The first photo is clearly a posed photograph
typical of the late Victorian/Early Edwardian era. Perhaps on the back of the photo is
the name of the photographer and the studio where it was taken. James is
resting his right arm on a small table upon which sits a small book, perhaps
a bible to show his supposed devotion (but more likely placed to keep his arm in
the same position), a classical work or a mere prop. Because
of the long exposure times of film at this time this would explain why he has
been posed as in this position the photographer has tried to make the shot
interesting but at the same time easy for James to keep still. It is far easier
to remain still while seated than standing up, he is also leaning one arm on the
table which also will help the subject to remain still. There is a stylised background behind
him of what looks to be a Greek, Roman or Etruscan scene. You can clearly
see that this is a hanging curtain. Photographs of this era were very rare
and very costly, particularly to a Coal Miner. This is typical of the very
formal style of photography, it is more of a statement than an everyday
snapshot. This may have been taken by a travelling photographer perhaps at the
Town Moor as photographers of the time travelled the country with shows and
James appears to be of typical Durham miner stature, I'd estimate he
isn't taller than 6' tall and probably between 5'7" and 5'11". The shoes
be his own and as the jacket looks too big for him perhaps that too was a prop.
The second photo came to courtesy of Elizabeth Ince, who was unsure who it is.
All we can say is that he is a corporal in the Royal Artillery wearing a
bandolier for Lee Enfield bullet clips. I suspect it is a WWI photo rather than
a 2nd Boer war one. The photo is actually a postcard of the type typically
issued to front line troops in France/Belgium. The photo of Charles Lewis Wright
is also a postcard so I have to assume that it is almost certainly a WWI
photo.... but of whom? Liz has confirmed that it is in fact Ernest Gundry
brother of Jessie Kate Gundry who married Herbert Wright, James's son.
* So far I haven't found any corroboration for James having a middle name
James and the Anglo-Boer war
Maureen claims that James fought in the Boer War and had a collection of items
from that conflict. However, she doesn't say WHICH Boer war, there were two. The
first war (The Boers name it as the first war of independence) was fought
between the Transvaalers and the British forces in South Africa in 1880-1. In
1880 James would have been 26 years old, He would have had a 2 year old daughter
and quite possibly another one on the way, Alice was 1 in 1881. It is just
conceivable that James joined the army when he was 18 which is why he doesn't
appear on the 1871 census. Maureen identifies the second photo as James. The
person looks to be the right age of 26/27. He is a Corporal in the Royal
Artillery. Originally, the Royal Artillery had Corporals (but not
Lance-Corporals) and a Bombardier was junior to a Corporal and wore a single
chevron Unlike a Lance-Corporal, a Bombardier held full non-commissioned rank
and not an acting appointment. The rank was equivalent to Second Corporal in the
Royal Engineers and Army Ordnance Corps.
In 1920, Corporals were abolished in
the Royal Artillery and Bombardiers became the equivalent and acquired the
normal two chevrons. Artillerymen wore blue jackets to distinguish them from the
red-coated infantry. The vestigial 'slow match' on 'James's' left shoulder is a
uniform throwback to when guns were lit with such implements. Now to become a
Corporal James must have been in the artillery more than a few months and shown
some sort of leadership qualities and be trustworthy. These are not traits
spotted as soon as you walk into the recruiting office. It may well be that
James joined up for financial reasons.
British troops suffered a series of setbacks at Laings Nek (1881 Jan. 28), Schuinshoogte/Ingogo
(1881 Feb. 8)
and the disaster at Majuba Hill (1881 Feb. 26-27) (See Chronology)
where their C in C General Colley (a very brave but also disorganised man) was mortally wounded. A ceasefire was hastily
agreed and within days the war was over, very much to the Army's chagrin that
had hoped to gather reinforcements and avenge their setbacks. Indeed General
Roberts was already on his way to Natal from India and re-enforcements from
England also reached as far as Newcastle
The might of the
British Empire had been defeated, or at least checked, by a small infant republic with no standing
army. The victory at Majuba became enshrined in Boer folk history. Alongside the
Great Trek it served as a great source of inspiration and a symbol of unity for
the next generations. For the British, this humiliating defeat continued to
rankle; when 18 years later war with the Boers broke out again, the British Army
went into battle burning with the desire for revenge and with the cry 'Remember
Majuba!' on their lips. On 27 February 1900, the 19th anniversary of the battle,
Lord Roberts forced the surrender of the Boer general Piet Cronje and 4,000 of
his men at Paardeberg. Roberts had been urged to make the final telling attack
on this day by General Hector MacDonald, survivor of Majuba. At the surrender,
Cronje is reported to have lamented: 'You have even taken our Majuba day away
Why did the British lose? The British soldiers had only just
successfully put down Cetewayo (again after a series of reverses particularly
the defeat at Isandhlwana) and were not only war weary but couldn't justify the
expenditure of yet another South African war. Gold and Diamonds hadn't been
discovered in the Transvaal, as they were later as justification for the
massive expenditure of the Second Boer War. The army was badly equipped for the
new type of warfare that the Boers invented. Guerrilla warfare on the Veldt and
defence of entrenched positions. Bright Red uniforms were no disadvantage
against Ceteswayos native forces as they fought their enemies head on in pitched
battles. Cetewayo's downfall was that his Impis (Regiments) ignored his orders
NOT to attack entrenched British soldiers but to meet them in the open with the
element of surprise. That was the tactic they used to such great effect at
Isandhlwana but was ignored at Rourkes Drift and the other encounters in the
Zulu war culminating in the final defeat at Ulundi where his warriors were shot
down in droves attacking the entrenched British 'Rectangle'. The Zulu way of
fighting was to close with their enemy quickly and fight him toe to toe while
encircling the flanks with their Horns of the buffalo formation. A Rifle and
bayonet is not as wieldy in close quarter combat as an Assegai and knobkerrie.
