The Biography of Ernest James Janes of Maldon, Essex – My Great Grandfather

The Biography of Ernest James Janes of Maldon, Essex – My Great Grandfather

My relationship to Ernest James Janes
William Wood JANES (1837 – 1906)
is my 2nd great grandfather
Ernest James JANES (1888 – 1942)
son of William Wood JANES and my Great Grandfather
Rosie May JANES (1930 – 1997)
daughter of Ernest James JANES and my Grandmother

Ernest James Janes was born on the 2nd July 1888 in the parish of Saint Mary’s, Maldon, Essex. He was the son William Wood Janes and Mary Ann Janes (Nee: Mountford). At the time of his birth his father worked as a coal porter and remained so for at least 10 – 15 years of his life. It wasn’t the only career his father had, in fact his occupations were quite varied. Including a General Labourer, A Bayman and a Marine Store Dealer.

Ernest was one of six children, three of which were full siblings – Joseph Henry Mountford (illegitimate), Alice Maud Janes and Nelley Rose Janes. His half-siblings were Mary Ann Janes and William W Janes. His family however didn’t stop there because he also had two step-siblings, James and Clarissa Carlick. These being the children of his father’s first wife “Mary Ann Janes (Nee Curtis)“ who died on the 13th August 1863 due to Diabetes. She lost her first husband – Samuel Carlick on the 14th January 1859. I don’t think Ernest had much to do with his step-siblings and he probably didn’t even know them that well, if at all. They both lived many miles away James Carlick in Durham and Clarissa Carlick in Lancashire and then at the end of her life in Cheshire.

There were also seven more children whom I am not going to mention to much off in this Biography, at least not until more research is carried out, but all seven of these children died in infancy between 1875 – 1882. Their names are currently unknown and it’s very likely that these children died due to syphilis. A family story has suggested that Joseph Henry Mountford was also born with this disease. (deaths were sourced from the 1911 census).

When Ernest was born in 1888, Queen Victoria was their sovereign Queen and Jack the Ripper was stalking his victims. Victorian Britain was both, one of prosperity and one of poverty. If you were poor in Victorian Britain, you were pretty damn poor. I am not entirely sure if Ernest’s family struggled or not. I have no records of his mother having to work or the children for that matter which was usual for the poorer classes of society.
Maldon 138 Highstreet, Birth place of Ernest Janes

138 High Street, Maldon – The first home of Ernest James Janes and probably his place of birth too.

The fact that they lived for a while at 138 High Street, Maldon this being Ernest’s first home kind of makes me think that maybe they managed okay even if it was on the bread line. One things for sure, I think his father William Wood Janes must have worked damn hard, and changed occupations whenever work was hard to come by. The 1880’s was also a big stepping stone for the people of Britain, with education becoming mandatory. Schools however were often over-crowded and in some of the charity schools it wasn’t uncommon to find 100 pupils to a teacher. Because of the pupil count, it was necessary for the teacher to quickly find ‘monitors’ to help teach. These monitors would be chosen from pupils who showed a grasp of the subject matter and could then be relied upon to teach their fellow students. From 9:00am to noon, and then from 2:00 to 5:00pm, the three R’s – reading, writing, and arithmetic, were the subjects focused upon in school. Slates were used instead of paper, although pen and ink was used in copybooks to learn handwriting. For the two hour period between noon and 2:00, it was common for students to go home for lunch. Children from rural areas who could have long distances to walk, stayed and ate at school. Time was then spent on the playground playing with toys such as tops, or playing games like Blindman’s Bluff or hide and seek. It was common practice to humiliate students whose work was sub-standard, or not completed. The dunces cap would be placed upon a pupil’s head if the teacher didn’t feel they were learning fast enough. The child would then be made to stand within full view of the classroom for a period of time. Corporal punishment was also the order of the day. If a child left the playground without permission, was late for school, or showed rudeness, the cane would be taken off the teacher’s desk and the child would be beaten.

victorian boy

An illustration of what a Victorian boy would have looked like.

