Though this post is appearing on 1 July, the anniversary of the opening of the Battle of the Somme, that is purely coincidental. There is no evidence that Thomas Arthur Talbot’s service even took him outside the United Kingdom.
He is listed as one of the Beddington ringers on the roll, but had also rung at both Croydon towers. He appears to have been the ninth of nine children of Joseph Talbot and Emily (nee Dann). They married at Paddington Parish Church (St James’s Paddington) on 16 February 1859. Joseph was a coachman living at Hyde Park Garden Mews and Emily a needlewoman living at Hyde Park Square. Both were the children of domestic servants themselves. As they lived in a mews houses when in London, I’ve not been able to establish which family they worked for, the births of their children are split between Hyde Park Garden Mews (they are in either 46 or 47 at successive censuses) and Hertfordshire, predominantly Great Berkhamsted, but one child was born in Chorleywood. The first of Thomas’s siblings, Emily Mary was born in London on 23 January 1860. She was followed by Catharine Anne in early 1862 (Chorleywood), Hannah in mid 1863 (London), Joseph David in mid 1865 (Great Berkhamsted), Louisa in late 1867 (Great Berkhamsted), Alice in late 1870 (Great Berkhamsted), Ellen Ada in late 1872 (Great Berkhamsted), Amy Elizabeth in mid 1875 (Great Berkhamsted), and the baby of the family, Thomas himself in early 1880 (Great Berkhamsted). He was baptised in Great Berkhamsted on 8 February 1880. It is possible there were other, short-lived, children who do not appear in any of the censuses.
By 1891 his father had retired and the family were living at 54 Borough Hill, Croydon. The household at the 1891 census comprised Joseph (59), Emily (56), Emily Mary (31), Catharine Anne (29), Joseph David (26), a warehouseman, Amy Elizabeth (15), Thomas himself (11), at school, and also a lodger, recorded as Henry J Rumble. It seems he may have been normally known by his middle name as James, and that it was he who introduced Joseph David and Thomas to bellringing. Certainly James Rumble and Joseph Talbot are recorded ringing together from 1892.
The first mention of Thomas Talbot ringing is from 1895, at St John’s Croydon, where he helped out on the tenor for a peal of Oxford Bob Triples. Though it is the peal of Grandsire Triples (again at St John’s) that is marked as his first peal on 22 March 1898. This also marked his election to the Surrey Association of Church Bell Ringers. In 1900 he rang a peal at St Peter’s, South Croydon.
At the 1901 census the family were still at 54 Borough Hill, the household now comprising Joseph (68), Emily (65), Emily Mary (41), a dressmaker, Alice (30), a nurse domestic, and Thomas (21), now a carpenter. Also present were Louisa Crawley (33, nee Talbot), already widowed and with children Louisa E (4) and Arthur J (2 months). Henry J Rumble was still lodging with the family too.
Up to 1904 Thomas appears annually, so slightly more, in ringing reports, with his first connection with Beddington from 1901. On 9 February 1907 he married Agnes Annie Kenyon at Holy Trinity, Selhurst. Their first child, Marjorie Annie, followed later the same year. In 1908 he makes his first appearance as a ringer for some time, returning to St John’s, Croydon, to ring a quarter peal with his brother which was a farewell to the conductor, E Bray, who was about to move to Eastbourne.
His mother, Emily, died around the same time, aged 73. A second child, a son, Edward George, arrived late in 1908, followed by Dora Lilian in early 1911. By the 1911 census, Thomas Arthur (31) and Agnes Annie (25) were living at Broadmoor Cottages, Wotton, Dorking with their three children. Dora had been born in Wotton. Thomas is shown to be a self-employed carpenter, so they may just have been living there temporarily while he worked on a job.
The outbreak of war doesn’t initially seem to have made much difference. It was only 11 December 1916 that Thomas attested, probably under the Derby Scheme. He joined the Royal Engineers where his civilian carpentry skills could be put to good use. He attested at Woolwich, and the entry in the recruitment register shows that he was 35 years, 11 months old, 5’8.25″ tall, weighed 129 lbs and had a 34.5″ chest. The family were then living at 6 Ravensworth Road. No other trace of his military service has been definitely traced. There is no medal index card for Thomas A Talbot in the Royal Engineers (he does not appear to have given his middle name at enlistment), though there is only one Thomas Talbot with no middle initial who served with them: however his rank is given as sapper, and the roll shows Thomas as a corporal. Given his age it is quite possible that he served only at home however.
Following the war, the family seem to have settled in Beddington, and Thomas begins to appear regularly in peal and quarter peal reports once again. From Remembrance Day 1923 his son, Edward George, also begins to appear regularly and became quite a well-known ringer.
Thomas died on 21 October 1947 in Wallington. He had been living at 4 Camden House, Guy Road. Administration of his estate was granted to Edward George and Marjorie Annie (now de Freitas), it’s not clear why Dora is not named. His estate was valued at £1679 11s 11d.