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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

Thomas Davis Cobley, farm foreman

One of Ari’s great-great-grandfathers was Thomas Davis Cobley. He and his twin brother Edward Daniel were born on 1 June 1874 in the village of Easton on the Hill in Northamptonshire, three miles from Stamford in Lincolnshire. His middle name came from his father’s mother, Mary Davis. The 1881 census shows the boys with their family at 4 Empingham Road Cottages in Tinwell, near Stamford.

Strangely, they are listed as 7 and 6 years old, although in the 1891 census they are both 16. By that time they are in Glinton, Northamptonshire, and Thomas is working as an agricultural labourer, while his brother has been apprenticed to a blacksmith.

Thomas married Sarah Ann Clay at St Matthew’s church in Eye on 17 May 1899. They both gave their address as Eye Green. Thomas was 24 and Sarah 22.

Their son Thomas William was born in 1901, and died in 1939 at the Memorial Hospital in Peterborough, leaving four young children. Sarah died not long after Thomas William was born, and Thomas married Emily Strickson in 1903.

The 1911 census, filled in by Emily, shows the family living at Pinchbeck. Thomas is now the foreman on a farm, and they have three daughters (Gertrude, 6; Lois, 2; and Kathleen, 10 months) and a son, Percy, who is 4. Also living with them are two servants: Thomas Henry Moon (21) is a waggoner on the farm, and Alfred Lawson (18) is a horseman.

(Sarah’s son Thomas, now 9, was living with his grandparents, William and Mary Clay, in Eye.)

The 1921 census tells us that Thomas, aged 46, was working for Mr Tom Fountain, a farmer at Cape’s Entry in nearby Gosberton. His daughter Gertrude (17) was a domestic servant but it doesn’t tell us where. Percy (14) was out of work. Lois (12), Kathleen (11) and Doris Evelyn (7) were all at school.

In the following years, Thomas and Emily had three more children: Jessie, Leslie and Brenda. Sadly, Jessie and Leslie both died as babies.

The 1939 Register shows the family at North Fen in Bourne, where Thomas is a farm foreman and the three girls, Kathleen, Lois and Brenda, are listed as land workers.

Thomas died on 26 April 1953 at 36 Austerby in Bourne. His daughter Kathleen was present. His will was proved at Lincoln on 28 May.

Ari, this is how you are related to Thomas:

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