Grandad Beck and Rebecca Illes married at Buckland Newton on 26 Aug 1896. Grandad Beck had just been moved to Lyme Regis, Dorset as a 21-year-old police constable. At 35 years old Rebecca must have been anxious to start a family but it was 2 years later before she announced the happy news.
Lionel Howard Beck
On Tuesday 21 March 1899 Lionel Howard was born at Lyme Regis police station. Three days later he was baptised by Rev. William Jacob, the church register notes this was a private baptism. A private baptism suggests that Lionel was unwell and the baptism took place at the police station. Rebecca would have been 37 years old, which would have been considered old for a first baby.
Despite a difficult start in life, Lionel continued to thrive. I believe this is a photograph of Lionel. It is on the first page of one of the ‘best’ albums and if you look careful at the photograph I showed at Christmas you will see this photograph on the piano.
Laura May Beck
Two years later May, my grandmother was born on Friday 10th May 1901 also at Lyme Regis police station.
She was baptised Laura May on 14 July at St. Michael’s church Lyme Regis by the same vicar who had baptised her brother. This photograph is most likely of Lionel and May, a watering can has featured in a photograph of Lionel before.
In an era that children were often named for relatives or Godparents, I can find no mention of the names chosen by Grandad Beck and Rebecca. May was most likely chosen for the month she was born in.
I wonder how much time Grandad Beck had to spend with his children when they were young. As a police constable, he would have often worked 15-20 hours a day without a break, seven days a week. If a prisoner needed to go to Dorchester goal then the constable would walk the nine miles to Bridport, catch a train to Dorchester, after handing the prisoner over, he would return the same way. Often with the prospect of going back on duty when he arrived back at Lyme Regis. Grandad Beck told the Bridport News, on his retirement, that he had done this duty a number of times during his time at Lyme Regis. As the family lived in the police station I think that Grandad Beck would have found it possible to at least see his wife and children for a few minutes in-between duties.
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Bridport News: 31 March 1899 p8; 24 May 1901; 19 July 1935