Updated 06 Dec 2015
Robert Palmer's family
These biographies were written when the author
had retired at 70. They are pen-portraits of members of the
author's family born before him, and so dependent largely
on memory and hearsay, with some research.
are on a separate webpage. An autobiography
is also being prepared.
George 1874 Annie
1907 | 1911
| | | | | | | | | | |
1874 1876 1878 1881 1884 1887 1889 1892 1894 1897 1899
Helen Mary Sarah George Benj Tom Alice Charles Henry Florence Richard
WHITAKER | | 1915 Leonard
| 1868 |
| William | 1887
Mary 1898 Henry Tom 1908 Emily
1923 | 1922 1915 | 1960
| | | | | | | | |
1899 1902 1905 1908 1909 1910 1912 1914 1915
George Rose Charles Gertrude Winifred Edith Ben Harry Tom
Wilfred Winifred Bernard Annie Mary Ann
William 1875 1865 1877
Henry 1898 Mary Alfred 1893 Gertrude
1922 | 1923 1933 | 1954
| | | | | | | | |
1899 1902 1905 1908 1894 1895 1898 1900 1907
George Rose Charles Gertrude William Dorothy Ernest Lucy Ena
Wilfred Winifred Bernard Annie 1978 1976 1963 1992
1944 1973 1957 1994 s.p. m 1941 m 1925 m 1939 |
m 1924 m 1928 | s.p. Henry Constance Norman |
Mabel Frank | BOWEN BOWER BREALEY |
WAINWRIGHT DOUGILL 1905 s.p. s.p. s.p. |
s.p. s.p. Charles 1907
Bernard 1931 Ena
m 1977 |
Rosemary 1944 1950
DOUGHTY Robert Valerie
s.p. Julian 1974 Jean
| | |
1975 1977 1983
Susannah Carla Youngest
Caroline Rosalynn Daughter
23dec1865 to 29jan1933
Alfred was short (only about 5ft 2ins), quiet and hard
working and polite. He had curly hair. He was Ernest
Burnand’s best friend. He came to Sheffield at 12 years
of age, and was apprenticed at a power station. He married
Gertrude Longden on Christmas Day 1893 when he was 28 and
Gertrude 22. They had 5 children, Billy, Dorothy, Ernest,
Lucy and Mum (Ena). He was an electrical engineer and with
Lucas he helped install the first phones in Sheffield. He
used to go around reading the electricity meters. He
enjoyed ferry trips, especially to the Isle of Wight when
they would get the train to Portsmouth, and also
particularly the Isle of Man. In his 60’s he suffered with
angina pectoris. He had his first angina attack walking up
Dore Road with Gertrude. He sat down until he felt ok and
then they carried on. He also was under a lot of stress
when Dorothy had a relationship with an older man, “Pop”
Bowen. There was a shortage of men because of the first
world war. He died aged 67 not long after retirement, and
probably his pension went with him.
[JCP: See X111 and X226 and X229]
GERTRUDE DOXEY nee LONGDEN
31jan1872 to 13jul1954
Gertrude was a sister of Lucy Longden (who was the
youngest of 7), who married Ernest Burnand. Aunt Lu was
very fond of Gertrude. She was short and always dressed in
Victorian fashion, with a fox skin round her back. She
married Alfred on Christmas day 1893 when she was 22 and
Alfred 28. They had 5 children, Billy, Dorothy, Ernest,
Lucy and Mum (Ena). Alfred and Gertrude probably rented a
series of houses, 512, Abbeydale Road 1901 to 1911, then
74 Glen Road, Ecclesall from 1911. They probably bought
107 Banner Cross Road, Ecclesall, probably about 1920.
She was worried about money, and when Alfred died in 1933
she may not have had a satisfactory widow’s pension.
Ernest Burnand who lived nearby in Ecclesall tried to help
with her pension, but apparently only found out that Billy
lived with her (his bedroom was in the attic), when he
went to 107 to try and sort it out. This may have
disqualified her from getting a pension as he was able
bodied. Ernest Burnand was not pleased. Cooking made her
bad tempered. When she was 72 in 1944 Mum and John came to
live with her from June 1944 to about the same time in
1945. I was born in July 1944. It was probably quite hard
work for her. She was the only grandparent I knew. I
remember her dressed in her Victorian clothes and she
would take me into her bedroom and show me her jewelry
which I must admit I was not all that interested in. These
were on trips up there with Mum to stay at 107 Banner
Cross Road, Ecclesall. Uncle Billy used to drive us to the
Toad’s Mouth and the Surprise and Hathersage in low gear
(to save petrol) in his old Austin 7. I remember sitting
at the table in the kitchen at 37 Court Way when Mum told
me granny had died (1954 shortly before my 10th birthday).
[JCP: See X115]
16apr1894 to 1979.
Uncle Billy was the eldest child of Alfred and Gertrude.
He was probably a little spoilt being the eldest and a
boy. Aunt Lu tells me he could be inconsiderate. Dorothy
didn’t always find him the easiest and did a lot of
“looking after” him throughout their lives, and was always
a dutiful sister. Billy was an electrician, and from 1908
to 1913 worked under my godfather Ernest Burnand who gave
him a good reference when he “left our employ of his own
accord to take up an improved position”. He joined the
navy as such probably in 1914 when he was 20. Mum
recounted when he came home once in 1916 he had a little
leather bag, and he opened it and poured the contents
which were golden sovereigns on to the table. They were
his naval pay. He was shore based but he went around the
ships anchored in Scapa Flow to do electrical repairs. He
had been doing repairs on HMS Devonshire and had only just
moved to another ship when the fleet was ordered out with
no notice to the battle of Jutland under Admiral Sir John
Jellicoe and Vice Admiral Sir David Beattie. Uncle Billy
didn’t even have time to get off the ship he was on and
thus was a participant, willingly or otherwise, of the
indecisive battle (though the German fleet remained in
harbour afterwards for the remainder of the war). The
Devonshire was sunk, but not the ship Uncle Billy was
on.In 1924 Uncle Billy was in the Gold Coast where he
caught blackwater fever which maybe permanently adversely
affected his health. While there he bought gold shares
which did very well over the years. In 1925 he was at the
Panama Canal. Later he returned to Sheffield where he had
girlfriends but never bit the bullet. I remember him as a
rather dishevelled man who lived in the attic at 107
Banner Cross Road and worked with transformers in his
basement for which he presumably made a small income. He
always had a boiled egg for breakfast. When his mother
died in 1954 he went to live with Aunt Dorothy, but still
used 107 basement. The local bank manager in Ecclesall
used to come to him for advice re the stock market. I
remember Uncle Frank’s horror when he turned up at 7
Sparken Hill, Worksop in his old Ford 7 which he used
drive in low gear thinking it would save money. When I
told him I was going to medical school he was horrified
and said I would be working night and day all the time
(true up to a point). In his old age he became forgetful
and depressed and was in a care facility.
[JCP: See X547]
DOROTHY BOWEN nee DOXEY
1895 to 1976.
Aunt Dorothy was probably born in Eldon Street, Ecclesall,
Sheffield on 12th November 1895. Men were at a premium
after the first world war and she had a long courtship
with “Pop Bowen” who was a lot older than her. They did
not marry for quite a time, maybe because it would have
meant the end of her teaching career given the conventions
of the time, and maybe it was because “Pop’s” wife was
still alive. They married in 1941, and
“Pop” died in 1944. John remembers him playing around with
cars. Her parents disapproved of the relationship, given
the age difference and the fact that “Pop” may already
have been married. Mum said it hastened her father’s
death. Aunt Dorothy became a school teacher and taught
the 11 plus class at Carter Knowle School in Millhouses.
She was a good teacher and got good results. She lived at
36 Stowe Avenue, Ecclesall when I knew her. She used to
say “there’s nothing so queer as folk”. Stowe Avenue was
on a slope so she got lots of exercise walking to and from
number 36. Uncle Billy used to live with her, and thinking
he was hard up (which he wasn’t) she would slip a ten
shilling note into his breast pocket. Aunt Dorothy had
helped “clear up” after Uncle Billy at 107 Banner Cross
Road, though she thought him somewhat inconsiderate as
being the first child and a boy he was somewhat spoilt.
When Mum moved from Court Way to Robinson Drive Aunt
Dorothy lived with her. By this time Uncle Billy was in a
care home and Aunt Dorothy I believe, as a dutiful sister,
would visit him. In 1976 I think she had a vascular event
affecting her leg and died in hospital. After that Mum
made plans to visit us in Canada.
28jan1898 to 15may1963
Ernest was an electrician, and worked for one of the steel
works in Sheffield. He did I believe volunteer for the
army, possibly in 1916 when he would have been 18. I was
told by Mum that he became ill after receiving an
inoculation by the military, and as a result was not able
to join up. His kidneys were affected, and it may have
permanently affected his health. He and Con lived together
for quite a time before they got married. They were
married in 1925. They rented a cottage in Tom Lane,
Nether Green, and latterly lived above Con’s ladies
hairdressing salon in Division (or maybe Devonshire)
Street in Sheffield. Aunt Lu said Ernest was a nice man.
