Katherine and Rosa Townsend – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 14.

The sun is out, the sky is blue, I’m sat at my computer writing to you.
It’s that time again, time to share this weeks ancestor with you, week 14 of 52.
This week is going to be a little bit different and I’ll almost be repeating myself but I’m so excited and humble about a discovery made last week, I just have to share it with you.
I can not take credit because it was the kind heart of a gentleman who I have only met once, who brought tears to my eyes, a warm glow to my heart, and restored my faith in humanity.
How one man can give so much time and kindness to a random person on the other end of an email, baffles me but it fills my heart with light knowing there are still people out there who will go above and beyond to help others, in this cruel awful world we live in.
This man is no longer a random stranger, he is our friend, a friend whom has a heart of gold.
Let me tell you a little more.

My sister Hayley and my Great-Uncle Ray Townsend, often walked Southampton Old Cemetery, looking for Townsend headstones. If you haven’t ever visited the grounds, you really should, it’s beautiful. How one can call a old cemetery beautiful, I don’t know, eerie maybe, scary even but beautiful isn’t how we normally sum up a cemetery, especially one as old as the Southampton Old cemetery. Southampton Old Cemetery is different, it’s full of history and radiates a peaceful calm. The headstones are mesmerising, that being said I wouldn’t want to visit alone at night.

Anyway, one day a few years ago Hayley and Uncle Ray, got talking to a gentleman called Bruce. Bruce kindly researched the cemetery archives and found the graves of a few of our ancestors, he than kindly met us and showed us where are ancestors were laid to rest.
Last week Hayley sent him an email with a link to my blog post about Rosa Alice Freak, one of our ancestors Bruce had located for us a few years before.
A few emails went back and forth and he kindly offered to help if we ever needed him to.
The death of two of my ancestors has always pulled on my heart strings, my heart aches for them and the lives they should have lived, so we cheekily asked if he wouldn’t mind looking up to see if they were buried at the Old Cemetery.
I woke the next morning to an email confirming they had been buried there. Later that day I receive another email from Bruce, which brought tears to my eyes, a lump in my throat but more so, an overwhelming sense of humbleness.
Bless him, he had been out, found their grave, cleared the path and the grave, he also marked it with a cross.
I do not have the words to describe how his kindness has touched my soul, all I know is I’m extremely humble.
There is still good out in the world, still people who will go out of their way to give an almost stranger their time, their energy and a piece of their heart.
Bruce is definitely one of those people.

So who were the ancestors whom were laid to rest in this grave.
My 2nd great aunts Katherine Ethel Townsend and Rosa Blanche Townsends.
Let me remind you of their stories.

On the 20th May 1897 Charles Frederick Townsend and Rosa Alice Townsend Nee Freak, welcomed their first daughter Katherine Ethel Townsend into their family.
She was born at home at 1 Winchester place, Southampton, Hampshire, England.
Her mother Rosa Alice Townsend registered her birth on the 12th December 1898.

Katherine E Townsend Birth Certificate

Birth Index

On the 1st November 1898 Charles Frederick and Rosa Alice, welcomed their second daughter into the world.
Rosa Blanche Townsend.
She was born at 1 Winchester Place, Southampton, Hampshire.
Her mother Rosa Alice Townsend registered her birth on the 12th December 1898.

Rosa B Townsend Birth CertificateRosa B Townsend Birth Index-2

A year later tragedy stroke the family.
The Southampton Borough Fire Brigade received a call at five minutes to six on Tuesday 7th November 1899 to 1 Winchester Place, Craven Street, Southampton. Arriving at the scene they find Rosa’s back room in flames.
The fire brigade quickly extinguished the fire but not before poor Rosa had sustained severe burns in her heroic rescue of two of her children Katherine Ethel and Rosa Blanche.
Rosa,Katherine and baby Rosa were taken to the Royal South Hants Hospital Infirmary. Rosa’s two baby girls were in serious condition and heartbreakingly both died from the effects of the burns from the fire.

Katherine Ethel died just two hours after being admitted to The South Hants infirmary Hospital, Southampton, Hampshire, on the 7th November 1899.

Katherine Ethel Townsend Death CertificateIMG_7793

Rosa Blanche died in the early hours of Wednesday the 8th November 1899.

Rosa B Townsend Death Certificate

Rosa B Townsend Death IMG_7794

An inquest was held at the Royal South Hants.

Newspaper Clipping - House Fire


Charles and Rosa laid their two daughters to rest on the 11 November 1899 at Southampton Old Cemetery, Southampton.

They were buried in Row O, block 143, number 212.

Grave Location

46 years later, their resting place become the resting place for their nephew David Anthony Reed.
David Anthony Reed, son of James Reed and Lily Louisa Reed nee Townsend, died in the Jan to March quarter of 1947.
David A Reed death

He was buried with his two aunts on the 19 March 1947. He was only 8 months old.

Burial Information

It’s wonderful to know that the girls were not forgotten and all those years later Rosa and Katherine’s sister, Lily Louisa Reed nee Townsend, buried her baby son with them.

I really can not thank Brace enough for all his help, time and kindness, somehow just knowing where these wee tots are buried is a huge comfort.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Rest in peace,
Katherine Ethel Townsend 1897 – 1899
Rosa Blanche Townsend 1898 – 1899
David Anthony Reed 1946 – 1947


8 thoughts on “Katherine and Rosa Townsend – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 14.

  1. How can we ever say thank you to this wonderful Gentleman for all the time and trouble he went to help find where these little ones were buried ,I wish my husband Geprge And his brother Ray were alive to know about it .You have made it all so interesting Georgina,,thank you to for the lovely way you write about our AncestorsLove Nan X X X


  2. Thank you so much for your lovely replies. I have three family graves in The Old Cemetery and so enjoy the challenge of helping others to find their loved ones as I know how important it is. Georgina, your writing is superb and a mention on your blog is thanks enough. Warmest regards, Bruce


  3. Pingback: More than just a name. | Intwined

  4. Pingback: Charles Frederick Joseph Townsend – 52 Ancestors In 52 Weeks – Week 40 | Intwined

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s