The Lives of the Grandchildren
Out of William George and Charlotte Nixey’s twenty-three grandchildren, only one didn’t survive childhood, George Arthur Secker, who died at the age of three months. The remaining twenty-two grandchildren all died at some point during the twentieth century, the first in 1901, and the last eighty years later in 1981. In this chapter, the order in which the grandchildren appear is chronological by the year of their death.
George Arthur Secker (1876-1876)
George Arthur Secker was born at Slough on 5th May 1876, and died in the Bedford area on 27th August the same year. The following memorial inscription appears on the Nixey family vault at St Lawrence’s churchyard, Slough:
George Ernest Mills (1883-1901)
Second Lieutenant George Ernest Mills served with the 1st Battalion of the Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment at Moedwil, South Africa. He was killed in action during the Boer war on 30th September 1901.
Francis Lennox Holmes (1887-1914)
Francis Lennox Holmes is found in the 1901 census visiting his uncle William Mills and cousins at the Bennington Rectory, Hertfordshire. According to the Gloucestershire Echo of Monday 2nd November 1914, he attended Cheltenham College from 1901 to 1905, joined the South Staffordshire Regiment as second lieutenant in September 1908, and was gazetted in July 1909. When the 1911 census was taken, he was a lieutenant in the South Barracks at Gibraltar. At the age of twenty-seven, he was killed in action during World War 1 on 23rd October 1914 during the first battle of Ypres. He was not only recorded in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, but also in the Bond of Sacrifice, Officers Died in the Great War (1917) volume 1 pages 192-193. Regarding him, the latter says:
Probate was granted on 14th May 1915 to his brother, reverend George Sydenham Holmes, clerk, his personal estate being valued at £372.
Gerald Desmond Mills (1891-1917)
Gerald Desmond Mills was educated at Felstead Preparatory, Essex, then at Haileybury College, Hertford, and later at the Military Academy in Sandhurst. He was commissioned into the Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment in October 1910, and in the 1911 census is found at Gough Barracks, Trimulgherry Deccan, India. He returned to the UK in March 1914 to join the Royal Flying Corps. He received his Flying Certificate on the 22nd May 1914, and on the 7th April 1915 he went to France as a Flight Commander with No.7 Squadron. He died in an aeroplane accident on 19th May 1917 in France. Regarding his death, the Lincolnshire Echo of Friday 25th May 1917 reported:
Thomas Lionel Collingwood Chown (1873-1935)
Thomas Lionel Collingwood Chown is recorded as a visitor and student in the 1891 census at the Farlington Rectory, Havant, Hampshire, and with him is his younger brother William. They are in the household of Arthur J Richards, the rector of Farlington. He later became a Law-Student, and while living at Hollington, Sussex, married Edith Hannah Crofts on 15th July 1896 at St Saviour’s, St George’s Square, Pimlico. They were married byArthur J Richards in the presence of Edward Howard Secker, Esther Crofts, and Dora Collingwood Chown.. Their fathers were recorded as Thomas Collingwood Chown and Josiah Crofts, both referred to as “Gentleman”.
For Thomas, the turn of the twentieth century was far from enjoyable. Joseph Russell Jeaffreson, a noted explorer and a former Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, whose father was a doctor in Leamington, struck up a friendship with Thomas who at the time lived in Bexhill-on-Sea. As both men were very interested in exploration, they formed a partnership for financing an expedition to the Arctic. Joseph persuaded Thomas to invest funds in a dedicated bank account, and to make out cheques for various items of equipment and stores that he claimed were needed for the trip. However, Joseph never made a similar investment, and none of the goods ordered were ever seen by Thomas. Cheques had been made out by Thomas to suppliers in Norway, but were found to have been cashed by Joseph in London. The original plan had been to go to Siberia, but this was then changed to Spitzbergen in Norway. They actually got as far as St Petersburg in October 1899, when Joseph suddenly disappeared, never to be seen again by Thomas, who was left to pay all the outstanding costs of an expedition that never materialised.
