Thomas George Henry Newbury

Thomas Newbury was my first cousin four times removed.  We are both descended from Sarah Gill and Charles Bester who were my 4th Great Grandparents, and Thomas’ Grandparents. I am descended from their third child, Annie, while Thomas is descended from their 6th child, Caroline.

22-year old Caroline Bester married 28-year old widower George Newbury in Edmonton, Middlesex in 1887.  George had lost his wife the previous year, and had two sons, ages 6 and 8.  Five additional children were added to this family between 1888 and 1899, the youngest of which was Thomas.  George Newbury died in 1904 leaving Caroline with five children still in her care from ages 5 to 17.  Her two stepsons were by this time independent.  After four years on her own with the children and seeing her eldest daughter marry, Caroline decided to emigrate with her children, Millicent, William, Annie Constance, and Thomas, to Canada to join her sister Annie (my 3rd Great Grandmother) and her family, who had made the move to Canada the year before.

Caroline and her children, like Annie’s family, settled in Orillia, Ontario, a place where I still have many relatives to this day. Two years later, her daughter, Elizabeth, her husband, Harry Allinson, and their four year old daughter also joined the family in Orillia, and the Allinsons and Newbury families combined households.  Sadly, Elizabeth died soon after giving birth to her second daughter in 1911 due to eclampsia. Millicent Newbury,  like her sister, also had a daughter in 1911, but under very different circumstances.  At the time of the 1911 census, she and the baby were both living in York, Ontario (now Toronto) at Redemption House, a home for women “tired of a life of sin.”  William Newbury had also at this point moved to York, and would eventually relocate further south to the U.S. All in all, 1911 was a difficult year for the Newbury family.

The following years would see a stabilization for the family.  In 1912, Caroline married widower John Henry Coleman Armstrong with whom she would live out the duration of her life.  Annie Constance moved to York and married that same year.  Millicent returned to Orillia with her daughter, and in 1914 married a man who adopted her daughter and with whom she had 3 more children.  Thomas became an apprentice printer.

In June of 1916, at 16 years and 9 months of age, Thomas attested to the CEF and in July of 1916, he sailed from Halifax for England with the 116th Overseas Battalion. He trained at Hastings and Bramshott before being posted with the Canadian Military Hospital in Bramshott.  Throughout the rest of the war he trained with the “boy’s battalion” or the “young soldiers corps,” but he never left left England.  The entirety of his time overseas was in England.  He was among some of the first Canadian soldiers returned to Canada in late November of 1918.  He had just turned 19 the previous month.

In 1921, Thomas married Alice Edith May Latham in Toronto.  He and Alice had 5 children.  Thomas died in 1948 at the age of 48 in Bath, Ontario.

Mr. John Babcock, the last surviving Canadian Veteran of the First World War who passed away in 2010, was also part of the Young Soldiers Corps.  He describes his experience in that corps here.

Richard John Perring

Richard John Perring, my 3rd Great Uncle, was born 122 years ago today. His parents, Annie Bester and Walter Perring, were my 3rd Great Grandparents.  Another way to look at this was that he was my Great-Grandfather’s uncle.  In fact, it is likely that my Great-Grandfather, James Charles Mungham, and his uncle knew each other, as there was only an 8 year age difference between them.  My Great-Grandfather emigrated from Britain to Canada with his family, including his parents Harry Mungham and Ellen Perring in 1908, arriving when he was three and a half years old. Ellen Perring was the eldest child of Annie Bester and Walter Perring, and though I can’t be sure, it is very possible that her and her family’s decision to move to northern Ontario was in part due to her parents’ decision to do the same thing the previous year. So when My 2nd Great Grandparents and their children arrived in Orillia, Ontario in 1908, Ellen’s parents, and her younger siblings, including Richard, who would have then been 11 years old, were there to greet her.

Three years later, in the 1911 census, Richard was listed as working as a labourer at a “wheel works.” Sometime between then and late 1914, he had moved south to Winchester, Ontario, slightly south-east of Ottawa, and began to pursue a career as a baker. It was also in Winchester that he married Mary Elizabeth Lambert in December of 1914 when they were both 19 years old.  Almost exactly a year later, in December of 1915, Richard attested to the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the 87th Battalion (Canadian Grenadier Guards) of the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

His unit sailed for Britain on the 23rd of April, 1916, one day after his 20th birthday. He spent the rest of the spring and the early part of the summer in training, and then on August 10, 1916, the unit sailed for France. By the fall of 1916, the 87th was fully involved on the 1916 Somme offensive. At some point during the more than month-long battle of the Ancre Heights, Richard went missing.  It was later declared that he had been killed on or before October 22, 1916, exactly 6 months after his birthday.  His remains were never found.

Back in Orillia, Ontario, my 2nd Great Grandmother had lost a brother.  She also had 2 sons of her own “in khaki” at the same time.

My birthday is April 22. I have now had 21 more birthdays that Richard ever experienced. Had he not been killed in France, there is even a possibility that he would have lived to celebrate his 81st birthday on the day I was born. The what-if’s of so many young lives resonate a lot more somehow when one can connect these kinds of clear timelines to them.

Richard is memorialized at the Vimy memorial in France.  I am honoured to post the Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorative certificate for my uncle here.