The CUMING family – 2nd Lieutenant CUMING, William Edward (1894-1917), CUMING, Stanley (1893-1970) and CUMING, Margaret Elizabeth (1890-1987)

Walter Cuming (1862-1943) and Eliza Whadcoat (1855-1929) had children Margaret Elizabeth (1890-1987), Annie Whadcoat (1891-1921) and Stanley (1893-1970), who were all born in Brighton, and William Edward (1894-1917) who was born in Maidenhead.  In 1891 Walter worked as a coach wheeler and the family lived in Brighton.  He was a member of the Maidenhead and District Conservative Association and the Royal Antediluvian order of Buffaloes.  By 1899 Walter had set up in business as a coachbuilder at King Street, Maidenhead.  In April 1900 Walter was declared bankrupt.  He had got into financial difficulty and borrowed heavily, and was six months late with the rent of his house.  Scandal was reported in the local newspaper relating to a dishonoured promissory note.

Nevertheless it was not until sometime between 1906 and 1908 that the Cumings moved from Maidenhead to Leicester, taking up residence at 13 Kirby Road where they lived until 1926.  They began attending the church of St Martin’s as worshippers.  Walter worked as an assistant superintendent at an industrial insurers.

William Edward Cuming was born at Maidenhead and initially attended Maidenhead British School, transferring to Alderman Newton’s School on arrival in Leicester.  In November 1909 William passed his Oxford Local Senior Examination (and also won a swimming prize).

William worked as a hosiery warehouseman in 1911 but by the outbreak of war was a teacher at Hazel Street Council School.  In February 1914 he played in a Rugby match between Stratford and Leicester Westleigh.

He joined the Leicestershire Royal Horse Artillery as a gunner 1914 and was appointed temporary second lieutenant in May 1915.  He transferred first to the Lincolnshire Regiment (Service Battalion) where he was confirmed in rank, and then in September 1916 to the 5th Battalion Connaught Rangers, attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  In 1915 William married Lilian Annie Rayner (1892-1976) in Yorkshire just days before leaving for the front.  William first disembarked in the Balkans in November 1915 and later served in France and Flanders.  William and Lilian lived at Fairholm in Hessle, Yorkshire and also at King Street, Maidenhead.  They had a son, Billy R Cuming, at the end of 1917.

William died in action on 31st July 1917 at Boesinghe, probably at the battle of Pickem Ridge, so Billy never met his father.  On 18th August 1917 a small article appeared in The Leicester Mercury:


Official notification has been received of the death in action, on July 31st, of Second Lieutenant W E Cuming Connaught Rangers, attached to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.  Mr Cuming was the son of Mr W Cuming, of 13 Kirby Road, Leicester.  He entered the teaching profession, and for a time held an appointment at the Hazel Street Schools.  Before the war he served in the RHA Territorials and when war broke out his period of service had expired.  He however, with his brother, immediately rejoined his old corps.  Later he received a commission in the Lincolnshire Regiment and was with his battalion on foreign services.  Transferred to the Connaught Rangers and the Inniskilling Fusiliers, he fell in battle, as stated, on July 31st.  His widow lives in Hessle, Hull.

An article also appeared in the Reading Mercury:

We regret to record the death of Second Lieut W E Cuming, who was killed in Flanders on July 31.  Lieut Cuming, who was born at Maidenhead, was the youngest of four children of  Mr and Mrs Walter Cuming, formerly of King Street, Maidenhead.  He was an old Maidenhead British School boy , and before he joined the army was a Council School teacher at Leicester, where his parents now reside.  He was a fine swimmer and Rugby football player, and was a general favourite.  He leaves a young widow.

William’s effects of £99 18s were sent to Lilian in January 1918.  She received a War Gratuity in 1919 and again in 1920 and William’s medals were sent to her in 1922.  William’s body was moved and reburied after the Armistice at Artillery Wood Cemetery.  He is commemorated at Maidenhead war memorial.

