Robert Long was baptised in Rockhampton on 31 July 1864, the son of Robert Long, a labourer and his wife, Elizabeth. At the time of his marriage in Thornbury on 23 August 1886 Robert was a labourer living in Milbury Heath. His wife was Clara Screen, the daughter of Robert Screen a labourer from Morton. They had a son, Ernest Robert, baptised on 28 August 1887 and another, Sydney George, baptised on 23rd March 1890. They were still living at Milbury Heath in 1891.
The family must have moved to Coleford in the Forest of Dean shortly after 1891. Their children, William born about 1892, Harold born in 1895 and Kathleen Maud born in 1897 were all born in Coleford. The school records of St Mary’s School in Thornbury show that some of children had attended Ellwood School in the Forest of Dean.
The school records show that the family moved back to Thornbury in 1898 when the children started at St Mary’s School. At that time they were living in an unidentified house in Gloucester Road.
In 1899 they left St Mary’s to go to the Council School, presumably because it was closer to their new home at 2 Saw Mill Lane. The 1901 Census shows Robert was a carter working for the saw mill and still living in the house in Saw Mill Lane. Another son, Albert Edward, was born in Thornbury in 1901. They had a daughter, Florence Irene, born in 1905 who only survived for twelve days.
We think that Robert carried on living at Saw Mill Lane as his name appears in the 1905 and 1910 Electoral Registers. They were still in Saw Mill Lane in 1908 when little Albert started at the Council School. The 1910 Rate Book shows Robert as occupying the house that became 7 Horseshoe Lane. The 1911 Census shows Robert and Clara and their four boys were living in 18 Tymeline Terrace, Rogerstone, Monmouthshire. Robert was a labourer in the steelworks. Their son, Sidney was a nail machinist in the nailworks aged 21. William was a warehouseman in the steelworks aged 19. Harold was a labourer in the brickworks aged 15. Albert was a scholar aged 9. We don’t know how long they stayed in Wales as they seemed to return to Thornbury shortly after.
The school records indicate that the family left the town in 1914. The reports of the death of their son, William Long, in the Gazette of 5th June 1915 mentioned that he was the son of ‘Robert Long of Buckover’. Another newspaper report in 1916 mentions that they were living at Grovesend. It’s possible that Buckover and Grovesend were referring to the same place as the two areas are very close together.
Robert and Clara were to lose three of their sons in the War, the greatest loss suffered by any family in the Thornbury area. This understandably put severe pressures on the relationship between Robert and Clara. A newspaper reported in September 1917, at a time when they had only lost two of their sons, that Robert was charged with assaulting and beating Clara. There had been a dispute over 2 shillings and sixpence and Robert pleased guilty to ‘a trumpery offence’. He claimed he had given her ‘two pats on the head in self defence as she had threatened to throw a bucket of water over him’. Clara said ‘a few words had led to her being hit over the head with his fists’. The judge said he had to punish Robert because he had admitted to the offence but kept the fine to five shillings, the minimum sufficient to cover the costs of the court. He said he hoped he wouldn’t see Robert in court again and expressed the view that he hoped Robert and Clara ‘would pull together and live peaceably’. Robert made it clear that he thought that was impossible.
So in the 1918 Electoral Register Clara Long is listed as living in Buckover. In the 1921 Electoral Register Clara and her son Harold are listed as living in Buckover. In neither of these registers is Robert listed in the Thornbury area so we don’t know where he was at that time. The 1925 Electoral Register suggests that Robert and Clara might have got back together as they are both listed as living in St John Street area, possibly with their son Albert (who lived at 12 Pullins Green).
The 1927 Electoral Register shows they were again living apart. Clara was listed as living ‘c/o W. Holpin’ in Crossways. There are two Robert Longs listed; we can’t be sure if either of them are Clara’s husband, but we note one of them was living in St John Street where their son, Albert was living.
Robert died in Gillingstool aged 69 on 28th February 1929. Clara continued to live in the Thornbury area. In 1930 she was living in the cottage in Gillingstool (now known as no. 29) when the house was being sold. She was listed as living in Gillingstool in the 1931, 1935 and 1938 electoral registers so we assume she continued living at the same cottage. She died aged 71 and was buried in Thornbury Cemetery on 5th October 1938. She was living at Gillingstool at the time of her death.
Of their children:
Ernest Robert – baptised in Rockhampton in 1887. He was described as ‘Erney’ in the 1901 census when he was also working at the Saw Mills with his father). In 1908 Ernest married Lilian Lippiatt in the Bristol area. Lilian was born about 1889, the daughter of Henry Lippiatt an agricultural labourer from Oldbury and his wife, Emma.
Ernest and Lilian had two daughters, Florence May born in 1909 and Lilian Margaret born in 1910.
In the First World War Ernest served as a Private in 1st Battalion Gloucester Regiment. He had previously served in the old Militia, had joined the National Reserve and then volunteered for the Glosters. He was killed on 29 January 1915 by a shot in the head from a sniper, near Cuinchy in Pas de Calais, France. He was aged 28 years. He is remembered with honour at the Windy Corner Cemetery in Cuinchy and the memorial in Thornbury St Mary’s Church.
We understand that Ernest’s mother, Clara, took over the responsibility of looking after Ernest’s two children. We note that records of the Council Upper School show that ‘Mrs Long’ was the guardian of ‘Margaret Long’ when she started there in 1920. We can’t be sure that Margaret is the same person as Lilian Margaret Long or if she is whether ‘Mrs Long’ was Clara or Ernest’s widow. At that time Clara’s address was given as the Hackett.
‘Maggie’ as Lilian Margaret was known married William George Rugman at St Marys Church in St Mary’s Church Thornbury in December 1932. We are not sure what happened to Florence.
Sidney George – baptised in Thornbury in 1890. He enlisted in the Yorkshire Light Infantry in Ynishir, Glamorgan. He gave Thornbury as his place of birth and Bristol as his residence. He became a Private in the 1st/5th Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment and died on 11 April 1918 aged 27. He is remembered with honour at the Tyne Cot Memorial in Flanders and on the memorial in Thornbury St Mary’s Church.
William – born about 1892 in Coleford. He was known as Willie in the 1901 Census. Willie became a Rifleman in 4th Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps. He died on 8th May 1915 at Hill 60. He was aged 23 years and is remembered with honour in La Brique Military Cemetery No. 2 in Flanders and on the memorial in Thornbury St Mary’s Church. He had done 3 years service, one year 5 months of which was in India.
Harold – born in Coleford in 1895. He was reported in the Gazette of 5th June 1915 as being a Lance Corporal in the 5th Gloucester Regiment. We don’t know any more about Harold, although there is record of a Harold Long marrying Mabel Peters in 1921.
Kathleen Maud – born in Coleford in 1897. We don’t know where Kathleen was in the 1911 Census. She married Gilbert Victor Poole in 1917 and they went on to have at least five children including Joyce, Amy and Rosemary who were bridesmaids at the wedding of Ernest’s daughter, Lilian Margaret (see above).
Albert – born in Thornbury on 15th January 1901. Albert married and settled to live in Thornbury. Read more