Banburyshire Family History

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Rural Beginnings

My memories of my grandfather were not of a man who was inclined to laugh and be light-hearted, but by the time that I remember him best, in the 1940s, and as an aging widower, perhaps he hadn't much to laugh about!

George grew up a country boy, a middle child in a large family. Although the size of the family meant that the older ones had left home before the youngest were born it would've been a crowded, primitive existence for all of them. He migrated to Coventry some time after the 1891 census. Here he did labouring jobs and became a millwright's labourer for many years, at the Daimler factory. He lived in a terrace house, in Narrow Lane, part of which was later renamed Kingfield Road. It had a scullery and outside lavatory and there was a long back garden with a good vegetable plot which he tended with care. As companion, he, like many of his contempories, had a small terrier.

He met and married Mary Elizabeth PORTER from So we, who was in domestic service. They had three sons, the first of which died as an infant. Frances (Frank) and Leonard (Len) were close in age and with their friends got up to all sorts of mischief in and around the Coventry Canal, which meandered its way through the suburb of Foleshill. Their Guardian Angels obviously had to work overtime!

They were also boy bandsman in their local Salvation Army Band, and there is a particularly appealing photograph of the band, with Len, (my father), peering angelically from under the peak of his cap; which only his ears prevented from eclipsing him completely! Brother Frank was on the opposite side of the group, but being two years older fared better capwise!

On leaving school they were apprenticed to a barber, but lost their jobs in the depression. Frank signed on with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and soon Len upped his age a little and did the same. There was some service in Ireland and then, following Frank, who was already there, Len sailed to India at the end of 1921.

My father regaled us with tales of his service when we were small, and taught us to count in Hindostani. What did impress us, though, were his descriptions of guard duty stints at the Viceregal palace. The pomp and ceremony of the British Raj were stringently observed. Discipline was rigid.

My Uncle Frank had a good ear and picked up the language so well that he was often used as an interpreter. My father similarly had an acute ear and could produce the broad dialect of the Birmingham and Staffordshire lads in their Regiment. He had us "rolling in the aisles" at these sessions.

My brother brought this photograph, out with him to New Zealand when he visited me in early 2006. It was taken in 1930, but I hadn't seen it before, and for me it had an immediate appeal. It was of George PARRITT, born in Claydon, Oxfordshire, in December 1872, and his youngest son, Leonard (Len) Cecil PARRITT, born in November 1904. How happy they seem to be as they prepared for a ride with the motorbike and sidecar. Have any of the experts any ideas of its brand? There have been suggestions of Rudge and Douglas, but I wouldn't know, myself.[1]

George PARRITT and his youngest son, Leonard (Len) Cecil PARRITT

George PARRITT and his youngest son, Leonard (Len) Cecil PARRITT

This photograph was taken some little while after his return home, and it was also the year that he married Doris LUCAS of Foleshill. Their courting was conducted on a motorbike, as together in the company of friends they set out on expeditions. It was quite the thing at the time! I was born the following year, my sister, Joyce, two years later and then in 1938 my brother, Roy, was born. Our family was established!


My PARRITT forebears are thought to have graduated from Evenlode to Enstone and then Bodicote over the years. There were some variations in spelling the surname, even within a family, as was common at that time.

Whilst residing in Bodicote a John PARRIT married Mary EDMONDS of Bampton, the ceremony taking place in the parish church of Adderbury; an impressive setting for their wedding!

Subsequently many of the family moved to Claydon and settled there. Some years later most of of my gt-grandfather William's large family scattered to live and work in London or the Midland cities. His brother John Astel PARRIT's descendants settled mostly within the area and so are more traceable.

Both William (my gt-grandfather) and his elder brother were the illegitimate sons of John ASTELL, landowner, and Ann PARRIT, servant, the granddaughter of John PARRIT and Mary née EDMONDS.

William later married Betsy WYATT, the daughter of the parish clerk, John WYATT, and Mary Ann née PAXTON. These latter two families were Claydon based at the time.

This, then is my paternal background, these simple, rural beginnings, with most of the menfolk being agricultural labourers and the womenfolk being domestic servants or caring for their families. The move to the city with its employment and educational opportunities have meant that our present generations have progressed far from this humble start.

But, nevertheless, I am very proud of the resourcefulness, endurance and hardiness of my rural "Roots".

1
Since writing this and much after browsing of the internet and taking out books from the library, Richard and I have almost positively identify it as a pre-1925 Sunbeam.

You may also enjoy looking at and reading more about Muriel's family:

Contributed by Muriel Wells (née PARRITT)
Email: pollyp(@)xtra.co.nz
To contact Muriel, copy and paste the address and remove the brackets around the @ - thank you.