He died aged only 65 in 1963. I do not know what the cause
of death was (Aunt Lu mentioned TB, but no one else
suggested that). Mum, Dorothy and Lucy did not entirely
approve of Con. She was always “very made up and well
dressed”. They got their own back when she came round for
a meal and was made to eat it in the kitchen. Mum and I
visited Con probably in the late 1960’s. She was always
somewhat overweight, and when we saw her she was a cardiac
cripple with angina, and barely able to walk across the
room. I was shocked but Mum was very matter of fact about
it in her Yorkshire way. Con was born in 1902 and died in
[JCP: See X547]
LUCY BREALEY nee DOXEY
1900 to 1974.
Aunt Lucy was the fourth child of Alfred and Gertrude
Doxey. Aunt Lu liked her.She was probably born in Eldon
Street in Ecclesall, Sheffield. She became a secretary at
Sheffield University. Her father enjoyed ferry trips to
the Isle of Man (see 1905 photo of her on a donkey) and
to the Isle of Wight. It was on a trip to the Isle of
Wight (not sure when or with whom), that she met Norman
Brealey who worked as a guard and possibly stationmaster
at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight railway. She subsequently
married him and moved to live with him in 16 Star Street,
Ryde. Before she moved she received a silver tea set from
the university in appreciation of her services. The
inscription reads “presented by members of the Sheffield
Trades Technical societies to Miss L Doxey in appreciation
of her valuable services. The rapid development of this
educational Movement at the University of Sheffield was
due in no small measure to her consistent and loyal
efforts”. The pieces of the tea set are all engraved with
LB, presumably Lucy Brealey as she was married to Norman
in 1939. Norman had a shed and many tools and was somewhat
of a handyman. Norman predeceased Lucy. Lucy had eye
trouble and would make trips to the eye hospital in London
(it may have been Moorfields). After Norman’s death she went
downhill, did not look after or feed herself properly and
died in 1974. Mum asked John to sort out some of her effects
but he was busy with squash (Mum wrote “bloody squash” in her
diary) so Valerie and myself went. She had some nice antique
chairs which we have in the sitting room at 67, and we have
her silver tea set in a nice cadenza
8sep1907 to 29jan1994.
Ena was named after the then popular Queen Ena of Spain who
had her first child on 10 May 1907 and was in the English
newspapers at the time.
Written at John's request Christmas Day 1989 aged 82
Ena Palmer (nee Doxey) Memories 1928.
"One day in Sheffield
[107 Banner Cross Road, Ecclesall]
after going to Art School
[Sheffield Art College on Psalter Lane]
I went into town and met my
cousin Eva Walker
in Cockayne's entrance where she worked
[a large posh department store on
Angel Street until the 1960's].
She said did I want to join a
tennis club in Ecclesall
where I lived
[club has been there since 1915].
yes and that started something that changed my life! I liked the club
and met Gertrude Palmer
who was my age and we got friendly. She was a
very good tennis player. She mentioned that her brother Bern was coming
to stay in Worksop with her sister Win Dougill and I got
invited there to Win and Frank's
[probably in Watson Rd]
for Christmas 1929. We had a lovely time.
I started to love Worksop and all the Palmer family. Bern was just back
from Egypt all handsome and tall and very brown. Nicer than Sheffield boys
I knew with a very public school accent! It was the best time of my life!
We did not get married until April 1931. My mother wanted to keep all
her children around her and I was the youngest. It was unheard of to wish
to leave home but I managed it in the end. I was 23. We went to live in a
flat in London. Bern worked in the city and went on a tram there every day
[North Metropolian Tramways,
Highbury Park Rd to Moorgate St].
I did not work, women were not supposed to work after marriage.
We lived at Highbury New Park (no 127) for about 2 years, then we bought a
house in Twickenham. I had £1.50 a week house keeping money and Bern
was earning £4.50 a week. We bought our new house 37 Court Way from
some money Bern had left him by his mother
[She died 1923]
£1,000. So we worked out
it was better to pay £850 for the house than £1.60 a week rent.
[It sold in 2006 for £485,000]
We lived there (I lived there) for 42 years. All sorts of things happened
to us in that time. We lived care free lives for 9 years as we could not
afford a baby. Then war began
and I had visions of being alone so I had John
. Then carried away with motherhood I had Rob
Best thing I did was
give birth to my children. War began and Bern went off with his job to
 and came back a dying man
1983. Transcribed by RJP from VHS tape
of Ena interviewed by JCP
She said she was born on 8th September 1907 at 74 Green
Road, Netheredge, Sheffield. She remembers when WW1 broke
out. Aunt Dorothy who was 19 at the time was crying behind
the newspaper at breakfast time because her boyfriend (it
sounds like Liam) was going to war. Uncle Billy sat in the
kitchen scowling because he wanted to join up but his
parents wouldn’t let him. He had trained as an electrician
since he was 14, and by 1914 he was 20 and a qualified
electrician. However they let him go to Portsmouth where
he worked as an electrician on the ships. He was working
on the Lion or Queen Elizabeth when it suddenly set sail
to the battle of Jutland. His family heard nothing from
him for a long time, and made frantic enquiries which led
nowhere except they found out he was not on the missing
list. Then they got a slightly apologetic postcard from
him to say he had been too busy to get in touch. After the
war he went to Valparaiso in Chile and then slipped
illegally into the USA where he worked for a time before
being discovered and thrown out. He then went to Ghana
where he contracted blackwater fever and Mum says was
never quite the same again.
After getting married Mum and Dad were living in Highbury.
She used to go with Dad sometimes in the morning when he
took the tram to work at Cable and Wireless. The tram went
past Moorfields Hospital to the Inner City where Dad
worked. Mum would then spend some time doing odds and ends
in London. Dad, Mum relates, left school at 17 and joined
the Eastern Telegraph Company. After he first joined in
1922 he had six months training and subsequently had a
great time when he was posted abroad to places like
Alexandria and Portugal (Carcavelos), and Britain still
had its Empire. When Dad was 22 it became Cable and
Wireless and Dad was brought back to London which was not
so much fun. Their flat in Highbury was rented at £4 10
shillings a month. Dad had £1000 in the bank which he had
inherited from his parents. He thought it would be better
to use the money to buy a house rather than paying rent,
which was unusual in those days. Twickenham was chosen
because of the Exiles club where Dad used to enjoy
watching cricket. They chose 37 Court Way because it was
near Twickenham Station. Mum wishes they had bought a
house on the river. Dad commuted to the city and Mum was
“bored stiff”. She said she didn’t make much effort to get
a job because it was not the done thing for a married
woman between the wars (she said she had learnt tracing at
Moving on Mum talks about holiday in Sandbanks in 1939,
John’s birth in May 1940, taking John in his pram to get a
baby gas mask, and the London Blitz in September 1940,
which started on the night of September 7th. They slept at
night in Eileen Stowell’s shelter at 45 Court Way .Not
feeling safe Horwood (Horwood Barret) drove Mum, Dad and
baby John to Twickenham Station on September 8th 1940
(Mum’s 33rd birthday) where they went to Worksop which
they felt was safer.
Mum talks about the explosive device that we set off at
the bottom of the garden and the Major’s fury (he lived at
41 Court Way) and how I destroyed the fence of the front
garden with one of my first cars. Also the Snowdon episode
and her phoning and asking the headmaster at 9am if
anyone was in charge and on hearing an answer in the
affirmative asked why then have three boys been killed
(news to the headmaster), and why was she not informed it
Later Mum talks about buying #1 Hamilton Road, Corfe
Mullen in the summer of 1980. I was interested and she
acquiesced partly from sympathy for my near disastrous
neck injury 6 months before. She paid half, but it was in
my name. She got furniture at auction, and she and John
worked on the garden and I actually did some painting when
I was over. Episcopals from Shrewsbury, MA stayed (I
actually think it was the vicar and his family), but Mum
said they didn’t thank her. In 1983 she started trying to
sell Robinson Drive and seemed to have found a buyer.
Mum was possibly born at 512 Abbeydale Road, or at 74 Glen
Road, Ecclesall. She was named after Queen Ena of Spain
who had her first child on 10th May 1907 and was popular
in England at the time. She was descended from 6
generations of lead miners from Middleton by Wirksworth in
Derbyshire. Her mother was 30 and Mum was the fifth of her
children. Later the family moved to 107, Banner Cross
Road, Ecclesall, a house they probably bought whereas the
earlier addresses were probably rented. Unfortunately we
do not have many details of her upbringing, except that
she became a “needlewoman” and went to Sheffield Art
College in Salter Lane. She used to say to me that it was
a waste of time, and she also said how when she was doing
a job in Sheffield her boss chased her round a table. She
says how she didn’t think much of the Sheffield boys and
when she met Dad at Christmas 1929, having been invited to
Watson Road Worksop by Aunt Gert who she met at Ecclesall
tennis club, he was tall, handsome and brown having just
come back from Egypt, and with a very public school
accent. Her mother wanted to keep her children round her,
and it was customary for the youngest daughter to look
after her parents and not marry. However with difficulty
Mum extricated herself and Mum and Dad married in June
1931 at All Saints Church, Ecclesall Road which is where I
believe Uncle Wilf preached to full houses and where
members of the family (? Alfred and Gertrude and maybe
others) are buried. Mum and Dad lived at 127 Park Road,
Highbury in a rented flat, and Dad took the tram every day
to Moorgate Street in the city where he worked for the
Eatern Cable Company later Cable and Wireless. They had a
black Scottish terrier, Mac. It was unheard of for married
women to work in those days. In 1933 they bought 37 Court
Way Twickenham for £850 with money Dad’s mother had left
him in 1923 when she died. Dad was keen on rugby football
which probably influenced his decision, also the cable and
wireless social club The Exiles Club, was at Orleans Park,
During the 30’s they spent a lot of time going to the
theatre in London, especially for first night
performances. They had a lot of friends from Cable and
Wireless and Twickenham.
