The mound-unmarked and common graves.
Photo credit: Leslee Barron-digital artist

Life story retold by Jan Clark

Frank Black was born in 1838 in Woolstone in Berkshire. He was married to Sarah Harriet who was born at Checkendon. Their son Henry was born on 19 January 1868 and baptised at Nettlebed Church on 8 March. Frank’s occupation on the baptismal record is listed as ‘coachman’.

The next record of him is on the 1871 Census when he was living at 9 Ball Court in St Lawrence’s parish in Reading. He was then 32 and Sarah was 25. Henry was 4 years old. He was still working as a coachman but the entry also states ‘domestic servant’. So, as in Nettlebed, he would have been working for a private individual.

By 1881 the family had moved to Thorn Street.Henry was now 13 and working as an errand boy. He had two little sisters, Edith who was 5 and Florence who was 2 years old.

Frank continued to work as a coachman but by 1901 the family was living at 3 Abbey Wall. Edith and Florence were now domestic servants, aged 15 and 14 and there were two younger brothers, Albert, 6, and Ernest, 3. Henry, the eldest, was not living at home. There was also a young lodger, Henry Woodcock, 14 years old. 

In 1901 Frank was 61 and no longer a coachman but a school caretaker. Only the two youngest boys remained at home, Albert, now 18 and a warehouseman at the biscuit factory and Ernest, 14, for whom no occupation is listed.

Sarah died in 1909 and was buried in the cemetery on 16 April. Two years later Frank was lodging at 69 Albert Road, the home of  Mr Dashber, a factory operator at Huntley and Palmers, his wife, their four young children and Mrs Sarah Cracker, a widow and also a lodger.

At some time between 1911 and 1915, Frank became ill and was admitted to the Workhouse Infirmary where he died. He was buried in a common grave in the cemetery on 23 January 1915.

Buried in Section 25, mound