as late as the 1880's the British still marched into battle as they
had done at Waterloo in their bright red tunics with white belts and straps.
These were uniforms dating from the age of the musket, gunpowder and ball not
the relatively smokeless battles of the age of the rifle with it's low emission
ammunition. The emphasis was now on NOT being seen. A complete turnaround from
the Napoleonic era. Officers were even more conspicuous and made ideal targets for the
sharp-shooting Boers. The death of Colley at Majuba was a major blow and the
constant picking off of officers caused confusion, low morale and poor or
non-existent leadership. The British
hadn't faced an enemy like the Boers before, the Zulus had merely charged at
their massed volleys and conveniently continued to do so. With the Boers the
roles were reversed. Although Queen Victoria herself was keen for the war to
continue Gladstone wisely thought the conflict was not worth another British
soldiers life and instructed General Evelyn Wood to begin peace talks. Would the
British have been successful anyway? Not without a change of tactics and vast
expenditure. Some of
the lessons of the first Boer war were still unlearned in 1914! At least by the
second Boer war the British troops had adopted Khaki uniforms and attacked in
loose formation. The Boer farmers hardened to life on the Veldt and shooting game
(and Zulus) at an early age, however, were able to demoralise the British
by picking off the officers who still wore different uniforms.
In order to have fought in the first Boer war James would
have to have been born in 1862 or earlier, we know he was 49 in 1901 and we know
he was actually born in 1852 so he would
indeed have been of prime military age of about 27.
The second Boer War
The North-East has a large number of Boer
war memorials as testimony to the pride in it's armed forces, as opposed
to the shame the nation felt over the concentration camps. A huge colonial power had managed to
finally beat a
couple of small nations of farmers and even then it took 3 years. The Boers
themselves didn't regard the Peace Of Vereeniging as a 'surrender' but more of a
settlement. The British held a different view. Victory parades
were held even in Prudhoe and Stocksfield to welcome back the war veterans
so we can assume James took part in one of them, probably in Co. Durham
If indeed he fought in this war then James (and bear in mind he would have
been aged 47 in 1899) would have been embarked for South Africa between the 3rd and
18th January in the newly formed 7th Division or between 12th March and
18th April 1900 in the 8th division. These embarkations exhausted the UK
of regular troops leaving just the militias. Of these 35 militia battalions
were asked to volunteer for service and all but 3 did so. The Yeomanry also
volunteered for service. If James wasn't in the regular army then he was
certainly in the militia or yeomanry. Charles Lewis was born in August
1900 which means of course that he was conceived just a few weeks before
the regular army was embarked for cape town.
To conclude then I find it extremely unlikely that James served in the 2nd Boer
While the troops were away fighting in the Boer war back home Newcastle United
were thriving after being elected to the second division of the Football
league (North). In 1898 they were promoted to the First Division. In 1905
they won the league for the first time and did so again in 1907 and 1909
including a couple of losing FA Cup finals at the Crystal Palace stadium.
However, by 1911 Newcastle had collected more trophies than they had bridges
across the Tyne and James would have been around to see or read about it.
Maureen recalls that James was a high ranking member of the local Labour
Party (whether this was in Birtley, Gateshead or Newcastle we don't know) but she
is sure he was a Chairman and wore some chains of office which would mean
he was perhaps an Alderman? Maybe he had his hands on the FA Cup at the
Maureen says that she was 4 years old when James died which would mean circa
1934 and that is indeed the case. She also recalls
that there was a large photo of the Family outside their grocers shop on
the Sunderland road in Gateshead near Blacks Music hall (1 Emily Street is where
they lived in the 1901 census). Sunderland Road
is near the Gateshead stadium Metro station. The shop sold groceries and
fruit and vegetables. Sunderland Road is very close to Jackson Street where Hannah
Davison's sister (Nellie?) lived.
