Henry was born on 18th January 1854 in Chessington, Surrey, almost exactly 100 years before me !
On the 1871 census he is described as a clerk in a mercantile office.
At some point in the next ten years he becomes the owner (to be confirmed) of Sutton Whitmore Farm in Surrey (photo on the left from 1970) (now called Whitmore Farm, Church Road, Windlesham, Sutton Green, Woking, Surrey GU20 6BH). (This is not far from Worplesden Golf Course where Alick Benson died on the links.)
Sutton Whitmore Farm is near Woking, about 28 miles away from Chessington. On the right is a full description of the Farm from an earlier sale in 1859. How did Henry come to have a farm so far away from his father ?
As recorded in his father’s Will, sometime prior to 1879, George Bird of Chessington Court Farm, had “some time since given to my said two sons all my farm and agricultural implements and all my carts, horses and all other things whatsoever necessary to carry on the farm with and which business my said two sons now carry on together, I having given up all my interest therein to them.”
It seems my great grandfather and Georgie must have taken over responsibility for Chessington Court Farm and must have run it together for a number of years.
Henry married Louisa Maria Pim Wareham on 9th October 1879 at St Paul’s Church, Hook. On the 1881 census, they are living at Sutton Whitmore Farm.
They had three children :
Florence Mary Bird – she was born in August 1880 (see notice in the Standard, London 26th August 1880 below) and sadly died four and a half months later of “Convulsions Sudden”. The Family have only recently found out about Florence from the 1911 census which shows two living and one dead child from the marriage.
Percy Hyde Bird, my grandfather, was born in May 1883. Henry is now described as a "corn merchant" living at 'Fairlight', Cadogan Road, Surbiton. Percy and Marjorie's son Tony, in his unpublished autobiography, explains "Because of some domestic strife, later resolved, between his parents, my father was virtually adopted and brought up by his childless great-aunt, Mrs Ross."
On the 1891 Census, Louisa and Percy are living with her cousin, George Wareham. Where is Henry Ross Bird ?
Leslie Bird was born in September 1894, eleven years later.
By the time of the 1901 Census, Henry, Louisa and their youngest child, Leslie, had moved to 'Homeleigh', Wells Road in Bristol.
In 1911 they have moved to 54 Royal Parade, Eastbourne with two servants. There are 9 rooms.
In March 1926, Henry Ross Bird, now of 'Kenmore', 36 Upper Avenue, Eastbourne dies aged 72 of “Cardiac Valvular Disease”. His death is reported by Major P.H.Bird of 'Byways', 6 Willifield Way, N.W.11 in Hampstead Garden Suburb. His Estate, according to his Will, was valued at £2,391 (£108,000 in today’s terms RPI). Basically, he left the house and contents to his wife, Louisa, to live in for the rest of her life, but then after her death, very strangely, “to my son Leslie thus carrying out my promise of his 21st birthday.” Everything else is 50:50 between the two boys and both are Executors. Why didn’t Percy get the value of half the property ? Had he already received a major gift during Henry’s lifetime ? He must have made this promise in 1915. Is that significant ?
The Will includes the phrase “… and Leslie Bird now living in Tunis … “ .... no idea about this !
Five years later in 1931, Louisa died aged 73. Her death was reported by her cousin F.J.Welch. I also have her Will and she was still living at “Kenmore” and Percy is still living in the Suburb although Leslie is now “living in Hampstead” (both named as Executors). Bearing in mind the value of £100 in 1931 would today, using the retail prices index, be worth about £5,300, among her bequests are :
Marjorie Bird (Percy’s wife) £100
Ethel Marion Finley Bird (Leslie’s wife) £100
All three children of Percy :
Derek Gordon Ross Bird (£300)
Antony Cole Bird £300
Hugh Henry Bird £300
Margaret Knight (wife of C.D.Knight) £100
In a codicil written five months before her death she also gives :
Marjorie Bird – “my large single stone diamond ring, my diamond crescent brooch, my green beads and music stool, my stone marten fur and my neck stole”.
Ethel Marion Finley Bird – “my second size diamond ring and my black and white beads”.
Derek Gordon Ross Bird – “my mahogany chest of drawers”.
Antony Cole Bird – "my silver tray and my gold ring set with one diamond”.
Hugh Henry Bird – “the couch in my spare room”.
Frances Jane Welch (my cousin) – “mourning ring and brooch set with emerald and pearls and my silver purse”.
Finally, “I bequeath (free of duty) to Nurse Upshire, who is at present acting as Nurse to me £30".
To do : Visit the Surrey History Centre in Woking (GU21 6ND) to find details of the purchase and sale of Sutton Whitmore Farm.
Find Henry Ross Bird on the 1891 census. His wife and son were living with her cousin, George Wareham. Were they living apart due to the "domestic strife" mentioned in the autobiography ?
Trace the various properties he lived in - 'Homeleigh' in Bristol and both 54 Royal Parade and 'Kenmore' in Eastbourne.
Acknowledgment : 1970 photo of Sutton Whitmore Farm http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/collections/getrecord/SHILL_CC1101_3_160_322