Thomas John Elford Oats was the second eldest son of Thomas and Ellen Symons (nee Elford) Oats. Passing on the mother’s maiden name as a middle name was commonplace – indeed, Ellen’s maternal grandmother’s surname was Symons before her marriage to Thomas Dodridge.
Anyway, Thomas John Elford Oats had three siblings: William Henry Oats, my great-great-grandfather, Emma Jane Symons Oats and Elizabeth Maria Oats. Thomas was baptised on 25 January 1861 in West Teignmouth. In the 1871 census, the Oats family were living at Lower Brook Street, West Teignmouth – Thomas’s father, Thomas, referred to as a ‘gas stoker’. Ten years later, Thomas was a gas carman at HMP Dartmoor, living with Ellen and daughter, Elizabeth aged 16, in the village of Princetown. Thomas J. E. Oats was a Queens Scholar (Schoolmaster) at the Training College in Exeter St Sidwell – the earliest teacher in the family!
Ann Granger, a fellow certified teacher, was a widow according to the 1881 census when she was living in Crediton. She married Thomas J. E. Oats in December quarter 1883. The couple moved around the country a fair amount – presumably due to their work – and during their travels, they had three children: Henry Samuel John (March qtr 1886 Crediton RD), Annie Ellen (September qtr 1889 Chippenham RD) and Elforda Alice (December qtr 1891 Chippenham).
Having moved to Calne for no apparent reasons in the summer of 2011 – well, aside from the lovely rural location and good house prices! – I was amazed to find Thomas living so close to me some 120 years ago. In fact, he and Ann were schoolmaster and mistress at the School House in Yatton Keynell in 1891 …. small world indeed.
The following census – 1901 – shows a further move for the family, this time to Toft Monks in Norfolk and the family remain in East Anglia. But where and when did Thomas John Elford Oats leave us? His death has yet to be located …. is it another case of an ‘interesting’ spelling or two?