WW1 photo postcard sent to the HANDS family – are you connected?

At a recent postcard fair in Surrey I found and bought a lovely photographic postcard showing a group, with several of the men in uniform.


Was this a family shot showing siblings before going off to war – I decided to investigate further!

The postcard was sent to a Mr and Mrs J HANDS at 117 Greenway Street, Small Heath in Birmingham and has a postmark of either 17th June 1916 or 1918.


The message reads:

Dear Mother, Dad, … & ….,

We arrived quite safe & everything is lovely & fresh here. Hope you will like this view … I was too late to get another & I hope you get it Sunday. Just off for a stroll by the river


Sully & Will xxxxxxx


I started by looking for a Mr and Mrs J HANDS on the 1911 census and then using the address of 117 Greenway Street found a census record for a Thomas and Jane at the address, with children Rose aged 18, Thomas aged 17, Samuel aged 12 and William aged 8 – are Samuel and William our Sully and Will the senders of the postcard and is the Mr & Mrs J actually Mr & Mrs T?

Thomas’s occupation was A Cycle Finisher.


Source: Ancestry 1911 England Census Detail: Class: RG14; Piece: 18183

Thomas and Jane HANDS had been married for 20 years in 1911 and I found their marriage in the January quarter of 1892 in Aston in Warwickshire – this confirmed that Jane’s maiden name was ASTON.

I also found the family on the 1901 census as below:


Source: Ancestry 1901 census Detail: Class: RG13; Piece: 2864; Folio: 28; Page: 14

I have found the birth registration entries for the HANDS children and have discovered that their full names were Rose Helena HANDS, Thomas HANDS, Samuel Alec HANDS and William Henry HANDS – also on quick investigation I cannot see that Samuel or William were killed during World War 1.

I am therefore now intrigued to know if Samuel and William HANDS are in fact shown in the photograph on the postcard, possibly with their parents Thomas and Jane – if anyone has a connection to the HANDS family from Small Heath in Birmingham I would be pleased to hear from you, as it would be great to find out more about the people shown and to possibly reunite the postcard with a family member.

I look forward to hearing from you and I will post any updates accordingly..

Simon LAST

http://www.charnwood-genealogy.com         charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com


Posted in 117 Greenway Street, ASTON, HANDS, Old Photographs, Postcard, Small Heath Birmingham, World War 1, WW1 Photograph, WW1 postcard | 1 Comment

More Easton WW1 postcards discovered!

Following a visit to a Postcard and Paper Fair in Tolworth in Surrey earlier this week, I was pleased to discover two more old postcards sent during World War 1 from Easton Mansion in Suffolk.

Having researched and written about the use of this Mansion as a Red Cross Hospital during the World War 1 earlier this year, I am always fascinated to find cards sent with messages from the wounded soldiers who were treated there.


The first postcard must have been sent in an envelope, as unfortunately it has no postal address on it, but it is dated 11th January 1918 and is sent to Bill from Arthur with the following message:

Easton Park, Wickham Market, Suffolk

Dear Bill

Just a line to wish you many Happy Returns. The above is my address for some time yet. It is the residence of the party who sent me to Ventnor. I am feeling pretty good just now.

Its pretty lively here as there are about 60 wounded Tommies & they keep things moving some.

That’s all just now, so will close with Best Wishes

From Your Sincere Chum



It is great to see Arthur refer to the others with him as Tommies and I wonder what the connection to Ventnor was?

The second postcard was sent to Mrs DIVER, 11 Ruskin Street, Briton Ferry in  Glamorgan in South Wales and is postmarked 23rd November 1917 – unfortunately the message is very small and not easy to read – however it appears to be sent to a Nance from Bob.



I have been able to find the DIVER family living at 11 Ruskin Avenue in Briton Ferry in the 1911 census, as below and the head of house is Robert J DIVER aged 37 a Rigger – this fits with Bob as the sender of the postcard.


