A BLACK SHEEP
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.
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Reader Jane Wynne’s photo of Charles Bourne