Mum was keen on medieval history and would spend hours
reading history books about that period. She was also
interested in Nancy Astor and thought highly of Hugh
Gaitskell (although he was labour and she always voted
conservative except once when a liberal came to talk with
her and she voted liberal but was somewhat ashamed of it).
She also liked Adlai Stevenson and Margaret Thatcher. She
was pro American and always encouraged me to go and work
in the USA.
When she drank her endless cups of tea she would “tinkle”
her teeth which used to irritate me.
She had no fridge, no washing machine and of course no
car. She had a gas Ascot for heating the water in the
kitchen which she was somewhat afraid of as it used to go
bang sometimes. She scrubbed the clothes, put them through
the wringer and hung them on the washing line outside.
Once a salesman came to the door and somehow managed to
prevail on her to buy a “Hoover” vacuum cleaner.
She always thought there was not enough money, though they
had £3,000 stashed away for a rainy day.
John asked Mum if a man and woman could be friends without
sex rearing its head. Mum thought carefully and then
firmly said no.
Mum used to pray before going to bed and taught me the
Lords prayer. When Dad died she stopped praying. Aunt Gert
said she had lost faith in God.
Mum’s glass tended to be half empty, a trait I have
Mum used to take me to the Exiles club to learn tennis.
She arranged for Angela Blythman’s father to give me
tennis lessons there.
Mum thought that Aunt Doreen didn’t keep tabs on Peter
McLachlan (they lived down the road) well enough
especially when he was on his tricycle. She said he would
get run over (their eldest daughter drowned in the sea
when they were on holiday on the east coast of Scotland).
She was friendly with the Stewarts up the road. They had
stayed with us for a few months in 1945 when they had
sitting tenants in their house. Dad liked their two
daughters Jean and Shirley, particularly Jean. Uncle
George only had one arm like Tommy Farmer next door (they
both lost an arm in WW1).
Mum used to go to the Spinning Wheel near the Odeon Cinema
in Twickenham for coffee with Aunt Yvonne (Stewart), Aunt
Doreen (McLachlan), and Addie Humphries. Addie lived with
Billy Humphries the brother of her husband, a guilty
secret Mum had let me in on. Aunt Yvonne had a sister
Auntie May who lived in the same street as Aunt Addie.
Auntie May was intellectually challenged and used to walk
up Court Way to see Aunt Yvonne when Uncle George was at
work. She was wont to have a bath at the Stewarts and left
a rim of dirt in the bath which greatly annoyed Uncle
Mum was also friendly with the Horwood Barrets in
When Dad died Mum kept a stiff upper lip, except when Aunt
Yvonne came round when she cried.
Uncle Jim came round unexpectedly. Mum answered the door
in her curlers. Uncle Jim proposed to her. Mum turned him
down. She blamed him for Auntie Elizabeth’s fatal cervical
cancer as he never left her alone.
Mum went to see the headmaster of Hampton Grammar school
Mr Garfield in 1957. He said she couldn’t bring up a boy
without his father, so I was packed off to boarding
After Dad died she looked for work. First she worked at
Janey Powell’s dress shop next to Timothy White and
Taylors the chemist in Twickenham near the swimming pool
and near where a doodlebug landed in the war. She then
worked for a while in Bentalls in Kingston and a ladies
clothes shop in Richmond where she was let go. Finally
she worked at Wetheralls in Wright brothers in Richmond
where she was manageress of the year. She lied about her
age and retired at 67 in 1974.
Mum quite rightly didn’t think much of me going to
Tanzania on a VSO. When I got back and had the opportunity
of going to Pittsburgh in 1967 she was much more positive
and went to the Masonians who paid for my fare (as a one
off they said).
She did not generally approve of my girlfriends and did
not approve of Valerie, saying her family were a flock of
Baptists. She only reluctantly came to our wedding in
December 1974, and then only because John had said he
wouldn’t talk to her if she failed to attend. Then Linda
Pearce told her after the wedding that Valerie was
expecting and Mum was furious. Not long after she sold 37
Court Way and moved to Robinson Drive in Worksop where she
lived with Aunt Dorothy.
When Aunt Dorothy was taken ill in late 1976 mum was up a
lot of the night looking after her which she found
exhausting, and I have a letter from her. Fortunately Dr
Venables (whose sister was the head housekeeper caterer at
The Royal Masonic School) managed to get her into hospital
where she died.
When Mum got into her 70’s she went into atrial
fibrillation, and later still had TIA’s. Nevertheless she
managed to find the energy to come over to first British
Columbia in 1977 and on several occasions to 196 Spring
Street, the last time being the fall of 1988 when Mum had
just turned 81. On one visit to Shrewsbury in the winter
she slipped on the ice when going to collect the mail and
sustained a compression fracture of a lumbar vertebra. On
another occasion she locked herself in the garage and was
rescued by Sunny Fletcher’s son.
She used to say that she had no arthritis.
[Sketch by JCP, see X230]
Robert---Mum once told me she had been pregnant before me,
but lost it. Where did it go I innocently asked, Down the lavatory
she said. Later she said that she saw war coming,
so tricked Dad into her second pregnancy (me).
From these clues, can you work out when she
became pregnant for the first time? We could put this
likely date into her biography. My guess is January 1938.
Bern worked for Cable and Wireless in central London from 1931
to 1943, through the Peace and the Blitz. In 1943, he went to
Naples, Italy as a non-combatant, and Ena and John moved to her
mother's house in Sheffield, which is where Robert was born in
1944. Bern returned home from Vienna a sick man in 1946.
John moved to Worksop to be fostered by his Aunt Win and her husband
Frank Dougill from 1946 to 1958. Ena's husband Bern died in 1957
after a long illness. Robert was sent to the Royal Masonic School
as a boarder in 1957, and John came back to live at Twickenham
while at London University 1958-1961. John worked in London 1961-65
before moving to Dorset in 1966. Ena worked as a seamstress from
home, then in Bentalls in Kingston and finally as manageress in
Wrights of Richmond until her retirement in 1967.
She moved from Twickenham to Worksop about 1973 to be near
Gertrude Palmer when Gert's sister Win died. About 1985 she
moved to Broadstone then Poole in Dorset to be near her eldest
son John. She passed away in her flat in Poole in 1994 aged 86.
WILLIAM HENRY PALMER
30may1868 to 07jul1922.
My paternal grandfather was born in Glapthorne,
Northamptonshire. There is a rumour that many of the
Palmers of Glapthorne were illegitimate offspring of Lord
Cardigan, who led the Charge of the Light Brigade and
returned unscathed. He reputedly ran away from home with
one of his best friends because he was told he would get a
good job in the coal mines in Worksop. He wasn’t a coal
miner for long though, partly because he was too tall. He
married Mary Hibbard on 27th April 1898. He became a
licensed victualler. He ran The Woodhouse Inn in Rhodesia,
near Worksop and on the Chesterfield canal, from 1902 to
1922 when he died. The Inn was then run by his nephew
Arnold Medley of Huddersfield. Around 1970 the Inn crossed
the road but kept its name. The old Inn is now part of a
row of houses in Tranker Lane. He spent a lot of money
educating his two sons, Wifred born in 1899 and Dad born
in 1905. He had two daughters, Winifred born in 1902 and
Gertrude born in 1908. They did not share in his largesse.
He was very proud of Wilfred who like my father went to
Worksop College. Rumour has it that he had a drink problem
and hid in the bushes somewhat the worse for wear while
Wilfred won the victor ludorum at sports day. He ensured
Wilfred went into the Indian Army and not to the Western
Front. In later life he became quite obese and probably in
1922 was the front seat passenger when the car he was in
was involved in an accident and he went through the
windscreen. He died of his injuries but maybe not straight
MARY PALMER nee HIBBARD
04sep1875 to 07dec1923.
My paternal grandmother was born in St John Street,
Worksop, 2nd of 12 children. She was a servant at Holme
Carr Farm for Jepsons, and this is where she met my
paternal grandfather, and they married on 27th April 1898.
She had four children, Wilfred, Winifred, Bern and
Gertrude. It seems she contracted cancer of either the
stomach or oesophagus when she was in her 40’s.
Anecdotally she went to London to see a specialist, but
was told nothing could be done and she died of pneumonia,
presumably secondary to her cancer, on 7th December 1923,
17 months after her husbands death.
GEORGE WILFRED PALMER,
04apr1899 to 31jul1944.
Uncle Wilf was the oldest child of William Henry and Mary
Palmer. He was born at Holme Carr Farm in Worksop. He went
to Worksop College where he was in Pelham House and became
prefect of chapel and anecdotally won the Victor Ludorum
for athletics at the school sports day with his father who
was the worse for wear at the time watching from behind a
bush. In 1917 he joined the Indian Army. This was arranged
by his father who didn’t want him to go to the mincing
machine of the Western Front. Life there was sociable and
sadly he developed a fondness for drink, which became his
undoing. He married Mabel Wainwright in 1924 who was from a low
social class and she had aspirations above her station.
