A family tree of the Randell family originating in North Norfolk
Thomas Randell ~ The Randell Warm Seawater Baths ~ Clockmakers ~ Ironmongers ~ Postmasters ~ Sailors ~ Victorians

home | individuals | family trees [pre-1841] [post-1841] | early randells | north walsham | search | links | facts

William RANDELL 1895

William 'Billy' Randell, was my Grandad Randell. Both my grandparents were absolutely wonderful to be around.
Having surrendered all objectivity, I can say that William Randell was born at 20 Chesterfield Villas, Cromer, 12 September 1895 the son of John Ephraim Randell and Charlotte Phebe Durrant. Around 1910 he was working as an errand boy at Mutimers Grocer and Draper in Garden St when he met the love of his life, 15 year old Florence Matilda Brown, who with her friend Elsie West, was promenading along the sea front. Mutimers delivery bicycle proved to be a vital element in the romance, as he would regularly cycle the four miles along the coast road past her home in Sheringham in the hope of a chance meeting.
A couple of years prior to the Great War, William secured a position with the Great Eastern Railway as a porter at Cromer Beach Station. Like many from his era the War interrupted and he went off to fight. He joined the Royal Field Artillery, as private 34843, and served in France. Ironically, on 11 September 1915, the very last day of his teens, his War Service Record stated he was somewhere in Northern in France acting as a driver of a horse drawn gun carriage.
He was very uncomfortable with his Great War experience and consequently little is known. My grandmother recalled that he spent nineteen months in France before returning for his first leave and that they spent Christmas together at Aunt Martha's. She went on to reflect that she had been rather naïve, in believing him when he dismissed the experience of battle as nothing more than Guy Fawkes night. She concluded that the experience fundamentally shaped his life and radically re-aligned his values.
It seems he returned to France and apparently stayed eighteen months after the signing the armistice. During this post war period, whilst he was repairing railway infrastructure in France, Florence's attention had drifted to a local Sheringham lad, Sydney Dennis but all was redressed when William returned and they married 10 March 1920 in Sheringham Parish Church.
Picking up his earlier career in Norfolk proved difficult after the war and when a Linesman's job with LNER came up near Sheffield the couple moved north. Their first home was at 87 Cross Hill, Ecclesfield a house that still stands today. The following years saw them move to Mexborough and finally Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Together they had four children, three are still alive today, living in or around Chesterfield.
I remember my Grandad as funny, attentive, and personable. He was an armchair activist, closely following the machinations of the world around him with a resigned cynicism and languid dry humour. He had a quiet or calm temperament, but an undeniable charisma. My Grandmother described him as a "bit of a card", and this is a perfect description because it has ambiguity and charm. After all he was a man who would put Christmas decorations up with a four inch nail because he couldn't see a good reason why not to.
He passed away following a lengthy decline, killed by smoking, which he ironically began during the Great War. He was aged 75, and died six weeks short of his fiftieth wedding anniversary.
Just prior to his death, at a time when he had been unable to leave his bed for months, he dressed and announced he had decided to 'see the sea', one last time. Ignoring all advice he declared he would go alone if nobody would join him. Despite his obvious frailty nothing would deter him and in the end the entire family embarked on a hastily arranged trip to a Lincolnshire beach.
When I was a child, he told me rather enigmatically that when Angels die, they fall as rain onto the sea. There are few certainties in life but that's one you can trust.
In a perfect piece of symmetry he was born in Chesterfield Villas, Cromer and he died 17 January 1970, in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

ANCESTRY ~ Clement / Thomas / John / John Ephraim / William

Florence Matilda BROWN 1896

Florence Matilda Brown born in Sheringham, Christmas Eve 1896, was the daughter of fishmonger, Benjamin "Benny" Christopher Johnson Brown and his wife Honor Matilda Sadler. She was however, brought up by Benjamin Johnson and his wife Hannah (Middleton). They had previously cared for Florence's father 'Benny' and also looked after her sister Mabel.
Whilst she lived separately to the majority of her brothers, sisters and parents, she was in constant and immediate contact with them on a daily basis. Both families lived a short walk across Sheringham. The family connection between the Johnson's and Brown's is a little complex but Benny Brown was illegitimate, his grandmother was Sophia Johnson, the aunt of Benjamin Johnson and therefore by default Benny's mother, Susannah, was the cousin of Benjamin Johnson.
Benjamin Johnson was a House and Boat Builder, General Contractor and a Councillor for the Beeston Ward of the Sheringham Urban Council. Besides this he rented furnished apartments, bathing machines and deckchairs during the summer. Benjamin & Hannah Johnson were deeply committed to the Primitive Methodist Church and the Temperance Movement. Fishmonger Benny Brown, who had gold pirate earrings in both ears, was a Major in the Salvation Army.
Following the death of my grandfather, Sydney Dennis a childhood sweetheart, re-appeared to offer first his condolences and two years later his hand in marriage. Florrie and Syd married in Chesterfield before moving to his home in Brentwood, Essex. Within a few years Sydney Dennis, passed away, and Florence returned to Chesterfield. Back in Chesterfield she lived for many years independently with her son. Finally her age got the better of her and she moved in with her daughter, where she died aged 93 in December 1989.
My Grandmother was a great story teller and in the summer of 1989, I visited England and recorded a couple hours of video as she reminisced, her recollections are fundamental in my understanding of her in-laws the Randells.

The wedding of William Randell & Florence Matilda Brown, 10 March 1920
The Brown Family

William and Florence Matilda had the following children:

Harold RANDELL 1925 Sheffield, Yorkshire
Audrey RANDELL 1928 Mexborough, Yorkshire
Gordon RANDELL 1930 Mexborough, Yorkshire
William Roy RANDELL 1939 Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Hi, I would love to hear from you. I would be thrilled to receive any contributions or even corrections.
If you are connected to this family tree please say hello, Martin -