Sunday, 8 February 2009

1911 English census - Thomas Cooper Fitzhenry and the Rash of Redvers

One of the people that I had tentatively penciled in as potentially being a child of the George William Fitz-Henry and Isabella Cooper marriage (but obviously wasn't) was Thomas Cooper Fitzhenry, who in 1911 was living at 11 Cromwell Road, Colchester, Essex.

Here's the details:
Thomas Cooper Fitzhenry head, married aged 49, a hairdresser in the army, born in Birmingham.
Jane Hannah Fitzhenry
wife, married aged 46, born in Tollerton, Yorkshire.
They had been married for 17 years and had 4 children all living.

All the children were living with them:
Thomas Henry Cooper Fitzhenry aged 16 an errand boy at Wright Bros., born in Dublin Ireland
Wilhelmina Jean Fitzhenry aged 14, a scholar, born Farnborough Hampshire
Jack Fitzhenry aged 12, a scholar, born Tollerton Yorkshire
Redvers Baden Fitzhenry aged 10, a scholar born Farnborough Hampshire.

The variety of birthplaces of the children reflect the Army lifestyle, but what I found really interesting is that naming of the youngest son was an example of a collective act of national hero worship in England in 1900.

At this time two Army officers were famed for their exploits in the Boer War.
Sir Redvers Henry Buller
was the commander in charge of the British forces at the Relief of Ladysmith, and Robert Baden Powell was famed for his part in the relief of the Seige of Mafeking and later went on to found the Scouting movement.

A look at the comparative numbers of these forenames in the birth indexes for England and Wales at this time shows the impact that these two men had on the national consciousness.

From the start of records in 1837 and up to the end of 1898, there were just 9 children (I assume they were all boys) named Redvers and 11 with the name Baden (one of these may have been a girl as the other given name was Mabel).

As the fame of the two men started to grow, in 1899 there were 57 baby Redvers and 10 baby Badens, of which 5 were Baden Powells.

In 1900, things really took off with 1183 babies named Redvers and 1169 named Baden (including 396 named Baden Powell). There were also 84 Redvers Baden including our very own Redvers Baden Fitzhenry patriotically named by his soldier dad in the GRO birth indexes Q3 1900.

Redvers Fitzhenry married a Lilian JV Ling in Islington in the fourth quarter of 1925. They had a daughter June born in 1928 in London, and according to the Library and Archives of Canada, emigrated to Canada in 1929. If anyone knows what happened to them after this, please drop us a line.

My thanks to the wonderful FreeBMD search engine without which I would never have found out about the Rash of Redvers.

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