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Saturday, November 12, 2011

George William Tucker - 1856-1924 - a foolish old man?

Born on 24th October 1856 to George and Sophia Tucker at 15 Manchester St, Southampton, Hampshire, George William Tucker was the first of our Tucker ancestors to be born in that thriving port city.  Two more generations of Tuckers were to do so.  George William Tucker was our father Bob Tucker’s grandfather.  He is the common ancestor to our recently discovered second cousin Linda (nee Tucker) of Sussex, UK.


George William’s mother Sophia (nee Jefferis) hailed from nearby Fordingbridge, but was working as a servant in Southampton.  Father George started life as an agricultural labourer in Hamptworth, Wiltshire but moved to Southampton in about 1850 to obtain a job as a stevedore in the port.  George and Sophia lived at 9 Bell Street, around the corner from their son’s music shop for almost 60 years.


Prosperity

George William Tucker was the first of our Tuckers in the nineteenth century to become somewhat prosperous, working his way up from being a pawnbroker at age 18 to a music shop dealer by the eighteen nineties. Ten years later in 1901 he had acquired two properties at 67-69 Waterloo Rd, Freemantle, a suburb of Southampton, whilst his sons Sydney George (aged 18) and Albert Arthur William (aged 16) lived above the shop in 10 Canal Walk. Sydney was his father’s assistant whilst Albert (Bert) was still at school. He sent both boys to the Taunton’s School in Southampton, where they excelled in sports – football and cricket.

George William was a sergeant in the Hampshire Regiment Volunteer Battalion.  He entered many a rifle competition in the 1880s and 90s.   Dad remembered a portrait of George William in his scarlet uniform.   I have not been able to determine if he served during any conflict.  Certainly by the outbreak of the Great War, he was too old to do so.


George William also did his bit for the community by making pianos and other instruments available for charitable events. There are a few mentions of him in the Hampshire Advertiser.

Marriage

George William had married Agnes Hardy (1858-1912) on 14th April 1881 in the parish church of All Saints.  Agnes was a school teacher, born in Southampton to Aaron Hardy a mariner and his wife Amelia Mary Billet.  Both of them came from Dorset.  However, Agnes died suddenly of heart disease in 1912.

In 1916, George William decided to remarry, and he chose a woman 38 years younger than himself. He was 60. Her name was Edith Eliza Hainsworth, born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands in 1894.  However, she grew up in Southampton.

Later life

George William and Edith continued to live at 69 Waterloo Road, where first wife Agnes had died.

Meanwhile, Sydney George and his family lived next door in number 67, rent free in return for a low wage. In 1915 Sydney went off to war. The monetary situation was to have severe repercussions after Sydney’s death in 1919 since the government only recognized Sydney’s low wage when calculating the value of a civilian widow’s pension. (It was years before our Granny Tucker was able to claim a war widow’s pension due to Sydney George committing suicide in hospital three days after he was demobilized.)


George William’s second wife Edith gained a reputation as a “gold-digger” being so much younger than her husband (isn’t that always the way) and being heard to scream at George William to change his will.  He did so, and the whole estate was left to Edith, although it is understood that younger son Bert did contest it on his own behalf.

After the war, Edith must have worked with George William in the music shop, since she inherited it and ran it until it was destroyed during the bombing of Southampton in 1940.
He died at the Old Manor (mental hospital) in Salisbury of "softening of the brain". He had been there about seven months. In the 1920s and 30s, the Old Manor Hospital was said to be the largest private mental hospital in Europe. His estate of £2551 18s 6d was granted to his widow Edith Tucker.

A finale to this is that although Edith buried him next to his first wife Agnes, she inherited the grave of my grand-father Sydney George Tucker, who had pre-deceased his father in 1919, and she then buried all her relatives (mother, step-father, cousin, second husband Tom Chester Herring) in Sydney’s grave.  Her ashes – she died in Droxford, Hampshire in 1983 - are also spread there.

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