It’s not all that difficult to imagine what Ernest James Janes’ childhood was like – He was off a working class family, He would more have likely to have been born at home with a midwife present, due to the fact that there were no hospitals in Maldon at this time. If you were poor, ill, old or an outcast of society you would have ended up in Maldon’s Union Workhouse which subsequently is now Saint Peter’s Hospital. At the time of Ernest’s birth in July 1888 his grandmother – Lydia Mountford was an inmate of that workhouse. She was poor, she was ill and she was an outcast in society an unmarried harlot, or just an unfortunate, who had to escape one town for another just to avoid the ridicule. Lydia died in that workhouse on 22 July 1888 when Ernest was just twenty days old.

Ernest was the second youngest in his family and at the time of his birth the eldest (not including his step-siblings) was 23 years old. His father’ William Wood Janes was 51 years old and his mother Mary Ann Janes (Nee: Mountford) was 35 years of age. Ernest was probably educated at Maldon’s historical Plume School. At the age of 4 and in the year 1892 Ernest’s family moved from 138 High Street, Maldon to 154 Wantz Road. It was here that the youngest of the siblings – Nelley Rose Janes was born on the 18th October 1892. s likely that their new home was a new build and that they were the first to live at that address.

For the next ten years or just before, 154 Wantz Road remained their home. It wasn’t until the turn of century in 1901 just shortly after the Death of Queen Victoria that they moved to Stan Yard, in Church Street, Maldon. It was probably an ideal location being of it’s close proximity to the church they attended – Saint Mary’s and the fact that Ernest’s father was about to go into business as a marine store dealer. So for the next six years, he probably owned a premises/shop here.

Stan Yard doesn’t exist anymore, so I’m uncertain of its exact proximity, but I would imagine that the local pub “The Jolly Sailor” situated at the end of the street was his local, and quite likely where many business transactions took place. The Jolly Sailor, overlooks the Blackwater Estuary and would have been frequented by lots of sailors, mariners and fisherman.

Stan Yard, Church Street only remained their home for five years or so because on the 13th April 1906 – Ernest James Janes’ father, William Wood Janes died from Prostate Cancer and of Exhaustion at his then home 57 North Street, Maldon which is the next street along from Church Street.

It must have been a difficult time leading up to his fathers death, because prostate cancer can be quite an agonising death and the family would have had to contend with quite a lot including irritable mood swings and complaints of stomach cramps, back pains and difficulty with his father performing the most basic of functions, like going to the toilet.

Ernest’ would have been about 18 years of age when his father died and he was buried at Saint Mary’s Church on the 18th April 1906. His last recorded occupation was a labourer in a coal yard. So his business venture as a marine store dealer didn’t quite stand the test of time. There is no sign of William Wood Janes’ burial anymore in fact there aren’t many monuments and head stones left in the grounds of Saint Mary’s at all.

By the time Ernest reached adulthood’ he had become part of a very big family most of which still lived in around Maldon, with the exception of a few that had moved to the East End of London. Ernest had nine uncles and three aunts, twenty six cousins, twelve nieces and ten nephews. (not including his step-siblings). Although I imagine some of these numbers are a lot more, because a family member or two had disappeared from the records completely. Any family affair around this time, must have been a big one.

Through 1901 – 1910, which is categorised as the Edwardian period, which began with the coronation of King Edward VII, a period which is often extended beyond King Edward’s death to the start of WW1 in 1914, was a time of social and economic change. More attention now was being made towards the plight of the poor and the status of women, including the issues of women suffrage. I like to think that a few women in my family were strong willed enough to be a part of this movement, but I have no records or facts to such claim. (Not Yet!) Even though a better way of life was opening up for the poorer classes, the Edwardian period still held onto a rigid class system. The lower classes, as with earlier periods, were segregated from the aristocratic and mercantile “society”, and led lives far removed from the relative luxury enjoyed by the other classes.


