February 10, 2010

Ada

Here's a picture of my Great Grandmother and Grandfather on their wedding day. They were married in the spring of 1898 in the Medway region of Kent.

Ada Elizabeth Plewis was born in 1880 into a teetotal household. Her new husband, George Cleaves had been born into a pub-owning family. The Cleaves family  managed the pub, "The Plough and Chequers" in Gillingham since about 1850. That must have lead to an unusual wedding reception!

They themselves went on to manage a pub near the Chatham dockyards called "The Two Sawyers". Apparently they had a good reputation with the sailors stationed nearby because the couple didn't turn them in if they were out past curfew. They made them comfortable in the pub for the night. Some sailors of the time, circa 1903, thanked my Great Grandparents buy buying them a new "time gentlemen please" bell. Around 25 years ago my Grandmother and my uncle visited the pub, probably for her 85th birthday. They told the current landlords the story and they ceremoniously took down the bell and handed to her to keep. Unfortunately I think the bell was sold along with her other possessions when she died.



Poor George died in 1909 of  tuberculosis. But before that  - in the 11 years Ada and George were married - they had 8 children but only 2 lived. May, Percy, Harold, Doris, Leonard, Ronald, Ivo and Cyril.  Apart from my Grandmother Doris and her brother Ron, all of them died before they reached 9 months of age. Despite the shocking fact that she may have been pregnant with the twins May and Percy before they were married, Ada never let her husband see her naked.

A year after George died, Ada married one of his friends. Frederick Godfrey Walkefield Oakley Holmes had been a piccolo player with the Royal Engineers since he was 15 years old. Mr. Holmes was a rotter (at least in my books). Poor Ada had been through 7 pregnancies and the death of her handsome husband, but Fred Holmes didn't want her children around - therefore my Grandmother and Ron were raised from the ages of  7 and 5 respectively by their grandparents. Luckily for them, their Grandfather was a wonderful man. More about him in a future post maybe.

Ada and her new husband Fred had a baby of their own within the year - the intensely spoiled Freda.

Ada, Fred and Freda moved to Dover where she owned and managed the local post office and gift shop.

She was around to see both World Wars. In the years between the wars Ada welcomed her grandchildren to the seaside town. Buckets and spades were bestowed upon my Mum and Uncle Ken. Probably some Rupert books too.

Ada died in 1953. Both pubs thrive today. The Plough and Chequers' Petanque team has a world class reputation and is known for it's live music. Maybe one day...

15 comments:

Alistair said...

Hullo C-Pup,

cr-racking post!

Rinkly Rimes said...

I loved this look into the past! My mother's family came from Kent, too; the Canterbury area. So some of the details interested me from my own point of view. What a burden and sorrow childbirth was to women throughout the ages!

Laura in Paris said...

What a nice family tale ...

Brian Miller said...

fascinating tale...with that wonderful pic.

Diane said...

I think you coined a new phrase their - 'word class'! Lovely post, Hazel. You have to go quaff in person, if you haven't already done so.

Diane said...

hi! I just spotted a link to Things We Love on your 'Closer Look' list and I'm very flattered! Thanks so much. p.s. my Grandmother's name was Ada as well. Her first name was Gladys. She used to laugh her initials actually spelled out 'GAS.' I grew up seeing her every day and there are still times when I dream about her and then wake up, not believing she isn't around anymore. ~sigh~

Poetikat said...

How wonderful to have all this information! It's amazing-the details and the personal history. So sad to lose so many children and her husband.
On the bright side, you have a pub in your family! How cool is that?

Kat

Hels said...

Since one family was teetotal and the other was a pub-owning family, we can assume it was a love match and not a parent-arranged marriage :)

One thing makes me sad, though. That children could be sent here, there and everywhere, to be raised by whichever relative could take them in. I am glad the children in your family didn't have to go into an orphanage or poor house, but I feel so sorry for children who barely saw their natural parents again.

When my own grandmother was desperately sick after her 6th baby, the 4 youngest children (aged 6,4,2 and newborn) were sent each to an aunt for raising. Only the two teenagers were allowed to stay at home with their dad.

Moira said...

What a lovely interesting post! Pity Fred was such a meanie.

Rouchswalwe said...

Clever Püpchen, I sometimes wonder if there wasn't a pub owner, brewer, or at least a hops farmer in my family tree. You simply must go and drink a pint there! A bittersweet story of a strong woman. Happy Valentine's Day!

lettuce said...

quite a hard life!
and quite a tale. I'll be at Chatham for work in a couple of weeks - I'll look out for the Plough and Chequers!

The Clever Pup said...

Lettuce, that would be crazy if you could. It's on Dane's Hill. I've been in touch with them half a dozen times and they don't respond. I know that the Cleaves' ran the pub from 1851 to 1881 at least.

amourissima said...

What a fantastic post!

Giulia said...

Such a story--a novel! So sad about the babies. (& the bell, oh no...)

Just finished watching Upstairs, Downstairs & started Duchess of Duke Street...reminds me of that era. I look forward to more. And if Letty goes there, how cool would that be?

Rachel Fox said...

And the hat! What a marvellous hat!