On our maternal grandmother's side we can trace the Fletchers and the Kirbys back to the middle of the nineteenth century mainly from memories of Phyllis Eley. She recounts memories of a Fletcher who took part in the charge of the light brigade on 25th October 1854. There is a record of a Private Thomas Fletcher of the 4th Light Dragoons regimental number 1271 who fought in the Crimea. Another Fletcher known only as R Fletcher Jnr predates these as his name is seen engraved on the back of a watch made in Nottingham by Wainwright's in 1748.
On the other side of the family there was a Kirby who was vicar of Wrexham, back around the 1850s although as of yet no evidence has been found to support the existence for either of these two characters.
The Fletcher who was supposedly in the charge of the light brigade had a son who was known to be a Major in the Indian Army. There is a Major Thomas Fletcher, born in West Hallum who married Frances. They returned to India maybe after the charge of the Light Brigade. It was therefore in Poona, India we find that they had 3 children; Sarah Ann born 1858, John born 1862 and Samuel Hunt Fletcher born on 28th October 1865.
Samuel Hunt Fletcher
The Hunt part of his name is of unknown origins but perhaps it could be on his mother's side. Samuel's mother is said to have died in childbirth but as yet it is unknown when. In 1877, at the age of 12 his father brought him back to England, either because of the outbreak of the 2nd Afghan war or to further his son's education with the hope of setting him up with a profession. In those days it would have been a long slow sea journey around Cape Town in South Africa and up the Atlantic coast of Africa back to England. His father then went back to India and, so the story goes, his son grew up and never saw him again. Whether he was killed in India or just did not have time from his military duties to see his family any more we do not know.
As Samuel grew up we find him in the 1881 census at the age of 16 living as a lodger at 8 Granby Street in Ilkeston, Derby with a Grocer family headed by Stephen and Mary Keeling.
Ilkeston dates back to the 9th century when it was an Anglo Saxon settlement called Tichestune. It gained an entry in the Doomsday Book and by 1252 it gained a charter enabling it to hold a weekly market and annual fair like the nearby Nottingham Goose market fair. In Tudor times it came under the court of the Lord of the manor. It struggled for its independence from local taxes levied by the church or Dukes. During the eighteen century it gained a reputation along with Nottingham for the lace trade and by 1850, just before Samuel arrived, it laid claim to five hosiery and six lace factories. The Industrial Revolution which was by then transforming Wolverhampton and the lives of the Evans and Birch families, saw the development of the Erewash and Nutbrook canals linking it with the river Trent. The population standing at 2500 at the start of the century rose rapidly to 19000 by 1891 befitting this very forward looking town. It would have been an ideal place for Samuel to learn his trade.
Samuel was classed as a general servant but appears to have started his trade as a trainee butcher together with some of Stephen's other children. Samuel was known to be a shrewd businessman and it is told that he went on to buy a business for himself and set up in the grocery trade. He became the owner of a general grocery store called the Beehive in Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. A fastidious man in his business he was famed for the immaculate way in which he laid out his store. One year he won a prize for the best dressed window of a shop and was awarded a fine pocket watch. It was here in Hucknall that he met and married Eliza Turfitt.
Searching the databanks at the Family Records Centre in London revealed a marriage certificate between Samuel Hunt Fletcher and Eliza Turfitt dated 1st December 1892. The marriage took place at a Registry Office in Nottingham. The ages of the 2 parties were recorded as 28 for Samuel and 27 for Eliza. Samuel's age confirms the birth record on the 1881 census but now we have Eliza born in 1865 which would have made her 16 at the time of the 1881 census.
Samuel was by the time of his wedding living near Nottingham but his father was recorded as deceased hence a reason why no more was heard about him. His name on the marriage certificate was identified as Thomas Fletcher, an Army pensioner. Perhaps it might now be possible now to trace a Major Thomas Fletcher of the Indian army who died some time between 1877 and 1892. There may be a source of information if we follow a rather convoluted trail of logic which takes us back the days of the Jacobite rebellion and Bonnie Prince Charlie. In December 1745 Charles Edward Stewart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, with his 9000 strong Highland army had fought his way down to Derby a city of only 6000 people in those days. In the drawing room of Exeter House in Full Street his war council was planning a final push to conquer London and reclaim the throne of England. Acting on fallacious information however he believed he was surrounded by the Duke of Cumberland's army and decided against his better judgement to retreat. It led to the final fateful battle on the fields of Culloden on 16th April 1746. The reason for telling this side of the story and the Derby link was that at that time of the Jacobite uprising, a force known as Wynne's Dragoons were raised from Derby on 22nd July 1715 to fight Bonnie Prince Charles at Preston. Later, after serving in the war against France in 1793 and 1815, the 9th Dragoons as they were then known, fought in the Napoleonic wars and eventually when they were known as the 9th Lancers, they sailed for India in 1842. They saw active service there including the Indian Mutiny of 1857 to 1859. Since they were the only active British regiment in the 3 major Indian campaigns of the time, could this have been the regiment in which Samuel Hunt Fletcher's father and maybe even his grandfather served. It may also account for the Derby connection and the reason why Major Thomas Fletcher brought his son back to Hucknall near Derby. That happened in 1877 just a year before the 9th Lancers moved to Charasaih to fight in the Second Afghan war of 1878 to 1880. Was it here that Major Thomas Fletcher died? Today the 9th Lancers have been amalgamated with the 12th Lancers to form the Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales') whose Colonel in Chief, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
On 16th September 1898 we find Samuel and Eliza living at 8 Linby Lane in Nottinghamshire where their son, Douglas Turfitt-Fletcher was born.. Around the turn of the century the family emigrated to Winnipeg, Canada where his father continued in the grocery trade. They may have been attracted by posters around the country calling for families to start a new life in the exciting commonwealth countries like Canada and Australia.
