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Biographies of Joseph and Mary Jane Almond



Joseph Almond was born at Sunderland on June 9th 1854, the son of Amos Almond, a forgeman, and his wife Frances (nee Ross).  Joseph married Mary Jane Sidney (born April 1859) and by 1881 the couple were living at 32 Crescent Row, Sunderland.  Both the Almonds and the Sidneys were long-established Wearside families.  Joseph was a foregeman, though he also dabbled in boxing promotion.  Around 1893/4 the Almonds moved first to Stockton-on-Tees and thence to West Hartlepool, arriving in the latter c. 1896.  The couple had twelve children, three boys and nine girls, three of which, a girl and two boys, died in infancy.  The surviving children of Joseph and Mary Jane were as follows:


Joseph Sidney Almond (born 3rd March 1877)

A forgeman by trade, like his father, he joined the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry, seeing active service in the Boer War.  The 3rd Durhams were attached to the regular 1st Btn, and also performed the wearisome duty of guarding the Natal Railway.  This involved the occupation of specially built blockhouses with a view to the protection of transport and communications.

 Pte J. Almond, 3rd DLI, posted a letter home to his mother, then living at No. 3 Dorset Street, West Hartlepool, which was published in the “Northern Daily Mail” on the 21st of July, 1900 (p4c6).  It was written at Springfontein and reads as follows:

“The majority of people at home think that England has nothing to do but walk in and take this rich colony, but, believe me, if they saw the country they would say it was an impossibility for any three nations, or even the world combined, to take it.  It is nothing but a mass of hills and kopjes.  To my idea, the Boers should never have been driven back from the splendid fortifications that they held, or, indeed, ever shifted from them.  Had England been in the place of the Boers she could safely have defied the world.  There are an awful lot of deaths out here, chiefly from dysentery, black fever, enteric fever, &c.  These are very severe complaints, and only one in ten gets over them.  We are fairly up to the front, but so far we have been in no engagement.  I think it was a most disgraceful shame the way that the 3rd Durhams were treated.  We were not dressed in khaki until we had been out here three months, and under a scorching sun, it was very severe on us.   They are now trying to make a mounted infantry corps from us.  They asked for and obtained 50 volunteers for that purpose.  There are so many false rumours that are going about that you cannot believe anything that is said.  In the first place, we were to be on our way home on the 15th of this month.  Now it has to on August 18, but no sooner than this was rumoured than we got orders for 20 men and a sergeant to go higher up country, so that I believe nothing.  All the time I think the day for our return will come very suddenly and unexpectedly – and may it be soon!”

Private J. S. Almond (No. 3026) received the Queen’s South Africa Medal for his soldiering in the Boer War.  In addition, the “Northern Daily Mail” of 4th July 1901 recognises the name of J. Almond, 3rd DLI as amongst “Our Local Warriors - The Proposed Public Welcome” concerning public recognition of troops.

Known as “Joss,” Joseph Sidney Almond married Margaret Ann Warvill, daughter of Benjamin and Ann (nee Smiles) at West Hartlepool on October 17th 1907.  The couple had six children, three of which were boys.  The eldest was Joseph Sidney Almond jnr, born 17 February 1908.  He became a shopkeeper with premises in Russell Street.  Known to most as Sidney but to some as Joe, he married a Mormon girl in April 1933 and the couple later moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.  Their daughter, June, and her husband David Jeppson, currently live in Toqueville, Utah, where David is a prominent member of the church and a respected community figure.  Joseph Sidney Almond jnr passed away on October 29th 1984.

“Joss” Almond died on the 1st of June 1930.  His widow, who moved to Pease Street, passed away at West Hartlepool on September 29th, 1963.


Edmund Hepple Almond (born 9th April 1880)

Edmund was named in honour of a relative, Edmund Hepple Almond of 9 Crescent Row, Sunderland, who died age 26 years and was laid to rest at Bishopwearmouth on October 22nd 1871.  The Hepple surname is known to be connected with pit-sinking, as was that of Almond.  Edmund’s paternal grandfather was Joseph Almond.  A pit-sinker, he appears to have worked on the sinking of the Monkwearmouth shaft, then the deepest in the world.  Joseph was the husband of Isabella (nee Sadler) and the couple were married at Monkwearmouth on September 18th, 1831.

 Edmund Hepple Almond, second son of Joseph Almond and Mary Jane (nee Sidney) married Margaret Haydon, daughter of Robert and Eliza (nee Greethead) on 12 July 1898 at Stockton register office.  Edmund was then an ironworks labourer and both bride and groom gave their address as 9 Seaham Street, Stockton-on-Tees.

By 1901 Edmund and family were living at 19 Gas Street, West Hartlepool, with Edmund as a forge labourer.  In 1911 the family could be found at 45 Garrick Street, South Shields, and Edmund was by then an electric tramway ticket inspector.  His wife Margaret passed away in July 1958 at South Shields, but Edmund emigrated to Australia, living in central Melbourne.  He died there on March 19th, 1968.  During the Second War Edmund was visited by his nephew, Kenneth Ross whilst Ken was serving as a Seaman Gunner aboard HMS “Swiftsure,” then operating with the British Pacific Fleet.

