Frank Alfred THOMAS (1857–1921)
His wife Christiana Harriett THOMAS, née Cole (1858–1930)
With an inscription to their son Reginald Anthony THOMAS, died in the First World War
St Michael section: Row 47, Grave F48
Loving Memory of
FRANK ALFRED THOMAS,
DIED OCT. 18, 1921, AGED 64.
REGINALD ANTHONY THOMAS,
THE QUEEN’S (R.W.S) REGT.
DIED FROM WOUNDS IN FLANDERS
NOV. 23, 1916. AGED 20.
CHRISTIANA HARRIETT THOMAS
DIED JULY 6, 1930, AGED 72.
LORD, I HAVE LOVED THE HABITATION OF THY HOUSE, / AND THE PLACE WHERE THINE HONOUR DWELLETH.
Frank Alfred Thomas was born in Syresham, Northamptonshire in 1857 (reg. second quarter), the son of James Thomas, a labourer, and Eliza Brown, a lacemaker, who were married in the Brackley district near the beginning of 1848. At the time of the 1861 census he was three years old and living at 6 Village Street, Rousham, Oxfordshire with his parents, who were also born in Syresham, and his older brothers Jonathan (9) and Nathaniel (6).
In 1871 at the age of 14 Frank was already living at the Rectory in Rousham, where he was a page-boy to the Rector, the Revd Charles Peel. By 1881, when he was 25, he was the butler to a much grander household, that of William and Louisa Melliar at North Aston Hall, Oxfordshire. He was to spend most of his life in service.
Christiana Harriett Cole was born in Chailey, Sussex in 1858 (reg. second quarter), the daughter of William Cole (born in Woodbridge, Suffolk in 1812/13) and his wife Ann (born in Malling, Sussex, in 1821/2). In 1861 Christiana (2) was living at the High House in Littleworth, Chailey with her father William (48), who was a farmer of 116 acres employing two men, her mother Ann (39), and her siblings William (14), Anthony (12), Walter (10), Emily (7), Sidney (5), Mary (4), and George (1).
Christiana’s father died in 1864 (reg. Lewes third quarter), and the family was split up. At the time of the 1871 census Mrs Ann Cole (49) was living at 2 Chiswick Place, Eastbourne, where she worked as a nurse in the home of the artist Robert Cooper, while Christiana (12), George (11), and Percy (6) were living with upholsterer Edwin Wheeler (30) and his family at 46 Langney Road, Eastbourne. Walter (20) was a mason lodging in Croydon and Sidney (15) was a groom working for the stockbroker Conrad Wilkinson and living at Shortlands Stables in Beckenham; but the other children are hard to locate.
In 1881 Christiana’s brother William (34) was a carpenter, living at 99 Tideswell Road, Eastbourne with his wife and five children, while his and Christiana’s mother Ann was living next door at No. 97 and working as a housekeeper, possibly to her son. Christiana (26) was living with her mother and working as a domestic servant; and also in the household were her sister Emily (27), who was described as an imbecile, and her brothers George (21), who was a bookseller’s clerk, and Percy (16), who was a carpenter.
In the second quarter of 1885 in Eastbourne, Sussex, Frank Alfred Thomas married Christiana Harriett Cole. Frank continued to work at the Hall in North Aston, Oxfordshire, and Christiana moved into the lodge with him. They had six children there:
- Elsie Ann Thomas (born in North Aston in 1889 and baptised there on 6 October)
- Daisy Isabel (born in North Aston in 1891 and baptised there on 29 June)
- Sybil Christiana (born in North Aston in 1893/4 and baptised there on 26 February 1893)
- Percy Frederick (born in North Aston in 1894 and baptised there on 25 November)
- Reginald Anthony (born in North Aston in 1896 and baptised there on 3 May)
- Louisa Elizabeth Thomas (born in North Aston in 1897 and baptised there on 5 December).
At the time of the 1891 census Frank spent census night at The Lodge, Church End, North Aston with his wife Christiana and their first daughter Elsie (1), and Christiana’s sister Emily (37), now described as an “imbecile from childhood”.
At the time of the 1901 census Frank Thomas was still the butler of the Melliar family at North Aston Hall, and he spent census night at the Hall while his wife was at home with their six children.
By 1911 Frank (53) and Christiana (52) had moved to Oxford, and were running a boarding house at 4 King Edward Street: on census night they had only two boarders. Their sons Percy (16) and Reginald (15) were still living at home and both worked as junior clerks, the former to a builder and the later to a bookseller; but the four girls were all lodging nearby at 23 Pembroke Street with Thomas David Thomas (42), a general dealer born in St Aldate’s and probably a relation, and his family: Elsie (21) was an uncertified teacher; Daisy (19) was doing domestic work; Sybil (18) was a milliner’s apprentice; and Louisa (13) was still at school.
By 1915 Frank Thomas was running a university lodging house at 19 St Michael’s Street, Oxford.
His daughter Sybil was married near the beginning of 1916:
- On 1 January 1916 at St Mary Magdalen Church, Oxford, Sybil Christiana Thomas (23), who was living at 1 Gloucester Place, married Leslie John William Soanes (25), a Second Lieutenant in the 14th Worcester Regiment based at Norton, Worcestershire and the son of the clerk John Charles Soanes.
Reginald Anthony Thomas (1896–1916)
Their son Reginald Anthony Thomas served in the First World War as a Private in the 22nd Battalion of the Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment (Service No. 4714) and then in the 47th Division of the 1st/22nd Battalion London Regiment (Service No. 6412). He must then have transferred to The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment (as shown on his parents’ grave and the St Mary Magdalen memorial below). He died in Belgium at the age of 20 on 23 November 1916. CWGC page
He is buried in the Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (Grave ref. X.C.12). A photograph of his grave can be seen on that cemetery’s page about him.
He is remembered on the St Michael’s Church Roll of Honour (left), and in the inscription below, which his mother must have added to his father’s grave.
He is also on the war memorial in St Mary Magdalen Church (below), but his connection with that parish has not been established:
Frank and his wife were still running the boarding house at 19 St Michael’s Street (right) when Frank died hospital in 1921:
† Frank Alfred Thomas died at the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 64 on 18 October 1921 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 21 October (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).
His effects came to £445 10s. 1d.
Christiana continued to run the boarding house on her own. Two of her daughters were married in the early 1920s:
- On 18 April 1922 at St Michael’s Church, Oxford, Elsie Ann Thomas (32) married Herbert Spencer (43), a bookseller of 4 Luther Terrace.
- On 15 May 1926 at St Michael's Church, Oxford, Louisa Elizabeth Thomas (28), described as a schoolmistress of 19 St Michael's Street, married the solicitor Albert Victor Franklin, who lived with his parents at Headington House.
Mrs Christiana Thomas died in 1930:
† Mrs Christiana Harriett Thomas, née Cole died at 19 St Michael’s Street at the age of 72 on 6 July 1930 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on the same day (according to the burial register of St Michael’s Church, but one of these dates must be wrong).
Her effects came to £445 10s. 1d.
Miss Daisy Isabel Thomas, the daughter of Frank and Christiana, continued to run the boarding house at 19 St Michael’s Street until 1954.