Joseph was charged on a series of allegations of obtaining money by fraudulent representation, and was committed in April 1900 at Westminster Police Court and refused bail. His trial at the Middlesex Sessions in May 1900 was reported extensively in the press. For example, the Stamford Mercury in its issue dated Friday 25th May 1900 reported:
In the 1901 census, Thomas and his wife Edith are found living at 54 Devonshire Road, Bexhill, Sussex, and with them are their children, Thomas Dennis aged 3, and Marian aged 2. Also with them are two servants, Annette Meech and Sophia Snashall.
Thomas served as Second Lieutenant with the Highland Light Infantry Battalion during World War 1. He died at the age of sixty-three at Kensington in 1935.
George Bridges Stevens (1882-1937)
The Times of Friday 17th December 1909 made the following announcement:
His death was announced in the October 1937 issue of the Radleian:
John Hugh Secker (1874-1941)
John Hugh Secker was recorded as an Engineer in the 1901 census, and was boarding at 19 Gladstone Road, Colchester, Essex in the household of Emma Rabett. When the next census was taken in 1911, he was said to be an “Engineer Consulting”, and was visiting Launcelot Louis D Gibbs, an Officer in the RFA, and his wife, Hilda Dwarries, who were living at Eling Lane, Eling, Hampshire. From 1919 to 1920 he served as an Officer in the British Royal Air Force. John Died aged 67 on 11th September 1941 in the Paddington area of London, and was buried at St Lawrence’s, Slough. There is a memorial inscription to him on the left-hand panel of the Nixey family vault, along with his father and eldest brother, which reads:
The following appeared in the “1942 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries”:
George Sydenham Holmes (1884-1945)
George Sydenham Holmes is found in the 1901 census recorded as a “College Student” at Radley, Abingdon, Berkshire. In the next census in 1911, he was a “Clergyman in the Established Church,” boarding at 107 Auckland Road, Croydon, Surrey, in the household of Arthur William Bedford. He married Bertha C Ward at Kensington in 1918 who was a State Registered Nurse. At the time of the 1939 Register, they were living at Marchmont, Leckhampton Road in Cheltenham. George died aged 61 on 17th November 1945 at Cheltenham. With regards his will, the Gloucestershire Echo of 18th March 1946 printed the following:
Dora Collingwood Chown (1877-1948)
Dora Collingwood Chown was visiting her cousin Charlotte Maude Douglas-Jones and family at Glanenthwy, Pentir, Bangor, Caernarvonshire, Wales at the time of the 1901 census. She married a solicitor named George Charles Grubbe in the spring of 1902 at St George Hanover Square. In the 1911 census, she and her husband are found at 28 Dawson Place, Notting Hill W, Kensington, London. They had three servants, Catherine Brockbank, Emmeline Harrison, and Annette Coralie Chinery.
The Portsmouth Evening News in the issue of Saturday 19th January 1935 published the following article regarding Dora under the heading “An Optical Illusion, Woman Driver’s Explanation”:
Dora is found in the passenger lists sailing from the UK on 23rd January 1939 aboard the East Asiatic Co Ltd’s vessel “Jutlandia” from Southampton to Bangkok, Thailand. Dora died aged 72 in the summer of 1948 in the Lothingland area of Suffolk.
William Hubert Collingwood Chown (1875-1950)
William Hubert Collingwood Chown is recorded as a “Visitor” and student at Farlington Rectory, Havant, Hampshire in the 1891 census, and with him is his elder brother Thomas. They are at the household of Arthur J Richards, the rector of Farlington. Hubert Chown and Ellen Louise Lloyd, both of 102 Queensland Road, were married on 26th February 1896 at the Islington register office, London, in the presence of A Batten and Louise Whittle. Their only child was a girl, Hazel Chown Lloyd, who was born on 13th May 1895. In 1901 Ellen Louise and five year old Hazel were living with Ellen’s brother and family at Hazeldean, 8 Tunley Road, Streatham, Wandsworth, London.
