Elsie Sturmey – 1898 to 1970
My name is Ian Small. Please feel free to use anything from this essay and the notes I have already sent. I hope that even if no-one has the answers it will add a little social history to the records of your parish, with just a tinge of scandal! I am now 70, and rather infirm: I may not be able to return to Dorset unless someone drives me there. I live in Eltham in South East London. I love Dorset and have visited several times on holiday. My grandmother Elsie Bridle-Sturmey was born in Affpuddle on 12th June 1898 the illegitimate daughter of George Bridle, a farm carter, by Beatrice Sturmey. My family have traced the Sturmeys back through several generations of Dorset farming folk. We know George Bridle paid maintenance for his two daughters while they and their mother were in the Poole workhouse around 1911. We know Beatrice Sturmey died in 1939 in the Workhouse in Wimborne Minister. I have twice visited her grave and laid flowers, on one occasion accompanied by several relatives. George Bridle’s brother was married to Beatrice Sturmey’s sister.
Beatrice was never to know she had eight grandchildren (seven by her daughter Elsie and another by her daughter Lilian) She obtained employment as a live-in Nurse in Poole around 1913 and I believe she later moved to London and worked in a hospital. Sometime around the First World War she lost contact with her eldest daughter, Elsie, who was by then in service working as a “domestic” in a convent near St Albans. There Elsie met my grandfather Henry Baker : They married and moved to Woolwich after he left the army in 1919.
Beatrice also had 20 Great Grandchildren, 16 of whom are still alive, and now in their fifties,sixties or seventies. The majority of her descendants now live in Western Australia.
Elsie was my maternal grandmother, She died in Plumstead in South-East London in around 1970. My mother and all six of her siblings have also now passed away. My mother was the last survivor, dying in 2008 at the age of 77. My mother was named Beatrice after the grandmother she never knew. She always wondered what happened to her namesake and I undertook to try and find out. Unfortunately, I was unable to fulfil that promise at the time. We now know what happened to Beatrice Sturmey, so my promise was honoured but it opened up a very sad story about which none of us knew. It would be nice to complete the puzzle by establishing anything we can about George Bridle, who was married to someone else but had two daughters by Beatrice Sturmey. There are no records of his death in Dorset. Someone did find a possible death record of a George Bridle in Honiton, Devon in 1952 at which time he would have been about 87. There is no public cemetery in Honiton. There are still some gaps to fill.
The photograph I have sent (copy below) shows a farm cart outside an inn at about the relevant time. I suspect the inn may have been in Tolpuddle rather than Affpuddle but it would be nice to confirm where it was actually taken. The person who sold me the picture (a dealer on e bay in reproductions of old photographs) knows nothing of its provenance other that it was stated to be the Crown Inn in “Affpuddle or Tolpuddle” It would be interesting if anyone knows who any of the people in the picture are. It would be amazing if any of them were my ancestors! Beatrice Sturmey’s father James was also a Carter and of course the picture shows a farm cart. If anyone can help I would be most grateful and you can Email firstname.lastname@example.org