Henry JOHNSON (1858–1911)
His wife Mrs Elizabeth JOHNSON, née Jones (c.1858–1929)
Their son Ernest Henry JOHNSON (1888–1940)
With an inscription to their son Harold Reuben Johnson, died in the First World War
St Giles (Ss Philip & James) section: Row 2, Grave B39
DIED MAY 29TH. 1911,
AGED 52 YEARS.
FOR 25 YEARS SUPERINTENDENT OF
ALSO OF ELIZABETH HIS WIFE,
DIED MARCH 17TH. 1929,
AGED 71 YEARS.
SERGEANT H. R. JOHNSON M.M.
21ST. COUNTY OF LONDON REGT.,
SON OF THE ABOVE,
DIED OF WOUNDS RECEIVED IN ACTION
OCTOBER 21ST. 1918,
AGED 28 years.
INTERRED IN ESTAIRES CEMETERY, FRANCE.
ERNEST HENRY JOHNSON
ELDEST SON OF
HENRY & ELIZABETH JOHNSON
DIED APRIL 6TH. 1940
AGED 51 YEARS.
Henry Johnson was born in Somerton (between Banbury and Bicester) in 1858 and baptised there on 25 October. He was the only child of the carpenter Reuben Johnson (baptised at Somerton church in 1822) and Elizabeth (Betsey) Stone (born in Wootten, Oxfordshire in c.1815), who were married at Wootten on 20 December 1857. His father died at the age of 37 when Henry was just one year old and was buried at Somerton on 25 October 1858. His mother Mrs Betsey Johnson married her second husband, the widower Henry Young, in 1864.
At the time of the 1871 census Henry (12) was still at school, and living at the grocer’s & baker’s shop at Fritwell with his mother, his stepfather Henry Young, and his stepsister Ann Young (20), who was a domestic servant.
He is hard to locate in the 1881 census.
In 1885, when he was a single man of 27, he was appointed Keeper of St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, and moved into its lodge, which is between 80 and 81 Walton Street, set well back from the road (below).
Elizabeth Jones was born at Launton near Bicester in 1857 (reg. fourth quarter). She is presumably the Elizabeth Jones (3) who at the time of the 1861 census was living with her uncle Thomas Savin, the station master at Launton. Also living with him was his unmarried sister-in-law Hannah Jones. In 1871 Elizabeth (13) was living with her grandparents William & Elizabeth Freeman at Marsh Road, Launton; and in 1881 when she was 23 she was back with her uncle Thomas Savin.
On 13 October 1886 at Launton Church, Henry Johnson married Elizabeth Jones: both were 28 years old. The couple were to spend the whole of their married life living at the cemetery lodge at 81 Walton Street, where the following children were born:
- Florence Elizabeth Johnson (born on 16 August 1887 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 9 September)
- Ernest Henry Johnson (born in 1888 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 23 November)
- Harold Reuben Johnson (born on 25 November 1889 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 24 January 1890)
- Herbert Lawrence Johnson (born on 28 March 1893 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 21 April)
- William Reginald Johnson (born on 8 December 1898 and baptised at St Paul’s Church on 10 February 1899)
At the time of the 1891 census Henry (32) and Elizabeth (33) were living in the cemetery lodge with their first three children. By the time of the next census in 1901, their family was complete.
In 1911 only three of the children were still at home with their parents at the cemetery lodge. Ernest (22) was now a cemetery assistant; Herbert (18) was an assistant carpenter; and William (12) was at school. The two missing children were Harold (21), who was boarding in Pimlico, where he was working as a bookseller’s clerk; and Florence (23), who was acting as housekeeper to Thomas Young (84), a widower back in her mother’s home village of Launton.
Henry Johnson continued to work as the keeper of St Sepulchre’s Cemetery until his death in 1911:
† Henry Johnson died at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery Lodge in Walton Street at the age of 52 on 29 May 1911 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 1 June (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church; burials ceased to be duplicated in the register of Ss Philip & James’s Church after 1907).
His effects came to £616 12s. 11d., and his wife Elizabeth was his executor.
Henry’s eldest son Ernest Henry Johnson succeeded his father as keeper of the cemetery, and is listed in that post in Kelly’s Directory for 1915.
The following year he was conscripted and served as a Private in the Royal Warwickshire regiment. He was soon wounded, and his photograph (left) appeared in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 27 September 1916.
Although he survived the war, he was too disabled to return to his job as Keeper of the cemetery.
Harold Reuben Johnson (1889–1918)
His brother Harold, who was probably still working in London, also fought in the war and was fatally wounded in 1918:
Harold Reuben Johnson served in the First World War as a Company Sergeant Major (Service No. 650862) in the 21st Battalion (attached to the 142nd T.M. Battery) of the London Regiment (First Surrey Rifles). He was awarded the Military Medal.
On 21 October 1918, just three weeks before the Armistice, he died of wounds in France at the age of 29, and was buried at the Estaires Communal Cemetery (Grave V.G.17). CWGC page
His photograph appeared in the Oxford Journal Illustrated of 20 November 1918 (above).
It was probably his mother who had the inscription about him added to his father’s grave (left)
Harold Reuben Johnson was remembered on the second war memorial panel in Ss Philip & James’s Church. This was removed when a doorway was inserted, but a copy of the names was fixed to the door (below):
He is also remembered on a memorial in St Barnabas (right)
Mrs Johnson appears to have lived at 5 The Terrace in Shipton-on-Cherwell near Kidlington in the early 1920s, as this is the address given for her in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s records.
By 1929 she had moved back to Oxford, and was living at 10 Observatory Street with her son Ernest at the time of her death in hospital:
† Mrs Elizabeth Johnson née Jones died at the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 71 on 17 March 1929 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 18 March (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).
Her effects came to £161 8s. 6d., and probate was granted to her son Ernest, who was described as a disabled ex-serviceman.
Her son Ernest was still living at 10 Observatory Street in 1935, but had moved to 3 St Mary’s Road in east Oxford by the time of his death in hospital in 1940:
† Ernest Henry Johnson died at the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 51 on 6 April 1940 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 10 April (burial recorded in the parish register of St Giles’s Church).
His effects came to £468 11s. 6d.
Other surviving children of Henry & Elizabeth Johnston
- Florence Elizabeth Johnson (born 1887) married George T. Tuck at Bishops Stortford in 1926. She was the executor of her brother Ernest’s will in 1940.
- Herbert Lawrence Johnson (born 1893) emigrated to Canada, arriving at New York on the Leviathan on 19 October 1929.
- William Reginald Johnson (born 1898) emigrated to Canada, arriving at Quebec on the Vedic on 19 June 1921.