In late 1903, Ellen Louise Chown petitioned to divorce William Hubert Collingwood Chown, on the grounds of desertion and adultery for more than two years. According to the divorce case-file (held at the National Archives), she stated that following their marriage he had never lived with her, and that there had been no children from their marriage. She also stated that her husband had frequently committed adultery with Alice Mary Collingwood, that from about the 20th May 1896, her husband and Alice had lived together as man and wife at 1215 California Street, Denver, Colerado, USA, and at 1836 Lafayette Street, Denver, and that at those places they had habitually committed adultery. Ellen also petitioned for her husband to pay all the legal costs incurred. Her petition was filed on 1st December 1903, a divorce was granted, the Decree Nisi was issued on 29th November 1904, and the Decree Absolute on 5th June 1905. On 20th February 1906, William Hubert Collingwood Chown was ordered to pay into court the costs of £69 11s. 4d, but there is no evidence in available records to show that the amount was ever paid.
At some point prior to 1900, William changed his name and thereafter was known as “Hubert Collingwood Charles”. “But, why Charles?” you may ask. Well, could it just be a mere coincidence that Alice’s father was named Charles? Hubert and Alice are found in the 1900 USA census living at Denver, Colerado, and with them is their son, Hubert Eric Charles who was born on 9th December 1898. Ten years later when the 1910 USA Census was taken, they were again living in Denver, and also with them is their second son, Leonard Compton Chown Charles, who was born on 21st November 1901. Within a few years, the family moved to San Francisco City, California, where in 1917 he was drafted in to the military. Hubert and Alice are found in subsequent censuses in California, at San Francisco in 1920, and Los Angeles in 1930 and 1940. Hubert died at the age of seventy-five on 21st October 1950 in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, back in the UK, Ellen married her second husband, William Allan West, an insurance clerk, in the summer of 1905 in Hastings. In the 1911 census, the West’s are living at 39 Rayleigh Road, Wimbledon, Surrey, and with them are Ellen’s daughter, Hazel, a 15 year old scholar, and Ellen’s 68 year old widowed mother, Sarah Ellen Lloyd.
Edward Howard Secker (1872-1951)
Edward Howard Secker’s service records give his attestation date as 3rd January 1900, and his age is given as twenty-seven. He was involved in the Boer War, and was a private in the Imperial Yeomanry. He married Clara Benson in Buckinghamshire in 1902, but they had no children. Clara was the youngest child of James William Benson and Jane Farley Shinfield, her father being the founder of J. W. Benson Ltd Jeweller & Watchmakers.
The 1911 census shows Edward and Clara living at Northfield, Slough Road, Datchet, Buckinghamshire, his occupation being recorded as “Black Lead Merchant and Manufacturer.” With them are two servants, Florence Neale and Florence Smith.
Edward was listed amongst the shareholders of the Great Western Railway in 1920. In The Scotsman of Saturday 7th September 1929, the following announcement of sale was made:
On 19th November 1931, Edward and Clara are found sailing from Southampton to Wellington, New Zealand aboard the New Zealand Shipping Company Limited’s vessel, “Rangitane”. Edward’s last place of residence is recorded as Badminton Club, London, while Clara’s is said to be Wraysbury, Bucks. They arrived back in the UK aboard the same ship in April 1932, the address they were travelling to being given as North Morar, Invernessshire. It’s apparent that at some point over the next five years or so, Edward and Clara were divorced, because The Times of 13th December 1938 made the following brief announcement:
Just three days after their marriage, Edward and Dorothy sailed as first-class passengers aboard the vessel “Hilary” from Liverpool to Portugal, Madeira and Brazil. Their cruise ended on 7th March 1939 when they arrived back at Liverpool aboard the cruise ship “Anselm”. The address they were travelling to was given as Tarrystone House, Cookham.
Later the same year when the 1939 Register was taken, Edward and Dorothy are found at the Bedford Hotel, Sidmouth, Devon, his occupation being recorded as a “Graphite Merchant Retired”, while Clara nee Benson is recorded as “Divorced” and is living at Dusk, Bridge Road, Maidenhead, Berkshire.
