Noted events in her life were:
Born in Reading at Tudor Lodge, Phyllis grew up on a diet plentiful in meat, dairy produce and vegetables - benefiting from the occupations of her grandmother as shopkeeper, her uncle Walter as garden nursery owner and her father as a commercial traveller for a grocery company.
Phyllis attended nearby Battle school with class sizes of over forty pupils and where lessons focused primarily on the three ‘R’s. All the children were seated in rows of benched desks facing the teacher who conducted lessons from the ‘blackboard’. Learning was by rote, and children were disciplined with ‘three strikes of the ruler’. After school, Beryl and her friends used to play in nearby Prospect Park, originally part of the Calcot Park Estate, and so named due to its spectacular views over Reading. The Park was purchased by Reading Corporation over a decade before Phyllis’ birth to provide a recreation area for the residents of West Reading.
Phyllis & Tom Thompson c1955
Letter from Malta
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Ancestors of Phyllis Beryl Thompson
Phyllis Beryl Thompson, daughter of Robert Charles Griffin and Ethel Mary Martin was born on 5 June, 1915 in Reading, Berkshire and died in February 1993 in Burghfield, Berkshire.
Phyllis married Thomas Henry Thompson on her birthday in 1941 in Reading, Berkshire. Thomas was born on in 5 July 1913 and died in November, 1993 in Burghfield, Berkshire. There were no children from the marriage.
After leaving school, Phyllis worked as a clerk for Suttons Seeds and became a ‘land girl’ for them during the Second World War.
Founded in Reading in 1806 by John Sutton (1777-1863), Suttons Seeds originally traded as a corn merchants known as the ‘House of Sutton’. In 1832, John was joined by his sons, Martin and Alfred, and Suttons rapidly expanded into the flower and vegetable seed trade. It relocated to the Market Place, where Phyllis was to eventually work, and also acquired nursery grounds along with a greenhouse on the Queens Road in the centre of Reading. By the late 1830s the company was selling greenhouse plants, bulbs and seeds. The company soon became one of Reading town's major employers along with Courage Brewery and Huntley & Palmers Biscuit Factory. As a result, Reading became known as the town of the three 'Bs'.
After the war, she went to work as office manager for Harry Markham at ‘Markham's Motors’, a coach and car repairs business in Reading. In the 1960s, she went into business with the owner of the company, opening ‘Marparts’ car accessory shop on the site of ’Markham’s Motors’ in Caversham Road. Phyllis managed the shop until she retired in the 1970s.
In her early 20s, she met and fell in love with Peter, a pilot. A relationship that, sadly, was not due to last as Peter was killed in action during World War II. The War Years were particularly hard for young adults.
Relationships were considerably affected with young men called up to serve in the Army, Air Force or Navy. Like Phyllis, many young women lost their fiancés or husbands and many widows never remarried. Phyllis, however, was to find happiness again when she met and married Tommy, a soldier who fought in Africa and who was to survive the war. Phyllis and Tommy lived initially in Castle Crescent in Reading before moving to Western Elms Avenue and subsequently to a bungalow in Mansfield Road near the centre of town. After they retired they enjoyed many day trips, weekends away and holidays, in particular to Brighton and Bournemouth - two of their favourite seaside towns. In 1993, after over fifty years together, they died within just a few months of each other in a nursing home in Burghfield, Berkshire.
Information such as actual dates of births, marriages and deaths can be obtained from birth, marriage and death certificates. Before ordering your book or research report, it is important to check to see if you or family members have any certificates that can provide additional supporting information. Where these are not available they can be ordered and provided with the book.
It is also important to talk to all family members - in particular, the eldest who will be able to share their memories with you including memories of older and younger generations. Memories help to make the book 'special' providing a personal touch.
We aim to locate and provide interesting facts about ancestors' home towns or villages as well as workplaces, if available.
Check to see if family members have any photos of places where ancestors lived or worked. Where this is not the case, we can often obtain old photos of towns and villages, and sometimes workplaces to include in the book. For further information about old photos, prints and watercolour paintings of places where ancestors lived see our Historic Photos and Maps page.
In amongst family papers, there may be old letters that provide evidence of a relationship between an ancestor and somone who died in the war or an official notification that an ancestor was killed in action. This can be verified by checking war records. In many cases, the war grave or monument of the person killed in action can be located.
Beryl worked for a coach repairs company
Ancestors of Phyllis Beryl Thompson
(Phyllis Griffin, Robert Griffin)
Robert (Bob) Charles Griffin, son of Robert Henry Griffin and Matilda Bull, was born on 19 July, 1887 in East Hagbourne, Berkshire and died in Reading in 1976 at age 89.