Listed as living at 358 Sunderland road which may well be 1 Emily street
where they were previously living. No mention of Stella who would have been 32
and married. Eva was about to marry George Osborne. Herbert has gone missing, he
would have been 23. Alice is missing presumed deceased and no sign of her 13
year old son. John William must have died recently.
In the 1901 census the Wrights live at No. 1
Emily Street which is off the Sunderland Road, presumably on the corner of the
two streets. I have extrapolated the details here:
James is on RG13/4758 Folio 13 page 17 to be precise while the rest are on
page 18 so he was born between 1st April 1851 and 31st march 1852
The census took place on 31st March 1901.
By 'hewer' that meant he lay on his side (often in 6 inches of water)
hacking away at a coal face.
The eldest child is Stella Clarissa who is aged 22. That means she was born when he
was about 27. The first Boer war was 1880-81 so he would have been around 27
then. Stella could have been born after or during that war but probably not
before. She was born in 1878, or at least registered in the first quarter of
Alice Warner Wright was registered between Jan-Feb-Mar in 1880.
13 in 1901 and was born in Durham while John/Jack was 9 and born in Low Fell so
sometime in those 4 years they moved from Durham to there. Donald and Charlie
were both born in Gateshead so they must have spent a few years in Low Fell
before moving to Emily St. If, as indeed is stated, Charles was 2 on 2nd April he
must have been born in 1899, which indeed he was. Jenny would have been 44 when she gave birth to
Charlie. Donald was registered as Donald ROBIN in 1895 between Jan, Feb and Mar:
John William was registered between Jul, Aug and Sep 1890
The 1891 census took place on 5th April . The Wrights had moved to 10
St Mary's Terrace in Heworth, Gateshead. Heworth is very close to Emily Street.
The church in Heworth is St Mary's so was St Mary's Terrace very close to it?
There are some wonderful old photos of Heworth here
Note that on this census Eva L is down
as Louisa. Also Clara appears on the 1891 census but becomes Jane C. in the 1901
one . Note also that James A. has become Arthur in the 1891 census. The change of
name depends on whether a child chooses a name for himself/herself or the
pedantry or laziness of the census taker. We know Jane Booth wasn't actually
born in Barnard Castle but in Cockfield, which of course is close by.
In 1881 James was living in Framwellgate Moor, a town on the outskirts of
Durham city. The 1881 census took place on the night of the 3rd of April. I have
written an extensive word document on Framwellgate and the Wright connection here.
Note that James is listed as being born in Pittington. Pittington is between
Durham and Hetton-Le-Hole. Note also the lodger James Todd who turns out to be
Jane's uncle, her mothers brother.
The 1871 census took place on 2nd April. James would then have been
aged 17 or more likely 18, as yet I cannot find his record if he was indeed
Here is the entry in the register of births for the ONLY James Wright
registered in Durham between 1851 and 1853 apart from a James Ralph Wright
born in 1851 who would be just too old. This entry is for JLY-AUG-SEP 1852
James would have been between 81 and 83 when he died. This James Wright was registered as died at Chester-Le-Street in
the records for OCT-NOV-DEC 1933. Birtley is halfway between Gateshead and
Chester-Le Street.. Note that he is aged 81 which is the correct age.
Thomas Wright c1826-
The 1841 Census
There are two possible Thomas Wrights on the 1841 (completed on the 6th June)
Location Piercebridge (Near Darlington) Co. Durham. Notice that Thomas has a
The Elizabeth Arnell is surely Elizabeth Wrights mother and is either living
in the house or visiting. Looking at the census page all the men seem to be
employed as agricultural labourers and Thomas is not the only blacksmiths
Next door interestingly is this family
Notice that not only does the head of the house share the same name, he is
easily old enough to be Hugh's father (and Thomas's grandfather) and is married
to an Ann Wright. Thomas and Ann are the names of Hugh's twins surely this is
NOT a coincidence. Next door to
this older Thomas lives a licensed victualler, then a postmistress, a butcher
and a saddler so it seems they were living very close to some shops. I can't
find a spinster called Mary Wright on the 1851 census if indeed she was a
spinster in 1841, she may have been visiting her parents on the night of the
1841 census of course and the census taker simply put her down as a Wright and
you can see he had started writing Wr...
This Thomas appears in Westoe, South Shields/Jarrow
again this Thomas is a twin and it looks like the head of the house,
William, also is a twin to Benjamin Wright.
How do you figure out who is the correct ancestor? Thomas(2) comes from a
mining family and we know James was a miner however, this Thomas(2) is in South
Shields whereas James was born nearer to Durham than Jarrow. We know that the
Thomas we definitely know is James father claims to have been born in
Chester-Le-Street on the 1861 census. The Westoe Thomas(2) is still alive on the
1871 census and you just can't be two people at the same time. Thomas (1) is
happily (hopefully) living in Chowdean. I think that conclusively proves that
Thomas(1) is our Thomas.