Fashionable Londoners, outside Harrods in 1909

The above painting showcases some of the fashions, that Edwardian Britain gave to us although I would imagine that this image was far removed from the luxury’s that my family afforded.

As this opulent era was coming to it’s close, and dramatic news such as the sinking of RMS Titanic flooded the British media, and worse still the inevitable idea’s that Europe was on the verge of a great war against the newly founded German Empire, my Great Grandfather “Ernest James Janes” found love with a young girl five years his junior. A girl who for a short time in her life lived at number 10 Downs Road which was probably, more or less opposite his abode at number 1 Downs Road, Maldon. I would imagine this being the place they first met. Her name was Alice Emma Pratt and she was the third youngest sibling of a family of six.

Alice Emma, was born on 24 November 1893, in Danbury, Essex she was the daughter of Walter and Jane (Nee: Lucking) Pratt a farming family that moved around a little during the last decade of the nineteenth Century. Firstly in Danbury, and then Purleigh and finally settling in Maldon. I would guess the reason behind such moves can be purely put down to being work related, or at least moving to where the farms were employing. This all ended for the “Pratt” family in 1898, due to the death of her father Walter. Alice Emma would have been only five years old, at the time of her father’s death and her youngest sibling, a boy by the name of Elijah would have been no more then a few months, or may not had yet been born at all. This poor unfortunate family would have suddenly found themselves at the bottom of the heap with no way of earning a living and at high risk of finding themselves in Maldon’s undesirable Union Work House. Life could have been a little different if the eldest son was older enough to earn a decent wage but he himself a little boy named Fred was no more then seven. But as was quite common in those days, a kindly young gentleman of only 26 years named George Taylor who it looks as though worked as some form of lath renderer took the less unfortunate family into his home. George Taylor, wouldn’t have been able to support this family whole heartedly not on his income anyway. So he took them all in at number 10 Downs Road, Maldon as housekeepers. Everyone, children an all and there they were put to work. I am unsure if the “Pratt family” managed to subsidize an income by cleaning the homes of neighbours and so forth it is pretty likely that this did happen. So maybe it was through this sequence of events that Alice came in contact with her future husband’ Ernest James Janes. Just maybe she made a small wage by helping to clean “The Janes” household.

It must have taken the family a few years to get themselves back on their feet again, it probably took until the eldest son’s were old enough to help support the family on a regular adult wage. Because in 1913, we find the family now living in their own abode at number 7 Cromwell Street and pretty much being self-sufficient. It was round this time that Ernest James Janes began to court young Alice Emma Pratt.

maldon promenade 1900

Maldon Promenade – 1900 – With a view of Saint Mary’s Church in the distance.

Maldon during the Edwardian period would have been a haven for courting couples with it’s beautiful newly built Edwardian Promenade that overlooked the natural beauty of the Blackwater estuary and the distant outline of the isolated Osea Island. The promenade at the turn of the century saw fishing boats being replaced for pleasure crafts, an open bathing area and a small but adequate amusement area. Maldon at one time was a haven for East Londoners, to visit during the summer months. These visitors are all gone now due to the close of it’s railway and station in 1964.

It was on the 5th October 1913 that Ernest James Janes and Alice Emma Pratt decided to tie the knot. They chose to marry at Maldon’s Register Office, which is surprising because neither were married before, unless one or both were un-baptised (which is unlikely) The fact that Saint Mary’s Church was a big part of the Janes family is equally confusing. So either they became atheists or to save money on church wedding costs they opted for the smaller civil wedding.

Wedding dress was quite distinctive in 1913, and had been going through many changes since the Edwardian Era began in 1901. The dress that Alice Emma Pratt probably wore, could have resembled what is shown below.

