When Alfred Griffin was born on August 31, 1864, in Kingston Seymour, Somerset, England, his father, Samuel Bird Griffin (1834-1890), an Auctioneer, was 30 and his mother, Jane (née Wallis) (1835-1909), was 29. He had nine brothers and two sisters.
Alfred married Laura Wallis on June 22, 1887, at All Saints Parish in Kingston Seymour, Somerset, England. Witnesses to the marriage were John Wallis (either Laura’s father or brother) and her sister Edith.
In fact, two of Laura’s sisters married two of Alfred’s brothers. Edith Wallis married Edward Griffin, and Amelia Wallis married Sidney Griffin. As a result, all of their children would have had the same two sets of grandparents, making them “double first cousins.” In terms of DNA, double cousins are as closely related as half-siblings.
When Laura Wallis was born in on February 28, 1866, in Bedminster, Somerset, England, her father, John Wallis (1833-1906), a farmer, was 32, and her mother, Mary (née Gage) (1834-1911), was 31.
Alfred and Laura had four children during their marriage:
- May Griffin (1888-1972) married Ernest Joseph Plaister (1893-1936)
- Stanley Griffin (1890-1961) married Mary A. Bishop (1886-?)
- Constance Mary Griffin (1893-1971)
- Alfred Evan Griffin (1895-1945) married Ethel Victoria Cook (1897-?)
The couple’s first child is a daughter, born on May 2, 1888, and possibly named for the month she was born in. May Griffin is baptized in the same church her parents were married in on the 28th of that month.
The firstborn son is Stanley Griffin, born on July 29, 1890, and baptized August 26th.
The 1891 England Census shows the family living at “Riverside Farm” in Kingston Seymour. Alfred (26) is a farmer. Alfred’s brother Charles (also a farmer) and Laura’s sister Amelia are living with the family. The property at Riverside Farm in the present day appears to be occupied by a blast cleaning service.
On July 6, 1893, Constance Mary Griffin is born. She is baptized on the 30th of the same month.
On February 16, 1895, the couple’s last child, a son, is born. Alfred Evan is baptized on March 17th.
May Griffin was called to testify at an inquiry into the conduct of the Rector George H. Smyth Piggott (the same rector who baptized all four of Alfred’s children) in March 1905. (Story on this interesting chapter to follow!)
On the 1911 Census, Alfred (46) and Laura (45) are in their 23rd year of marriage. All of the children are still at home, and both of the boys are working on the farm.
Multiple articles in the local newspapers over the years speak to Alfred’s involvement in the community. He is noted as an attendee at parties and funerals, and there are articles about his running for seats as councillor for Kingston Seymour starting in 1904 and Alderman for Yatton between 1922-1928. An article in the March 1, 1922 Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser lists Alfred as a nominee in the Somerset County Council Election for Yatton – “Alfred Griffin, Claverham House, Farmer.” He won the election for the Farmer’s Union in Yatton, running again unsuccessfully in 1925 and 1928.
An August 7, 1923 article in the Western Daily Press describes the Agricultural and Horticultural Show. A public luncheon took place at the Prince of Orange Hotel, during which “‘Success to the Show’ was proposed by Mr. Alfred Griffin. He commented upon the great improvement in the quality of the stock which was being exhibited. Mr. Griffin spoke of the benefit which such shows were to agriculture generally. He incidentally pleaded for a cleaner milk supply throughout the country.”
An article in the Western Daily Press on January 29, 1932, suggests that family was concerned because Alfred went missing. He left the home to visit with relatives on January 23 and did not return. The article suggests he was wearing a grey trilby hat with a brown jacket and vest and light brown trousers. The disappearance was reported to the police because it was “feared he may be suffering from loss of memory.”
According to the Western Daily Press on February 1, 1932, Scotland Yard issued appeals for Alfred’s return – describing him as “4ft. 8 inches in height, clean-shaven, slight build, with grey eyes, grey hair, going bald, and has false teeth.” The February 3rd paper suggests that he was traced to a hotel in Oxford, where he signed in with his regular signature. It was believed he was suffering from memory loss.
Ultimately, Alfred was found dead almost a month later on February 27, 1932, at the Maidenhead Hotel. A March 2nd article in the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser speaks to some mystery surrounding his disappearance and death. His disappearance was even broadcast by the BBC. The article also speaks to his success in farming and his lengthy community service. Articles about the discovery of his body were in papers as far away as Edinburgh.
Miss Imrie, the proprietress of the hotel made a statement that was carried in several papers: “Mr. Griffin had been staying at the hotel for about a week. He seemed quite normal, and was evidently a man of means. He did not speak of his family, but I recall when he heard the news bulletin come over the wire each evening, there was a strangeness in his manner, and he became startled. I did not know he had been reported missing.”
The Gloucester Citizen on March 1, 1932, had a detailed account of his disappearance and the findings of an inquest into his death.
An article in the Western Daily Press on March 3rd speaks to the large number of mourners who attended the funeral.
The probate record suggests that his worldly goods were left to his widow, Laura and his unmarried daughter Constance.
Laura did not remarry after Alfred’s death. On the 1939 Register, the widow Laura is found living with daughter Constance still at 41 Hill Road in Weston super Mare (which is the inferred address in the articles at the time of Alfred’s death). Laura is described as “householder” and Constance’s occupation is “domestic duties.” It’s possible they were running a lodging home from the premises as there are several other members of the household, that have a variety of names and occupations.
Laura died on December 29, 1954, in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, England, at the age of 88.
Laura and Alfred are buried at All Saints Church in Kingston Seymour.
Main image: Alfred Griffin
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