Edward Howard Secker of Box Cottage, Bafford-Lane, Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire, died on 18th January 1951. Probate was granted on 29th March to his widow, Dorothy Lilian Secker, and Val Randall, Company Director. His personal effects were valued at £26016 13s. 3d. Dorothy appears to have enjoyed travelling the world over the next eight years, including Mozambique in 1952, Australia in 1953-1954, Thailand in 1956, and another trip to Mozambique in 1959.
Dorothy Lilian Secker of 18 Withyholt Court, Moorend Road, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham died on 17th September 1986 aged eighty-nine. Her Probate record shows that her personal effects were valued at £103211. Edward’s first wife Clara Secker of Dusk, Bridge Road, Maidenhead, died on 14th April 1965 at the age of ninety-three. Probate was granted on 4th June to Alfred Douglas Dalziel Benson, Company President, and William Lacy Addison, Solicitor. Her personal effects were valued at £131185.
Arthur Edward Mills (1889-1952)
Arthur Edward Mills can be found living with his father at the Bennington Rectory in the 1911 census. The Hertford Mercury and Reformer of Saturday 17th November 1917 printed a very descriptive article regarding his marriage to Mary Elinor Hargreaves:
Arthur died at the age of sixty-two, and according to probate records, his effects were valued at £12142 14s. 7d. [£276,611.37]. The Times of Friday 14th March 1952 printed the following regarding his death:
William Onslow Secker (1869-1956)
William Onslow Secker married Beryl Spencer Brunton on 3rd July 1897 at St Mark’s, North Audley Street, Westminster, London. They had two sons, Gerald Onslow who was born on 2nd June 1900 in Ceylon, and Derek Howard who was born on 20th April 1902 at Slough. In the 1911 census, “Onslow” and Beryl are found at Wood End House in Great Marlow, Buckinghamshire, his occupation being recorded as a retired tea planter. Also with them are three servants, Kate Brennen, Bessie Montague, and Jessie Bond. In the same census, their sons are both found at The Grange, Shorecliffe Road, Folkestone, Kent. At the time of the 1939 Register, Onslow and Beryl are living at Maldah, Institute Road, Marlow, Buckinghamshire. His occupation was recorded as a retired Ceylon Planter, and with them was a servant named Thelma M Hayden. William died at the age of eighty-six on 19th January 1956, and was cremated at Henley Road Crematorium, Caversham, Reading, Berkshire on 23rd January. Probate was granted on 28th March to his son, Derek Howard Secker, a retired commander in the Royal Navy. His personal effects were valued at £6970 2s.
Charlotte Maude Secker (1870-1956)
Charlotte Maude Secker married William Douglas-Jones at Slough on 12th April 1894. William was born in 1868 at Muckairn, Argyll, Scotland, and was the son of William and Mary. Their marriage was reported on in a number of newspapers, both in North Wales and Buckinghamshire. The following very descriptive article appeared in the North Wales Chronicle of Saturday 28th April 1894 under the heading “The Wedding of Mr W. Douglas Jones”:
Amongst the large amount of gifts they received was a canteen of silver dessert cutlery, which was given them by “Mr. George Wixey”.
In the 1901 census, Charlotte is found living at Glanenthwy, Pentir, Bangor, Caernarvonshire, Wales with her husband and their three children, all of whom were born at Glanaethwy, near Bangor, William Eric Vivian on 23rd March 1895, Gwynedd Maud May on 23rd March 1897, and Jessie Elian on 24th November 1898. Also with them are four servants, Edith Holland, Alice Ringwill, and Hannah and Mary Owen, as well as Charlotte’s niece, Dora Collingwood Chown. In the 1911 census, William and Charlotte are found at Fawley Lodge, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, and with them are two servants, – Bowler and Annie Tilley. Their two daughters, Gwynedd and Elian, are found at Southlands School, Sutton Avenue, Seaford, Sussex, while their son William is at Radley, Abingdon, Berkshire.
