Tag Archives: Whittington

James Hope WALKER, RFC, 1896 – 1917

With the centenary, tomorrow, of his death in a flying accident during WW1, I want to post something about this Great-Uncle, James Hope WALKER.

James Hope WALKER was born on 3rd July 1896, at Kilpunt, Kirkliston, West Lothian, the second child (first son) of Thomas George WALKER, and Helen Black WALKER (nee CADZOW). His middle-name, “Hope”, is almost certainly a nod to the family’s landlord at Kilpunt; Lord HOPE, the Earl of Hopetoun.james-hope-walker_birth-cert-merged

In 1898 the WALKER family moved south to farm in Hertfordshire; first to Hyde Hall, Buntingford (here is Hyde Hall Farm’s current website and Facebook page), and then in 1904 to Symonds Hyde, Hatfield.

James Hope WALKER joined the 14th London Regiment (the London Scottish) as a Private (Pte.). Regimental.No.4335. The photos of him wearing a kilt (below) appear to be his London Scottish regimental uniform. His medal card shows that he first entered the “Theatre of War”, in France on 4th July 1915.

This letter, dated 24th May 1916, contains an order from the War Office to J.H.Walker’s commanding officer in the London Scottish Regiment, for him to report for training with an Officer Cadet Unit, on 29th May at Whittington Barracks, Litchfield.scan0014-scaled


List 2. Litchfield (T.F.3)
War Office, London, S.W.
24th May 1916.
I am directed to inform you that 4335. Pte. J.H.Walker.
of the unit under your Command, has been selected to undergo a course
of instruction in an Officer Cadet Unit, with a view to his subsequent
appointment to a commission in the Territorial Force.
I am therefore to request that you will order him to report
himself to the Commandant No 8 Officers Cadet Battn, Whittington Barracks, Litchfield.
on the 29th May 1916 not later than 4 p.m.. He should be provided
with a railway warrant for the journey, and should be in possession
of a complete kit. xxxxxxxxxxxx
It must be distinctly understood that in the event of his
failure to pass the required tests on the termination of the course
or it in any other respect he is found to be unsuitable for appoint-
-ment to a commission, he will be returned to your unit for duty in
the ranks, or otherwise disposed of as directed by the Army Council.
An acknowledgment of the receipt of this letter is not
required, but if for any reason the candidate is unable to join, a
telegram should be sent to the War Office as early as practicable,
Followed by a letter stating the circumstances.
I am, Sir, Your obedient Servant,
(Sgd) W.D. Bird.
Director of Staff Duties.
The Officer Commanding
xx 14th (Res) Bn.London Regt.
(London Scottish)

On (or about) the 25th September 1916, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps. The London Gazette records this in a list published on 20th October 1916 (his name is about a third of the way down on the right-hand side).

One photo among WALKER family papers labels James Hope WALKER, standing on an airfield alongside 3 other (unidentified) servicemen.

James Hope WALKER was killed in a “Flying accident” on 16th March 1917, when the Bristol F.2a fighter biplane (number A3311), which he was flying, had a “loss of flying speed near ground”, at Rendcomb airfield (north of Cirencester, Gloucestershire). The “Casualty Card” from the accident is available from the RAF Museum Story Vault. It records the following;

“The court is of opinion that accident was caused by loss of flying speed owing to the fact that the pilot had switched off in order to effect a slower landing. The throttle being open seems to indicate that the pilot attempted to make use of his engine forgetting he had previously switched off.”

A group of photos among family papers, show an airfield; presumably RAF Rendcomb. Three images show Bristol F.2a fighter biplanes lined up; among them are numbers A3314 and A3329. Another 3 photos show servicemen standing around a crashed plane. This is presumably the crash which killed James Hope WALKER on 16th March 1917. But the images don’t show the plane’s number, so I can’t say for sure!

The following two cards were presumably sent to the WALKER family by the officers of the RFC at Rendcombe following his death.

James Hope WALKER is recorded on several monuments. These include the Hatfield War Memorial. Among family papers are two cards inviting his parents to the dedication of the Hatfield War Memorial on Sunday 12th June (1921) (see below). He is also recorded on a memorial at St Albans School, where he was a pupil (see the Great War Forum for details).