Source: Ancestry.com. 1911 Wales Census – Source Citation Class: RG14; Piece: 32622; Schedule Number: 122

The other household members are his wife Annie aged 34 and they have been married for four years and have a son called Ralph aged two. Could Nance be a nickname for Annie?

More investigation needed and I will update further in due course.

Thanks for all the support of my blog posts this year and wishing you all a very Happy New Year.

Simon Last

http://www.charnwood-genealogy.com           charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com


Posted in 11 Ruskin Street, British Red Cross, Briton Ferry, DIVER, Easton, Glamorgan, Old Photographs, Postcard, Suffolk, Wales, World War 1, WW1 postcard | Leave a comment

Why was Harry CRISP called “BOOTS”?

Whilst researching the old Framlingham Weekly News newspapers online I came across an interesting article from 110 years ago, in the Saturday 12th January 1907 edition:


 Nearly eighteen years ago Harry Crisp came to Framlingham to take up the impossible position of “Boots” at the Crown Hotel combined with which appointment is the delivery of passenger goods from the Railway Station. The choice made by Mr W G L Sewell, the highly respected landlord of that time, was a wise one, as time has justified, and Crisp, by his wonderful geniality at all times, and obliging manner, soon became one of the best known and most liked men in his station in the town.


 Crisp has now strengthened, as it were, his time with the locality by taking unto himself a wife, entering the holy state at Bramford on Wednesday last, and he is now enjoying the best and perhaps the longest holiday he has had since his schooldays. He has been the recipient of many useful presents from unexpected quarters – a fitting appreciation of devotion to duty and kindness and courtesy to all.

 Travellers to Framlingham who make the Crown Hotel their stopping place , have always found in “Boots” a trustworthy servant and recognise in him a man of the “right kidney.” Such persons in whatever station of life are a valuable asset to any locality, and it is hoped that he will remain amongst us for many more years.

 I am now going to research Harry Crisp in more detail, but if anyone has any information about “Boots” or a family connection it would be great to hear from you, to discover more about his life and work in Framlingham.

I will keep you updated!

Simon Last

charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com    www.charnwood-genealogy.com

Posted in BOOTS, CRISP, Crown Hotel, Suffolk | 1 Comment

The BROWNING Bank book mystery!

As you know I love to investigate and research old photographs and postcards to discover more about the family connections and sometimes to try and locate a living descendant to reunite the item.

Well recently my friend Rachel from Framlingham has passed on to me three old Royal Bank of Scotland Western Branch Bank books that were discovered in a box of ephemera purchased at the Campsea Ashe Auction in Suffolk.


Loving a  mystery as I do, I wanted to see if I could discover more about these three old Bank books and possibly see how they ended up at a country auction in Suffolk!

The first clues were the names Mrs L E BROWNING on the back of one book and the name Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING Esq. on the other two books.

img_4272    img_4273

I quickly discovered that Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING was born in the January quarter of 1901 and the 1901 census record shows him aged one month living with his parents Henry G and Lucy E BROWNING – confirming that the owner of the other Bank book was Henry’s mother.

This 1901 census record also showed that Henry had two sisters Eileen E G BROWNING aged 4 and Christabel L G BROWNING aged 3 – the family were living at 21 Albert Gate in Knightsbridge in London. Henry’s father Henry’s occupation is shown as a Sprit and Wine Merchant an Employer.


Source: Ancestry.com. 1901 England Census Source Citation: Class: RG13; Piece: 83; Folio: 44; Page: 7

Further research showed that Henry Gonne BROWNING had married Lucy Evelyn STEVENSON in the April quarter of 1893 in the St George Hanover Square Registration District. This also confirmed that the Evelyn name had been passed down to Henry as a middle name and the GONNE name was also a family connected name.

The 1911 census record shows the BROWNING family living at 29 Hans Mansions in Kensington with Head of house Henry Gonne BROWNING aged 52 married to Lucy Evelyn for 17 full years with a total of three children Eileen Elizabeth Gonne aged 14, Christabel Lucy Gonne aged 13 and Henry Evelyn Gonne aged 10.


