Harry Gravestock (886)
Harry Gravestock (886)View full burial details
in the cemetery
Harry Gravestock was born in 1856, the son of Rachel Harriet Gravestock, an unmarried housemaid from Berkhamsted.
Rachel Harriet had been in service at a house to the north of St Pancras station, working for a railway overlooker (supervisor) and his wife. Also resident at the house were his nephew and a lodger. The circumstances are not known, but Rachel Harriet became pregnant and had to leave her position and return to Berkhamsted., where she gave birth to Harry, at the age of 22. Harry’s birth certificate recorded “father unknown”, although there was some family talk of a Spanish sea captain as the father.
Having a baby out of wedlock was a scandalous event in Victorian times, but Rachel Harriet’s family evidently sought to help her rather than cast her out, as happened to so many “fallen women” of the time. It was decided that her parents, James and Rachel Rebecca Gravestock would bring up Harry as their own son. Harry was only a couple of years younger than their own son, and so the addition of another infant was not suspicious. Harry grew up believing that his grandparents were his parents, and that his mother was his elder sister. Rachel Harriet returned to domestic service and worked as a housemaid for the Robinson family at the Red House on Berkhamsted High Street, where her father was head gardener, and later as a cook for the Harmer family in Chesham.
Harry became a successful printer, married a farmer’s daughter, Rosina Lismer. They had four daughters and two sons. At some point, Harry was told of his true parentage, which apparently caused him great distress. When Harry’s son, Ernest, quizzed him on the subject, Harry reportedly became enraged and as a result of the falling out, Ernest was cut out of Harry’s will.
Harry’s secret mother, Rachel Harriet, married a Chesham brushmaker named Moulder in 1872, and they had four children. She died in September 1905 in Amersham, aged 71.
James and Rachel Rebecca Gravestock, Harry’s grandparents – his supposed parents for many years – lie buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery at plot 50, near to the Rectory Lane entrance gate. Rachel Rebecca died in 1878 and James died in 1889.
Harry’s wife, Rosina, died on 8 October 1927 and was buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery, between the central path and the Three Close Lane gate. Only two months later, her sister, Eliza Ann Lothian, died on Christmas day and was buried in the same plot. They were joined by Harry, who died on 18 January 1929.