Bacon Family of Yapton

Susan Martin kindly sent us her research into the family history of the Bacon family of Yapton.

My grandfather JOE HILL moved to Yapton from Westergate as a boy of 10 in the New Year of 1896. He went there with his mother Bessie Hughes 39, stepfather John Hughes 24, brothers Bill 11 and Robert 6, sisters Bessie 12 and Rosa 8, and stepbrothers John 3 and Len 1. A final child, stepsister Ethel arrived in Yapton in 1897. On 20 January 1896 he and his younger siblings were enrolled in Yapton school and amongst their classmates they would meet some of the Bacon children.

FREDERICK BACON born 1854, son of Charles Bacon and Ruth Frost, came from an established Yapton family of agricultural labourers. In 1885 Frederick married his sister-in-law Maria. As MARIA SAUNDERS she had married his brother JAMES BACON on 8 November 1873 in Yapton and they had four surviving sons: Thomas, Frederick, Edward, Harry, (another son John was born and died in 1876), and a daughter Ellen Emma. James was buried on 4 February 1885 aged 39, and later that year Maria married his brother Federick. The marriage was not in Yapton parish church but probably at the Registrar's Office Arundel or Chichster, as at the time it was not legal to marry a deceased brother's wife. Back in Yapton a blind eye seems to have turned, as was common in such cases. Significantly only the youngest of Frederick and Maria's children, Clara, was baptised in the parish church. Frederick and Maria had a daughter Ellen Emma followed by three sons (James) William, Arthur, and Wilfred Ernest. On 25 February 1895 Maria gave birth to a second daughter Clara. The baby must have been frail as she was baptised straight away. Sadly both mother and daughter were buried together on 1 March.

EDWARD BACON and my grandfather Joe would have been in the same class, and both had shared the loss of a parent. A new woman soon came into Edward's life. Edward had a half sister Annie Maria born in 1798 and a half brother Albert in 1900. Their mother was Fanny Jane Horne. Fanny and Frederick for some reason didn't get round to marrying until 1923 although in the 1901 census they were living as husband and wife, and probably were doing so before the two children were born.

FANNY JANE HORNE was born in 1859 in Walberton the daughter of Henry and Emily Horne (or Horn). Her childhood does not sound happy. Her mother died in 1874, and in 1877 her father appeared in the magistrate's court at Arundel accused of ill-treating his son Frederick Walter. The Horsham, Petworth, Midhurst and Steyning Express 11/12/1877 reported "Fanny Horne, another daughter, who appeared in the workhouse dress said her father kicked the boy behind [well over a yard] across the drawers. This witness said she was quite sure they were downstairs when the kick was given.". Henry, who had already spent six weeks in prison, was given four months hard labour.

Fanny, her younger sister Alice and brother, would have been admitted to East Preston workhouse following their father's arrest. In 1881 Frederick Walter was back living with his father in Angmering, but Fanny was still an inmate of East Preston workhouse and described on the census as an imbecile. In 1891 she was still there according to the census of that year. The admissions and discharges of the workhouse no longer exist so we can not be sure whether Fanny was a long term inmate or just happened to be there when the census were taken. A Fanny Horn was accused of stealing a purse in 1880 in Bosham (Horsham, Petworth, Midhurst and Steyning Express 6/7/1880) but at court the prosecutor (victim) failed to appear. Was this our Fanny? Forward to the late 1890s: I can only assume that Fanny came to Yapton to help look after the motherless Bacon children.

I have no idea whether Edward Bacon and Joe were friends, but after school their paths continued to cross. The 1901 census describes them both as threshing machine attendants, They would both have worked for Sparks. Sparks was the biggest single employer in Yapton. The company produced, maintained and hired-out traction engines, ploughing engines and other steam powered machines to local farmers and councils in West Sussex. Along with his workshops and repair sheds it had its own forge and foundry and also a brickworks.

Neither Joe nor Edward continued to work for Sparks. Joe became a skilled bricklayer and Edward an agricultural labourer, however in 1911 they were living next door to one another in Rope Cottages (Black Dog cottages). Edward married ELIZABETH PEARMAN nee Diggens on 11 September 1909 in Chichester Register Office. This marriage might have caused raised eyebrows, for Elizabeth, born in 1860, was twice his age. Born in Felpham, Elizabeth first married Charles Parvin in 1887. Charles died in 1894 aged only 28, and then in 1898 Elizabeth found a second husband Joseph Pearman. Elizabeth was widowed a second time when Joseph died in 1907 aged 64. Elizabeth and Charles Parvin had three sons: Charles in 1887, George born and died 1888, and Frederick born 1889. Edward had stepson Frederick living with him in 1911.

