Sunday, 6 November 2016

Children of Robert Melton and Ellen Armitage

Robert Melton (1846-1910) and Ellen Armitage nee Pinnuck (1855-1913) married in 1876 and were my great parents. The 1911 census says that Ellen had 12 children, of which only 7 were alive on April 2nd 1911. Robert and his family are listed in the 1881, 1891 and 1901 censuses. From these, I found the names of eight children, of which only one (Percy) had died by 1911. The General Register Office has recently launched an online index of births from 1837 to 1915 which includes the mother’s maiden name. This has enabled me to find another three children (Luke, Albert and Maud) born to Robert and Ellen. The names I now know of are

1. LUKE ARMITAGE, b. Q3 (quarter 3) 1877, Holbeck, Yorkshire; d. September 1877, Holbeck, Yorkshire, aged 0. Holbeck is a district of Leeds. Luke was buried on September 25th 1877 in Churwell, a village which was then part of the Holbeck registration district.
2. ALBERT EDWARD ARMITAGE, b. Q2 1879, St Giles, London. His death is not registered, but he is not listed in the 1881 census and so had presumably died by then.
3. ROBERT MELTON ARMITAGE, b. 14 May 1881, Islington; d. 24 May 1916, Vimy Ridge, killed in action during WW1, aged 35.
4. EMMA ARMITAGE, b. 30 June 1883, Islington East; d. 2 October 1970, The Brook Hospital, Greenwich of bronchopneumonia, aged 87.
5. WILLIAM FREDERICK ARMITAGE, b. 9 July 1884, Islington; d. Q4 1940, Edmonton aged 56.
6. MAUD ETHEL ARMITAGE, b. Q2 1886, Islington; d. Q3 1886, Islington, aged 0.
7. FLORENCE EDITH ARMITAGE, b. 17 June 1887, Islington; d. 2 February 1945, Barnet aged 57 of heart disease and stroke.
8. GERTRUDE ELLEN ARMITAGE, b. 22 February 1889, South Hornsey, London; d. 28 February 1978, Ashford aged 89.
9. PERCY EDWIN ARMITAGE, b. Q4 1890, South Hornsey (Edmonton); d. Q1 1892, Edmonton aged 1.
10. ALFRED JOHN ARMITAGE, b. 14 February 1893, South Hornsey; d. Q3 1957, Hackney aged 64.
11. GEORGE HENRY ARMITAGE, b. 17 January 1898, South Hornsey; d. 28 August 1936, Malling by suicide resulting from depression caused by TB, aged 38.

I cannot find any record of Ellen’s 12th child. Apparently its birth was not registered.

Infant mortality rates in England and Wales between 1875 and 1900 were about 150 deaths per thousand live births. This high rate was a reflection of widespread poverty and the poor state of health of the population. Infant mortality dropped during the 20th century such that by 2000 the rate was only 6 deaths per thousand live births.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

John James William Armitage (1906-41): Killed in Action during WW2

John James William Armitage was born on June 29th 1906 in Middleburg, South Africa, the third child of Robert Melton Armitage and his first wife Anne (nee Hutchinson). Robert (like his father William) was a career soldier in the Royal Artillery. He had been sent to South Africa in 1900 during the second Boer War (1899 - 1902) and remained there until he returned to the UK in 1907. By then he was a Battery Quarter Master Sergeant.

John’s mother died in 1910 at Colchester aged 34, when he was aged 4. The 1911 census shows John as a patient at a children’s hospital in Kensington. His siblings Henry (aged 11) and Ellena (6) were living at North Lodge, Kensington Palace Gardens with their grandfather William (71) and their aunt Ellen (32). John’s father Robert was listed as aged 37, a Battery Quarter Master Sergeant at Wellington Lines, Aldershot. He married Sarah Chandler in 1912, was discharged from the army later that year and went to live in Liverpool. Robert and Sarah had two children, Edward (in 1913) and Mary (1915 - 17).

Attestation records show that John joined the army in 1926, aged 20 in Liverpool. His trade is given as “sculptor” and he enlisted for 4 years. In 1934, John (aged 28) married Lillie Aspinall (aged 21) in Liverpool. They had a son in 1936. The family lived in Bootle, an area of North Liverpool, near the docks.