A record is believed to exists of a permit granted to Douglas Fletcher allowing him to ride his bicycle through the streets of Winnipeg as a youngster. Douglas was to attend the John M King school in Winnipeg. Samuel's plan was to open shops, develop the business then sell up making a profit and move on. Their next step took them surprisingly from Canada down into America to settle in Shelby in the Mississippi basin where the Turfitt name is still known to exist. Douglas did not like the move. It may have been the climate change from the cold Canadian winters to the hot humid south of the USA or a loss of his friends. They moved back to Canada however for a short while. Eliza was home sick for England and would gaze up at moon thinking of it shining down on her family in England. They would return from time to time but about 1915 they finally returned to England around the time of the first world war. Their journey was on the Lusitania which on its return journey was torpedoed and sank.
Douglas' father Samuel arranged a written contract dated 4th July 1921 for him to work as an apprentice in the motor trade at the City Service Garage company at 238 Osmaston Road, Derby. An ordnance survey map of South Derby dated 1899 records the site of a fairly large building at 238 Osmaston Road on the corner of Alexandra Street and occupied by a Thomas Fletcher. Could this be a relative of Samuel Hunt Fletcher and his father Thomas Fletcher, perhaps related to his cousin who was known to own a lace making factory on the Nottingham Road, Derby?
Qualified and experienced in his trade, Douglas moved on from there to become an aircraft engineer for Rolls Royce. Rolls Royce was a new company to Derby, being established there around 1910 to build its aero engines and cars. The car plants were centred in Derby but the Flight Test Establishment was build out at Hucknall which is now the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust.
During the first world war he served as a private in the 8th Battalion machine gun corps where he saw active service until 1919. It was as a military man that he met his wife Phyllis, then living with her parents Louis and Margaret Eley in Derby. They married on 27th December 1919 in a registry office but since Douglas was still in the army his wife stayed on at her home at 20 York Street, Derby whilst Douglas went off to India and Egypt for two more years on military duty. He was finally discharged in 1921. It was during Douglas' period away that their first daughter Margaret Lillian was born so she lived and was brought up at the home of her Grandparents, Louis and Margaret Eley, in York Street. When Douglas returned they bought a small house in Hollis Street not far from his parents house on the London Road.
Near the junction of the London Road and the Osmaston road stands St Peters church. It is the oldest church in Derby dating back to the 11th century Norman times. It has seen several rebuilding programmes including a new tower, added just before the end of the nineteenth century. Next to the church stands the Old Grammar School which dates back to 1610. People like Reverend John Cotton of the Pilgrim Fathers, at the beginning of the nineteenth century and John Flamstead, first astronomer royal were educated there.
Derby covered only a small area. Out beyond St Peters the London Road and the Osmaston Road began to grow as the population soared from 11,000 in 1801 to over 100,000 in 1901. Areas like Castlefields and Osmaston Hall were lost to urban expansion as the area between these two roads and the Midland Region railway lines developed during the last part of the nineteenth century. It was George Stevenson who in 1835 set out to survey the 72 mile route for his railway from Derby to Leeds. He also proposed that Derby should form the Junction for the Birmingham to Leeds line. The Midland Region railway company made its base in Derby and became the largest and most powerful railway company in the country. It even incorporated the railway companies first Hotel, the Midland built just opposite the station. The Midland works grew to a great size within the city employing about ten percent of the local working population by the start of the twentieth century.
Castlefields became the site of the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary which was completed in 1896 with Queen Victoria laying the foundation stone in 1891. Advice on its design was given by Florence Nightingale. She is now remembered by a statue situated outside the Hospital on the London Road.
