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Friday, November 11, 2011

Remembering my grandfather Sydney George Tucker 1882-1919

On Remembrance Day, it seems an apt time to honour my grandfather in this first post about my Tucker ancestors.

Sydney George Tucker was born in on 30th May,1882 at 15 Manchester Street, in the civil and ecclesiastical parish of All Saints, Southampton, Hampshire UK.  His father (George William Tucker, 1858-1924) was originally a pawnbroker (so described in 1881) and then a music shop owner (by 1891).  His mother (Agnes Mary Hardy, b 1858) had been a teacher when she married George in 1881.

In 1891, Sydney, aged 8[1], a scholar, was living with his father George William, mother and brother Albert aged 6 at 10 Upper Canal Walk, Southampton.

Sydney and his brother Bert[2] attended Taunton Trade School in Southampton in the 1890s, Sydney from 1896-1900 and Bert from 1897-1901.  Both were keen sportsmen, playing cricket and football.  H. Spooner’s “A history of Taunton’s School (1967) referred to Fred Carmichael and the two Tuckers – “They played in any position between 1899 and 1901 – SG even played as goalkeeper when needed.” (p 98).  Page 101 refers to AAW (Bert)’s fame in Taunton cricketing history – he was the first boy to score a century (102 not out) in a school match.  He was by all accounts a demon bowler.”

The School Journal of April 1963 records the death of AAW on 26th April, 1963, aged 78, and refers to the early death of SG in 1919. 

Tucker's music dealership at 10 Upper Canal Walk
In 1901, Sydney, aged 18[3] (described wrongly as Sidney G. Tucker) was living at 10 Canal Walk, Southampton, above the music shop owned by his father with his brother Albert, aged 16.  Sydney’s occupation was music salesman.  Albert would have still been at school.  At that time, his parents George William and Agnes Mary (nee Hardy) were living at 67 Waterloo Road, Freemantle[4].

Bob Tucker remembers that his father’s nickname was Stovepipe Syd, referring to his thin build.

Syd, second left in the Volunteer Corps
From March 1900 to March 1908, Sydney was a cyclist in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment.  He was often away on exercises.  We have a silver spoon inscribed South Africa 1900-02, Hampshire Regiment, 5th Battalion.  So did he go to the Boer War?  At this stage, we do not know.

Outside his father's musical instruments shop
Sydney married Edith Annie Reed, aged 23 of 76 London Road, Southampton on August 31st, 1907 in Bovey Tracey, Devon.  It is a bit of a mystery why they married in Bovey Tracey - maybe because Edith's uncle William Reed lived nearby, and we know Syd wrote to "Ede" at an address nearby.  His occupation was music dealer and he lived at 67 Waterloo Road, Freemantle, Southampton

Edith and Sydney shared an interest in music, with Sydney playing the violin and Edith playing the piano.  Her daughter Cecily later said she could play “any piece of music put in front of her”.

As well as sharing musical interests, they came from similar backgrounds, with families resident in Southampton for at least 40 years, and both fathers being small businessmen.  Like Sydney’s mother before her, Edith’s oldest sister was also a teacher.

In 1908 when their older daughter Jessie was born, they lived at 35 Park Road, Southampton.

They subsequently had two more children, Cecily Mary (b 10th January, 1910) and Robert Sydney George (b 30th June, 1914).  By 1911, they were living rent-free at 67 Waterloo Rd, with Sydney's parents living next door at 69.  The two houses were attached.

Jessie, Syd, Robert, Edith and Cecily c Dec 1915

On 11th November, 1915 he enlisted in the army and was Gunner no 138159 in the 53rd Infantry Company, Royal Garrison Artillery.  He served in France.

The following year, his mother having died suddenly in 1912, his father married again.  His new step-mother, Edith Elizabeth Hainsworth was 22, 10 years younger than Sydney.

Sent from France in 1917
In 1917, he made his will, leaving everything to his wife Edith Annie.   She was then living at 67 Waterloo Road.  George W. was living at No 69, and owned both houses.

On 31st March, 1919 he was ‘disembodied” from the army with a conditional pension for 12 months, due to rheumatism.  He had been gassed and suffered from shell-shock according to our grandmother Edith Annie, but this was not mentioned on the papers.

It is unclear whether he was in hospital on the date he was discharged.  The paperwork was still being attended to two months later.  He would not have lived to see his pension.

Sydney George Tucker died aged 36, on 3rd April, 1919 at the University War Hospital, Southampton, from a haemorrhage, the result of “cutting his throat whilst of temporary unsound mind”, according to an inquest held on April 4th.  He had been residing at 67 Waterloo Road, Freemantle with his wife Edith and children Jessie 11, Cecily 9 and Robert 4¾, and was a musical instrument salesman at his father’s shop.

Probate was granted on 29th July 1919.  His estate amounted to £234.11.6[5] 

His son, Bob Tucker wrote in 1993, aged 79:

“All I remember of my father was watching him wind up his long khaki putties from ankle to knee with his foot on a couch, and later his coffin being taken away on a handcart from our home at 67 Waterloo Road, Freemantle, Southampton.

“That’s all – I’ve only seen photos of his face and heard my mother talking of him.

“I have found out that the reason I don’t remember him was that before I was born until he was sent to France in 1915 he served in the voluntary army and won cups for rifle shooting for his regiment and he was probably rarely home.

“He died I think, a few months before my 5th birthday, a victim of the 1914-1918 war.  I just remember crossing from Southampton to the military hospital on the Island of Wight[6] (Cowes) but I don’t remember seeing him.  Mum said he had severe war wounds and was a nervous wreck, so much so he put an end to his troubles himself in 1919.”

Sydney George Tucker was buried in the Old Southampton Cemetery on April 8th, 1919 in a plot separate from and near his parent’s grave.  The plot was purchased by his father, George William Tucker and subsequently passed into the possession of George W.’s second wife, another Edith Tucker.  She then buried her relatives, including her second husband (Tom Chester Herring), mother (Edith Louisa) and step-father (Frank Renouf) in this grave.

Sydney’s family had migrated to Australia soon after George William died in July 1924.

Sydney George Tucker's grave in the Southampton Old Cemetry
In February 2007, my newly discovered second cousin Linda Harrison (nee Tucker) visited the grave and placed a bouquet of chrysanthemums on the grave. 

It was such a lovely thing to do.

In June 2008, I visited the grave myself.


[1] 1891 UK Census, RG    , Piece 1017, Fiche 1, Folio 47
[2] Linda Harrison (nee Tucker)’s grandfather
[3] 1901 UK Census, RG13, Piece 1058, Folio10, page 11, schedule no 56.
[4] 1901 UK Census RG13, Piece 1073, Folio 177, page 37
[5] Noted in PGO (Effects)  Regents Park N.W.1  15/10/19

[6] In fact, I think the Military Hospital was at Netley.  It too was reached by water.  (Editor)

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