The Postmaster’s Son

He was generously named but sadly neglected on the FamilySearch Shared Tree. He has even been deprived of his capital letters.

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Tooker, W G N 1907I became interested in his story because I found, in a dusty folder on an external drive, a photograph of his father. George Newcombe TOOKER was 39 years old when the picture was taken and he had been living in Filey for just a couple of years. Born in Princetown, Devon in 1868, he waited until he was almost thirty before marrying Mary Anthony ROWE – and shortly afterwards volunteered to fight in the Boer War. “Fight” is somewhat misleading. He delivered mail. A local newspaper gave an insight into his career trajectory.

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He arrived in Filey with Mary and two children. One source gives their address as 39 Mitford Street but the 1911 census insists it was No.38. The latter address is more fit for a postmaster but is nonetheless modest. (I am assuming that the street has not been re-numbered in the last century or so.) Chez Tooker has the pale blue door.

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Hedley was born here on 2 December 1911. In September the following year, George is attending a presentation in Plymouth, honouring an “old and respected comrade” at the Post Office. It was “a most pleasant evening”.

Mr Fred Ham’s song, “River of Dart”, was very much appreciated by the company. Mr Jack Marshall favoured his brother telegraphists with “Baby Face” in excellent style. Mr P. Soper was also in good voice. Songs were also rendered by Messrs. Avery, Jeffery, Tooker, Dart and Curle.

…Mr Dart, representing the junior staff, said they thanked Mr Hart for the interest he had taken in them: he was always ready and willing to impart the little intricacies of the “test box” to any of the younger officers.

Mr Tooker referred to Mr Hart as a “jolly good fellow,” and a man who had always done his duty with sincerity and good grace.

George may have returned to Filey with ideas of returning permanently to his home patch. The electoral registers show the Tooker family back in Plymouth at the beginning of the Twenties.

All three of the children married. Edna Mary became Mrs MADDICK in 1927, Leslie married Thirza SMITH the following year, and Irene Patricia Merci DESPARD matched Hedley for given names in 1934.

KingsAshRdPaignton_154_GSVWhen the 1939 Register was taken in September 1939, Hedley was working as an Assurance Agent in Paignton, Devon, living at 154 Kings Ash Road (left) with Irene and their son Michael, 4. A daughter, Mary, was born in 1940. It seems that Hedley joined the RAF at the beginning of the war and, when the conflict was over, the family emigrated to New Zealand. Hedley and Patricia are buried in Whangerei, Northland. Find a photograph of their headstone at Billion Graves.

There is still work to do, but Hedley and his forebears are on a bigger Shared Tree stage now.

Path 91 · Church Walk

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Wiles and Wailes

Researching family units occasionally throws up small surprises of particular types. Here are a couple from my recent efforts.

The married male head of a household in one census may have a wife with a different given name in the next. The ready assumption is that there has been a death in the family – and a second marriage.

In 1871, recently married Thomas WATKINSON is enumerated in Outhert’s Square, Filey, with wife Mary and first child Mary Jane. Ten years later this Watkinson family unit is living in Wenlock Place – Thomas, Mary and five children.

In 1891 Thomas and MARGARET are just around the corner from the previous address, with four of the five children, plus three more, and a lodger. But there hasn’t been a parent death or a second marriage.

In the record for Thomas in Filey Genealogy & Connections, Kath makes a note:

Haven’t yet worked out why his wife should be entered as Mary in familysearch.org when he married Margaret who lived until 1912.

MaryWATKINSON

This scrap of the page image is clear enough. And so is the marriage record.

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“Mary’s” age is given as 29 in 1881 and Margaret is 39 in 1891. A search for birth records yielded nothing convincing for a plain Mary, one for Margaret WILES and another for Margaret WYLES. The first Margaret’s birth was registered in Driffield and the second in Bridlington. The Margaret of the 1891 and 1911 censuses gives her birthplace as North Burton, so Bridlington it is:

WYLESmargt_Birth

Find Margaret on FamilySearch Treebut the parents are, as yet, childless. And the Mary Mystery has not been solved!

The second surprise type this week caused a gnashing of teeth. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) Surgeon WHEELHOUSE and Agnes Caroline COWELL had four girls. One died in infancy and, I think, only first-born Caroline Agnes married. She had two sons with George Herbert ROWE. The younger, Claude Hamerton ROWE, was in his early twenties when his grandfather Claudius died but he married Marjorie Eteson WAILES two or three years after the Wheelhouse grandparents had departed for the better place.

Claude is also playing a waiting game on FamilySearch Tree. Marjorie’s grandfather, George, hasn’t brought her to the church yet, to give her away. Indeed, as I write this, she hasn’t been born to Frederic Hill WAILES and Annie Beatrice WAILES. I don’t know about you, but I always find it discombobulating when two people with the same family name marry. As happens in most such instances, this couple is not related by blood, but they make extending the pedigree back in time more awkward. I’m a dab hand at mixing up same name grandfathers.

Quite a few of the Wailes departed are resting in St Mary’s churchyardBirdforth. I’m envious. You can read about some of them here.