Mary Timson (1017) plot | Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Rectory Lane Cemetery, Berkhamsted

Mary Timson (1017) plot


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Family name Timson
Burial date Not known
Burial capacity 1 (Full used)
Burial depth Not known
From burial books?
Burial visible (2019)?
Burial visible (1991)?   


Winifred, or “Little Mary” as she is named on her memorial, was the youngest of five children born to Octavius Timson and his wife Avis. She was born in Berkhamsted in the last quarter of the year 1910. The census of 1911 reveals that her older siblings were Samuel Paul, who was 10 years old at the time of the census; James, age 8; Avis, age 6; Arthur, age 4. Winifred was only 4 months old at the time of the census.

We also learn from the census that the family lived at 8 Charles Street and were sufficiently well off to be able to employ a domestic servant, Agnes West, who was 17 years old and lived in with the family.

Winifred’s father, Octavius, was the youngest of eight children born to Samuel and Alice Timson. Research undertaken by Jenny Sherwood tells the story of Samuel and Alice and their children, including Octavius (see plot 85).

“Octavius Paul (the 8th  son)  born in the December quarter of 1872 brings a rather sad end to this article. We have a good record of his life until May 1913 when he disappeared and all trace appears to have been lost of him. He had seven brothers before him as examples, largely of success, to live up to or to attempt to surpass them. From the 1901 census we learn that he was the Vestry Clerk and the collector of rates for BUDC and also for the parish of Northchurch, a very important and responsible position in the town, which could however lead to temptation. He had married Avis Annie Wood of the well-known local family in 1899, by all accounts, and from her portrait, a very attractive woman. Perhaps she had expensive tastes. From the 1911 census we see that the family has moved to Charles Street and they now have three boys and two girls ranging in age from 10 years to 4 months. They also employ a servant. Octavius Paul was well known in Berkhamsted. From programmes in the Society’s collection we know he was an active member of the Berkhamsted Dramatic Club. He became Grandmaster of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, Great Berkhampstead District. Whatever the cause may have been he began to live beyond his means and to succumb to temptation,

  The whole sorry story up until he sought refuge from the law and vanished, is well documented in the Bucks Herald. ‘Big Deficiences in Public Accounts.10th May 1913 

Mr Herbert Lyon opened the audit of the various accounts at the Board Room Berkhamsted on Thursday 1st May. The absence from the town since April 10th of Mr Octavius Paul Timson, who was not only rate collector for the Board of Guardians and the Urban District Council but also Clerk to Northchurch Parish Council and who held other public offices caused a special interest to be taken in the audit.

The accounts of the BUDC showed that £749 13. 2. was due from Mr Timson , for Berkhamsted Rural that the deficiency appeared to be £79.15.1. The Northchurch Parish Council showed that £30.4.9 was due from the Clerk and that rents had been paid him for 2 years. The audit was adjourned until the following Monday …..

They had found out that someone had entered into a bond for Timson for £500 just before he left the town and had since paid the money.

 Mr Timson appeared to have studied the criminal law with the object of evading it. The Overseers were continually asking Timson about his accounts but he put them off with some excuse or other. At the Bank it was thought that Mr Timson was living beyond his means. There were grounds for prosecution.

 May 17th 1913  it was proposed by Mr Bedford seconded by Mr George that Mr O.P. Timson  be now dismissed from his appointment as Collector of the poor rate for the parishes of Great Berkhamsted Urban District Council and R.D.C and Northchuch  Parish. The Clerk reported Overseers of Great Berkhamsted U.D.C had obtained a warrant for Mr O.P. Timson’s arrest on charge of larceny of money entrusted for a specific purpose. Jobs to be advertised as soon as possible.

 10th January 1914 Auditors had surcharged Mr O.P. Timson with various sums of money, payments to be made under the Bond.

3rd January 1914 It was reported that Mr Timson was dismissed from all of his offices and a warrant issued for his arrest, but nothing had since been heard of him.’

 Intense perusal of various documents has failed to find any trace of Octavius Paul. Descendants of the family believe he went to Australia. He must have travelled there incognito under a different name.”

Octavius must have fled on his own, leaving his family behind. Avis was to die in 1955 and is buried in Berkhamsted as also is Winifred.

Winifred was not to enjoy a long life. She died on 15th February 1915 at four years of age. Her death certificate tells us that she died of diptheria. Diptheria, treated today by vaccine, is a serious bacterial infection producing toxins which can damage the brain, heart and kidneys. It is spreads easily from person to person and in order to limit the spread of the disease, Winifred was admitted to the Aldbury Isolation Hospital, where she sadly died.

In order to avoid the spread of infectious diseases, every parish had its “pest house.” Berkhamsted’s pest house was originally on the Common near Potten End. As late as1856 it was let on condition that the tenant received any case of infectious disease “that the parish, or a medical practitioner, may think to send thither.”

Records held in the National Archives explain that the Aldbury Infectious Diseases Hospital was opened in 1879. It was built by the Berkhamsted Sanitary Authority on an isolated site on New Ground Road, and today is a private house. The hospital was intended for patients living in the area administered by the Berkhamsted Poor Law Union, which included Tring. The hospital was managed by the Sanitary Authority until 1898 when the Aldbury Hospital Joint Committee – made up of members of Berkhamsted and Tring councils – took over. However, Tring’s town councillors became concerned that the amount they were being asked to contribute to the running costs was more than it would cost for them to build and operate their own facility and Tring withdrew from the committee.

Winifred was buried in Rectory Lane Cemetery on the same day that she died, the haste in burying her no doubt a consequence of her infectious illness.

Condition: good


In Memoriam

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