We continue the saga of the children of William Augustus and Alice Esther Baker with their five youngest – all boys.
Alas, not the movie-star of the same name, who was forty years younger and Welsh. Stan was married to Grace Maud Philpot and they had one son, Philip Stanley Baker – June’s ‘Cousin Phil’ – who laid much of the groundwork of the family history detective work in this particular line. Alas, in later years, June became very confused, and actually spent a whole day with her Cousin Clive thinking he was Cousin Phil. Phil died in 2007, and it would be very interesting to know what had happened to his research material; enquiries I have made have yielded precisely nothing, unfortunately.
Reg was married to Jessica Munton, and their son was named John – and this is, I’m afraid, all the information I currently have about him except that, like all of his brothers but Frank, he both served in the First World War and worked his entire life for the GWR.
We’re on safer ground with Frank; he was June’s father. He married Edith Nellie Louise Mullinger (1895-1987) in 1919 and they had four children – William Edward Frank (‘Teddy’), June Edith, Pauline Mary, and Peter Neville Macord.* Frank was excluded both from working with the GWR and also from active military duty in the First World War as the result of a childhood accident which left him with only one eye. He did, however, go to France as an ambulance driver; the emotions of Alice as she waved away all seven sons, in turn, to the battlefields can only be imagined.
Frank had a glass eye, and is reputed to have entertained guests by taking it out and polishing it at the dinner table – but this story seems to have circulated about everyone who ever had a glass eye, and should probably be taken with a pinch of salt! He was variously in the licensed trade, a cinema manager, and the proprietor of a tobacconist and sweet shop – the business, and premises, of which he is trying to divest himself of in the course of the 1960 and 1961 letters on this site. He was also a Freemason, but this is an area of family history which is notoriously elusive and I have not attempted to research it yet; however I am aware that the masons refused to help Edith when, towards the end of her life, she needed a place in a residential care home.
Cyril married Beryl Smith, and they had four children – Patricia Kathleen, Iris, Anthony Cyril Raynham, and Clive Robert Ian. Again, as with some of the other ‘boys’, this is all the available information at the moment; clearly further research is indicated.
Lacking any definitive information about how his nickname came to be, it isn’t difficult to imagine young Hubert being his mother’s darling and consolation after the death of her husband. Apart from this we know little, and it is only recently (i.e. February 2021) that a photograph of him has emerged on a ‘Member’s Tree’ in the Ancestry database, incorrectly labelled as being of Frank. Clearly a wrong attribution had become attached to it by someone who had never met Frank, or indeed anyone who knew him; close scrutiny, however, reveals a cap badge bearing the Prince of Wales’ feathers, and we know that Bunny was in the Prince of Wales’ Own Civil Service Rifles.
The circumstances of Bunny’s death are still a mystery, although it should be possible to research. He died (appropriately for a railway worker) at Railway Dugouts, near Ypres, on 18 January 1917, and is commemorated on the Ealing Memorial Gates at Ealing Common, along with over 800 other local men.
So, these are the seven men and two women who made up ‘The Baker Bunch’. They undoubtedly knew hardship – Alice used to tell her sons always to carry a half-penny and a stone in their pocket, so that they could jangle them together and sound wealthy even though they weren’t – however they all seem to have won through in the end and made decent lives for themselves and their children, who by my reckoning numbered 26 in all, with goodness knows how many grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great-great grandchildren (Frank certainly has at least three!) and potentially great-great-great grandchildren before too long.
It really needs little more than this snapshot of one family to realise exactly how big a task Family History is, even when you already have a lot of the information you need. Family is indeed, as Dodie Smith memorably called it, a ‘Dear Octopus’ from whose tentacles one can never completely escape; that being said, however, it is not un-reasonable to document it to whatever extent is possible – if only so that future generations do not continue to confuse Phil with Clive, or Frank with Bunny!
[*Mullinger and Macord are both fascinating families with very long recorded histories; the Macords in particular were Huguenots who fled to England from religious persecution in France in the seventeenth century, and it would be reasonable to suggest that every single Macord in the various online genealogy databases is somehow related to ‘our’ Macords – it’s a particularly unusual surname. My distant relative Colin Gronow is currently working on a definitive ‘One-Name Study‘ of the Macords. The name came into the Baker line via Alice Esther’s mother Rachael Nickolls Macord.]