This is the first in a series of blogs that will tell the tale of my eight Great-grandparents, first up is William Chiddicks.
William Chiddicks was born on 18th March 1866, the first born child of seven children, born to James Chiddicks and Elizabeth Chiddicks nee Lake. William was born in South Ockendon, Essex and at the time of his birth, his Father James was working the various farmlands of rural Essex, in South Ockendon. The family were living in various farm based cottages during this time and were residing at 19, Plough Cottages in South Ockendon at the time of Matthew’s birth. Only two doors away from the family cottage, lived the Lake family, Elizabeth’s Lake’s parents were residing at 17, Plough Cottages at this time. Both families are captured in the 1871 census living in Plough Cottages, South Ockendon.
(Plough Cottages are seen here on the left of The Plough Public House)
By 1881 the family had moved to James Row in South Ockendon and by this time the fifteen year old William was working the farms of Ockendon with his Father Matthew. The family had also grown in this time with the addition of five siblings for William, Elizabeth Chiddicks aged 12, Louisa Chiddicks aged 10, Mary Ann Chiddicks (Polly) aged 8, John Chiddicks aged 4 and Alice Chiddicks aged 1.
In 1886 we pick up a newspaper report in the Essex Newsman, dated 25th December 1886, where a young William had volunteered with The First Volunteer Battalion, Essex Regiment and was awarded a prize for his drill work. Four years later Matthew was again awarded a special prize for his shooting prowess as reported in the Essex Newsman dated 20th December 1890.
The Industrial Age had finally reached the out lying villages of rural Essex, as by 1891 we see the arrival of the Railway to South Ockendon and a different employment opportunity for the male Chiddicks members. In the 1891 census William is employed as a railway navvy with the unenviable task of digging the paths for the railways to cut through the rural landscape. At the time, William’s father was also employed by the railway, as an Engineer Driver. There has also been the addition of one last sibling for William a brother called Walter who was aged 9. The family by this time were also living on the main thoroughfare through the village of South Ockendon, namely The High Road.
In between the census years, William meets and Marries Caroline Rosina Keyes who was the eldest child of Joseph Keyes and Anna Maria King. The marriage took place on 3rd April 1897 at The Parish Church, Plaistow.
At the time of the Marriage William was working as a Labourer and they were both living at 19, Winkfield Road, Plaistow.
There are no direct family connections that I have been able to find, that would explain why William and Caroline Married in Plaistow, but there are two possible explanations. They could have moved for William to find work of course, but my suspicion lies with the fact that their first born child, Louisa Alice Chiddicks was born just four months after the Marriage took place, Louisa Alice Chiddicks was born 20th August 1897. Sadly Louisa died on 12th September 1897, before she was even one month old,. from Marasmus. After looking this up I was, horrified to find out that she died from was a severe form of malnutrition, one can only speculate as to the cause of her awful death. By the time poor Louisa’s death was registered, William and Caroline had relocated back to South Ockendon.
Four years later, at the 1901 census the family were living at Station Road, South Ockendon and had two further surviving children, Herbert Ernest Chiddicks born 28th August 1898 and William Leonard Chiddicks (Known as Len), born 14th January 1900. William had also gone back to his roots as he was listed once more as a Farm Labourer. A further Son, Frederick James Chiddicks, was born 4th August 1901 in South Ockendon and by the time their next Son was born, Percy Edward Chiddicks on 13th July 1903, the family had moved home to 44, Benson Road, Grays.
Two more children were born in 44, Benson Road, Florence Lilian Chiddicks born 24th January 1906 and Horace Frank Chiddicks (My Grandad) born 21st August 1907. Another change of career had also happened for William, by the time of Horace’s birth in 1907, William was listed as a Cement Miller.
The change of occupation could have been as a result of his father-in-law Joseph Keyes, who was also working in the cement industry at the same time, the cement works did play a massive part in employment at the time for the whole area, it was one of the major industries in Thurrock at the time. William continued in the Cement works until his retirement.
The following images were kindly donated by Dylan Moore from his wonderful historic site of cement kiln works in the uk
A short narrative from William’s daughter-in-law, Aileen in Canada;
William worked at the Cement Mill 12 hours a day, 6 days one week, 7 days the other week. The boys would take his hot Sunday noon dinner to him on their bikes.
He was within a bicycle ride of home and Fred told the story that he had some kind of lamp on his bike, that he would turn off at the corner as it would stay lit until he got home. One night however the light did not stay on and a Policeman stopped him for not having a light on his bike.
Whilst on the subject of a few tales
From Grays and Tilbury Gazette 1st July 1905 at the Wouldham Athletic Club
The Annual Dinner took place at The Queen’s Hotel in Grays, in amongst the article this is written;
“Mr. Chiddicks sang the song “Down the Vale”
(Wouldham’s was one of the large cement companies at the time).
After the family moved to 12, Brooke Road, Grays two more girls were born, Hilda May Chiddicks born 10th March 1909 and Gladys Maud Chiddicks born 29th April 1913.
Around this time the family were counted in the 1911 census living at 12, Brooke Road, with William listed as a cement worker and all seven children are still living at home.
I am unable to trace any further documentary evidence about William’s life, between 1911 and his sad death on 3rd October 1932. He died aged 66 from Shock and Haemorrhage after an operation for an enlarged Prostate in Guy’s Hospital, Southwark in London. The informant on his death certificate was his Son William Leonard Chiddicks and the death was registered on 5th October 1932.
William left a Will and left his widow Caroline Rosina Chiddicks the sum of £453 1s. 11d. (which is worth appx £30,000 in today’s money).
William was buried in The Grays New Cemetery Grave No:548 Section 11.
I visited the grave myself a number of years ago and it was, like many others in the cemetery, badly overgrown. One day I would like to return to the grave and clear the debris and clean the headstone, to mark the last resting place of Great Grandad Chiddicks.
As a footnote to the Story and after starting my Family Tree, I was able to persuade Thurrock Council to name a road in South Ockendon after the very humble Chiddicks family. So now as a permanent reminder of my Ancestor’s there is a road named Chiddicks Court.
The Links to the various Census returns for William Chiddicks can be found here;
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