John and Ann Tytheridge, the origin of their father John Tytheridge born around 1778 remains a mystery. He is not related to the Tytheridge family of Hampshire. But the questions remain

Is John related to the Tytheridges in Sundridge Kent?
Is John a Titheridge who migrated from Hampshire then misspelt his surname?
Is John a descendant from a family in Westminster who spelt their surname Titteridge, Tutteridge and many other variations, who were present in London in the early 1700s but have no known descendants?

None of the records currently available online provide a possible John Tytheridge born in 1778, so if you have come across someone who fits the bill please get in touch and solve the mystery.

Saturday 6 February 2021

Joseph Titheridge – From Rags to Riches

Winchester Cathedral 

 “How does a poor man become a wealthy gentleman?” that is the question addressed in this blog. 

Joseph Titheridge from Winchester was shown on the censuses up to 1881 as someone who looked after horses at the Royal Hotel, Winchester. His will shows that when he died in 1891 he was a gentleman with extensive wealth. The gross value of his estate was £8795 10s 9d. Looking at websites that workout the value of this money today suggests that Joseph left equivalent to one million pounds! His life story follows and tries to answer the question “Where did Joseph’s money come from?” 

Joseph Titheridge’s Will

Joseph’s will was made on 14 January 1891, 7 days before he died and revealed the extent of his wealth, property and investments.

This is how he divided his estate.

  • To Emily Bliss, niece of his wife £200
  • To Royal Hants County Hospital at Winchester £100
  • To the Convalescent Home in Isle of Wight in connection with the said hospital £100
  • To the Winchester Dispensary £100
  • To the Royal Lifeboat Institution £100

The 10 leasehold houses called Ashley Terrace and the cottage called Ashley Cottage in Winchester are to be sold and the money used to pay any expenses and legacies and the remainder to be divided into 5 equal parts

  • One fifth to brother Charles Titheridge
  • One fifth to brother Thomas Titheridge
  • One fifth to sister Eliza Wheeler
  • One fifth to sister Elizabeth Bell
  • One fifth to the two children of his late brother William 

To his brother Thomas he gives his gold watch and chain

To his wife, Emily (also known as Emma), he left his plate, linen, china, glass, books, prints, pictures, wines, liquors, fuel, consumable provisions and other household effects

All freehold property is to provide rents and annual income to Emily, his wife, during her life and for as long as she remains a widow. After her death or second marriage all the property is to be sold. The money from the sale is to be divided as shown

  • £1000 to niece Emily Bliss
  • £200 to the children of Mrs Towne his wife’s late sister
  • £200 each to Adam Blackman, George Blackman, John Blackman and Honor Knight (widow) brothers and sisters of his wife. If they die before Emily dies or remarries – their children are to take their share.

Any remaining money to be divided among his family Charles, Thomas, Elizabeth, Eliza and William’s children.

One interesting line in the will is “The share of each of my said sisters to be received and enjoyed by them as her separate estate, without the control or interference of any present or future husband.”

Joseph Titheridge in the Newspapers

What happened between 1881 and 1891 to change Joseph’s fortune is mystery. Once a servant and ostler, he becomes a gentleman with a gold watch, books, prints, pictures and property. I have searched local papers for Joseph and despite finding several articles in the newspapers about Joseph, nothing explains the source of his wealth.

His first mention in the newspapers is in 1881 when he is a witness in a trial of someone stealing money from Winchester Racecourse, at this time he is listed as an employee of The Royal Hotel. In the 1880s there are references to him buying shares or property at auctions in Winchester, but the articles don’t specify what was purchased. By 1882 he is the owner of 10 houses in Ashley Terrace, Winchester where it is reported he had to pay for drainage to be installed since there were no sewers. By 1883 he had shares in Didcot, Newbury and Southampton Railway, but research shows this company never paid any dividends. In April 1885 the Royal Hotel Tap caught on fire but by this date, although run by Joseph, he wasn’t living there. The fire was extinguished but there was extensive damage to the buildings and contents which was covered by insurance. In 1890 newspapers reported Joseph was owed money from an advanced on a mortgage of £420 on a property. From 1881 onwards he is playing bowls for Hyde Abbey Bowling team. There are two reports of him donating money, one for a prize for the Winchester Show in 1883 and in 1881 he donated two guineas to the Royal Hants County Hospital.

