The domain of the D’Almaines – 1 – 3 Ock Street, Abingdon

Local history has always interested me, so having bought 1 – 3 Ock Street it was inevitable that I would want to know some thing about its past.

The history of the building is interesting enough, the way the gardens have shrunk as they have been lost to development, whilst the building itself has grown with the addition of Victorian and more modern extensions. But the history of the people who have lived in the building is far more interesting.

Ock St meets the Square, Abingdon

So my first stop was the 1911 census, the most recent of census’ to be published. Now, unfortunately, you cannot search the census records by address, only by surname. Since I did not have a surname I started by searching for well-known Abingdon names, until I found one living in Ock St. Then I simply had to trawl through the pages for Ock St until I reached 1 – 3.

The first name I used, Wiblin, came up trumps straightaway.

For those of you not familiar with census records, they are a mine of wonderful information. The names, ages and relationships of the buildings occupants, where they were born, their occupations, whether they could read/write, and whether they were lunatics or not!

The record for 1911 described 1 – 3 Ock St as a House & Office occupied by Mr D’Almaine, along with 2 other females. I assumed his wife and daughter.

1911 Census Record for 1 – 3 Ock St, Abingdon

It transpires that Harry George William D’Almaine, aged 50, was a widower, and he in fact shared his home with Ellen Kent (42), his domestic cook, and Margaret Emily May Dunn (22), his domestic housemaid. His occupation is listed as solicitor. Presumably he worked from home. The section headed Infirmity, totally deaf, or deaf and dumb, totally blind, lunatic, imbecile or feeble-minded” has been cut out for some reason but I think it is safe to say that it applied to none of the above.

What is interesting though is the lack of any children. The column headed “children born alive” has 3 crossed out. In the column “children still living” it again has 3 crossed out. Under “children who have died” it states none! So a little mystery there that needs further investigation.

Harry was born in Abingdon in 1860, but for some reason was christened in September of that year in Brighton. After schooling he moved to London and the 1881 census records him living as a lodger in Kenmont Terrace, Hammersmith, London employed as a 20 year old articled clerk to a solicitor. He married in 1889, and died, in Abingdon, at the age of 72, in 1933.

I have also been able to establish that the D’Almaine name has probable Canadian roots. On July 28th 1927, Harry sailed to Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the “Newfoundland” from Liverpool. Six weeks later, he sailed back, from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, arriving at Liverpool on 12th September 1927 on the “Nova Scotia”. Some flying visit at the age of 67, and I am intrigued to understand why, a funeral, family business maybe, but whatever the reason it must have been important to have made such a long distance trip, for so short a period and at his age. Another trail to follow in due course.

Harry’s father was Henry D’Almaine and his mother Mary. In the Kelly’s Directory of Berkshire for 1887, Henry is listed as the manager of the London and County Bank in the Market Place (now the Nat West Bank), the Hon. Treasurer to the Cottage Hospital in Bath St, and the Treasurer to the Corporation and Urban Sanitary Authority. He is also listed as living at Mill House, Sutton Courtenay, Abingdon. So Harry came from a well-respected family.

The final twist in this story is a sad one. Harry had a son, Roy, who joined the 9th Canadians, 49th Battalion in October 1914, part of the Canadian Infantry Expeditionary Force (Alberta Regiment). He was killed in action on the 4th Nov 1916, in France, and is buried in the military cemetery at Ecoivres, Arras. He was 20 years old, and a former Abingdon School pupil.

Fittingly, his name is engraved on the war memorial, in the Square, opposite the very house he would have been raised in. Less fittingly, his loss is attributed to not only the wrong war, but the wrong service.

Roy D’Almaines name on the Abingdon War Memorial, The Square.

I feel a campaign coming on.

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8 responses to “The domain of the D’Almaines – 1 – 3 Ock Street, Abingdon

  1. How lovely that there is a story to this building
    JXX

  2. Amanda Drake-Brockman

    Hello, Roy (or Duroy) D’Almaine was my great uncle born 1896. There seems to be some confusion as he died on the Somme in 1916 having enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. His half brother Harry Robert D’Almaine, born 1915 was lost in a submarine in 1941. Roy had two sisters, Roubaix and Amyand.
    Amanda

    • Dear Amanda,

      Thank you for taking the time to write and for clarifying the confusion. Since posting the blog on the D’Almaines I had realized my mistake but have not had time to correct the error. Both Roy and Harry are listed as R D’Almaine on the memorial and I had simply seen the entry for Harry and had assumed that it was for Roy in error. Both are clearly on the memorial, where they should be, but Harry is listed as Robert!

      I was on the Somme last year and found Roys grave. I have a photo of it somewhere and if i can find it I will send it over to you.

      The family whilst clearly well established and eminent in the Abingdon, appeared to have very strong links with Canada. If you have the time I would be very interested to know more about that aspect of the family and any other interesting information you may have. Given there is almost 20 years between Roy and Harry the father must have remarried and then become a father again quite late in life. By my reckoning he would have been 54? when Harry (jnr) was born. Was he still alive when he lost a second son to war. I almost hope not, since at 80 a second such tragedy would have been very difficult to bear. Why and when did Roy’s mother died. She had clearly died by the time of the 1911 census.

      Are you local to Abingdon, because you would be very welcome to visit the property your family grew up in, and are there any other D’Almaines living locally.

      Again, thank you for taking the time to write.

      Chris

    • hello, i’ve been searching for some links to the d’almaine family history and also d’almaine pianos… thanks so much for such an interesting blog! Roubaix D’Almaine’s daughter is my grandmother Shiona (so I guess she is my great-grandmother). As to the roots, I thought d’almaine is a name from Roubaix (industrial town north of france, also possibly from where d’almaine pianos originate – any ideas on this?), but i’m not sure, and am not sure about canada. There were stories about a ‘count’ of Roubaix moving to britain and marrying someone else from another french family or something. But anyway the name of this family was ‘de Roubaix’ and this is probably the story:
      “D’ALMAINE, Her­ mann Arthur Abing­ don ; b. ‘seventies, at Sutton Courtney on the Thames; s. of H. D’Al- maine, of Sutton Court­ ney ; great-grandson of Augustus Hippolite Joseph de Roubaix, olli- cer of the Court of Louis XVI.; in Revolu­ tion of 1789, carried on by Robespierre and others, De Roubaix signed petition to save King’s life, and was proscribed ; eventually escaped to Engd”
      Yeah that’s quite exciting actually.
      Probably some D’almaines went to Canada too.
      I will share this information with my family (some don’t live far by chance!) thanks for such a nice blog.

  3. Hi Chris, I live in Edmonton Alberta Canada. I have been able to find some documents on Roy Dalaine joining the Army, on March 31st 1915. I would like to send them via e-mail if possible.

    • Hi Bob

      Thankyou for your comment. I will email you my contact details direct so that you can send the information you have. I look forward to seeing it.

      The D’Almaine family have made contact and we are arranging for them to visit the old family home. I will share your information with them.

      I look forward to hearing from you.

      Thanks again for getting in touch. It is much appreciated.

  4. Hello
    My fathers name is George Frederick Abingdon D’almaine. He was born in 1928.
    I do know that a Harry D’almaine was in contact with him years back who at the time lived in the USA. Strange that my dad has the name Abingdon as well.
    Best regards
    Gail

    • Hi Gail sorry for the slow reply. With Abingdon in the name he must be from the same family. Too much of a coincidence. Harry is also a very common Christian name in the family too. Every generation seems to have several. I will mention your fathers name to the local family members I am in contact with and see if they know anything. Chris

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