Last Edited: 18/03/2007


 Stories My Father Told Me

The Robinson family lived for most of the 19th century in Little Barrington on the Oxford/Gloucester border. Joseph Robinson was the head of the household in 1881, with his wife Esther, and ten children (one had died earlier).

My father believed that one of the boys (possibly Henry) died tragically, possibly a farm accident, and somehow this precipitated a break-up of the family. Joseph moved to Winchester with Thomas Charles. George apparently became a sailor, Fanny married and moved to Newport Pagnell, Jesse went to Mitchum in Surrey.

Joseph went to work in Winchester as a gardener for a mystery man called Hyde Clark. I don't know if the spelling is correct, if it is hyphenated or even if Hyde was his first name! I've never been able to find any trace of this person, yet my father insisted that it was the case! He thought that "Hyde Clark" owned a house in Little Barrington and that when he moved to Winchester he took Joseph along as gardener.

The truth is somewhat different! Henry was still alive in 1901 and married. Walter died in 1879 aged 16, however, the family were still in Little Barrington in 1881. I found the family in Guilsborough, Northamptonshire, in 1891 living in Grange Cottage, Joseph being a gardener. Living in 'The Grange' was a Constance H. Clarke. Was she the mysterious Hyde Clark or was that her husband. Interestingly, she was described as 'married' but was the head of the household. Similarly, in 1901 she was the same and this time named 'Constance Hyde Clarke'!. Was her husband in the army perhaps?

Joseph died in 1898 and by then most of the children had married and moved away. I don't know if Esther went to Winchester with Joseph but in 1901, after Joseph's death, she was in Newport Pagnell with Fanny and James. My father said she went to live with her son George in Portsmouth, dying around 1908.

Thomas Charles was described in 1901 as "Domestic Groom", although my father said he was a gardener. A good story is that he saw a picture belonging to another servant (Julia Campbell) of her sister Catherine. He said that she was the girl he was going to marry. Julia retorted that HE wasn't going to marry HER sister! In the 1901 census Thomas is a 'visitor' at the house of Catherine Campbell, they married in 1905.

In about 1942/3 my father went with his father (Thomas Charles) to Portsmouth to see his uncle George. George ran a pub in Fratton called 'The Canal Walk Cellars'. When they arrived they found a pile of rubble, the result of an air raid. They asked a passer-by what had happened to George and were told that he'd gone to 'North End'. There is an area of Portsmouth called this, but not knowing where to go they returned home to Eastleigh. My father was called up into the army shortly afterwards and Thomas died in 1944. Nothing more was ever heard of George. Apparently he was married to Rose and had a son also George. I would dearly love to establish what happened to them.

I have just found out that George died in 1951 and his wife, Rose, survived him, dying in 1973. The question is: if he and his brother were on good terms, why did he not try and contact him or my father? I've also confirmed they had a son, George Robert, born in 1910.

It was suggested to my father that he should write down what he did in the war, we knew only that he ended up in the Cocos Islands having passed through South Africa and India. I have just been given the notes he did compile and have transcribed them on the next page.

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