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Thomas Owen RANDELL 1887

Thomas Owen Randell was born 15 April 1887 in Sunderland, County Durham. He appeared in both the 1891 & 1901 census as a child living with his parents Benjamin Randell & Catherine Agnes Martin. In 1891 the Randell family lived in Crescent Row, Bishopwearmouth, 1901, Church St, Sunderland and by 1911, 146 Coronation St, Sunderland. None of these locations exist today but records show that all three streets where relatively close together in what is now the redeveloped industrial area on the south bank of the river. At the turn of the century it was dock side heartland.
I understand that Thomas spent a period at sea. This is confirmed in the 1911 census filled out by his father, which states, Thomas Owen Randell aged 24 years, occupation Seaman in the Merchant Service.
Like many of his era Thomas spent a period in the Army, 24 August 1916 he joined the 368 Labour Corps as Private 135792. On admission he was recorded as aged 29 years, 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighing 145lbs, physique 'Good', occupation 'Shipwright’s Driller and Hob Cutter' at Tyne Dock South Shields. His War Service Record confirms he served the duration of the War in England, mainly in and around Kent in the Forge Department. In November 1917 he was treated for a 'Double Hernia caused by lifting heavy bales of hay whilst on military service at Ashford, Kent'. He also had a brief stay in hospital caused by severe rheumatoid arthritis in his joints. He was discharged 17 June 1919 with a 'Good' character reference and a gratuity payment of £30 for the hernia.
By 1922, his wedding certificate recorded Thomas Randell as a hardware dealer. A photograph of "T & C Randell - China & Hardware Dealers" exists today. Given the name I assume the shop was operated by Thomas and Catherine, brother and sister who are both in the image. Also in the photograph is their father Benjamin who died in January 1922. Sunderland Council have directories which place the shop at 59-1/2 Dundas Street. The shop was first recorded around 1912 and the final reference was 1922, a date which coincides with their fathers death and his own marriage. The 1925 edition identifies Thomas Randell, as shopkeeper located at 12 Whitburn Street, an address which intersects Dundas Street. By 1926 his sister Catherine had married and left Sunderland and both his parents were dead.
Thomas Owen Randell married Elizabeth Brennan on 1 August 1922 at St Benents Roman Catholic Church. The church is literally around the corner from the location of the shop but the wedding was registered at St. Godric, Durham perhaps a more senior Church. Helpfully they filled the marriage register in a faux Latin. It states 'Thoma Owen Randall married Elizabetha Brannan daughter of Michaelis Brannan and Joannae Martin'.
The marriage certificate states Elizabeth, known as Lizzie, was born 1902 the daughter of Michael Brennan of 'South Ireland'. Anecdotally Elizabeth's mother was known in the family as Jane, making her Jane Martin as in Catherine Agnes Martin. The marriage of Michael Brannan and Jane Martin took place in Sunderland in the summer of 1895. Unfortunately I was unable to work out who either of them might be, other than to say it's pretty clear they were either Irish or of Irish descent.
The age difference between Thomas and Elizabeth was a significant fifteen years and in a slightly unusual twist for the period, the bride and groom registered the same address in Dundas Street as their home prior to their wedding day. Whatever his circumstances on his wedding day, it appears when the Great Depression struck Thomas Owen followed a series of casual jobs.
Tragically Elizabeth died, age twenty nine, on the 7 March 1931 in the Sunderland Royal Infirmary as a result of a horrific accident at home. She had been admitted on December 23, suffering from burns which she had received when her clothing caught alight from a stove in the caravan in which she lived, in the Club Field at Easington Colliery. Unfortunately, the injuries were massive and Septicaemia followed resulting in her protracted death 74 days later. An inquest was held, but no post mortem, as the death was ruled accidental.
At the time of her death the family were living in extremely diminished circumstances at Easington Colliery a small 'Pit village' south of Sunderland. Thomas once a shopkeeper was recorded as a 'Labourer with the County Council' on the death certificate and as a 'Road Worker' in the newspaper.
Thomas Owen and Lizzie produced four children together. Rosalie (b.1923), Michael Thomas (b.1925), Jenny (b.1927) and Thomas Owen (b.1929). Compounding the confusion as to Lizzie's identity, the 'mothers maiden name' section at each birth was written differently - Brannon, Brennan, Brannran or Brannin.
When Elizabeth died her youngest child was less than two years old. Adding to the turmoil their second child, Michael had unfortunately died before his first birthday.
These personal tragedies took place under a backdrop of the Great Depression which affected Newcastle and Sunderland more than many other area's. A collapse in demand for ships left millions of families unemployed and destitute. Thomas unquestionably found himself in a difficult situation and it appears his sister Catherine, with numerous children of her own, assisted as far as possible but it appears the death of Lizzie broke the family.
I understand that Thomas had little to do with his children after the fire. They lived in Watford whilst he stayed in the north.
Thomas Owen Randell died aged 75 in December 1962 in the registration district of Durham East, which ironically covers Easington.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement / Thomas / Thomas / Benjamin / Thomas Owen

