This wonderful small collection of old photos I found together a few years ago at a flea market. It looks like they might have descended down through one branch, the Watsons.
When I have a collection of photos like this I always start by putting together a family tree. I do try and add as many branches, and surnames as possible around the main names I have started with. Most of these photos have writing on the back, which is a huge bonus.
Looking carefully through the collection, this first photo below was the key to starting the family tree off. It says on the back …..’Grandma Reading (nee Lamb) Grandmother of RGW‘ two surnames, so I entered Reading on Find My Past ‘Civil Marriages’ with Lamb as the Spouse’s Last Name and it came up with 2 results, one in 1962 with a female Reading, easy to discount. The other was a George Reading marriage in the 2nd quarter of 1858 to Jessie Ellen Lamb in the Portsea Island, Hampshire area. The exact area where most of the photographers of these photos were, and also matches my suspected age of the family in the photos. RGW was Russell George Watson.
I always use Find My Past first for marriage and many other lookups, I find it’s the best place to get started and you can search for free and see results, which will give you clues to help you on your way, you don’t have to have a subscription. If you hadn’t realised before Find My Past also has many record collections that are totally free to both search and view and over a million newspaper pages completely free to search and view.
My tree for the family gradually started to take shape on Ancestry as I added more close family to my starter couple eventually managing to add all ten of their children, confirmed by Jessie Ellen stating in the 1911 census that she had had ten children but only eight still living. Here are the photos and people who I have identified on the tree. You’ll see the connections further down where I have added screenshots of the family groups.
Siblings, Marjorie Philis Watson 1893-1980, Russell George Watson 1887-1983 and Violette Fortescue Watson 1889-1978. There was also another younger sibling born on 23 Sep 1899 Roy Reading Watson, who died in Jan 1998(no photo of him)
Two ladies above, sisters Violette Fortescue Watson 1889-1978 & Marjorie Philis Watson 1893-1980. Violette married in 1916 to Cecil Herbert Keeping, he was a Tailor/Salesman, the couple had two sons Peter and Antony. Violette died in 1978 at 18 Belmont Grove, Bedhampton, Havant, Hampshire, she and her sister Marjorie lived together in their later years.
Marjorie Phylis Watson married George Leonard Jenkins in Portsmouth, Hampshire in the first quarter of 1917. Tragically like so many George was killed in action, in World War 1 on 24 April 1917, he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, France Burial Notes Pier and Face 6 B and 6 C. Rank Private Regiment East Surrey Regiment Unit / Ship 13th Bn. Service 31187. He was 26 years old. Marjorie went to live with her parents, she never remarried and died at 18 Belmont Grove, Bedhampton, Havant, Hampshire on 20 April 1980. She lived there with her sister Violette in her later years.
Here below is George and Jessie Ellen’s family group sheet, with all ten of their children, and the screenshot’s are from Ancestry.
RGW above is Russell George Watson b 31 Jan 1887 Portsmouth, Hampshire & died 7 Mar 1983 at 17 Wisborough Road, Sanderstead, Surrey.
Photos above. Ann Burden Pook, known as Annie. Was born in 1833 in Dublin, Ireland & died just a few months after her husband on 24 February 1904. Her husband Joseph Russell Watson born in 1832 in Portsmouth, Hampshire, died tragically on 3 June 1903. This newspaper report below will explain how. I found this on a public family tree on Ancestry. The gravestone image from Find A Grave.
This beautiful photo below is of Laura Florence Redman 13 Sep 1891-5 Mar 1972. She married Russell George Watson on 11 Jul 1917. They had one son Gordon Russell Watson 1918-2019. As you can see by these dates Gordon was 101 years old when he passed away, actually very close to being 102. Gordon married Dorothy Joan Layton 1922-2012 in 1952 and they also had one son.
This next large group photo of a wonderful Wedding also has no writing. But I’m thinking now that it is the lady in the above photo Laura Florence Redman when she married Russell George Watson at All Saints Church, Denmead, Hampshire, England on 11 July 1917. See the close-up of the couple below too, I’ve studied the lady facially and she certainly matches in my view.
This next image is wonderful, a beautiful Horse!
Arthur John Redman (27 November 1884-14 August 1952) was a brother of Laura Florence Redman above and they lived near to each other all their lives. In the 1939 Register Arthur John Redman is the licensee of the Forest of Bere, Hambledon Rd, Denmead, Waterlooville. It looks like he took over the pub after his father Charles Thomas Redman died in 1936. In 1939 he is single (and he never married) and living with him is his widowed mum Sarah Ann Redman (Arthur) and sister Edith Redman (1889-1979, who also never married.
I have only found one Frank Reading through my research and that is Frank Fortescue Reading b 6 May 1877, he was the son of George Reading and Jessie Ellen Lamb, the brother of Jessie Mary Reading who married Joseph Russell Watson and therefore the Uncle of RGW our Russell George Watson. Here’s a little of Frank’s Family History.