1913 wedding

This dress dates back to 1913, and the veil specifically is in tune with the head dress of 1912/1913. I cannot say for sure if something this opulent was worn for a civil wedding but even so, I would imagine that Alice Emma Pratt would have wanted to wear something as close as or as equally beautiful.

When Ernest and Alice married on the 5th October 1913, Alice made her family as big a part of the wedding as possible. Her sister Lily Cockett (Nee: Pratt) and an unknown “A Pratt” both witnessed the marriage. It is likely that the unknown witness was a male, likely an Uncle and was probably also responsible for giving the bride away. Ernest James Janes was 25 years of age at the time of marriage and worked as a Timber Porter, probably at John Sadd and son’s Timber Yard, and his new wife, Alice Emma Pratt was just 19 years old, with no occupation.

s exactly what happened in the case of Ernest and Alice Janes, it was only four or five months into marriage that they both found themselves expecting. So for the next nine months of pregnancy the wait of a new child would have been done with much anticipation. s was no different then it is today. Difference being is that a War was now on and Alice at this time would have been only about three months pregnant.

World War One began on the 28th June 1914, and like all families at this time there was a great risk of husbands, son’s, brother’s, pretty much all men of able body and age to be whisked off to war, only to find they never return.

Over the coming months, Ernest saw more and more of his cousins leaving their small quaint town to take up arms on the home front or the high seas in order to fight for king and country. George V had now been monarch over England, and his British Dominions and Emperor of India for about four years. In Ernest’s 27 years he had so far witnessed three ruling monarchs, two historical era’s “The Victorians” and The Edwardians” and was now entering his third “The First World War Era”. Life for Ernest James Janes was about to change.

The Death of Alice Emma Janes.

Tragedy struck the little house at 13 Blackwater Terrace, on the night off 21st February 1915. It should have been a day for celebrations and joy, because Ernest James Janes saw the arrival of his first born child, a little girl. I’m not sure if he or his wife Alice had decided on a name for this little girl prior to her birth. I would imagine that more then likely her name was chosen some days or maybe a week or so afterwards.

This little girl was born at home, like most were then with only a midwife present and If you could afford to do so, perhaps even a Doctor. I don’t believe this was the case in the birth of Ernest’s first child, at least not at first anyway. Midwifes in 1915 were probably skilled in very different ways then they are now. Midwifes for a start pretty much did all and everything, those that were trained to do so that is. It was only in 1902 that the first Midwifery Act came into practise, and this meant you had to be certified to be able to call yourself a Midwife. Prior to 1902, it was a common occurrence to find a prostitute going by the name of “Midwife” and her payment being – A Bottle of Gin.

In the case of Ernest and Alice Janes, and the birth of their little girl – Everything at first probably started out as a normal labour, but within minutes and probably just as the delivery was made, all and everything went wrong.

Alice’ began to go into violent convulsions caused by hypertension, edema, and proteinuria. At times she would have slipped in and out of a coma like state, and may even have remained this way for a day or two at least. All these occurrences were a result of puerperal eclampsia, which, when happens occurs immediately following childbirth. In 1915, they only knew a little about the condition and even today we are only just beginning to understand them. From what we do know, is that it’s a toxic mix of too much protein, an influx of fluids within the body and it’s cavities, causing swelling and increasing the bloods pressure to high dangerous levels. For three days, Alice Emma Janes continued to slip in out of conciousness to the point of comatose. When she was awake, her husband Ernest James Janes would have been faced with terrifying convulsions, and the inevitable truth that his wife was dying in front of him. On the 24th February 1915, with Ernest James Janes beside her, where he had probably remained since the very beginning. Alice Emma Janes sadly died.

She probably never had the chance to hold her newly born baby girl and whether she was afraid to die or not, or just too exhausted to even think on it, is hard to say. All I know is that Alice Emma Janes was no more then 21 years of age, she had been married no more then two years, and from the arms of my Great Grandfather – she was hurried away.

The Death of Mary Ann Janes and From India to Greece and to Belgium.

