Louisa Jane Shortland

Louisa Jane Shortland was my great grandmother on my fathers side of the family. She was the wife of Albert Edward William Clarke who served with the Northamptonshire Constabulary, the daughter of William Thomas Shortland and Elizabeth Jelley and she had one brother, Ernest Henry. Albert and Louisa had five children – Dorothy Margaret, Edward Alexander, Cicely Mary  (known as Molly), Kitty Alexandra and my grandmother Delia Eileen.

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I have been able to trace Louisa through census returns.  The 1881 census shows her living in Weedon, aged three, with her father William (a widower) and his sister Emily, also Louisa’s brother Ernest and their grandparents.  The 1891 census shows Louisa is still at home with William in Weedon but he is now married to Alis and there is is a daughter Bessie.

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In 1901, Louisa is still in Weedon but now working as a parlour maid. When William’s first wife Elizabeth died, William re-married Alis, who had a daughter called Maud. William and Alis, later had a child together called Bess.  The photos below show the four children (Ernest is pictured at the back, with his hand on Louisa’s shoulder) and William and Alis. Ernest lived to be 91 and Bess died, unmarried, leaving thousands of pounds for charities in Northamptonshire.

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By 1911, Louisa has married my great grandfather Albert Edward William Clarke, a police sergeant and they are living together at Factory Row Police Station, Pottersbury.  Their two eldest children, Dorothy and  Edward who died aged four in October 1911,  are also shown, together with a visitor, Cecilia E Glenn, a certified midwife. The 1911 census doesn’t appear to coincide with the births of any of Louisa’s children that I can see but my father believes Louisa had a number of miscarriages, so that could be the reason.

In 1939 register records Louisa Jane as a widow living her daughters Molly and Kitty at The Limes, Wellingboro.

It has also been possible to keep track of Louisa’s father William. In 1861 he is aged seven, living in Weedon with his parents John and Jane and siblings, Henry (recorded as an invalid), Richard, Sarah and Emily. In 1871 he is aged 17 and still living with his parents and sister Emily and but in 1881, William is recorded as a widower, living with his parents and sister, and his children Louisa and Ernest.  He remains a resident of Weedon on both the 1891 and 1901 censuses.

The census returns also show my great great grandfather John Shortland – aged 36 in 1851, he is married to Jane and living with children John, Richard, Sarah and Mary.  In 1861 William and another daughter, named Emily appear and Louisa Jane and her brother Ernest show on the 1881 census too.

Prior to marrying Albert, Louisa was in service. She can be found on the 1901 census, residing with a family called Liddell  in Wandsworth. The photo below includes Louisa and was taken by J. Seckington photograper, of Willoughby, Rugby.

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Albert Edward William Clarke

Albert Edward William Clarke was my great grandfather on my fathers side of the family. He served with the Northamptonshire Constabulary from 1 December 1899 until he retired on 6 October 1931.

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On joining the force he was described as a native of Welton, Northamptonshire and during his service he served at Kettering, Oundle, Paulerspury, Daventry, East Haddon, Northampton, Pottersbury and Naseby. On retirement he held the rank of Sergeant and was described as having an exemplary character.

The 1901 census shows Albert, aged 24, living alone at Police Station House, London Road, Kettering. His occupation is shown as Police Constable. The 1911 census shows Albert living with Louisa at Factory Road, Potterspury, Paulerspury. His occupation is given as Sergeant of Police.

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The photo above is a postcard sent by Albert on 7 June 1911 to Mrs A E Clarke (my great grandmother), Police Station, Pottersbury, Stony, Stratford, Bucks. On the back it reads: ‘Dear Lou Hope you are all well pleased to say I am alright, not quite as busy as on Monday. I do not know yet if it will be Sunday or Monday we shall leave here with love to you all. Ted’.

I also have a book of common payer given to Albert  by Louisa. At approximately 5cm by 9cm I can barely read the writing but on the inside front cover it says ‘From Lou, to Albert, Xmas 1889. In loving memory of the past’.

Albert is remembered at St Martins Church, Welton by a plaque that records that he and a number of other local men carved the pulpit.

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The newspaper article below appeared in the Northampton Mercury on 2 August 1918. It records Albert Edward William Clarke as a Sergeant in Naseby. He had been summoned by the Daventry Board of Guardians who sought a maintenance order for his mother Mary Ann Clarke.

Northampton Mercury, 2 August 1918

Albert’s retirement was reported in local newspapers and stated he had ‘repeatedly been called for duty when royalty had visited the county at Althorpe and Castle Ashby in 1907 when the present King and Queen, Prince and Princess of Wales, visited there. During the last three hunting seasons the Sergeant has been in charge of the police who were on duty at Naseby Hall and Thornby Grange when the Duke and Duchess of York and Princess Elizabeth were in residence.’

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At the time of his death it was reported that he ‘knew personally both the present King and Queen and the late King George and Queen Mary, for during his police service he was called upon to undertake the duty of guarding their Majesties. This was when King George and Queen Mary stayed at Althorpe several years ago and when the present King and Queen were at Naseby Hall and Thornby Hall as Duke and Duchess of York.’

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He rode to war on a penny farthing

Ernest Henry Shortland was the brother of my great grandmother Louisa Jane. Born in Weedon, Northamptonshire in 1876, for most of his life he worked as a wheelwright.

Ernest and wife Laura outside the house Ernest built at Braefield

As a young man, Ernest joined the local section of the First Battalion, the Northamptonshire Volunteers and would travel with his colleagues on Penny Farthing bicycles to Daventry weekly, to take part in combined company drill and exercises. On arriving in Daventry, the cycling soldiers were greeted with shouts of ‘here come the mounted infantry’.

At the outbreak of war, Ernest volunteered for service but because of his age was advised to join the County Police and this is how he came to Braefield. As a war time police officer, he had many experiences, including chasing German prisoners of war who had escaped Pattishall Camp. who were located hiding in a a wood and escorted back to Northampton.

Ernest died in Braefield aged 91 and at that time was the villages oldest man.

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