Inherited Craziness
A place to share all the nuts found on my family tree

Showing posts with label Exmouth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Exmouth. Show all posts

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Edward John Bicknell, Marcella Jones & Harry Babb

Portsmouth Cathedral
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © N Chadwick - geograph.org.uk/p/6829155

Edward John Bicknell married Marcella Jones, daughter of David Jones and Johannah Anne O'Callaghan, at St Jude's Church, Southsea on 12 Dec 1906. Among the witnesses was Marcella's younger sister, Helena Jones. At the time of this marriage, Edward John Bicknell was a Corporal RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery) and was then stationed at Southsea Castle. On the marriage certificate, Bicknell's father is listed as Edward Bicknell, a farmer

Their only child, David Nicholas Bicknell was born on 20 Jan 1909, at 15 Gold Street, Southsea and baptised, on 10 Feb 1909, at The Anglican Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, now known simply as Portsmouth Cathedral.

In 1891, Edward Jno Bricknell (sic) (10), nephew, had been living with Henry Palmer (42) Butler domestic and Elizabeth F Palmer (54) from Withycombe, Devon, at Hencroft Street, Upton with Chalvey, Eton, Buckinghamshire.

On 17 Dec 1895, Edward John Bicknell, listed originally as aged 14 years, 11 months (although the 14 appears to have been over-written as 15 on the 2nd page), from Withycombe [Withycombe Raleigh], Exmouth, Devon, formerly a Telegraph Messenger, had enlisted for Long Service in the Royal Artillery, at Slough, Bucks. The name and address of his next of kin was given as Mrs F E Palmer, 18 Hencroft Street, Sough, Bucks. In 1901, Elizabeth F Palmer (60) Tailoress, from Withycombe, Devon, was listed at that address.

Records show that Henry Palmer had married Elizabeth Fanny Bicknell, at St Margaret's, Westminster, London, in 1873. In 1881, they had been living at Church End, Tempsford, Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, where Henry was Under butler. Elizabeth Bicknell (bap. 5 Jan 1834), listed in Withycombe Rawleigh in 1841 and 1851, certainly had a brother named Edward, born in 1830. However, he had died in 1870, so could not have been the boy's father. In fact, there were very many people named Edward Bicknell, in Withycombe, going right back to the 17th Century. Not one of them were farmers.

There is no birth, nor baptism for an Edward John Bicknell, around 1880/1. The most likely record is of an illegitimate birth of an Edward Bicknell in St Thomas, Devon (under which Withycombe would fall), in 1879. That child, born 19 Nov 1879, in the Village, Withycombe Raleigh, was the son of Rose Creasley Bicknell, Domestic Servant, Cook. His birth was registered by his mother, on 9 Dec 1879 and the name of the deputy registrar on the certificate was Edward John Carter. Is that where the Edward John came from?

There was a Rose Cressly Bicknell b. 1859 M Quarter in TOTNES Volume 05B Page 173 and baptised on 2 Jan 1859 at St Saviour's Church, Dartmouth, Devon, the base child of Elizabeth Bicknell (and a bloke named Cressly, I wouldn't be surprised). Edward John was described as Elizabeth's nephew, but I think it possible that she was actually his grandmother.

That and naming their son after Marcella's father and uncle and not after his father, leads me to think Bicknell had no idea who his father was and, as is so often done, just made one up for appearances on the marriage certificate.

Fort Rowner-Gosport
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Colin Babb - geograph.org.uk/p/704877

When he enlisted in 1895, Edward John was 5' 1⅝' tall, weighed 98lbs, had a fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. He was then sent to Fort Rowner, Gosport on 21 Dec 1895. Initially passed as fit, he spent 29 days in hospital from 5 Feb 1896 to 4 Mar 1896, suffering from an illness referred to only by the initials V.D.H. (valvular disease of the heart and implies some organic disease or heart malfunction), of unknown cause and was discharged on 7 Mar 1896, as "Not being likely to become an efficient soldier."

On 19 Sep 1900, in London, at 18 years and 9 months, Edward John Bicknell, once again enlisted in the Royal Artillery. The record, again, says he was from Withycombe, Exmouth, Devon. Was he cured of his previous condition, or hopeful nobody would tie the two together (which they don't seem to do)?

In 1901, Edward John Bicknell (19) Gunner Royal Artillery, was listed on the census at Leith Fort North Fort Street, Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Part of Tigné Barracks, now incorporated in The Point Shopping MallSliemaMalta.

