John UBINGER (1880–1917) [buried in Germany]
His son Eric Adrian Allington UBINGER (1906–1929)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 44, Grave N60

Ubinger grave


Loving Memory of
DIED MAY 9TH 1929.


DIED APRIL 25TH 1917 AGE 37.


This was a musical family: note the violin and bow leaning against the right-hand side of the gravestone, which is made of marble.

Johann (“John”) Ubinger is not buried here: he was interned in the First World War and sent back to Germany to die. Mrs Ubinger may have been worried about anti-German feeling as late as 1929, as the surname of her son and husband is omitted from the gravestone


Johann Ubinger (known in England as John), the father of Eric Ubinger who is buried here, was born in Hinzweiler, Bavaria on 10 July 1879 and was baptised as Johannes Ubinger at the Evangelische at Hinzweiler on 1 May 1879: he was the son of Johannes Ubinger and Louise Zimmerman. Johann, his father, and his brother were wandering musicians. He came to Oxford as a young man, and worked as a house painter.

His future wife Sarah Ann Hounslow, who was totally deaf as a result of scarlet fever when a child, was born in Oxford in on 7 September 1873 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 3 August 1874. She was the daughter of Henry Hounslow (born at Little Burstead, Essex on 14 February 1843) and Eliza Allington (born in Wroxton, Essex on 25 December 1838). They moved to Oxford when Sarah Ann’s father obtained work with the Great Western Railway, and he was a railway porter when Sarah Ann was baptised in 1874. By the time of the 1881 census Sarah's father was a stableman, living at 56 Wellington Street in Jericho with his wife and children Henry (12), Gertrude (10), and Sarah Ann (7). Ten years later in 1891 they had moved to 3 Wellington Street, and her father was described as a coachman (domestic servant). All three children were still at home and working for their living: Sarah Ann (17) and her sister Bessie (20) were dressmakers, and their brother Henry (22) was a groom.

On 2 October 1898 at St Peter-le-Bailey Church in Oxford, John Ubinger (19) married Sarah Hounslow (21): they were both living at 10 George Street Mews at the time of their marriage, and his name was recorded as John rather than Johann on his marriage certificate. Under British law at the time, Sarah would have become a German national following this marriage.

They began their married life at Radcliffe Row, also known as Rope Walk, which was to the west of the Woodstock Road in St Giles (beyond Cock's Row which started on the south side of the Oratory) and emerged between 119 and 120 Walton Street. By the time their first child was born in 1900, they had moved to 9 Union Street (now Hart Street) in Jericho.

The Ubingers in c.1911

The Ubingers had three children, all born at 9 Union (Hart) Street:

  • Terpsichore Dorcas Chin-Chan Ubinger (born on 13 March 1900 and registered with her surname misspelt as “Ubringer”, and baptised at St Paul's Church on 11 April). She was named after the Muse Terpsichore, the goddess of dance; her third name Chin-Chan came from a favourite Chinese doll of her mother's; and the middle name Dorcas was added because the Vicar insisted on an English name being included.
  • Oscar Adolphus McLeod Ubinger (born on 28 July 1902 and baptised at St Paul's Church on 21 September)
  • Eric Adrian Allington Ubinger (born on 23 April 1906 and and registered with his surname misspelt as “Ubringer”, and baptised at St Paul's Church on 27 May 1906).


Right: John and Sarah Ubinger in c.1911 with
Oscar, Terpsichore, and Eric: © Lynn Baxter

At the time of the 1901 census John Ubinger (21), described as a house painter and musician, was living at 9 Union (Hart) Street with his wife Sarah (27, but recorded as 23) and their first child Terpsichore (1).

They were at the same house in 1911, when Terpsichore (aged 11 and recorded as Chin-Chan), Oscar (8), and Eric (5) were all still at school. They were still listed there in Kelly’s Directory for 1915.

As soon as Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, German music was removed from concert programmes, and theatres and restaurants were encouraged to employ only British musicians. Thus John Ubinger’s career as a violinist came to an abrupt end; and he probably did not get much painting and decorating work that month either.

Horse made at Knockaloe

He must have opted to stay in Oxford, as a period of grace was extended to all Germans to leave Britain. By the end of August the procedure adopted was to intern all male enemy aliens of military age between 17 and 42. Ubinger was duly arrested and was taken to the Knockaloe camp on the Isle of Man: the Oxford Mail of 23 October 1914 reported on the “Arrest of Aliens in Oxford”, naming Ubinger.


Left: Toy horse made by internee at Knockaloe Camp
and sent by Ubinger to his children in Oxford:
© Lynn Baxter

By 1917 John Ubinger had contracted tuberculosis at the internment camp, and was sent back to his family in Hinzweiler. His descendants have heartfelt letters from John and his mother in their possession addressed to his wife Sarah Ann in Oxford.

John Ubinger died in Germany soon after his return:

† Johann Ubinger died at Hinzweiler, Rheinland-Pflaz, Germany at the age of 37 on 25 April 1917 and was buried there. His name was added later to his son’s grave in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery.

Mrs Ubinger and her children would have had a hard time in Oxford during the First World War, both financially and because of their surname: as a German national, Mrs Ubinger would have had to register with the police.

Eric Ubinger and his violin

Eric Adrian Allington Ubinger

Eric Ubinger

Eric died of tuberculosis in 1929:

Eric (left) became a compositor at Oxford University Press, and also worked as a projectionist at the cinema in Magdalen Street. He was well known in Oxford for playing the violin.

By 1928 he had moved with his mother Sarah Ann Ubinger to 57 Wellington Street, also in Jericho.



Right: Eric Ubinger playing his violin: © Lynn Baxter

† Eric Adrian Allington Ubinger died at 57 Wellington Street, Jericho at the age of 23 on 9 May 1929 and was buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 14 May (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

It is unclear why he is buried in the St Mary Magdalen section of the cemetery, as people who lived in Jericho were normally buried in the St Paul's section.

John Ubinger’s widow

Mrs Sarah Ann Ubinger, née Hounslow was still at 57 Wellington Street in 1936. She had moved to 132 Rose Hill in east Oxford by 1945, and remained there until her death at the age of 92 in 1965.

John and Sarah Ann Ubinger’s other children

Terpsichore Dorcas Chin-Chan Ubinger (born 1900) married James Victor Rumble in the Headington registration district in the fourth quarter of 1922 and their daughter Audrey Josephine Mary Rumble was born in Oxford (Headington district) on 8 December 1923. They were living at 56 Wellington Street in Jericho by 1928, and were still there in 1936. They were at 1 Devereux Place, Rose Hill, from about 1949 to 1968. Mrs Terpsichore Dorcas Chin-Chan Rumble died in 1973 in the Wells registration district of Somerset.

Oscar Adolphus McLeod Ubinger (born 1902) married Beatrice May Mercer in the Brentford registration district in the third quarter of 1928. He died at the age of 60 in 1962/3 (death registered in the Willesden area in the first quarter of 1963).



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