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NOTES ON THE MIDDLEMISS FAMILY
PAGE 2 of 3
Revised June 2008
Written in the first person by Dr. Middlemiss.
Douglas Henry Middlemiss (25th Nov. 1919- 16th June 2006) was educated at Canterbury Road School, Leyton, and later at the Leyton County High School, like his brother Ernest and like myself. The three of us were all at these schools at the same time. Douglas had a clerical position with the London Electricity Board. He married Irene ("Renee") Furnish in August 1940, when they were both only twenty, and was called up into the R.A.F. immediately afterwards. Only two months later he was posted to Canada and Renee was accorded the rare privilege of going with him. However he did not actually go until December 1940 and Renee did not accompany him. Soon afterwards he was reported to be living in 30 degrees below zero, and he arrived home from Canada in October 1942. Meanwhile their first child, James Middlemiss, had been born in August 1941. They later had two more sons - Frank (1944) and Robert (Nov. 1945). Doug was the only one of Albert and Effie's family to have children, but he made up for it by producing a large family of descendants. In the early 90s he was Chairman of the Resident's Association in Upper Walthamstow Road, where he and Renee had lived for many years. About 2002, they left their Walthamstow house and moved to Ditchingham, near Bungay, Suffolk. Doug suffered from Parkinson's disease in his last years. James Douglas Middlemiss (Aug. 1941- )was educated at Ruckholt Road School, Leyton, and had a varied employment career and finally settled successfully with Unilever in Bedfordshire, He married Margaret Wilson in 1968 and they had three children, but later divorced. In 1982 James married Alison Humphries and had three more children. Frank Brian Middlemiss (20th May 1944- ) was educated at Trumpington Road School, Leyton, and he became a catering steward at the head office of NatWest Bank in the City of London. Robert Geoffrey Middlemiss (Nov. 1945- ) was also educated at Trumpington Road School. He was apprenticed as a carpenter with London Electricity and worked his way up to be Foreman Engineer in the Building Section. Brian Middlemiss (9th Aug. 1928- ) had part of his education at Oxford House School, Leytonstone, from 1939 to 1942, but his education was much interrupted by the disturbances due to enemy action (see Albert Henry Middlemiss). The fees at that time were 6/- (30p) per week. He spent his whole working life in the London Money Market. He joined the Air Training Corps and did his national service in the R.A.F. in 1945. He and Marjorie (nee Homard) had no children and in later years lived at Woolpit, near Bury St. Edmunds. Ernest Thomas Middlemiss (31st March 1885- 24th March 1964) was born at
4, Clarke's Terrace,
and educated at Wilton Road School (as was Arthur Whitbread). He became a telephone engineer with the Bell Telephone Company (1904-1909). His starting salary was 18 shillings (90p) per week. During this period he was very fond of a girl called Belle Rosamond, but then he joined the staff of the Hackney Infirmary where he met Sister Ethel May Marshall and they were married on the 28th December 1912. He served in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry (a Territorial Unit) 1909-1912 and later in the Royal Naval Air Service (the R.A.F. had not been formed then). Between the wars he was a school - keeper at various London schools; I particularly remember him at a school in Brondesbury - also in Hampstead, New Cross and Stoke Newington. Their Stoke Newington house was bombed in 1940 and Miss Bedwell offered them the use of her house at Northwood - the house which Edward Stone Middlemiss had bought in the 1930s. They stayed at Northwood a year and then moved to
During the 2nd World War Ern served from 1939 as a senior N.C.O. in R.A.F. headquarter units in London.
Alexander William and Edith, Ethel (wife of Ernest Thomas), Elizabeth Hannah and her husband Arthur all rented a house near Knebworth for a period in 1944 when the flying bombs started. Ernest had a small flat near the station during the week so that he could commute to London. For a period during the 1950s Ern and Ethel, and their younger sons Victor and Eric, all lived with their son Ken at Pinner.
Ern, his brothers Alexander William and Albert Henry, his sons Ken, Victor and Eric, and his brother-in-law Arthur Whitbread were all keen Freemasons in the same lodge. It was in a way appropriate therefore that Ern died suddenly on Liverpool Street Station on his way home from a Masonic meeting.
Kenneth Bruce Middlemiss (6th September 1916- 27th April 2007) was educated at Addy and Stanhope Grammar School and went first into the analytical laboratory of a large food manufacturer. Made redundant in the 1930s, he became an engineering apprentice and studied engineering at night school, and on qualifying became an engineer with the old Shoreditch Borough Council. He married Joan Trotman in March 1940 but only three months later joined the R.A.F., in which he became a specialist engineer. Their daughter Valerie (born July 1942) was largely brought up by Joan's mother. Soon after the War Ken and Joan were divorced. Ken had engineer
ing jobs after the War at Harefield Hospital and then with the LCC and the GLC, becoming an Area Engineer. He retired in 1980.
