Saturday, May 21, 2016

Finding Harry (part V)

A Final Note from the Infirmary

This day, 101 years ago, there was likely a late knock at the door.  Lydia (Boreham) Chinery had perhaps gotten her 4 boys ages 3, 5 and 7 years old, plus a 9 month old to bed.   Her husband probably was not at home as evidence states he reported for duty during WWI the prior month. 

It would have been a Friday night, and she may have plans to go see her stepson Harry at the Ipswich Infirmary the next day as he mentioned in his letter.  He wrote a letter just two days ago.  Had she received it the following day, or had it just arrived today?  

The knock at the door is a messenger from the Ipswich Union Workhouse and he gave Lydia a note. [1]
Notice of Death for Harry Chinery from the Ipswich Union Workhouse 21 May 1915 
privately held by Raul Gonzales Jr, Colorado

The note states that Harry died “suddenly”.  We know from his death certificate the primary cause was TB, the secondary cause was “Haemoptysis”-coughing up blood. [2]

I am sure Lydia had to be shocked.  In his letter written just 2 days ago he stated he was “not any worse but a little better.”  She was supposed to go see him tomorrow.

It had to be overwhelming to receive news of a death this way.  Little Harry died without any family present.  It probably wasn’t that uncommon when you were if the infirmary at the Workhouse with TB.  They had a form letter for such an event.

We know from other mementos Lydia kept stashed, that Harry was buried at Ipswich Cemetery on 24 May 1915.   She kept the burial card.  Before coming into possession of the burial card, I had previously written to the Ipswich Cemetery. They have a service in which they will provide you with a map of where your family is buried.  If you give them 48 hours notice, they will go out and place flags for you to easily find the grave sites.  Both pairs of my maternal great grandparents are buried in this cemetery as well as one of Harry’s brothers.  My maternal grandparents ashes are also scattered in this cemetery.  Based off of the map I was sent and Harry’s burial card, I know he is not too far from his parents.  When I get back to England someday, I will be sure Harry's grave will have a flag too.

Today I added his burial place to Find A Grave.

We go searching for the dead when we become caught up in the hobby we love called Genealogy.  We expect to find death.  Most of the time it excites us to find the record associated with a death.  But, I have to say; it is especially hard when you find out the person died as young mother, a young man at war, or still just a child.   

From Harry’s writings I feel like I know him a little bit better than a lot of the other people in my tree. I am glad I got to know Harry.


[1] “Notice of Death” for Harry Chinery, laminated note, privately held by Raul Gonzales, Jr. Centennial, CO.
[2]  England, General Register, Death Registrations, death certificate, (certified copy) for Harry Chinery, death 21 May 1915.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Finding Harry (part IV)

Here is the only picture of I know that exists of Harry Chinery.  It is unknown what year this picture was taken.  Given he was 11 when he was writing his letters, I can’t imagine this picture is far off.

Harry Augustus Chinery
c 1915
Harry writes his letters to “Dear Mother”.  Mother was Lydia Matilda (Boreham) Chinery, the 2nd wife of his father William Henry Chinery. 

Harry was born on the 7th of December 1903 in Walthamstow, Essex. [1] According to “Google Maps” the house still stands.  It appears someone has made it into multiple units and put a garage in what may have been a living room. (If anyone knows how to get a snip from Google Maps, I appreciate the lesson)  A stone plaque on the house calls this row of homes “Ebenezer Villas” with a date of 1880. 

According to British Law, his parents had 6 weeks to register his birth.   His father registered his birth on 11 January 1904.  

Little Harry was the 5th child born to William Henry Chinery and his 1st wife.  Harry’s mother, Ellen Augusta Belsham was born in 1871.   Records indicate she was from Bury St. Edmunds. 

In-between Harry’s birth and registration, Harry’s mother Ellen died.  She passed away 14 days after his birth, just 4 days before Christmas. [2]

One of the details I have left out regarding Harry is his middle name.  This Chinery line seemed very tied to middle names, thank goodness, as it has helped me sort them out in records.  Middle names were not entirely common in late 19th century, but all of Harry Sr.’s siblings had them. 

I find it fitting, that days after the death of his wife, William Henry Chinery registered the birth name of his son as Harry Augustus Chinery.  

Harry carried the legacy of his mother’s middle name in his own.  And, I know from other documents such as quotes from flowers sent to funerals Henry, Harry’s father, went by "Harry" himself. 

Harry Sr’s second wife, Lydia, is actually my great grandmother.  Little Harry was my grandfather’s big brother.   I am not certain when my great grandparents met, but they all showed up in the 1911 census together.[3] At the time my grandfather had already been born, but his parents did not marry for couple more years.   Lydia was named as the “Housekeeper”.

It haunts me a bit, that Harry stated in his first letter to his mother “I know you like me.”  She would have been the only mother he knew.  I hope for his sake he knew is heart she loved him and she treated him as her own.

