Is this the end of this blog? Well, I have achieved what I set out to do, written about my Great Grandfather’s career in the police force. With over 40 years service Grandad Beck is one of the longest serving policemen in Dorset Police. This blog has exceeded my expectations when I started back in January 2016. I have written more than I expected, over 60 posts, one a week. I have ‘met’ cousins, I didn’t know before and made some new friends. I have learnt about Dorset history, my home town of Bridport and my ancestors.
Rebecca Illes and Arthur Percy Beck married at Buckland Newton Church, in Dorset on Wednesday 26th August 1896. Grandad Beck’s father Eli and his sister Olive signed the church register. I don’t have any early photographs of Rebecca, the ones below were taken in the early 1900s.
On 23rd April 1917 Grandad Beck’s son Lionel joined the Royal North Devon Hussars 2/1 Battalion. His service was to last 101 days, just over 3 months. From his discharge papers and the three letters Lionel wrote to his sister May, we find out about this time. Less than a year after he returned home, Lionel died, his death certificate contained a surprise.
Lionel the soldier
We learn that Private Lionel Howard Beck was 5ft 6in with blue eyes and fair hair. Before his call up, Lionel, worked as a shop assistant, most likely in Blandford where he lived at home with his parents and sister. At this time Grandad Beck was Superintendent at Blandford and the family lived in the police station.
Grandad Beck’s mother died on May 26th 1919, Grandad Beck, Rebecca and 18 year old May would have joined Eli (Grandad Beck’s father) and the rest of the family at Garland Road, Longfleet, Poole, Dorset for the funeral. My Great, Great Grandmother, Frances Jane Beck was buried in the St Mary’s churchyard, Longfleet. Later to be joined by her husband, Eli and Grandad Beck.
In January 1923 it must have been with sadness that Grandad Beck said good bye to his brother Ernest who emigrated to America, with his wife, Flo and daughter, Olive. Ernest sent lots of photographs home and we have over 100 photographs and postcards of his life in America. Ernest wrote on the back of the photographs so though we don’t have the accompanying letters, we can gain a glimpse of his life in Massachusetts.
Last week I wrote about the wedding of Grandad Beck’s daughter in the month of May 1925. (Laura) May Beck had lived in several police stations with her parents, she was born in Lyme Regis where her father was a constable, the family then moved to Upwey, followed by Dorchester and Blandford before coming to Beaminster. She must have known many of the police officers in Dorset and the local officers gave her with a guard of honour at her wedding.
The Bridport News reports that the weather was stormy and in this photograph it looks chilly and wet. Two of the guests have umbrellas up as they assembled for this photograph outside Beaminster church. Most of the guest are wearing coats and hats, from the photograph it doesn’t look like a summer wedding.
On a stormy day, at 2 O’clock on Thursday 7th May 1925 my Grandparents married in Beaminster parish church. My Grandmother, Laura May, was the only daughter of Grandad Beck and his wife Rebecca. Because she died when my father was a small lad, there are few memories of her. We have a few clues to their wedding day, family photographs, a Bridport News article and a hand written note book of invitations sent. From these sources I have written this post.
The wedding took place at Beaminster Parish Church, described as capacious and stately, and was filled with relatives and friends. The ceremony was impressively conducted by the Vicar (Canon G. C. Hutchings, M.A.) assisted by the Rev. Mr Kershaw, of Powerstock. The paper also tells us the hymns sung were, “Lead us heavenly Father lead us,” and “O perfect love all human thoughts transcending.”
Letters and post cards give us a small glimpse into the life and thoughts of our ancestors. They may tells us something about their characters but it would be too easy to make conclusions from these sources. For example what could we deduce from Grandad Beck’s start of his letter Hello you folks! and ending All the love yours APB to his daughter and son-in-law. The letter (well it is actually added on to his wife’s letter) shows a practical side, a sense of humour, a casual way of writing and yet ends with his initials APB.
I don’t have many letters but I have chosen a couple both written in 1926. Grandad Beck and his wife Rebecca had recently moved to Peel House, Bridport. There newly married daughter and son-in-law lived at Wytherston Farm, Powerstock about 6 miles away. May and Fred were married on 7th May 1925 and this post celebrates the birth of their first child, my Uncle, Frederick Osborne who was born on 17 March 1926.
Post Card 15 January 1926
Sometimes it is odd which correspondence survive, for example why did the card below from Grandad Beck to his father Eli survive but not the card/letter that was being answered.
Bridport News March 2nd 1928
Beck – March 1, at Peel House, St Andrew’s Road, Bridport, Rebecca Beck, wife of Supt. A. P. Beck, aged 66
The Bridport News also wrote a piece entitled SUPT. BECK’S BEREAVEMENT The deceased lady, … possessed a gentle and kindly disposition what endeared her to all with whom she came in contact. Throughout a long illness, borne with patience and fortitude, she was devotedly attended by her husband, while Dr. J.H. Armistead, her medical attendant, was unsparing in his efforts. The interment will take place at Blandford to-morrow (Saturday). The deepest sympathy is extended to Supt. Beck in the heavy bereavement that has befallen him.
Rebecca Beck (nee Illes)
My great grandparents had married 35 years before at Buckland Newton Church in Dorset. Grandad Beck was a 21 year old police constable and his bride a 35 year old former dairymaid. Throughout their marriage Rebecca had supported her husband’s career and, if family legend is correct, encouraged her husband to climb the promotional ladder.
A while ago I asked Who are these people? about a photograph including some of my Grandmother’s family. Sorting through the photograph albums I have found more photographs taken at the same time. Some of these are in front of a house, looking at one of them in detail I can make a good guess as to the question of where the photograph was taken and, therefore, who the people are.
Where was the photograph taken?
The answer to this question is possible because the owner of the house has very kindly put his name on the house wall. Thank you to Jim (cousin-in-law) for spotting this.