With reference to the story in Focus Magazine with regard to the discovery of Cyril Jackson's grave,....
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The Jackson/Henleys of Eaton Bray

Posted on November 5, 2009

This article was published in November 2009. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

With reference to the story in Focus Magazine with regard to the discovery of Cyril Jackson's grave, let me say - it was never lost! I was first made aware of it nearly fifty years ago by village people when gathering facts on the village history.

Moving on to 1987, the Dunstable Gazette ran a story from a man in Leeds searching for information for his family tree. I contacted him and over the next few years we pieced together his family's Eaton Bray connections together with photographs. Unfortunately Roger died in 2004.

To cut a very long story short, I'll start in 1854 when Joseph Henley married Kitty Abrahams. Joseph was a farmer's son and Kitty's parents were tenants of (Richard Fountains) Fountain Pub in the High Street, now May Close. The product of their marriage was 8 children, William, Elizabeth, Anne, John, (he died very young) Mary, John, Louisa and Arthur. For the purpose of this exercise it's Mary we are interested in for it was she who married Jeffery Jackson on 14th April 1884, they also had 8 children, Elizabeth, Cecil, Arthur, twins Ethel and Hettie, Gertrude and twin boys Alec and Eric.

Back to Mary's brothers and sisters! William married Mary Trippit and very shortly moved to York as an agriculture labourer. Elizabeth married Edmund Wildman and went to live in Harrow. Anne married William Rollings and was a tenant at the Hope and Anchor, Bower Lane. John, as mentioned before, died young. Another John born 6 years later married Hettie Roberts of The Rye. They lived at Moat Hall before they joined brother William in York. Louisa had 8 children. Arthur married Isobella Tolloch, an Australian, he went to London and became a policeman. On the 15th October 1905 Arthur came to his mother Kitty's funeral at Eaton Bray, he caught the flu and never recovered. He passed away on 13th January 1906 and is burned near his mum. I should also mention that John and Hettie had 13 children in York. Hettie had a small dowry which they invested in a coal merchants business at Layerthorpe, the York terminus of the Derwent Valley Railway. He sold out and bought a farm at Skipforth, Stillingfleet Hill. Mary and Jeffrey started married life living in The Rye. The house they lived in was Mr. Roberts Maltings, a house he bought in 1843 from Dunstable Brewery Co.

Their 8 children were born here. Elizabeth married Ernest Wildman (you will remember her aunt was also married to a Wildman). Cecil went down on the Titanic on 24 April 1912 aged 21 years. Arthur, 1st Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment killed in action 23rd April 1917 at Flanders. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial, Calais. Elizabeth moved to Oakley, north of Bedford and at some time worked as a nanny, travelling around the world with the family, and, at one time visited the Argentine, quite rare in those days. It was to Oakley and Elizabeth that Jeffrey finally retired to after his beloved wife Mary died in 1945.

Ethel went to Bedford and worked as a dressmaker. She later became a companion to Lady Rhoda Birley, wife of Sir Oswald Birley, the Royal Portrait Painter, returning to High Street, Eaton Bray on her retirement. I visited her in 1987.

Hettie, her twin sister, married and became Mrs. Bowley and lived in Leicester. She had two children, Arthur and Margaret.

Gertrude married Gordon Sear who was the son of Will Sear, manager of the Coffee Tavern. They lived in Luton Road, Dunstable. Mr. Sear was an insurance man. They had two children, Patricia was born in 1932 and married a Vicar and Judith, born in 1938 became a Senior Nurse.

Gertrude was keen to keep the family name going so named her daughters - Henley Sears.

Alec married Grace Bleeny and had Pamela in 1937. His wife died and he remarried and in 1942 he had Elizabeth Ann. Alec worked for Wallace Nursery as Foreman of the water tower. He left there in 1948 and moved to Shefford. It was here he helped his wife's relatives to set up a green house business. Eric, Alec's twin, qualified as an electrician and married and went to live in Stewartby near Bedford. He was foreman electrician for the London Brick Company until his retirement. He had two children, Beverley and Roger, Beverley died young in a road accident.

In the 1920's Mary and Jeffrey moved to 38 High Street and it was here that “Jul", as he was known, ran a greengrocers business from the yard at the rear. He would fill his pony and cart with produce and hawk it round the villages. Together with a bit of light carting, he would eke out a living. He is remembered by Maurice Sanders as being a hard working Methodist devoted to the Chapel. Maurice also mentions him in his book “Memories of Methodism” quote - “As a radical who thrilled to the tune Lloyd, and with a lusty voice, he would start up the last verse of the favourite hymn time after time until the organist could get in the Amen”.

My thanks to the following people for their help. Roger and Ann Davies, Margaret Knight, Maurice Sanders and Mrs. Pamela Roberts. Without their help this tales would have been impossible.

Reader Comments

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April 16, 2012, Paul Jackson says:

A fantastic article, i have just moved to Northall and was researching my family history and low and behold here it is. I am Roger Son; Eric's Grandson so Mary would have been my Great Grandmother.

I remember regularly Visiting aunt Ethel at the cottage in Eaton Bray must have been about the same time.

I loved hearing about Jeffrey Jackson, Dad said he was a Methodist preacher but that's all i can remember.

Roger, My dad passed away in feb 2011, his daughter Louise my big sister lives in Bedford with her two sons Harry and Edward.

Any way thank you


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