John served as a Gunner in the Royal Artillery, 106 (The Lancashire Hussars) Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment in World War 2. He fought in the Battle of Greece, which began on 6 April 1941 when Germany invaded that country, which was already fighting the Italian army. The Greeks were supported by 63,000 British Empire troops (from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus and Palestine), but the combined Allied force was soon overwhelmed by the Axis armies, who had more men, tanks and aircraft. On 21 April it was decided to evacuate the remaining British Empire forces. The Dutch troop ship Slamat was part of a convoy evacuating about 3,000 British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers from Nafplio in the Peloponnese. As the convoy headed south on the morning of 27 April, it was attacked by nine Junkers Ju 87s, damaging Slamat and setting her on fire. The destroyer HMS Diamond rescued about 600 survivors and HMS Wryneck came to her aid, but as the two destroyers headed for Souda Bay in Crete another Ju 87 attack sank them both. The total number of deaths from the three sinkings was almost 1,000. Only 27 crew from Wryneck, 20 crew from Diamond, 11 crew and eight evacuated soldiers from Slamat survived.

Army casualty records say that John, aged 35, was presumed killed in action at sea near Greece, sometime between 26 and 27 April 1941. No further details are given, but it seems very likely that John was one of those on board Slamat. His name is recorded on the Athens Memorial, which commemorates nearly 3,000 members of the British Empire land forces who lost their lives during the campaigns in Greece and Crete in 1941 and 1944-1945, in the Dodecanese Islands in 1943-1945 and in Yugoslavia in 1943-1945, and who have no known grave.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Bertie Pinnuck (1899-1982) and his Service in World War One

Bertie Pinnuck was a second cousin once removed of my great grandmother Ellen Pinnuck (1855-1913), who married Robert Melton Armitage (1846-1910) in 1876. Bertie was born on the 28th April 1899 in Enfield. He was the fourth of nine children born to William Frederick and Clara Pinnuck. William, a labourer, died in 1909 aged 36.

When war was declared in 1914, many men rushed to volunteer. However, as the casualty toll rose, the British Armed Services began to run out of men and so conscription was introduced in 1916. Bertie became eligible for war service in April 1917, when he reached the age of 18. The papers relating to 8,000 appeals against conscription in Middlesex have survived and are held by the National Archives. They include an application made by Clara Pinnuck for Bertie to be exempted. It was considered by a tribunal in Enfield on June 1st 1917. Bertie was then living with his mother at 21 Walton Street, Enfield and working as a “fancy portmanteau maker”. Clara provided the following reasons in support of the application:
I have had two of my sons in France one killed other one still out there and all I get is 12/6 from the Government and I am a widow with four others under 14 years and this son is my sole support and if you take him I don’t know what I shall do as he is the main stay of the house.
(The son that was killed was William George Pinnuck, who died at Ypres in 1915 aged 18. The other son was Charles Ambrose Pinnuck, born 1894, who was a Gunner in the Royal Garrison Artillery. He survived the war and died in 1940).
The tribunal granted exemption for a period of six months from June 1st 1917 on condition that Bertie paid his mother £1 per week and became an active member of a Volunteer Regiment – Domestic position.

The Chief Military Representative appealed against this decision on June 4th 1917 stating:
That in view of the urgent and pressing need for men passed for General Service in the Army, it is necessary to appeal against the decision of the Tribunal who granted him six months. His occupation is not of national importance, he was allowing his mother 17/- per week for his board and lodging until at the advice of some of the Members he allowed her 20/- per week. I submit there was no justification for the Tribunal to grant six months exemption when men are so urgently wanted and married men with heavy responsibilities have been compelled to join up.
The appeal was considered at The Guildhall, Westminster on June 20th 1917 and dismissed.

Bertie joined the Royal Navy on January 29th 1918. His service record states his occupation as carman, height 5 foot 4½ inches, hair brown, eyes hazel, complexion fresh.

Bertie in his Royal Navy uniform

Bertie was recruited as a Stoker and was initially assigned to HMS Vivid II, which was the name of the Navy Barracks at Devonport. On April 2nd 1918 he was assigned to HMS Cumberland, an armoured cruiser completed in 1903. From January 1915 until the end of the war, she escorted convoys and conducted patrols against German raiders seeking to attack merchant ships. The ship had a complement of 678 officers and men. It had a top speed of 23 knots and was powered by steam engines. Bertie’s job was to shovel coal into the boilers, which was hot and tiring work. He was demobilised on February 11th 1919. His character is recorded as very good, his ability as satisfactory.

HMS Cumberland

On April 9th 1921, Bertie married Alice Aggus at Jesus Church, Enfield. The marriage register says that he was aged 23 (he was actually not quite 22) and a farm labourer. It says that she was 24 (she was actually 27), a domestic servant, the daughter of John Aggus (deceased), a farm labourer.

Alice Pinnuck nee Aggus

Bertie and Alice had a daughter in 1922 and a son in 1932. Clara, Bertie’s mother, died in 1937 aged 64. The national register compiled in 1939 shows Bertie, a leather repairer, and Alice living at 7 Chase Side Place, Enfield. 

