Alfred Tom Southwell

Alfred Tom Southwell was born at Farley, near Salisbury, on 4 March 1877. He was the second of four children born to Alfred John Southwell (1833–1918) and his second wife, Ellen née Osman (1842–1916).

At the 1881 census, Alfred John (a carpenter) and Ellen Southwell, were living in Farley village, with their three eldest children including 4-year old Alfred Tom, and Ellen’s daughter by her first marriage, 10-year old Annie Pembroke.

Ten years later, in 1891, the family were living at West Grimstead, with their three youngest children. 14-year old Alfred Tom was now working as a shepherd.

On 12 April 1900, 22-year old Alfred Tom married 23-year old Miriam Agnes Clarke at Wesleyan Methodist Church, Church Hill, Walthamstow, London [destroyed by bombing in World War II]. At the time of their marriage, the couple were living two doors from Miriam’s parents, at 120 Maynard Road, Walthamstow.

Miriam was born in Witton, Norfolk on 26 September 1876, the eldest child of Walter and Margaret Clarke. Walter was employed as an insurance agent and moved to Walthamstow shortly after Miriam’s birth.

There were three children of the marriage, but two died as infants, leaving only Herrick Alfred, born in Hendon on 13 March 1902.

At the 1901 census, Alfred and Miriam were living at Seaford Cottage, Stratford Road, Hendon in north London, where Alfred gave his occupation as “carpenter & joiner (wood)”. Ten years later, Alfred, Miriam and 9-year old Herrick were living at Ottawa Buildings in Poplar, east London, where 34-year old Alfred was employed by London County Council as a Superintendent of the housing estate.


First World War

On 19 June 1915, Alfred enlisted at Stratford, east London, joining the Army Service Corps, with service number T4/123714. After a short period of training at Aldershot, he was sent to France on 1 July 1915. He was promoted to Lance Corporal on 17 March 1917 and to Corporal on 2 January 1918. On 16 April 1918, he returned to England with an injury to his leg, and was hospitalized at Tynemouth. He was discharged in June 1919 after four years’ service, with a disability pension of 6 shillings per week.

For his services with the army, he was awarded the 1915 Star, the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.


Later life

When he enlisted in June 1915, Alfred gave his address as 122 Manchester Road, Poplar in east London. He continued to be registered at this address until 1920, although on his father’s death certificate in November 1918, his address was shown as 104 Robinson Road, Mitcham, Surrey.

It is possible that he and Miriam had already separated by the end of the war, as he gave his address as that of his half-sister Sarah at 31 Longhedge Road, Battersea when applying for leave following his return to England in April 1918.

At the census in June 1921, Alfred was recorded as living with his sister Sarah Ann Williams at 31 Longhedge Street, Battersea. His occupation was shown as joiner, working for Spratts Ltd., “Poultry Appliance Manufacturer”, of Empson Street, Bromley-by-Bow. [Sarah’s husband, Walter Williams, a retired grocer,  had died in May 1914, aged 68.]

Miriam Southwell was now living back at 120 Maynard Road, Walthamstow with her son Herrick, now a 19-year old solicitors’ clerk. Miriam was employed as a cook for Manfield & Son, boot manufacturers, at 24/25 Poultry in the City of London.

No trace can be found of Alfred on the National Register recorded in September 1939. Miriam (now 63) was now living at 6 Hale End Road, Walthamstow, where she was still working as a private cook. Herrick was now married to Ada Winifred [Robinson] and had a son, Brian Walter, born in March 1933. He and his family were living at 13 Elm Way, Epsom; he was till working as a solicitors’ clerk.

Alfred Tom Southwell died at Herne Bay in Kent on 17 July 1948, aged 78.  The death certificate reports that he died in an outhouse at the rear of 51 Avenue Road, Herne Bay; the cause of death was reported as “ruptured heart due to infarction of ventricular muscle” [heart attack] after a postmortem without an inquest. He was buried at Herne Bay Cemetery.

Miriam died at Chingford Hopital, London on 7 January 1968, aged 91, with broncho-pneumonia.