The OAKES family -Private OAKES, George (1886-1947) and Private OAKES, Francis Joshua “Joshua” (1891-1953)

Joshua William Oakes (1853-1913) and Elizabeth Cowell (1855-1938) married at St Matthew’s in 1876.  Joshua was a cabinet maker.  Joshua and Elizabeth had at least nine children: William Edward (c1879-1948), John Henry (1881-1886), Emily (1882-1944), Ellen Maria (1884-1950), George (1886-1947), Maggie Elizabeth (1888-), Francis Joshua “Joshua” (1891-1953), Frederick “Fred” (1895-1915) and Bessie (1900-).  Shortly after their marriage Joshua and Elizabeth moved to Salford and then to Liverpool, where their first children were born.  By the time Emily was born in 1882 they had returned to Leicester, living at Newarke Street until 1889, when a receiving order was made against Joshua’s business and he was declared bankrupt.  The family moved to 25 Welford Road where they lived until 1894.  Elizabeth ran a second hand furniture business from her front room at home during this time, supporting the family and employing her husband, but once again the business failed and the receivers were called in.  Allegations of fraud were made.  The Oakes were struggling to pay rent and rates and their own furniture had been seized as well as the business assets.

Oakes 27 Thirlmere Road
27 Thirlmere Road

The Oakes had moved to 15 Chancery Street by 23rd September 1896 when Fred was baptised at St Martin’s, and lived at 41 Walnut Street in 1900-01.  From 1911 Joshua and Elizabeth lived at 27 Thirlmere Road.

Joshua senior died in 1913 and was buried at Welford Road Cemetery.  Son Frederick joined him exactly two years later, in 1915 – he did not serve in the armed forces but died of natural cause.  Elizabeth remained at 27 Thirlmere Road until 1935, when she moved to 32 Winchester Avenue where she died in 1938.  She was buried at Welford Road with her husband and Frederick and also John, who had died aged five.

George Oakes was born at 8 Newarke Street, Leicester on 3rd July 1886 and baptised at St Matthew’s on 22nd August.  He worked from age 14 as a hosiery machine mender.  He was living at 5 Cromwell Street when he married Ellen Susannah Wayne (1884-1950), a shoe fitter, on 1st June 1909 at St Mary de Castro.  Their only child George Ernest (1910-1951) was born a year later on 13th July 1910.  George and Ellen Susannah attended St Martin’s as worshippers.  In 1911 George, Ellen and their baby son lived in four rooms at 24 Richard Street.  George worked as an engineer’s fitter and Ellen as a machinist for a boot and shoe manufacturer.  They remained in this house for the rest of their lives.  By 1915 George worked as a driller for T. Grieve & Co, knitting machine needle manufacturers at Queen Street, which at that time had 220 employees.

George enlisted as a private in 3rd Leicestershire Regiment on 8th December 1916 at Leicester Town Hall, aged 29. At 5’5” and weighing 118lbs, George was quite slight but was stated at his medical examination at Glen Parva to be in excellent ‘A1’ health, though he occasionally suffered with earaches.  After training he transferred first to the 12th Leicestershires, then to the 1/4th before transferring to the Labour Corps in October 1917.  He served at home until 26th October 1916 and then entered France on 27th October 1916.  On 19th May 1918 George suffered gunshot wounds to both thighs and legs.  A week later on 26th May he was admitted to Number 12 Stationary (British RAMC) Hospital, which was situated on the former racecourse at St Pol-Sur-Ternoise, Northern France.  He was transferred to Berrington War Hospital near Shrewsbury and finally discharged on 24th August 1918.  On release he suffered deafness and discharging ears, which had started about December 1916 and was caused by exposure to shell fire.

After the war George returned to 24 Richard Street and worked as a motor mechanic.  He died on 4th April 1947.  Ellen died in 1950 and their son George in 1951.  All three were buried at Saffron Hill Cemetery

Born in Leicester on 15th June 1891, Joshua Oakes had been registered at birth as Francis Joshua Oakes, but was always known as Joshua.  He was baptised at St Matthew’s on 17th August 1891 and again at St Martin’s on 23rd September 1896.  By age 15 he worked as a tinsmith.  Like his older brother, Joshua enlisted into the 1/4th Leicestershire Regiment as private soldier but unlike his brother, Joshua’s war service record does not survive.  We do know that he married Florence Rabbitt (1893-1978) in Leicester at St Andrew’s on 5th December 1918, when he still gave his occupation as ‘soldier’ (and his address 27 Thirlmere Street, with his mother).  He was probably on leave as the marriage was by license rather than after the banns had been read on three Sundays.  He served in the 1/4th Leicestershire Regiment until the end of the war.  Joshua demobbed in 1919 and returned to his parents’ address.  He and Florence then moved in with Joshua’s brother George and his wife Ellen at 24 Richard Street

In 1922 Joshua and Florence moved to a house of their own at 28 Baker Street, where Florence gave birth to a daughter, Millicent (1927-2001).  In 1934 they returned to live at Richard Street – number 33 –  opposite George and Ellen.  Joshua worked as a lamp attendant and Florence as a weaver.  Joshua died on 17 June 1953 at the Leicester Royal Infirmary and was buried at Welford Road Cemetery.  Florence died in 1978.

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