The Source of Money

I have considered the various options for where his money came from. He certainly couldn’t have earnt that amount of money and there is no evidence that it was obtained illegally by criminal activity. It is most unlikely that he inherited his wealth from his parents or family members since they were poor. He went to the races, so it is possible he won some money from betting and gambling. One option is that his wife inherited money and he took control of it. In these days any money made by a woman, e.g. inheritance, instantly became the property of her husband. (This inequality was only properly addressed by the 1882 Married Woman’s Property Act). Emma’s father, Charles Blackman, was a blacksmith who died in 1857. Emma’s mother, Mary Blackman (nee Woodnut), is shown on the 1861 census as a widow living on Church House Farm, Waltham Chase recorded as a “Landed Proprietor”. The 1871 census shows that Mary owned her house in Swanmore. Mary Blackman died in 1878, but there is no sign of probate being applied for and no will has been found for her or husband Charles.

It appears that whatever the source of his initial money Joseph was a shrewd businessman and invested what he had wisely. There are two reports of him buying shares at auctions, perhaps some proved good investments. We know he lent money to mortgage property, perhaps with good returns. He invested in property, perhaps bought and sold at a profit. Whatever the route to wealth he certainly accrued a lot of money.

Joseph Titheridge’s family

Joseph was the son of Joseph Titheridge and Elizabeth Simpson, who had married in Winchester St Thomas on 27 June 1820. On his marriage Joseph was shown as a post chaise driver, and later as a horse keeper or ostler. The family were not rich with Elizabeth working as a laundress to help support the family. The evidence now available shows that Joseph was born in Alresford in 1789 and was the brother of the infamous Dickey Dung Prong.  

Joseph and Elizabeth had 7 children, all born in Winchester over a 20-year period. The children were

  • Charles born in 1821, died 1894
  • Elizabeth born in 1824, married William Bell, died 1913
  • Eliza born in 1827, married Arthur Griffin and later Edward Wheeler, died in 1906 
  • Thomas born 1830, married Susan Allen, died in 1897
  • Joseph born in 1834, married Emma Blackman, died in 1891
  • Edward born in 1837, died in 1837
  • William born in 1841, married Ellen Newman, died in 1877

They seem to be a very close family and across the censuses various siblings live together, and nieces and nephews are often living with the families too. 

Joseph Titheridge’s Life

Joseph was born in 1834 and was baptised on 4 May 1834 at Winchester St Maurice. Seven-year-old Joseph can be found in the 1841 census with his parents, brothers Thomas and William and married sister Elizabeth. The family were living at Upper Brook Street, Winchester, a road just off the High Street. On the 1851 census Joseph is still living at Upper Brook Street with his parents and brothers Thomas and William. Joseph and his brother, Thomas, are now both working as grooms.

Joseph married Emma Blackman on 21 July 1854. Emma was from Bishops Waltham and Swanmore. They had one child George who was baptised in Bishops Waltham on 6 December 1854, Joseph is described as labourer at the baptism. Sadly, George died in the same month and they had no other children.

In 1857 Joseph’s father died in the Winchester Union (poor house) age 70 and Joseph’s mother, Elizabeth, died in 1869 age 72. 

The 1861 census shows Emma and Joseph living at 23 Parchment Street, this street is off the High Street in the heart of Winchester. Living with Joseph and Emma is their niece, Emily Bliss, age 8, daughter of Emma’s widowed sister Honor. Joseph’s occupation is given as ostler. An ostler took care of people’s horses when they stopped at an inn.

