Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Basil Ewing, the full story

Catch up on the full story of last weeks NEWS...........

Basil Ewing....... his amazing story....

BASIL EWING, following the story of the letter writer of my last post…

Here is an insight into our very own Ewing family, the Dallas family have nothing on the Tupton family…………

Basil was born on 17th May 1875 at Tupton, Chesterfield, son of John and Hannah Ewing.

Kate was born in 1871; she was a little older than smitten Basil and the daughter of James and Mary Foster of Mickleover, Derbyshire.

Kate and Basil had become engaged on 12th June 1892, which according to a letter published in the Derbyshire Times was Kate’s 21st birthday. The letter told how the couple had pledged that afternoon to be “true till death”. Basil was a true romantic, enclosing lilies of the valley which he had pressed. He declared his love “oh, my love, I love thee so” and many kisses.

Letters passed and in January 1894 he wrote “I know you will be so proud when it is Mrs Basil Ewing, and I shall too, and I hope it will be before long”. Not long after this Kate went to Birmingham to live and the two continued to court, letters from Basil told how he was missing her and would visit soon.

A letter of 21st September 1894 told Kate good news, her fiancĂ© would be arriving in “Brum at 11.20, so I shan’t be late. I expect you’ll sit up for me”. Back in Chesterfield and Basil wrote on 24th September 1894 “I did enjoy myself in Brum”.

One month passes and on 22nd October Basil and Kate seem to have worries; Basil wrote “I have been bothered about what you told me in that letter, but do sincerely hope that it is not correct, but really we can consider ourselves very lucky. We have escaped up to this, but please let me know if anything further develops. I hope it is all false, but cheer up, old duck, and keep your pecker up and we’ll pull through some road...... I can tell you bills take a lot of meeting and money is very bad to get hold of..... I am enclosing proof of the Yeomanry photo”. Further letters passed and in November Basil is still keeping his fingers crossed that this is a false alarm “You know duck; I keep hoping and trusting that you are under a false impression....... You said in your last “pay me the debt you owe me” Next time you write please tell me what you are referring to”. It seems that Kate is beginning to see that Basil is not going to marry her and the love affair is sadly over. Basil is now talking more about his time with the Yeomanry and his duties with the regiment.

On 11th December 1894 Basil wrote “you want to know if my heart has grown fonder of another. If I want it to, I shouldn’t write to you and come over to see you....... You can keep the photo and trust to the boy it represents and he’ll pull you through”. Now for the news “without warning on 12 January 1895” Basil wrote “Kate, you might as well know that I am engaged to and passionately love the girl at Clay Cross. I have been there tonight and it is so late or should have written more. Basil”. No kisses or love, Basil has escaped his commitment to Kate and their baby. Later that month Basil wrote to Mr J Foster, Kate’s father regarding a solicitor’s letter and maintenance money. He offered £50 which was refused by Kate who wanted double that at £100. As Basil was still under 21 years of age Kate was unable to sue him for breach of promise and so he was to appear before the Bench of Justices.

Basil had married Maria Austin in January 1895 at St Lawrence Church, North Wingfield, the Bench heard how he was now married and had “a house, one servant, two horses and two men and a boy” but he was pleading that he was unable to pay maintenance for his child.

Kate confirmed that she was now 24 years old and had a male child which Basil was the father of, Basil did not contend his being the father. Kate had believed that Basil was going to marry her. The Bench decided on an order of 4s 6d a week until the child was 14 years old.

So what became of the couple once so in love and now parted in such bitter terms?

It looks like Kate returns to Chesterfield as in 1896 a Rosetta Foster married Charles Edward Bradley. By 1911 they are living at 4 Bridge Street, Spalding, Lancashire. Charles is an innkeeper. They have no children and on the 1911 census the word “none” has been written where the number of children should be recorded, but as this is only in relation to the marriage then this was correct. There is no evidence in census returns what the son of Kate and Basil was named or when he was born as he is never recorded as living with Kate or Basil. Kate passed away not long after on 7th August 1917. Her administration shows her as being the wife of Charles Edward Bradley a wine and spirits merchant. They lived at 30 Cliff Street, Bridlington. Her effects amounted to £394 10s.

And as for basil well his life was a little more exciting....

After marrying Maria in 1895 it wasn’t too long before the couple had a child of their own; John Cecil Basil Ewing was born on 1st April 1896, he was baptised at the Crooked Spire Church on 26th April 1896.