After the war Lilian remained in Hessle and remarried in 1923 to Harold Oscar Gee who had been a Captain and mentioned in dispatches.  He was killed at a level crossing with their 12 year old son, Harold Rayner Gee (1924-1936).  An express passenger train had struck the car they were in; the gate lock that should have prevented Harold using the crossing had been vandalised.  In her lifetime Lilian lost two husbands and a son prematurely and in traumatic circumstances.  Lilian lived at Ivanhoe, Hull, in 1940.

Stanley Cuming was born on 23rd February 1893 in Brighton and attended Wyggeston Boys’ School.  He lived at home with his parents until 1913 when he travelled to Quebec, Canada on the 29th July on the ship Lake Manitoba, intending to reside there permanently.  Stanley’s occupation was engineer and he had plans to meet with family in Montreal.  He returned to Liverpool on 21st December 1913, nevertheless intending to live permanently in Canada.  However, Stanley appears to have remained in England and was able, with his brother, to join the Leicestershire Royal Horse Artillery at the beginning of the war.  .  In 1914 he served as a driver (as recorded in the The Wyggestonian magazine). There is no surviving war record, however we do know that Stanley was on active service during 1917 because when he married Ida Agnes James (1890-1966) at St Paul’s church on Boxing Day 1917, was described as “soldier on munitions”, with his address as 25 Chapel Hill, Crayford, Kent.  The marriage was performed after banns had been read three times, so there was obviously time to prepare for the occasion.

Ida was a milliner.  She and her family lived and worshipped in the parish of St Martin.  During the war and until at least 1920 they lived with Ida’s parents at 157 King Richards Road.  It was here that Ida gave birth to their son Edmund, who lived just five hours.  He was buried in an unmarked grave at Welford Road Cemetery on 14th April 1919.

Cuming 188 Fosse Road South
188 Fosse Road South

By 1924 Stanley and Ida lived at 3 Norman Street and between 1925 and 1928 at 103 Fosse Road South.  They appear to have shared their accommodation with others.  In 1926 they had their second child, Constance (1926-).  At some time around 1930 they moved to 150 Church Lane, Brent, where they lived until at least 1960.  Stanley worked as a toolmaker and production engineer.

During the 1950s and 60s Stanley and Ida travelled extensively – to Madeira, to South Africa and to Australia.  Ida died in 1966 and Stanley in 1970, in Hillingdon, London.

Margaret Elizabeth Cuming was born in Brighton on 16th March 1890.  As a young woman she obtained two qualifications – the Board of Education Certificate and also an advanced grade piano certificate, which she passed with Honours in 1905.

Margaret gained a great deal of experience in teaching before the war, working as assistant mistress at Narborough Road Senior Girls’ School from 1911 but also having previously spent time at King Richard’s Road Council School, Ingle Street Council School, Elbow Lane Council School, Mantle Road Senior (Mixed) School, Robert Hall Junior School and The Newarke Secondary School.

Margaret enrolled as a member of the British Red Cross on 26th August 1916, while she was living at home with her parents.  She worked as a nurse at the 1st General Hospital in Birmingham from August 1916 until March 1917, then from April 1918 until at least June 1919 at the 2nd (10) General Hospital in Manchester.  By the end of the war Margaret lived independently at 94 Sparkenhoe Street.  After the war Margaret returned to Narborough Road Senior Girls’, remaining until at least August 1920 when she joined the Teachers Registration Council register. In 1925 she moved to 188 Fosse Road South.  In 1926 she was joined by her parents.

Margaret enjoyed travel.  In 1928 she travelled to Genoa with friend and teacher Hilda Fisher. In 1930 and 1931 they visited Malta and in 1933 Buenos Aires.  By 1931 Hilda lived with Margaret and her father at 188 Fosse Road.  During the second world war Margaret carried out voluntary teaching work to support the war effort.  On 2nd August 1941 she married William Simons (1886-1963).  William was a boot and shoe warehouseman and the older brother of Margaret’s fellow teacher Mabel Simons.  Witnesses were Margaret’s friends and colleagues Edith Prince, an elementary school headmistress, and Henry Whitwell, schoolmaster.  William died in 1963.  Margaret died on 2nd May 1987 at St Benets Nursing Home, London Road.

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