Author Topic: Rowles murder  (Read 1718 times)

Offline MiniHistory

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Rowles murder
« on: Wednesday 08 June 16 03:21 BST (UK) »
This is the longest of long shots but I've tried coming at it from various angles with no success.

My paternal grandparents were Charlie Evans and Carrie Pole of around Halse & Bishops Lydeard, born in 1884 and 1886 respectively. They were friends with a couple, Jim and Mary Rowles (whom my dad called uncle and aunt but they may not have been). Jim and Mary had an adopted son Teddy and a daughter Cissy (who was also possibly adopted.) Cissy had an illegitimate son called Lennie and she was murdered by Lennie's father. She had just posted a letter to Carrie one Sunday evening so Carrie had to testify.

Lennie became organist at Failand church. He died at about 50. I assume he was Leonard Rowles but I can't find a birth registration. Leonard Austin Rolls b. Bedminster 1892, doesn't fit as his parents are wrong according to census data. Leonard John Rowles b. 1908 in Bridgwater might be him but I can't find supporting data. I can't access the 1911 census at present. I guess he may have been registered under his father's name, in which case I'm sunk.

My problems are that I'm not sure how Rowles is spelt, and I have no idea what Cissy was short for, and I don't know when this murder happened or what Lennie's father's name was. These non-facts make chasing down the story very difficult, especially when I'm in Australia.

My grandparents were married in 1918 and I'm guessing my grandmother testified under her married name, Caroline Evans. I assume the murder happened somewhere between 1918 and 1939 but it could have been later. I also assume it happened somewhere in the Failand area.

Any and all help would be appreciated.


Offline Jackiemh

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 08 June 16 04:12 BST (UK) »
Welcome to Rootschat
I have had a quick look at 1911 census and found James & Mary Rowles at Holly Cottage, Failand, Wraxall, Somerset. They were born 1868 (Abbotts Leigh) and 1871 (Wraxall) respectively. Children mentioned William b1890 and Sarah 1892.
I looked at Leonard Rowles b1908 from Bridgwater but 1911 census shows his parents as Thomas and Charlotte b 1868 and 1867 respectively.
I hope that this helps.
Jackie
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Offline snowball

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 08 June 16 05:58 BST (UK) »
Hi, there are various reports of the murder in March 1926 and the subsequent trial in West Country newspapers (via the British Newspaper Archive or FindMyPast). 21-year-old Wilfred Henry Gould was sentenced to death for killing Cissie, 34, formally named Sarah Louise Cicely Rowles, a laundry worker and church organist in Failand. They had argued about whether he was the father of her unborn child (so I don't think he was Lennie's father too).

She would appear to be the Sarah Louisa E   Rowles whose birth is registered in Bedminster in September 1891 and the daughter Sarah that Jackie has mentioned in the 1911 census.

I don't see a Leonard born in Long Ashton (which I think would be the reg district) with mother's maiden name Rowles. One of the newspaper reports notes that "some years ago she (Cissie) had an illegitimate child".

Western Daily Press of March 17 1926 says "about 12 years ago she had a child" and that her son was "Leonard Cecil Rowles". Same report mentions the letter sent to your grandmother. "a great friend".

I can't find a likely birth registration circa 1914, but there is the death of a Leonard C Rowles, 33, in Weston, Somerset, in September 1946.

All the best
Rob




Offline snowball

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 08 June 16 06:05 BST (UK) »
Ah,this looks like the birth:

Births Sep 1913 
Rowles    Leonard C    Rowles    Bristol    6a   434    

Rob


Offline MiniHistory

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 08 June 16 08:21 BST (UK) »
Jackie and Rob, thank you both so very much for your help! I certainly wasn't expecting such a prompt resolution to this particular family history mystery. I can see there was a bit of Chinese Whispering going on but it all makes sense now. Thank you both once again. :)

The extra bit of information which Dad passed on (and which has also gone through the whispering process, of course) is that when Lennie died, Jim his grandfather and also Charlie, my grandfather, laid him out. Lennie's body swelled up and when someone stuck a skewer into him (as you do) the stench was dreadful, so bad that the cottage was uninhabitable for a fortnight. Or so the story goes.  ;)

Thank you both. I can't say it enough.

Marian

Offline dave1490

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 21 September 16 07:37 BST (UK) »
Hi
I may be able to provide the most accurate information as i am related to the Rowles family, Cissy was my grandmothers cousin. Cissy was born in Failand in 1891 as Sarah Louisa Emily Rowles, she worked as a laundress for the Fry family. She had a son Leonard Cecil Rowles born 1913, he was adopted by Cissy's parents after her murder not before. Leonard was part of a choir and also worked as a gardener, he tragically had a cycling accident and died a couple of days later on September 28th 1946. Leonard was not the son of his mothers murderer, family stories say he was a son of Colonel Reginald Brittan of Failand Hill House, it was hushed up to protect the Colonel's reputation. Jim and Mary Rowles adopted 2 other children called Albert and Sidney Colston who were twins. They lived at Holly Cottage, Failand. They also had a son William Rowles. If anyone has any pictures of any Rowles could you let me know as i would be interested.
Regards, David

Offline MiniHistory

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #6 on: Saturday 24 September 16 05:14 BST (UK) »
David, thank you so much for that information. It fills in some gaps in my understanding.

When my grandparents went to visit Jim and Mary they'd stay overnight, and my dad, who was seven years younger than Lennie, had to bunk in with him.

Dad also mentioned that a friend of his mother worked for Lady Fry so that would almost certainly be Cissie.

I'm afraid I have no photos of the Rowles family. I hope someone else can help with that.

Thank you once again. It's wonderful to get the family story minus the chinese whispers.

Offline talbotrowles

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #7 on: Friday 21 October 16 13:40 BST (UK) »
Hi, I have Rowles ancestry, and have some photos.
However my tracing-back seems to have come to a full stop, so I'm not sure whether it's the same family as this chat. My GGrandfather was William Rowles (b June 1865) m Annie Chappell. His father was Thomas Rowles, with known links to Bridgwater and Glastonbury, Somerset.
My grandmother was Thomas/Annie's daughter Violet.
I'd be interested for any further info, and be happy to share any useful info I have.
Keith

Offline MiniHistory

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Re: Rowles murder
« Reply #8 on: Friday 21 October 16 22:30 BST (UK) »
Hi, Keith. Maybe you and David should liaise and see where any connection lies. I only know about the Rowles family where their lives intersect with my family. Good luck, and thank you for responding.