The 1851 census
Hugh and Elizabeth are still together but now on their own in 1851 in
Piercebridge. It states that Hugh was born in Staindrop Co.Durham and Elizabeth
in Denton (also Co. Durham). It also seems to state that both Hugh and Elizabeth
are Agricultural labourers. Notice they are now 8 years apart in age whereas in
1841 they were 5 years apart. Curious. Staindrop is very close to Cockfield and
not far from Piercebridge either. Denton is also closer to Staindrop than
Thomas would have been aged 25 in 1851. There is a Thomas (listed as being
born in Old Durham) of the correct age listed as an Agricultural Labourer living
as a Farmers servant (the farmer is called William Gibson) in Pollards Lands in
Auckland St Andrew in Durham.
There is another of the same age living as
a lodger in Bishopwearmouth but he is listed as being born in Nettleston which
is in Northumberland. No one else seems to fit the correct profile in 1851 so
I'll have to assume he missed the census that year. This isn't uncommon. Bear in
mind he was a father to his son also Thomas by 1854 and his wife was from
Scotland, perhaps he wandered over the border?
The !861 Census
Hugh and Elizabeth are still alive in 1861. Here he
is listed as a Roadman (labourer) aged 71 and Elizabeth is now 65.
The 1871 Census
Elizabeth is still alive and living on her own so I
assume Hugh had died between 1861 and 1871. Does it say she's 'farming acres
grassland' as is the woman living next door aged 67, so whatever it is they are
doing they are both doing it. It also looks like Piercebridge is a collection of
houses in a small village.
I have found a Hugh Wright aged 35 born in Piercebridge. He is working as a
Cutter/Grinder in an engineering factory and living as a Lodger in Hartlepool
with a family called Anderson. Perhaps he is a relative.
Back to James Wright
James was the eldest son of Thomas Wright according to the 1861 census and
barring any further evidence appearing to dispute this then this is what I will
I am fairly convinced this is the
correct family. James' brother Thomas would have been 6 on this census yet he
doesn't appear, remember you have to actually be in the house at the time when
the census is collected. He may well have been recorded but not at this address.
That would be an interesting line of research.
The only John Wright born in Chester-Le-Street between 1857 and 1858 is this
one from Oct-Nov-Dec 1857. Lamesley is just as close to Gateshead as
Chester-Le-Street but there are no John Wrights registered at Gateshead in that
period. Chester-Le-Street is also the registration area for Lamesley on the 1861
census so that surely indicates that this is where births, marriages and deaths
would have had to be registered.
the birth registration for Margaret dated APR-MAY-JUN 1859 with the place of
registration listed as Chester-Le-Street.
William was born the same year as the census and here is the entry for
Jan-Feb-Mar 1861 which is indisputably the baby Williams registration. The
census was taken in April so William must have been born in March or perhaps
In 1871 they were
easy to find (living in Chowdean, Lamesley) even if the enumerator did call the family 'Write' and not Wright.
Note also that Thomas Jnr is missing from the 1861 census but pops up here but
with a different place of birth to the others. James also has Durham not
Lamesley as his birthplace so perhaps they lived in Durham, then Urpeth and then
settled in Lamesley in between the births of Thomas and John. Urpeth and
Lamesley are not far from each other anyway (in fact Lamesley, Urpeth and
Birtley are all very close). Urpeth has a brickworks so
presumably had a pit to go with it.
The 1871 Census
Position to Head
Mary 1864 -
There are two Marys registered in Gateshead in Jan-Feb-Mar 1864.
There are no others between 1863 and 1865 registered in Gateshead or
The 1881 Census
By 1881 Thomas
and Jane had moved on to Chester Moor, Chester-Le-Street. Note that there is no
sign of Jane on this record (she would have been 12) and surely young William
Cooper is the son of Margaret (who would have been aged 21 by then and must have
lived nearby). Note also that everyone has changed their birthplaces to
Chester-Le-Street, apart from Thomas who we know was born there.
Perhaps the census taker was in a rush and wrote this down later.
Position to Head
As yet I can find no sign of Thomas or Jane on the 1891 census.
Thomas Wright Jnr 1854-
The 1891 Census
In 1891 Thomas was living in the parish of St Helens, Gateshead.
Note that Thomas states he was born in LOW Urpeth rather than the larger nearby
village of Urpeth.
Position to Head
Chester Moor?, Durham.
The 1901 Census
In 1901 Thomas Jnr is still living in the St Helens district of Gateshead and
still has just the two children Ellen and William, as they are now 46 and 42
respectively we can surmise that Thomas and Kate didn't have any more children.
