Thomas COLE (1849–1889)
His wife Emma Hall COLE née Price (1849–1925)
His daughter Frances Winifred COLE (1887–1893)
St Paul [St Barnabas] section

Grave not yet located (may not have headstone)

Thomas Cole was born at Brentford, Middlesex near the beginning of 1849, the son of Henry Cole (born in Brentford in 1817/18) and Caroline Hughes (born in Brentford in 1813/14). At the time of the 1851 census, when he was just two years old, Thomas was living at New Brentford with his parents and older siblings Henry (11), Martha (8), and Catherine (4), and his widowed grandmother Margaret Hughes (54), who worked as a charwoman, and his uncle Richard Hughes (30), who was a labourer. Thomas’s father, who was also a labourer, died between 1856 and 1860, and at the time of the 1861 census Thomas (11) was living at Catherine Wheel Yard, High Street, New Brentford with his grandmother, his mother (who was now working as a charwoman herself), and his brother Henry (22), who was a waterman.

Emma Hall Price was born at Brentford near the end of 1849, the illegitimate daughter of Emma Price: her middle name Hall is likely to be the surname of her father. At the time of the 1851 census she was one year old and living at Bull Lane, Ealing, Old Brentford with her mother Emma (21), who was a laundress, and her grandmother Mrs Elizabeth Price (57), a charwoman. Emma Price had a second illegitimate child, Mary Ann, near the end of 1854, and in the first quarter of 1858 married William Weblin. At the time of the 1861 census Emma Hall Price (11) was living at 1 Sussex Place, Back Lane, Ealing, Old Brentford with her mother, Mrs Hannah Weblin (29), who was now a charwoman, her sister Mary Ann Price (6), her half-brother George Weblin (1), and her stepfather William Weblin (27), who was a miller.

In the third quarter of 1871 at Brentford, Thomas Cole married Emma Hall Price and they had the following children:

  • Emma Cole (born in Wolverhampton in 1873/4)
  • Edith Cole (born in Oxford on 13 January 1876 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 27 March)
  • William George Cole (born in Oxford on 22 September 1877 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 18 November)
  • Jessie Cole (born in Oxford in 1879, reg. last quarter, but not baptised at St Peter-le-Bailey Church until 12 February 2882, at the same time as her next brother)
  • Charles Cole (born at 57 Cranham Street, Oxford in 1881/2 and baptised at St Peter-le-Bailey Church on 12 February 1882)
  • Albert Cole (born in Oxford on 12 February 1885 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 19 November)
  • Frances Winifred Cole (born in Oxford on 25 April 1887 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 25 April)
  • Nellie Florence Cole (born in Oxford on 23 March 1889 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 9 June).

Thomas and Emma Price evidently started out their married life in Wolverhampton, but by the beginning of 1876 they had moved to the Jericho area of Oxford.

At the time of the 1881 census Thomas (32) was a GWR railway guard, living at 37 Cranham Street with his wife and their first four children. There was also another married couple lodging with them.

Thomas Cole’s was killed in an accident at work (just three weeks after the birth of his youngest child on 23 March 1889):

† Thomas Cole died at Wheatley railway station at the age of 40 on 12 April 1889 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 19 April, which was Good Friday and chosen so that his fellow-workers could be present (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas’s Church).

An inquest was held the day after his death and reported in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 20 April 1889:

A G.W.R. GUARD KILLED AT WHEATLEY. — An inquest was held by Mr. W. W. Robinson, at the Railway Hotel, Wheatley, on Saturday last, on the body of Thomas Coles [sic], aged 40, of Cranham-street, Oxford, a goods guard on the Great Western Railway. The deceased was in charge of a goods train which reached Wheatley about half-past nine on Friday night. He was engaged in coupling a goods truck to the train, and from some cause it is believed that he slipped when on the rails, and was struck by the buffer of the truck. No one saw how the accident occurred. The deceased was found on the rails, and his right thigh was injured and also his left breast. He never spoke and died in a few minutes.

From the evidence given at the inquest by John Giles, porter at Wheatley station David Birkett, under-guard of the grain, and Henry Rosier, the driver, it appeared that the train, which arrived at Wheatley at 9.35, was a mixed one, a carriage for the convenience of passengers being attached to the goods waggons. At Wheatley station a truck of furniture had to be picked up, an the engine having been shunted into the goods shed to fetch it, the deceased, ostensibly for the purpose of hooking the waggons together, went between them. The underguard a moment or two after went near the spot where deceased was, and found him lying across the line, the wheels of the truck joined to the engine being close to his body. He gave the alarm, and the driver at once moved on the engine, and then came and assisted to pick up deceased. Coles was then alive, but did not speak. He was perfectly helpless and could not stand. Giles, in the meantime, had come up, and he ran for a doctor, and although only about five minutes elapsed before the medical gentleman arrived, Coles had died. With the exception of a bruise on his thigh, there was no external signs of injury, but on examination it was found that the ribs on the left side were completely smashed. There was no evidence to show whether deceased was knocked down or fell down on the line, but from the circumstances it is supposed he was caught between the buffers of the waggons, which broke his ribs and caused other internal injuries, and that he afterwards fell. The body was removed to the office adjoining the goods shed, from whence it was removed to Oxford on Saturday evening.