In the 1901 census: Frank was a Boarder, living in Plymouth, where the photo was taken. Occupation a Tailors Cutter. 1911 census: Living at 71 Castle Gate Newark On Trent Marital Status Single Occupation Tailors Cutter. Then in WW1: First Service, 23 Oct 1916 First Ship, President II Last Service, 31 Mar 1918 Last Ship, Daedalus. Residence, Southsea, Hampshire. Discharge, 3 Jul 1918 Service No, 222452. Then in the April quarter of 1921, he married Florence Maude Blake who was 20 years younger than him in Huntingdon. In the 1939 Register Frank F was a Merchant Tailor and his wife Florence M ran a Boarding House. I believe they had a son Douglas on 19 Jan 1921. Frank died in 1946 at 44 Norton Road, Letchworth, Hertfordshire and it looks probable that his wife Florence remarried on 17 July 1964 to Sidney Gibbons (clue on the 1939 register)
Both photos above are unnamed and they don’t have a photographer’s name either. But the photo on the right does look as though it matches Joseph Russell Watson 1832-1903.
This is a look at the family tree, I’ve managed to fill in a little by going back to RGWs Great Grandparents. Here’s the direct link to the Ancestry Public Tree I have for the family: Reading/Watson/Redman Family Tree
The last photo but by no means least is this wonderful photo of three of the ‘Watson Family’ at the seaside,
I came across lots of interesting things when researching this family as they are such a large family so here’s one little story. Bertha Janet Reading another daughter of George Reading and Jessie Ellen Lamb, a sister of Jessie Mary Reading first married a chap called Walter Joseph Cronin in 1887 when she was 21. He was a Tailor
Walter died at the young age of 37 on 22 Oct 1902 at 61 Cottage Grove, a good-sized family home, now flats, his business premises were at 53 and 55 Russell Street, Southsea, Hampshire. Walter had left £7924. 12s. 6d. (equivailant to £1,246,093.38) in his will to his wife Bertha. The couple had had six sons and just very shortly after his death, Bertha gave birth to their seventh son registered in the last quarter of 1902. They also had one daughter born in 1896 Norah Phyllis who sadly died at just a year old. When I realised that their fifth son Leslie Reading Cronin had died in November 1918, I found this information on the History in Portsmouth site written in 2014 by Tim Backhouse:
“LESLIE READING CRONIN
Naval towns like Portsmouth, with their high demand for uniforms, have traditionally fostered the tailoring trades. It’s not known to what extent, if any, Walter Cronin (Tailors and Outfitters) Ltd. was involved in the production of uniforms but it is known that the Cronin family lost one of their sons, Leslie Reading, in the Great War.
The family connection to the tailoring trade may well have arrived in Portsmouth with Leslie Reading’s grandfather Joseph who was born in Ireland and probably married his wife Jemima there before emigrating to England. At the 1871 census, Joseph and Jemima were living at 18 Peel Street, near King Street, Southsea, with their three children Rosina, Walter and Herbert. Joseph’s occupation was described as ‘Outfitter’s Foreman’.
Ten years later the family had moved to 47 Hanover Street and Walter, Leslie’s father and future founder of the Outfitters Company, had already become an apprentice tailor at the age of 16. In 1887 Walter married Bertha Janet Reading and after a period at Middle street, the couple settled into their family home at 61 Cottage Grove. It was quite a large house with nine main rooms so it seems likely that Walter’s business, which in 1911 occupied premises at 53 & 55 Russell Street, off Guildhall Square, was providing a good income.
Walter and Bertha had seven sons, Norman, Alan, Austin, Dudley, Leslie Reading, Clifford and Harold. By 1911 the first four boys were deeply involved in the family business but their father was no longer around to oversee proceedings as he had died in 1902. We will probably never know why but the fifth son Leslie Reading declined to follow his siblings into the business and instead found an office job at the Portsmouth Corporation Tramway Service.
At the outbreak of war, Leslie Reading Cronin was only 16 years of age and therefore too young to enlist. It’s not known when he did so but it must have been late in the war as he was posted to the 17th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment which means that he never left England. His army experiences are currently unknown apart from the fact that he died 5 days after the Armistice, probably of influenza in Portsmouth where he is buried.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Private LR Cronin, (56706), 17th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died on 16/11/1918. Buried in Highland Road Cemetery, Portsmouth (Grave Ref: C.1.9.).
Leslie Cronin is remembered on the City of Portsmouth Passenger Transport Department WW1 Memorial and the Cenotaph (as Cronin RL) in Portsmouth. He is not listed in the ‘National Roll of the Great War’.
Bertha and her sons continued to run the family business after Walter had died, these are just a few of the descriptions in various newspapers in the years following Walters’s death: HIGH-CLASS TAILOR & HATTER. ALWAYS AHEAD. IMITATED, BUT UN APPROACHED FOR VALUE, STYLE, & FIT. SATISFACTION ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED
THE WORLD’S LATEST PRODUCTION: THE COATING, VESTING. COAT & TROUSERS.
On 4 June 1919, just six months after her son’s death Bertha remarried and became Lady Bertha Janet Corke, she married Sir John Henry Corke, who had been a widower for just over a year. He was an English building contractor and four-time Mayor of Portsmouth (1912 to 1916) he passed away in 1927 and Bertha became a widow again, she died at 6 Alhambra Road, Southsea and was on the probate records as Dame Bertha Janet Corke Death Date 29 Aug 1942. Left in her will: £2062.2s.6d. Photo and some information from Wikipedia, there is no mention of Bertha his second wife on his Wikipedia details or anywhere else I’ve found. I was hoping to find a photo of her but had no luck, so here’s one of him.
I wouldn’t have known about Bertha’s second married if I hadn’t looked at the actual record of the 1939 register where it says (Lady) on her name and that got me wondering. Always pays to look at the actual record! You never know what you might find. I’ve also found lots of links to other newspaper articles about the Cronins, it looks like you could actually write a book about this family!
Till next time then………