Place of Birth: East Hagbourne - named after the Saxon chief Hacca who settled in the area by a stream which became known as - Hacceburna. The village was known only as Hagbourne until a fire in 1659 destroyed many cottages dividing the village into two - East and West Hagbourne.
As Bob’s father died when he was just three months old, he spent most of his childhood living with his grandparents in East Hagbourne & at Tudor Lodge in Reading. In the 1891 census, he is shown as Robert C.P. Griffin, aged 3, living with Joseph and Elizabeth Bull, grandparents, in East Hagbourne.
War Service 1914-1918 : After joining the army, Bob was sent to Malta as a ‘gunner’ to help defend the ships that were based there as well as those that carried wounded from Gallipoli and Salonika to the island. Malta was not at the ‘front’ of the war but served both as a naval base and a military hospital giving rise at that time to its name of the ‘Nurse of the Mediterranean’.
That he was very close to his family was evident from the number of letters and cards that he sent from Malta. His letters, eagerly awaited by his new bride, Ethel, his mother and grandparents, told of repeated attacks on ships entering and leaving Malta harbour.
In this letter to his grandparents, Henry and Elizabeth Grffin, where he wished them a Happy Christmas, he also wrote of the constant noise of the gun batteries and seeing men being rescued from the sea off Malta after their ships were sunk by German submarines. His letter was sent just a few months before his brother-in-law, James Martin, an infantryman, was killed in action in France.
Bob in his company car (M.Venner & Sons. Ltd.)
Before and after World War I, Bob worked as a commercial traveller for M. Venner and Sons, Ltd, Bacon & Ham Curers, Wholesale Butter, Egg and Provision Merchants of Southampton Street, a family run company started by William Venner in 1856 and later run by his wife, Martha and her sons. The 1891 census shows Martha Venner, 52, of Southampton Street, Reading, and sons William, 31, and Richard, 25, as wholesale provision merchants.
Bob later worked as a commercial traveller for the Danish Bacon Company, established near London Bridge in the early 1900s.
Bob married Ethel Martin in 1915 in Reading.
The child of this marriage was Phyllis Beryl Griffin. Bob next married Lucy Annetta Stone on 17 June, 1966 in Reading. Neta was born in 1906 in Truro, Cornwall, the daughter of Joseph Stone.
It was common for children in Victorian times to be living with grandparents, particularly where one or both parents had died or both parents needed to work. If names of grandparents are not known, it can sometimes be difficult to locate ancestors. We are usually able to find children living with grandparents.
Look for letters amongst family papers sent by people serving in the war. This can provide valuable information about their experiences both at home and abroad depending on where they were stationed. If you know of ancestors who served in the armed forces but are unsure of where they were based, records of service can provide useful information about when and where an ancestor served and what role he or she played, for example, a pilot, a gunner or an infantryman.
You may also find evidence of where an ancestor worked. Look for old leaflets, order forms, etc, with a company name. Old photographs can also provide evidence, e.g. company vehicles or outings.
Ancestors of Phyllis Beryl Thompson
(Phyllis Griffin, Robert Griffin, Robert Griffin)
Robert Henry Griffin, son of Henry Robert Griffin and Elizabeth Waller, was born 2nd qrtr 1863 in Paddington, London and died on 5 November 1887 at the New Inn, Blewbury, Berkshire at age 24.
Between 1864 and 1871, Robert was sent to live with his aunt Mary who was married to Malachi Grace, Innkeeper of the New Inn at Blewbury, Berkshire. The New Inn was originally the King William Public House and Brewhouse, built with a coach house and stables in the early nineteenth century by Thomas Britt, a carpenter. Before Malachi took over, the Inn had developed something of a reputation with allegations of lodgers being killed for their money and buried in the Orchard behind the pub.
Occupation: As he grew up, Robert helped his aunt and uncle with the running of the New Inn and their carrier business - which he continued to operate after Malachi’s death in 1884 until his own death from tuberculosis in 1887. In the 1881 census, Robert’s occupation is shown as carrier and assistant innkeeper.
Malachi Grace was considered something of a ‘character’ by the locals of Blewbury. One story, recorded in Blewbury Family History Society archives, has him being found asleep and somewhat inebriated in his cart by farmhands who then hid his horse to play a joke on him. On awakening, he is reported to have said “Be my name Malachi Grace? Because if it be, I’ve lost a horse. If it b’aint, I’ve gained a cart’.
During the course of his work, Robert would have delivered goods and passengers to nearby Didcot Railway Station and the Great Western Junction Hotel. where his future wife, Matilda, worked as a housemaid.