Edmund Hepple Almond and Margaret Haydon had seven children:

-          Henry Bright Almond (1899-1986)

-          Elizabeth Hannah Marian Almond, later Mrs Leadley (1901-1985)

-          Edmund Almond (1902-1991)

-          Robert Amos Almond (1904-1992), who passed away in Victoria, Australia

-          Gertrude Rose Wingfield Almond (1907-2001), later Mrs McLauchlan, she died in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

-          Sydney Almond (1912-2007)

-          Joseph Almond (1913, born prematurely as the result of a fall, he lived for only one day)


Elizabeth Ann Almond ((born 23rd October 1881)

Her husband, John Henry (“Jack”) Birkbeck, was a coalman for Laytons of West Hartlepool.  He fought on the Western Front during the Great War and was invalided home with pneumonia.  In 1894 Jack’s father, Henry Birkbeck,  a resident of Gloucester Street, West Hartlepool, helped to install the boilers at George Weddell’s Cerebos Salt works at Greatham and was later blinded in an industrial accident, apparently the victim of boiler-furnace “blow-back.”

Jack and Elizabeth Ann (nee Almond), of Eton Street, West Hartlepool, had six children:

Joseph Wilfrid (Wilfie): A capable man, he served as a pre-war regular soldier with the DLI and as a member of the “Desert Rats” during the Second World War, with the 16 Btn DLI.  Wilfie was killed at the village of Sedjenane, Tunisia, on March 2nd 1943.  This action took place following the German counter-attack after the British victory at El Alamein and the consequent “Operation Supercharge” in which the Durhams played a major role.  His name is inscribed on a memorial plaque in West Hartlepool’s Victory Square.

Rudolf: Served in the army during World War II, being stationed in the UK .

John: saw action in World War II with the DLI at Dunkirk.  He was then sent to the Far East and was taken prisoner by the Japanese, being one of those who worked on the infamous Burma Railway.  He survived the ordeal, married and had three sons.

Thomas (Tommy): Like his brother Rudolf he too served in the army during WWII and was stationed in Britain.  Neither Rudolf nor Tommy ever married.

Lily: She married William Simpson (Bill) Jervis (born Birslem, Stoke-on-Trent).  Bill Jervis became a distinguished servant of West Hartlepool.  A Labour Councillor for the Brinkburn Ward, he was also an Alderman of the town, a Justice of the Peace and Northern Regional Chairman of the MENCAP Charity.  Bill and Lil had four children – Lily (who became an Assistant Manager with Hartlepool Social Services), Gloria (married to John Featherstone, a shipwright, the couple lived at Billingham), Sybil, who was born with Downs Syndrome and became the inspiration for Bill and Lil’s tireless charitable work, and William Frank Ellis Jervis.  Bill, as he is known, served his apprenticeship with Richardsons, Westgarth engine works (Hartlepool) and became a planning engineer, working on oil rigs and nuclear power stations.

Minnie: Lived in West Hartlepool all her life and, like Rudolf and Tommy, never married.


Frances Anna Almond (born 23 January 1883)

Frances emigrated from West Hartlepool to Canada after the Great War, with her husband, Charles Scott.  She died in 1964.


Lavinia Almond (born 12 January 1885)

Lavinia and her husband, Alex Watt, also emigrated to Canada.  The couple had three children. Biographical information on Lavinia and her family can be found attached to her photograph.


Mary Jane Almond (born 25 November 1887)

Her first husband, Thomas Patterson Stenton, was killed in action during the Great War and his name appears on the War Memorial in Hartlepool’s Victory Square.  Mary Jane and Thomas had one son, but he died in infancy – a victim of the Spanish ‘Flu epidemic.  Mary Jane remarried and her second husband, Joe Richards (born South Shields) had also served during the Great War, in the Royal Engineers.  He was a fierce atheist – unsurprisingly so, as during combat he’d been spattered with his mate’s brains.  Joe’s father was a founder-member of Mineworkers’ Union and was blacklisted for many years as a result.  His grandfather was reputed to have been a rather less laudable character.  Chippendale Richards was a confidence trickster who made his living by touring the country with a female accomplice and posing as a photographer.  After pretending to take photographs he’d disappear into the night with the takings!

Mary Jane and Joe Richards moved to Shields, where they had two sons, Joseph and John, before moving down to Dulwich, London.  Both Richards boys served in the army during WWII and Joseph married an Italian girl, Giorgia Seccia.  John became a civil servant and was also a member of Mensa.  Mary Jane Richards (formerly Stenton nee Almond) died after a short illness in 1963.

Annie Almond (born June 1889)

Annie married twice, once to John Barker and then to Mr. N. Fortune of West Hartlepool.  Annie Fortune (nee Almond) of Welldeck Road, West Hartlepool, is known to have had three children.


Sophia Almond (born 1891)

Died in infancy.


Isabella Almond (born 15th October 1892)

Isabella’s biography is given elsewhere, together with that of her husband, Walter Malcolm Ross.


Minnie Almond (born 31st March 1894)

Minnie was the only one of the Almond children to have born at Stockton-on-Tees.  All of her previous siblings were born at Sunderland.  Minnie and her husband, Pickering Calvert, a baker, moved from their home at 25 Park Street, West Hartlepool, to live in the town’s Leamington Drive.  The couple had three children, two girls (Muriel and Vera), and a boy (John).  The family later moved to Bridlington on the North Yorkshire coast.


Joseph and Mary Jane Almond’s remaining two children were born at West Hartlepool.  The first, a son named Amos, was born on August 12th 1897 and died on the 9th of August 1898.  Another boy was born to them in 1898 and also died in infancy.

Mary Jane Almond, a resident of 32 Richard Street, West Hartlepool, passed away in February 1939.  Her husband Joseph died the following month.


Source: “The Ross Family and Others” by Stuart James Wilson    




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