In 1911, Sergeant Edward John Bicknell (29), from Exmouth, Devon, was listed on the census of Overseas Establishments with 96th Company RGA (Royal Garrison Artillery) at Fort Tigné, Malta. Also listed there at that time were wife, Marcella Bicknell (26) and son, David Nicholas Bicknell (2) (96th Company, I believe, remained in Malta for the duration of World War I.)

But on 27 Oct 1919, Edward John Bicknell, then a Battery Sergeant Major at Sandown Barracks, Sandown, Isle of Wight, filed for divorce from Marcella, citing her adultery with co-respondent, Harry Babb, a Fitter in His Majesty's Dockyard at Portsmouth, with whom she was allegedly residing at 34, Castle Road, Southsea. The final decree was granted on 29 Sep 1920 and Harry Babb was ordered to pay costs of £63 18s 4d (around £2,900 in 2021).

In 1920 and 1921, records show that Sergeant Major Edward John Bicknell was a member of Sandown Masonic Lodge on the Isle of Wight. 

Edward J Bicknell remarried, to Ida G Priestley, on 25 Mar 1921, on the Isle of Wight. Ida Gertrude Priestley (b. 31 Dec 1891), was the daughter of Thomas F (a Yacht steward) and Sophia C Priestley (from Jersey, Channel Islands). In 1901, the family address was Grocer's Shop, 62, West Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight (now a branch of The Co-operative Food). In 1911, Ida Gertrude Priestley (20), had been employed as a Lady's Maid to a Mrs Winifred Walker at 10 Marmion Road, Battersea, London.

Edward John Bicknell was discharged from the Army on 18 Sep 1921, at Dover, under Paragraph 392 (xxi) of the King's Regulations - the end of a period of engagement. He was awarded a pension of 51½d per day for life from 19 Sep 1921. His address on discharge was 177, Filbert Street, Leicester. But Edward John Bicknell of 4 Burton Street, Leicester, Bank Messenger, died on 21 Apr 1922, at Leicester Royal Infirmary from shock following an operation, having been diagnosed with stomach cancer 5-6 months previously. He was 40. His death was registered by P H Priestley, Brother-in-law (Ida's younger brother, Percy H Priestley, born 1895).

34, Castle Road, Southsea, alleged address of these shocking adulterers.

Marcella Bicknell had remarried to Henry Babb in the 4th quarter of 1920.

Babb was no easier to pin down than her first husband. The only relevant birth of a Harry Babb, in the 4th quarter of 1894, is in Barnstaple, Devon, with his mother's maiden name given as Ware. There was a marriage of an Eli Francis Babb and Annie Ware on 21 Feb 1880, at St Martin-in-the-Fields, in The Strand, London. Harry was baptised on 25 Jan 1895 at Holy Trinity Church, Barnstaple and the baptism record gives his parents as Levi Frank and Annie Babb, with his father's occupation listed as 'Boots' at the Fortescue Hotel. (The word 'Boots' came from, ‘boot boys’, an occupation in the 1830s and 40s requiring young men to clean the boots of hotel guests. Later, the occupation had become simply known as ‘boots’, and duties included odd-jobs.)

In 1921, Henry Babb (30) - making himself 4 years older - from Barnstaple, Devon, working for the Department (Engineering) H M Dockyard Portsmouth was indeed living at 34, Castle Road, Portsmouth with Marcella Babb (36), step-son David Bicknell (12), four Boarders and one Domestic servant.

In 1939, Harry Babb (b. 17 Nov 1894), Marine Engineer, Marcella Babb, David N Bicknell and a lodger were living at 10 Wilberforce Road.

Marcella Babb of 1 Festing Grove, Southsea, died on 9 Oct 1963, at 80.

Henry Babb, also of 1 Festing Grove, Southsea, died on 19 Nov 1967. 

David Nicholas Bicknell never married. He died of a cardiac arrest on 22 Jan 1987, two days after his 78th birthday. The retired production controller still lived at 1 Festing Grove, Southsea. His place of birth on his death certificate was India. The records show that he was, in fact, born in Southsea, so I wonder if his father spent time in India while he was growing up, or did David only think it was India, being just a small child in the heat of Malta?

Festing Grove, Southsea
cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Kate Jewell - geograph.org.uk/p/3319369