Gravestones

Taiping, Malaysia, 10 December 1941: Private Maurice A. Garner

Private Maurice Arthur Garner served in the 1st Battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment and died, aged 22, in Taiping, Malaysia on 10 December 1941. He was the son of Ernest and Evelyn Garner, who then lived in Leicester. His mother had been born as Evelyn Kempin in Shearsby in 1883. She was the daughter of Richard and Ann Kempin, both born in Shearsby.

Private Garner died two days into the Malaysia Campaign attempting to hold back the Japanese advance on Singapore.

On the grave of Maurice Garner in Taiping is written the inscription: “Thoughts of you ever near, as we loved you so we miss you, as it dawns another year”. Maurice is also remembered on his parent’s grave in Shearsby, with the words: “sadly missed”.

References

Maurice Garner, Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Commemorative Certificate for Private Garner.

SCHULTKA, H., & JENKINS, R. P. (2007). Lost lives: the war dead of Countesthorpe, Kilby, Peatling Magna, Peatling Parva and Shearsby, 1914-1918 and 1939-1945. [Countesthorpe], Henritetta Schultka.

Evelyn Kempin in the 1901 Census. [online] “England and Wales Census, 1901,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XS45-W6D : 8 April 2016), Evelyn A M Kempin in household of Richard E Kempin, Shearsby, Leicestershire, England; from “1901 England, Scotland and Wales census,” database and images, findmypast (http://www.findmypast.com : n.d.); citing Lutterworth subdistrict, PRO RG 13, The National Archives, Kew, Surrey.

 

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Shearsby: July 12, 1813. A deplorable state of outrageous madness

Readers of regional newspapers carrying the story in July 1813 will have been saddened to discover the fate of the unfortunate Elizabeth Weston of Shearsby. She had been found drowned on Monday 12th of July in one of the village’s ponds. At the inquest into her death it was found that pregnant, she had drowned herself after being rejected by the the putative father. A note had been found addressed to this young man ‘replete love, tenderness and forgiveness’. He, it was reported, had tried to copy her actions and only been prevented by his friends’ forcible restraint and remained ‘in the most deplorable state of outrageous madness’.

weston

The Ipswich Journal (Ipswich, England), Saturday, July 31, 1813

What interests me about this tragic story is how it has been shaped before publication. Most likely the case was picked up by people present at inquests in Leicester able to write up events as they took place and circulate them in newspapers. There is in this brief piece of reportage a noticable bias towards reconciliation. There is sympathy, of course, for the unfortunate young lady, but also for the young and unnamed man. While Elizabeth is named and commemorated, the young man is allowed to slip into obscurity and rebuild his life. Those people who knew all too well who he was would have been reminded on one hand of the letter and its words of love, tenderness and forgiveness’ and his remorseful desperation on the other.

Elizabeth Weston herself was buried in the village churchyard and a headstone put up naming her, her proud parents John and Elizabeth and noting the exact day of her passing, so that none should forget. She was 21 years old when she died.

References

“England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975,” database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N5BS-WZ6 : 11 February 2018, Elizth. Weston, 07 Aug 1791); citing Shearsby, Leicester, England, index based upon data collected by the Genealogical Society of Utah, Salt Lake City; FHL microfilm 952,297.