John Wright 1858 -
The 1881 Census shows John and Family are in Allendale Cottages, Medomsley,
Co. Durham. He seems to have taken in some lodgers who may or may not be
related, how did the two Coulson children end up here?
Position to Head
Elswick, Ncle upon Tyne
In 1891 they were still in Medomsley (145 Allendale Gdns?), Catherine's place
of birth has changed to Prudhoe and there are two sons John and William.
Position to Head
Elswick, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Medomsley, Co. Durham
Medomsley, Co. Durham
Medomsley, Co. Durham
Medomsley, Co. Durham
Medomsley, Co. Durham
So this tells us that one of Johns sisters married someone called Coulson and
that Catherine's surname was originally Bainbridge. So now we know why the
Bainbridges and the Coulsons ended up with John Wright. Note that in 1881
Catherines brother Thomas was born in Prudhoe, her brother James in Walbottle
and her sister Ann in Scotswood.
William Wright 1861 -
The 1881 census
William was living in Park Road, Gateshead. There are several other William
Wrights born around the same time but this is the best match.
Relation to Head
George Wright 1866 -
For the 1881 census George was still living with his parents. I have found
two possible Georges on the 1891 census:
Position to Head
Position to Head
Mary A. Lamb
From all this census data I have managed to create this tree
Jane Elizabeth Booth Wright c. 1854-1946, James' wife. The photo below
is much later than the one above. Maureen recalls that her nieces always
wore black and came from Scotland. They may well have come DOWN from
there but Jane was most certainly born in Co. Durham. Jane's nieces apparently attended university
(Edinburgh?) which was almost unheard of before the 30's. True to tradition
Jane is wearing a black outfit.
Is this photo taken outside the aged miners
cottage (in Birtley) where she was burned to death? In 1946 (allegedly) Jane's night dress caught
fire on an electric fire in the cottage, Donald 'Adair' burned his arms
trying to put out the fire. Sadly Jane Booth died in the ambulance of her
burns, she would have been an elderly woman by then (92 years old) which would account
for that. Jane Booth died in 1946 and that Donald died
almost 2 years later actually in 1948. Bear in mind Charles Lewis also died in 1946 so it was a very bad
couple of years for the Wrights. Also in the photo are Clifford and Jinny Clara.
Clifford, 'Jinny' and Grandma Jenny Booth Wright
This death registration is dated quarter Oct-Nov-Dec 1946. Note that both Donald
and Jane were registered at Durham N. which I assume is Gateshead.
Jane on the 1871 census
found Jane on the 1971 census in Scotland, 43 Maryfield Place, Midlothian,
Edinburgh. They were in the Edinburgh Greenside parish. The 1871 Census for
Scotland was taken on the night of 2/3 April 1871
Fish and Egg merchant
Elizabeth Booth (Nee Todd)
Jane Elizabeth Booth
Co. Durham (we know this to be Cockfield)
Station? (New)Castle on tyne
Station? (New)Castle on tyne
Station? (New)Castle on tyne
Castle, castle on Tyne
Arthur A T
Fish and Egg merchant
Longridge is in Lancashire. But the biggest revelation here is the presence
of James Todd who would be the elder brother of Williams wife Elizabeth. This is
the same James Todd described as a retired soldier when he is living with James
Wright and Jane when they have Stella and Alice in Framwellgate Moor. Perhaps
there was no room for him in Edinburgh and he moved in with his niece.
CURIOUSLY there is a Chelsea pensioner called James Todd in Chelsea Hospital
aged 73 in the 1891 census born in Worcester with the correct year of birth.
Isn’t THAT odd.
Perhaps when he became too old
for James and Jane to look after and they were filling the house up with
kids he ended up in Chelsea Hospital? His sister Elizabeth (Jane's mother)
was born in Woolwich so perhaps he had relatives in London? The Zulu war was
in 1879, First Boer war was 1881. James Todd was born in 1818 he would
clearly have been too old to have fought in those wars. However the Indian
mutiny was in 1857 when he'd have been 39. The Crimean war was 1854–1856).
James Todd would have been 36 at the outbreak of that conflict.
It is possible that he could have taken part in the
First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842) when he would have
been in prime military age of 21 to 24. He could have taken
part in the 6th and 7th
which were fought between 1834 and 1836 and 1846. In fact it
is feasible he fought in all 3 wars across 2 continents.
have found a 43 year old James Todd born in 'Woolarsh', Kent
who is in Sandhurst barracks in what looks like the 15th
Hussars in 1861. Now you could imaginatively say that yes,
this is our James as Woolarsh is more than likely
Woolwich, he is the right age and he's a military man.
