Today is International Woman's Day and March is Women's History Month.
This is my maternal grandmother Florence Ann Roberts nee Compton.
I am going to tell you more about events in her life that meant she had to be a strong woman.
Florence Ann Compton was born on 17 February 1901 in King Street Warminster.
She first appeared in the census on 31st March 1901 with her parents and siblings the youngest child of Edmund John and Thirza Ann (Robbins) Compton.
She was baptized in Christ Church, Warminster on 16th May 1901.
When she was only 5 years old her father died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Pleurisy & Pneumonia & Asthma, he was only 51 years of age, and this left her mother a widow, at the age of 41, with 5 children, the eldest being just 14 years of age.
Less than 16 months later, Florence and her siblings were orphaned, when her mother, failing to cope, took her own life. I have found a report of the inquest in the local paper. It appears that her mother had been unwell, she was reluctant to leave her children to be supported by the parish, whilst she received treatment in the hospital.
With all the older siblings being boys, close relatives being unable to take in all the children, the family was split up. My grandmother went to the Mullers orphanage in Bristol and her slightly older sibling Ernest Roy Compton was finally found on the 1911 census living in The National Children's Home.
Fortunately, I know that she kept in contact with at least three of her brothers.
My uncle obtained a copy of her orphanage records and they contain a letter from her brother Sidney Herbert Compton and several from her eldest brother Walter John Compton.
When she left the orphanage it was with Walter and his family that she lived initially. The record stating that on 19 May 1917 she was taken by her brother Mr Walter J. Compton to live at 8 Jubilee Terrace, West St., Warminster, Wilts. as he wished to provide for her.
On the 23 February 1917 her brother Ernest Roy Compton who had joined the Hampshire Regiment had been killed in action in Mesopotamia.
UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
Then on 28 August 1917 her brother Sidney Herbert Compton died of wounds in Flanders he is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Poperinge, Arrondissement Ieper, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium.
UK, Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929
So by the end of WW1 Florence Ann had lost both her parents and two of her four brothers.
But this is not the end of her story she was to encounter further tragedy when her eldest brother died in the flu epidemic in 1918.
Her one remaining brother lived to the age of 90 and died the year after her.
Stanley James Compton 1895-1986
Grandma at my wedding
In 1927 my grandparents were married the following year their son Kenneth Alfred Roberts was born.
Kenneth Alfred Roberts
In 1929 tragedy was to affect the family one more when Charles Henry Roberts the youngest brother of her husband Alfred Roberts was killed in a road traffic accident.
Death of Charles Henry Roberts Newspaper Cutting
LATE MR. C. H. ROBERTS.
The burial service of Mr. Charles Henry Roberts, who met his death with tragic suddenness on December 28th, was conducted by the Rev. G. Percival at the Primitive Methodist Church, Totton, on January 1st. Deceased was 24 years of age, and though the youngest of eight children, was the first to be taken from the family. Mr F. Harrison played during the service, and the hymns chosen were “My faith looks up to Thee” and “Jerusalem the golden”.
The mourners were Messrs. W. G. Roberts, A. Roberts, and J. Roberts (brothers), Mrs J. Smeeth and Mrs. J. Allam (sisters), Miss A Denniss (fiancee), Mr. H. Roberts (nephew), Mrs. Maton and Mrs. Savory (aunts). Mr. J. Smeeth (brother-in-law), Mrs. W. G. Roberts and Mrs. A Roberts (sister-in-law), Mrs Denniss, Mr. S Dance (representing Messrs. Dance and Sons), his workfellows, and other family friends. The coffin was borne by his chums, Messrs. W. Green, J. Stares, F. Godwin, S. Aslett, R. Blake, and F Nutheem. The floral tributes included a cross from Mother and Dad, brothers and sisters, and others from Aunt Alice, Uncle Albert. and family; Lily and Eva; Mrs Savory and Willie; Alvina; A few of his chums at Totton; C. and S. Dance (employers); The Staff and Workmates; Primitive Methodist Church and friends; Mr. and Mrs. Denniss and family; Mr and Mrs Blake and family and Mr. Sillence; Mrs Sparrack; Mr. and Mrs Bayly and family; Mr. and Mrs. Knowlton and family; Mr. and Mrs. Aslett; Mr. J. H. Drew; Mrs. Russell, Nelson and George; Reg. Cronan; Mr. and Mrs. Rose; and W. Nordy.
Killed 28th December 1929.
Charles Henry Roberts
On 5 January 1944 the day before my mother's birthday her eldest brother Kenneth died. I had been aware that he had died young for a long time and decided to do a search of the newspapers to see if I could find more details.
This was from Southern Daily Echo Saturday 8 January 1944 Vol. LVI No. 17108 p.7 accessed at the Southampton Special Records Collection Library in Southampton, Hampshire, England on 5 March 2008.
Finally, if all this was not enough my grandmother lost her husband at the age 61 when she was only 58. She died at the age of 84 in 1985 of Bronchopneumonia, Chronic Obstructive airways disease & Ischaemic Heart Disease.
During her lifetime she had experienced the loss of both parents, 3 siblings, a brother in law, child and spouse. We all expect our parents to die before us but all of these events can be classed as premature and several as sudden events. War, disease and poverty may have shaped, most of, these events, each will have made her the woman I knew as my grandmother.