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Monday, 15 July 2019

Alan Courtney Tytheridge - Part 1 Musician and Linguist 1889 - 1916

By Ann Titheradge and Jenny Stroud

Alan Courtney Tytheridge
Reproduced by kind permission of Jenny Stroud


This is the fascinating life story of Alan Courtney Tytheridge. He was a remarkable man who was a scholar, an author, a musician and a linguist. He lived in four different continents during his life time and lived through an earthquake and internment by the Japanese in World War 2.

Although I have researched Alan’s life for many years much of the research presented here must be credited to Jenny Stroud whose research into the life of Alan and the background information is amazing. Thank you to Jenny for giving me permission to use her research and images. Jenny is Alan’s second cousin twice removed, related to him via his mother, Lucy Winterbottom. I would also like to thank Graeme Bell and Jenny’s Japanese researchers (Miyo and Mizuyo) for the assistance they have given Jenny.

Family Life in England 1889 -1895

Alan’s grandfather was William Henry Walter Tytheridge. William moved from Portsmouth to London. He had inherited money and property from his maternal uncle and the family were well-off and well-educated. Alan’s father Walter Robert Tytheridge was sent to St Paul’s public school and then went to medical school and qualified as a doctor and surgeon.

Walter was 35 when he married Lucy Anne Winterbottom on 21 January 1885 at St Johns Church, Nottinghill. Lucy also came from a wealthy family; her mother owned several properties and her when her father died he had left quite a bit of money. Lucy’s father, Henry,  had been a bandmaster in the Royal Marines and was a talented musician, a talent that was to be handed down to Alan.

Walter and Lucy’s first child, Nora, was born in Epsom Surrey in 1887, but she died just 10 months old.

On 15 June 1889 Alan Courtney Tytheridge was born and baptised on 22 July at Christ Church, Epsom. On the 1891 census the family and their servant were living at The Chestnuts, Church Street, Epsom, a very grand sounding address.

Alan's family tree can be found at this link .

Life in New Zealand

On 3 October 1895 Walter, Lucy and 6-year-old Alan emigrated to New Zealand sailing for Wellington on the ship “Ionic”. They settled at Marton, near Wellington, where Walter set up a doctor’s practice in Grey Street. During this period Alan learnt to play the piano. From 1901 newspaper articles show he passed piano exams, including when 14 years old being the only person to secure a distinction in the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music exams. It is obvious he had inherited the musical talents of his mother’s family.

In June 1904 the family moved to Opawa, a suburb of Chistchurch. Here Alan attended Christs College, Christchurch an independent school. Six months later he won his first school prize for Divinity. Alan quickly showed that he was a very gifted student in the arts, literature and languages. In 1905 he won school prizes for History, Latin, French and English. In 1906 he won prizes for Greek, English Literature, Latin, French and History. He was Head Boy at Christ's College.

In 1906 Alan’s s cousin, Dorothy May Tytheridge, visited the family in New Zealand. On her return to England she remained in written contact with Alan, and it is one of Alan’s letters to Dorothy that will tell us something of his life in Japan.

Alan was lucky enough to grow up in a family where the arts and music played an important role. His father, Walter, was involved in the cultural side of Christchurch life and is listed as a member of the Canterbury Society of Arts in 1914. From 1906 onwards, there are reports in the newspapers of Alan doing well in music competitions and reports of his performance at concerts and recitals. In 1912 there is reference to a YMCA concert where Alan performed with Eric Bell. Eric was to become his life time friend and their lives followed a very similar path. For many years Eric managed and conducted the Christchurch Salon Orchestra and Alan played in this orchestra. Alan was a superb pianist and a press story later referred to him “as a shining light in Christchurch musical circles”.

In 1907 Alan started at Canterbury College, in Christchurch which was one of the colleges of the University of New Zealand. Again, Alan excelled passing his first year German with credit and receiving an award for German in 1909. In 1910 he was awarded a B. A. first section and won awards for French, German, Latin and Greek. He was awarded the final section of the B. A. in April 1911, again, with an award for German. In April 1912 he was awarded an M. A. First Class honours in French and German. He was a true scholar.

In April 1912 Alan began his training as a journalist and went to work on the literary staff of the Christchurch newspaper “The Press”. He was paid £2 10s a week. His role was to assist the sub editorial staff, write on current topics and do some reporting.

Life in Fiji and USA 1914 - 1916

In July 1914 Alan was awarded an editorship on the Fiji Times based in Suva, the capital of Fiji. He sailed on the Marama on 1 August 1914 travelling First Class. It was while he was in Fiji that his mother Lucy died on 23 January 1915. In her will she left money in a trust to pay Alan an annual income.

