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Archived News - Geneology

The Jackson/Henleys of Eaton Bray

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.

Good Evans, what a do!

This article was published in November 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Do you remember, back in the summer, the search for relatives of the late Kenneth George Evans, of Eaton Bray? Linda Budd had asked Gazette readers for help, while she was researching the family tree of her partner, Richard Evans.

They had thought that Kenneth - Richard's uncle - had died in the Second World War.

Then they found out that in fact he survived the war, and died in 1995.

And Linda was trying to find out if Richard had any other family members in this area, with the help of our readers.

The couple were delighted to be contacted by relatives they had never met, after the mention in the Gazette.

Linda has now dropped me an email to say that they have all been in touch regularly by email and phone.

And at the weekend, she and Richard were invited to a big Evans family reunion in Eaton Bray, to celebrate several family landmark birthdays.

She said: "From our first introduction to our final farewell this afternoon, we were both given such a warm and genuine family welcome.

"Richard has now met an aunt he never knew he had, four of the five cousins and a whole host of other close relations.

"He has gone from being the only Evans family member left in our area to becoming a member of a large and warm extended family.

"Without the assistance of your paper, we may never have found them all."

Thanks to everyone who helped them to find their family.

Source: Anne O'Donoghue, Gazette Gossip, Dunstable Gazette, 28 November 2007

Any Gurney Connection?

This article was published in November 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Born and brought up in Dunstable, little did I realise until very recently that one side of my family came from Eaton Bray and were in fact part of the Gurney clan.

My great great grandfather Thomas Stevens married Elizabeth Gurney at Eaton Bray Parish Church in December 1849. Elizabeth was a local girl and in the 1841 census she was living at Church End, Eaton Bray with her parents - father Matthew (aged 40), mother Sarah (also 40) and her siblings Mary, William and Anne. When she married Thomas it looks like she had two children already, Naomi and Priscilla and by 1851 she, her two children and Thomas were living in the Comp and he was a shepherd. They also had three children together, Jesse, Sarah and Edward and it is Sarah Stevens who is my great grandmother.

I then found the family had moved to Dunstable by 1861 and were living at the Rising Sun public house in Edward Street.

I just wondered if there was anyone else who might be doing some family history work and had found that they have any connections with this branch of the Gurney family - or even the Stevens'. If so I would love to hear from you (please use the contact page).

Source: Focus, November 2007

Search for Kenneth's relatives

This article was published in June 2007. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

I told you last week about a search for relatives of the late Kenneth George Evans, who used to live in Eaton Bray. You'll remember that I'd been contacted by someone looking back through family history and searching for information about Kenneth.

Linda Budd is researching the family tree of her partner Richard Evans, and needed a helping hand from Gazette readers.

She was looking for more information about Richard's uncle Kenneth George Evans.

They had thought that Kenneth died in the Second World War, but then found out that in fact he survived the war, and died in 1995.

The last known address that she could find for Kenneth was in Knights Close, Eaton Bray.

Richard's father was killed when his RAF plane came down on Dartmoor in 1941, on the day before he was born.

As he never knew his own father, he was very interested to hear that his uncle had survived the war.

I was pleased to hear that, following the mention in the Gazette, they have been contacted by various helpful folk - and an email has winged its way to them from one of Kenneth's sons.

Linda and Richard have now discovered several generations of relatives that they didn't know existed.

And they would like to thank everyone for all their help.

As I always say, if you want to know something, ask a Gazette reader.

Source: Anne O'Donoghue, Gazette Gossip, Dunstable Gazette, 13 June 2007