On the 1871 census Emma is visiting her mother in Swanmore, while Joseph is in Winchester living in 10a Parchment Street, The Royal Hotel Tap. Also, at the same property are Eliza Griffin his sister, who is head housekeeper while Joseph is head Ostler. A Tap is a place where beer is served (and sometimes food), it is often part of a brewery. This one was attached to the Roya Hotel situated in the parallel street.

The 1881 Census shows Joseph and Emma living in 10a Parchment Street at the Royal Hotel Tap. Joseph is shown as an ostler, with inn servant written beside it. The 1889 Kelly’s directory shows Joseph Titheridge had moved to 70 Parchment Street.

Joseph died on 21 January 1891 aged 56. On the 1891 census Joseph’s widow Emma is still living at 70 Parchment Street with her sister Honor Knight and niece Emily Bliss. Emma died 3 years later on 10 February 1894.  Emma is known as “Emma” all the way up to the 1881 census and then suddenly changes her name to “Emily”. Her name appears as Emily in Joseph’s will, on the 1891 census, on the registration of her death and her will.

Joseph Titheridge's home
70 Parchment Street, photographed in 2020

If you can add anything to this story and help explain where this wealth came from please get in touch.

Sunday 17 January 2021

World War 2 – A Titheridge Family’s Grief


Benjamin and Eva Titheridge’s Family

On 20 January 1906 Benjamin James Titheridge married Eva Agnes Wells in Alverstoke, Hampshire. They had 8 children

Dorothy Louise Eva Titheridge born 1906
Arthur Benjamin Titheridge born 1908
George William James Titheridge born 1912
Harry Edward Jesse Titheridge born 1914
Philip Errol Titheridge born 1917
Jack Ronald Titheridge born 1920
Ethel Beatrice Titheridge born 1921
Elsie Maud Titheridge born 1922

Their family tree can be found at this link and then scroll down to tree 1F.

On the 1939 register the family lived at 5 San Diego Road in Gosport. Dorothy did not marry and died in 1972, Ethel married John Jenkins in 1940 and Elsie died in 1934 age 12. Arthur was recorded as a passenger to Australia in 1927 and nothing more is known about him until his death in Moonee Ponds, Victoria in 2002. Harry did not marry, as far as we know, and died a batchelor in 1990 in Hampshire. Philip was recorded as a crew member sailing between England and New York in 1934 and then as in the Royal Navy in 1941, but nothing more is known about him. This blog is about the two remaining sons George and Jack, both of whom lost their lives in World War 2.

Jack Ronald Titheridge

Jack was born on 9 January 1920 in Alverstoke and was just 19 when war was declared in 1939. He joined the NAAFI (Navy Army and Air Force Institute) as a Canteen Assistant. Naval canteen staff were civilians who operated the canteen counter selling goods such as cigarettes, confectionary, toiletries etc. During battle they staffed stations alongside naval personnel, primarily working in first aid or ammunition supply. In 1941 Jack was serving on the battlecruiser HMS Hood and was one of 7 civilians on the ship. In May 1941 HMS Hood was sent out with the battleship Prince of Wales and several other British ships to intercept German ships. The aim was to attack the Germans before they reached the Atlantic and attacked allied convoys of ships. On 23 May the German ships, the Bismarck and the Prince Eugen, were spotted. They were intercepted in the North Atlantic in the Denmark Strait, which is between Greenland and Iceland. At dawn on 24 May 1941 the British attacked the Nazi ships. Unfortunately, the Germans knew the attack was coming and were ready. When HMS Hood opened fire, the fire was returned hitting the Hood and causing a fire in the ammunition store. Then a shell from the Bismarck caused a devastating explosion destroying the back of the ship. The Hood sunk stern first with the bow pointing to the sky. She sank in less than 3 minutes. There were 1418 men aboard and just 3 survived. Jack was among the casualties of this, one of the most infamous naval battles of World War 2. Jack is remembered on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial (Panel 61, Column 2). The full story of HMS Hood can be found at this website

George William James Titheridge

George was born on 13 October 1912 in Alverstoke, Hampshire. He was 26 when World War 2 was declared and prior to joining up he was working as a concreter. George served as a sapper in The Royal Engineers 36 Fortress Company (service number 1870698). 