Edward would have been reacquainted with my great uncle ROBERT HILL in 1913 when Robert returned to Yapton after serving nine years with the 1st Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment (RSR) in India. Robert had, as a reservist, been recalled to the 2nd Battalion, at the outbreak of war. He returned to France at the end of February 1916 after a two month blighty with a head injury. There is a very slim, though I think unlikely, chance they might have been briefly reacquainted in the hell that was the Hohenzollern Redoubt. Robert had been posted to the 7th Battalion RSR on the 2 March. Edward Bacon had probably enlisted in the autumn of 1914 as he was sent to France in March 1915 with the 7th Battalion RSR.

The Hohenzollern Redoubt waa a fortified German stronghold to the north west of Loos, of great strategic importance as it was constructed at the apex of a slightly raised, angled salient. It was regarded as the strongest defended position along the front. The redoubt had seen fierce fighting during the Battle of Loos when we had stormed but failed to take it, so, during winter 1915, it remained in the hands of Germans. By March 1916 we were attempting to take it again and the 7th was involved with the heavy fighting. It was called the battle of the craters as heavy shelling by both sides had created massive craters whose sides the men had to cling to. It was this shelling which took Edward's life on the 3 March, and by 8 April it was still continuing and took Robert's life too. The identified bodies of neither were found. Edward is commemorated on the Loos Memorial and Robert on the Arras Memorial.

If Robert and Edward had, by a miracle, come across each other then Robert might have mentioned the death of Edward's brother Arthur, the wounding of Edward's brother William, and possibly having met Edward's older brother Frederick almost a year earlier in France. ARTHUR BACON would have been in the same class as Robert's brother John Hughes. Arthur had already joined the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards by the 1911 census, which found him in the Guards' Wellington Barracks. He was killed in action on 26 october 1914 during the first battle of Ypres, and he was the first of three of Frederick's sons to die during the War.

WILLIAM BACON born in 1890 was probably stationed in Calcutta with the Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort's Own) in 1911, He went to France in September 1914 and like his brother was involved in the 1st Battle of Ypres. Wounded on 3 November he was brought back to the American War Relief Hospital, Paignton, and subsequently discharged from the army. In 1921 he was living with his brother Thomas in London and working as a theatre attendant. I suspect this work was sometimes carried out by those with war disabilities. There is a pension card for him but it contains no details of his injuries or pension award. We have no idea if William spent time recuperating in Yapton.

Frederick Bacon's stepsons/nephews would have been more contemporary with Joe's stepfather John Hughes. The eldest was CHARLES BACON and Charles is a puzzle. A Charles Bacon of the correct age (and there was no other born in the area at the same time) was in the army by 1900, served in the Second Boer War, and on the 1911 census and the 1939 National Register was a single man working as an agricultural labourer in Yapton and living as a lodger. However his service papers give his father as Henry and they, and the census, give his place of birth as Middleton or Bognor. Significantly, Frederick did not list him as a brother when he completed a relatives form for his son Frederick in 1919.

THOMAS BACON left Yapton and joined the Metropolitan Police Force, and was a police constable in 1911. However the 1921 census gives his occupation as a cleaner employed by the Metropolitan Police.

