Frank Brockett 1888-1916
Frank’s signature in 1915:1
4th child and 2nd son of David and Selina CLARKE, Frank was born 30 Jul 1888, Twickenham.2 His siblings had been born in 1879, 81 and 83. Frank married Ellen SMITH 21 Jan 1914 in Southsea, Portsmouth, and they had one child Frank Neil born 24 Jan 1916. Frank died 6 months later 20 Jul 1916.
Census records for Frank and family:
1891: At home with parents at 21 Montpelier Row, Twickenham, Son Frank, aged 2, b Twickenham, Middlesex.
1901: At home with parents at 23 Montpilier Rd, Twickenham, Son Frank, aged 12, b Twickenham, Middlesex.
1911: At home with parents at 21 Broadway Avenue, St Margaret’s, Twickenham, Son Frank, aged 22, Single, Clerk Diamond Merchant.
Other known Frank Brocketts alive in 1911: Read more
1. Francis ‘Frank’ Henry 1860-1952. Son of Francis Henry Brockett and Agnes Georgiana ROWSON. Married Sarah BEECH. Residing 1911 at 91 Altenburg Gardens, Battersea, S W. Musicisn. Unrelated to Frank 1888-1916.
2. Frank 1868-1943, son of Daniel Brockett and Jane WOODWARD of Bromham Bedfordshire, who emigrated to New Zealand 1874. Married Agnes Amelia MILMINE. Labourer. Unrelated to Frank 1888-1916.
3. Frank 1868-1954, son of Thomas Brockett and Mary Ann MUNSEY. Married Alice WEBB. Residing 1911 in 11 Ickleford Rd, Hitchin, Hertfordshire. Groom to a Grocer. Distant relative of Frank 1888-1916.
4. Frank 1878-1956, son of Wifred Brockett and Rebecca REAVELL. Married Miriam DUKE. Residing 1911 in Killarney, Guilden Morden, Hertfordshire. Cattle Dealer and Butcher. Distant relative of Frank 1888-1916.
5. Frank Henry George 1884-1959, son of George Brockett and Caroline HART. Married Ethel Kathleen TRITTON. Residing 1911 in Quebec Barracks, West Kent Regiment, Bordon Alton, Hampshire. Lance Corporal in the Army. In the records found Frank was mostly called Francis Henry like his grandfather Francis Henry (husband of Agnes Georgiana ROWSON). Unrelated to Frank 1888-1916.
6. Francis ‘Frank’ John 1886-1968, son of Francis Henry ‘Frank’ Brockett and Sarah BEECH. Married 1st Marie Louise HODGKINSON, and 2nd Edith Lyall TURNER. Residing 1911 at 23 Ranelagh Gardens, Chiswick. Motor Engineer. Unrelated to Frank 1888-1916.
7. Frank Ernest 1885-1962, son of William Brockett and Elizabeth ORBELL. ?Married Sarah Ann THOMAS. Residing 1911 with parents at 185 Moselle Avenue Wood Green Edmonton Middlesex. Tile Fixer. Distant relative of Frank 1888-1916.
8. Frank James 1910-82, son of James William Brockett and Annie Edith WHING. Married Bridgid Mary WALSH. Residing 1911 with his mother at 5 Preston Place, Richmond, Surrey. Nephew of Frank 1888-1916.
This is a portrait of Frank c 1909 (aged c 21), probably the one bequeathed to his son Neil in Frank’s mother Selina’s Will:
Marriage and wife
Ellen SMITH was born 13 Jul 1881 in Castle Cary, Somerset, the 2nd of the 3 daughters of David Wandsworth and Lizzie Annie Smith, Booksellers and Stationers. The family removed to Southsea, Portsmouth by 1885,3 and moved into 23 Outram Rd between 1901 and 1911. Ellen lived here the rest of her life—except for the 2½ years she was married to Frank. Her son Neil lived there too, from the age of 5 months old—the time of his father Frank’s last illness in 1916—till he married in 1940.
Frank married Ellen SMITH 21 Jan 1914 in Elm Grove Baptist Chapel, Southsea, Portsmouth, he aged 25, Bachelor, Diamond Broker’s Clerk, of 47 St Margaret’s Rd, East Twickenham, she 31, Spinster, of 23 Outram Rd, Southsea, daughter of David Wordsworth—actually Wandsworth—SMITH, Retired Stationer,4 witnesses: W F [Leonard] PALMER [best man], D W SMITH [father], Mary Florence SMITH [bridesmaid and sister], Esther HODGES [bridesmaid and 1st cousin]. Two days beforehand Frank wrote a letter to Ellen from his employer’s offices in London—Sylvan Ginsberg, 95, Hatton Garden: Read more
How lovely it will be duckie
when we can say that & dearest
when you get this we shall be
able to shan’t we.
And soon it will be today
& then our lives will run together.
Oh duckie words cannot
express how I long & live for you.
All my life will now soon be
bound up in yours, all our joys
will be doubled & all our sorrows
will be divided & so duckie we
must be very happy.