Jane on the 1861 census
Back to England and county Durham, Stainton Village. Stainton is a village
outside Barnard Castle and is close to Cockfield and not far from Piercebridge
Elizabeth S Booth
Stainton, Co. Durham
Stainton, Co. Durham
So now we have more clarity. Station is actually Stainton in Co. Durham near
The 1851 census
William and Elizabeth were living with Williams parents during this census.
They are living in Dilworth Village near Longridge. William doesn't actually
appear on the census but Elizabeth and their daughter Nancy do. Notice that
Thomas Jnr, Alice and John are all working in a cotton mill. We finally get to
see where Elizabeth Todd was born, Woolwich in London, yet her brother was born
Labourer in Stone Quarry
Daughter in law
Wife of Quarryman
2 doors away are a William Booth (born in Bowland, West Yorkshire) aged 74 and a John Booth aged 46 who could
conceivably be Thomas' Father and younger brother. John Booth is also working in
a stone quarry. Gloria Potter has also come to this conclusion and gone
back one more generation from there with another William Booth born in 1735 in 'Bowland'
West Yorkshire. This is curious as near Longridge is the Forest of Bowland as
well as various small towns with Bowland in the name such as Bolton-by-Bowland.
There is a defunct district council of Bowland in West Yorks around the Ribble
valley and that is literally just across the border and not at all far from
John Booth the (13 year old cotton weaver) married a Sarah Leybourne and
moved to West Hartlepool setting up a grocers business at which he became very
successful. His descendants are still there including Gloria who now lives in
Australia. John had 3 children, Thomas, Eva and Amelia. Thomas had 10 children
and Gloria is the daughter of the tenth child Annie Booth b. 1911 so Thomas
Booth b. 1803 is our common ancestor.
James Wright's descendants
The family were Herbert, James Arthur/Artie, Donald 'Adair', Charles and
Jack died aged 17 (c. 1907) from meningitis. The girls were Stella Clarissa, Eva
Louise, Jenny/Jane, and Alice.
Allegedly Alice died of child bed fever aged 21, presumably the child then
grew up with it's grand parents if it survived? Looking at the census it appears she
had a 3 year old called David she is listed as single and aged 21 in 1901. There
was a visitor to the house when the census was taken called Robert Simpson aged
21, was he Alice's boyfriend? He was a machinist and engineer. If Alice died
aged 21 then it can't have been much longer after the 1901 census was taken. I
couldn't find a death record (so far) in 1901, 1902 or 1903 with the name of
Alice Wright. Perhaps she married this Simpson bloke and changed her name. David
was born before his uncle Charles Lewis. Perhaps Jane and Alice were pregnant at
the same time. I believe this is David registered for the quarter JUL-AUG-SEP
1898 which makes him probably a year older than Charles. This is really the only
suitable candidate from the birth records unless he was registered with a
(a.k.a Artie) went blind when he grew
older. If he was alive in 1960 then he would have been 79 years old. Alan
visited them in Birtley. Arthur was still alive and Olive was there with her son
Peter. Olive never married. I have found a registration for Olive Wright dated
I've also found 2 others registered in Gateshead in 1902 JAN-FEB-MAR,
Olive May Wright and Olive Newby Wright
He had 6 children according to Maureen named Dolly (Dorothy?), Connie
(Constance?), Clarence and Laurence/Lawrence (who were twins), Charles and Olive. The twins were
nicknamed 'Pip and Squeak' even though they well over 6 foot tall perhaps as
tall as 7'. Dolly and Connie apparently also went
to London. Dolly and Connie were theatricals who sang and danced, both
apparently had white blonde hair and were exceptionally pretty. Georgia
Grace has white blonde hair which may be inherited as does my son Alex and my
daughter Olivia! Blonde hair is very common
amongst the Wrights.
Herbert's son Herbert Jnr was also blonde (but may well have dyed his hair
according to Maud).
Apparently they lived in London
and were quite well off. Louise married a Mr Osbourne/Osborne and lived at Low Fell
they apparently had a son called Peter? I've found an Eva Wright marriage
registered in Chester-Le-St Oct-Nov-Dec 1910. But in 1911 (last quarter again)
Eva L Wright has registered a marriage in GATESHEAD.
and on the same
page 1726 same volume William B Osborne. Surely that is the couple we are
Jane lso was a music hall entertainer and allegedly a bit of
a stunner. According to Maud she had an affair with George H. Elliott and
got with child by him which was a bit of a scandal. Elliott was known as
'The Chocolate coloured coon', I wasn't aware of there being any other
colours? Elliott made at least 2 phonograph recordings in 1912 and was
performing at the Islington Empire in 1932. Searching the web he certainly
seems to appear on a lot of postcards. Again I rate this one as dubious. Maureen says that Ginny was a bit
of a recluse and had a stillborn child by a Belgian soldier or refugee
(which ties us back to Birtley again!). If we take both stories or even one of
them as read then as an unmarried mother she would indeed be a recluse. This
also confirms that they moved from Gateshead/Heworth to Birtley some time
between 1901 and 1914.
photo of Jenny with her mother and young Clifford above.
