Thomas Alexander SYMMONS (1856–1928)
His wife Mrs (Harriet) Ellen SYMMONS, née Stokes (1864/5–1935)
With inscription to their son Alexander Lewis Symmons who died in the First World War
St Michael section: Row 22, Grave G48½
IN LOVING MEMORY OF THOMAS ALEXANDER SYMMONS, DIED JAN 30TH 1928, AGED 71 YEARS.
[On short right kerb]: AND OF ELLEN, HIS WIFE / DIED AUG. 29TH 1938, AGED 74 YEARS.
[See below for inscription to their son who died in the First World War]
Thomas Alexander Symmons was born in Barnstaple, Devon in 1856 (reg. second quarter), the son of George Symmons and Maria Booth, who were married at Barnstaple in 1853. At the time of the 1861 census Thomas (4) was living at Princeton with his father George (31), who was a warder at Dartmoor Prison, his mother Maria (31), and his sister Ellen Maria (5) and brother George (2). In 1881 Thomas (23) was a printer compositor lodging in Derby; and by the time of his marriage in 1887 he was working for Oxford University Press and living at 77 Cranham Street.
Harriet Ellen Stokes was born in Marylebone in 1864/5, the twin daughter of Alfred Stokes (born in North Parade, Oxford in 1837 and baptised at St Giles’s Church on 11 June) and his wife Julia (born at Gerrards Cross in 1834/5). At the time of the 1871 census her father Alfred (33) was a solicitor’s clerk living at 20 Croft Street, Deptford with his wife Julia (36) and their children Lewis (8), Harriet and Alice (6), Ada (4), and Julia (2). Harriet’s mother Julia died three years later in 1874, and her father married his second wife Annie Maria Johncock in Islington in 1875. By the time of the 1881 census her father was working as a builder’s labourer in Oxford, living at a house in a yard near 4 Jericho Street with his second wife Annie and their son Leslie (3) as well as two children from his first marriage. Harriet (17) was not at home: she was a housemaid at the Great House near Wilcote, North Leigh. Her address at the time of her marriage was given as North Parade Avenue.
On 11 April 1887 at Ss Philip & James Church, Oxford, Thomas Alexander Symmons married Harriet Ellen Stokes. They had four children:
- Alexander Lewis Symmons (born at 12 North Parade Avenue, Oxford on 5 January 1888 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 29 January)
- Alfred Edward Symmons (born at 26 St Bernard’s Road, Oxford on 28 August 1889 and baptised at Ss Philip & James’s Church on 10 October)
- Ada Mary Symmons (born in Jericho, Oxford on 27 February 1893 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 30 March)
- Constance Agnes Symmons (born in Jericho, Oxford on 11 December 1894 and baptised at St Barnabas’s Church on 20 January 1895)
Thomas and Harriet Stokes appear to have begun their married life at 12 North Parade Avenue. By 1889 they had moved to 26 St Bernard’s Road (then called St John’s Road), and they can be seen there at the time of the 1891 census with their first two children.
By 1895 they had moved to the Jericho area, and at the time of the 1901 census were living at 26 Great Clarendon Street. Their eldest son Alexander (13) was already working as a messenger, probably for Oxford University Press, while Alfred (11), Ada (8), and Constance (6) were at school.
By 1911 they had moved to 5 St Barnabas’ Street. Both Thomas (54) and his son Alexander (23) were working as compositors for Oxford University Press, while Ada (18) and Constance (16) were dressmakers. Alfred (21) was involved in mechanical dentistry work and lodging in Salisbury.
Alexander Lewis Symmons (1888–1917)
Their elder son Alexander served in the First World War first in the 1st R.M. Battalion, R.N. Division of the Royal Marine Light Infantry (Service No. CH/1479(S)). He died of wounds at the age of 29 on 27 October 1917. CWGC page.
His grave says that he died in France, but he was buried in Belgium, five miles to the east of the border, in the Dozinghem Military Cemetery (grave ref. XI.C.11). He is also remembered on the St Barnabas’s Church war memorial (above right). Surprisingly, although both Alexander and his father were both compositors at Oxford University Press, he does not appear on their war memorial or in their War Record book. It is possible that he ceased to work for the Press at some point between 1911 and 1917.
This inscription was added later to his parents’ grave (but according to the CWGC he died on the 19th, not 17th October):
ALSO OF ALEXANDER LEWIS SYMMONS, DIED OF WOUNDS IN FRANCE, OCT. 17TH 1917, AGED 29 YEARS
Marriages of Alexander’s three siblings
- On 9 September 1913 at St Frideswide's Church, Oxford, Alfred Edward Symmons (24), described as a dental assistant of 4 Lymebourne Terrace, Sidmouth, Devon married Annie Ethel Turner (27) of 22 West Street, Osney, the daughter of the labourer Arthur David Turner;
- On 20 March 1918 at St Barnabas's Church, Oxford, Constance Agnes Symmons (23) married the soldier Victor James Franklin Bennett, who was described as the son of the stonemason James Bennett: both were then living at 5 St Barnabas's Street;
- On 21 April 1914 at St Michael & All Angels Church in Kensington, London, Ada Mary Symmons (26) married the fitter George Edward Lumsden (23): both gave their address as 38 Oxford Gardens, West London.
His father Thomas Symmons was still living at 5 St Barnabas Street when he died in 1928. He was buried in the St Michael section of the cemetery; it is likely at this late date that space was unavailable in the old St Paul’s section:
† Thomas Alexander Symmons died at the Radcliffe Infirmary at the age of 71 on 30 January 1928 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 30 January (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).
His effects came to £267 6s. 11d.
It was probably his wife who added the inscription about their son Alexander to her husband’s grave. She died ten years later in 1938:
† Mrs (Harriet) Ellen Symmons died at the London Road Hospital in Headington at the age of 74 on 29 August 1938 and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 1 September (burial recorded in the parish register of St Michael’s Church).