Charles Gunn was born in 1897 in Brighton. Charles died in 1916 during the attack on Beaucourt Ridge at nineteen years old. Charles enlisted in Newhaven and his regimental number was SD/3774. Before the war Charles was a page boy at Whites Club in London.
Family and Home life
Charles Gunn was born in 1887, and came from a long line of men who worked in the Brighton fishing trade. His father Nathaniel Gunn, who was born in 1860, was a fishmonger. His grandfather, Nathaniel, who was born in 1832, was also a fisherman. His great grandfather, George, who was born in about 1808, was again a fisherman. It is possible, if not probable, that Charles was descended from Stephen Gunn who had married Martha Killick in 1758 at St Nicholas’ Church, Brighton. Martha Gunn, about whom much has been written, was the famous Brighton ‘dipper’ and favourite of George 1V.
Charles’s parents Nathaniel and Abigail (known as Abby) Aldridge were married in St Paul’s Church, West Street on September 12th 1880. They were both 22. Their daughter, Catherine Abby, was born in 1883 and died in Cranbrook in Kent in 1895. She was buried in Hawkhurst, Kent on September 26th 1895. Nathaniel and Abby’s daughter, Rosie, was born on March 6th 1895 and therefore was about six months old when her sister died. Nathaniel died on July 8th 1896 and his effects totalled £35 12s. At the time of his death, the family lived at 4 Crown Street.
Charles was born during the 1st quarter of 1897. The 1901 census records Abby, Rosie and Charles to be lodging with Johanna O’Leary and her daughters, at 63 Spa Street, and Abby to be working as a laundress.
The 1911 census records Abby as living in The Workhouse, 250 Elm Grove, and working as an ironer.
Charles on the 1911 census, at the age of 14 years, is recorded as working as a page boy and living at 26, St James Street, London. This was the address of White’s Club.
Charles’ enlisted with the Royal Sussex Regiment, 11th Battalion, (1st South Downs) in Newhaven. His regimental number is SD/3774. He was killed in action during the attack on Beaucourt Ridge on the River Ancre on 3rd September 1916. He is buried in Aire Communal Cemetery. He is listed in the Memorial Book at St Peter’s Church, Brighton. Charles was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal.
His effects and war gratuity totaling £11 8s 11d was sent to his Mother in June 1919.
Charles’ sister Rosa (Rosie) married Walter J Rowley in June 1919.
The 1939 Register shows that Rosa was living at 77 Barcombe Road, Brighton with six other people, including her Mother. Abby died in 1943.
There are many branches of the Gunn family in the Brighton area. During the nineteenth and twentieth century many were involved in the fishing industry.
There was a tendency for the oldest son to be named after his father and so many Gunn boys were called either George or Nathaniel. This makes tracing back some family lines, particularly prior to the 1841 census, extremely difficult. It is interesting that Charles’ parents did not follow this pattern; there does not appear to have been another son born before Charles.
I cannot find any trace of Charles’ grandfather Nathaniel on the 1851 census. His grandmother Catherine (Watts) who had married Nathaniel in December 1850 was living at 4 Kent Street with baby, Nancy.
The site of Kent Street is now occupied by the Odeon Cinema Complex.
Charles’ Mother christened Abigail, but mostly referred to as Abby.
There appears to be little surviving information about Charles’ military career.
Spa Street was named after the German Spa, but was originally called Nottingham Street, and was replaced by Tillstone Street in 1898.
White’s is the oldest gentlemen’s club in London, founded in 1693, and continues to this day to be exclusively for gentlemen, although brief exceptions were made in 1991 and 2016, for visits by The Queen.