#44 William Henry Oats (1889-1948)

9 November 2014

During the course of the year while I have been writing my #52Ancestors posts, I have tried to look at characters in my extended family who I have done little/no research on, in an attempt to expand my knowledge and also – hopefully – find some distant relations when people search for their ancestor on Google (or a.n.other search engine). This certainly has worked very well and I thank Amy Johnson Crow for coming up with this superb concept.

Another way I have used the #52Ancestors concept is to discuss the family more with my relatives – that’s Mum and Dad basically! – to try to find out more about individuals who rarely crop up in conversation but would have been a part of their childhood, perhaps. So today, I decided to choose William Henry Oats – well, actually I didn’t initially. I wanted to tell you all about Ellen Elizabeth, his older sister. I knew she married Albert Edward Stanbury and that she lived until the mid-1950s but when I called my father to talk about his grandfather’s siblings, he did not know anything of her or indeed of William Henry either! Well, Pater…. you will after reading this!

My great-great-grandparents were William Henry and Elizabeth (nee Petherick) Oats who married in Plymouth in 1882 and William Henry was the youngest of their four children, born in the June quarter of 1889 in Tavistock. In 1891, the family lived at 45 Bannawell Street with the extended Petherick family, although Thomas John Oats (their eldest child) was living in Princetown with his Oats grandparents – see #15 Thomas John Oats.

The Oats family remained at 45 Bannawell Street until the early 1900s before moving to 78 Bannawell Street prior to the 1911 census. Thank you Ancestry for your amazing (or should I say, amusing) transcription of William H. Oats in 1901 with a surname of HOATS which is thus used as the surname of his entire family. Hmm…. (Source: RG13/2116/31/16):


The 1911 census has just Ellen E. and William H. still in the Oats family home (at No. 78), William referred to as a cab driver. Marrying Elizabeth Richards in March quarter 1913 in Tavistock Registration District (RD), William served in World War 1, firstly in the Devon Regiment (Regimental No. 21654) and later, in the Labour Corps (Regimental No. 91555):


There are no immediately obvious service or pension records for William’s military ‘career’. Due to his service though, there was a gap between the births of the couple’s two children with William H. born on 30 April 1914 and Harold J. on 13 May 1922 (both in Tavistock RD). Most of the Oats family remain in Tavistock their whole lives though the males are not known for their longevity. William Henry (husband of Elizabeth Richards) died aged just 59 and his son, William Henry died aged 62 in December quarter 1974. Harold John moved to Exeter, married but also died young at 51 in December quarter 1973.

Thankfully, longevity appears to have improved in more recent generations in both male and female Oats ancestors. So, now my challenge to find out more about the rest of my great-grandfather’s siblings….

Bessie Maria died aged 30 in 1917. What was the cause of her death?

And, who was Albert Edward Stanbury who married Ellen Elizabeth Oats? What became of them? 

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