Housing varied from large premises to terraced rows interspersed with small industrial sites producing lace, china or lead products. Babington? The Osmaston Road was the original route out of Derby to the South crossing the Trent at Swarkstone but The London Road later became the main route crossing the Trent at Shardlow. Both were principle roads into the town and saw horse drawn trams in 1880 carrying people into the City. The first electric trams ran in 1907. Along the Osmaston Road the China works opened in the eighteenth century and in 1838 the Derby Crown Porcelain company was established on the site of the old union workhouse. It was later to gain international fame through the production of Royal Crown Derby.
Just to the South of the Osmaston Road lies the Arboretum, possibly the earliest park in the country. It was donated to the people of Derby in 1840 by the first Mayor, Joseph Strutt a relative of Jedediah Strutt whose work in creating the Derby Rib helped develop Derby's hosiery industry. Eleven acres of land were planted with many different kinds of trees and the area was landscaped by John Claudius Loundon. Both Loundon and Strutt are remembered through nearby street names.
By 1924 Kathleen Turfitt Fletcher had been born. She took the Turfitt family name for a middle name. Kath and Margaret grew up in Derby which was by now a well established city. Perhaps they would often take the tram with their parents along the London Road into Derby centre.
197 Queens Rd Manchester Derby
As they grew up the war changed their lives as it did so many other peoples. Soon they joined the war effort and helped on the home front.
Kath & Margaret hiking near in Derbyshire
Margaret and Kathleen would often go down to the Jubilee Hall in Alveston for the twice nightly dancing, Wednesdays and Saturdays. It was one night in October, 1940 when Margaret and Kathleen with their friends Betty and Joan Collie had spent a particularly boring evening. They were thinking about leaving early and were waiting for Kathleen to return to her seat. Margaret spotted a young soldier from the nearby barracks, on the dance floor with a lady. She decided then that perhaps the evening might be looking up. Catching his eye, the gent came over and asked for a dance. It was Ted Collier.
Thinking little more of the event, Margaret and Kathleen found themselves a few days later in the Derby playhouse watching a variety show starring Tessy O'Shea. Looking up into the circle, Kathleen spotted a familiar face and drew Margaret's attention to the gent she had danced with a few night before. As fate would have it, he had chosen to go and see the same variety show that night with his army friend Dougy Newbold. They met again and the relationship developed. Ted would go round to visit Margaret at her home where Phyllis would make him tea. Good home cooking would have been a welcome delight after life in the barracks. Their friendship grew and in Christmas week, 1940 they got engaged. The war intervened as it did in the lives of so many and Ted had to move out. Through regular correspondence they kept in touch.
Margaret joined the WAAFs and found herself busy plotting aircraft movements on a plotting table and relaying messages to pilots during the aerial dogfights over Britain. At the age of 22 she was an ACW2 but then by passing exams, progressed through ACW1 to ACW and earnt her props.
When the war ended in 1945 Ted returned from Italy and within the week they were married at the Church of St Michael and all Angels in Alveston. For a while they lived with his parents in Manchester then with Margaret's parents before setting up home in Chaddesden. It was here that their two children Robert and Janice were born but not long afterwards.
During the war whilst Ted was away, Margaret's sister Kathleen met Andrew Adamson, a young Scottish soldier. He was also away from home, billeted nearby with a friend of Phyllis. One Christmas when her friend was out, Andrew came round to Phyllis' for dinner and there the relationship between Kathleen and Andrew grew. They were to be married later.
Samuel Hunt Fletcher and his wife Eliza lived on at London Road until she died in 1940. On the death of his wife, Samuel invited Douglas and his wife Phyllis to join him at 994 London Road. Samuel was a hard man and soon he found a new wife known to the family only as Mrs College. She moved in with Samuel and Phyllis and her family moved out again. They rented a small house in nearby Haig street. When Samuel died in 1949 he left all his wealth to his new wife but the house at 994 London Road he left to Douglas. He and Phyllis moved back in but by then Kathleen too had married Andrew Adamson and the two daughters had set up homes of their own.
Janice Evans (nee Collier) remembers as a child coming back to Derby to stay with her Nana and Poppa. She was told that she was introduced to Samuel Hunt Fletcher when she was only three months old. Samuel remembered a very young Janice smiling at him on his death bed. Douglas himself finally died in 1969 registered then at a mobile home park in Meadow Lane, Alvaston. Phyllis then went to live with her second daughter, Kathleen and her husband Andrew Adamson. They ran a café together for a few years. Later Phyllis went to live with her first daughter Margaret and her husband, Edward (Ted) Collier now living in Lichfield. Phyllis passed away on 13th January 1990. Margaret died on 20 October 2004 and Kathleen too on 28 Feb 2007..