The Barnsby Blog
THE BARNSBY FAMILY TREE
Amy (above) married a Munn and had a son Bert. Bert married and had three daughters and a son (Amy, Flossie, Lily and Bert?)
Ann Barnsby (above) married Percy Moss and had the following children: Bert, Dolly, Elsie, Rose, Alice, Mabel, Eva and John.
Elsie Moss inter-married with a Hale, Robert, and had two children John and Margaret.
John has four children, Robert, Christine, Susan and Andrew.
The first Barnsby traced so far was George Barnsby who appeared either before the famous blind London magistrate and social reformer Sir John Fielding, or before his half-brother fellow magistrate and famous novelist Henry Fielding at the equally famous Old Bailey, in London on 20th October 1773 accused of receiving stolen goods from Richard Bradley and James Cuthbert. Both were found guilty, but their sentences are not known, neither is it known whether Barnsby was found guilty or not.
A tragic feature of the family is the lack of evidence in the 1891 Census of my great grandfather, the death of his wife in1882 and the fact that both George Barnsby (my father) then aged 10 and his sister Grace aged 11 were both in the Camberwell Workhouse. Also the 1901 Census showing that the same John Barnsby then 74 was in the Hackney Union Workhouse. It might be surmised that the death of Frances Barnsby his wife in 1882 led to a breakdown in the family, her husband becoming incapable of providing for the family. But this is speculation.
The most tragic part of our family history is of George Hale and his brother Sidney Hale who both joined the army on the outbreak of the first World War in August 1914 and who were both killed before the end of October the same year. Two letters from Sidney Hale survive addressed to his sister, Eleanor (Nellie) Hale. The first is undated but it gives his name as Private Hale 10627 of the L.N. Lancs Btn. He was pleased to know that Mother answered his letters but he cant think what had happened to them as he had not received them. He goes on to say that he had thought of writing before but he did not know whether her address was 155 or 133. (Nellie was then in service with JAY the daughter of General Younghusband the explorer of Tibet in Victoria St. London.) He was pleased to hear of Bobs success at boxing. (Bob had joined the Navy in 1908.) He read one of Bobs letter saying that he was to marry a girl in Harefield and he hoped they would settle down and be happy. (This is the first we hear of Harefield, where Nelly was soon to settle and work on munitions.) The proposed marriage did not take place and Bob much later married Elsie Moss. Sid then talks of his eldest brother and hopes that John and his wife Louise are well. He hopes John is working (working is a constant preoccupation of the family-GB) He then speaks of his brother George ˜the bad boy of the family and hopes to see him when he gets four or five days leave shortly. He then writes of his aunt Rose after her 5.1/2 year illness. (This was almost certainly her stay in an asylum) when he didnt think that she would be able to go about again. He then states that he only draws 1/-d (5p) per week but he is now out of debt and hopes to see the family at Easter. He had hoped to send money home to Mother, and had not been able to, but after one years service he would get a rise and send home a couple of Jimmy OGoblins ( £2). He closes the letter with, Love and kisses, your loving brother Sid or Stag gaspipe etc.(whatever that means - GB)
The second letter is dated 26 October 1914 and thanks Nellie for the letters and cigarettes received safely and goes on I heard of George going under by shrapnel it got it in the face, poor chap so he died peacefully. Later in the letter he says ˜Dear Nell tell mother not to worry too much over George but to look and pray for Sid to return and look on the bright side as we are fighting very hard for our own rights.
Further evidence is a stamped envelope dated 1914 addressed to Nelly Hale at 155 Victoria Street, Westminster confirming that this was the address of JAY and Nellie Hale was employed there at the time.
A letter from Pte George Hale also survives. It is not dated, but speaks of the weather being shockingly hot and his losing 10lbs in two weeks. He chides the family for thinking that he is on furlough and seeing stag a bit often. He gives his respects to all at home and says I will try and send a couple of bob home on Saturday. He ends the letter to his sister Nelly with love and many xxxxxxx..
A Field Service card dated October 5th of Sids survives, also a postcard of two soldiers, but whether one or the other is George or Sid we cannot tell as there is nothing on the back. The only other survival from 1914 is an envelope of 26 Dec to Mrs A.Munn at 120 Melbourne Grove, East Dulwich.