Also, unlike most of his contemporaries in the Indian
Army, Wifred was from a lower middle class background, and
did not have much disposable capital. He lied about his
father’s occupation (publican) and defaulted on mess bills
which may have led to him being forced out of the
military. He subsequently became a vicar at Ecclesall
church where he gave sermons to full houses before the
drink caught up with him again. He moved to another parish
in the home counties (?Buckinhamshire) but again had to
leave for the same reason. Mabel wrote horrendous letters
to Dad about him. Aunt Win was very protective (all her
geese were swans). At the outbreak of the second world war
he joined the RAF and rose to the rank of squadron leader,
but was killed when demonstrating a grenade (apparently) 2
days after I was born, and has a military grave
in Plymouth where he was based.
ROSE WINIFRED DOUGILL nee PALMER
07dec1902 to 1973
John Palmer writes:
" Aunt Win was born at the Woodhouse Inn, Shireoaks near
Worksop. She was the second child of William Henry, who
ran the pub. She went to a C of E Primary school in
Shiroaks, then got a job working at Woolworths 60-62
Bridge Place Worksop. She drove a pony and trap between
Shireoaks and Worksop. She was friendly with the Manager,
but in 1928 married Frank Dougill, a local draper from a
draper's family. Frank was poorly educated at Ashley House,
volunteered and was gassed in the Great War. They lived in
41 Watson Road Worksop, then in 1931 moved to a newly built
House at 7 Sparken Hill.
They decided to have no children because of a possible
mental health problem in the Dougill family. (Frank's younger
brother Harry later comitted suicide in 1962.)
From 1944 to
1958 they fostered Win's nephew John, elder son of Bern and
Ena. Win was a good cook and sociable, and ran the household.
Frank became a well-to-do small-business man, good at golf
(3 handicap) and captain of Worksop Golf Club. Win never
improved beyond 36 handicap. They were a popular couple and
had an extensive social life. Both were heavy smokers and
dressed smartly. They had a line of cars: Hillman Minx,
Triumph Roadster, Messerschmidt bubble car, Rover 95,
Rover 3 litre. About 1955, Win began to suffer from
rheumatism in hands and legs and Frank from diabetes.
Win died in 1973 and Frank in 1968; they were proud to
have reached the age of 70."
CHARLES BERNARD PALMER
16sep1905 to 17jan1957
Robert Palmer writes
"Dad was a public schoolboy and so were a lot of his
friends and acquaintances from Cable and Wireless. We met
them at the Exiles club in Twickenham and they were
distinctive in that they wore blazers and tended to have
nicknames for each other. One that he always used to talk
about was "ding dong" Bell who lived in Hitchin. Mum was
uncomfortable with them.
Jim Smith was Dad's best friend and Dad was I think the
only good friend Jim had. They were in Egypt and Vienna
together. Jim was an alpha male and Dad was horrified when
he had a "mitzi" in Vienna. Jim was excellent at
woodcarving. He had a very nice wife Elizabeth and a
daughter Anne. They lived in Carshalton. Mum was somewhat
disapproving of Jim, I think because he never left
Elizabeth alone. Sadly she died quite young of carcinoma
of the cervix. Hence you can imagine Mum's horror when she
answered the door at 37 Court Way in her curlers (after
Dad and Elizabeth had died) and he proposed to her (but
got short shrift). I remember a long walk with Uncle Jim
over Reigate Hill (it was very exciting but I don't think
he said a word to me).
Dad when he wee'd into the toilet always flushed it before
he had finished weeing. He referred to having a pooh as
"doing your business" and I remember him saying to me that
it was not an uncomfortable preoccupation.
John was at number 37 in the school summer holidays and we
were off to play tennis. John twice quite loudly said to
Mum "balls" purportedly referring to the tennis balls, but
clearly with another meaning. Dad yelled at him for using
the word in front of his mother.
We had a pet mouse called Willie. He died in front of John
(probably of old age). Dad said "typical John was there".
Dad used to call Mum Enega Awney (?spelling) and playfully
put his hand up Mum's dress. She used to tell him off. I
have never forgotten the advice Dad gave me. "However much
you are provoked you must never under any circumstances
hit a woman". Dad was very faithful and when he died
everyone said what a gentleman he was.
A few days before he died (in January 1957) he was late
coming home. Mum fearing the worst sent me out on my bike
to look for him. He was at the top of Court Way slowly
walking home. He said he had "fallen asleep" on the train
and missed Twickenham waking up and getting off at Feltham
(the 18 fast train from Waterloo). He said the man
opposite him was looking at him strangely on the train (he
had probably had a Stokes Adams attack, arrhythmia,
secondary to his severe mitral stenosis from the rheumatic
fever he first had at Worksop College and the near fatal
recurrence he had in Vienna where he was up telegraph
poles in the Austrian winter of 1945 1946 and sleeping
rough). A few days later he died on Waterloo Station
(probable ventricular fibrillation). He had a very strong
work ethic. Dr Hamilton had been telling him for some
years to retire but he dragged himself to work at Electra
House, and walking to Twickenham station in the morning
there was a slight incline by the council yard where I
used to play with Michael Sacree which he struggled to get
Dad was keen on Shakespeare and poetry. He taught me to
recite off by heart "loveliest of trees the cherry now" by
A E Houseman in "A Shropshire Lad" in case we were asked
about a poem on Spring at school. Quite soon after we were
asked exactly that (Jasper Parry in 1A at Hampton Grammar)
and I was too shy to say anything whereupon Jasper
repeated that very poem.
Dad was friendly with Mr Granger at the corner shop and
sent me to get some jelly babies. He insisted I ask Mr
Granger for male jelly babies as I would get more for my
money (male attachments) but of course I was too shy. Dad
as he was leaving to go to work said to Mum the Yorkshire
saying "and here's to me and my wife's husband not
forgetting mesen" finishing always with "and bugger Noel
Coward" which of course I never understood, and usually a
remark alluding to not seeing us again, as I am sure he
was aware of his mortality.
Dad was preoccupied shortly before he died with a
misstatement in one of the newspapers about the Worksop
College alumus and 13 times England rugby captain and drop
goal expert Nim Hall. Dad used to chant "champion the
wonder horse" from a TV show. He would sit in his
favourite chair by the fire and periodically expectorate
into the fire and the blood flecked sputum (he had
haemoptysis from severe heart failure) would slide down
the back of the bottom of the chimney. He always wanted a
daughter (I was Mary before I was born) and was smitten
with Petula Clark on TV. He had me walking up and down
outside number 37 to swing my arms properly.
There was a song called little red monkey. Dad put a
request in for it to be played on our behalf on the light
programme. It was duly played and our names mentioned and
Dad heard it as he was listening to the radio at the time.
He called for me (I was playing in the back garden) but I
didn't hear him and missed it (he was feeling too tired
and ill to come and get me).
When Dad failed to come back the second time Mum was
frantically making phone calls. At last she walked with me
to Twickenham station and we caught the train to Waterloo.
It stopped for about half an hour at East Sheen station (I
am not sure why). When we got to Waterloo Mum told me to
get the train straight back to Twickenham by myself.
Unbeknown to me she had found out that Dad had been
brought in dead to St Thomas's Hospital having died on
Waterloo Station. When she eventually came back I was in
Dad's bed in their room (as per her request) and she said
to me "you know that Dad is dead" and I muttered yes as I
had assumed that to be the case. I was not taken to his
funeral at All Hallows Church.
Dad used to take me to rugby matches usually to watch
Harlequins at Twickenham, but also sometimes to old Deer
Park to watch Richmond. I would much rather have watched
Fulham football club. He also took me to the Oval to watch
Surrey cricket team. In 1948 when the Olympics were on he
took John to the newly opened Battersea fun fair, but
didn't take me which upset me greatly.
Dad arranged rummy games for when John was down in the
school holidays which was something I always looked
forward to. I was good at cards and won the ten shilling
I think Mum had John and me because from her experience of
the first world war when they never came back she assumed
that if Dad went abroad (even though he was noncombatant)
he would not come back and she wanted the company and
something to remember him by.
Dad used to get me to put my ear on his chest. He had a
loud murmur and a palpable thrill. Dad wore a truss
because he had an inguinal hernia and was obviously not
fit for a surgical repair. Not long before he died Dad had
a cyst on his scalp which was removed under local
anaesthetic by Dr Hamilton. I am not sure that was a good
idea. John was in the front garden playing. Mum was in the
front room on the phone adopting her £5 accent. John threw
something which came sailing into the room smashing the
window. Mum glowered but her tone never changed and the
person on the other end of the phone would never have
known anything was amiss."
GERTRUDE ANNIE PALMER
24sep1908 to 2002.
Aunt Gert was probably born at The Woodhouse Inn just
outside Worksop. She was orphaned when she was only 15.
She was always a very good sportslady and was ladies
tennis champion at Ecclesall tennis club, and later took
up golf and got down to a handicap of 3 and possibly
represented Kent. She played at North Foreland golf club
in Kent. She never married although later in life a
gentleman from the golf club did propose to her and she
phoned Mum asking for her advice. Mum gave her an emphatic
no. In Margate she worked for the millinery department of
Bobby’s as a buyer. When Uncle Frank died in 1968 Aunt
Gert went to live at 7 Sparken Hill, where she stayed
until she moved to 7 Buckingham Court in Poole around
1990. John in particular and I used to visit her. She
lived to the grand old age of 94.
Born 22apr1917. Taken 20oct2015 aged 98
AUNT LUCILLE’S MEMORIES.
