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Can You Help Burpham War Memorial Researchers Solve Mysteries?

Published on: 14 Apr, 2014
Updated on: 14 Apr, 2014

By David Rose


The “Burpham Will Remember Them” team, who are seeking to honour the 18 men remembered on the war memorial at St Luke’s Church in Burpham have been making good progress with their research. But they are now appealing for help and information regarding some specific names that have so far proved a little difficult.

The war memorial at St Luke's Church in Burpham.

The war memorial at St Luke’s Church in Burpham.

One of the researchers, Alan Whicheloe, (07754 042632) writes and wonders whether anyone can supply some family or historical details on the following:

John and Samson Gunner and Edward and Percy Gunner

There are two sets of brothers from the Gunner families honoured on the Burpham Memorial.
We are hoping to meet up soon with one very busy member of one family but with four members of (two different?) Gunner families mentioned on the memorial we are keen to contact any members of any Gunner family; there were at least two separate Gunner families in Burpham in the early 1900s.

Willams, Henry – our “unknown soldier”:

We are keen to trace any family – a very long shot – of Henry Williams. We believe his mother was Mary Ann Williams. (Shown on the baptism record – if that can be believed as being accurate!). We do not have any record of his father nor birth details.

He was baptised at St Luke’s Church on May 2, 1893, at the age of 11 (why so late?). His mother is shown as a “single woman (?)” where the addition of a question mark in the Baptism register is interesting for it indicates some possible doubt as to her married state which therefore could be: single mother, widowed/separated or divorced. Was Williams her maiden name or had she been, or was she, married to someone with the surname Williams?

It is also interesting that we cannot find any record, anywhere, on any official record of Henry’s birth. Was it registered? Was it under another name? We have no means of finding out and with a name like Williams, probably no chance of doing so – unless!

Henry Williams is shown in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission records as being the foster son of William and Phoebe Ellis – which just contributes to the mystery!

It is possible that Mary Ann Williams was prevented from looking after her son which. could explain why her son was fostered. What was the relationship between his mother and the Ellis family we wonder?

The Ellis family

We are keen therefore to trace the Ellis family. Phoebe lived to be 96 when she was living at 51 Burpham Lane. She is, I believe, buried in St Luke’s Churchyard.

William and Phoebe had three, four or possibly five sons: Maurice Ellis, G. H. Ellis, Charles Ellis, William Ellis, F. G. E. M. Ellis. These names are as shown on various census returns which are not, unfortunately, that informative or consistent. Obviously, with scant information about Henry we would be interested in tracing any descendants of his “foster brothers” who may – just – have some information.

Robson, Hugh Lancelot (known as Lance):

Who was the business partner of Norman Phillips, one of those honoured on the memorial. Before the war they both worked as fruit growers. Lancelot possibly owned the orchard that was alongside the London Road and what is now New Inn Lane, at Burpham and Norman worked with or for him. After the war Lancelot (who was judged to be medically unfit for military service and served as a stretcher bearer, in France) – did, we believe continue to run the orchard.

It was possibly owned by him and sold (was it he who sold it for re-development?) for he later bought, we believe, Chantry View, a house in Echo Pit Road. Lancelot never married. He died when living in Echo Pit Road and it is possible he left his estate (we are trying to check) to his two housekeepers.

We would very much like to trace either any siblings of Lancelot. Or descendants of his housekeepers. His father was a minister – possibly a curate at Christ Church and possibly later at St John’s Stoke where he may also have acted as headmaster at a school in Manor Road (Edgeborough School?) in the Parish of Stoke.

It is possible that Lancelot’s older brother was also a C of E minister. Possibly in the west of England

Re: Orchard Cottage, the name of the house in which they, (Norman Phillips on the 1911 census: shown as a “lodger”) and Lancelot Robson lived when at Burpham (pre 1914):

This was much later bought by the Roman Catholic church that was established for a while in New Inn Lane (see Burpham Community Association website) and became their presbytery. Sadly demolished not that long ago when the site was sold for housing development.

We would very much like to obtain a photograph of Orchard Cottage/presbytery.

Finally, we are also seeking any photographs that may exist showing “old” Burpham – i.e from about 1900 onwards! And, no one seems to have a photograph of the Green Man, from any date.

If you can help, email the team at

Or write c/o Burpham Will Remember Them, 33 Coltsfoot Drive, Guildford GU1 1YG.

The team has set up a website that members are adding information as it is found. Have a look and see how the work is progressing.

Click here to see previous story.

David Rose adds: here is a photo of the Green Man which I have emailed to the team for them to use.

The Green Man pub in Burpham, in about the 1930s. (David Rose collection).

The Green Man pub in Burpham, in about the 1930s. (David Rose collection).

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Responses to Can You Help Burpham War Memorial Researchers Solve Mysteries?

  1. John Lomas Reply

    April 23, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    I tried to send this to that email address but it has been repeatedly returned as undeliverable.

    There are also 11 Burpham photos available on the Francis Frith web site, including more of the Green Man, they might allow you use of some if you use links and /or credit them..

    John Lomas

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