Catherine Ann RANDELL 1890

Catherine Ann Randell was the youngest of two children born to Benjamin Randell and Catherine Agnes Martin. She was born 7 March 1890 in Sunderland and appeared with them in the 1891 and 1901 census. She married Francis Coleman on 27 July 1916 in Monkwearmouth. It seems that at the time of her wedding she was the joint owner of T & C Randell China & Hardware Dealers. Unfortunately the Trade Directories of the period list only her brother, Thomas Owen Randell as the sole proprietor but the name alone suggests that she was a significant part of the enterprise. The photograph of the shop supports this but Catherine Ann and her mother Catherine Agnes effectively had the same initials. It may also be significant that Catherine Agnes had a retail background, her father owned a tailors shop. Further to this Thomas despite being registered as owner in the trade directories, listed his occupation as 'Shipwright - Driller' during his war service.

Randell Shop

Catherine's husband Francis Coleman was born 24 November 1894 in Batchworth Canal Side, Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. He was the third child and only son in a family of five born into the marriage of Frank & Sarah Coleman. His parents Frank Coleman and Sarah Green had married 5 May 1889 in Rickmansworth.
Their children in age order were, Florence - 23 January 1890, Alice Maud - 27 April 1892, Frank - 1894, Ethel - 25 July 1897 and Seybil Hettie - 26 July 1900. Francis was baptised in a one size fits all christening that included both his older sisters on the 10 March 1895. The two younger girls were baptised with slightly more punctuality but they still managed a year gap.
In 1901, Francis aged 6, was living with his parents in Batchworth Canal Side, Rickmansworth. Several images from around the late Victorian period record the area, giving it a quintessential early English cinema look. It appears decidedly rural, a time when everybody was happy and people strolled to work whistling.
According to the census of 1901 Frank, 'Head of the household' was a General Labourer born 1861 in Rickmansworth. He was married to Sarah also born Rickmansworth but four years later in 1865. The two eldest girls were noted as born Hounslow, Middlesex but nearby Southall Green, another canal site, is referenced in Alice Maud birth.
The 1911 census found Sarah a widow and with that in mind a Frank Coleman, aged 41 and therefore born 1861, died locally in early 1902. The same census placed son Francis as a Royal Navy Cadet in Samford, Suffolk and offers an explanation of how he later came to be in the port of Sunderland.
Francis Coleman married Catherine in 1916 but the first of their children was born after the Armistice suggesting he was possibly away at war. The age and birth place of their children indicate that the couple left Sunderland sometime in 1926. Catherine and Francis had five children in Sunderland, the first two were twins. Unfortunately, neither twin survived and a third child also died in Sunderland. His death was recorded in the first quarter of 1926.
Having left Sunderland they had four more children registered in the Watford district. I believe that Catherine had nine children, eight boys and a single girl over a period of sixteen years. She was 29 when she gave birth to the twins in Sunderland and 45 when she produced her youngest son.
Francis Coleman died 20 February 1956 but Catherine lived to almost 99 years and ultimately died November 1988 in Rickmansworth. Both she and Francis are buried in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire.
Several of their children are alive today and have children, and grandchildren of their own.

ANCESTRY ~ Thomas / Thomas / Benjamin / Catherine Ann

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