Gone For Soldiers, Almost Every One

The 1871 Census found George TAYLOR in Main Street, Seamer, a short distance away from his parents and siblings. He was 16 years old, serving an apprenticeship with Master Boot and Shoemaker John RHODES. About 250 miles away, 14-year-old Ellen TUCKER was enumerated in Philadelphia Terrace, Lambeth, with her mother Elizabeth née HARRIOTT, three sisters and a brother.

Ten years later George and Ellen were in Filey; a shoemaker and a domestic servant. Had they already met? Were they courting? They married in the spring of 1883 and brought six boys into the world. It wasn’t a good time to be a parent in a war-mongering nation.

One boy died before his first birthday, four joined Kitchener’s Army and three were killed.


Photographer unknown, c. 1914, courtesy Keith Taylor


Silas, the youngest of the brothers, was the first to be killed – near Auchonvillers in the Somme region of France, on the 3rd February 1917. He was serving with the 2nd Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

In the photograph, Silas is standing behind Fred. To his left are William, Herbert, and Ernest.

Herbert, the eldest, didn’t enlist. Perhaps he wanted to but was already married, with a three-year-old son at the start of the ‘Great War’. Perhaps the authorities thought four Taylor boys were enough and gave him a pass. He would live to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Ernest may also have had a stroke of luck – he was captured by the Germans. I don’t know how long he was a prisoner of war but he eventually came back home. At the beginning of the next war, aged 50, he was a salesman down in London, not far from where his mother, Ellen, had been raised. He was married to Lilian, her maiden surname not yet discovered.

The TAYLORs were not on FamilySearchTree. I had to go back to the grandfather of Herbert’s wife, Lily, to pick up an ancestral thread to which they could all be attached.

Ellen, George and their slaughtered lambs are remembered on a headstone in St Oswald’s churchyard.


In Loving Memory of GEORGE, beloved husband of ELLEN TAYLOR, died Jan 9th 1928, aged 73.

‘He fought a good fight

He kept the faith’

Also of his wife ELLEN TAYLOR, died Jan 16th 1942, aged 85 years.


Also FRED, WILLIAM and SILAS, sons of the above who fell in action in France, 1917-1918.


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