Ernest James Janes’ named his first little girl “Alice Emma Janes” in lasting memory of his first wife. It wasn’t long after the tragedy of her death that Ernest moved from 13 Blackwater Terrace, probably to escape the memories that remained there, and decided to move back home again and into 21 Church Street, where his mother remained and lived. I’m not certain if that was the right move for him to do, but I guess he was unable to work and look after his daughter’ Being a single parent during this time was difficult enough, more so if you were a man.

Most men during this time, probably weren’t as skilled in the kitchen/home as their female counterparts were. As day turned into night and a week rolled into a fortnight, and a month into another, Ernest continued his occupation as a Timber Porter, continued to provide for his daughter Alice. But amongst it all’ he just couldn’t deal with his loss.

It was in December of 1915, that Ernest decided to take leave of Maldon. He left his daughter in the care of his elderly mother, headed towards Maldon’s train station and embarked on a journey towards, Norwich, Norfolk.

Ernest James Janes was about to do his bit for the war effort, and out of all the regiments he could have chose. It was the Norfolk Regiment he enlisted with.

I have no idea, why he chose to become a private for The Norfolk Regiments 3rd Battalion. All I can guess, is that it was his way of escaping the memories he left behind. His way of going through the grieving process and perhaps more benign then that, perhaps it was a cry for help, or a hope that death would follow soon.

It was on the 7th December 1915 – that Ernest enlisted. He was given the service number – 28299. He had never been a part of or served in any military or naval branch before, so everything that would come next was going be a new learning curb for him.

Norfolk regiment cap badge

 The Norfolk Regiments 3rd Battalion was in reserve throughout the war, they had two training units one in Norwich and the other in Felixtowe, I would imagine that for the first part of Ernest James Janes’ service would have been spent in Felixtowe due to most of it’s reserve regiment being posted here in August 1914. This of cause pre-dates the day that Ernest enlisted.

By looking at Ernest James Janes’ World War One Pension records, he seems to have pretty much been in reserve between the following dates:

“7/12/15 (attested), 8/12/15 (to Army reserve)”

“20/4/17 (Mobilised), 28/4/17 (posted)”

So for the first 17 months or so, he remained here in England. Which was a good thing really because for one, some of the most bloodiest battles of the Great War happened before the date he was posted.

By the autumn of 1916, Ernest was having to make frequent trips backwards and forwards, from Felixtowe, Suffolk to Maldon, Essex because his 63 year old mother was beginning to fall ill. She had recently suffered congestive cardiac failure and because of this was now gravely ill with Anasarca, which as a result of her heart condition was now suffering a massive edema. Which in general terms is the swelling of the human body brought on by too much fluids in the tissue. It was during this time, probably around September, October 1916 that Ernest James Janes met “Hannah Maud Mabel Barrett”, or “Anna” as she was known. I don’t know the facts of how they met, but being that Colchester, Essex. (Anna’s Home Town) was in close proximity to Felixtowe, Suffolk it is likely that he met her through a comrade or perhaps even one of her family members.

The couple struck a love affair, long before their marriage and within a month or just two she was pregnant. The coming weeks, must have been pretty stressful for Ernest, having his mother bed-ridden and close to death, and knowing that his lust for his new founded love was now so much more complicated. It wouldn’t surprise me, if he kept this fact a secret for a while and away from his dying mother. She knew more then anyone, what happens to bastard children and the ridicule and the shame it can bring on a family.

Ernest didn’t have to keep it secret for long because on the 16th December 1916 at number 21 Church Street,  Maldon, Essex – Mary Ann Janes (Nee: Mountford) passed sadly away. She died as a result of: fatty degeneration of myocardium and as a result of anasarca. It was her daughter – Nelley Rose Rayner (Nee: Janes) that was in attendance at her death and she informed and registered the particulars.

