Horace and Winifred Rosher
by Denis Rosher, June 2007
My grandfather, Horace Taylor Rosher, was a family man. He had nine children and being a good-looking chap, he also married four wives. There was nothing wrong in this, except that when he married his third wife, he forgot that he was still legally attached to his second. The result was nine months hard labour at Wandsworth Prison in London.
Horace was born on 29th December 1863 at Creeting St. Mary, the first son of Henry Blofield Rosher and Eliza Taylor. He went to school in Needham Market and was married in 1887 to Alice Whiting (born 21st October 1866) who was from the village of Hagworthingham in Lincolnshire. They had eight children: Wilfred b1891, Florence b 1892, Sydney b 1893, Maurice (my father) b 1896, Winifred b 1898, Frank b 1900, Walter b 1901 and Elizabeth b 1903.
Horace had several occupations including commercial traveller, dairyman and cab driver and the family moved to Reading, Birmingham, Clacton and then to Ipswich. He also fell foul of the law on three or four occasions and served time for theft, leaving Alice to look after the children. Horace was beginning one of his prison sentences in 1903 when Alice died from pneumonia, shortly after the death of newborn Elizabeth. The remaining seven children entered the St John’s children’s home in Ipswich early in 1904.
Whether Horace ever saw his children again no-one knows because on 31st May 1906 he married Elizabeth Louisa Smith at Capel St. Mary and lived in Little Wenham for several years. However on 10th April 1915 he married Amy Beatrice Julia Rose bigamously at Bermondsey Register Office. In April 1918, Horace appeared in court at Southwark where both wives were in attendance and he was duly sentenced to nine months hard labour. At this point I should mention that my maternal grandfather, Ratcliffe Hanson, was also a prisoner in 1918, but a prisoner of war having been captured by the Germans in 1914.
On 26th November 1920, a daughter, Alice Maude Rosher, was born at the General Lying-in Hospital in Lambeth to Amy with Horace named as the father. So far I have had no success in contacting Alice’s side of the family.
I do not know about Horace’s movements after 1920 but there is a family rumour that he was involved in a manslaughter conviction after an incident outside the Ring Boxing venue in Southwark. Perhaps I will discover the truth one day. At the age of 67, Horace married his last wife, Ellen Rollinson, at the Catholic church in Hanover Square on 30th May 1932. Ellen only lived for another two years, but Horace survived until 5th January 1946 when he died in Islington Hospital.
Horace’s eight children remained in St John’s home until the boys were old enough to be discharged into the Army and the girls into service. In Winifred’s case her service was to be in Canada and she left the children’s home for Liverpool on 29th April 1912 and sailed on 14th June 1912 aboard the ‘Tunisian’ bound for Quebec and Montreal. One can imagine how she must have felt leaving England at the age of fourteen with no mother or father, heading for an unknown new life without her brothers and sisters.
From St John’s record book, it seems that she did at least have the company of her school friends who are listed as follows:
Name Sent To
Winifred Rosher Mrs W D Foster, Unionville, Ontario
Harriet Bullard W M Thompson, South Mountain, Ontario
Grace Siggers J Glewis, Newmarket, Ontario
Ruth Osborne J Baxter, Caledonian East, Ontario
Kathleen Mee T W Mcindoo, Ida, Ontario
Lily Partridge C A Jones, Mount Forest, Ontario
Name Sent To
William Smith Peter Shipp, Courtland, Ontario
Frederick Dewhurst Bert Stillman, Campbellfort, Ontario
L Baker J R Campbell, Melbourne, Ontario
W Osborne W F Bell, Britannia Bay, Ontario
William Davey Mr Jas Moore, Greenoch, Ontario
Winifred appears to have had a happy life in Canada, marrying Ralph Link on 25th December 1914 in Sutton, Ontario. They had six children and I am at present trying to make contact with her descendants.
I would be very pleased to hear from anyone related to, or who has knowledge of the boys and girls who sailed to Canada with Winifred. I hope to hear that their journey had a happy ending too.
Denis Rosher. June 2007