VOL. IV - CHAPTER 12

James William Veness and Charlotte Edith Pocock

James William Veness was born on 4 December 1871 at The Common, Hooe, the son of James Veness, grocer and Margaret Cornford (Chapter 11). Father James registered the birth. He was christened on 25 February 1872 at Hooe Parish Church.

The 1881 and 1891 censuses show 'William' living with his parents, firstly at Hooe Common and then at Sandhill Farm, Hooe. By 1891, aged 19, he is working as a butcher. It seems that following his father's death in 1898 it was his mother Margaret who continued with the business rather than her son. In "Kelly's Directory" of 1899 for Hooe, Mrs Margaret Veness is listed as a butcher. His sister, Miss Edith Veness is listed a shopkeeper.

The 1901 census shows Mrs Margaret Veness living at The Common, Hooe and still running a "butchers and general shop". She is described as an 'employer'. Her son James William Veness, now married was also living at The Common and was a butcher. He describes himself as a "worker" which I take to mean   'employed' and so presumably 30 year old James was employed by his mother?

"The Bexhill Almanac" from 1901 through to 1905 lists Mrs James Veness and William Veness as butchers and a Miss Veness as running a grocery and general store at Victoria Villas, Hooe. No Veness's are listed in the 1906 or 1907 additions. 

James William Veness had married Charlotte Edith Pocock on 28 February 1900 at Hooe Parish Church. James William is described as a 28 year old bachelor, a butcher, the son of James Veness, butcher. Charlotte is described as a 26 year old spinster daughter of Thomas Pocock, labourer. Both parties signed the register. The witnesses were Mary Louisa Pocock and George James Pocock, Charlotte's brother and sister.

Charlotte Edith Pocock was born on 15 January 1874 and baptised on 22 February 1874 at Hooe Parish Church. Her line has been traced back to 1812 and can be found at Appendix E.

The couple had four children all baptised at Hooe Parish Church:

  • Margaret Mary Veness. Born 17 March 1901 at Hooe.
  • William Douglas Veness. Born 24 July 1902. Baptised 28 September 1902 at Hooe Parish Church
  • Agnes Charlotte Veness. Born 21 April 1904. 
  • Edith Annie Veness (Reg Gen Dec Qtr 1906 Hailsham 2b 84).

The 1901 census shows the family living at The Common, Hooe. The entry reads:

  • James Veness, head, aged 29, butcher, born Hooe
  • Charlotte E Veness, wife, aged 24, born Hooe
  • Margaret M Veness, daughter, aged 1 month, born Hooe

James and Charlotte with their three eldest children are pictured below. It is believed that James's mother Margaret Cornford is also pictured. I had been told that James' mother tried to dissuade Charlotte from marrying her son, but to no avail. Some family members had suggested that he "liked a tipple". I recall being told that on at least one occasion he set off from the family shop with meat deliveries only to get waylaid at the pub and by the time he came out all the meat was gone, but its not clear how much truth there is in this tale. 

James and Charlotte's daughter Edith Annie Veness died in 1908 aged 1 year old (Reg Gen March Qtr 1908 Hailsham 2b 67))

James Veness had certainly left the family home by 1911 and was seemingly never heard of again.  When he first left Charlotte went on parish relief and remained on this until after her youngest daughter had died and then she was able to do others laundry. This suggests James had gone by 1908. Again I had been told that when Charlotte approached the local police, they were reluctant to look for him suggesting that she was better off without him and her eldest daughter "Meg" agreed. A slightly different version has come down through James's sister Bertha (Chapter 11). She recalled that her brother was not happy and that he'd always talked of going to Australia; that his horse and cart was last seen by the river at the bottom of the hill before Boreham Street where Bertha and her husband were living at the time and that a big search was made for him and the horse and cart, even dragging the river, but he and horse and cart were never seen again. Bertha was always convinced that he was in Australia. I can find no evidence of what happened to James William and doubt we'll ever get to know.  

