Category Archives: South Croydon

Thomas Arthur Talbot (1880-1947), Beddington

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.

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St Peter, South Croydon – three newcomers

Three of the ringers from St Peter, South Croydon served. It appears all returned (physically) unscathed. They initially appeared quite a challenging group to identify, with no obvious candidates appearing in the 1911 census, nor in a first review of available military records. Fortunately the ringing related sources helped greatly, and they are now probably three of the best documented among those researched for this project.

The first breakthrough came via the Obituaries index produced by the Library Committee of the Central Council for Church Bell Ringers. This showed that an obituary for a Reginald Brough of Croydon had been published in The Ringing World early in 1974. Having obtained a copy via the Librarian of the CCCBR (then John Eisel), this gave the clue that this man had lived in Crayford before the First World War, and later worked for Creed of Croydon (which manufactured teletype and other telegraph and communication equipment). This allowed me to identify the most likely candidate in the 1911 census as Albert Reginald Creed, then a 16-year-old apprentice scientific instrument maker in Crayford. The census also gave his birthplace as Earlsfield, Wandsworth: with this information I was able to find his Royal Naval Air Service record in ADM 188/643/875 (digitised and downloadable). This showed his service number was F51876. I knew that if he had continued serving after the formation of the RAF, his service number should have become 251876 (RNAS transferees with a service number beginning with F were given RAF service numbers 6 digits long, beginning with a 2 and sufficient zeroes to pad the number to six digits). However, something seemed to go slightly wrong in this case, and he actually ended up as 251875, and his record can be found in AIR 79/2271/251875. These records haven’t yet been digitised, but I was able to photograph his.

The next one I managed to resolve was W Rowe. I had begun going through the wartime issues of The Ringing World and the issue of 25 September 1914 stated that Sapper W Rowe of St Peter’s, Croydon was serving with A Fortress Company with the British Expeditionary Force on the Lines of Communication in France. What is more, it was one of the very few entries which gave a regimental number, 15409, and there was indeed a Medal Index Card for Sapper Walter Rowe. There are alternative versions of these cards on Ancestry, these ones also show the reverse of the card, and this proved to be one of the very small number which actually have information on that, in this case an address in North Stoneham. Returning to The Ringing World, the following week’s issue had him mentioned again, this time stating he was W G Rowe from North Stoneham (once again giving his regimental number), and his father W Rowe Senior was also a ringer, as was his brother W Rowe junior who was a regular in the Royal Engineers, based in Egypt for five years; a third Rowe from North Stoneham was serving on HMS Dreadnought. With this information I was once again able to find the family in the 1911 census. Walter was 23-year-old blacksmith, and his father William a bricklayer. The younger William was indeed serving with the Royal Engineers in Egypt. A later further mention in The Ringing World additionally tells us that he had been working for the bellfounding firm of Warner and Sons at the Spitalfields Foundry.

Finally was the man listed on the original roll as L F Garfath. Once again The Ringing World provided the vital clues, there were several mentions of an H L Garfath ringing in Surrey, though for some time, no connection with Croydon. Then in a follow up to an article describing the centenary of a peal rung at Farnham to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo, it was mentioned that one of the ringers was the grandfather of H L Garfath of Croydon, formerly of Guildford and Farnham. This again gave me sufficient information to find him in the 1911 census, listed as a 32-year-old telephone clerk with the National Telephone Company. I discovered this was later taken over by Post Office, bringing him into civil service appointments which can be tracked in the London Gazette and also in the Postal Appointment Registers which have been digitised and are available online. These also showed his move to Croydon. A later The Ringing World entry describes him as a Motor Transport driver with the Royal Flying Corps, then based at the Curragh in Ireland (then still part of the United Kingdom). Now having his full names, I found his subsequent RAF record in AIR 79/193/17182.

To finally round things off, I found a further Ringing World entry actually placing Reginald Brough in Croydon during the war, ringing a quarter peal at St Peter’s on Ascension Day 1916. This was interesting as his obituary implied he had not moved there until after the war, while his RAF record give his next-of-kin as his wife, at an address in Crayford. Perhaps she had moved back to her parents’ while he was serving?