His gravestone, in St Luke’s Churchyard, Hatfield, also mentions one of his sisters, Beatrice Margaret. The FindAGrave website accurately connects this grave to a 1911 census record, and to the gravestones of other WALKER family members, buried at All Saints, Radwell, where there is also an inscription to him,  on the back of his parents gravestone (see; BillionGraves.com).

The portrait (below) of James Hope WALKER appears to have been painted after his death. It is signed ‘E. L. HAWES, 1919′, and “EVA L. HAWES, 24 WINDSOR RD, CHURCH END FINCHLEY” is written on the back. I have no other information about the artist. The portrait is in an envelope, addressed in pencil to James’ mother, “Mrs Walker, Radwell Bury, Baldock, Herts” (an address which his parents moved to in about 1935).


SWAIN family notes (part 2)

Here are some further details that David Swain has sent to me about the SWAIN family, focusing on the generation of his father (my Great Grandfather) Ernest Garfield Swain; the children of James Christopher SWAIN and Ellen HART;

(I hope at some stage to be able to add some more images/photos to this post. You can see the previous post about the SWAIN family HERE )

James Christopher SWAIN; b. 17/9/1846 in Penkridge, Acton Trussell, Staffordshire. – d. 24/1/1900 (from tuberculosis), burried in Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester.

m. 6/3/1870 in Whittington, Pershore.

Ellen HART; 25/8/1846 in Silkmore- Castle Church, Staffordshire. – d. 10/3/1938 at 129 Letchworth Road, Western Park, Leicester. burried in Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester.


  • Allen ……… b. 1871 – 1943
  • Jessie Ann …… b. 1873 – 1960
  • Charles James … b. 1874 – 1945
  • Percy ……… b. 1876 – 1941
  • Rose Ellen … b. 1878 – 1921
  • Arthur Harry … b. 1880 – 1952
  • Ernest Garfield … b. 1881 – 1968
  • Georgina Isabella … b. 1883 – 1966
  • Nellie Ada ……… b. 1885 – 1952
Notes about the children, written by David Swain;

Allen Swain; 1871 – 1943

Allen was born on 2nd January 1871 at Red Hill Cross Worcester. The first child of James Christopher and Ellen. I believe that he joined his fathers Trade of boot and shoe manufacture. I know very little of him and my father never spoke of him, so we didn’t even know that he existed. He was apparently engaged to a Minnie Byham, who was friend of his sister Jessie, but nothing came of it.

1901 Census;
Show him as a boarder and shoe operative living with William Hall, a Black Smith, and his wife, Elizabeth, at 177 Gerrard Street, Derby.

Allen Swain of 62a Broad Green, Wellingborough, died on 9th February 1943, age 72, in the Park Hospital of natural causes and cerebral heamorage.

Jessie Ann Swain; 1873 – 1960

Jessie Ann was born on 9th February 1873, at 39 Browining Street Stafford. Like her mother she was quite petite.

1900 Census;
Living at 6 Avon Street Leicester. She is 28 and a boot and shoe embroiderer.

1911 Census;
Living at 315 East Park Road, Leicester. She is 38 and shown as Domestic, so obviously helping out her mother at home! I remember her as always cheerful. Our family had great affection for her and she used to come and stay with us in Oxford.

She and her sister, Nellie, lived together in later life. When Nellie died, she went to live with her younger sister Isabella (Mrs brooks), whose husband was a chemist at 15 Eastfield Road, Western Park, Leicester. But she was never happy there. Dad tried to get her to come and live with us in Oxford, but as she had lived the greater part of her life in Leicester was a little wary.

She died on the 11th of September 1960 and as far as I know is also buried in the Welford Road Cemetery.

Charles James Swain; 1874 – 1945

Like His older brother Allan I have not been able to find out too much.

Charles was born at 44 Filbert Street in 1874 and was probably classed as a scholar until the census of 1891, living with his family at 160 Auburn Villas in Leicester, where he is shown as Clerk in a factory, I imaging a boot factory.