By 1911 Charlotte Edith Veness and her children were living at The Old Toll House, Ninfield. Charlotte, 37 shows herself as married and her occupation as 'charring'. Daughter Margaret was 10 years old, son William, 8 and daughter Agnes 6 years old. The property consisted of 2 rooms including the kitchen, but excluding the scullery, landing, lobby, closet and bathroom.

Toll houses were built by turnpike trusts in England, Wales and Scotland during the 18th and early 19th centuries to house the toll collector. In 1840, according to the Turnpike Returns in Parliamentary Papers, there were over 5,000 tollhouses operating in England. These were sold off in the 1880s when the turnpikes were closed. Many were demolished but several hundred still survive as domestic houses. The old toll house in Ninfield has not survived, but was demolished for road widening. 

The remaining family is pictured below:

After the toll house was demolished Charlotte Veness worked as a housekeeper for "Old Mrs Scott" at Hollis Street Farm.  The open entries in the 1939 register include:

  • Ellen Scott. Born 25 March 1854. "Private means"
  • Adrian G Scott. Born 6 August 1892. Architect F.R.I.B.A
  • Barbara A Scott. Born 8 October 1893
  • Charlotte Veness. Born 15 June 1874. Domestic servant.  

To take a look at Hollis Street Farm - https://media.onthemarket.com/properties/1173117/doc_0_4.pdf

My mother recalls polishing the brass there at the weekends as a child. 

Ellen Scott was the widow of George Gilbert Scott Jnr (8 October 1839 to 6 May 1887), a gothic revival architect responsible for buildings such as Norwich Catholic Cathedral,  Chapels at Windsor & Kings College, Cambridge, etc. They had two surviving sons, 

  • Giles Gilbert Scott (9 November 1880 to 8 February 1960), an architect who designed the Anglican cathedral in Liverpool and the red telephone box, and 
  • Adrian Gilbert Scott (6 August 1882 to 23 April 1963), also an architect who was living with his mother in 1939

George Gilbert Scott Jnr had married Ellen King Sampson in 1872 in Eastbourne. He was the son of Sir George Gilbert Scott (Born 13 July 1811 at the Vicarage, Gawcott, Died 27 March 1878 at South Kensington), also a gothic revival architect responsible for Midland Grand Hotel, at St Pancreas, the Albert Memorial and the London Chapel, Kings College. 

For a time during World War II, Charlotte and "Old Mrs Scott" lived at Recovieu, her son's house whilst William was in the forces and his wife and children were in Scotland. Had Hollis Street Farm been requisitioned? During this time they would stand in the largely glass porch and watch the German bombers flying overhead!! 

Towards the end of her life she went to live permanently with her son William Douglas Veness and his family at Recovieu. 

Charlotte  Edith Veness of Recovieu, Ninfield, married woman, died on 25 May 1956. Probate was granted to William Douglas Veness, butcher. 

"Old Mrs Scott" had predeceased her, Ellen Scott of Hollis Street Farm, Ninfield Road, Bexhill on Sea had died on 4 November 1953

My grandfather, William Douglas Veness is the subject of  Chapter 13. There is some information about his surviving sisters below:

Margaret Mary Veness

Margaret Mary Veness "Meg" was born on 17 March 1901 at The Common, Hooe. Her father James occupation is 'journeyman butcher'. Her mother Charlotte registered the birth on 19 April 1901 (Reg Gen June Qtr 1901 Hailsham 2b 89).

"Meg" went into service, remaining with the same family throughout most of her life. By the 1930's she was working for Mrs Stephenson. Lionel Fenton Stephenson and Dorothy Wells MacAdam Smith had married in 1912 in St George, Hanover Square, London.  Lionel's grandfather was George Robert Stephenson (20 October 1819 to 26 October 1905), a civil engineer who was a cousin of Robert Stephenson (16 October 1803 to 12 October 1859), the designer of "The Rocket". Lionel and Dorothy had three children, including a daughter Dorothy Jean Stephenson who was born on 10 October 1914.  Lionel Fenton Stephenson died on 17 August 1925 in Chelsea. 