I talked over the phone to Aunt Lu this morning. She is
now 97, having been born in 1917, and lives in Broomgrove
Nursing Home near the Hallamshire Hospital. Lu is the only
person in our family still alive who can remember our family
before we were born. Here are some of her memories.
Her father was Ernest Burnand who was my godfather, and
they lived in a beautiful house, Hollycourt House in
Silverdale Road, Ecclesall, Sheffield, which was not too
far from Banner Cross Road, and in between the two was
where the trams used to turn round. She had an elder
sister Irene, who was 13 years older than Lu, and a
brother John, 6 years older than her. Irene was a
physiotherapist, and in 1927 she married Dr Reginald
Pleasance, who was a GP in Sheffield and also an
anaesthetist, working with the ENT Consultant. Sadly they
were not compatible, and moreover Reg wanted children and
Irene didn’t, resulting in Irene leaving Reg after 5 years
of marriage. Later in life Irene contracted thyroid cancer
from which she eventually died. She lived in Reigate. John
was the father of Peter and Christine, but sadly had a
stroke while sitting in his car outside his house on 4th
December 1951, aged just 40, from which he died. Ernest
Burnand was I believe my mother’s uncle.
Aunt Lu remembers going to Cole Brothers in Sheffield to
get a second hand cot for me in the summer of 1944 not
long before I was born and soon after she and John arrived
in Sheffield. In 1945 it was passed on for the birth of
Peter. Although Mum, John and myself lived at 107 Banner
Cross Road we often went to Hollycourt House during the
day after I was born. Mum was given the key to the
billiard room where John played.
Lucille Burnand never married, probably because her mother
lived until 1976 (aged 92) and youngest daughters were
expected to look after their parents in old age. Her grandmother
Emma Horrocks lived to be nearly 90 also. My mother Ena Doxey
escaped this trap by marrying the first among her siblings
although she was the youngest too.
107 was quite full with granny (Gertie), Mum, Uncle Billy,
John and myself. Alfred my maternal grandfather, who like
Ernest Doxey and Billy was an electrical engineer, died of
a heart attack (he had angina) in 1933 when he was 67. He
was 12 years older than granny (who was 72 in 1944). His
pension was lost once he died and granny had constant
money worries. Ernest Burnand tried to help her get a
pension but it came to nothing when he found out that
Billy was living at 107, and moreover Billy didn’t have a
regular job. Ernest Burnand was not happy about this state
Grandad Alfred introduced Aunt Dorothy to POP Bowen, who
was quite a lot older than her. He may have been married.
Against her parents wishes Aunt Dorothy lived with POP for
quite some time. She did not want to marry him because
that might have been the end of her teaching career at
Carter Knowle School in Millhouses, given the climate of
the time. They did eventually marry though. Aunt Dorothy
taught the 11 plus year at the school and was very
successful in this position. She lived at 36 Stowe Avenue.
Much later Uncle Billy lived with her and she used to pop
10 shilling notes into his pocket thinking he was hard up,
which was not the case as he was quite good at playing the
stock market, and reportedly the bank manager sought his
advice. Later in the 1970’s Aunt Dorothy lived with Mum in
Aunt Lucy was the secretary to one of the University
Consultant doctors in Sheffield. She met Norman Brealey on
a family holiday to the Isle of Wight and they married
and lived in Star St in Ryde. He was a guard on the
trains. She had eyesight problems and used to travel to
London for treatment. She died aged 74 of neglect.
Uncle Ernest Doxey was an electrical engineer in
Sheffield. He lived for a number of years with Aunt Con in
Devonshire St in Sheffield until they married. Aunt Con
had a ladies hairdressing salon where they lived. He got a
kidney infection when the army gave him a vaccination with
a dirty needle as a young man and never fully recovered
from this and died at 68. I remember visiting Aunt Con
with Mum in the late 1960’s and she was overweight with
Uncle Billy was an electrician in the navy during WW1. He
was at the battle of Jutland but transferred ships in the
nick of time and the ship he had transferred from was
sunk. He subsequently went to the USA and South America.
In 1944 he lived in the attic bedroom at 107 and worked
with transformers in the basement at 107 which John found
interesting. He was always scruffily dressed.
JOHN CHARLES PALMER.
John was born on May 6th 1940.He was a home birth at 37 Court Way, Twickenham. This was at the end of the "phoney war" and four days before the German Invasion of Holland and Belgium, and also four days before Neville Chamberlain resigned and Winston Churchill became prime minister. It was a difficult birth and the sun set twice on our mother's labour which nowadays is an absolute no no, and of course she should have been in hospital and would almost certainly have been a Caesaresan section. I think the GP looking after her was Dr O'Sullivan, who had a surgery in St Margarets, and I believe he said afterwards Mum should have been in hospital, and said something about a projection of the "tail bone" whatever that meant. I believe John was a term delivery at five minutes past four in the afternoon I think and weighed eight and a quarter lbs. It is unclear whether this traumatic delivery caused John's epilepsy, but it certainly did not diminish his intellect.
Our neighbour Mrs Farmer commented "What a time to have a baby", which enraged our mother.
Mum talks of taking a baby John in his pram to get him a baby gas mask.The London blitz started on September 7th 1940 and that night Mum, Dad and John slept in Eileen Stowell's underground (Anderson) shelter. The next day, September 8th 1940, Mum's 33 birthday, and not feeling safe, Horwood (Mr Horwood Barrett) drove Mum, Dad and John to Twickenham station where they caught a train to Worksop where they felt safer. I am not sure they were there very long because they returned to Court Way and were there until the spring of 1944 when Dad went to Naples on 13th May 1944 with Cable and Wireless as a non combatant. I was by this time in utero and Mum and John soon after went to 107 Banner Cross Road near where the trams turn round for about a year. John remembers going to the garages at the top of Banner Cross Road and playing with the imaginary "magic-man". John also remembers seeing "pop" Bowen, Aunt Dorothy's husband, who used to meddle with cars. He also used to see Aunt Luc's husband Norman Brealey who he liked. He remembers Mum's mother, granny Gertrude and Uncle Billy lived in 107. Uncle Billy had a bedroom in the attic, and made transformers in the basement cellar which John enjoyed watching. Granny who was 68 in 1940 used to get cross when she was cooking, and was always worried about money. They had a bad tempered dog "Chummy" who sat under the sofa in the kitchen. We probably moved back to 37 Court Way in the summer of 1945. In September 1945 John went to Brook House school in Twickenham. He did not like it much and his reports were not good. In early 1946 Uncle George, Aunt Yvonne, Jean and Shirley Jane Stewart came to live with us for a few months as their house at 47 Court way had a sitting tenant. A little later in 1946 (maybe in the Spring), Dad came back in a hospital ship to Southampton and was admitted in the hospital. John remembers going down to meet him. In the summer of 1946 John was sent to Worksop to live with Aunt Win and Uncle Frank who had no children. It is not clear why this happened, but it is likely it was because Dad was a sick man and John a lively child, and Dad could not cope. John came back for school holidays. He stayed up there for 12 years. He lived at 7 Sparken Hill, with the Newcombes one side (Arthur and Norah Newcombe and their two sons Patrick and John who both became surgeons), and the Yorks (later Mackie's on the other side (York and Mackie taught at Worksop College). Richard York, born 1944, was a clever and adventurous lad, John's first big friend. Later there were two Mackie sons, John and Peter). John went to St Mary's Roman Catholic School in Worksop for three years (where Miss O'Brian taught him poetry and Miss Shaw was an excellent teacher), and then to Newcastle Street primary school (where teachers included Miss Steel and Mrs Bottom who was also excellent). He passed his 11 plus easily (IQ 138) and won a scholarship to Retford Grammar School (one of only 5 out of 60 who achieved this). He revelled in the teaching at Retford Grammar and came down heavily on the science side (maths and physics in particular) pouring scorn on religion, history and the arts. He was top of class in 3a. A timid lad at first while still small, his bullying ceased as he grew larger which added to his confidence. He was full of questions which unfortunately Uncle Frank was unable to answer and he did not see a lot of Dad and so he would go next door to Pat and John Newcombe and ply them with questions. Mr Mackie on the other side of 7 Sparken Hill was less welcoming. John was keen on train spotting and as a result I got keen on it too. When I was up in Worksop we would go to Retford Station to see the engines on the LNER particularly the "streaks" and even saw "The Mallard". When he came to Twickenham for the holidays we went to Clapham Junction where we saw the Southern Region engines, the Battle of Britain and West Country class in particular, also to King's Cross for the LNER, St Pancras for the LMS, Paddington for the Western Region, and also occassionaly Euston, London Bridge, Charing Cross, Marylebone and Liverpool Street stations. Uncle Frank and Aunt Win told John to stop his train spotting to concentrate on his work. He came fifth in a class of 70,and was promoted a year to the junior fifth in 1955. Meanwhile his home life was very good. Uncle Frank had a good income and Aunt Win smothered him with love and affection, he was an only child. He was leader of a small gang nearby and surrounded by fields and woods where they could play and run around. There were woods up the road where John went sledding in the winter, and went through a fence once. I well remember enjoyable visits to 7 Sparken Hill. We played cricket round the back where John was a bowler. He was