Private George Garibaldi Hale of the 1st Bn of the Queens Royal West Surrey Regiment was killed on 17 October 1914. He is buried at La-Ferte-Sous-Jouarre Memorial Ground in the locality of Seine-Et-Marne.
The last family relic is the interview on tape that I held with my Mother (then known to us to boys as Clara since we were embarrassed to call her Mum. Wonderful to hear that voice again and compelling for its evidence of living conditions in nineteenth century London in the two bedroomed house in Brixton. Mother, father and the latest baby in one bed and the family of boys and girl in another bed, fourteen bodies in all at one time. The other bedroom was occupied by four or five lodgers of differing sexes.
It remains only for me, George John Barnsby born 1919 and the oldest survving member of the above collection of families to put on records some of my personal recollections. Many will be found in my autobiography ˜Subversive “ or One third of the Autobiography of a Communist’. My earliest perceived memory was of seeing my father in the big bed at 32 Ingelow Road, Battersea as he was dying, but as I was only three at the time it could be imaginary. Equally apocryphal could be my memory of standing outside the wall topped by iron railings of the National Assistance Office at Battersea with my mother inside arguing her case for a War Widows Pension in 1923 when I was four. But the amount she was awarded of 28/11d plus 10/- for us two children remains with me to this day as the amount paid to us throughout our childhood and meant Mother could take care of us without going to work, and her capacity to do what no economist at the London School of Economics could do, namely to make one penny do the work of two we were brought up almost at the level of a skilled worker and I had no perception of being a deprived child.
Another strong memory is of Bert Munn my fathers best pal and of much the same age who had lost his leg in the 1st World War with his metal artificial leg limping to our home with his family of wife and three young daughters for a visit. After lunch (which was called dinner) we kids were bundled into a bed while the adults made serious talk. We made return visits to their house in Dulwich
I have few other memories of my early years. Sitting on blazing pavements during school holidays playing fives when the sun always seemed to shine. Memories of aunties Amy and Polly, both in service in London, visiting us regularly. Christmas presents from aunt Amy of sturdy boots, appropriate to our circumstances, but not welcomed by me. Some memories of schools and teachers, but not many.
Annual summer visits to my grandparents who were then living at Fawley House, Harefield a spacious house where my grandfather sat in his armchair looking as if butter wouldnt melt in his mouth, but with a history of violence that had driven his children from home. He was then selling fruit and vegetables the leftovers of which I shared. A visit to the Bishops confectionary shop resulted in free sweets and a visit to a house on a hill containing rather posh Bishops one of whose sons subsequently became an AEU trade union organiser. During summer holidays a welcome from the three Hale Brothers, Bob, Bill and Sam (Frank) and roaming the Harefield countryside with their children, Billy, Robin and Arthur. Down to the Strollies, the canal and the one great indstrial feature of the area, the Mill where once my Mother had worked on munitions and Sam wife, Jane, currently worked. We taught young Arthur to smoke and his father Sam bet me I couldnt swim a quarter of a mile in the canal which with much splashing and spluttering and urged on by the gang, I did, although I had never before swum such a distance before. Frank (Sam) paid up like a good ˜un and we all revelled in the subsequent spoils of what was then a very large sum which he could ill afford. In later years Mother took to taking us for a week holiday in Brighton, an enjoyable event crowned by taking meals in a coffee shop a new experience since all previous meals had been either at home or within the family circle.
Less frequent were visits to Eastbourne, where Percy was the only illiterate member of all the families with which I was connected; also the fact that Sid and I were made a fuss of by Mabel and Eva, and Bert was the chief waiter at the Grand Hotel.
Thanks to the present John Hale (my cousin) there is the legacy of the family tree of the Hales and Bishops researched by him, and a marvellous photo of all ten members of the Moss family in the 1930s. Percy Moss and his wife Grace, children Dolly, Albert, Elsie, Alice, Mabel and Eva, with John on his mothers lap. The mother Ann I remember as a crippled lady from an accident with a horse which she was as adept at managing as was Percy who earned his living driving a splendid horse drawn carriage around Eastbourne.