Robert married Matilda Bull, 2nd qrtr 1887, in Marylebone, London. The child from this marriage was Robert Charles Griffin.
(Phyllis Griffin, Robert Griffin, Matilda Bull)
Matilda Bull daughter of Joseph Benjamin Bull and Elizabeth Bosley was born 4th qrtr 1865 in North Moreton, Berkshire and died in 1917 in Reading.
In the 1881 census, Matilda was shown working as a housemaid at the Great Western Junction Hotel in Didcot. By 1891, she was widowed, working as a dressmaker and living with her deceased husband’s aunt Mary, also widowed, at the New Inn, Blewbury. Also staying at the New Inn was Mary’s bother, Charles Griffin, a superintendent of an orphanage and the uncle of Matilda's deceased husband, Robert. In 1900, Matilda had an illegitimate son, Arthur Reginald Griffin but never remarried. Family and photographic evidence suggests that Charles was the father of Arthur.
Robert Henry Griffin c1887
The New Inn, Blewbury
Information can come from unexpected quarters! Local family history societies and jourbnals can provide a wealth of valuable information that may not be located elsewhere.
Census records can provide information about an ancestor's various occupations.
Matilda Griffin c1897
Arthur Griffin c1903
Ancestors of Phyllis Beryl Thompson
(Phyllis Griffin, Ethel Martin, Caroline Jacob, James Jacob)
James Jacob, son of Charles Jacob and Sarah Monger was born in 1821 in Baughurst, Hampshire, died in October 1900 and was buried at St Mary’s Church in Aldermaston on 22 October, 1900, aged 79 years.
James originally worked as an Osier labourer in Baughurst before moving to the village of Woolhampton where he was also employed as an osier labourer. In the 1870s, he moved to nearby Aldermaston in the Kennet Valley where he became an Osier Grower renting 27 acres of land, employing six men and five women.
Osier farmers were involved in the growing of willow reeds or rods (osiers) that were used in basket making. Baskets in the 1800s, as they had been for centuries, were an important means of carrying goods to and from shops and markets, laundry for washing, and for storing produce such as fruits and vegetables, and logs.
Special skills were needed to grow quality rods. Growers needed to know what kinds of rods were best and what qualities they should possess in order to avoid ‘weak’ rods. Osiers needed to be planted neither too thinly nor too densely, nor in too swampy a ground, and needed to be cut correctly to produce the best regrowth . Beds had to be well tended and kept free of weeds as lack of care would lead to deterioration of the willows and loss of pliancy and suppleness of the rods - becoming too rough for use. Rods were cut in the early Spring, carefully graded, sorted into bundles and stacked for at least one to two years to improve their seasoning. Where business was good, a basket maker could use as many as 8000 bundles a year. Massingham (1939) writes “Well tended, my master-man said to me, and in the hands of the man who has the best interest in the product, an osier bed will always and in whatever circumstances of foreign competition, pay for itself”. In the 1800s, osiers produced by the Kennet Valley were considered to be among the best in southern England.
Source : Country Relics by H. J Massingham, pub 1939.
James first married Caroline Amelia Short, daughter of James Short and Jane Shepherd, in the 3rd qrtr of 1846 in Wokingham district, Berkshire.
Children of this marriage, who were all born/christened in Baughurst, were:-
1. Alice Rhoda Jacob was baptised on 23 April 1848. Alice married Thomas Powell, 1st qrtr
1876, in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
ii. Clara Matilda Jacob was baptised on 3 March 1850
iii. Caroline Jacob was baptised on 11 Jan 1852.
iv. Mary Jane Jacob was baptised on 4 Sep 1853
v. Harriet Eliza Jacob was baptised on 4 Nov 1855
vi. Alfred Frank Jacob was born c 1858. Alfred married Ellen Box in 1887 in Reading.
vii. Arthur George Jacob was born 3rd qrtr 1859. Arthur married Mary Hyatt in 1890 in Reading.
viii. Sidney Charles Jacob was born 2nd qrtr 1861. Sidney married Alethea King in 1893,
in Samford district, Suffolk.
ix. Walter James Jacob was born c 1864 and died in 1891 in Aldermaston, Berkshire
x. Frederick William Jacob was born c 1866. Frederick married Ellen Stroud, daughter of James Stroud, in 1889 in Aldermaston.
Seeking out information about ancestors' occupations can provide an interesting background to how they lived and worked.
Census records can provide information about an ancestor's siblings. This can lead to discovery of relatives throughout the UK and sometimes, abroad.
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