Alan stayed in Fiji for a just over a year before heading to Honolulu. He sailed on the Makura which left Sydney on the 30th September 1915 and picked him up in Fiji on the way through. He arrived in Honolulu in Hawaii on 15 October 1915. His arrival on American soil was recorded by the immigration authorities and from the records we learn that he was 26 years old, 5ft 10 inches, with grey eyes, brown hair and weighed 148 lbs. He spent some time in Hawaii securing articles for his paper before going to San Francisco to attend The Panama–Pacific International Exposition. This was a world fair held in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, but it was also to show San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake

Alan liked San Francisco and ended up staying there for a year and twenty years later made several return visits. San Francisco has always had a large gay community and the city has been described as "the original 'gay-friendly city".

His departure from San Francisco is recorded in an article in the New Zealand newspapers which reads
Evening Star, 25 September 1916
“Mr Alan C. Tytheridge, who was for some time on the literary staff of "The Press," and afterwards editor of the "Fiji Times," but who has been in America for about eighteen months, was recently appointed pianist and accompanist to a noted Portuguese cellist and violinist, and they are to tour Japan. Mr Tytheridge's headquarters will be Yokohama till the conclusion of his contract, which is for three years. Among the pianists who applied for the post was Mr Walter Handel Thorley, who is well known in Christchurch musical circles.”

This period was during World War 1 in Europe. At home in New Zealand they had failed to find enough volunteers to fill the army. Conscription was publicly debated in New Zealand during 1915. Laws were passed restricting the movements and activities of military-aged men, who from November 1915 were banned from leaving the country without the government’s permission. In August 1916, the Military Service Act empowered the government to call up any man aged between 20 and 45 for military service. Perhaps these facts could have influenced Alan’s decision not to return to New Zealand?

To be continued in the next blog …..

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Private G. H. Tidridge Remembered 100 Years On

Commonwealth War Graves

 A search of the Commonwealth War Grave website shows that 100 years ago today, on 9 July 1919, Private G H Tidridge died. He was in the 3rd Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry. Although he died after World War 1 had ended he is remembered by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission which commemorate all those who died during the war, plus those who died after the end of the war up to 26 September 1919.

Family of Private G. H. Tidridge

Private G H Tidridge’s full name was George Henry Joseph Robert Tidridge. He was the son of Edwin Alfred Tidridge (also referred to as Edward) and Hannah Mary Smith. Edwin and Hannah married at Fulham, St James in London on 10 July 1897. Edwin was a housepainter or decorator, originally from Romsey, Hampshire but then living in London and Hannah was from Bampton in Oxfordshire.

Edwin and Hannah’s first child, Gladys Tidridge, was born in March 1898 and died the same year. The next children were William Edward Tidridge born in 1899 (who lived until he was 56) and George Henry Joseph Robert Tidridge born on 1 July 1901 in Fulham. On 25 August 1901 William and Herbert were baptised in Bampton, Oxfordshire, Hannah’s home village. The fourth child, Herbert Tidridge, was born in 1904 and died aged 2. Tragedy struck the family when on 25 March 1908 44-year-old Edwin died leaving a pregnant Hannah with two young boys, William and George, to look after. Three months after Edwin’s death Alfred Dowdswell Tidridge was born and he died the following year. The births of the children were registered in either Fulham or Oxfordshire.

In July 1910 Hannah remarried Frederick Youngman in Islington. The 1911 census shows Hannah and Fred living together but without the two boys, William now aged 12 and George now aged 9. A search of the 1911 census shows George living in York Road, Hunstanton, Norfolk in a Boys' Home run by a widow Mrs Clara Adeline Beaumont aged 50. She was employed as Matron by the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society. The home was called St Christopher’s Home for Waifs and Strays. It had 11 rooms and 24 boys lived there. A picture of the home can be found at this link. On the same census brother William can be found in another boys’ home in Clyde House, Kingham Hill, Kingham, Chipping Norton.

World War 1

In 1914 when World War 1 broke out George was just 13 and elder brother William was 15. At some point, probably about 1917, William was either called up or voluntarily enlisted in the Machine Gun Corps. On 26 April 1918 William was listed as missing or wounded and his name appeared on the War Office Weekly Casualty list as missing on 25 June 1918. William spent the rest of the war in a prisoner of war camp. When his Victory Medal and British Medal were sent to him after the war he returned them.