In 1941 The Royal Engineers 36th Fortress company were based on the Malayan Peninsular on the island on Penang. The Japanese troops began invading the Malayan peninsular and attacked Penang. In mid December the British troops were ordered to withdraw from Penang, most transferred to the Malayan Peninsular. Japanese Forces continued to invade and landed in Singapore on 7 February 1942 and the Fall of Singapore took place on 15 February.

George was among the thousands of British troops who were taken prisoner by the Japanese. The casualty list shows him as missing on 15 February 1942, the day of the Fall of Singapore. A lot of the documents just say he was held prisoner in a Malay prisoner of war camp. This was probably at Changi POW camp in Singapore, one of the most notorious camps used to imprison Malayan civilians and allied troops. The treatment there was harsh. Documents in the National Archives have a register of some 13,500 prisoners of war and internees in Singapore and these documents refer to Singapore camps number 1, 2, 3 and 4. In April 1943 George was shown as in No 3 camp which is now believed to be River Valley Camp to the west of Singapore city. Often men in this camp were originally from the Changi camp. 

At home the British Casualty List issued on 21st March 1942 showed George missing in Malaya on 15 February 1942. It was 11 August 1943 before his status on the British Casualty Lists changed from missing to prisoner of war. An article in the local Gosport newspaper shows that in July 1943 his parents received a postcard from George telling them that he was a prisoner of war of the Japanese and he was in good health. This was received 17 months after his capture. Sadly, by the time they received the post card, George had died, but it would be over two years before his parents were informed of his death.

From George’s Japanese POW Index Card the remarks show “overland 28/4/43”. Other documents show that George was listed as one of the Japanese “F force”. This was a group of 7000 allied Prisoners of War who, in April 1943, were transferred overland from Singapore to work on the Thailand Burma Railway, in the toughest section of the railway in the mountains between Thailand and Burma. They were taken in groups of 600 men and although initially they were taken by train some of the journey was on foot. They marched over 190 miles, marching up to 15 miles a day. The story of this horrendous, inhuman journey is told in this link by one of the survivors, it is a very distressing story. Groups left Singapore from 18 April on train 1 to 30 April on train 13. George is recorded as leaving Singapore on 23 April 1943 on Train 11.

The aim was that the men would work on the 260 mile long Thailand Burma railway, but many of the men died on route. George would have reached Sonkrai no 2 POW camp in Thailand (also written as Sonkurai) at the railway about the 23 May. Songrai was one of the worse camps, more prisoners of war died at Sonkrai than any other camp on the infamous railway. The arrivals at camp were put to work on the railway immediately, regardless of their state of health. Many were so exhausted by the journey, that they never recovered. They were forced to work long days doing hard physical labour on a meagre diet. Their story has been told in the famous film “Bridge Over the River Kwai”. The causes of the many deaths was disease, starvation, physical maltreatment and exposure in the monsoon rain.

In early June a cholera epidemic broke out in the Sonkrai camp. Cholera is an acute disease with diarrhoea, vomiting and fever. It is caused by poor sanitation and ingesting contaminated food or water. The cholera spread like wildfire throughout the camp and in a 3 week period 600 men died from cholera. George was among the victims of cholera and died on 3 June 1943, aged 30.

George was initially buried at Sonkrai, but after the war the bodies of those who died in the construction of the Thailand Burma railway were transferred into three cemeteries, two in Thailand and Thanbyuzayat in Burma (Myanmar). George is buried in Thanbyuzayat War Cemetery, grave reference B6. B. 17. There are 3,149 Commonwealth and 621 Dutch burials in this cemetery.

The account of the brothers Jack and George has been written after reviewing the information available online. If you can add anything or correct any errors please email