In 1899 he marries Amy Catherine Greatorex and in the census of 1901 they are living at 44 Harrow Road, Leicester, with a daughter; Phyllis Mary, age under one month.

1911 Census;
Charles – age 36, Amy – age 36, Phyllis – 10, and Kenneth Charles – 3, are living at 38 Paton Street, Leicester, and his occupation is shown as Professor of Music.  Charles died in 1945 in Northampton.

I know that Phyllis married a Mr Oram and they had a daughter, Joan. After he died she married again?

There are no more census records available after 1911 so without local research carried out further family details are difficult, expensive and very time consuming to follow through.

Percy Swain; 1876 – 1941

The census of 1891 shows him age 14, as a Scholar, living with the family at 160 Auburn Villas Leicester.

1901 Census;
Age 24 shows that he is living at 83 Harrison Road Leicester a Foreman clicker, shoes.

He married Emily Francis ? Probably in 1896/97. without local research I have no marriage certificate which would probably have given Emily’s surname.

1911 Census;
Living at 42 Erskine Street Leicester, Percy, now 34, a Pattern designer and cutter to the boot and shoe trade, with Emily Francis – wife, 34; Harry – Son, 13, Scholar; Annie – daughter, 12, Scholar; Frances Emily, 10, scholar; Percy James – 5; and James Christopher, 10 months.

The whole family emigrates to Perth in Australia but I have not been able to find out when, my Father kept in correspondence with his niece Annie, Mrs Downie ,also known a Cissie, in the 1960’s and according to letters received from her thanking him for all the Swain family history, a subject which he never spoke about to me or I believe my sister, what a shame!!

I wrote to two of my cousins there but never received replies so all this information is lost to my researches.

(Percy’s death on 3rd March 1941 was noted in “The West Australian” newspaper, which can now be seen archived on-line HERE. Look for “SWAIN” close to the bottom of the page, in both the first, and third column.)

Rose Ellen Swain; 1878 – 1921

Roes Ellen was born on 3rd August 1878, at 311 Belgrave Road, Leicester.

1901 Census;
Shows her, aged 23, as a Hosier and outfitter, and living with the family at 6 Avon Street, Leicester.

1911 Census;
Shows her, aged 33, a Hosier and outfitter, living with the family at 315 East Park Road, Leicester.

Rose Ellen died on 28th November 1921, age 43, at 44 Fosse Road Central (probably a hospice), from cancer of the bladder, and was buried in Welford Road cemetery.

Her last will and testament “gave and bequeathed all my possessions to my dear sister Jessie and sole executor of my will”, dated 23/11/1921. The value of her estate was £190 – 4s – 7d.

Arthur Harry Swain; 1880 – 1952

Harry is going to be a difficult one to fit in here as he had such a full life and did so much in the community. He and dad were great friends, so I got to know him better than all the other uncles/aunts.

Arthur Harry was born on 16th January 1880, at 44 Filbert Street Leicester.

1891 Census;
The family are living at 160 Auburn Villas, Narborough, and Harry is shown aged 11, as a scholar. In 1895 at the age of 15  He finishes at the Holy Trinity School and joins John Storey, Solicitor and Leicester Town clerk.

1901 Census;
Living with the family at 6 Avon Street Leicester. Harry, aged 21, is still working as a Solicitors Clerk, but owing to his Fathers death last year is not able to carry on his training for the legal profession.

1911 Census;
Living with the family at 315 East Park Road, Leicester.

Harry is now 31 but at the age of 26 he started his own company; A H Swain Insurance Brokers. Where and what he did from 1901 to 1906 I do not know.

In 1911 he is elected as Councillor for St Martins Ward, which he held for 17 years.

He and Mary Aitken Tarbet (daughter of Richard and Jane Blair Tarbet, of Largs, Ayreshire), were married on the 26th July 1911, in Largs, where she and her family lived. Then she and Harry lived at “Darvell”, 7 Fosse Road, Western Park, Leicester. Harry was 31 and Mary was 41.

During WW1, Mary served as a VAD nurse and this is probably when my mother, Doris Twite (also a VAD) met. This no doubt led to Doris coming to know the Swains.