1917 arrived’ with a sense of foreboding. Ernest must have known that at anytime he would have been posted somewhere in the world, and now he had left a woman in an indelicate position and a young girl of two in a desperate situation. So he began preparations for a new home and set a date for his wedding.

In either January or February 1917, Ernest James Janes moved his daughter and fiancé into number 16 Church Street. At the same time he would have been backwards and forwards to his barracks in Felixtowe, Suffolk. Then on 19th April 1917 in Saint Mary’s Church, Church Street, Maldon with only about nine weeks spare before “Anna” gave birth. Both Ernest James Janes and Hannah “Anna” Maud Mabel Barrett married. On their marriage certificate’ Ernest was listed as living at number 1 The Downs, Maldon which is the same place he was living when he married Alice Emma, only four years earlier. It’s possible that the address belonged to one of his brothers or sisters or just maybe it was a little white lie he made in order to marry without question in Saint Mary’s parish church. Because for me, I believe he was cohabiting with “Anna” at the time of their marriage, after all it was a little late not too… wasn’t it!!!

Ernest’ sister – Nelley Rose Rayner (Nee: Janes) and “Anna’s” mother – Charlotte Anna Newman (Nee: Diskett) were both witnesses at their marriage. I would imagine that “Anna’s” stepfather, Frederick Newman was the man that gave the indelicate bride away.

Ernest and Anna didn’t have long to celebrate their marriage because a week or so later on the 28th April 1917, Ernest James Janes was moved from the 3rd Battalion and posted within the 2nd. Although due to exceptional circumstances, his mother’s death, his marriage and the coming birth his second child, Ernest was granted 95 days home leave, Shortly after this posting, he made amendments to his service papers. His next of kin, which prior to his marriage to Anna, was listed as his daughter “Alice Emma Janes”, her name is clearly crossed out, and in place of this he lists his wife “Anna Maud Mabel Janes” as his next of kin.

Ernest’s particulars are recorded as:

Age: 25 yrs and 5 months

Height: 5 feet and 11 inches

Chest Measurement: 38½ inches (when fully expanded)

Range of Expansion: 1½ inches

Ernest James Janes - Page Two extract

(An Extract taken from Ernest James Janes WW1 Pension/Service Records)

You can see that by the time this amendment was made, Ernest James Janes first son was born – Cyril Frederick Janes. Cyril was born on the 9th July 1917 at 16 Church Street, Maldon.

On the 24 July 1917, when Cyril was only two weeks old, Ernest embarked on his first big campaign of World War One. He was posted to Bombay, India and for the next 138 days this was where he remained.

An opening history of the 2nd Battalion August 1914: in Bombay in India. Part of 18th (Belgaum) Brigade, 6th (Poona) Division of Indian Army. Moved to Mesopotamia, landing 15 November 1914. 29 April 1916: battalion captured after being besieged at Kut-al-Amara. Details and transport that had not been at Kut joined similar detachments of the 2nd Dorset and formed a composite battalion, named the Norsets. This was broken up on 21 July 1916, as the battalion had been reconstituted by the arrival of new drafts. February 1917: transferred to 37th Brigade in 14th Indian Division. Remained in Mesopotamia. So basically, in 1916 the British faced a humiliating defeat at Kut, and the entire army surrendered to the enemy. By this point, The British Army was in need of re-enforcements so these were drafted in during the early months of 1917. Ernest’ was probably one of it’s last arrivals. He probably arrived in Bombay in about September 1917, although a few dates do seem to conflict. Apart from Cholera and other disease which was rampant in India during this time, Ernest had pretty much missed all the big campaigns and battles. Illness struck Ernest in October 1918, and he was inflicted with influenza, He would have spent time in a military hospital because of this. By 9th December 1918, Ernest spent 19 days, travelling from India to Salonika, Greece. He was to spend the next 95 days posted here. On 30th March 1919, Ernest James Janes was admitted to hospital with acute confusional insanity and Delirium. He was beginning to become confused and was suffering from hallucinations. It’s likely’ that Ernest James Janes was suffering from some form of shell shock, or perhaps the lack of ability to deal with the aftermath around him. This condition is where severe confusion, disorientation, and restlessness are the principle features. People with this condition are just normal people whom after a weeks acute illness begin to show signs. Their appearance and speech often suggested fever and delirium like a typhoid state. Understanding was limited, they were apprehensive with distressing but confused delusions. They disliked and suspected their food and were not sensible enough to be thirsty. They would try and get out of bed, were sometimes violent and struggled strongly when held. The coarse of the illness was rapidly down hill, but about a quarter of patients made a complete and permanent recovery after about two or three weeks. The remainder died during this same period. On 2nd April 1919, just as his illness was worsening, Ernest was moved for health reasons, he spent nine days travelling through Europe and is recorded as having stopped in Belgium. Ernest was eventually admitted to Notts Military Hospital, where he made a full recovery, although he was diagnosed with a permanent disability and because of this was eventually discharged with being permantly unfit to continue his service. Ernest arrived home in Maldon, Essex on the 5th June 1919.