ALLEGEDLY 'was a double' for Victor McClaughlan and
(bottle) blonde haired Herbert Junior for Donald Houston
in the Blue Lagoon with Jean Simmons no less. Herbie went to Canada with
his family and joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Presumably a previous
military career would have helped with this application. There may well have
been a shortage of manpower after the first world war. Another anecdote
relates that Herbert was wanted for murder and returned to the UK which would be
at odds with his (alleged) Police career somewhat. This is under dispute. At any rate
Herbert came back to the UK.
Herbert's medal record. There are 2 Herbert Wrights who served in the Coldstream
Guards in WWI. The first one arrived in France in 1914 and seems to have served
out the entire campaign. We know Herbert was pensioned out of the army and was
married in 1917 so I believe that this is Herbert's medal record showing the
service number 24453. The card shows that like Charlie Herbert received the
Victory medal as well as the British Army medal.
Herbert married Jessie Kate Gundry on 19th October 1917. They already had a
daughter called Gwendoline who was born at the end of 1916. The marriage
certificate from Lambeth Registry office states that Herbert was a former
Private in the Coldstream Guards and was now a military pensioner aged 29.
In order to be pensioned out of the army you would have had to have been wounded
and put out of action for the rest of the war. The PRO has the records of all
WWI army pensioners stating their wounds and other information. Jessie was 23. Both of them lived in Brixton. Herbert at 67 Stockwell Park Road
and Jessie at 33 Lorn Road. Both roads share a street corner. Curiously
Gwendoline was registered at Chester-Le-St which is the registration centre for
Birtley. By 1920 they had another daughter called Alma and she was registered in
Northallerton. Alma had a son called Barry. Finally Elsie Lillian Mary Wright was born in Stockwell
in 1922, a
mere stones throw from Brixton. Bearing in mind that Eva, Stella, Dolly and
Connie were all in London Herbert wouldn't have been short of a place to stay
there and apparently he was a frequent visitor. Herbert died on 13th September
1968 and this was registered in Hampstead, London..
As all of these relatives are theatricals working in London is it too far
fetched to suggest that he met Jessie Kate via one of them?
Back again to the
elusive Herbert Jnr. When Herbert died a 'relative' had to register the death.
An H.G. Wright showed up giving his home address as
1,York Road, Hew Estate, Birtley
According to Maud....
Herbert Jnr lived with Arthur's family. At some
point Herbert lived there too but Herbert had disowned his father. Or vice
versa. Herbert Jnr dyed his hair blonde and was a great swimmer. I can only
assume that Herbert was a child from Herbert's liaison with a woman he took to
Canada with him. It is also suspected that Herbert Snr had more children in
Canada. Herbert Jnr had a house in Barley Mow which is part of Birtley.
There is a Herbert Wright aged 45 and an Agnes
who sailed on the Ship Georgic in 1935 to USA/Canada. Surely he'd have been
46/47? This could be Herbert. The date is ok as we know that Jessie Kate had
married again and produced a son called David on
November 1934. At some point then Herbert returned to England as he was
certainly in Birtley soon after Charles Lewis died in 1946 as he arranged the
sale of Charlies tools.
I have found a birth for Arthur Hermann T.Booth,@ Newcastle on Tyne 10b 37- 2Q
1867. I am presuming this is ours because Arthur H.T.Booth seems an unusual
combination of names. I have got all the census and maybe its a coincidence
but the 1891 census has him living as a boarder at 3 West St,Littlebourne, N.E.
Kent, UK age 23 and a Primitive Methodist Minister born N/on/Tyne. The
co-incidence is that his father's brother John (my g.gf) was also training to be
a minister in the same religion but had to leave when he got married as that
wasn't allowed until they had been ordained, and all his children were brought
up as such
And Liz writes:
in Canada in August 1923 a little earlier than I thought, he was heading to
Lanigan, Saskatchewan to his uncle, A. Booth. A being Arthur H.T. Booth.
Here is Herbert's marriage certificate very kindly forwarded to me by
Jessie Kate Gundry 1894 -
Jessie Kate : Little Red Riding Hood
On the back of the photo it said Banister Hovrail or
Howard Company, Red Riding Hood, Theatre Royal. This is the Theatre Royal, Drury
Lane, London. On Jan 9th 1929 she married
Charles, Agnes and
Donald Robin 'Adair/Adare' 1895-1948 (on the right holding the Jack Russell) performed at
the Newcastle Music halls and the Theatre Royal as a comedian, singer and allegedly female impersonator
hence his penchant to 'borrow' Maureen's make up. He lived out his days
in the aged miners cottage in Birtley with his mother. The girl in the
photo is called Agnes apparently (or Aggy for short) and died when she was about 22 of consumption.