also very good at throwing, particularly stones, and knocked out a boy's front tooth once. He was Nottinghamshire schools javelin champion towards the end of his time at Retford Grammar. His best friends were Mark Smith, Richard Allsopp (he had a younger brother Stephen who was my age and I was friendly with), and Manolly Rigg ("yes but!"). I also remember a boy with callipers who had had polio and the 3 Haydon Bailey brothers further up Sparken Hill who were loose canons. There was a dog Jip who came through the fence at the bottom of the back garden at 7 Sparken Hill. Also June Roper who John was friendly with. A less pleasant memory was playing tennis in the back garden against Uncle Frank and beating him only for John to manipulate the score so Uncle Frank won; my sense of injustice knew no bounds, particularly as Uncle Frank must have known. Also John was starting to play squash in 1957 at Retford Grammar, which he was good at. When he came to Twickenham for holidays we would go to the museums in South Kensington. My favourite was the Science Museum where there were lots of buttons to press. Also The Natural History Museum, and the occasional visit further afield to the British Museum and The Imperial War Museum. Back to Retford Grammar one of John's proudest moments was when his headmaster gave him two awards for being the top pupil out of 92 in his year. Uncle Frank had two cars (one a two seater Triumph Roadster which also had two pop-up seats in the boot; people would say "wow", but once John got his foot stuck under one of the foot pedals which gave uncle Frank a fright), the other a Messerschmidt bubble-car made in Germany). Uncle Frank and Aunt Win would also take John with them to posh hotels, and The Old Bell in Woodhall Spa. Alas life was too good and he did not learn to work really hard and failed to get in to Oxford or Cambridge, which with his high IQ he should have done. He did get 13 O levels, 4 A levels and 2 S levels. This was certainly good enough to get him into UCL London starting September 1958 where he met students brighter than himself he says. He failed to pass the required Russian exam and passed German instead. He was now living again at 37 Court Way. I was at boarding school until 1962, but well remember watching the Quatermass series on TV with John which had started in 1953 and went on through the 50's and early 60's. One of his regrets when he was at UCL and living in Court Way was not meeting up for lunch with Aunt Win and Uncle because he had a squash game (same when Aunt Lucy died). In 1959 while at UCL John worked for a short time at The Underwater Research Establishment at Portland. Gordon Lonsdale was also working near there at the time. In 1961 he got a BSc in physics from UCL and soon got a job with Hawker aircraft in Kingston where he worked on the vertical take off plane P1154 (later cancelled by the government in 1964). He had got keen on cycling in 1964 and when he moved from Hawkers to S.Davall in Greenford (working on an early aircraft crash recorder) he cycled to Greenford and back partly along the canal. He got fed up with the cycling and when he saw an advert for Plesseys in Poole he was interviewed and took the job. He took digs at no 10 Upper Golf Links Lane, Broadstone and went to work on a motor bike. He worked on electronic equipment for the new Severn bridge. After a time he moved to a different department, Memories, and subsequently in 1972 to 1990 with Nucleonics (later Environmental Systems) which dealt with equipment for nuclear submarines, and work on Trident detecting a low-level SCRAM. John came up with a novel idea which was adopted. Tim Berners Lee who founded the world wide web was also at Plesseys at this time. Later he met an affable gentleman Keith Norman of a similar age at badminton and shared his bungalow, 29 Sutherland Avenue, Broadstone, where he still lives. John started a squash club at The Arndale Centre in Poole, called Poole Squash Club. He averaged well over 100 matches a year for 30 years. He was captain of the Poole squash club playing at number 5, and for a year was secretary of the Dorset Squash Association. His life revolved around squash, cycling and work. In 1968 John and I bought 29 Sutherland Avenue for £5,000 (£2,500 each). Subsequently John bought my share. John had cycle holidays on the continent with Harry Hartland and driving holidays with Peter Key. In 1970 John climbed Mt Kenya. John retired in 1990 on his 50th birthday and the next day went to Albania. Not long after, he completed the circuit of Ireland (which he had not completed with me in 1961 because I gave up) by himself. In 1992 he cycled across America from the Pacific Ocean in Oregon to the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia. He travelled with a retired policeman, Peter. In 1994 he cycled across America a second time, this time with Mick, from San Diego to Florida. In 1994 he worked out he had cycled the circumference of the earth 24,000 miles,all cycle touring. John started the research for his website in 1996, transferring Parish Records 1600-1900 to database, and in 1998 he started the Wirksworth website. Then he started work on the Wirksworth census (1841-1901) from 1999 to 2003. He continued expanding the Wirksworth website and is still doing that in 2015. It has over 500,000 records and he has had over 2 million responses. He has nearly 3,000 web pages on the Wirksworth website. It is probably the largest One-Place-Study geneology website in the world. John started the www.eyemead.com website in 2003 and it encompasses 69 individual websites including Bearmead, Retford Grammar, Dad, holidays etc. His websites are undoubtedly the pinnacle of his life's achievements. The 25 acres Bearmead was bought in 2002. John has grown 250 oaktrees on his 7.5 acres. He got the acorns from the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest in 2000, and grew them in flower pots in the back garden of 29 Sutherland Avenue until we bought the 25 acres at an auction in Blandford Forum in November 2002, when he planted them in his 7.5 acres as above. He has turned the 25 acres into a nature reserve with lots of help from Rosie. We bought the shepherds hut in 2007 from Larry Skeats for £3,750, and put it next to the River Stour in field 1 (on the only part of the 25 acres that never floods). John and Rosie had five holidays in the Outer Hebrides in the early part of the new millennium. I joined him in 2004. Towards the end of my week there he held up his left hand and asked me if I had noticed anything. I said he had a ring that I hadn't noticed before. He then said he and Rosie, unbeknown to me, had got married just before he came up to Scotland. Now in November 2015 anno domini is catching up with John (also with me) but his intellect remains excellent. Rosie is in good health and has clearly been cured of the health scare and operation of many years ago in Poole Hospital.
LIFE CHANGING EVENTS ----- "mighty oaks from little acorns grow"
1940 Survived very difficult birth, health affected ---- HEALTH PROBLEMS
1946 Moved from Twickenham to Worksop to live with Uncle Frank and Aunt Win ----- BETTER LIFESTYLE
1949 Richard Allsopp called - could he watch "Railway Children" on TV ----- SPOTTING
1950 Worksop Market stall - bought a Sci-Fi mag - got interested in Science ----- SCIENCE
1954 Worksop Library - took out "Dialectical Materialism - realised religion baloney ----- ATHEISM
1957 School Squash Courts built - wasn't chosen to put on display ------ SQUASH
1958 Left macintosh at ULU sports ground - cycled there on RJP's bike ----- CYCLING
1959 Cycled in Wales with John Mounsey, stayed at Youth Hostels ---- CYCLE TOURING
1960 Got a 6 week vacation job at Portland - discovered Dorset ------ DORSET
1968 Keith Norman asked if interested in sharing his bungalow ---- BROADSTONE BUNGALOW
1968 Uncle Frank died and left me money and income ----- CAPITAL
1973 Mum persuaded me to pay off my mortgage ---- NO MORTGAGE
1976 Put Advert in YHA mag for cycle touring buddy - first met Rosie ----- ROSIE
1988 Realised I could afford to retire early while still fit ----- EARLY RETIREMENT
1991 Met American in Ireland who had cycled across USA ----- XAMERICA
1995 Alan Housden got a website - I started planning mine ----- WIRKWORTH.org.uk
1996 Raasay - saw acorns growing in a back garden ----- OAK PLANTATION
2002 Saw 27 acres of farmland for sale in Advertiser, bought it with RJP ----- BEAR MEAD
2003 Dorset Archives - found old maps showing Old Mill Stream ----- CORFE MULLEN MILL
2004 Planted 250 oak trees in Bear Mead ----- OAKWOOD PLANTATION
2011 Back started hurting - spread of osteoarthritis ------ UNABLE to WALK
VALERIE JEAN PALMER.
Valerie was born on 31st March 1950 in Khartoum in Sudan. Her parents were
both missionaries there. Her father Norman Nunn, was originally from London,
England and was a chartered accountant. He had emigrated to Australia with
his family when he was 14 years old. Her mother Matilda Prenter was born in
Tasmania. They met and married in the Sudan. Valerie has an older sister
Gwen who is married and lives in Lyminge, Kent; a younger sister Barbara
sadly died of breast cancer in her late 40’s. Valerie first went to mission
school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where she picked up her American accent.
Later she was a boarder at Clarendon School in North Wales where she played
for the school hockey team.
She left Clarendon when she was 17 and did a secretarial course in London
for a year.
In 1969 she went to The Royal West Sussex Hospital, Chichester, West Sussex
for her nursing training which she completed in 1972. Those were very happy
years and long lasting friendships made. Valerie worked briefly in Khartoum
after she qualified.
In December 1974 she married me; we had met in early 1972 when I was working
for Mr Lynn Evans at St Richards, Chichester. We were married in Broadstone,
Dorset. We lived for a year from early 1975 in Laundry Road, Southampton,
and then as per my autobiography we were in Montreal, back to Southampton,
then Victoria BC, Shrewsbury MA USA, Aberystwyth and Rowlands Castle.
Susannah came along in 1975 in Southampton, Carla in 1977 in Montreal,
and Youngest Daughter in 1983 in Worcester MA USA.
Eventually in 1990 we returned to Aberystwyth in West Wales for nearly 3
years and finally to Rowlands Castle in 1993.
