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The Tale of Two Cycling Brothers 8 months 2 weeks ago #80725

  • Smethwick
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Searching the Smethwick Telephone (ST) online from 1899 to 1902 for the word “enteric” produced a significant number of hits. I have just followed up the one in the ST of 15th February 1902 which reported that T E Jordison of the British South Africa Police had died of enteric fever on the 1st of the month at Vryburg. It added that readers might remember him as a leading amateur racing cyclist and performer on the local cricket fields. A similar report in the Birmingham Mail added that 2 months before his death he had won the Rhodesian one & five mile cycling championships.

Perusing the ABW Forum database shows he appears three times as “E T” and “T E” and finally “F E” Jordison. The last is down to an Ancestry transcriber understandably deciding a T on a medal roll was an F. The other two are explained by the fact he was christened Edward Thompson bur seemed to prefer being known as Thompson Edward – perhaps he felt it made him seem more formidable on the velodrome starting line. Then I noticed there was a W H Jordison who served in the Cape Colony Cyclist Corps. A visit to Ancestry, where I was helped by numerous public family trees, quickly showed it was not a coincidence and that they were brothers.

So, what follows are two tales which start together but diverge in 1899 with one being a life full of sporting promise cut tragically short by disease at age 19, and the other of a jack-the-lad, who served at sea, on horseback and cycle saddle, raised a family, passed three score years and ten and ended in Canada.

Their parents were Alfred Henry Jordison and Teresa Elliot who both originated in Middlesbrough although Teresa had Irish blood in her. Alfred did well as a Printer & Stationer and by 1891 aged 46 gave his occupation as “private means”. They moved progressively south and Edward was born in 1881 in Leicester and Wilfred in Leamington Spa on 2nd May 1882. In 1891 the family were living in Lordswood Road, Birmingham. Lordswood Road runs south from the Smethwick border into the Harborne suburb of Birmingham. Many a resident of Smethwick, including the author, aspired to own one of its large and posh houses.

I cannot find Edward’s service record but medal roll records show he was Trooper 1403, 2nd Division of the British South Africa Police. As already stated, he died of disease at Vryburg on 1st February 1902 and he was posthumously awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with four clasps – “Cape Colony”, “Transvaal”. “South Africa 1901” &”South Africa 1902”. Presumably he was buried in Vryburg Cemetery and I wonder if he was involved in supervising the Boer Concentration Camp located at Vryburg.

Henry Wilfred got married in Torpoint, Cornwall, to 19 year old Amy Earl Cornish, a few days after his 17th birthday on 7th May 1899. In those days you needed to be 21 to get married without your parents’ permission and his marriage certificate shows he gave his age as 22 – as I said jack-the-lad! His marriage certificate also shows his occupation at the time was “Stoker RN”. The records for his brief naval career have survived and they show he enlisted on 9th January 1899 and gave his date of birth as 2nd May 1880 rather than the true 1882. Interestingly he gave his civilian occupation as “Teacher of Cycling”.

Wilfred did his Naval land based training at HMS Vivid II, Devonport in Devon but only a ferry ride away from Torpoint in Cornwall. On 8th September 1899 he joined the crew of HMS Niobe (a Diadem Class cruiser launched in 1897). On 31st December 1899 his naval career ended and in the column headed “If discharged, whither and for what cause” is written “Run”. The next record for Wilfred (see next para) shows he then served in Kitchener’s Horse in the Boer War. So where was the Niobe at the end of December 1899 – according to Lloyds she was in Simon’s Bay or Table Bay off the coast of South Africa. So he did not have too far to “run”. At the start of December 1899 the Niobe helped rescue troops from the stricken SS Ismore.

The next record I can find for Wilfred are Medal Roll records for the Cape Colony Cyclist Corps which show his service number was 23919 and he rose to the rank of Sergeant. There is a note that he previously served in Kitchener’s Horse but the records cannot be traced. He was awarded the Queen’s South Africa Medal with two clasps, “Cape Colony” & “South Africa 1901” but he did not qualify for the King’s South Africa Medal. So, his time in South Africa must have been quite short and his second child was born in Birmingham on 23rd March 1902.

The family, now consisting of Wilfred, Amy, four daughters and two sons can be found on the 1911 Census living in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham. Wilfred was a “Grocer & Coal Merchant” on his own account. The next record for the family indicates that Wilfred did not find his finest hour being a grocer and coal merchant (rather a strange combination).
There is no evidence that Wilfred served in the first World War but a lot of WW1 service records were lost in WW2. He would have been 32 at the start of the conflict and it may be significant that the last of his children was born in 1914 in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

The manifest of the SS Minnedosa (Canadian Pacific Railway Steamship Line) as she left Liverpool on 20th April 1921 bound for Quebec bears the names of Mrs A E Jordison and her now seven children, but Wilfred is not listed. They all travelled 3rd class or “steerage” as it is often called. However, we know Wilfred went to Canada as the whole family are listed on the 1st June 1921 Canada Census. Presumably, with his Naval experience Wilfred worked his passage or was he a stowaway (I would not put it past him).

The 1921 Canada Census shows the family living in Vancouver and Wilfred working as a “roofer”. The other interesting thing is that Wilfred’s religion was given as Roman Catholic along with all the children but Amy was Church of England.

Amy died in 1943 and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery, Vancouver. Wilfred married again (date unknown) to a lady of Scottish extraction called Isabella. Ship’s manifests show them visiting Scotland in 1953. Wilfred died 13th November 1956 aged 74 and is also buried in Mountain view Cemetery. Isabella who was 17 years younger than Wilfred died in 1975 and was also buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Postscripts
(1) all the children seem to have lived full lives, married and raised children with five passing away in British Columbia, one in Washington State, USA and the seventh returned to England and passed away in London.
(2) In 1910 HMS Niobe was given to Canada and became the second fighting ship of the recently formed Royal Canadian Navy. In WW1 she patrolled the eastern coasts of Canada & the USA. She was scrapped in 1922.

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