Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Charles Henry Hughes Spivey



Charles Henry Hughes Spivey was my mother's father's father. He died before my mother was born, and so I never met him at all.

He was the first non-commissioned officer in the Scots Guards. The family tale was that his family didn't approve of his choice of career or choice of bride, but I don't know how true that was. He's shown below with my great grandmother, Lottie Dickins or Dickens.

I don't remember my grandparents talking much about him other than the fact that he was the first non-commissioned officer in the Scots Guards. I remember my grandmother telling me that she and my grandfather and my grandfather's brother got together an impromptu band and she was jazzing up the death march. She could jazz up any tune on the piano.

Apparently my great-grandfather came in, said: "I've heard to many good men go out to that tune to think that funny," and turned and swept out of the room again. They were duly sobered by that.

My mother Diana Spivey, tells me that she remembers her father telling her that C.H.H. (as I think of him) would never let Lottie use serving dishes for food, because they waited such a long time for all their food in the army that it was invariably cold by the time they got it. Also, if anyone complained about the food, he would growl that they ate rats during the seige of Ladysmith and were glad to have them!


He fought in the Boer war, and was in Ladysmith during the seige (shown above), reputedly eating rats and his boots before the end of it. Oh the other hand, the British invented the concentration camp in the midst of that war, so maybe they deserved to be starved, I don't know.

He was awarded a civilian MBE for his work in mobilising the Scots Guards during the First World War. Apparently all the records had been sent to storage and it was going to take months to retrieve them. He remembered the names and addresses of dozens of men. Not sure how happy they will have been to have been located to go fight for their country, but the Prime Minister was grateful. He said that he didn't want any fuss or anyone to go to Buckingham Palace with him, but Laurie, his step-daughter (Caterina Mondioli) managed to be in the right place at the right time to be snapped.

I hold a number of original documents that come from him. I have his Certificate of Education (First class) from the Army Schools, dated 25 October 1904, in which he is named a Colour Sergeant (O/R?S?) C.H. Spivey.

I have a little red card booklet for the Third Guards Club, in which he appear in the list of members, elected 1928.

I have a ticket for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary, 22 June 1911.

I have the newspaper cutting about his brother's death in 1914, which is all but destroyed.

I have numerous picture of both him and my great grandmother, at various times.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Theodore Richard Clarke


My father is Theodore Richard Clarke, who was born October 16, 1931. His mother was Irish and his father was from Cheshire. He's shown above after his marriage to my mother. During the war, he was evacuated, and I took some scribbled notes about what happened to him:

I went to East Horsley, to a place above Connersby Butchers, but the husband was ill. Next I was sent to a wealthy couple who had a big garden and taught me how to garden. They sowed some cress in the shape of my name, and "Theo" came up in cress. They taught me that you should never eat until you are full up, and I was expected to push in my chair after dinner and say "I have had an elegant sufficiency...". Of course I hadn't, I did eat until I was full! They had a son in the RAF who was invalided out.

I was sent next to a bungalow in the woods, which was wooden and build on stilts with no electricity. They got a tin bath from the garden shed on bath nights, and were very nice people.

Then I was sent to Shelford, on the other side of Guildford, and went to the village school, which was one master and two classes. He would tell one class to get out their maths books and the other class to get out their English books, and then they would swap round in the afternoon.

Next I was sent to Staines, to a place within 300 yards of a Gasometer. So much for a safer place! Mrs Clarke (no relation) was not a nice woman. She knocked me down a complete flight of stairs, and only had evacuees because she got five bob a week for each of them - she had three boys to stay. Eventually the authorities moved me to Egham, to stay with a nice couple from the City of Durham. They had a son in the Royal navy.

Egham is home to Stroud school, which was established in 1638. I used to go out and watch the air raids. Some of them had a sound like a non-stop train. There were breadbasket bombs too - they were supposed to throw incendiary bombs,500 all over. This one hit the ground and ploughed up the hill, and all the bombs were thrown out.

I was at that place when there were the d-day invasions, from Inglefield Green. As I was going up Egham hill there was a continuous line of lorries. I went to school and the line of tanks and lorries was still going down the hill when I came back. Then the son in the Navy got wounded and came home, and so I had to go to Inglefield Green.

I stayed with Captain Woolf Bernato. His father went to South Africa in the 1890s and he ran a diamond mine. He came to England in 1936 and built a place which cost £136,000 in 1936. The estate had 4 lodges at the gatehouse, 4 bed houses. The valet and his wife and family, the butler had another, I don't know who had the third bothy house, chauffeurs of the people that they used to invite for Ascot week. Guests in the big house, used to house their servants in the Bothy by the drive, at the entrance to the yard.

When a car went through an arch, it went through a beam and broke it, and the lights came on. The house was a combination of Spanish, Modern American and English.

Captain Barnato had been a racing driver before the war. It was a hobby for wealthy rich people and made the news. He raced at Le Mans (and won three times) and at Broadlands etc. Just before the war he was trying to do 200 miles an hour in a bugatti and blew the engine up. He wrote off to Italy got a new engine.

