Tommy’s Family History
Thomas Smith - Tommy’s Great-Granddad
Enid Smith - Tommy’s Great-Grandma
Cedric Boyer - Tommy’s Granddad
Mary Boyer - Tommy’s Gran
Joseph Wilkes - Tommy’s Father
Rosemary Wilkes - Tommy’s Mum
Tommy Wilkes - Tommy
Tommy’s family tree
Tommy’s gran had just about finished knitting his jumper. All it needed was for the sleeves to be joined up and it would make a nice birthday present.
She had already started the spring cleaning a week ago. The only thing needed now was for the new curtains to be put up. She would need Tommy’s help to do that when he got back.
She was more than proud of the cottage which had been passed down to her from her father, Thomas Smith, who had owned it outright. Not many people were fortunate to have their own place in those days. Many properties were rented.
Thomas Smith’s ownership of the cottage had been made possible by his kind benefactor, farmer Bartholomew Grey, who had owned most of the land in the vicinity of the forest at the time. He had also been the local law enforcer — a magistrate who presided over any legal matters or law-breakers that stood before him. He was very strict in enforcing the law.
Tommy’s great grandfather, Thomas Smith, had worked all his life as a farrier and wood cutter on the estate of Bartholomew Grey, living in a ‘tied’ cottage. He always spoke well of Mr. Grey and was a dedicated worker to ‘His Lordship’ as he called him, never taking a single day off for sickness in all weathers, as well as being a dedicated timekeeper.
On the passing away of his Lordship, Thomas Smith was summoned to appear before the Executors of the Estate. He went there with the loss of his job and the tied cottage foremost in his mind. Was this the reason they wished to see him? He felt a great unease in the presence of the Grey family as the Will was read out…
…and I bequeath the whole of the said cottage at Forest Edge together with the half-hectare of land it be on to Master Thomas Smith in dedication of… and furthermore that he shall remain in employ on the Estate…and the sum of 5 guineas in recognition of his loyalty shall be paid to him…
Thomas Smith was taken aback as he listened in silence together with his employer’s family who cast a glance in his direction but made no remarks. Two members of the family, however, did give him a kind smile. It was clear to him now why he had been summoned to the reading of the Will.
It was a very happy Thomas Smith that returned to his cottage that day to tell the good news to his wife Enid and their fifteen-year-old daughter Mary —Tommy’s gran.
Unfortunately both parents were lost to a severe fever when Tommy’s gran was only eighteen years of age. At twenty years of age, after a short courtship, she married a journeyman traveler, Cedric Boyer, who had called many times at the cottage on his rounds. They were very happy together, and Tommy’s gran soon gave birth to a lovely girl, Rosemary — Tommy’s mum. All was well until war broke out suddenly, changing everything.
Tommy’s gran took out the two medals which she kept in the sideboard, giving them a loving polish, something she did on a regular basis. She had sat with Tommy many times over the years, proudly showing him his grandfather’s medals from ‘The Great War’ and a citation that read ‘For Gallantry – killed in action’.
Tommy’s gran had brought Rosemary up by herself, doing the best she could and finding the going hard at times. But she never complained and there was never a bad word to spoil their loving relationship over the years. Rosemary grew up and met and married a merchant seaman, Joseph Wilkes, who was lost at sea when his ship went down, leaving her expecting a child. He was often away at sea and this made the loss a little easier on Rosemary, who was not used to him being there all the time.
Nevertheless, she loved him dearly and was distraught upon hearing the news.
Wiping away a tear, Tommy’s gran placed the medals back in the sideboard drawer. She sadly recalled the day she lost her daughter through a difficult birth. Tommy was born with leg-defects and it was feared he would never be able to walk without the use of supports.
She had done her best to bring him up as his mum would have wanted. She even gave him his name Tommy, as was her daughter’s intention if he was born a boy. She taught him his first words and took him to school daily when he reached the age of six. It was a privilege for a child to be able to go to school.
It was not unusual for children the age of seven to be working to help support the family. In most cases it was a necessity of survival. However, Tommy’s gran had some savings put by, and she intended to get Tommy a full education no matter what.
She loved him from head to toe and couldn’t bear to hear when doctors said ‘I’m sorry, but he will never be able to walk properly.’
“Well, that’s where you were wrong!” Tommy’s Gran said aloud, suddenly snapping out of her reverie and closing the drawer sharply. Pull yourself together, girl. You can’t live in the past. Tommy can walk now thanks to him meeting up with Esmeralda — that’s all that matters.
I hope they’re getting on well together, she thought to herself, remembering where Tommy had gone. “At least they made a good start yesterday. But then again, my Tommy can get along with anyone,” she muttered to herself reassuringly.
Thoughts of Esmeralda and Tommy were still on her mind as she made a nice cup of tea and sat herself down by the fire after putting an extra log on. It wasn’t long before she put the cup down, still half full, and drifted off for forty winks.