#34 Ernest Richard Sillifant, postman of Lifton (1889-1937)

24 August 2014

Ernest Richard Sillifant was baptised at his parent’s home on 29 September 1889 in Halwill. The family were Bible Christians and in the 1891 census, they lived at Borough Cottage in Halwill with Ernest aged 2, the youngest of six children of William and Jane (nee Bassett) Sillifant at the time. Thomas, Elizabeth Ann, William, Eber and Emily were Ernest’s older siblings and Frederick, Herbert and Hedley followed in the next six years.

William was a rural postman and although he began his married life in Ashwater, he spent most of his adult life in Halwill. Ernest followed in his father’s footsteps, already recorded as a postman when aged 21 in 1911 at Station Road, Halwill (RG14/13495/56):


[Interestingly, Olivia Snell, visiting the Sillifant family in 1911, married Eber Sillifant in 1913.]

Ernest Richard Sillifant married Beatrice Watkins in the March quarter of 1916 in the Holsworthy Registration District. They did not have any children, like many of William and Jane’s children.


Six days before Christmas Day in 1937, Ernest was doing his post round and came into collision with a motor car, driven by Mr Arthur Prettyman. He received severe head injuries and despite treatment at Tavistock Hospital, he died of his injuries on 19 December 1937.

Western Times 24 December 1937 (2)

[Western Times, 24 December 1937]

An inquest was held and a verdict returned that ‘death resulted through the deceased being knocked down by the car driven by Arthur Prettyman while in the course of his duties as postman, and there was no negligence on the part of the driver.’

Ernest was buried between Christmas and New Year and his funeral was reported in the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette on 31 December 1937:

Exeter and Plymouth Gazette 31 December 1937

Ernest was buried at Stowford Meadow Baptist Church – a church I found randomly in 2013 – with his wife, Beatrice, who lived to the age of 95:


Ernest’s parents, William and Jane, and his brother and sister-in-law, Frederick and Winifred Helen, were also buried in the same churchyard.

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