Double #OnePlaceTragedies

Our saga of Thomas Finch and family continues. Last week we heard about the Coroner’s case when Victor Thomas Finch drowned aged 22 months. Happier times followed when Gladys Lena was born in 1897 and then Leslie George in 1900.

Sadly the newspapers tell of further tragic circumstances 10 years later.

The Western Times on Friday 25 November 1910 reported:

The British Library Board accessed via British Newspapers Archive online February 2021

It paints a touching picture of the relationship with his sister. So many wreaths for a small coffin. I need to investigate further, as, for example, I don’t know who was at Walnut Road, Chester or Friendship but these appear to be important, as they are listed first.

Such reports are ideal for genealogists, with many FANs named. (The FAN Club abbreviation was developed by Elizabeth Shown Mills, a highly respected genealogist and relates to cluster research. When investigating an ancestor, their FANs or Friends, Neighbours and Associates can tell us a great deal about their situation, social status, occupation etc. ).

The brief Western Times report of a week earlier – Friday 18 November 1910, written before the funeral, adds a different slant:

Clearly Thomas and Annie had been very caring parents, but this hints at the ‘delicate’ nature of Leslie. Taken together with the photograph I suggest Leslie had Down’s Syndrome.

Leslie and Lena Finch

In 1866 Dr John Langdon Down first identified a group of patients with certain characteristics. In 1959, it was discovered that it is a genetic condition due to an extra chromosome (Trisomy 21). It wasn’t until 1965 that the World Health Organisation adopted the term Down’s syndrome. I don’t know when the term came into common usage or if the syndrome would have been recognised by a village GP in 1900 – 1910.

Leslie had been poorly for some time and his death certificate shows he died of consumption, which is TB or tuberculosis. Three generations of the family at least were affected by this disease. This is an image from the memorial card:

The two brothers, Victor Thomas and Leslie George Finch, are buried in the same grave in Sticklepath with their memorials on either side of the short stone.

Move the arrow side to side to see front and back of the gravestone.

The 1911 census states the facts as cold statistics. Three children born alive, two who have died. One still living. Childhood deaths were still fairly common.  Daughter Gladys aged 14 continues at school.  Annie Standlake domestic servant has been with the family for over 10 years.  

England & Wales Census 1911 accessed through Ancestry
. . . . . . . . . . . . . Gladys Lena Finch

We finish on a happier note –

Gladys survived and later married William Gater Heard and had children.  John Heard, a very tall man in shorts and sandals, came to visit us in Sticklepath when I was young. He brought a family tree he had been working on for us to see.

Western Times – Wednesday 25 May 1921

HEARD – FINCH On May 24th at the Parish Church South Tawton, by the vicar (Rev E.F.Ball). William Gater Heard, eldest son of Mrs W.J. Heard, Exmouth to Gladys Lena, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T. Finch, Sticklepath, Okehampton.

Annie and Thomas Finch on the beach with the Heard Family – Gladys and William, and their grandchildren.

Looking at this photo you can see why Thomas was invited to be Father Christmas for the WI party each year!

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