Newsletter 3 from Jennifer Topham, of Malmesbury, England

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The Risdons of Somerset
January 2004

Hello everyone

The main topic in the next newsletter will on some interesting family facts - so watch out for this at the end of January. In the meantime have a lovely Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

It seems awful saying this at the end of September, but already the shops are full of cards and puddings, so time will soon fly by!

Late last summer I was contacted by Betty CHANDLER (nee Dorothy Elizabeth HEDGES) daughter of Robert and his wife Frances Mary nee RISDON who was born in 1897 at Stogumber, daughter of Francis and his wife Charlotte Annie (nee WARE). Betty and I have corresponded regularly since then and between us have filled in alot of gaps and brought this (the HEDGES) line up to date. Most lines of descendants have now come far enough forward for me to be able to start looking for World War 1 casualities. Very few, if any, men from our family with the surname Risdon appear to have gone to war - I will have to go to the National Archives (formerly Public Record Office) in London to check on this. However, there are a couple of distant cousins who paid the ulitimate sacrifice for their country.

Firstly, Clement SAUNDERS from the Risdon/Symons line lost his life in Mespotamia (now Iraq) and was buried at Amara in 1917. Hopefully the war cemetery was not damaged during the recent troubles in this area. Clement was an income tax inspector who was born in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, in 1887. At the time of his death he was serving as a 2nd Lieutentant in the Royal Field Artillery (Mespotamia Expeditionery Force).

Another man to perish was James HARDWILL who was a descendant of the Risdon/Veysey line. He was born in 1892 at Spaxton, Somerset and worked on his father’s farm. James was serving with the Royal Naval Volunteer Division as an Able Seaman in Drake Battlion. He was at the battle for the French town of Moeuvres and was buried there in September 1918.

The last military person I am going to mention, but who was not involved in WW1, is Alfred EARLE. His maternal grandmother Elizabeth nee RISDON was the sister of my great grandfather Edward RISDON (1838 Timberscombe-1924 Minehead). Elizabeth married Thomas RAWLE of Porlock and they had five children. Their daughter Mary Winifred married Henry Henwood EARLE, a professional soldier, and Alfred was their first child, born in 1907 at Shebbear in North Devon. Alfred joined the Royal Air Force in 1922 after leaving school and very quickly rose through the ranks, specializing in photographic work. In 1943 Alfred was appointed to the Offices of the War Cabinet and accompanied Winston Churchill to both the Cairo and Yalta Conferences. Upon retirement in 1968 Alfred held the post of Director General of Intelligence for the Defence Staff. In December 1965 Air Chief Marshall Alfred EARLE was made a Knight of the Grand Cross Order of the British Empire, and thus became Air Chief Marshall Sir Alfred EARLE. Alfred was twice widowed and then left a third wife plus a family who I shall be contacting in due course.

Lastly, I have a problem and am wondering if anyone knows the answer. In 1866 Emily Frances RISDON was born at Stogumber. She was the second child of James Jenkins and his wife Mary Corner nee BURSTON. Emily appears on the 1881 census at boarding school in Taunton but there are no “sightings” of her after this date - no mention on later censuses, no death entry or burial nor any marriage certificate. However, she was obviously still alive in May 1898 when her father wrote his will as her name is mentioned but with no further details. Where did she go? Please help if you know the answer!

Best wishes to you all

Jennifer Topham, 2 Orchard Court, Arches Lane, Malmesbury SN16 0ED Wiltshire
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