#52ancestors: Same Name

Naming patterns run in both my husband’s and my families, especially down the male line. For example, George Gundry (1815-1894), my husband’s 2x great grandfather named his eldest son, George. This George subsequently named his eldest sons from his first and second marriages George James and George John. It’s beginning to sound like a book in the Old Testament!

Thankfully, this post isn’t about George. Its about members of my family, all called Frederick/Freddie.

The first Frederick was my dad, Frederick James Saunders; an unusual but perhaps aspirational name for a working class Bermondsey boy born in the 1930s. Dad was the youngest of 8 children, 3 boys and 5 girls. His oldest brother, George William, was named after his father George and his mother’s father William. Very traditional. But where did Frederick come from?

George Saunders, my grandfather, was 58 when Dad was born and died when he was 12.  They probably didn’t live together for a lot of that time because Fred was evacuated to Newhaven with his brother, Frank, at the start of the Second World War.  Two sisters were sent to Hove. The rest of the family stayed in Bermondsey, in Barnham Street.

Barnham Street, Bermondsey 1950 (c. Southwark Local History Library & Archive)
Barnham Street, 2019 (taken by me)

Fred was called up to do his National Service in December 1952, where he was assigned to the Royal Army Pay Corp. At the end of his National Service, he signed up for another 2 years. In October 1953, he was sent to British Guiana with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. That was where he met my mother, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The second Frederick Saunders, was my Dad’s uncle, my great uncle. It seems likely that Dad was named after him.

Frederick William Saunders was born 8 February 1870 in Willesden, Middlesex. He enlisted with the Royal Marines Light Infantry, Chatham Division just before his 20th birthday.

He was awarded the Ashanti Medal & Benin clasp in 1898. Its fair to say that the Benin expedition wasn’t one of the British Army’s finest moments. As retaliation for a previous ambush, the troops, under Admiral Sir Harry Rawson, destroyed and looted Benin City. The Benin Bronzes, taken by the Army, are still in the British Museum in London. By 1901, Frederick was stationed at Port Royal, Jamaica.

Frederick left the Marines in February 1902, becoming a contractor’s carman. He married Ellen Holden at St John’s, Hammersmith one month later. Not long after, tragedy struck the family. Ellen and Frederick had a son, also Frederick, born 1 February 1904. Sadly, the baby died 17 days later of catarrh convulsions (30 hours). Frederick senior died the following day of pneumonia exhaustion in Fulham Infirmary. It was a relief to find out that Ellen went on to remarry in 1909. Her second husband, William Henry Clark, was a widower, with two small children.

My grandson, Freddie, is the most recent addition to the family. Freddie was born one week before lock-down. I’m looking forward to seeing what he achieves.

One thought on “#52ancestors: Same Name

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s