The year 1915 got off to a very bad start for Charlotte, and must have proved a very difficult time for her to cope with. First of all, their son William was killed in action in France on 15th January 1915 while serving as second Lieutenant in the 33rd Battery, 33rd Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. Then a little over two months later, her husband died of heart failure on 26th March at the Croft, Wickham, Hampshire, he was forty-seven years old. Probate was granted to his widow on 3rd June, his personal effects were valued at £5178 8s. 10d. Additional details about both Williams are found in The following newspaper extracts from the North Wales Chronicle and Advertiser, in its issues dated 1st and 9th April 1915:
When the 1939 Register was taken, Charlotte and her two daughters were living at 1 Charlton Park Gate, Charlton Kings, Gloucestershire, and with them was a lady by the name of Constance Spearman. Charlotte died at 148 Old Bath Road, Cheltenham, on 25th March 1956, at the age of eighty-six. Probate was granted to her two daughters on 4th June, her effects were valued at £10781 1s. 8d.
William Eustace Mills (1881-1957)
William Eustace Mills attended Winchester College and King’s College Cambridge, where he attained Bachelor of Arts, 2nd class honours in the Theological Tripos in 1903, and Master of Arts in 1907. He attended Leeds Clerical School in 1903, became a Deacon in 1904, and was ordained a Priest in 1905. He was the Curate of Barking in Essex from 1904 to 1913, where he is found in the 1911 Census, living at 26 Cecil Avenue.
William was Rector of Walkern from 1913 until 1921. He married Everilda Louise Tindall Lucas in 1913 at Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Everilda was the daughter of William Tindall Lucas, a Banker, and his Canadian wife Frances Augusta née Farmer, and was born on 8th July 1889 at Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Their marriage was reported on in the Hertford Mercury and Reformer in the issue dated Saturday 16th August 1913:
During the first World War, Reverend William Mills was a Chauffeur for the Red Cross (Overseas volunteers). From 1921 to 1946 he followed in his father’s footsteps when he became Rector of Benington.
In the 1939 Register, William and Everilda are found at Little House, Bennington, William being recorded as a “Clerk in Holy Orders Rector of Bennington”. He died on 5th October 1957 at The Lister Hospital, Hitchin, and Probate was granted on 16th January 1958 to David Hitchcock Spencer, Publisher, and James Cuthbert Lindsell, Solicitor. His effects were valued at £17152 9s. 11d. His wife Everilda died on 7th February 1992 at Westbank, 64 Sevenoaks Road, Borough Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, at the wonderful age of one-hundred and two! Probate was granted on 25th August, her effects being valued at £3833.
The following description of St Peter’s Church, Benington comes from page 48 of “Walks in the Country near London” by Christopher Somerville, published in 2003:
Clara Marguerite Mills (1884-1958)
In the 1939 Register, Clara is found living at Great Pastures, Hertford, and she is said to be living on private means. Clara died unmarried at the age of seventy-three in the spring of 1958 at Hitchin, Hertfordshire.
Clara Augusta Holmes (1886-1960)
The Times of Friday 21st April 1916 made the following announcement:
Interestingly, Clara’s husband Thomas Moore was the brother of Charlotte Jekyll Moore who had married Clara’s 1st cousin George Bridges Stevens in 1909. At the time of the 1939 Register, Thomas and Clara were living at 24 Higher Kingston, Yeovil, Somerset, Thomas’ occupation being recorded as “Solicitor”. Living with them was a servant named Muriel H Thomas. Clara died on 26th April 1960 in Yeovil, Somerset.
Dennis Bridges Stevens (1895-1965)
In the 1901 census, Dennis Bridges Stevens is found with his parents and elder brother George living at Whitley Hill, Reading, Berkshire. With them are six servants, Rosina Oliver, Bertha C Luker, Alice Day, Ellen Day, Mabel Harris, and Elizabeth Jerome. Ten years later in the 1911 census, Dennis is a scholar boarding at The Cross, Repton, Near Burton on Trent, Staffordshire, in the household of Harold Carlyle Hayward and family, Harold being described as a “Schoolmaster human master.” Dennis appears in the Royal Navy Officer’s Medal Roll and the Royal Marine Medal Roll for 1914 to 1920.