There were 14 cars in the garage. He drove in a little volkswagen car, black and white with a long bonnet and 3 flexible chrome exhausts on each side and black and white leather seats. When the war started he had a lot of jewish friends; children in the Bothy. In 1943 they decided there was no place safe and they were sent to America. There were 14 evacuees in the Bothy and they went to school.

When the war ended, all the others went home. Because my mum was dead and my father was ill, he let me stay. He bought me my first long trouser suit, and I went to Stroud School in Egham. I got picked for the teams there.

In the interim a big argument developed between London County Council and Surrey County Council. He wanted to adopt me, but because he was Jewish and I was Catholic, it wasn't allowed.

The place had a swimming pool, and a cinema, I used to help project the films.

I was taken to an orphanage in Ripley, Surrey at 13 years old. To get money, I had to find a job. In the village was a shop which sold everything. Used to have now and again lyons fruit pies, and I used to get one. I used to deliver goods by bike, Used to take stuff to Wisley Aerodrome and to farmers. There was a woman farmer who had a load of Italian pows and take cigarettes for the Italian POWs. 10 cigarettes were missing and I had to cycle back for them. In Ripley there is a big old pub room which was the last that Nelson slept in before he went off to get killed was left exactly as he left it.

We sent to Send School, which was brand new. On the first day there was Algebra. I had never heard of Algebra. The next lesson was Frnech. The French mistress didn't speak anything but French. Other kids had had years of French, and I had none.

Settled in at that orphanage, and in the meantime, the Catholic Church had enquired (west cathedral school before the war). I was then told they had sorted out the argument about who was responsible for me, and the catholic church sent me to Brentwood in Essex with 500 boys, run by the brothers of St John of God. They were brutes. I saw the head. I was 5 feet seven and a half inches tall, and seven stone.

He told me, we have some boys who do the gardening, and some go to school. I was given the choice, and as I was a bookworm and always avid for knowledge, I chose school. So they sent me to work in the garden.

I went to the greenhouse - there were five boys who were only 14 or 15, but you'd have said they were navvies of 25. Thighs like oak trees and muscles. It wasn't a garden - any normal organisation would have got a tractor to dig it, but we dug it by hand. The gardener would stretch a string out and we had to dig from marker to marker.

I was there for 2 years. I went in as an intellectual boy with no interest in sport, particularly. What got me going with sports was that the gardeners could swim at lunch time and evenings. The other would stop and go off to swim. I carried on digging because I couldn't swim. So in evening sessions, I learned how to swim. In the shallow end the boys punched me in the stomach and so I went to the deep end so they couldn't follow.

I got to the bottom of the steps and thought if I launch myself and thrash... I made it to the other side, so I thought I could swim. So the next night, I climbed onto the 4ft diving board, got on there, bounced around, jumped off, and down I go, when I came up in the deep water in an upright position down I went again. When I came up again, I shouted help! help!

When ~I came up for the third time, five dived in to get me I pulled the trunks off one, and punched another on the nose. One of the brothers came along and started giving respiration with his big hands - I thought he was going to break my ribs. I was taken along to see the nurse.

There were 6 or 7 acres with a building which had three boiler houses, and a hospital which also had a boiler house. In winter had to get whellbarrows and shovels and get sacks of coke and take six to the boilerhouses. It was a good job to be shovelling and a bad job to be holding the sack on a very cold day.

The nurse in the main building had three big bottles. One white peppermint mixture, one castor oil if constipated and other pink gunge. Never discovered what the pink gunge was.

She said: this boys swallowed a bit of water, so I was given a cup of pink gunge to drink and sent to bed.

Within six months of getting there I had shot up two inches and went from a total weed to someone who could pick up big....

I was there two years. Once I was 16 I was moved on to Isleworth, to a working boys hostel. Given living expenses to go out and find a job. I went down the Great West Road, Osterley Road, past Gilette, H&P biscuit, Sperry Gyroscope. I tried there. Wages were 25 shillings in the office, and 25 shillings plus a bonus in the factory. I went to the shop milling depertment. I operated a great big machine like a round tank. There was a door on one side and on the other a window with cl;ass with two holes, and with rubber gloves, a grab nozzle. High power metal shot - shot blaster cleaned metal as if by magic. Big gloves - one of them split; Worked hard for bonus. The blokle I was working under, he got productivity bonus and I just got 25 shillings. I gave a week's notice, went to a firm that made steel twist drills. After a while they asked me if I wanted to go on piece work. Started on piece work. Batch of drills went to the inspector and if nything was wrong had to redo.

I was beavering away doing them very quickly and got a high level of rejects, and after a while realised it was more haste less speed, if you took more time you had less rejects. I earned £2-5s in a week and had to give 27/6 for my room and board.

