The Walters Brothers of Godstone

Alice Emma Burberry

Title: Alice Emma Burberry
Description: Courtesy of Martin Smith by-nc

Alice Emma Burberry (later Walters, later Speake) (1862-1944)

Alice Emma Burberry was born in April 1862 in Godstone, daughter of Surrey. By the time she was 4 years old her mother had died, then her father died in 1870. So 8-year-old Alice and her sister Rosa were taken in by her mother’s brother, who raised them. Alice married in June 1880 Albert E. Walters, whose child she was carrying. Their son James was born in September 1880.

When Alice Emma Burberry was born in March 1862 in Godstone, Surrey, her father John, was 31 and her mother Hannah (Hook) was 31. She was married at St Philip’s, Kennington, London, on the 13 June 1880 to Albert Ephraim Walters, who was the son of the village blacksmith. Albert had left Godstone and gone to London some months earlier. When Alice found she was with child, she went to London and confronted Albert and of course he married her. Their first child, Albert James, was born about September 1880 and was living at 2 Alexander Cottages, Reigate Foreign, in April 1881 (census). By the next census in 1891, Albert and Alice had moved back to Godstone, were living above the Post Office on the High Street and had had a further son, George, born 25 August 1890.

Alice had a close relationship with her sister Emma who lived at 3 Dove Cottages, who for the past six years she had visited every day. On her visit of 5 August 1891 Emma, whilst they were talking, complained of feeling unwell, then fell back in her chair and died.  There was an inquest held on Friday 7 at the Hare and Hounds in Godstone at which Alice give evidence; a verdict of natural death was recorded. All the proceedings were published in the Sunday Mirror 8 and 15 August 1891.


Albert James Walters (1880-1915)

By 1899, Albert James Walters was employed as footman (as yet not known where) and on 30 November 1899 was sent to Brookwood Asylum, Woking, Surrey, by W.P. Soper J.P.; so far no reason has been discovered. By the time that the 1901 census was taken, Albert had returned to the family and was employed as a gardener. Alice is recorded as the ‘Parish Sick Nurse’, but her husband is not recorded. On 31 March 1904 Albert James enlisted with a Short Service Attestation in the Royal Sussex Regiment as a Private, regimental number 7869, permitted to complete 7 years. He was posted on 16 February 1907 to India and stationed at Rawalpindi until 7 November 1910. During this period he was twice court-martialled: on 24 September 1907, he was in the Guard Detention Room, awaiting trial. He was tried by District Court Martial and sentenced to 113 days’ detention for offering violence to his superior officer. He returned to duty on 8 January 1908, then again on 14 April 1909 was in the Guard Detention Room, awaiting trial. He was tried by District Court Martial and sentenced to 56 days’ detention for having failed to appear at the place appointed by his Commanding Officer. He was sent to detention barracks on 29 April 1909 and returned to duty on 10 June the same year. Albert returned to England on 20 February 1911; he was placed on reserve and discharged on 14 April 1914. He was recalled to service after the outbreak of World War I and served with the 8th Battalion, Princess Charlotte of Wales’s (Royal Berkshire Regiment) with the regimental number 17263. Albert was posted to France on 7 September 1915 and went to the front for the Battle of Loos, during which he was killed in action on 25 September 1915. After the war Alice was sent his 1914/15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and Memorial Plaque.


The other son: George Walters (1890-1962)

George Walters was born in Godstone, Surrey, on 25 August 1890, to Alice Burberry and Albert James Walters. His brother was 10 years older than him, so he was friends with Arthur (Tom) and Charles (Chas) Speake, who lived in Tyler’s Green and were born about 1889/90. According to George, when they were 10 or 11 years old, they were always in one another’s company and during the time the local farmers were preparing the fields for planting, they would offer to pick the stones off the fields for a small payment. If the farmers did not pay up, they threw the stones back on the fields. George, being a country boy, liked to go to the local streams and lay on the bank to tickle the fish; he could also talk to horses (horse whisperer), which he did when he joined the Royal Horse Artillery about 1906/07 as a boy soldier. He became a Rough Rider with the limber team. His home life was not happy, for his older brother Albert James had joined the army and was serving in India with his regiment, his father was not around and his mother was the village sick nurse and midwife.

At some time in 1906/07, George met Constance Lillian Gilburt, who lived in Essex Street, Bethnal Green, London and by 1911 she was visiting him in the barracks in Ipswich. Sometime after the census was taken in 1911, George deserted the army. He married Constance in November that year; she was carrying their first child, Constance Lillian (junior), who was born on 16 April 1912. They lived at 2 Paris Terrace, Poplar and George worked as a baker. According to Constance, George surrendered as a deserter in 1915 and was assigned to the Royal Engineers, regimental number WR/337881, as a Pioneer. He saw service in France and Flanders until the end of the war and received the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. At one stage he was in or around Hill 60 in Belgium. In 1938 he and his family visited Hill 60 and his daughter Andrena remembers the visit and has a small bayonet brooch from it.

After the war, George returned to the London Co-operative Society as a master baker, working in the bakery at Maryland Street, Stratford. In the later years of his life he worked for bakers in Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17, until he died in 1962.

George Walters RHA

George Walters (1890-1962)

(Photo courtesy of Martin Smith)

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