It is perhaps ironic that Mary Died on the day of local elections in 1933, age 66. Her funeral was held at St Mary Magdalene, Knighton. Her will shows that she had a private income and left effects to the sum of £2,639 – 15s – 8d. Quite a sum for the 1930s. She had been ill and bed ridden for some time I can just remember seeing a lady in bed with a supported raised leg, I was only 4 then, she died of cancer of the femur.

At this time Harry wrote a book dealing with Export credit insurance. This book attracted the attention of the British and French Governments. He gave evidence before a joint committee and his book was looked upon as a standard work, the French Ambassador presented  Harry with the Palm D’Academy for his services.

In November 1936 Harry was elected to be Mayor of Leicester. As his wife, Mary, had died, his sister, Nellie, supported him as Lady Mayoress.

Harry married Edith Masie Darvell in London. She was the daughter of Colonel and Mrs Darvell of Windsor, what a coincidence in the name Darvell. They lived at 44 The Ridgeway, Rothley, Leicester.

Harry died on 12th February 1952, and after the funeral service in Leicester Cathedral was buried in Rothley cemetery; the family vault in the Abbey cemetery being full.

Ernest Garfield Swain; 1881 – 1968

Ernest was born on the 20th August 1881, at 14 Walnut Street, Leicester.

1891 Census;
160 Auburn Villas, Leicester; aged 9, scholar.

1901 Census;
6 Avon Street, Leicester; age 19, a shoe machine operator.

1911 Census;
315 East park Road, Leicester; aged 29; Traveller in Wholesale Confectionary.

He was employed by the largest sweet manufacturer in the country, Clarnico & Company, as their representative in Yorkshire, and they provided him with a Scrips Booth American car.

He told me that he always had a spare rear axel on board as they had a habit of wearing out and petrol was only obtainable from a few Blacksmiths.

Sometime in 1915 he enlisted in the Leicester Regiment Territorial Force, and on the 21st November that year was appointed an officer; Second Lieutenant Swain.Cover - click to enlarge

inside - click to enlargeThe regiment was deployed to France and at some stage he suffered shrapnel injuries to his left leg and eye, and was invalided out of the regiment. Like many, he never talked about his war experiences.

The Swains knew the Twites as the families had business in Leicester and he and my mother (Doris Twite) wished to get married but she was taking care of her parents, Charles and Annie, in Droitwich, where they had gone for the spa waters, to help Charles relieve his painful arthritis, and thus she and Garfield, as he was always known, were unable to marry until Annie’s death in 1926.

They were married on 5th May 1927, at the Parish Church of Aylestone, Leicester, and spent their honeymoon touring by car; Gloucestershire, Somerset and Devon in a 12hp Calthorpe.

Dad had taken a post as company secretary to G R Cooper, Ironmongers, in Oxford, in 1925. So they purchased No11 Park Cresent, Oxford, for I believe the sum of £1600.00 pounds.

Our Father developed the company into the largest Builders Merchants in the South of England, this included Ironmongery metal workshops and salerooms. He set up an offshoot known as Multifactors; a wholsale company dealing in tobacco and sweets, covering many counties. He obviously had good contacts from his days with Clarnico & Co.

For some reason or other he never wished to become a Director, mores the pity for he would have been in a better position financially which would have made his retirement years easier. He retired in 1957 age 76.

Father died  on the 26th March 1968, age 86, myocardial failure- senile decay.

Georgina Isabella Swain; 1883 – 1966

Georgina was born on the 1st of June 1883 at 3 Frederick Street Leicester.

I know very little about her.

1911 Census;
shows her at age 28, as a Clerk. She married William Garratt Brooks, who had a Chemists shop in Leicester, and they had a son, William Stanley.

She died on the 1st January 1966 age 82 in the George Eliot Hospital, Nuneaton. This would have been nearest to Hinckley, where they lived at 28 Salem Road, Burbage.

More research would be needed.

Nellie Ada Swain; 1885 – 1952

Nellie Ada was born on the 15th of March 1885 at 3 Frederick Street Leicester.