This is the last letter I shall
write to you dearest before we are
married & I should like to put
into it all my love & how much
I want you but Ellie darling
its impossible for me to do so.
At any time, letter writing
is not a great point with me &
I’m afraid that often in the
past I have caused you pain
through putting things in my
letters that should have been
But you have always forgiven
me in your loving kindness & so
no more need be said of it.
But dearest of all, even if I
dont say what I should say
this thing I know. & that is
I want you – to love & cherish
for ever & aye.
Nobody could look forward to
the future with such hopefulness
& with such prospects of happiness
as I do.
Often I ask myself – Why did
Ellie have me – & why should I
be so blessed as to be loved so
dearly, as I know you love me.
But Ive never yet been able to
Oh darling I often pray that God
will bless us & I’m sure he will,
he has done in the past & so he
will in the future.
And dearest may you never
for one single minute regret the step
you will take on Wednesday.
I know it will be a great change
for you leaving all your friends dear,
but I will do all I possibly can
to make your life happy.
Are you thinking of me now dear
its 4.30 & my ear will be scorched
I should like to say more now but
I’ve no time, soon I shall have you
all to myself dear – then I’ll show
you how much I love you.
Tomorrow at 5.50 I’ll arrive
unless I wire to the contrary &
dearest I hope you will meet me.
I look forward to seeing you so
Goodbye duckie for almost the
last time much love I send
you, afterwards I can give it to you
Yours now & in the future
P.S. I’m afraid my other letter
was very abrupt but duckie Ive
been so busy today but I really
have had to squeeze time to write
to you at all, so I know you will
The formal invitation to the wedding read “1 o’clock at Elm Grove Baptist Church, and afterwards at Windsor Lodge, Outram Road”. Windsor Lodge was no. 23 Outram Road, Southsea, the home of Ellen’s parents. Here is the photo of the wedding party in the back garden:
Back row: Henry Martin, Mr Bracher, Leonard Palmer, David Wandsworth Smith, Arthur Cross
Standing: ?, ?, ?, Mrs Henry Martin, Frank Brockett, Rev Hobson Thomas, Mrs Bracher, Daisy Palmer, Phoebe Hodges, Ebenezer Hodges, Ellen Hodges, ?
Seated: Violet Millard, Lizzie Smith, Ellen Smith, Mrs Selena Brockett, Grace Cross with son Ronald, Mrs Hobson Thomas
Front row: Jacinth Millard, Ettie Hodges, Dolly Smith.5
For details of the guests: Read moreThe Martins and the Brachers were friends of the bride’s parents. Leonard Palmer was the groom’s best man and husband of his sister Daisy. David Wandsworth Smith was the bride’s father (said to have been born in a horse-drawn bus on Wandsworth Road, London). Arthur Cross was the husband of the groom’s sister Grace. Rev Hobson Thomas was the Minister of Elm Grove Baptist Church who married the couple. Daisy Palmer was the groom’s older sister. Phoebe Hodges was the daughter of Ebenezer Hodges, husband of Ellen Hodges, sister of David Wandsworth Smith. The lady on the far right is unknown, as are the 2 ladies and man on the far left. Violet Millard was the bride’s younger sister. Lizzie Smith was the bride’s mother. Mrs Selena Brockett was the groom’s mother. Grace Cross was the groom’s younger sister. Jacinth Millard was Violet’s daughter. Ettie Hodges was Ebenezer and Ellen Hodges’ other daughter. Dolly Smith was the bride’s elder sister.
Thus, Frank’s mother Selina was at the wedding, as were sisters Grace and Daisy and their husbands. But Frank’s elder brother James wasn’t, as presumed from his absence from this photograph of the wedding party.
Here is a photo of the bride, groom, best man and bridesmaids:
and extracted from this here is a close-up of the groom:
And this is the photo of just the bride and groom:
Then 18 months later tragedy struck. On “20 July 1916 at 10 St Ronans Avenue, Southsea, Frank Brockett, aged 27, of 79 Winter Rd, Commercial Clerk, died from endocarditis [inflammation of the lining membranes of the heart] and cerebral embolism, informant W L Palmer, Brother in Law, present at the death at 10 St Ronans Avenue Southsea”.6 In other words, Frank died of heart disease and stroke. On Wednesday 12 Jul 1916,7 the day before Ellen’s 35th birthday, and 6 days before he died, Frank wrote this poignant letter to Ellen: Read more
10 St. Ronans Ave
My dearest Wife
Let me wish you very
many happy returns of the day.
I only wish I could just drop
in & give you a good hug & squeeze
But I suppose we must have patience
as everybody says & things will come
alright in the end
Well goodbye duck come early
today as I do so look forward
to your coming
Much love o you
Yours as ever
It was written hesitantly, without his former neatness and precision. Probably his last letter to Ellen, she kept it all her life, along with his love letter just before their wedding day, only 2½ short years earlier.
