1 March 2008

The Thomas Family of Redditch

There were several Thomas families in Redditch in the nineteenth century, but the relevant one here has Samuel Thomas senior as the head, a man born in Bitton near Bristol in 1807 who established a large needle and fish-hook factory on Prospect Hill, where he lived. Samuel's great-grandson, Lionel Britton, wrote that Samuel originally set off from Wales with sixpence in his pocket and went on to become a very wealthy man in Redditch.

Samuel was certainly wealthy, but the story of the sixpence is no doubt part of the family myth, as is perhaps also the idea that he came from Wales (although his father Aaron Thomas probably did). Samuel's sister was Mary Jane Thomas (1816–43), and he married Mary Quarterly (1808–83) from Devonport.

The Thomas family is noted for the number and the longevity of its children, and Samuel senior and Mary had at least nine children:

Elizabeth Thomas, b. 1833

Samuel Thomas junior (1834–1912), m. Marie Antoinette Goffin (1843–1928)

Ann Thomas, b. 1838

Fanny Thomas, b. 1840, m. Thomas Tanner

Maria Thomas (1841–60)

Richard Thomas, b. 1844

John Thomas, b. 1847

Mary Thomas, b. 1848

Henry Thomas, b. 1850

Samuel Thomas junior was Lionel Britton's grandfather, and following the death of Lionel's father he and his brothers and sister went to live in Samuel's house on Hewell Road in Redditch. Samuel and Marie Antoinette had at least ten children:

Irza Vivian Geraldine Thomas (1866–1959), m. Richard Waddams Nimmo Britton (1859–1894), m. Francis le Breton, b. circa 1874

Lilas Edith Beatrice Thomas (1868–1949), m. William (a.k.a. George (?)) Warwick (c.1840–1920)

Henri (a.k.a. Henry) John Thomas (1869–1952), m. Mary Ann Elizabeth Quartly (1866–1943)

Rose Thomas, b. 1871

Samuel (a.k.a. George) Thomas, b. 1872, m. Ethel May Morris, b. 1884

Ernest Augustus Thomas (1875–1950), m. Edith Louisa Hill (1872–1954)

Francis (a.k.a. Frank) Thomas, b. 1876, m. Gertrude Morris, b. 1880

Rosa (a.k.a. Rose) Thomas (1877–1971), m. Henri Charles Guillaume (b. 1866–1954)

Florence Mabel Thomas (1880–1972)

Newton Thomas, b. 1883, m. Rosamund Lilian Garood, b. 1886.

Many thanks to Robert Hughes and David Guillaume for compiling the tree, from which this severely truncated record was made.

1 comment:

Snatch51 said...

Let's flesh out a few things here.

Lilas Edith Beatrice Warwick, (née Thomas), left a will made in 1946.

The principal beneficiary was her son Reginald, who sadly died in 1964 after a lifetime of increasing suffering from an early childhood swimming pool accident.

Reginald's disability had made him painfully shy, but there was nothing wrong with his intellect and a personal recollection from David Guillaume graphically describes the woodworking shop where Reggie was active, presumably at Diamond Cottage, Bath Rd, Lymington, Hampshire.

Interestingly, Auntie Lilas also made provision, (in default of Reggie succeeding her), for a legacy to her sister in law May Thomas of 43 London Buildings, 3rd Avenue, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Now, we know this was Ethel May Thomas, (née Morris), born in Holt, Wiltshire in 1884; but we do not at the moment know when she died. We also need information about her son George Albert Thomas, born 1915 in Coventry, England!

Anecdotal evidence, (David Guillaume again), suggests George Albert Thomas was in the Royal Canadian Air Force or Royal Air Force and may have enlisted well before the start of World War Two, but no records of him come to hand.

Going back to Samuel Thomas (1807-1878), his wife was Mary Retallack. Another surname was suggested, but is incorrect.

Samuel and Mary were married on 2 Sep 1829 in the Stoke Damerel parish, (Plymouth).

Several birth certificates, including for Henry Thomas the inheritor of his father's estate, confirm Mary's surname as Retallack.

This of course is a Cornish surname, but it is not possible to pin down her ancestry exactly at the moment, because the Retallack family are well represented in Plymouth.

Aaron Thomas as the father of Samuel is not substantiated by any record. In fact, it probably owes more to David Guillaume's father's fantasising than to anything else. The Bitton parish records are still a work in progress, but although there is a good record of Samuel Thomas' birth there, there is no mention of any Aaron.

However, there are certain facts well established for now, and upon which we will build: Samuel Thomas Senior was born in Bitton according to several census records, and one of his brothers in Redditch was born in Bitton as well.

Our cousin in Merthyr Tydfil who died in 1879 and left a substantial fortune to his widow has not had his case satisfactorily resolved, as it was referred to the Probate Court in 1898 and we have heard nothing further.