In May 1956 Ken married Eveline Edith Ferguson (13th January 1921-August 1989) from Mansfield. In 1963, however, Evie had a series of operations in Harefield Hospital which left her severely paralysed for the rest of her life, although her mental ability was not affected. In 1970 Evie's mother came to live with them and Ken had to look after them both, in spite of his own health problems, until they both died in 1989. Duncan Hull lived with Ken from 1989 as he was working in the London Ambulance Service. From 2003, Ken suffered from diabetes. He let his house in Pinner to his grandson, Duncan and went to live with his daughter, Valerie at Rossall, Lancashire.
Valerie Joan Middlemiss (18th July 1942- ) was educated at Oxford House School and the Central Foundation School for Girls and later worked at the Westminster Bank in Lombard Street. In September 1961 she married Roy Britten Hull (died 2nd October 1989). They had three sons - Ian Britten Hull (1963), Duncan Britten Hull (1967) and Colin Britten Hull (1969). Roy from 1967 worked successively for the Thornton Cleveleys Council, North West Water and the Wyre Borough Council. Their home was in Rossall, and there Valerie continued to live after Roy's death, busy working for the Fleetwood Health Authority and becoming a well -known local figure, especially on the Inner Wheel.
Marjorie Ethel Middlemiss (September 1919- 29th November 1920) died at fourteen months and was buried in Chingford Mount Cemetery in the same grave as Donald Middlemiss.
Victor David Middlemiss (1922- ) was born at 224, High Street, Stoke Newington, and went to Stoke Newington Central School. He worked for a time in the Temple, in the chambers of Dingle Foot, the Liberal M.P., but then saw War service in the Royal Artillery 1942-46 in Scotland and at Karachi. After the War he joined Harefield Hospital, but transferred to Mount Vernon Hospital in 1949, where he was Personnel Officer to the medical staff. He retired in 1982 and became Honorary Secretary of the League of Friends of St. Vincent's Hospital, Pinner, an organisation which has raised £500,000 for the hospital. A keen opera- lover and concert-goer, he claims to have heard most of the finest singers and instrumentalists of the last 55 years, and has a huge record and CD collection.
Eric Albert Middlemiss (1925- ) was born at Kingsgate Road, Hampstead, and educated at Stoke Newington Central School. After War Service in the Royal Navy 1944-46, mostly in the far east, he also joined first Harefield Hospital and then Mount Vernon Hospital. In 1956 he joined the South East Thames Regional Health Authority and retired in 1983. Like his brother Victor, he is a music enthusiast. He has been a member of the local tennis club for nearly 50 years and was still playing in 1999.
Elizabeth Hannah Middlemiss (1st May 1887-1982), who was always called "Lil", was a woman with a keen sense of humour. There is an amusing letter from her to her brothers in the Family Archives file. In 1917 she married Fred Sturges, when he was on a week's leave from the Western Front. Fred had been a Police officer before the War. At the end of the week he returned to Belgium and was killed the same day, on his way up to the front at Ypres. On the 18th May 1929 she married an old family friend, Arthur Whitbread, at the Round Chapel in the Lower Clapton Road. Arthur was proprietor of The Northern Flour and Grain Company. They had a house at
111, King's Avenue
but when the blitz started in September 1940 they went to live in the cottage near Tring (see Mabel Victoria). Lil and Arthur declared their intention of probably settling permanently at Tring, but in fact by 1943 they were living in a flat at Aylesbury. They let their Woodford house during the War. After the War they moved to Colwyn Bay, where they ran a guest house for a year or two. They then moved to a bungalow at the bottom of
but Auntie Lil thought it damp there and bad for her rheumatism, so they moved to
and then finally to Polegate.
Before Lil's second marriage she was the mainstay of the household at Devonshire Road and Kyverdale Road. Although she claimed that she had to wait on her brothers she also kept them in order. After Fred's death Lil, like her brothers Alec and Albert, worked with the Hackney Board of Guardians and acted as Almoner to Hackney Hospital. Lil lived to the great age of 95, at the end in a nursing home in Chingford. There, before she died, she expressed great satisfaction that she had been visited by nearly every one of her living relatives.