(The following page features the covering page of Ernest James Janes WW1 Service/Pension Record)

Ernest James Janes - Page One

(World War One Service Records, are often known as the “burnt documents”, they survived the Arnside Street fire in September 1940, an area of London hit during the Blitz)

The Death of Alice Emma Janes

When Ernest returned from service with the Norfolk Regiment, he would have had to begin the slow process of recovery. I have no records of any awards or medals he would have received. Although if anything, he likely would have received a service award.

By the autumn of 1919, Ernest and his family who were now living at number 8 The Downs, Maldon, Essex, an address where Anna was living whilst’ Ernest was at war. Perhaps she cohabited this premises with another family member. It was around this time that his wife “Anna” fell pregnant with their second child. Over the coming months, as family after family dealt with their losses, Ernest did his best to fit back into a normal routine and way of life. He returned to John Sadd and Son’s “Timber Yard” and continued his position as a timber porter there. Then in early June 1920, little Alice Emma Janes was struck down with illness. Her illness began with acute bronchitis and as she weakened she began suffering from Diarrhoea. I’m not sure if her illness was associated with the pandemic of 1918 – 1920, when the Spanish Flu struck every populace of the world. We know the pandemic ended in June 1920, and here in Britain alone 250,000 people died. If her illness was associated, it was unfortunate, because her death would have been one of the last here in England. Diarrhoea would certainly have been a contributing factor in her young tragic death, quite literally she would have dehydrated and through loss of water, death was imminent. Alice died on the 20th June 1920 at number 8 The Downs, Maldon. Her father was beside her for much of this time, and was present when she took her last dying breath. Due to Cyril’s young age, and the fact that her step-mother “Anna” had only just given birth weeks earlier, Alice probably passed away with only her Dad there, she was five years old.

1920 – 1942, The Interwar Era and The Second World War

The Inter War Era, is categorised as being between 1918 and 1939, and saw the rise of Nazism and many more conflicts around the world. After the death of Alice Emma Janes in June 1920, Ernest James Janes moved from 8 The Downs to number 8 Blackwater Terrace, where his wife and two young sons were living. It would be here, that Ernest remained and lived for the remainder of his days.

Ernest William Janes, was born on 15th May 1920, only a month or so before his eldest sister died. The birth was followed by the death of Ernest’s sister, “Alice Maud Hedgecock (Nee: Janes) who died at the age of 39 in June 1922. Then on 14th June 1923, Ernest & Anna had a third child, a little girl called “Jessie Alice Janes”. It’s nice to see that he continued the memory of both his daughter and first wife by giving Jessie, the middle name of “Alice”.