And this brings us on to FREDERICK BACON, the younger. Frederick was a single man and an agricultural labourer when he enlisted in Arundel on 19 November 1914. In 1911 he had been living in North End, Yapton, as a boarder with an elderly widow. Frederick went to the front on 6 April 1915 to join the 2nd Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Did he then have the chance to meet my Great Uncle, Robert Hill, who was in the same battalion? Robert was ten years his junior but they would still have much of Yapton to talk about. However there would not have been that amount of time as on the 29th April Frederick is reported as missing. It was not until August 1919 that the army decided he had died. He was probably in the draft which the Battalion diary records as arriving on 8 April. The Battalion was on the Rue du Bois near the site of the recent battle of Neuve Chapelle and the soon to be site of the Battle of Richborg which would take place in early May.
The 27 April 1915 saw plenty of sniping and the Rue du Bois was shelled a lot. The 28 April was quiet apart from some shelling. At 8pm the relieved companies of the 2nd marched back independently to Pont Avelette for rest, the last arriving at 3am. The next day was spent at Pont Avelette with company training, bomb throwing, baths etc.. 15-20 men bathed in tubs at a time with water boiled in corrugated iron drums. There was regular staff for this so it became very efficient. The whole establishment was done in four days. The battalion did not move out of its rest until 2 May. Frederick's disappearance, if the date recorded is correct, could not be accounted for by action from the enemy. Had he in fact been a victim of a shell on the 27th or 28th, with no body left to be identified. Or had he once in the safety of the battalion's rest period decided to disappear? Or had he got lost? The men had marched in darkness and as a new arrival he would still have been unfamiliar with his surroundings. Yapton's Roll of Honour records him as being killed on the Rue de Blois on the 30th, with his name recorded on the Le Touret Memorial (as no body was found).

HARRY BACON born on 11 January 1883 was a close contemporary of Joe and Robert's brother BILL HUGHES (William Hill) born 9 July 1883. Although they didn't enlist together, both were boy sailors on the training ship HMS St Vincent, and when they reached 18 they both signed on for a further twelve years. At the end of 1903 they were both briefly together again on HMS Firequeen, a special service vehicle steam yacht. Harry bought himself out of the navy in 1906 and was in the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) until January 1913. Bill served out his twelve years until April 1914, when he too was transferred to the RNR. He was mobilised in July, and Harry rejoined the navy in November. Their paths do not seem to have crossed during the war. I do not know what Harry did from 1906 to 1914, apart from marrying Julia Oliver, 17 years his senior in 1912 in Wanstead East London. After the war Harry settled in Loughton, East London, Julia's home town. Exactly when I don't know as the 1921 census shows Harry and Julia in Yapton, as was the de-mobbed Bill Hughes. Harry and Bill may have exchanged naval stories.

WALTER ERNEST BACON, born 4 May 1893, fell between the school years of my great uncles John and Len Hughes. He joined up in June 1915 and served in the 9th, 3rd and 1st Battalions of the Royal Sussex. He suffered a shrapnel wound to his left knee in September 1916 and was confined to barracks a couple of times for being missing, but survived the war and returned to Yapton to work as an agricultural labourer. The 1939 National Register records him as living at Thatched Cottage, Church Lane, Yapton, with his wife Clara, whom he had married on 20 December 1936 in Yapton Church. Walter was now a builder's labourer, and as such may have worked with my grandfather Joe Hill (bricklayer), Joe's stepfather John Hughes and brother Bill Hughes (builder's labourers), or for my great uncle Len Hughes (builder).

ELLEN EMMA BACON Frederick's elder daughter, born 25 September 1887, married Herbert Lovatt in 1917 in Brighton. I guess he might have been a Welsh soldier as by 1919 Ellen was living in Cardiff.

ANNIE MARIA BACON, Frederick's younger daughter born 24 September 1898, left school at 14 for domestic service. My great aunt Ethel Hughes a year older than Annie did the same. In 1939 they were both living in Yapton, both single, possibly victims of so many young men having been killed in World War I. Annie was living with an elderly widow and working as a daily domestic. Charlotte was close by in 8 Victoria Villas, housekeeper to her father, and brother Bill.

ALBERT BACON, the youngest of Frederick's children left school to take a carpentry apprenticeship on 13 February 1914, and in 1921 was a carpenter living with his parents. In 1939 he was likely to be living at 51 High Street, Amberley, working as a boot/shoe dealer/repairer and ARP messenger,

FREDERICK BACON was buried in Yapton on 9 February 1931 aged 84. Fanny had predeceased him in 1929. It is likely both were looked after by the daughter Annie. They had lived for many years in Church Lane. I am sure they were always bumping into my family in Yapton, in the Black Dog, the Shoulder of Mutton and Cucumbers, and the local shops.

By WW2 the only members of this family still living in Yapton were Walter and Annie. Walter died in 1970. Was he still living in Yapton? I have not been able to find out what happened to Annie. Could anyone from Yapton help? As far as my family goes the last members in the village were Bill and Ethel Hughes at 8 Victoria Villas, who died in 1956 and 1957.

Susan Martin
July 2022

© Susan Martin, 2022.

No part of this information may be used for any purpose including but not limited to inclusion within name databases without the express consent of the author.

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