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A Grateley Family Connection

Grateley Online received an e-mail from Paul Dodgshun in Gloucester enquiring about a relationship between 5178314 L/Cpl Ernest Allen Ford, Gloucestershire Regiment and the Ayres family.
L/Cpl Ernest Ford, bachelor, died in Singapore in 1931. His service records show that his next of kin was Mrs Ayres of Gunville Cottages, Grateley.

The reason for the enquiry was a little abstruse in that an acquaintance of Paul Dodgshun, one Anne Nesbitt, was in possession of some mementoes of Ernest Ford who was a friend of Edgar Freeman, Anne Nesbitt's father. She wished to pass them on to the family of Ernest Ford. One memento is a photograph of the grave of Ernest and, as he died single with no issue, it was thought that it might be nice to find Ernest's nearest surviving relatives.

As the Ayres family are still in the area we tried to trace the family associated with Ernest Ford.

Ernest Ford was born to Edith Maria Ford in 1895 in Grateley and died 22nd May 1931 in Tan Lin Military Hospital of a thrombosis of the sinus and was interred in Kranji Cemetary, Singapore (Plot 1,Row E, Grave 24)

Initially Ernest served in the Great War having joined the Army Service Corps in 1914, serving in Flanders in 1916 and then in Salonika from 1916 to 1919. He left the service and carried on his trade as a carter until 1924 when he rejoined the Army in the Gloucestershire Regiment at Warwick. His service was with the 1st and 2nd Battalion, Gloucester Regiment; serving in Ireland, Germany (returning to Aldershot in 1923), Egypt and finally, for him, Singapore.

The Fords and Ayres

The Fords
After some searching for a likely female member of the Ayres family we came across an entry in the 1901 census of a fairly young family of George and Edith Maria Ayres living at Gunville, Grateley who had a young child of one year, William, and, significantly, a child of 5 years of age with the name Ernest Ford. The age of Edith Maria was given as 26 which narrowed down the search in the International Genealogical Index (IGI) of the Church of Latter Day Saints on www.familysearch.com .

Search on the IGI soon revealed a likely candidate living on the Hampshire/ Wiltshire border.
Edith Maria Ford was born in Swallowcliffe in 1874 of George and Jane Ford born 1841 and 1839 respectively in Teffont Magna, Wiltshire. In 1881 Edith lived in 2, Roundwood Cottages, Alverstoke, Hampshire with her parents and 6 brothers and sisters. The family trade being carters (father and Edwin) although one son, George, was in the Hampshire Militia.

George and Jane Ford moved to Grateley sometime between 1881 and 1894. This is established by the entry of his name in the minutes of the inaugural Grateley Parish Meeting in 1894.George and Jane lived the rest of their lives in Grateley. George was buried in Grateley on 26th December 1911 with Jane pre deceasing him on 27th June 1900 aged 64.


Here Edith gave birth to Ernest Allen Ford in 1895. The location is by supposition as there is no record in the Grateley Parish records for the christening of Ernest but the family were already located in Grateley by 1894 at the latest.

Edith married George William Ayres (b. 1877) on 3rd April 1899 in Grateley and Ernest became part of the Ayres family. The family increased with the birth of William in 1900, Charles Edgar (1902), Edith (1905), Edwin Jack (1906), Wilfrid Nelson (1910) and Gilbert Eric (1914).

Edith died and was buried in St. Leonard's Church Grateley on 4th September 1951 at the age of 76.

The Ayres.
Having established the Ford connection, a search of the Parish records held in Andover Library led to the members of the Ayres still living in Grateley.
George William Ayres, who married Edith Maria Ford, was born of William and Eliza Ayres in 1875, one of a large family of twelve.
His father was born in Amesbury in 1850: his mother in Quarley in 1855. Eliza lived to the good age of 84, being buried in  Grateley on 1st June 1940.

A son of George and Edith, Edwin Jack Ayres, married Mary and had a son Edwin John, christened 21st May 1933.

Another son, Gilbert Eric Ayres had sons, Paul and Peter and a daughter Susan Elizabeth. Paul is known to live in the area and it is hoped that the mementoes associated with Ernest Allen Ford will be accepted by him for safe keeping.

We must thank Paul Dodgshun for initiating the search and for supplying the information on the military career of Ernest Ford.

It is hoped that this little story adds to the general history of Grateley bringing an unknown connection from the past to a happy conclusion.

This submission does not purport to be a definitive family history of the families involved. It is merely making the connection as requested and much further research would be necessary to give the complete picture.

Michael Longyear

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