In Issue 37, we told the story of Ernest Charles Stentiford who was
killed in 1941 on board HMS Stanley. We mentioned his father - Ernest
Edmund Stentiford - who was also a stoker in the Royal Navy and who was
killed in 1916.
The complex structures of the extended family of today are not new
but there has been a change in the way they come about. In our day, it is
divorce which breaks up
and changes family units - in the past, when divorce was
impossibly expensive for the working classes, it was death and
subsequent remarriage which intervened. Both of these Stentifords -
father and son - grew up in households presided over by men who were not
their natural fathers. Neither of them was a conscript in the Royal Navy
so perhaps the Service offered each of them something that was missing
from their lives.
We begin by returning to Ernest Edmund Stentiford's wedding day
because the register entry he signed on that occasion gives us some
further family information.
marriage register entry of Ernest Edmund Stentiford and Charlotte Figg
for the poor quality of the image due to the condition of the original)
Ernest Edmund Stentiford was married at St. Matthew's Church in
Stonehouse on 15 Jan 1910 and the entry in the parish register begins by
naming his father as Francis John Stentiford, an upholsterer by
By profession, Ernest says that he is a mariner and that his age is
29. He gives his address as 14 Essex Street, Plymouth and has two
witnesses - his sister Florence and a William Elford.
If we turn next to the information provided by the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website - www.cwgc.org,
calling up a print-out in Ernest's name produces a wealth of information
about his war service and also gives us the surname Eliza Ann acquired
when she remarried - she became Eliza Ann Collings.
The 1891 Census shows the extended family in which Ernest
grew up. His mother married William Henry Collings on 10 May 1891 at the
same church in which Ernest married Charlotte Figg - St. Matthew's,
Stonehouse. Eliza and William claimed to be married at the time of the census
which related to the night of 5 April 1891, a month before their wedding.
Living with them at the rear of 10, Wyndham Street, Plymouth are Ernest and his sister Florence -
his elder brother Francis having moved to live closer to his workplace.
William Collings, who supports them, is described as a skilled labourer
- probably he works in the Docks just a short distance away from Wyndham
register entry of Eliza Ann Stentiford and William Collings
And if we
turn now to the 1881 census, we can find Eliza Ann living with her
children Francis, Ernest and Florence at the home of Charles and Jane
Williams in Arundel Crescent, Plymouth. The census makes it clear that
these are her father and mother and grandparents of the three children,
all under 5. Now we know her maiden name and we can see too that she was a
working mother - a milliner in 1881.
here to return to Issue 38