Alice died in 1967 aged 73, Bertie died in 1982 aged 82, both in Enfield.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The origin of the surname Armitage

A Dictionary of Surnames by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges says that the surname Armitage comes from a name for someone who lived by a hermitage. Apparently, research indicates that most, if not all, Armitages can be traced back to a family living at Hermitage Bridge in Almondbury near Huddersfield, Yorkshire in the 13th century. The name is still most common in Yorkshire. My great grandfather, Robert Melton Armitage (1846-1910) was born in Leeds, which is in Yorkshire.

The name Pinnuck is not in the surname dictionary. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Armitage / Pinnuck Ancestor Charts

If you are related to me and would like a chart (for free) showing the names, dates and occupations of your Armitage / Pinnuck ancestors, please send me an email on

Phil Taylor

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Wedding of George Henry Armitage (1898-1936)

The photo below was taken at the wedding of George Henry Armitage (1898-1936) to Elsie Joyce Atkins (1897-1977) at Kennington Parish Church, Lambeth on August 19th 1926. George was a brother of my grandmother Emma Ivall nee Armitage.

I believe the people in the photo to be

Front row, left to right : Gertrude Ellen Bull nee Armitage (George’s sister) aged 37, George Henry Armitage aged 28, Elsie Joyce Atkins aged 29, James Atkins (Elsie’s father) aged 60, Maria Atkins (Elsie’s mother), aged 56.

Behind, left to right : unknown man, Alfred John Armitage ? (George’s brother) aged 33, George William Ivall (George’s brother-in-law) aged 45, Dorothy ? (Elsie’s sister) aged 30, William Frederick Armitage ? (George’s brother) aged 42, Louie ? (Elsie’s sister) aged 28, Emma Ivall nee Armitage (George’s sister) aged 43, Florence Edith Ivall nee Armitage (George’s sister) aged 39.

Elsie Joyce Atkins was known as Joyce. Her parents were James Atkins (1865-1937) and Maria Atkins nee Davis (1869-1948). They had three daughters, Dorothy Leslie (born 1896), Elsie Joyce (b 1897) and Louie (b 1898). In 1911, James was a commercial traveller for a paper merchant. The family were living at 106 Ivydale Road, Nunhead, Camberwell when Elsie was baptised in 1897 and James was still living there in 1937 when he died. George’s parents are not in the photo as both had died by 1926.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Stanley Thomas Armitage (1925-94), British Rail clerk

Stanley Thomas Armitage was a son of Alfred John Armitage (1893-1957) who was a brother of my grandmother Emma Armitage (1883-1970).

On 18 April 1925, Stanley was born at 102 City Rd in Holborn, the youngest of the six children (five boys and one girl) of Alfred John and Ethel Emily Armitage. The family were living at 19 Sandbrook Rd, Stoke Newington, North London in 1925. Alfred was a railway guard.

Stanley grew up in Stoke Newington before joining the RAF during the Second World War and becoming a navigator. He received a commendation whilst with them. Stanley was posted to Indonesia where he met a local woman, Mildred Rose (known as Rosie) Rodrigues (b1920). They married in 1946 in Batavia (now called Djakarta).

He returned to England with his wife. They lived with Stanley’s parents at 17 Sandbrook Road, Stoke Newington. The 1947 to 53 electoral registers list Alfred and Ethel, Leonard (one of Stanley’s brothers) and his wife Ivy, Stanley and his wife Rose at number 17. Stanley and Rose had moved out by 1955. In 1956 and 1958 they were living at 61 Manor Road, Stoke Newington. They had a son and two daughters. Stanley worked as a British Rail ticket office clerk. His marriage ended in divorce.

Stanley later met Barbara Violet Aldred (born Ager in 1935), who was also divorced. In 1967 they had a son, who was born at No 2 Railway Cottages, Thurrock, Essex. They were married in 1969 in Thurrock. Soon afterwards they moved to Worthing in Sussex firstly at 9 Chatham Road and then 51 Brougham Road. In 1974 Stanley and Barbara had a daughter. In 1983 the family moved to 136 King Edward Avenue in Worthing. Stanley was still working for British Rail but was now one of the most senior clerks, covering stations from Three Bridges to Portsmouth.

Stanley and Barbara Armitage

In 1984 Stanley took early retirement (aged 59) and he, Barbara and their daughter moved to Norwich. This is where Barbara came from and her mother (Violet Ager) lived. Stanley had a few jobs after retirement, working as a cashier in the local filling station and delivering new cars around the country for Trimoco (Vauxhall). He was diagnosed with emphysema in the early 90s and Stanley’s health deteriorated. He died in 1994 aged 68 at Norwich General Hospital. Stanley was cremated and his ashes are kept at Norwich Crematorium. Barbara died in 1999 aged 64.