Source: Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census Source Citation: Class: RG14; Piece: 111

My research also uncovered a document dated 1st June 1922, the London Freedom of the City papers, which admitted Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING born on the 26th February 1901 son of Henry Gonne BROWNING of 21 Albert Gate Knightsbridge to be admitted as a Citizen and Grocer into the Freedom of the City by Patrimony, in the said Company of Grocers.


Source: Ancestry.com. London, England, Freedom of the City Admission Papers, 1681-1925 Source Citation: London Metropolitan Archive; Reference Number: COL/CHD/FR/02/2684-2686

I can find no marriage for Henry Evelyn Gonne BROWNING, but have found that he died on the 29th January 1976 aged 75 and his final address is shown on his Probate record as The Old House, Holland Street in London W8.

His mother Lucy Evelyn BROWNING died on the 29th July 1951 aged 51 and Henry her son was named as her Executor.

The mystery now is how these three old BROWNING Bank books turned up for sale at an auction earlier this year in Suffolk, 40 years after Henry died – did they get passed down to another member of the family who has now since also passed away?

If anyone has any information or a connection to the BROWNING family and can confirm a valid link, it would be great if these old Bank books could be reunited with the family archive – If you can help I would be delighted to hear from you.

Many thanks

Simon Last

http://www.charnwood-genealogy.com           charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com



Posted in London | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Intriguing WW1 photograph – George WALTERS & family Wellisford Cottages Wellington Somerset

Regular readers of this blog will know that when visiting car boot sales and antique fairs I try to find old postcards and photographs with a WW1 connection that I can research and possibly reunite with a family member.

On my travels during the summer I have recently found the photograph below taken at a Photographers in Wellington in Somerset, which had some fascinating detail on the back:




Geo. WALTERS and family taken July 1916 – Wellisford Cottage, Wellisford Manor, Nr Wellington, Somerset.

I therefore wondered if the young man in uniform was George WALTERS photographed with his family before he set off for WW1.


Can anyone identify this cap badge?

However in the same box of old photographs I found another photograph, as below, with the name Geo. WALTERS also written on the front taken at a Photographers in Harpurhey.


Looking at this young man he bared more resemblance to the older man sitting in the photograph above – is this the same man?

I have therefore tried to find a George WALTERS in Somerset, possibly on the 1911 census, and although I can find several men with that name in the County I can not tie down a record as yet, that would fit with the possible ages of the children also shown in the photograph – also I think it is his wife also seated and possibly her mother standing behind, as again they look very similar.

If the second photograph is the same man Harpurhey is an inner-city area of  Manchester in North West England, approximately three miles north east of the city centre.

Did George WALTERS grow up and marry there and move to Somerset at a later date?

I can find various mentions of Wellisford Manor in old newspapers online and of the various families that have lived there over the years, but no mention of the WALTERS family at this stage – did George possibly work on the estate and live in a tied cottage?

I am therefore hoping that any readers of this blog who are located in Somerset or know of Wellisford Manor and / or Wellisford Cottage, may be able to provide me with some additional information – are there WALTERS graves in the churchyard for example.

Any help will be gratefully received, as it is a lovely old photograph and it would be great if it could be reunited with a  family member or descendant of the George WALTERS!

Simon Last

http://www.charnwood-genealogy.com             charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com

Posted in Battle of the Somme, Harpurhey, Postcard, Somerset, WALTERS, Wellington, Wellisford Manor, World War 1, WW1 Photograph | 5 Comments

Who will I be thinking of as I walk the WW1 Frontline 5th to 9th October 2016?

Following my Framlingham War Memorial World War 1 book launch in November 2011, an article appeared in the East Anglian Daily Times about the launch and I was contacted by a lady in Chelmsford, whose 96 year old mother Ruby was the daughter of Reuben Meadows who was featured in the book.