It was 1 July 1919 when George was 18 and old enough to join the army, but it is believed that he lied about his age to join up, before this date. He joined the 3rd Battalion King's Shropshire Light Infantry, service number 46003. This was a training battalion during World War 1 with no overseas war service and they ended the war at Fermoy, County Cork, Republic of Ireland.

 George’s Death

 George was with the battalion in July 1919 at Fermoy, eight months after the war was over. He was taken ill and admitted to the Military Hospital in Fermoy on about 5 July 1919 and was found to be suffering from diphtheria. Diphtheria is a highly contagious and potentially fatal infection that can affect the nose and throat, and sometimes the skin. He was ill for 5 days and died on 9 July 1919 at The Military Hospital; he was just 18 years old. He is buried in Fermoy Military Cemetery and is remembered on the war memorial. This war memorial can be viewed at this link .

Army records show that his arrears of pay and a gratuity were sent to his mother Mrs Hannah M. Youngman, a total of £5 2s 3d.

So, 100 years on let us remember George, a young man who volunteered to serve his country and was then struck down by a deadly illness, a disease which today we are lucky enough to be immunised against.

Monday, 1 July 2019

Beware of False News

I have always known that you should not believe everything you read in the newspapers. Here below is a story that illustrates this and it is a warning to family historians that you should always try to double check your facts.

While looking through some American Newspapers this week I was rather surprised to come across the following item of news reporting the death of Dion Titheradge, the famous actor and playwright. I was surprised because the year of the article was 1918 and I knew Dion died on 16 November 1934.

Boston Globe 20 January 1918

“Dion Titheridge, brother of Madge Titheridge and well known to the speaking stage and the screen, was killed in action while serving in the British Army somewhere on the French front. Titheridge had a long stage experience, and appeared with Triangle in many productions. His last release was “The Whip” in which he acts the role of the jockey, a part he played on the speaking stage.”

And the same story appeared a few days later in another American paper.

Middletown Times Press on 2 February 1918

“Dion Titheridge who was a brother of Madge Titheridge, noted actress, died in the service of the British army. He acted with Sir Beerbohm Tree at His Majesty’s Theatre in London, and with Laurette Taylor in one of her noted productions. He also played with Triangle forces. A letter from him was received at the Triangle Culver City studios a few days before his death.”

As I knew Dion died in 1934 I knew these two articles had to be “false news”. In World War 1 Dion was in the British Army, in The Royal Field Artillery. However, he did not leave England until June 1918 when he was posted to Salonika. In February 1918 his army records show he was in Bulford Camp on Salisbury Plain in England.

It is hard to know how the story started since Dion was not in France so the story could not have arisen due the confusion of battle. It is unlikely that he was confused with another individual with a similar name since there were no other Titheridge or Titheradge whose first name begins with D; no one with the surname who was killed in the early months of 1918, and no one else with the family name with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.

It would appear that similar articles did not appear in English or Australian newspapers.  The American newspapers also spelt his surname incorrectly using "idge" instead of "adge".

The reports in the American newspapers were eventually corrected on 26 January 1918 by the New York Times under the headline

Dion Titheradge Not Killed in War

“Reports published several weeks ago that Dion Titheradge, the actor, had been killed in France are now declared to have been unfounded. Friends of Titheradge last night received a cablegram from the Eccentric Club, London in which it was declared that the actor was well and uninjured. Titheradge last acted with Laurette Taylor in “The Harp of Life”

So, a happy ending to the story but a warning to family historians – Don’t believe everything you read

Friday, 21 June 2019

Census and Titheridge / Titheradge Family History

Census Data on Website

This week on our Family History Website I have published transcriptions of all Titheridge / Titheradge / Tidridge / Tytheridge etc. family members found in UK censuses 1841 – 1911. The transcriptions can be found at this LINK .

Introduction to UK Census

If you look up the word census in the dictionary the definition is “an official count of a population or class of things, often with various statistics noted”. In England the census began in 1801 as a count of individuals. Further head counts took place in 1811, 1821 and 1831. The purpose of the census was for the government to get information about the population size and growth.

The Government decided that the census would be held every 10 years. The 1841 census took place on 6 June 1841 and was the first census to record names and information about people. Future censuses took place on a Sunday evening in March or April. Sunday was chosen as the most likely day to find people at home and the spring months chosen as it was before the agricultural labourers were moving around for work.

The census has continued until present day but the 1941 census did not take place because of the war (although a mini census had taken place in 1939 to enable production of identity cards). There is a hundred-year rule, meaning that the census records are closed for 100 years. The next release of records will be the 1921 census to be released in 2022. The 1931 census records were destroyed during the war.

How did the Census happen? 