Mabel Victoria Middlemiss (6th October 1896- 12th May 1980), known as 'Mabs' to the family, was a pretty girl and as a young girl was the apple of her elder brothers' eyes. She was particularly fond of her eldest brother Edward, who paid for her musical education. Mabel was an accomplished musician, with a good soprano voice. She sang solo in the choir and at various functions. It had been suggested to her that she ought to be professionally trained. She also played the piano well. She could not memorise, but sight read faultlessly at first reading of most music. She often accompanied herself when singing. Put to needlework at 14 years (which she hated) she became proficient at embroidery and, later, at crochet work. She was an avid reader so much so that her family chided her that she would read a sheet of brown paper if she could find nothing else. Unlike Aunt Lil, she did not like housework. She was very bright at school and her teacher wanted her to go on to higher education, but her father would not allow it, saying "I'll not have a daughter of mine taking a man's work" - yet another reflection on the attitudes of the time.
In 1923 she married Thomas Henry Clayton (22nd June 1898- 9th January 1982) at the Round Chapel in the Lower Clapton Road. The story of how they came to meet is interesting, especially as it demonstrates how a tragedy in one part of a family, in this case Uncle Fred's death in the First World War, can influence the lives, in fact the very existence, of other members of that family. Because she was a war widow, Auntie Lil went to work for the Hackney Board of Guardians. A colleague there was Ada Maggie Clayton, Tom Clayton's eldest sister (known as Madge). When Lil attended one of Madge's birthday parties she took along her young sister Mabel to play the piano. Tom, of course, was also present. That was in 1917.
Tom and Mabel lived first in Clapton but moved to
2, Buxton Road,
in May 1928. They had two children, Henry Edward (24t
h January 1925) and Rita Mabel (2nd March 1928). Henry married Betty Christine Gibbons at the Congregational Church, Buxton Road, Chingford on 22nd May 1954. They have three daughters, Lindsay Ann (20th November 1957), Elizabeth Jane (3rd July 1960) and Fiona Lucy (16th July 1964). Lindsay married Gary Swain in 1982 and they have a son and a daughter, Christopher Edward (1987) and Hannah Victoria (1991). They live in Woodford Green. Elizabeth married Martin Kerwood in 1984 and they also have a son and daughter, Jennifer Lois (1989) and Ross Alexander (1992). They now live in Billericay, Essex. Fiona went to Loughborough University and took a B.A. in Textile Design. She now works and lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Rita did not marry and worked all her adult life until retirement at 61 years. She left school at 15 years during the war and worked in various jobs, including for the GLC and the Health Service on the administrative side at University College Hospital. For the final ten years of her working life she was employed by the Corporation of London at their Epping Forest Offices just outside Loughton and moved to a cottage in Smarts Lane, Loughton in 1981 after her mother's death. She has a great love of the countryside and wildlife and has been the Secretary of the Epping Forest Branch of the British Naturalists' Association for many years
A snippet of interest to the Clayton family concerns a coincidence which came to light many years after it happened. Elizabeth Sarah was pushing her eldest child, Eddie, in a pram near to Hackney market when a bullock, which had escaped from the market, came charging down the street. She saw a little girl running away from the animal towards her so she grabbed her and pushed them all to safety in a doorway. The little girl turned out to be Thomas Clayton's mother, Ada Clayton (then Edwards).
At the start of the Blitz in September 1940 Tom Clayton (who worked for Lazard Brothers, Merchant bankers in the City of London) arranged with a colleague, Mr. Hill who lived at Tring, for Mabel, Henry and Rita to stay with him and his wife, Tring then being considered to be "in the country" and relatively safe. After they had been there a week or two Lil, Arthur, Alec and Edie all turned up, desperate to get out of London. To accommodate these was quite impossible for the Hills, but fortunately Mrs. Hill had a relative, Mr. Pratt, a farmer, who had a worker's cottage standing empty on his land. There were only two rooms downstairs and three upstairs, no gas or electricity or mains drainage. However, the Claytons, plus Lil and Arthur, Alec and Edie, Lil's spaniel Pip and Alec's scruffy dog Jerry all moved in, and so began the saga of the cottage at Tring of which we have heard quite a lot during that period. Later, in 1940, they were joined there temporarily by Albert, Effie, Brian and Grace.
Reginald George Middlemiss
(Nov. 1899- June 1988) was born while the Middlemiss family were living at
10, Tudor Road,
He became Chief Construction Engineer with London Electricity in 1925. He married Kathleen Drake, but they had no children and after she died he married again at the age of 80 Mabel, who had a flat on the sea front at Bexhill, in which they lived after they were married. He said before he died that Mabel had given him the happiest years of his life. Kathleen, for some reason, had always kept him apart from the Middlemiss family.
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