East Anglian Daily Times newspaper 3rd March 2012

Ruby Meadows was born on 16th September 1916, 12 days before her father was killed during the Battle of the Somme on 28th September 1916, so she never knew him and she was given her Christian name in memory of him.

I always wonder if Reuben had heard that his daughter Ruby had been born before he died?

Reuben was the son of Reuben and Elizabeth Meadows (nee Banthorpe) and had four siblings Ernest , Ellen, Ethel and William. The 1901 census shows the family living at Vyces Road in Framlingham with Reuben aged 16 working as a Gardener’s Assistant. His father’s occupation is shown as Miller’s Carter.

Service Details: Private G/21183 – 7th Battalion The Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment

Place of Death: France & Flanders

Place of Burial: No Known Grave

Commemorated: Thiepval Memorial – France


Thiepval Memorial France

Sadly Reuben’s brother Ernest and his brother in law Walter Thompson (married to his sister Ellen Meadows) were also killed, so Ruby’s Grandmother lost three members of her family in World War 1.


I met up with Ruby in February 2012, in Martlesham in Suffolk, to talk about my research and she said that the book had brought back many memories to her of her early life in Framlingham and she had really enjoyed seeing all the old photographs. Following my visit Ruby took a trip back to Framlingham with her daughter to see all the familiar landmarks.


Ruby Meadows talking to me about my book

It was a real honour and a privilege to meet Ruby, who was so closely linked to Reuben, and whom I had come to know during the research for my book and as I walk the 100kms of the World War 1 Frontline through France and Belgium between the 5th to 9th October 2016, I will be remembering Reuben who died on 28th September 1916 and thinking of my visit to his daughter Ruby in 2012.

 We Will Remember Them

My walk will be raising funds for ABF The Soldiers Charity and if anyone would like to make a donation or find out more information about my 2016 challenge the link is www.justgiving.com/simonlast

Many thanks

Simon Last

www.charnwood-genealogy.com           charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com



Posted in BANTHORPE, Battle of the Somme, Dennington, Framlingham, MEADOWS, Suffolk, World War 1 | Leave a comment

Remembering a Somme Soldier 100 years on…

In June I was contacted by Allan Sedger who had seen my Framlingham War Memorial research on the internet – Allan is the great nephew of David Alfred Barker, who was killed, aged 21, on 20th July 1916 during the Battle of the Somme.

Allan was planning to be in Framlingham on the 20th July to visit the War Memorial to pay his respects, exactly 100 years to the day since his Great Uncle was killed.

Framlingham War Memorial (2)

His Great Uncle David Alfred Barker was the son of Harry and Clara Barker (nee Ashford) and he had ten siblings George, Sheppard, Charlotte, Harry, Freeman, Hannah, Alma, Clara, Herbert and Ella. On the 1901 census the family were living at Edwards Farm in Coles Green and David was aged 5 and his father’s occupation was shown as a Farm Steward. In 1911 the family were still living at Edwards Farm and David was aged 15 working as a Stockboy on a Farm and his father’s  occupation was Steward on Farm.

David was Private 200758 of the 4th Battalion Suffolk Regiment and he enlisted in Framlingham and left for France on 13th January 1915. He died on 20th July 1916 and has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France. As you will see from the newspaper extract below it took over a year for the family to receive official confirmation that David had been killed in     action the previous year.

 Framlingham Weekly News – 25th August 1917

 Mr and Mrs Barker of Coles Green have now been notified that their son, Bomber David Barker, who was reported as missing on July 20th last year, is now officially reported to have met his death on that date.

I was in Framlingham on Wednesday 20th July 2016 and it was a real privilege for me to be able to meet Allan, who is descended from David’s sister Clara, and to spend time with him on such a poignant anniversary.

 Allen Sedger 20 July 2016

 Simon Last

charnwoodresearch@virginmedia.com     www.charnwood-genealogy.com

Posted in BARKER, Battle of the Somme, Framlingham, World War 1 | Leave a comment