[1] England, General Register, Birth Registrations, birth certificate, (certified copy) for Harry Augustus Chinery, born 7 Dec 1903; registered 11 Jan 1904, West Ham District 04a, [p 435, Walthamstow Sub-district, County Essex; General Registry Office, Southport, England.
[2] England, General Register, Death Registrations, death certificate, (certified copy) for Ellen Augusta [Belsham] Chinery, death 21 Dec 1903; registered 28 Dec 1903, West Ham District, v 04a p 186, North Leyton Sub-district, County Essex;, General Register Office, Southport, England.
[3] 1911 England Census,, referencing household of W. H. Chinery, Kirby le Soken, Tendring district,  Essex; citing Census returns of England and Wales 1911.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Finding Harry (Part III)

A second letter from the Infirmary

In previous blog posts (Finding Harry) I discussed following the trail that Harry Augustus Chinery left for us. 

101 years ago today, little Harry Chinery wrote another letter to his mother from the infirmary.[1]  It is a relatively short yet eloquent note updating her that he hasn’t gotten “any worse but a little better.”  Up to this point there has been no indication as to what exactly has made Harry ill.
I find his letters to sound as if someone older than an 11-year-old has written them.  It is sad to think at this time, a child of 11, is in the hospital and going days to perhaps a weeks without seeing family.

Letter from Harry Chinery to Lydia Chinery,
19 May 1915, p1 of 3
May 19th 1915
The Balcony
Union Infirmary
Dear Mother
Just a few lines to let you know I am not any worse but a little better.  I had a letter from Gladys she wrote it last Friday and I did not get it till Monday dinner time.  I shant expect a letter from Aunt May now as she has another babe and I Expect she got a shock from the Explosion  you will see about it in (her) letter.  I dont wish you [?or] Gladys bring me any more biscuits nor any more shortcake  thanks but would like you to bring a few plain buns instead  Also Mr Titmun wants a day pipe if you please  i expect you know who I mean  I am getting on fine with the book you brought me.  Dear Mother I remember something you promised you would bring and show me that was Dadas ship on a pos[t]card but you have so much to think about that you can’t think about that you can’t think of everything.  Hope Ethel is better or a little better.  last Saturday mother a man came on the ward and said their was not any visiting going to be al[l]owed and we all thought was right but it was a only a joke.  The ward is rather full up now we have another bed on and another man  I dont think I have any more to say this time  Hoping I shall see you next Saturday if you can  anyhow spare time much love from Sonie xxxxxx

He again leaves clues to current events that I still need to research.   I especially would love to know what ship was “Dadas”.    I have clues that his father, my great grandfather William Henry Chinery, had just left for military service not even a month before this letter was written.   In the collection for British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, it records his medals and states his “date of entry” was 24 Apr 1915.[2]   It was his letter that helped lead me to search for WWI records for my great grandfather.   Otherwise, I had not any clues that he had served.   He would have been in his mid-40’s by the time the war broke out.  I now know he served in Egypt during this time. 
Harry also mentions an explosion that “Aunt May” experiences.  I suspect it may be in relation to the Bury Bombing (blog post "Finding Harry (Part II)").  A search of the birth location of Aunt May’s children during this time should provide context.

Harry may have been just 11 years old, but I still have more to share in future posts.

[1] Norman, Ethel May (Flack). Private Collection. 1952 – 1997, “Sonie” [Harry Augustus Chinery] to “Dear Mother” [Lydia Matilda (Boreham) (Flack) Chinery], Letter, 19 May 1915.

[2] British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920, (online database)., referencing W. H. Chinery; citing Army Medal Office, WWI Medal Index Cards, In the care of The Western Front Association Website.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Finding Harry (Part II)

The Raid on Bury St. Edmunds

In my previous blog post “Finding Harry”  Harry in a letter written a letter to his mother, he mentioned he had heard from “Gladys “ and she “did not seem very frightened by the raid.”  From the first time I read his letter, I had wondered about the story behind this comment.

The letter was written in 1915, during the Great War (World War I).  I never heard much about bombing raids during that war, but certainly had heard about them during WW2 from my British grandparents.

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I had come across a new source to comb for genealogy related stories.  You will find that blog post here.  “British Newspaper Archive”

I had been waiting for BNA to start adding pages for The Free Bury Press from the 1930’s as I thought I would find my 2x’s great grandfather John Chinery’s obituary someday.  I finally came across a rather extensive obit for him just last week.[1]  In the obit, it mentioned he was standing on his front step when the Anchor Inn was bombed, and it blew him off of his feet.  Intrigued, and remembering Harry’s letter, I starting trying different search terms such as “Bury”, “bomb”, and “raid”. 