Maureen said that Donald was always 'immaculate'. He certainly looks the dapper
gent in this photo. Note that Donald is indeed listed as 'Donald R.' in the
1901 census. He was baptised as Donald Robin Wright. Donald also may have died
of consumption. Now who took the photo? Herbie?
Here is his registration of death for the quarter of
Jul-Aug-Sep 1948 2 years after the death of his mother.
Sir Garnet Wolseley arrives to
take up post as High Commissioner
Wolseley returns to England and
is replaced by Sir George Pomeroy-Colley
The Bezuidenhout affair
Transvaal formally declares
Shots fired at Potchefstroom
The action at Bronkhorstspruit
22 Dec-6 Jan
British garrisons in Transvaal
Boers form a laager at Coldstream
just inside the Natal border
Natal Field Force (NFF) assembles
First British reinforcements
arrive at Durban
NFF forms camp at Mount Prospect
Boers establish themselves on
Battle of Laing's Nek
Battle of Schuinshoogte (Ingogo)
Evelyn Wood arrives at Newcastle
with first reinforcements (Indian Column)
Indian Column arrives at Mount
Battle of Majuba
Formal peace agreement signed
Regiments that fought in the first Boer War
At the conclusion of
the Zulu War in July 1879 15 regular infantry battalions and two cavalry
regiments available for service in Natal and Zululand. On the eve of war,
17 months later, this number had dwindled to four battalions distributed
throughout Natal and the Transvaal and no cavalry support.
The six 9-pdr RML guns of N
Battery, 5th Brigade, Royal Artillery were also available, but these too
were distributed, four in the Transvaal and two in Natal.
The four imperial battalions
2nd Battalion 21st Regiment;
58th Regiment; 3rd Battalion,
60th Rifles; and
All four had fought in the latter
stages of the Zulu War, and both the 2/21st and the 94th regiments had
taken part in the second campaign against Sekhukhune, late in 1879.
However, for the rest of their posting in Africa the tedious periods of
garrison duty in isolated posts which followed had had a bad effect on
morale, and cases of desertion had been increasing.
The line infantry
regiments were still equipped as they had been during the Zulu War.
Scarlet tunics (either the dress tunic or undress serge frock) were worn
with the regimental colour displayed on a small tab at the front of the
collar and on a cuff patch. The regiment's number was displayed on the shoulder
strap and a badge was worn on the coloured collar tab. Dark blue trousers
with a red welt down the outside seam completed the basic uniform. The
exception to this was the 3/60th. As a rifle regiment they wore dark green
(almost black) uniforms with black leather equipment replacing the buff
leather type used by line regiments. (For more details see Osprey: Elite
32 British Forces in Zululand 1879).
Head wear was the white
foreign service 'Pith' helmet (which had been worn in India), but this had proved highly conspicuous during the
Zulu War, and the practice of dying the helmet to give it a more natural
look continued throughout the war with the Transvaal. The standard
infantry weapon was the single-shot breech loading Mark II Martini-Henry
rifle, Which had proved effective against the Zulus in 1879.
To supplement this meagre force
and cover his deficiency in cavalry, Colley organised a scratch mounted
squadron. The core of this unit was to be 35 dismounted members of the 1st
King's Dragoon Guard, who were awaiting transport back to England. They
were joined by 25 members of No. 7 Company, Army Service Corps and 60 men
drawn from the 58th Regiment and 3/60th. The men were quickly given
mounts, and this unlikely combination was sent off to the front. In
addition 70 men of the quasi-military Natal Mounted Police were placed
under Colley's command.
When it became obvious that
war was unavoidable, efforts were made to improve the quantity of
artillery available. Two 9-pdrs were released from stores in Natal and
10/7 Battery sent some men from garrison duty in Cape Town to man them.
Additionally, two 7-pdr guns were also discovered in stores, but in the
absence of any artillery men to man them, volunteers were drawn from the
The above image of the smart
British soldier soon disappeared once on campaign. Taking the 94th
Regiment as an example of a typical unit, they had embarked from England
in February 1879, and had worn the same tunics and trousers from then
right through the Zulu War and the campaign against Sekhukhune. It seems
that new tunics and trousers were received sometime in 1880, but a
description by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Philip Anstruther, 94th Regiment,
of his men prior to the arrival of this consignment conjures up a vivid
picture of a regiment in the field: 'Their coats and trousers are all
colours -cords, blue serge, red ditto, any mufti they can lay their hands
on patched all over with sacking, skin or anything.' It seems that their
equipment also suffered from fatigue, and helmets had not been replaced
prior to the outbreak of war. The white helmets that had looked so
pristine and smart when the 94th left England were now hardly recognisable
as head wear. Some crumpled examples survived, but many men wore anything
they could buy, find or make from skins.