From 1975 to 1990 Valerie spent most of her time raising our three daughters
with a little help from me,
In 1990 she did a Return to Nursing Course and worked for two years as a
Community nurse in Tregaron in mid Wales. When we moved to Rowlands Castle
she continued to work, chiefly in the Midhurst area, where she joined an
excellent team of Community nurses for 11 years and specialised in wound
She has always been very involved in the local churches where we have lived
and with social justice and environmental issues. Her other interests are
walking, mosaics, pilates, gardening, some cycling and trips away often
with girlfriends. Out of necessity she has also always been very busy on
the upkeep of the houses we have lived in. She has also been an excellent
wife and mother and is now heavily involved with her 6, soon to be 7 (in
May 2016), grandchildren.
From Worksop Guardian for 3 Dec 1915.
"It is our duty to chronicle this week the deaths in action
of two members of a Worksop family, two brothers, Bombardier
Harry Hibbard, RFA, of Woodend, Worksop and Pte Tom Hibbard,
15798, of the 9th Batt of the South Staffordshire Regiment,
Pioneers, formerly of Lincoln Street, Worksop. They were both
born in Worksop - have lived in the town all their lives -
being sons of the late Mr and Mrs George Hibbard, of 9 Frederick
Street, Worksop, and brothers of Mrs Fred Webster, Woodend,
Mrs H Palmer, of the Woodhouse Hotel, Woodend, and Mrs D
Appleby, of Sandy Lane, Worksop, widow of the late Mr D
Appleby, JP. The gallant soldiers were well known and highly
respected in Worksop, and their many friends will learn of
their deaths with sincere and heartfelt sympathy."
"The first to be killed was
Bombardier Harry HIBBARD, who some months ago was reported
missing. The relatives feared that he had paid the supreme
sacrifice, and now it is beyond doubt that he was killed at
La Bassee, apparantly in October 1914! This news is conveyed
by Pte E Riff, 73224, 11th Battery, RFA, to whom Mrs Fred Webster
wrote for information. He was attached to the same Battery as
Harry, and writing from the Red Cross Hospital at Netley, Southampton,
says "Harry was killed at La Bassee when the guns were taken. We had
a very warm time of it at Mons. We lost a large number of men, but we
killed hundreds of Germans, who had a hot time." Bombardier
Hibbard was a regular soldier when war was declared, and of course
was fully trained. He was among the very first to be landed in
France, to strike a blow for dear old England, and for the cause
of civilisation. He was only 23 years of age, and unmarried. An officer's
servant, he was promoted to Bombardier soon after the outbreak of
hostilities. He formerly lived with his sister at Woodend."
1894 to 1914.
"Pte Tom HIBBARD was killed on November 18, 1915, in France.
A miner, he was working at the Manton Colliery of the
Wigan Coal and Iron Company when Lord Kitchener appealed for
men, and he answered the urgent call promptly. He enlisted in
September 1914 in the South Staffordshire Regiment, Pioneers,
and was attached to the Machine Gun Section. He had only been
in France three months. It appears he was wounded in the leg
on the morning of November 18th, and although everyone thought
he would recover, he succombed to his injuries in the afternoon
of the same day.
1887 to 1915.
Some years ago, Tom married Miss Emily Keywood, of Steetley,
whom he leaves with five young children, the eldest of whom
has not yet seen seven summers. Up to the time of enlisting he
lived with his family in Lincoln Street, Worksop, but Mrs Hibbard
recently removed to 18, Woodend, Worksop."
1851 Census for
1861 Census for Broad Lane, Worksop
Thomas STUBBINGS Head Marr M 51 1810 Gamekeeper Bothamsall, Nottinghamshire
Elizabeth STUBBINGS Wife Marr F 48 1813 Gamekeeper Wife Worksop, Nottinghamshire
William STUBBINGS Son Unmar M 24 1837 Gardeners Labourer Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Joseph STUBBINGS Son Unmar M 20 1841 Gardeners Labourer Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Mary STUBBINGS Dau Unmar F 18 1843 Gamekeepers Daughter Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Thomas STUBBINGS Son Unmar M 15 1846 Agricultural Labourer Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Elizabeth STUBBINGS Dau - F 12 1849 Gamekeepers Daughter Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Alice STUBBINGS Dau - F 8 1853 Gamekeepers Daughter Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Henry STUBBINGS Son - M 3 1858 Gamekeepers Son Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Ann WHITTAKER Visitor - F 3 1858 - Worksop, Nottinghamshire
1871 Census for Beaver Place, Rybon Villa, Worksop
Harriot HANCOCK Head - F 50 1821 - Nottinghamshire
Annie FRANKLIN Niece - F 30 1841 - Nottinghamshire
Ann WHITTAKER Servant - F 14 1857 - Nottinghamshire
Marriage Dec 1874
George HIBBARD and Ann WHITAKER at Worksop
1881 Census for 13 Crown Terrace, Worksop
George HIBBARD Head Marr M 39 1842 Coal Miner Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Annie HIBBARD Wife Marr F 23 1858 - Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Helen WHITTAKER StepDau Sing F 7 1874 Scholar Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Mary HIBBARD Dau Sing F 5 1876 - Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Sarah A HIBBARD Dau Sing F 3 1878 - Worksop, Nottinghamshire
George HIBBARD Son Sing M 0 1881
1891 Census for
1901 Census for 9 Frederick Street, Worksop
George HIBBARD Head Marr M 59 1842 Furnace Stoker Worksop, Notts
In Coal Mine (Below Grd)
Annie HIBBARD Wife Marr F 42 1859 - Worksop, Notts
George HIBBARD Son Sing M 20 1881 Labourer (Malting) Worksop, Notts
Benjamin HIBBARD Son Sing M 17 1884 Coal Miner Worksop, Notts
(Trammer) Below Ground
Tom HIBBARD Son Sing M 14 1887 Pony Dr Worksop, Notts
In Coal Mine (Below Ground)
Alice E HIBBARD Dau - F 12 1889 - Worksop, Notts
Charles HIBBARD Son - M 9 1892 - Worksop, Notts
Henry HIBBARD Son - M 7 1894 - Worksop, Notts
Florence HIBBARD Dau - F 4 1897 - Worksop, Notts
Leonard HIBBARD Son - M 2 1899 - Worksop, Notts
1901 Census for Holme Carr, Shire Oaks, Worksop
William H PALMER Head Marr M 30 1871 Coal Miner (Hewer) Glapthorne, Northamptonshire
Mary PALMER Wife Marr F 25 1876 - Worksop, Nottinghamshire
George W PALMER Son - M 1 1900 - Worksop, Nottinghamshire
Death Dec 1907
George HIBBARD aged 66 at Worksop
Death Mar 1911
Annie HIBBARD aged 54 at Worksop
1911 Census for Woodhouse Inn, Worksop
William Henry PALMER Head Marr M 42 1869 Licensed Victualler Northants Glapthorne
Mary PALMER Wife Marr F 35 1876 Assisting In Business Notts Worksop
George Wilfred PALMER Son - M 11 1900 - Notts Worksop
Rose Winifred PALMER Dau - F 8 1903 - Notts Worksop
Charles Bernard PALMER Son - M 5 1906 - Notts Worksop
Gertrude Annie PALMER Dau - F 2 1909 - Notts Worksop
Richard Leonard HIBBARD Bro IL - M 12 1899 - Notts Worksop
Rose ALLISON Serv IL Sing F 16 1895 Domestic Servant General Notts Worksop
1911 Census for 9 Low Grounds, Worksop
Frederick WEBSTER Head Marr M 22 1889 Collery Lamp Man Worksop Notts
Alice WEBSTER Wife Marr F 22 1889 - Worksop Notts
Henry HIBBARD Bro IL Sing M 17 1894 Joiners Labourer Worksop Notts
1911 Census for 9 Frederick Street, Worksop
Tom HIBBARD Head Marr M 24 1887 Coal Miner Hewer Notts Worksop
Emily HIBBARD Wife Marr F 23 1888 - Notts Worksop
Winifred Mary HIBBARD Dau - F 2 1909 - Notts Worksop
Edith Ann HIBBARD Dau - F 0 1911 - Notts Worksop
George HIBBARD Boarder Sing M 30 1881 Coal Hewer's Filler Notts Worksop
John Palmer sent the following email to DERBYSGEN
My brother and I are both over 70. We are the only members
of our close family still alive, another 16 are now dead and one is
97 (though she has a good memory). So we three got together,
using the phone, email, the internet, old photos, a scanner,
the census, FreeBMD and memory to knock up pen-portraits of all
17 members. Its astonishing how we remember different events
about the same person. My little brother is doing an Autobiography
about his life (but don't think I am bold enough to do mine).
There are (at last count) 10 members of our family who are
under 40, and not the slightest bit interested in their elders,
but we are counting on that changing when we three are
gone too. I persuaded my Mum at 82 to write on a card how
she met my Dad; this has since become precious in the Family.
There are so many things I would want to ask my elders
were they still here. So, DO IT NOW before its too late!
A perfect example is Gerald WALSH, who wrote his
Autobiography at 70, and I have on my website (see
http://www.eyemead.com/GW.htm ). I defy any reader
to do better, but he had a near-perfect memory at 70.
He went to the same school as me, 22 years earlier.
Regards to all,
John Palmer, Dorset, England
Author of Wirksworth website
...which brought the following replies:
Rose Kelland wrote:
Much like WendyE in Florida, I also left the UK when I was ten - why
is that the magical age, I know of others around that age who left!! I
didn't get to spend anymore Sunday lunches with Grandma and Grandad or
be with aunts and uncles and hear their version of the stories my
Yes, as someone else said, it's only when you're a 'little older'(!)
that you take an interest in your past and by then it's already too
late. So I am grateful for the little things I heard from Mum, like
her being a 'Pink Domino' - a Matlock Methodist drama group ( I think
PD's origins are a little more shady than the Methodists would
portray!) - and how the British Newspaper Archive.com has confirmed
some of the stories!