A date was chosen for the census, the questions decided, the paperwork printed and enumerators found. Enumerators were paid for their work; they had to be educated, able to read and write and do arithmetic and be trustworthy. Before 1891 only men were employed as enumerators. An enumerator was given an area of approximately 200 properties to visit. In the towns the houses could be close together with a multistory house being divided into many family units; while in the countryside properties could be spread across many miles.

The enumerator left a form and written instructions at each dwelling. On census night the head of the house had to fill in all those people present and sleeping in the house. The next day the forms were collected with the enumerator checking the forms, correcting mistakes or filling in the forms if necessary (remember many people could not read and write at this time). The forms were transcribed into a “Census Enumerators Book”, these are the images of the census you can see today. The original forms and book were sent to the Census Office and rechecked then the originals destroyed. It is only the 1911 census that you see the original forms as filled in by the head of house. Institutions such as poor houses, asylums, prisons, hospitals, residential schools, army and navy had special forms to fill in.

Finding People on the Census 

Before the arrival of the Internet to view a census record you would go to a record office and view micro film or microfiche images of the area and year you were interested in. There was no index and you would search page by page. It was a long and tedious task often with very little reward for a day’s work.

Today “Find My Past” and “Ancestry” both have the censuses available on line and they have all been indexed and transcribed. You enter the surname and instantly get a list of names. You must then view the image of the census because the transcriptions can have errors. In the original examining the neighbours and other members of the house is useful as often these are relatives e.g. a married daughter who is living next to her parents.

These searches of the census are not without their difficulties. The censuses have been transcribed by a variety of people and a surname like Titheridge will be alien to them. This often produces some wonderful transcriptions that are nothing like the surname. Careful use of a wildcard (*) will enable one search to find most variations of Titheridge etc.  Often there is very poor writing on the census, so the T at the start of the surname can look like an F, L, S or even P! Sometimes the “Ti” does not have a clear dot and gets transcribed “Te”.

For some individuals you will not find a record even though you are confident they were still alive. This could be due to the lost records, omitted individuals, transcription errors, people away from home or records with a strange variation to the surname recorded. A few individuals have been listed at work and at home. Individuals in Asylums provide a problem as inmates are listed by their initials. On the 1911 census suffragettes boycotted the census, hence they could be missing.

Lies and Errors

The census was made for the government and not family historians. Never could our ancestors have known that these census returns would be examined by family historians and lies would be discovered.

The census is a wonderful source of information often linking two or three generations together as families but be aware some information that might be an error or a lie.
Some misinformation that I have come across includes:-
The terms son-in-law and step son used incorrectly, similarly daughter / daughter in law
The wrong surname used, especially when a child was born illegitimately, or the mother has remarried
Individuals claiming to be married or widowed when this was not the case
Confusion about their age, when they just didn’t know how old they were! or lying about their age, especially individuals who married younger partners
Lying about their relationships e.g. grandparents bringing up illegitimate grandchildren and calling them son / daughter

Information in the Census

The UK census returns will give family historians the following information
Relationship to head of house
Marital status
Place of birth
In 1911 two new questions were added, number of children and years of marriage.

What The Censuses Tell Us About the Titheridge / Titheradge etc Family

People couldn’t spell the surname and there are many spelling variations on the census forms.

The commonest Christian names for males were James and William and in every census these two names occupy the top two most popular names. In the 1901 census there are 31 individuals called William. Female names are more diverse and the commonest female names vary across the decades. 1841 – 1871 the most popular name is Sarah. Then across the years it is Elizabeth, Mary, Annie, Annie.

There are only 16% of individuals over the age of 50 and this is quite constant across the decades. The number of people over 70 increases across the decades but the percentage stays reasonably constant. The oldest person in the census 90.

The population of family members increases from the 1841 census to 1911 as shown below. It increases from 158 individuals in 1841 to 493 in 1911. This is in line with national trends.

 Table Showing the Number of Individuals found on the Census Over Time
Number of Family Members on the Census
Number of
Number of Females
Number of Properties occupied by individuals

The individuals gradually move from  rural Hampshire to London, with 4% of the individuals in London in 1841 but by 1911 26 % of individuals were in London.  The percentage in other counties stays relatively constant.

Table Showing the Number of Individuals in Hampshire and Other Areas on Census Over Time

Census Year
Per cent of Population Living in Hampshire
Per cent of Population Living in London / Middlesex
Per cent of Population Living in Essex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Per cent of Population Living in the rest of the country

If you want to view the census data that has been found for all family members from 1841 to 1911 it has been transcribed and can be viewed on our website at this link Census Data.