I was drawn to a newspaper article in The Cheltenham Chronicle and Gloucestershire Graphic dated October 13th, 1934, reporting the death of “A. T. Ivens well known solicitor of Cheltenham”
I was particularly interested in one paragraph which stated that ‘he was a keen bowls player and was the first President of the Cheltenham Bowling Club after their removal from the Winter Garden to their new home at the Ashburn Green in Suffolk Square in 1918’.
90 years later, I owned and ran a wedding dress boutique in Suffolk Parade, just around the corner from Suffolk Square in the Suffolks of Cheltenham. The title photo of this post is of the Cheltenham Bowling Club at their Winter Garden home, around 1918.
Alfred Thomas’ history is quite interesting. The obituary states that ‘he was a member of an old Warwickshire family, but a native of Liverpool, where his father was a solicitor.’ His early life was spent in Lutterworth, Leicestershire and his contemporaries knew him as an all round athlete.
The sumary continues ‘having decided to follow his father’s footsteps as a solicitor, he was articled to ….. a Tewkesbury firm and admitted in 1878. For many years he practised on the Isle of Wight, where he became recognised as the leading advocate on the island.’
This all sounds very commendable, except I don’t think his father was a solicitor.
According to his marriage certificate to Fanny Buck in February 1876, his father was Alfred Johnson Ivens, Gentleman, who, though born in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, married Sarah Jane McArdle in Liverpool in 1854. Alfred Thomas was born the following year on November 8th, 1855 in Liverpool.
In 1851, aged 20, Alfred Johnson Ivens was recorded as a Shopman, and in 1854 on his marriage certificate (to Sarah Jane) he is listed as Clerk.
We can’t check any further, because in the December quarter of 1855 his wife Sarah Jane Ivens dies, probably in giving birth to Alfred Thomas. What’s more, Alfred Johnson Ivens himself dies three years later in 1858, in Lutterworth.
That explains why in 1861 young Alfred Thomas Ivens is lodging with his uncle Walter Smith Ivens (b.1836) and aunt Ellen Jane Ivens (b.1840), listed as nephew. He was apparently educated at Mill Hill School, NW London, which was founded in 1807 as a Non-Conformist Grammar School. This choice of school is explained by Thomas and Ann Ivens’ (Alfred’s grandparents) religous leanings. All their children, including Walter Smith, were baptised in the Non-Conformist Register.
It is also worth noting that in 1861, living next door to Walter Smith Ivens, is Sarah Jane Johnson, Walter’s aunt and sister to his mother, Ann (nee Johnson). And, living with her is Thomas Edmund Ivens (b.1829), Walter Smith’s elder brother. Thomas Edmund is a solicitor!
Alfred Thomas marries in 1876, and his wife’s father, John Oswald Buck, is another solicitor. In 1878 Alfred Thomas is admitted to a Tewkesbury firm of solicitors.
One can imagine that aged 3, young Alfred has to go and live with his uncles and aunt, and that one uncle, Thomas Edmund – then aged 29 -is like a father to him, When Thomas Edmund dies aged just 46 in 1874, he lists ‘Alfred Thomas Ivens of Tewkesbury’ by name in his Will. Indeed, later, Alfred’s father-in-Law could also emerge as a father figure. Both could be the influence on his career choice.
Alfred Thomas’ own family consisted of 7 children. Two of the 3 sons become barristers – one in Kuala Lumpa – Francis Burdett Ivens, the other in Australia – Alfred Hubert Ivens. The third son, Charles Walter Ivens also lived in Australia. Of his daughters, one – Gladys Irene, married [Berry] and lived in Cheltenham; Dorothy Edith was widowed [Yates] by 1934; Sybil Maud married [Fyson] and moved to Exeter, Devon. Mary Augusta Ivens, the eldest daughter became a governess living in 1911, at Carlyle Mansions, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, governess to the children of Thomas Philip Le farm, Private Secretary to Chief Secretary for Ireland.
Alfred Thomas died following a stroke, after returning from a holiday on the Isle of Man, on Friday October 5th, 1934 (it seems) with the funeral on October 8th. He was within a few short weeks of his 79th birthday.