Life story retold by Valerie Thomas, great granddaughter
There are four people in grave number 15203 in Division 68:
- Thomas White (my great-grandfather)
- Mary Ann White (my great-grandmother)
- Ellen Cassell nee White (my grandmother)
- William Reuben Cassell (my grandfather)
Thomas was born in Shute End Wokingham 13th March 1861, to William and Eliza White (nee Surman). He had two sisters, Mary and Ellen and two brothers, William and Joseph. He attended St. Paul’s school Wokingham and won a prize for ‘Neat Exercise and Copy Book’ when he was ten. Not a lot is known about his early childhood. After his father died in 1865, his mother re-married to Bernard Maynard in 1872. Thomas had a half brother Alfred Maynard (1876 – 1939).
After his mother had died in 1881, he moved to Reading to live with his sister Mary and her husband Jonothan Poffley. He worked for Huntley and Palmers the biscuit factory in Reading as a labourer, with his brother-in-law and younger brother Joseph.
Thomas married Mary Ann Hissey on 9th April 1887 at the Parish church of Bartholomew’s Reading. By the census of 1891, Thomas was living at 35 Cumberland Road, and then moved to 51 Filey Road with his wife and two children, Ellen and Lillian.
Thomas died 23rd April 1909 aged 48 and was buried 29th April 1909 at the Reading Old Cemetery.
Mary was born 16th October 1864 at the village of Beenham, Berkshire. She was the second of eight children of Richard and Ann Hissey. Mary left home at the age of 16 and worked in service and was a kitchen maid to the Gibbons family in Boddington Tewkesbury.
Mary married Thomas White on the 9th April 1887 at St Bartholomew’s Church, Reading. They lived first at Granby Gardens where her first child Ellen White was born in November 1888. In 1890 they moved to Cumberland Road where her second child Lillian Eliza was born in May 1890. By 1901, the family had moved to 51 Filey Road.
Not a lot is known about Mary’s life other than she remained living at Filey Road after her husband died in 1909, and she was a laundry manager in the 1911 census.
By 1935 she went to live with her daughter Ellen and son-in-law William Reuben Cassell in Woodley, until her death a Battle Hospital 1st May 1957 aged 92. She was buried with her husband May 7th 1957 at Reading Old Cemetery.
Ellen (Nellie) was born 22nd November 1888, at 26 Granby Gardens Reading, just around the corner from Reading Old Cemetery. She was the eldest child of Thomas and Mary Ann White, and had a younger sister Lilian Eliza 1890 – 1986.
Ellen was educated along with her sister at New Town School, Reading where she won a prize age 10 for ‘General Progress throughout the Year’. She left school aged 15. She went to live at St George hostel, Reading in 1907 aged 19, before moving to work in 1908 at Royal Holloway College in Egham, Surrey as a ‘House Servant’ and lived at Penn House, Windsor.
The two photos below are Ellen’s school sewing from 1901 (left) and 1903 (right):
By 1915, she had moved back home to 51 Filey Road and married William Reuben Cassell (Will) at St Bartholomew’s Church, Reading.
William went to France to be a stretcher bearer in the Royal Army Medical Corps where he sent her many postcards until the end of the war.
Ellen and Will had one son, William Thomas Reginald in 1920. They lived at Filey Road until 1935 when she moved to 140 Reading Road, Woodley with her family and mother. She continued to live there after her husband and mother passed away.
Her sister Lilian never married, but devoted her life to nursing, serving in France in World War I and then at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Worthing during World War II until she retired in 1948, when she then moved in with Ellen. The two sisters lived in Woodley until Ellen’s death at Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading in 15th April 1975 of a complete heart block. She is buried in Reading Old Cemetery.
William (Will) was born 6th January 1894 at 7 Victoria Street, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. He was the eldest son of William and Mary Cassell. He had two younger brothers, Ronald and Ernest, and a younger sister Gertrude. By 1901 the family had moved to Aston, and then to Yardley Birmingham. He left school and worked in a grocer’s store. Will then moved to Marlborough, where he worked in the ‘International Store’ as a Senior Grocer’s Assistant.
He then moved to Reading, and it was here, during World War I, Will joined the Royal Army Medical Corp as Private Cassell 83143. He was a stretcher bearer. He served in France and was awarded the Victory medal and British War medal for his services.
He sent Ellen (Nellie) many postcards during the war and they married on 27th December 1915 at St Bartholomew’s Church, Reading. Will had one son, William Thomas Reginald (Reg) born 2nd January 1920. In 1935, the family moved to a newly built house 140 Reading Road, Woodley.
During World War II, Will was a member of the Home Guard, while his son Reg joined the Royal Air Force and served in India, Ceylon and Burma.
Will died at Royal Berkshire Hospital on 17th September 1947 aged 53, and was buried on 29th September 1947 in the family grave.
Section 68, Row D, Plot 16