“Ernest” (also known as Erny) BARR was born 29 December 1875 at Heath End, Farnham; his birth name was Albert Ernest BARR. His mother Emily was a single girl and would be celebrating her 13th birthday the following February; I think we can assume an unhappy childhood for Emily as her father had died three months after her birth and her mother was bearing children out of wedlock in the years that followed.
By the 1881 census Emily was a working for a Farnham solicitor as a 20-year-old single housemaid, whilst “Erny” was living as a “nephew” with his mother’s Aunt and her husband (Eliza and Henry EDES) in Old Woking High Street. He then appears as lodger in their house in the 1891 census. Meanwhile his mother had married a Woking bricklayer, Isaac GUNNER, at St Peter’s, Woking, in 1884 (Ernest’s uncle and aunt witnessed the marriage) and she raised another 11 children in the Arthurs Bridge area of Woking before she died in 1924.
One part of Ernest’s story that is still unclear is that the Soldiers Effects Register indicates that he had made his stepsister Emily GUNNER his legatee and money was sent to her on the 6 April 1920; however a second tranche sent on the 20 July 1920 went to Emily’s widower William HOPPINS or HOPKINS. I have failed to find such a marriage…
It should be noted that one of Ernest BARR’s step-brothers is also on the Woking Town Square Memorial, as William GUNNER fell on the first day of the Battle of the Somme whilst serving as a Lance-Corporal with the 7th Battalion of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey) Regiment.