Frank and Ellen probably met through Frank’s sister Daisy who had married William Leonard PALMER of Southsea, formerly Twickenham. The 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses all showed Ellen living with her parents; in 1911 this was at 23 Outram Rd, Southsea, and her occupation was ‘Music teacher – pianoforte‘. The 1911 census also showed that from then at least Frank was employed as a Diamond Merchant’s Clerk, and after their marriage Frank and Ellen lived at 8 Royal Parade Mansions, Muswell Hill, a couple of kilometres NE of Hampstead Heath.8 Within a year or so they were living at ‘Lynford’, Woodthorpe Rd, Ashford, Middlesex, where their son Neil was born 24 Jan 1916. This was between Twickenham and Staines.
The London Diamond Merchant that Frank worked for up until his death was a German called Sylvan Ginsberg. Frank couldn’t have been in robust health as he was issued with a sickness card excusing him from active war service, and when Britain declared war against Germany on 28 Jul 1914 Mr Ginsberg removed to New York, leaving Frank in the difficult situation of being in charge of a German-owned business. 6 months prior to his death, Frank gave his occupation as Engineer’s Clerk, perhaps to not draw attention to the fact.9 He spent his last weeks—at least—with his sister Daisy Palmer, who was a nurse, at her home 10 St Ronans Avenue, Southsea. Here is a letter from Mr Ginsberg in New York to Ellen: Read more
The State Deposit Company of New York
New York Aug 4th 1916
Dear Mrs Brockett
I heard today that your husband died, and I assure you I felt it very much. He was so young, worked so hard and when the time came for him to have it a bit easier – he is taken away altogether. You must not lose courage, and you must try to bring up your boy to be a help for you in years to come. I liked your husband very much and just when the time came for me to give him a better position – the war broke out, which spoiled his and my chances. May he rest in peace.
I am sending the enclosed Cheque £3-0-0 for his assistance in the last weeks.
Will you kindly have the books packed, and leave them with a Depository. They will pack it, take it away and store it, and let them write to me how much the expences come to, and I will send them Cheque. You need not have any expenses nor trouble. Simply give the order to fetch it away – and they will do the rest. If I do not make a mistake the Safe numbers are 3 times to 7 and twice to 14 but I am not sure.
I remain Dear Mrs Brockett
87 Nassau Street New York
As a single mother with an infant son to look after in the days before a Welfare State, Ellen moved in to her parents’ house and trained to be a Midwife. She passed her Central Midwives Board examinations 7 May 1917,10 and continued to practise probably through to the mid/late 1930s—recorded as retired in 1939.11 She was known as ‘Nurse Brockett’. “During 1917 the length of the midwifery course was 6 months and nurses were given 2 month exemption. Ellen Brockett was probably a nurse who later trained as a midwife and hence known as Nurse Brockett.”12 In the 1911 census her occupation had been given as ‘Music teacher – Pianoforte’, so it is more probable that she was called ‘Nurse’ out of respect, while more specifically being a Midwife.
Like her parents who were Baptists, Ellen was actively involved in her church, Elm Grove Baptist Chapel, where both she and her son Neil were married. It was badly damaged during the Second World War.13 Her diary recorded some of her welfare work, for instance as an active committee member of the Portsmouth Charity Organizations Society and the Prisoner’s Aid Society.
The few images that have been found of Ellen after her marriage, her face was usually mostly obscured by the wide-rimmed hats of the day, like this one from c 1930 with son Neil and mother Lizzie:
1932 17 Feb: Ellen’s father David Wandsworth SMITH died, aged 74, at 23 Outram Rd, Southsea, informant E Brockett, Daughter, residing 23 Outram Rd, Southsea. In his Will he had appointed Ellen co-executrix with his wife Lizzie Anne, with Ellen residual legatee after the death of Lizzie.14
1939 29 Sep: Ellen Brockett, Widow, Midwife (retired), was recorded living with her son Frank N Brockett, at 23 Outram Rd, Southsea.17
1948. Between May and September Ellen—aged 67 and never having flown before—flew out to Dar es Salaam, Tanganyika, to stay with her son Neil and family. Her diary recorded her movements and thoughts, starting from Heathrow at 6a.m. with only 12 on the plane, with her heart going “pit a pat” and going “up up up above the clouds”, and “breakfast as we were going over France”. They disembarked to spend the nights en route at Tripoli, Cairo, Khartoum, and Nairobi—where they stayed at the Norfolk Hotel: “Mostly we had breakfast & lunch on plane, dinner (wonderful) at hotels”. The final leg was a “2 hours journey from Nairobi to to Dar es Salaam”. About 4 months later, Ellen and Edith Dunne, her friend from Great Crosby (near Liverpool), returned with Neil and Doreen’s family at the end of his posting/tour in Tanganyika on the Holland Afrika Line ship the Bloemfontein, arriving Southampton 27 Sep 1948, via Mombasa, Kenya.18
Two images of Ellen in her 60s and early 70s:
On 29 Feb 1956 Ellen Brockett died, aged 74, of congestive heart failure, ischaemic and hypertensive heart disease and acute bronchitis at 23 Outram Rd, Southsea,19 estate £27,259 6s to [son] Frank Neil Brockett, Civil Servant.20
Page Last Updated: September 8, 2020