1911 Census;
Shows her age 26, as Elementary School Teacher. She remained a teacher all her working life. She became Head Teacher of the Belgrave National C of E infants School, from 1918 to 1941. Sadly head mistresses were not allowed to marry.

In 1936 she was Lady Mayoress to her Brother Arthur Harry when he was elected Mayor of Leicester.

All this time she lived with the family at “Darvel”, 129 Letchworth Road, Western Park, Leicester.

Nellie Died on 7th September 1952, age 67, and is buried in the Welford Road cemetery.

Mr J C Martin the headmaster of her School in 1990, sent me lots of details of her time there and pictures of the school but I have as yet to scan them to the computer.


For other details about the SWAIN family on this site, please see the SWAIN category or the Swain tag.

Previous posts about the SWAIN family include;


SWAIN family notes

I have mentioned previously about reading some notes written by my great-uncle, David Swain, about his research into the SWAIN family. David has now e-mailed some of his text to me, so that I can post it up on this website. I think that there is more to follow, which will lead to several more posts about this family.

Regarding his sources, David has told me that; tracing the Swains and the Twites, who both hail from Somerset, I understand that many Parish records were sent for safe keeping to Bristol where unfortunately most were destroyed in the bombing of Bristol in WW2, this has made research previous to the first Census almost impossible”.

Here is David’s text;

Well lets make a start on the SWAINs as I see them and us. It would appear that it all started with an infant in Bristol with no known parents. A baby boy was born on the 29th November 1802 and left at the Ebenezer (Wesleyan) Chapel in Kings Street, Bristol.

A William and Susan Swain who attended the Chapel took the baby into their care and may even have adopted him so giving him his name James Swain. He may also have been baptised but I found no records of this. William was a Cordwainer (boot and shoe maker/ repairer).

Years pass when out of the blue, he crops up in St Martins Parish Register Birmingham on a marriage certificate, James Swain marries a Mary Bromsgrove after Banns on the 1st of November 1820, William shown as father to James and in the preference of Hannah Whimaytes and Michael Broome.

In 1837 we find:

James Swain Widower marries Isabella Johnson on the 2nd October 1837, William is shown as his father and Christopher as Isabella’s. James will be 34 and Hannah 21.

So the family of James and Isabella begins:

1841 census draws a blank.

1851 census: living at 26 Back Goal Road Stafford.

  • James ………………. 48, Head, Shoe maker
  • Isabella …………….. 35, wife
  • Isabella …………….. 8, daughter
  • James Christopher … 4, son
  • Susannah ………….. 1, daughter (twin), born 1849
  • Priscilla …………….. 1, daughter (twin), dies 1849
  • Elizabeth …………… 5, daughter, dies 1858

1861 census: living at 14 New Street Stafford.

  • James ……………….. 58, head, Cordwainer
  • Isabella ………………. 45, wife, Seamstress
  • Isabella ………………. 18, daughter, Shoe Binder
  • James Christopher … 15, son, Cordwainer
  • Susan ………………… 11, daughter, Nurse Girl
  • Thomas ………………. 9, son, Scholar
  • Emma …………………. 2, daughter, dies 01.06.1863
  • Allen ………………….. 3 months, son
  • Frances ……………….. 3 months, daughter

1871 census: living at 15 New Street Stafford.

  • James ………. 68, head, Shoemaker
  • Isabella …….. 55, wife, Seamstress
  • Susan ……….. 22, Machinist
  • Thomas …….. 20, son, Shoemaker
  • Allen …………. 11, son (twin), Scholar
  • Frances ……… 11, daughter (twin), Scholar
  • Ellen ………….. 25, daughter (in law)
  • Allen ………….. 3 months, grandson.

1881 census: living at 39 Browning Street Stafford.

  • James, 78.
  • Isabella, 65.
  • Allen, 21.

Not long after this census, Isabella dies on the 24th January 1882 age 66 at Browning Street Stafford from cancer of the breast in the presence of her daughter at Satchwell Street Leamington.

James dies on the 15th of January 1883 age 80 at Browning Street Stafford from natural decay in the presence of Isabella Goodwin, his daughter.