I like to think that life was finally settling down for Ernest and his family, by the time 1923 was nearing it’s end he had, had ten years of immeasurably hard life. It had only been about four years or so, since his return from service, and after many years of working as a timber porter he finally decided on a change. From 1923 onwards, Ernest James Janes worked as a general labourer, I’m not to sure in which line of work this placed him. Any records I have don’t elaborate. Maybe the continued disability he sustained from World War One was still a big infliction upon him.

The 1920’s was a big changing point for the people of Great Britain, old Victorian morals were now slowly ebbing away right alongside class structure. Women had more freedom, medical science was being pushed further forward and life was seen as short and made for living. This period in time, aptly known as the Roaring Twenties, saw skirts cut shorter, women’s hair, cropped and styled in what would have been before, unthinkable fashion and it saw a new wave of music flood the streets. Amongst all this, many men, women all of which were putting the Great War behind them seemed somewhat older then they had ever before.

On the 2nd February 1925, Ernest and Anna became parents for the fourth time. They had a little girl named “Mary Maud Janes”, who was born at home at number 8 Blackwater Terrace. The joy of this new arrival wasn’t going to last very long though, because 16 months later on the 10th June 1926, little Mary Maud Janes was struck down with Measles and Bronchial Pneumonia. It’s likely that other members of the family were also suffering this condition. Sadly for this 16 month old baby, and like her sister before her, she died. I don’t know how Ernest managed to deal with another death, least of all that he managed to remain in attendance. Just as he did with little “Alice Emma”, and her mother before that. Ernest and Anna went onto to have one more child four years later, her name: Rosie May Janes, Born on the 2nd July 1930, at 8 Blackwater Terrace. Rosie was the youngest of just four children. At the age of five she lost her only surviving Grandmother – Charlotte Newman (Nee: Diskett). Then suddenly without warning, on the 11 September 1942, three years after World War 2 began, tragedy struck the family for the last time.

Ernest James Janes in his 54 years had seen a lot. He was witness to four kings and one queen, lived through one Great War and saw another, he had lost two children, one wife, one sister and they are just the people I know about.

Ernest James Janes’ was as much a good man as any could be with how he lived for what he faced. Then in the summer of 1942, as Nephritis took hold and his diabetes worsened. Ernest could hold on no longer. At the age of 54 on the 11 September 1942, it was his strong, resilient Heart, that had seen and felt so much… That gave up on him.

Ernest James Janes, died at 8 Blackwater Terrace, leaving behind his widow and four children.

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6 thoughts on “The Biography of Ernest James Janes of Maldon, Essex – My Great Grandfather

  1. Nice Story Janet Rosemary Janes , ( Daughter of Ernest William Janes ) who was born on 15th May 1920

    • Hi Janet,
      For some reason I don’t have you in my family tree (although I have your brothers and sisters)
      Your my Dad’s cousin so it’s absolutely lovely to hear from you.
      I have spent many years researching our families history, are you researching yourself?
      my email address is:

      I have lots and lots of information and incredible stories to share.

  2. I hate to tell you this but that PC of the launches embarking passengers CANNOT be the 1900’s. Thos two launches – “the first motor pleasure boats at Maldon” are the 40ft l.o.a. white Hulled Britannia, built in 1921 for Tom and Bill Handley; and her varnished mahogany topsided sistership Conqueror, built from the same mould’s by Walrter Cook’s Boatyard on the Hythe, for the hedgcock brothers the following year. See the history of Cook’s boatyard – “A Barge On The Blocks”, pg 26. Both launches were requisitioned by the RN in May 1940, and Clifford Cook tells they were sent our to the medn. for foreign S war service, and never re-patriated in 1945.

    • Hi Thank you for your comment 🙂 And especially the info regarding the Maldon boats.
      When I added the image, the source used said it was from the 1900’s.
      All I can say, is you certainly have a good knowledge and I certainly appreciate you sharing this.
      On its own merit, it’s still a lovely image even if it is a good 40 or 50 years younger then the story I wrote about. 🙂 lol.
      Best Wishes 🙂

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