John Hale also writes about the Hales of which his father Bob was one. Grace emigrated to Australia after the war which I knew, but John adds things I was not aware of; she emigrated to Adelaide in 1919 with a soldier from Harefield Hospital.
Further snippets from John are that his grandfather, John George was born in Brixton (which we know) but he was a scaffolder on an extension to Brixton prison (which we did not know.) John adds: ˜My father (Bob) told me that all the boys, Robert, George and Sid left home because of the lack of jobs, food and money and the aggression by their father. Their mum (Nelly) suffered for taking their part. A very sad home life.
I have only a few photographs. One of my father in uniform with my Mum taken probably soon after 1916 when they were married. Another of my Mother after she had been widowed sitting on a chair holding Sidney on her lap and me standing next to her both of us adorned in the frilly clothes that she favoured but greatly embarrassed us. A third of Clara sitting in the garden in Croxley Green occupies a permanent place in my study.
As I moved into adolescence there are my passions for Arsenal FC and ballroom dancing both covered in my Autobiography. But fascism was spreading throughout Europe and the world and I quickly became the political man which I have remained ever since.
Of the above ancestors, I have as I have said above most respect for the father I never knew and my Mother (nee Hale). My mother was the lynch pin in a large family letters to whom from her brothers invariably ended with ˜love and kisses. Sid was the first to note this commenting that it was perhaps because neither he or George was married or had a sweetheart. But it went further than that. Of the three Harefield building worker brothers Bob, Bill and Frank, the two former were frequent visitors to 32 Ingelow Road and it is likely that Bob met his wife Elsie Moss at our house. Their visits at first might have been to console Nellie on the loss of her husband, but they continued until they were both married in the late twenties or early thirties. We also had visits from the Mosses, Mabel who married the engineer on his way to making a fortune, was a frequent visitor. He played with us kids, but I generally found him rather rough. Alice, who was a bit of an outsider, used to visit us and on one occasion when she was discussing dress making with my mum I was permitted to linger in the room and see her in her slip, which rather excited me at an age when sexual feelings were stirring .
Eva, another sister did not come to us, but we went to see her in her exalted employment as a Nippy in a Lyons tea shop in central London.
The most important case of a Moss staying with us was John Moss the youngest child who stayed with us for a considerable period. This was undoubtedly because he was in trouble with the police in Eastbourne. I was always uneasy about John. Sid and I were a couple of London wide boys not beyond pilfering a little from local sweet shops, but John was in a different league of juvenile delinquency. He took us with him breaking into the local sawmills at night with its stacks of timber which he was not above setting light to. As mentioned above, John later found an outlet for his aggression by joining a parachute regiment and had, I understand, a distinguished career.
Nellie remained a treasure throughout her long life, always willing to help others, and never wanting to be a trouble to anyone even in her old age. In her fifty years of widowhood she never contemplated re-marriage telling me that she would never risk the violence to her two beloved boys which had occurred in her early family life.
As to my father, he was born in the Camberwell Workhouse. We now know that he was forced by poverty and unemployent to join the army. He served seven years in the army much of it abroad in South Africa as a Mounted Infantryman. His five years on the reserve was almost at an end when war broke out and he then spent the whole four years of World War 1 on active service in France. We know that he was not promoted and since he was neither foolish nor illiterate the only reason for this happening to such an experienced soldier could be that he refused promotion. Once demobbed he was a devoted trade unionist and I warm to his memory as perhaps a Subversive as I was to be in the Second World War.
From the childlessness of my brother Sid and my two sons this branch of the Barnsby family is inevitably drawing to a close. We believe that it has not been an undistinguished branch.
One Response to “The George Barnsby Family Tree”
April 18th, 2008 at 7:45 pm
I’m Jean and I am trying to trace my grandmother’s family. She was Daisy May Moss born 1893 to Ernest Horace Moss (1 of 7 brothers)s/o George Wm Moss originally from Whatton-on-the-Wold, Notts and Alice Mary Hole. Ernest was a fly driver as was his father and brothers? and they had 2 shops in Terminus Rd, a cafe and a book shop. Daisy had a brother who was drowned when his ship - The Pathfinder - was sunk with all hands in 1914 - the very first ship to be torpedoed!
I have managed to accumulate quite a lot of info on my Moss family and I know that Ernest had a brother called Percy.