Chatting to the firm next door, they were getting £3-5s a week at Pepsi Cola. I did any job, and turned out 50K bottles of pepsi a week. I started on the washing machine, dirty bottles cleaned 20 at a time, whip the bottles onto the machine and put a box on the production line. I moved to inspection, never allowed bottles with chips out, and sort out the strangers from other commpanies. Made syrup in a vat 500 gallons of water 200 weight sacks of sugar. secret ingredients tip in and stir for 24 hours and then syrup pumped over. Tank from syrup above labelling machine if pumping up there and didn't look the people doing labels would get covered in syrup. Special lorries panel down the middle and 3 pallets on either side.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Honora Fitzpatrick

I know nearly nothing about Honora Fitzpatrick, who was my grandmother. She died during the war. If anyone with links to Fitzpatricks is able to put together the facts about my grandmother and identify her family, I shall be very grateful.

The absolute facts are that she married my grandfather William Edward CLARKE in 1931, in London. She said that her father was James Fitzpatrick and a farmer. She had three children, and at the beginning of the second world war, the surviving two children, Phyllis and Theodore, were evacuated separately.

Honora's husband had been admitted to hospital before the war. In 1942 she died, and her sisters came to bury her. All I know about them is that one of them was called Mrs B. Ruth and lived in Doris Street, Ballsbridge, Dublin.

The sisters removed all the personal possessions from the flat and went home to Ireland. They did not see or contact the children, and they left no forwarding address, although I have the address of Mrs B. Ruth as the informant on the death certificate.

The only other thing I know is that Honora had a sister, Mary Fitzpatrick, who emigrated to America and worked at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. She sent occasional parcels to my father and his sister, but those stopped by 1960.

That's it. That's all I know. My father was sent to lots of different places and eventually to a children's home. My aunt was lucky enough to find a good home with the people she was evacuated to, and she stayed there for the rest of the war and some years afterwards.

They lost contact for a number of years, and found each again only in the 1950s, when they used to spend Tuesdays together. Neither of them remembers anything else of use, except my father is convinced that the Fitzpatrick family came from Kilkenny.

I am hoping tht at some stage in the future, someone will research their family tree, and put Honora and her sister Mrs Ruth into it, and I will make the link!

Donald Charles Spivey


















Donald Charles Spivey, known as Don, or Boompa to his grandchildren, was my grandfather. He was born on May 30, 1905. His parents were a most unlikely match, as his father was an officer in the Scot Guards, and his mother was an ex-music hall dancer, but they seem to have been a love match which lasted the whole of their lives.

Unfortunately, I don't think Don's mother was a terribly good mother, and for some reason he was sent to live with an aunt while he attended a cathedral school.

He always had a wonderful singing voice, was able to harmonise with any tune, and could pick up and play almost any musical instrument. He could play the piano wonderfully although he had not had any formal lessons.

He was a qualified chemist and told tales of his life as a dispensing chemist at a chemist's shop near to King's Cross in London, where the prostitutes would come for a spray of scent at a ha'penny a squirt - and squirt it up their skirts, according to him.

He told of the power of placebo, where a patient had a terrible affliction with eyelashes growing into her eyes, she would swear that no one made the eye drops she was prescribed as well as my grandfather, and would insist that he was the only one to make up her drops.

He was an accomplished bowler and archer, and had been an enthusiastic fisherman too.

He became manager of the Sun Printing works in Watford, which printed many magazines and periodicals, using engraved cylinders.

I have a few original documents for Boompa. I have his birth certficate, for Farnham Aldershot.

I have three certificates for the college of preceptors, in 1921, passes in various subjects.

Amy Evelyn Aldridge


Amy Evelyn Aldridge was my maternal grandmother, and someone I spent a lot of time with as a child. She was always known as Eve or Eva, rather than Amy. To her grandchildren, she was known as Nony.

She was born on March 18, 1908, to Isabel Amy Aldridge (nee Pitt) and Benjamin Aldridge, the eldest of four surviving children of that marriage: Lily, Connie and Bennie being the other surviving children.

Her father was killed within six months of the end of the first world war in 1918, and her mother subsequently married her dead husband's brother, Charlie Aldridge. They then had a daughter, Poppy. I am not sure that this was legal at the time, it's something I need to look at when I don't have anything else to do.

Eve passed the civil service exam and went into the civil service before she married my Grandfather. She later worked as a school secretary at the Primary School I attended. She played the piano, and was an accomplished potter too. The Primary school was rather unusual in that it had its own kiln, it's own swimming pool, and its own sheep.

Eve had a strong interest in health and well being and was years ahead in her thinking on food and nutrition. She enjoyed trips to Switzerland, Austria and Norway with the school, and loved walking.

Family History

I have been studying my family history for about 20 years. I have dabbled with various programs for family trees etc, but, they are none of them perfect for what I want. Then it occurred to me that what I really wanted was a place where I could gather all the information I had for each person in my family tree. So I decided to blog it.

I don't know if this is going to work, but it will at the very least give me a place to put all my information and photographs etc for reference later.