So after 30 years following James and Isabella and family my research now focusses on the eldest son James Christopher.

It is possible to research all the children which I might do one day though with some of the daughters this can be quite difficult, they get married and therefore their surname changes and it becomes a matter of chance in finding them, this is frustrating as their lives are still there somewhere.

James Christopher SWAIN; 1846 – 1900

James was born on the 17th of September 1846 in Penkridge, Acton Trussell, Staffordshire. As a young man he was engaged by a London firm of Royal Court Patronage in Bond Street, known as shoe makers to Royalty. After a year or two he returned home to Stafford to help his father James, a boot and shoe craftsman, in making all kinds of hand sewn shoes. At this time he fell in love with Ellen Hart, the daughter of a well known Worcestershire Coachman, Charles Hart.

James and Ellen were maried on the 6th of March 1870 in the chapel of Whittington, Pershore. They moved to Leicester when he became a sleeping partner in the old established firm of Wilkinsons & Co. Whilst there he was visited by a Mr T Wood, managing director of shoe retailers Freeman Hardy & Willis with branches in all major towns. Mr Wood and his chief buyer were so pleased with the quality of the ladies high leg soft kid boots with lace and embroidery work that they placed a very large order.

James went on to design and consult with many firms on all aspects of shoe manufacture. James died on the 24th January 1900 of tuberculosis and was buried in a family vault in the Welford Road Cemetery, Leicester. In his will, dated 1894, he leaves all of his possessions to his dear wife Ellen and the probate certificate shows the sum of £155.00 gross value of his estate, confirmed by Jackson & Flood solicitors.

Ellen HART; 1846 – 1938

Ellen was born on the 25th of August 1846 in the Parish of Silkmore- Castle Church, Staffordshire. Her Father, Charles Hart, was a well known Coachman, and her mother Ann (nee Ward). Ellen Married James Christopher Swain on the 6th March 1870. At this time she was living at Green Hill Worcester.

As my memory serves she was quite a small lady and I am sure was the strength of her family as James appeared to spend much time away on business. She had nine children over a period of 14 years from Allen in 1871 to Nellie in 1885 five boys and four girls. As you will have noticed from James Christophers details they only rented property and moved quite a few times.

In 1901 census (James died in 1900), she and her family were living at 6 Avon Street Leicester and the 1911 census shows her and six of her children were living at 315 East Park Road, Leicester.

When we visited her she lived with her son Arthur Harry in his house ‘Darvel’ 129 Letchworth Road, Western Park, Leicester. How long she had lived there I do not know.

Ellen died on the 10th march 1938 age 91 at this address and was buried in the family vault in the Welford Road cemetery on the 14th march.

So back to censuses:

1871 census: 35 Golding Road Bermondsey Southwark.

  • Alfred SLADEN …………………… 25, head, Clicker
  • James Christopher SWAIN …. 24, Lodger, Clicker

A clicker was the one who cut out the leather in shoemaking.

1881 census: 44 Filbert Street St Mary,s Leicester

  • James Christopher SWIAN …. 34 Head, Boot Manufacturer Manager
  • Ellen …………………………… 34 Wife
  • Allen …………………………… 10 Son
  • Jessie ………………………….. 8, Daughter
  • Charles ………………………… 6, Son
  • Percy …………………………… 4, Son
  • Rose ……………………………. 2, Daughter
  • Arthur …………………………. 1, Son

1891 census: 160 Albion Villas Narborough Leicester.

  • James Christopher SWAIN …. 44, Boot Factory Manager
  • Ellen ……………………………. 44, Wife
  • Jessie ………………………….. 18, daughter
  • Charles ………………………… 16, Son, Clerk in Factory
  • Percy ……………………………. 14, Son, Scholar
  • Rose …………………………….. 12 Daughter, Scholar
  • Arthur …………………………… 11 Son, Scholar
  • Ernest ……………………………. 9 Son, Scholar
  • Georgina ……………………….. 7 Daughter, Scholar
  • Nellie …………………………….. 6 Daughter.

We now know that there were nine children.