Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The children of Frederick Charles Petter

The children of Frederick Charles Petter

Frederick Charles Petter, son of Gervase and father of Archibald Graham, began his married life with Marie Elizabeth Simpson in 1876 in Stoke Newington, an area south of Tottenham with good rail and tram links to the City and a flourishing area for clerks, dressmakers and silk merchants along the London Road, many living above their retail shops and the slightly more ‘comfortable’ in the 1850s–1860s newbuild terraces. The population more than doubled between 1871 and 1881: it was said that the housing development had ‘spoilt the quiet of the fields and brought London nearer to Stoke Newington by 50 miles’. The commercial travellers, craftsmen and clerks lived in Albert Town or Victoria Road, the bricklayers and labourers in the meaner houses off Church Street. Stoke Newington had reservoirs for a clean water supply and tree-lined streets, but Frederick seems to have wanted to get further away. He had achieved this by 1881, at 220 Brockley Road in Brockley, then just outside the metropolitan area in Kent; as we know, by 1891 he had had to somewhat downsize to Argyle Terrace, Denmark Hill. Lizzie Constance and Frederick Charles Gervase (hereafter FCG), the two eldest children, were both born in Stoke Newington, in 1877 and 1878, but there were then two deaths (Mary Ann, born and died 1879 and Thomas Benjamin, born and died 1881) and this may have precipitated the move: the remaining five children were all born in Brockley (Cecil Herbert, 1882; Edith Mary, 1883; Archibald Graham, 1885; Harold Rupert, 1887; Catherine/Kathleen, 1890/1891, see below). One may also speculate that FCG, the eldest son, had fragile health and was better away from the polluted city environment: he seems to have died at only 23 in 1901.

Gervase and Eliza Sarah, Frederick Charles’ parents, were married at St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch in 1853, and the professional community of which he and his children were a part seems to have come to the rescue when he died in 1893; possibly straight away, but certainly by 1901, Cecil Henry, the third child was 21 and lodging in Listria Park, Stoke Newington, with Arthur Rust, a commercial clerk to a gas company while he served an apprenticeship as a furrier’s clerk; Edith Mary, the fourth child, was 19 and lodging with John Hadley, a printer in Thurlow Park, Norwood; we don’t know what her occupation was but she married in 1907. Both Arthur Rust and John Hadley had been married in St Leonard’s Church. Archibald was by 1901 living with Lizzie and her husband Charles Albert Rice in Islington, presumably having been a boarder, like his brothers Cecil and Harold, in the Royal Commercial Travellers’ School in Hatch End, Pinner, after his father’s death. As we know, this was the school set up to ‘house, feed, clothe and educate the necessitous children of brethren “on the road” who met an untimely death or became unable to earn their livelihood’. Children had to be ‘destitute’, could join the school between the ages of 5 and 10, and had to leave at the age of 15. FCG was 14 on his father’s death, so may have gone straight into an apprenticeship, but since he was dead by the 1901 census it is uncertain what he did; although we know he was in Cambridge when he died, he was not apparently at the University. Catherine is a puzzle. In the 1891 census she is called ‘Catherine W’ (possibly Winifred) born in 1890. In the 1901 census, there is a schoolgirl called Kathleen Winifred Gretchen living in Beddington in Surrey, born in 1891 and by 1911 a lodger with an unknown family in Sydenham in south London. Both were born in Brockley, but are they one child or two?

Harold Rupert was listed as wounded and missing in action on the Western Front, aged 30, on 3 May 1917, serving as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 1st Battalion the Royal Scots Fusiliers in the Battle of the Scarpe during the Arras offensive.

thanks Barbara 

No comments: