Frederick James Whitham

Frederick was born in 1889 in Stratton St. Michael, Norfolk. His parents were James and Fanny Whitham. His father was a butcher. He had two siblings;

Charles Henry born 1887

Winifred Isabel born 1898

Frederick was baptised at St. Michael and St. Peter Church in Stratton St. Michael on 5 January 1890. They lived in the village at that time.

They continued to live on the hill of the street for several years. The census records show that they were there in 1891 and 1901

His brother Charles, who was a carpenter emigrated to Canada in 1906. Apart from his service in the war, Charles lived there for the rest of his life. He became a successful building contractor building many of the important buildings of Edmonton.

By 1911 the rest of the family had moved to Saxlingham Nethergate where James worked as a butcher. Frederick also worked in his father’s business.

Frederick was a bell ringer and rang at the local church.

 In 1911 the family had a boarder, William Steele, living with them, who was an exceptionally talented ringer. He had moved to Saxlingham from Suffolk. It is not known whether he boarded with the family because they were involved in ringing or whether he encouraged Frederick to ring. Bell ringing was a very popular past time for young men at the beginning of 20th Century. They could cycle or go by train to ring at other towers in the area. It had the same kudos as belonging to football team.

Frederick rang his first peal on Saxlingham bells on 10 November 1910.  A peal is when the ringers ring a certain number of changes without stopping. It took 2 hours and 50 minutes. He went on to ring many more peals not all in Saxlingham Nethergate. He rang 19 peals at Saxlingham Church, the last one on 29 May 1914. He did not ring any more peals after the war, perhaps because of ill health.

In 1913 Frederick married Edith Alice Bacon, born in 1891, who came from Erpingham.

Their son George Frederick was born on 16 July 1913 in Erpingham. He was baptised in the church of Hempstead by Holt on 27 July 1913. Their address was given as Saxlingham Nethergate, and Frederick was working as a butcher.

In 1915 the family were living on Brown’s Lane, Saxlingham Nethergate.

Their daughter Joyce Rose was born in Saxlingham on 23 June 1916.

Frederick enlisted in the 2nd Northamptonshire Regiment on 10 December 1915. His service number was 25068. He served with them till 30 November 1916.

Because of ill health he transferred to Royal Defence Corps, 15th Battalion. His service number was 61739.

The Royal Defence Corps was formed in March 1916. The Royal Defence Corps was made up of men who were too old or medically unfit for active front line service. Their duties were the local defence of the United Kingdom, they were never intended to serve overseas. They guarded ports, bridges and prisoner of war camps. The 15th Battalion was involved with protecting lines of communication.

He was discharged on 27 February 1918 as a result of being unwell. He was awarded a silver badge for serving in the army.  He was aged 29 years.

Frederick returned to Saxlingham Nethergate. He ran a cycle shop in the village.

Frederick and his son, George

Frederick Whitham

He died on 1 April 1932 and is buried in Saxlingham church yard.

In 1938 his daughter Joyce married Cecil T Smith, a local government officer and they lived in Norwich. Edith lived with them in 1939.

George became a baker and married Gwendoline Wiggett in 1939.

In 1945 Edith, his widow, married Albert Edward Thomas George Crane, a bus conductor.

Albert and Edith are buried in the same grave as Frederick in Saxlingham Nethergate church yard.

Grave of Frederick Whitham, Saxlingham Nethergate.

His sister Winifred never married. In the 1930s she was a butcher in the village. She lived in the village for the rest of her life.

Family in 1933.  From right to left; George Whitham, Joyce Whitham,

 Cecil Thomas Smith, unknown, Edith Alice Whitham, unknown.


England & Wales, Birth, marriage, death index 1837-2005

UK Census Collection

1939 Register-

Norfolk Electoral Rolls-Southern Division Saxlingham Nethergate and Thorpe,

Norfolk, Church of England Diocesan Records, Saxlingham Nethergate, Long Stratton, Hempstead by Holt

Information about bell ringing courtesy of Jeff Fox as part of his research into Saxlingham bell ringers. Information from Bell News, The Ringing World and Norfolk Diocesan Ringing Association Annual Reports.

1919 Norfolk Diocesan Ringing Association Annual Report. Ringers from Saxlingham Nethergate who served during the First World War.

Thanks to Darren Rose, great grandson, Shirley Rose, granddaughter, for family information and photographs.

British Army Medal Roll Index cards, 1914-1920

Information about Royal Defence Corps,

If anyone has any photographs or information about this person, please contact me. Email