A walk around Spitalfields

Fournier Street 2

Fournier Street, Spitalfields

Earlier in the year I posted about some ancestors I’d discovered in Spitalfields, London. Although most of my Huguenot history took place in Canterbury, I found that there were strong connections between the Huguenot weaving families in Canterbury and London. There were marriages between some of these families and I also found evidence of families moving between the two locations, probably because of the changing economic environment.  

My 5 x great-grandmother Ann Battaille is a case in point. Ann was baptised at the ‘Chapel of the Hospital’ (the French Protestant church) in Spitalfields in 1737. She married Daniel Lepine (who was from a Canterbury silk weaving family) in 1760 at nearby St Matthew’s in Bethnal Green. Ann and Daniel lived in Spitalfields / Bethnal Green for several years after their marriage and their six children were all born and baptised there, but towards the end of the 18th century they relocated to Canterbury and both died there.  Continue reading “A walk around Spitalfields”

Ralph K Bolton 1909-42

Tower Hill memorial 7

I visited Tower Hill Memorial in London recently, to see where my 1st cousin (2 x removed) is commemorated. The memorial is managed by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and is situated close to the Tower of London. Continue reading “Ralph K Bolton 1909-42”

Benjamin Guy, bookbinder


Benjamin and Hannah Guy, about 1860

Benjamin Guy was my great-great grandfather and he was a bookbinder by trade. He was born in 1810 in London and was baptised on 19th August at St Andrew, Holborn. His parents were Benjamin and Sarah Guy (nee Monger) and Benjamin senior was a haberdasher with premises in Cross Street, Hatton Garden.  Continue reading “Benjamin Guy, bookbinder”

The Harrison sisters

Alice Guy Harrison & daughters

Back L-R Gertie, Nancy, Margaret, Helena. Middle L-R Alice, Alice, Lottie. Front – Winnie. About 1912 (my best guess).

This photo shows my great grandmother Alice Harrison (nee Guy) sitting in the centre, with her five daughters, her sister Nancy and a family friend (Gertie) around her. I’ve posted this photo before but I haven’t said much about the lives of some of the Harrison girls so this post aims to fill that gap.  Continue reading “The Harrison sisters”

Joseph Stickley 1877-1922

Joseph Stickley was born in North Moreton, Berkshire, in 1877 and was baptised at the village church on 20th November. His mother was Martha Stickley but there was no father’s name in the baptism register, meaning that Joseph was born illegitimately. However we know that his father was a North Moreton man called Joseph Warwick because it was reported in the local newspaper that Warwick was ordered to pay 1s 6d per week towards his son’s support. 

The 1881 census shows that by the time Joseph was 4 years old he was living in Wallingford Union Workhouse with his mother and older sister Elizabeth. By the time of the next census in 1891 they were living apart; Joseph’s sister Elizabeth was still in the workhouse and had an illegitimate child of her own; their mother Martha had married and moved out of the workhouse; and Joseph had been sent to the training ship Formidable at Portishead.


HMS Formidable

Training ships took boys aged 12 – 17 years of age who were deemed to be paupers and gave them basic training for the navy. It was used as a kind of overspill from the workhouse and although it was not an easy life, contemporary reports indicate that most boys thought it was preferable to the workhouse. Some boys were sent to training ships by magistrates so it is possible that Joseph had been involved in some kind of petty crime or it could just have been because he was a pauper. It must have been tough for boys like Joseph who were sent  some distance from their home. The regime was strict and Joseph would not have seen his mother or sister for long periods of time.

By 1901 Joseph was 24 years old and had become a Private in the Royal Berkshire Regiment. At the time of the census he was visiting his step-sister and her family (the Whitehorns) in St John’s Road, Wallingford. Joseph stayed with the Royal Berks Regiment for 12 years. During his time with the regiment some units were deployed to Gibraltar, South Africa (for the 2nd Boer War) and Egypt so it is possible that Joseph went to one or more of these places. 


Cap badge of the Royal Berkshire Regiment

When he left the army Joseph worked as a labourer and in 1911 he married Ada Emmons and settled in Goring (about 6 miles from Wallingford). Ada’s family came from Goring and she already had a young daughter when they married. 

In the spring of 1915 Joseph enlisted in the army to fight in the First World War. He was 37 years old and was put in the Labour Corps which suggests that he wasn’t fit enough to join a front line unit. Some parts of the Labour Corps were sent to the various theatres of war where the chance of death or injury was high. Other Labour Corps units provided support services in the UK. Joseph was demobilised in January 1919 and returned to his wife and step-daughter in Goring. 

Sadly, Joseph didn’t have long with his family after the war and he died in March 1922 of pulmonary tuberculosis. He died at a hospital in Worcester and his death certificate notes that he was an army pensioner so it is possible that this was a military hospital and the army was paying for his treatment there. Joseph’s body was returned to Goring and he was buried there on 14 March.  He was 45 years old when he died and I think he’d had a tough life. 


The village of Goring on Thames


Naval training ships

Picture credits

Royal Berkshire Regiment cap badge by Dormskirk [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D

HMS Formidable By Captain George Pechell Mends – http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/150793, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=64836470

View of Goring on Thames – by Timo Newton-Syms from Helsinki, Finland & Maidenhead, Berkshire, UK – Goring on Thames, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73004088