A BLACK SHEEP

Your Family History - - Letters -

In her ar­ti­cle on Records of Com­mem­o­ra­tion in the May is­sue ( YFH 182), Doreen Hop­wood cited the ex­am­ple of the head­stone on the grave of Charles Bourne, which also com­mem­o­rates his son, who died in Toowoomba, Aus­tralia. Charles Bourne mar­ried my mother’s aunt, Ara­bella (Bella) Jane Arter. Bella was the daugh­ter of Thomas Richard Arter, who co- owned the Daniel & Arter Elec­tro­plate com­pany in Birm­ing­ham, and who was also a Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil­lor and a prom­i­nent freema­son. The son who died in Toowoomba was also a Thomas Richard, known as Dick, and he was a ‘black sheep’ of the fam­ily. My mother used to speak dis­parag­ingly of her cousin Dick, but when I made con­tact with his grand­daugh­ter some years ago, the full story was dis­cov­ered.

Dick mar­ried Jessie Bot­tom­ley, who was al­ready four months preg­nant, in April 1911. Two months later, by which time they were call­ing them­selves ‘ArterBourne’, the 1911 cen­sus shows Dick still liv­ing with his wid­owed mother, who de­scribed him as ‘sin­gle’. Ei­ther he hadn’t told her he was mar­ried, or she was in de­nial! His wife was liv­ing with her par­ents in Sid­cup and was en­tered as ‘mar­ried’. They had a sec­ond child in 1913.

Dick then en­tered the army to fight with the Royal Army Ser­vice Corps in World War 1. He reached the rank of Tem­po­rary Ma­jor and was awarded an OBE for ‘valu­able ser­vices con­nected with mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions in France’. This was his high point, as he re­put­edly re­turned to Eng­land with the widow of a Ger­man Army Of­fi­cer, and in­stalled her in a flat near his fam­ily home. His daugh­ter also said that he was quite vi­o­lent to­wards his chil­dren and threat­ened them with his leather belt if they dis­turbed him.

A third daugh­ter was born in 1921, but in 1922 Dick em­i­grated to Aus­tralia with­out his fam­ily, and there are many ref­er­ences to him in the Queens­land news­pa­pers. He en­tered into a su­gar farm­ing busi­ness with a woman named Daisy Bow­der, but ac­cord­ing to the Nam­bour Chron­i­cle and North Coast Ad­ver­tiser, they de­faulted on their pay­ments and the farm was lost. He blamed his lack of suc­cess on the fail­ure of the Queens­land Gov­ern­ment to pro­mote the ex­port of su­gar.

In 1930, his en­gage­ment to an Ethel Winifred Jack­son was an­nounced in the Queens­land Press, and they sub­se­quently mar­ried. As he still had a wife in Eng­land, this mar­riage was big­a­mous. It didn’t come to light un­til af­ter he died in Novem­ber 1932. His death cer­tifi­cate gives the cause of death as car­diac fail­ure and his ‘wife’ Ethel was the in­for­mant. I at­tach a photo of his fa­ther, Charles F. Bourne. JANE WYNNE, VIA EMAIL Thanks for your fas­ci­nat­ing story about this ‘black sheep’, Jane; he sounds a com­plex char­ac­ter, but you’ve cer­tainly found a lot out about his life.

Glas­gow Po­lice Mu­seum show­cases po­lice forces around the world, not just the city’s own pioneer­ing force

Reader Jane Wynne’s photo of Charles Bourne

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