Thomas (1853-1915) & Martha WILSON

Life story shared by Malcolm Gray

Thomas Wilson was born in White Waltham in 1853. He was a baker for most of his life. Martha (Woodley), his wife, was born in Ashampstead in 1857. She was living at 50 Zinzan street, Reading when Thomas was buried.

The Wilson family before Thomas are based around Waltham St Lawrence/White Waltham and were mainly agricultural labourers, although  Thomas’s brother, George, worked in the local village brewery (Hewitts) after having served in the Royal Marines based at Woolwich.

The census indicates that Thomas and Martha have had five children all living which seems to contradict the grave record with the two extra children.

The Wilson family were methodists – and the grave is in the non-conformist section of the cemetery – Thomas’s brother, George, was the only sibling who was Church of England. The grave includes two others besides Thomas and Martha; they are believed to be the children of Thomas and Martha but registration details are sketchy – there are no birth records for either child and only a death record for Malvina.

All those interred in the family grave:

  • 1915 – THOMAS WILSON
  • 1943 – MARTHA VICARS (MARTHA married again to Fred Vicars in 1926 – almost 50 years after her first marriage to Thomas) – copy of the 1877 marriage certificate for Thomas and Martha is below

Although, seemingly Methodists, the marriage record suggests a Church of England wedding.

In 1881 the Wilsons lived in Tilehurst at 4 Park Road and in 1891 they were at 29 Great Knollys Street, Reading. In 1901 the Wilsons were living at 80 Weldale Road, Reading with three of their children.

In 1911 the census shows the Wilsons living at 132 Chatham Street, Reading. All the children have left home by then. Also with them there are two visitors:  William Fullbrook and his wife Elizabeth – William Fullbrook was an actor born in Waterford, Ireland. There are no real clues as to how the couples knew each other and it may be that the Fullbrooks were lodging with the Wilsons whilst William was performing in Reading; certainly the house was big enough to accommodate lodgers as the 1911 census shows it to have 8 rooms. (Isaac’s Fulbrook’s father was in the army and the reason for his son being born in Ireland – Isaac Senior was born in Compton Berkshire, which could mean a family connection with Martha who was from the same general West Berkshire area).

The granddaughter of Thomas and Martha was Iris Wilson, who married Stanley Gray (the brother of Kenneth Gray – my father).

The granddaughter of George Wilson and Elizabeth Doyle was Edna Rossiter and she became a highly regarded nurse in Canada (after the Rossiter family had emigrated there in the 1920s).

Handwritten note from Grace Rossiter to her daughter Edna

Edna Rossiter – great niece of Thomas & Martha Wilson

Section 26, Row E, Plot 17