Sure enough I got a hit for 8 May 1915 with the paper devoting several pages of stories to the bombing of Bury St. Edmunds by a German piloted ZEPPELIN!!  This had happened 9 days prior.  This would be perfect timing for Harry’s letter.   One article was titled “Narrow Escapes in Northgate Street”[2]
"Narrow Escape in Northgate Street"
Bury Free Press, 8 May 1915
This particular article stood out as I know that my 2x’s great grandfather lived on Northgate Street.  And this article starts off by discussing the bomb that fell on the Anchor Inn.   The same inn mentioned in his obituary. 

Back to Gladys in Harry’s letter; she is his older sister, who I happened to remember meeting on at least one occasion in the 1980’s.  In the 1931 obituary, it states that John Chinery had been taken care of by Miss Gladys Chinery since his wife’s death.  Though I don’t have definitive proof that Gladys was on Northgate Street that night, I do have evidence in census records that various grandchildren, at various times, were enumerated living on Northgate Street with their grandparents John and Rose Ann (Hunt) Chinery.  
If I had not been given Harry’s letter, I may not have thought to research how German bombs falling from Zeppelins would have directly affected my ancestors lives.   I wish now I would have known of the letter when I met Gladys.  The questions I would have asked her!

[1] "The Late Mr. J Chinery." The Bury Free Press [Bury St. Edmunds] 13 Feb. 1937, No 8752 p3 col 1. British Newspaper Archives. Web. 02 May 2016.referencing death and funeral of John Chinery.

[2] "Narrow Escapes in Northgate Street." The Free Bury Press [Bury St. Edmunds] 8 May 1915, No. 3036, p 6 col 2. British Newspapers Online. Web. 02 May 2016, referencing 29 April 1915 bombing raid on Bury St. Edmunds.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Finding Harry

A Letter from the Infirmary

I remember when my aunts Margaret and Eileen became interested in the Chinery family history, they would mention they thought there may be one child left unaccounted.
I would imagine this was based on conversations with the previous generation; but as we all know, they were a tight lipped lot.  My great grandparents William Henry Chinery and Lydia Matilda Boreham were a blended family.  They had both lost their previous spouses.  He brought, what is now known, 5 children into the relationship; she had at least 3 children with her previous husband Henry Flack.  Then William Henry (known as Harry as well) and Lydia had four additional children together.  One of the additional children was my grandfather, Arthur Chinery.
As you can imagine, with 12 children of potential aunts and uncles to account for, it could have been easy for the next generation to lose track.  My aunts felt that there was one boy missing.  They had heard the name Harry mentioned in past conversation but could not find any account of him.  When my great aunt Ethyl died, my aunts had access to her collection of family mementos.  They finally started find traces of a young boy of named Harry.

Letter from Harry Chinery to Lydia Chinery,
5 May 1915, p1 of 4
Birth and death documents give very sterile information, so it is especially enlightening when you gain possession of an ancestor’s own writing.  101 years ago today, 5 May 1915, little Harry wrote a letter to his mother.  It read;

Male Infirmara[y]
The Balcony
May 5 1915
Dear Mother Am writing to you as you told me. I forgot to tell you I had not got any envelopes and I had this give to me. perhaps you will be able to bring me a few up. I t[d]o not want many as I do not have many letter to write. It is so hot today. We have all the windows open but is still hot. There dosent [sic] seem hardly any wind out. it makes us so uncomfortable. I dont think there is anything else I can tell you to bring up. I did not mean them sort of rusks the ones what I mean were not toasted and not as hard but I do not want to trouble you to[o] much. but if you dont know what I mean do not thouble [sic] bring me what you like. I think I am getting a little nuicance[sic] to you. but I know you dont mind I know you like me I liked the Bananas as they looked so nice and yellow I really do not know what I do want I dont want any more sweets I havent eat them what you brought me I had a letter from Gladys she did not seem very frightened at the raid. she got up and went to look at them I would have rather have kept inside wouldnt you. she say they (they) did not do any damage that is a good job. Ill send you her letter she sent me two stamps and Uncle Jacks photo she couldnt send me hers as it did not come out properly I should have liked to have seen it. I dont remember seeing Uncle jack before. I dont think I can say any more so will close with best love from Sonie – XXXXXXX[1]
Harry is just 11 years old when he writes this letter.  From the header you can see he is in an infirmary.  He is trying not to be a bother to his mother who has 3 children under 5 at home.  It is during the Great War, and I believe her husband, my great grandfather, is away at war, possibly in Egypt.  Further evidence suggests her older children are with relatives.
Besides for his requests for “rusks”, no more sweets, and his obvious fascination with bananas, he states that thinks he is becoming a nuisance but he knows “you like me.”  How sad for a little boy tucked away in an infirmary to say this to his mother. 

In subsequent posts, I will explore a little bit more of what we know of Harry, and some of the contemporary events that he leave clues to in his letters.

[1] Norman, Ethel May (Flack). Private Collection. 1952 – 1997, “Sonie” [Harry Augustus Chinery] to “Dear Mother” [Lydia Matilda (Boreham) (Flack) Chinery], Letter, 5 May 1915.