In August 1896 Basil advertised 4 weeks running offering his land for the use of horses stating there was “plenty of water, river runs through land. Good pasture and near to town”. Basil must have needed the extra cash. A year on and on 25th August 1897 his shop, house and warehouse, two stall stable and out offices were all “to let”. Was this the start of the hard times Basil was to face?

Sadly tragedy struck when young John Cecil Basil Ewing died aged only one year old. I have found no more children born to Basil and Maria.

April 1898 and Basil has hit rock bottom, his business has failed and he appears in many newspapers all around the country, recording his receiving order under the humiliating heading “BANKRUPTS”. His public examination was held at Chesterfield Bankruptcy Court on Friday 29th April 1898. It was recorded that he had begun the business in 1893, under age he had received surety from his father, who was now deceased. The business was originally run by his sister, but she had passed the rights over to him. The examination heard how Basil had let his business go under due to his love of gambling but Basil replied that this was not true and he had not neglected his business for racing. A further examination was deferred for a month’s time. Also that weekend his property and stock is now advertised on sale via Samuel Short, Accountant, 31 Glumangate, Chesterfield.

Which way would Basil turn? He had failed in business, been unlucky in love and had an illegitimate child to maintain.......

The one thing that he had left of course, he would join the military service. We already know from the letters that Basil wrote that he was a member of the local Yeomanry. An article in the Derbyshire Times states how in January 1900 the Mayor of Chesterfield, Councillor Spooner presented Trooper Basil Ewing with a “fine charger” as he went off to train at Retford.

A few months later on 24th March 1900 Basil has yet another letter printed in the local newspaper, this time addressed to the Mayor of Chesterfield. The letter tells how Trooper Basil Ewing of the Sherwood Rangers is now serving in Maitland Camp, Cape Town, South Africa. Basil describes “we have arrived safe and sound and a very pleasant journey we had, although we lost 38 horses out of our battalion”. The Battalion has orders to prepare ready to strike camp and Basil estimates that there are in between 10,000 and 12,000 men ready for action. In fact, whilst he writes they receive orders to pack up and be ready to head out on a three days journey to Kimberley later that night.

Basil was Private 819 of the 10th Company Sherwood Rangers, 3 Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. At some point he transferred to 118 Company (Sharpshooters) 25 Battalion Imperial Yeomanry. He was awarded the following medals –

*Queens South Africa Medal Clasp – Cape Colony, Orange Free State, Transvaal
*Kings South Africa Medal Clasp – South Africa 1901 and 1902

Basil may have travelled to Canada as there is an entry on the passenger list record dated 12th January 1905 for a Basil Ewing, but this man is a single labourer. He travelled on the Sicillian. Basil does not appear on the English 1911 census. In May 1919 a Basil Ewing crosses the border into New York from Canada, the age of this man is slightly out at 40 years old making his birth around 1879. In 1925 a Basil Ewing aged 50 years old made the return voyage from New York to Liverpool on the ship named the Samaria; he gave his forwarding address as 70 Sharrow Road, Sheffield. This Basil was employed as an engineer.

The interesting tale of Basil Ewing ends in the winter months of December 1927. Basil died suddenly whilst in Derby on 1st December 1927. He was 52 years old. His funeral took place on Monday 5th December at North Wingfield. His obituary states that he was the fourth son of John Ewing of New Tupton. The military career of Basil is also mentioned, telling that he had served in the South African War and “came over with the first contingent in 1914 and served in the recent war”. So it does seem that the Basil who travelled to Canada and possibly on to New York was in fact our lovable rogue Basil.

Basil in Canada – Private 40801
Basil’s service record can be viewed online at
http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/data ... 2gc7gvlnv0
The record tells that he joined the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force, the Reserve Battalion on 21st September 1914. He was 38 years and 4 months old now and gave his next of kin as Anna Ewing of New Tupton; his occupation was still corn factor, just as it was when we first met Basil. We are given a glimpse of the appearance of Basil; he was 5ft 9 inches tall, of fair complexion with blue eyes and black hair. From the papers we are able to see his neat signature, the hand that did expose all of Basil’s secrets, for all to hear.

I am left with some unanswered questions –

What was the illegitimate son named and what became of him?
What became of Maria? Did she also travel to Canada with Basil?
Who was Anna?

If anyone can shed any more light on his life I would love to hear all about it.

Sources – this article has been compiled using census, registration indexes, newspaper articles and military lists, No registration documents have been obtained and so this information would need to be confirmed with birth, marriage and death certificates to be fully proved.

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