The Jury returned a verdict of “Accidentally killed,” and they handed over their fees for the benefit of the widow of deceased and her nine children, the last of whom was born less than a month since. Efforts are being made by his fellow parishioners, of St. Barnabas, to rise a fund to help the widow in her dire distress. Subscription lists are in the hands of Messrs. J. Bennett, R. Aldridge, J. Foster, C. R. F. Dyer, H. Hamilton, C. W. Payne, F. Thomas, G. Haynes, J. W. Hopkins, C. Palmer, and of the Secretary to the Committee, Mr. George Alder, 50, Cranham-street.

The following report on Thomas Cole’s funeral appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 27 April 1889:

THE LATE FATAL ACCIDENT TO A G.W.R. GUARD. —The funeral of the goods guard, Thomas Cole, who was killed, as reported last week, at Wheatley Station on the previous Friday night, while engaged in his duties, took place on Good Friday evening, in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Walton-street, that day having been appointed in order to allow of the deceased’s fellow-servants being present. The deceased left a widow and nine young children, and the sad circumstances connected with the case caused a large number of persons to attend. The coffin was borne from the house in Cranham-street by four goods guards, the mourners including the widow and children following on foot. About 40 of the staff connected with the Oxford Station, headed by the Stationmaster (Mr. Davis), also walked in procession.

On the arrival of the cortège at the appointed time at the Cemetery, the officiating clergyman, the Rev. A. Coates, Curate of St. Barnabas, was not present, and in the delay which ensued at the Lodge gates the widow, who was in delicate health an naturally much distressed, had to be accommodated with a seat. After the lapse of ten minutes, the clerk went in search of the absent cleric, and in the course of some few minutes he returned with him, the service having been delayed a quarter of an hour. While the service was being read in the Chapel the railway men formed a cordon around the grave, in order to keep the large crowd back, and when the service was concluded there it was found necessary to again provide a chair for the widow, who eventually was taken to her home in a fly. At the conclusion of the ceremony some of the bystanders gave utterance to their feelings at the delay of the clergyman in very strong terms.

Among the wreaths was a beautiful one which was given by the deceased’s brother guards and others employed on the railway. —Mrs. Cole’s Fund.—The Committee have great pleasure in stating that through the generosity of Mrs. Cole’s fellow parishioners and the kind and sympathetic friends who have given so freely, they have now received upwards of 30l. The lists are still in the hands of the Committee and friends, and will be open till the 31st inst.

Mrs Emma Cole remained at 37 Cranham Street, and two years later at time of the 1891 census was running a shop there. Four of her children were still at home with her: William (13), who was a telegraph messenger; Albert (6) and Frances (3), who were at school; and Nellie (2), and she also had a boarder. It was evident that she was unable to support all of her children on her own, as Jessie (11) and Charles (9) were then inmates at the Railway Servants Orphanage in Derby. Two of her daughters had already moved out to go into service elsewhere in Oxford: Emma (17) was the servant of a grocer’s family at 2 Radcliffe Square, and Edith (15) with commercial traveller’s family at 115 Bullingdon Road.

Frances, the daughter of Thomas and Emma Cole, died in 1893:

† Frances Winifred Cole died at 37 Cranham Street at the age of six near in December 1893 and was buried (almost certainly with her father at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery) on 7 December (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas Church).

By the time of the 1901 census Mrs Emma Cole had moved to 4 Canal Street, and again four of her children were living with her, this time William (23), who was a town postman; Charles (19), who was a corn merchant’s clerk; Albert (16), who was a telegraph messenger for the GWR; and Nellie (12).

In 1911, when she was 61, Mrs Cole was living at 4 Canal Street with Charles (29), who was now a forage contractor’s clerk, and Nellie (22), a dressmaker.

Mrs Cole was still at 4 Canal Street in 1915, but had moved to Grimsbury, possibly to live with her married daughter Edith, who had settled in the Banbury area, by the time of her death in 1925:

† Mrs Emma Hall Cole née Price died at Grimsbury at the age of 75 in June 1925 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery (almost certainly with her husband and young daughter) on 17 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Barnabas’s Church).

Some of the children of Thomas and Emma Cole
  • Edith Cole (born 1876) was a cook for a family living at Tay Wood House, Stanton Harcourt in 1901. On 1 April 1907 at Cowley St John Church Edith (30) married the grocer George Barber (25), the son of the carman William Barber: both were then living at 76 Howard Street. At the time of the 1911 census they were living at 44 Bridge Street, Banbury with their daughter Edith May Barber (2). George was a shop assistant.
  • William George Cole (born 1877) married Kate Burford Bolton at St Barnabas’s Church on 1 June 1905. At the time of the 1911 census he was still a Post Office letter carrier, living at 88 Marlborough Road with his wife and two children: Leslie Thomas Edward Cole (born 1908) and Gwendolene Frances Cole (born 1910). A third child, Kenneth A. Cole, was born in 1916.
  • Jessie Cole (born 1879) married Reuben William Clarke, a railway-carriage examiner, at St Barnabas’s Church on 25 September 1906. At the time of the 1911 census they were both aged 31 and living at 70 Marlborough Road.



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