I think I've mentioned before that when Mum turned 70 we gave her a
lever arch file, a new pen and a pad of paper to write down her life
story and it's been a treasured possession - and much edited - over
the last 20 years (She turns 95 this November!) And lately she's been
asking ME, if I've started on MY life story! Probably because I'm now
a granny, it's the time to start, before I forget! I did start writing
it down. It's currently at 115 pages and is about 15 years behind in
Today someone said that after sorting through her recently deceased
mother's cottage, she'd found her handwritten diaries. She remembers
how her mother would sit and 'scribble' after a day out on holiday and
now she's looking forward to reading them. That's another way of
recording life - good and bad no doubt!
Celia Renshaw wrote:
I've missed most of the "Do it now" discussion because I've been away
up north in Newcastle-Gateshead and Edinburgh-Glasgow but nothing
could be more truly said than "talk to relatives while you can"!
While on this trip, I met up with a first cousin I hadn't seen or
spoken to for over 30 years and in the course of our non-stop
discussions, she asked me if I knew anything about my dad's sister
Now to say I was pole-axed is putting it mildly. My dad died when I
was 16 but I thought I knew everything about his and his parents'
families. He had an adopted sister named Margaret, 2 brothers - no
sister Christine. But now I've checked Scottish records I've found
her, an out-of-wedlock child for my Scottish grandmother, five years
before she married my grandad. Of course, in those days it was all
hushed-up, but luckily my cousin had a curious nature and she listened
in on her mother's chats with relatives.
So - if I hadn't taken the plunge and contacted my cousin, I would
never have known about my one and only blood-related aunt. Now I'm on
the hunt for possible cousins in Canada, where we think she went. I
know this isn't a Derbyshire family (unless Christine moved here of
course) but I couldn't hold back this astonishing info as a
contribution to "Do it now!"
in Chesterfield, Derbys
Wendy E wrote:
All the comments on this topic bring to mind an oft quoted phrase concerning family history research: [no matter when you start] "It's already too late!" Which speaks to the idea that there is always going to be a question you wish you'd asked of someone when either they were alive to possibly answer it, or were young enough so they might remember an answer. Of course there is always the question of accuracy even if one does get answers. :D
I do think one gets more interested in family history as one ages. There are so many things I wish I'd known to ask about when I was a child. I left the UK at ten and had little to no opportunity to overhear family conversations about this or that relative. Because of that lack I try to tell my granddaughter stories about when I was young and yes, things were very different. Thank goodness for the computer age, I'm reconnected to my UK family.
I started researching in my 50's, early enough to talk to my UK Aunt's (while visiting). One if whom fortuitously owned a family bible (with a wealth of family B's,D's &M's written into it) an excellent memory, and an otherwise pretty good store of knowledge. She was related to me by marriage and blood. Despite a few long and fruitful sessions with her there are many things I didn't know to ask until I'd done more research. Unfortunately she had already died before I got through most of the long list of names and connections she was able to pass along to me. I'm very grateful I asked when I did, otherwise I wouldn't even know what I do.
Another Aunt was inspired to write her own life story and do research after I started asking her about her parents, etc. several more distant relatives also dug up information on their own lines. I found some very interesting correspondence from a distant and dead Uncle of my Dad's to his daughter, he'd moved to the US just prior to WW2. Bits and bobs of all sorts of things started poking their head up after I started asking everyone in the family questions.
In my husbands side which quickly ends up in Russia as we go back more and more information has been unearthed in Russia by interested parties -- much funded by private US money -- been made accessible and been put online as time has gone by.
Most exciting has been the connections made to live and distant, and some heretofore unknown, family members for both my husband and I. Current family over the oceans have been stirred to take a look at the past. We have all benefitted from sharing answers and bonding while doing so. The latter result is something I'm particularly happy about since I'm the oldest cousin and moving away I lost the chance to know them as children and I'm still geographically disconnected from the bulk of my extended family.
(Colorado and Florida, USA)
Do it now - a great idea, it's later than you think!
I started researching my late husband's and my own families back in '97
and have just finished sending off in narrative form all my research on
my husband's paternal families - including transcripts of Wills,
Obligations, scanned maps, and photographs - 168 pages of it via
dropbox to all interested family members. I am just sad that I didn't
get it finished before my husband of 53 years, his two sisters in law, a
niece and three cousins passed away - all within the last two years.
As John so rightly said - Do it now!!!
My kids asked me to write down the stories I would tell them of being
brought up during the war years in south Manchester, my various stories
of my time in the forces. (It was like a Hollywood action movie)
Consequently over the years I have quite a folder of different memories
stored in a disk, a desk top storage unit and in my computer. It allows
me to read them and add more details I might remember. But on the other
hand there is no pressure to create a book but there is enough to make
up several pages.
In other words make a start writing down one memory, either yours or
something you were told by a parent. It may only be pieces of a memory
but its surprising what comes back as you write.
I my case , I only had my mom who did not know her father, a grandmother
(Moms mom) who gave her away at two years of age. One grandmother (My dads
mother) whose husband left her during the great depression with two sons.
But in a number of trees I am researching back in the 1700's. I found out
my mothers fathers name and he was a solder in the 1st world war and I
think as the term goes, he was rather quick on his bike. On my dads side
I find the family name was changed from Fitzmorris/Fitzmaurice to Morris
by my Irish catholic gg-grandparents. (I did not know any of this).
Its a great hobby, its like doing police /detective work, but boy what a
rush when you come across a clue and the answer.
Many thanks to all the friends on the Derbyshire list who have helped
me with my SPENCER research.
All my best in your own search.
I just want to say that I've enjoyed reading this post as well as many
others from you, and you are never anything but inspiring. Thank you for
this extra bit of motivation!
Clinton, MA and sometimes Norfolk, VA
I first started my tree in the 80’s and thank goodness I did. My aunt
(mum’s sister) in Matlock was still alive and a wealth of information
and family lore. Much of it I have been able to prove since. It was
in the days before the internet and my only source here was the local
Latter Day Saints library so things were a lot harder to prove.
I also started my dad’s tree at the same time, and the only thing I had
to go on was his burial card. I contacted the cemetery with the plot
number and they put me in touch with one of his sisters who had arranged
the last funeral to be held in that family plot. I have since been
reunited with family I didn’t know I had!
Like others, my children have no interest in their history but I am
hopeful they may develop an interest later. In the meantime, my son in
law has taken all my family documents and photos and stored them on his
computer. He seems to have more interest in genealogy than my daughters.
I have started to write a biography but I still have a long way to go.
But I agree with everyone else – do it now before it’s too late!
Anne in Hamilton, Ontario
A good place to start is with a timeline - or just one large sheet of
paper to brainstorm your thoughts and note them down as they tumble out.
A roll of wallpaper's good + a thick felt-tip pen. Be bold. One thought
leads to another and you can sort them out and expand on them later into
If you are stuck you may find this website useful.
There are a number of commercial websites which I won't bother you with -
but you could Google them as they may give you other starting ideas. Just
don't part with any cash.
If there are any oral history projects in progress in your area maybe you
could join in - or start a new one.
Hope this helps.
Timely advice, John. Thank you. In 2009, I sent my brother and sister, and
the nine cousins to whom it was relevant, a CD with an account of what I had
found out about the history of my POUNTAIN (Derbyshire) and WARING
(Cornwall, later Derbyshire) families - that is to say, my father's ancestors.
I stopped short at my father and his siblings, plus all their spouses, with
the intention that each recipient could take the narrative further, if he
or she so wished. There were certain irregularities on some of their lines
which they might not have wanted me to record. :o) I am in the process of
doing the same for my mother's ancestors, COX (Somerset, later Derbyshire)
and STOKES (Worcestershire, later Derbyshire). The big snag is that no
sooner than you think you've more or less finished the task, another
tantalising tale raises its head. However, I began all this so late
that I could only include scraps of remembered detail. I've included
things people told me, such as the fact that my father's eldest cousin,
Archie, was taken on a trip by his grandmother, from Chesterfield to
Stoke Climsland in Cornwall, to visit 'The Great Grandfather.' In a
letter to me from Archie's wife after his death, she said he told her
they had a dinner of pork and all the trimmings in Plymouth then went
up the river [Tamar] and were taken by a farm cart to the Great Grand
Father who was then 92. When I met Archie in the 1950s, I didn't know
that I was meeting someone who had met my 2GGF! So all the really
historic stuff is wonderful and addictive, but recording the memories,
in their own words, of family members, is a chance so easy to miss.
As you say, DO IT NOW.
Trying writing your story in the third person. It's easier when
things happen to other people and you're the observer :)
OPC for Walton, Ashcott, Shapwick,
Greinton and Clutton, SOM
I am writing my family history for my two children although they are not at
all interested. (Both approaching 40.) Like you, I think they will when I'm
gone as I'm the last of my lot being an only child...
At least it gives me something to do and keeps my mind active in my dotage.
I'm not very good at retelling my own life though!
Jane In Redcar
Conceived, written and copyright © 2014, Robert PALMER,
All Rights Reserved.
Compiled, formatted, hyperlinked, and hand-coded
2014 by John PALMER,