I thought I’d follow up last week’s ‘Ancestor Of The Week’ with another that was inspired by his hair (although I have to say that although he isn’t an ancestor – he’s my 2 x great-uncle – the photo beautifully illustrates the power of genetics).
I have inherited many things from my parents – a widow’s peak and passive-aggressive arguing from my father, trick knees and bad ears from my mother – but looking at the wider family on my mother’s side and one thing becomes apparent. Hair. It tends to be thick, wavy, dark and lustrous. (Two of my brothers are blond, but have the thick waves when it is allowed to get long.) Mine, too, has a propensity for the … if I’m being kind then we’ll go for Mr. Darcy curls … if I’m being less kind then we’ll go for Don King.
I used to call this ‘Holborow Hair’ after my maternal grandmother and her father’s family. However, upon finding the below photograph it has now been altered to ‘Hurcombe Hair’.
Now that’s some hair.
Charlie was born in the small Gloucestershire village of Tresham, located between the National Arboretum at Westonbirt and the village of Wotton-under-Edge, on o3 February 1909. He was the eldest son and second child of my 2 x great-grandparents – Alfred William Hurcombe and his wife Harriet Robins.
Alfred was a shepherd, as can be seen on the family’s 1911 Census return.
Other than his sister, Edith (my great-grandmother), and his parents, Charles also shared his home at that time with a William James Meacham. There is no (known) connection between the Meacham and Hurcombe or Robins families, and I believe that little William is the brother of a Wilfred Harold Meacham who was also born in Tresham in 1910. In 1911 Wilfred is living with his (presumed) father, Frank Meacham, less than 20 miles away from Tresham in Coates, Gloucestershire. Frank was a cowman so perhaps he knew Alfred from the farming community, or his wife (Elizabeth Jane nee Clarke) knew Harriet. As to where Elizabeth is in the 1911 census, there is an Elizabeth Meacham listed as a patient in the Bristol Royal Infirmary. Given a lack of other options, I strongly suspect that this is William and Wilfred’s mother. (To set your minds at rest, there’s no death registered for an Elizabeth Meacham in that area for quite some time!)
Alfred worked for Richard Holborow at Burden Court Farm in Tresham for many years. In 1922 the family moved to Heddington (near Devizes) and he became a shepherd at Nether Street, a nearby hamlet/collection of farms. Given the proximity to Devizes, it is likely that Charlie met his wife, Violet Muriel Brewer, there. In fact, Charlie’s grandaughter, Sharon Hurcombe, has this to say about their meeting:
… Nan and her family lived along the ‘Barracks’ next to the farm [Charlie] worked on. Her family, the Brewers, worked there too, [and] that’s how they met.
They married in 1931 and went on to have 3 sons.
Following his retirement, Charlie sadly suffered a number of strokes which left him paralysed. Sharon once again picks up the story …
He had a number of strokes just after he retired which rendered him paralysed down one side. He made great friends with the ambulance staff who used to ferry him backwards and forwards from his home in Bromham to Southfields in Devizes for a bath a couple of times a week as Nan (Violet) couldn’t manage this at home on her own. They were also great with Nan, taking her to town and dropping her off at the same time, before he passed away about 16 years after having his strokes. He donated some money to the ambulance staff with the stipulation it had to go towards something they wanted and nothing to do with the health service and so they made the memorial garden and put up a plaque in his name.
The plaque for the Charlie Hurcombe Memorial Garden is still there at the ambulance station.
Charlie passed away in 1994, with his wife following 2 years later.