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Check the other names

If you find one of your relations away at school on a census, it is well worth looking at the names of the other pupils.

On the same page as Ethel Louise de Fraine in 1901, I had spotted a Dorothy Emily Gillett.

There are many Gilletts around and not all are connected to our Gillett line, so she wasn’t necessarily going to be one of ‘ours’ but following her, I found that she was. In fact, she was the second cousin of Marjorie Dawn’s maternal grandmother, Susan Gillett. Ethel Louise was the second cousin of Marjorie Dawn’s paternal grandfather. The families were connected by marriage from 1890 (June: The Gillett Spoons ) so they may well have been aware of their ‘relationship’.

The de Fraine, Tompkins and Gillett families often sent both their sons and daughters away from home for a few years of education, and I have several times spotted familiar surnames on lists of pupils, which when I have tracked them through other census returns and through birth registrations have turned out to be related to the name I was originally looking for. Often they are of an age not to have appeared on the previous census and are not with their own families in the following census, but appear then as visitors with members of the families with whom they were at school or have even married into the family.

As early as 1841, I have found several different sets of two or three female, or very young male, Gillett cousins listed as pupils/scholars and staying in the house of an aunt or other older female relation who are enumerated as a schoolmistress. Rather then applying for posts as governesses, it looks though they may have made their income by educating their own relations. Finding these mixed households have often helped me to disentangle families who have a habit of marrying their cousins.

Later on the girls tend to appear in larger establishments which sometimes, but not always, are listed by the name of a school, and again familiar surnames appear on the pages. The families did not seem to send their offspring to the elite Public Schools, but to small independent schools. The boys seem to go at about 9 years old and the girls at 11. A fairly typical school at the time will have been the one included on this website (page 6) Mr Galland’s Academy.

In 1851, GT de Fraine aged 9 was a pupil at what became Trinity School, Old Stratford, Passenham. Two of his sons, Thomas Turner, aged 14, and his younger brother Herbert George, aged 11, are listed there in 1881. Edwin Osborne Tompkins, then aged 12, was at the same school in 1871.

The number of pupils at Trinity School was 22 in 1851 and by 1881 there were 35. The school had closed by 1891 when it was time for George Lee de Fraine to be sent away to school. He is listed then at the Grammar School, Oxford Road in Thame.

Having read Tom Brown’s Schooldays and Nicholas Nickleby, I wonder what the regime was like for the boys there. I hope that they were happier than Henry was in his letter home: Letter from boarding school.

The Victoria County History for Northamptonshire, quoting from Kelly’s Dir. Northants. (1885), advts. p. 32., describes the school, which by that time also took day boys:-

In 1885 the bishop of Peterborough and the rectors of Wicken and Passenham were described as the school’s ‘visitors’; the classrooms and dormitories were said to be ‘lofty and well arranged’; the 8 a. of grounds included facilities for football, cricket and tennis; there was a swimming bath; and the school had its own dairy. The fees were 35 guineas a term, ‘strictly inclusive’.

Thomas later went to Osborne’s father to learn about farming and went on to marry Osborne’s sister. It would seem logical to think that this is how they met since the families had no connection other than through the school as far as we know.

The Tompkins sisters were also sent away to school. In 1871, Sarah Jane Tompkins was a pupil in Paddington aged 13, and Annie Maria Tompkins, aged 14, was a pupil at Grove House, High Street North, Dunstable, Bedfordshire. Rosa Ellen Tompkins (later to marry Thomas) was a pupil aged 15 at Packfield College in Lewisham in 1881, and in 1891, their half sister, Alice, aged 13, was a pupil at a Ladies School at 133 Green Lanes, Islington – along with Constance and Edith De Fraine. They were 13 and 11 years old respectively.

Checking for other names in a census listing for a school threw up something else interesting just this week. Previously, I had idly wondered how Osborne’s niece Ethel Tompkins, brought up in London and Aveley, Essex, had met and married a William Grimwood Boocock, from Yorkshire in 1907.

When trying to track down another branch, I came across a Mortimer Eve in 1891 at the same school as a WG Boocock of Yorkshire. Mortimer’s family were in the vicinity of Aveley and they were related to the Mannings who were related to the Tompkins of Aveley. Maybe Mortimer took William home for the holidays?? Who knows …


© Caroline 2008