On 11th April 1918, Dennis married Dorothy Gladys Campbell at St George Hanover Square, London. Dorothy was born on 14th April 1891. At the time of the 1939 Register, they are found living at Little Mynthurst, Smalls Hill, in the Dorking area of Surrey. Dennis’ occupation is recorded as a “Chartered Accountant Office Manager”, and living with them are their daughters Margaret and Catherine, their son Richard, and Dennis’ mother Augusta. Dennis died at the age of sixty-nine in Plympton, Devon in 1965.
Eileen Maude Mills (1892-1965)
On 27th February 1917 at St Peter’s Church, Bennington, Eileen Maude Mills married Roland Heath, a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. He was the eldest son of George and Mrs. Heath of Redcott, Cobham, and was born on 25th September 1889. Roland and Eileen were married by Eileen’s father William Mills, with the assistance of her brother, William Eustace Mills, the Rector of Walkern.
At the time of the 1939 Register, they were living at 35 The Avenue, Surbiton, Surrey, Roland’s occupation being recorded as “H M Insp Of Surrey Schools”. Living with them is their son Martin, who was born on 22nd February 1920 in the St George Hanover Square area of London, and who is recorded as a “Student”, as well as two servants, William Anderson and his wife Florence.
Victor Hart Secker (1877-1966)
Victor Hart Secker married Ina Lorna Marjorie Salmon on 31st July 1907 at St Jude’s, South Kensington, London when he was twenty-nine years old. At the time of the 1911 Census, Victor and Ina are found at 20 Jameson Road, Bexhill, Sussex, with Ina’s widowed mother, Ina Gertrude Bush Salmon. Also with them are their children Lorna Elizabeth aged two and the most recent addition to the family, Edward John Richard, both children having been born in Bangalore, India.
Following his wife’s death on 23rd December 1936 at Te Awanga, New Zealand, at the age of fifty-three, Victor married his second wife, Evelyn Isabel Werner in Surrey in 1939, who was thirty years his junior. Major Victor Hart Secker died at the age of eighty-eight on 5th February 1966 at the Bon Aid Nursing Home, Jersey, Channel Islands.
Jessie Dorothy Mills (1886-1966)
In the 1939 Register, Jessie Dorothy Mills is found living at Great Pastures, Hertford, and is said to be living on “Private means.” She died unmarried at the age of eighty in Hertfordshire in late 1966.
Dorothy Christine Gauntlett Harrison (1895-1972)
Dorothy Christine Gauntlett Harrison married Herbert Stanley Starkey on 12th June 1923 at Cheltenham. Their marriage was reported on in the Cheltenham Chronicle in its issue dated Saturday 16th June, under the heading “Cheltenham Society Wedding”:
Dorothy died in Cheltenham in 1972.
Frederica Vera Holmes (1890-1981)
Frederica Vera Holmes married John Yelverton Hadden in the spring of 1934 in Hertfordshire. John was born in Dublin, Ireland on 7th January 1895. In the 1939 Register they can be found living at 231 Prestbury Road, Cheltenham, her husband John being recorded as a “Biscuit Representative Tra”. She died aged ninety-one at Cheltenham in 1981.
The Bond of Sacrifice: A Biographical Record of All British Officers Who Fell in the Great War, ed. L. A. Clutterbuck and W. T. Dooner, vol. 1, Aug-Dec 1914 (published 1917), pp. 192-193.
John Hugh Secker’s obituary appeared in the “1942 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries”, and was found on the Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History.
The file reference for the divorce of Ellen Louise and William Hubert Chown is: National Archives, J 77/803/4429.
Unless otherwise stated, all newspaper articles can be found at the British Newspaper Archive.
The photo of the commemorative stained glass windows at Benington is a Flickr photo by jmc4.
The photograph of Francis Lennox Holmes was found at The Morgan Web Site.