"Meg" was working for the family in 1936 when Dorothy married James Bruce Jones. They had three children, one born after Dorothy had been widowed. "Meg" later went with the Stephenson family to Dunblane in Scotland and was with them when news came that Captain J Bruce Jones of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders had died in North Africa in 1943.  

However at the time that the 1939 register was taken "Meg" was staying with her sister Agnes at 39 Aurelia Road, Croydon. 

Dorothy Bruce Jones remarried. Her second husband was Charles Maynard Adderley.  Charles was an army officer, rising to Lieutenant Colonel, he was appointed M.V.O. in 1979.  They had two children. "Meg" went on to work for the Adderleys, most latterly in Chinnor, Oxfordshire. 

"Meg" died on 31 March 1982 at Watlington & District Hospital. Her usual address had been "Two Shires", Sprigs Alley, Chinnor and her occupation is given as domestic service (retired).

Agnes Charlotte Watson nee Veness

Agnes Charlotte Watson "Peg" was born on 21 April 1904 at Hooe (Reg Gen June Qtr 1904 Hailsham 2b 91)

"Peg" married Walter Watson in 1926 in Eastbourne. Walter had been married before.

Walter had previously married Charlotte Vennall in 1922 in Battle. They had a son Walter Thomas Tony Watson who was born in 1923. Charlotte Watson died on 5 August 1924 at 419, Battle Road, Hollington, Hastings. She was just twenty years old. The cause of death was tuberculous (two months) and exhaustion (six days). Their son "Tony" enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Service (service number 1450291). He died on 5 May 1945 aged 22 years from Malaria in Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp, in the North East Corner of Borneo. He is commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Memorial in Singapore. The probate record shows that Walter Thomas Tony Watson of 11, Brading Road, Croydon died on 5 May 1945 at Sandakan. Administration of his estate was granted on 22 June 1946 to Walter Watson, electrical engineer.

The Sandakan Prisoner of War Camp was notorious for its ill treatment of prisoners, the use of cages, shock and water treatment as punishment for seemingly minor offences such as stealing food. it was opened in July 1942, when 1,500 Australians, mostly captured from Singapore, were brought there to build a military airfield. In 1943, another 770 British and 500 Australian soldiers were sent to the camp. At the height of 1943, there were about 2,500 prisoners of war there. By January 1945 the airstrip had been so damaged by heavy Allied bombing that it stopped functioning.  Also in the same month, a group of about 455 prisoners were sent on forced marches by the Japanese. In May 1945, the Japanese decided to close the camp. On 29 May 1945, 536 prisoners were ordered to march to Ranau. Other prisoners were marched into the jungle where they perished or were shot by the Japanese guards. On 10 June 1945 a final group of 75 prisoners were marched towards Ranau. The remaining prisoners were stranded after the camp was burned either died of malnutrition and disease or were killed by the Japanese guards. By 15 August 1945, none of them remained alive.(en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandakan_camp). 

Walter and "Peg" had no children of their own.

In 1934 they were living at Flat 4, Oaklands, Park Road, Coulsdon, Surrey. 

In 1939, Walter, a 38 year old plasterer and his wife Agnes were living at 39 Aurelia Road, Croydon. Agnes' sister Margaret was living with them.   

Walter Watson died in 1978.

Agnes Charlotte Watson died in 1994 aged 90 (Reg Gen October 1994 Croydon B73B 189)

Click here to go to "Chapter 13 - William Douglas Veness and Alice Emma Stranack"

To find out more about the Pococks click here to go to "Appendix E - Pocock"

Click here to go back to "Chapter 11 - James Veness and Mary Cornford"