Lothair ("John") Cecil Woodhurst

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Brief biography

Lothair Cecil Woodhurst was born in Kent in 1888 to parents John Cottington Woodhurst and his wife Blanche Jean Coleman. The GRO reference is [Birth Index: Thanet 2a 895, 1888 (Dec)].

The 1891 Census finds him at age 2 living with his parents at 22, Bartholomew Street in Charlton near Dover. The record gives his birthplace as Margate, Kent.

He was admitted to Monteith Road School in Tower Hamlets on February 2nd 1897, the register giving his date of birth as September 14th 1888; his guardian is named simply as "Mary" and his address as 49, Jodrell Road (in Bow, Tower Hamlets); his brother Rolfe/Relfe was admitted there on the same day [LMA: LCC/EO/DIV05/MON/AD/002].

The 1901 Census finds him at age 12 living at The Tower, Tower Hill in Dover in the household of his uncle Charles Benjamin Ellis who had married Blanche Jean's sister Alice Ann Rodd Coleman. Also present, besides Charles' two young daughters May and Grace, were Blanche Jean's widowed mother Annie - born in Lifton, Devon around 1835 - and Lothair Cecil's brother Rolfe (or Relfe) Gordon. Blanche Jean, however, was not there, and her whereabouts at this time are unknown.

By 1911 Lothair was in London, where he married Caroline ("Carrie") Moore. Their marriage certificate [Marriage Index: W. Ham 4a 49, 1911 (Dec)] states that they married at East Ham's Parish Church of St. Bartholomew on October 23rd 1911. He is described as a bachelor aged 24 and occupied as a laundryman, and she as a spinster aged 27. They were both residing at 27, Oakfield Road. His father, mis-named as John "Collingwood" Woodhurst, is described as a musician (deceased) and hers as a lamp maker (deceased) named William Moore. The witnesses were George Ernest Edelston Luizey and Emily Luizey, whose connections are unknown.

He evidently served as a merchant seaman for a period, as he was awarded the Mercantile Marine Ribbon on October 8th 1919 and the Mercantile Marine Medal on August 23rd 1921, his medal card giving his name as "John Cecil Woodhurst", his birthplace as Margate and his Certificate Number as 580001 [Nat. Archives: BT 351/1/154593].

No UK references to his brother or his mother have been found after the birth in 1913 of his daughter Louie. In 1926 his wife and daughter emigrated to Australia. They departed from London aboard the "RMS Hobson's Bay" (a mail steamer of the Australian Commonwealth Line) on March 30th 1926 and arrived at Fremantle on April 29th of that year [NSW Immigration Records: Barcode No. 11552599]. The arrival of the ship was reported in The Daily News (Perth, Western Australia), issue of April 29th 1926 which stated that the ship had carried 505 passengers. [This newspaper article also mentions that during the voyage, on April 14th, the ship's surgeon had performed an operation for appendicitis upon a "lady passenger Mrs Coleman", but this person may have been an 18-year-old passenger named Catherine Coleman.]

A descendant reports that while Lothair was away at sea in the Merchant Navy, Caroline decided on her own account to migrate to Australia, taking her daughter with her and leaving a note for him on the kitchen table; when he arrived home and found the note he promptly boarded the next ship to Australia. They took up residence in Guildford NSW, a suburb of Sydney.

Lothair continued to use the alias "John" during his years in Australia, although was commonly known as "Jack". He died at Auburn, west of Sydney, as "John Cecil Woodhurst" in 1956 [Online NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages: Reference 8475/1956]. The latter source gives his parents' forenames as "Colin" and "Olive" which are almost certainly mistranscriptions of handwritten entries "John" and "Blanche". He was cremated at nearby Rookwood Cemetery in Lidcombe, the largest cemetery in NSW, and his ashes interred at its Memorial Wall. His commemorative plaque there, at location JXJ, reads "John Cecil Woodhurst passed away 30th March 1956 aged 68 years."

Caroline died at Parramatta, near to Auburn, in 1961 [Online NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages: Reference 5647/1961]. Her parents' forenames are given as William and Emma.

His children by Caroline Moore

  1. Louie Olive May Woodhurst - [Birth Index: W. Ham 4a 546, 1913 (Sept)]

This daughter's second forename Olive may have been chosen in memory of her grandmother's maiden name Oliver. It was the forename by which she was commonly known. In 1932 she married Thomas Travers in the Granville District of New South Wales, Australia [Online NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages: Reference 842/1932]. They produced two children, John Ralph (1932-2014) & May Olive (1935-2010).