Charles Beesley

Charles Beesley was born in 1879 in Brighton. Charles died on the 30th of June 1916 at the Battles of Boar’s head in France at the age of 37 years. His regiment was the Royal Sussex Regiment, 13th Battalion. His service number was SD/3289.

Family and Home life:

Charles’ father Thomas Beesley was born in Oxford in 1840 and married Mary Bayliss of Woodstock, Oxfordshire in 1863. By 1871 they had five children and were living at 33 Marston Street, Cowley in Oxford and Mary’s mother Maria and Mary’s sister Adelina aged 15 years were living with them. Thomas was working as a college servant. Charles’ grandfather Richard Beesley, who was born in 1810, had also worked as a college servant.

Mary died in 1871 at the age of 29 years. At some time after the 1871 census Thomas moved to Brighton.

On 28/04/1878 in St Peter’s Church he married Lucy Comfort, who was born in Rotherhithe in about 1839 and was the fourth child of George Comfort and his wife Mary.

The Mathieson Brighton Suburban Directory of 1870, shows that Lucy was working as a milliner and dressmaker at 22, Bloomsbury Place and the 1874 Post Office directory shows she was a milliner working at 101 St George’s Road. Dressmakers would have been in high demand at this time in fashionable Brighton.
It is possible that Lucy may have learnt her trade at school or her father may have paid for an apprenticeship. He had at the time of the 1871 census worked as a clerk, but by the time of Lucy’s marriage was an accountant and therefore possibly of some means.

Charles’ birth was registered in Brighton between October and December 1879. The 1881 census showed him to be living with his parents and half sister Edith, who had been born in Oxford in 1870, at 33 Great College Street Brighton. Thomas was working as a waiter in a hotel and Lucy as a dressmaker.

Charles’ half brother Frank, in 1881, at the age of 13 years was working as a servant at 7 Regency Square in Brighton. Frank in 1887 joined the Royal Artillery and served for 21 years. He married twice.

Thomas’ other children, from his first marriage, in 1881 were living with relatives, Mary Maria born in 1866, with her Uncle Richard and Aunt  Annie in Oxford and  Emily, born in 1867,  with her Aunt Fanny in Battersea, but it is not clear where Tom, who was born in 1864, was living.
Thomas Beesley died in 1890. The 1891 census records Lucy to be a widow living at 9 Eastern Road with Charles who is aged 11 years; Lucy was the head of the household and continued to work as a dressmaker. There was another family of four living at the same address.

Lucy died in 1892 aged 53 years and so Charles, aged 12 years was an orphan.

In 1901 Charles was single, 21 years old and a boarder of Maria Dudman, living at 12 George Street Gardens. He was working as a printer’s compositor.

A compositor was the person who inset each letter of a word into the frames for printing. It needed the ability to read in mirror image, which apparently comes easier to those who are naturally left handed.

On January 10th 1903 in Hurstpierpoint, Charles at the age of 23 years, married Adelaide Wren, who was born in East Grinstead. They had two children, Charles Edward born on 29/09/1903 and Rosie Doris born on 10/02/1909.

In 1911 the family were living at 17, Terminus Road, Brighton and Charles was still working as a compositor and letterpress printer at an aerated water company.
There were seventeen Mineral Water Manufacturers in business in Brighton in 1901.

Military Career 

Charles enlisted at Brighton with the Royal Sussex Regiment, 13th Battalion. His regimental number is SD/3289 suggesting he was one of Lowthers Lambs. There appears to be limited information about Charles’ military career. He was killed in action on 30/06/1916 and is buried at Cabaret- Rouge British Cemetery, having been exhumed from Edward Road No 4 (Factory Trench). He was identified by his disc. Many of the soldiers found with Charles were not identified and came from other regiments.

He was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.

His effects totalling £1 15s 6d was sent to his wife as was his war gratuity of £6.

Post War

Adelaide did not remarry. The 1939 register showed her to be living in Rochford, Essex with her daughter Rosie D McRobert, who had married Alec J McRobert in 1935. Adelaide died in Essex in 1945. Rosie died in 1975.

Adelaide’s son, Charles Edward Beesley, in 1939 lived in Ealing, Middlesex with his wife Elsie and son Michael who was born in June 1936. Charles died in 1991 and is buried in Greenford Park Cemetery.


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