As part of last year’s Swindon175 celebrations Noel Beauchamp (Swindon Heritage blue plaque organiser and Radnor Street Cemetery guide) along with Swindon175 project manager Caroline Black and Paul Gentleman, rediscovered the overgrown grave of William Frederick Gooch in St Mark’s churchyard.
Engineer William Frederick Gooch was the younger brother of Sir Daniel Gooch and was employed as Manager at the Swindon GWR Works at the time of the 1861 census.
This week, when Noel returned to see if the brambles had reclaimed William’s memorial, he discovered that someone had been busy at St Mark’s clearing a large overgrown patch of graves. Among the newly revealed memorials were three beautifully carved and inscribed slate headstones dedicated to the Bubb family.
William Bubb was born in Ledbury, Herefordshire in 1840 and married Mary Ann Garland in Hereford in 1863. By 1866 they were living in the railway village where William was employed as a fitter in the GWR Works.
In 1867 tragedy struck when two of their young children died. George was 15 months old when he died on April 11 and Mary Jane was three months old when she died on October 9.
The couple were clearly very devout; the babies’ headstones both include inscriptions taken from the book of Revelation. For George they chose:
‘They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.’ Revelation 7 verse 16.
For Mary Jane the inscription reads:
‘For the lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ Revelation 7 verse 17.
The couple appear on the 1871 census living in Taunton Street where they have two more daughters; Laura Jane aged 2 and Louisa Emily 2 months old. But sadly, this story was not to have a happy ending as William’s wife Mary Ann died on March 5, 1875 aged 38 years.
This time William chose for the headstone the words that Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary upon the death of their brother Lazarus.
‘I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.’ John 10 verse 25.
By the end of 1875 William was living in Aberystwyth where he married for the second time. As a widower with two young daughters to support he needed a job and a wife. In the 1870s the railway factory experienced a depression with many jobs lost and men laid off, probably the reason William left Swindon.
William and his second wife Elizabeth had two children, Thomas William born c1878 and Ella, born shortly before her father died.in 1879 when he was working in London as a ‘Plumber, Painter and House Decorator.’
The 1881 census records that Elizabeth was still living in Aberystwyth with her two children then aged 3 and 1 and her stepdaughters Laura Jane and Louisa Emily aged 12 and 10.
|The grave of William Frederick Gooch - before|
|Swindon175 project leader Caroline Black and Paul Gentleman|
|The grave of William Frederick Gooch - after|
|Mary Jane Bubb|
|Mary Ann Bubb|
Photographs published courtesy of SwindonWeb and Noel Beauchamp.