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Clappen, Thomas

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Gender: Male

Thomas Clappem of 26 Driffield, Cirencester, sang the Unquiet Grave to James Madison Carpenter between 1927 and 1935. He signed his name ‘Clappen’ in the 1911 census and all family records seem to show that this was the spelling of their surname which they usually used, although Carpenter wrote it as ‘Clappem’.

Carpenter note: he learned this from mother seventy years ago.

Thomas Clappen’s family were longstanding Driffied residents, all agricultural labourers. His grandfather, Robert, was born to his mother, Sarah, in Driffield in 1785. By 1841 he and his wife, Mary Packer from South Cerney, who was 15 years younger than him, were living there with four sons, Thomas born about 1826, Robert born about 1829, John born about 1831(Thomas’ father) and William born about 1835 and Benjamin born about 1841 and three daughters, Elizabeth also born about 1826, Sarah born about 1833 and Mary Ann born about 1839. In 1851 they were still living in Driffield and now had their grandson, Henry, living with them. Henry was born about 1845 and in the 1861 census it was stated that he had been born in Cirencester workhouse. Mary’s widower father who was a pauper /agricultural labourer was also living with them. John was the eldest child still at home and he, Sarah, William, Mary Ann and Benjamin were all described as agricultural labourers. Benjamin aged 10 was also described as an evening and Sunday scholar. All the children had been born in Driffield except Benjamin who had been born in Bentham.

Thomas’ father, John Clappen, married Jane Curtis, also born in Driffield, in Driffield Church on 18 September 1857. A year later, Thomas was born and was baptised in Driffield Church on 25 September 1854. In 1861 he was living with his parents in a cottage next to a small grocer’s shop in High Street Driffield. His grandparents, Robert and Mary, were living in’ top of village’ in Driffield. John and Jane had another son, Charles John born 28 September 1862 in Driffield, and another daughter, Sarah Jane, who died near birth in 1869. Both John and Jane lived to a good age, John dying in 1913 and Jane in 1917.

Thomas was still living at home in 1871. In 1877 he married Emma Harding who was born in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, and in 1881 he was working as a carter and agricultural labourer living at no 26 cottage in Driffield with Emma and their two daughters: Emma Florence born about 1879 and Sarah Jane born 5 September 1880. His parents, John and Jane were living in no 17 Cottage Driffield with their son Charles John. Thomas and Emma had another daughter, Emily Harding Clappen, on 3 August 1884.They also had a son, Thomas William born in 1885 who died in 1888. The family were still living in the same cottage in Driffield in 1891. Emily was the only daughter still at home and she was working as a housemaid. By 1911 they were living there on their own. Thomas died in 1937 in the Cirencester registration district.

Thomas’s daughter Emma Florence married Henry Hicks from Woolaston, Worcestershire, in the Cirencester registration district at the end of 1904.By 1911 Emma and Henry were living in Cirencester where Henry was working as a groom. They had four sons, Henry born about 1905 in Driffield , William born about 1907 in Cirencester, Reginald born 1908 in Cirencester and Benjamin born 1910 also in Cirencester. All their children were still alive. Also living with them was Henry’s widowed mother, Eliza Hicks. Emma had another son, Edward C. Hicks in 1912 and a daughter, Muriel F. Hicks, in 1914.

Emma’s children


Henry Hicks

William Hicks married Winifred May Lafford in Paddington in 1936. They both died in 1907 in Bromley, Kent

Reginald Hicks married Doris E M Stepp between January and March 1931 in the Cirencester registration district. They had a daughter, Isobel May, between April and May 1931. Isobel married Herbert N. Kane in 1935 in the Cirencester registration district. Herbert died in 1992 in Swindon and Isobel in 2004 in the Cirencester registration district.

Benjamin Hicks died at the end of 1974 in Birmingham.

Edward Hicks married Jessie D. Flood in 1908 in Dover and died in 1996 in Coventry.

Muriel Hicks died when one year old in 1915 in the Cirencester registration district.

The following pictures and information are from the Mitchell Family Tree on

Reginald Harding Hicks

Birth 27 May 1908 in Cirencester, Glos, England

Death 9 Mar 1971 in Poulton, Cirencester, Glos, England

Doris (k/a Doss) Emily May Stepp

Birth 8 Nov 1910 in Down Ampney, Gloucestershire

Death Nov 1994 in Cirencester, Glos, England

Benjamin Hicks

Birth Mar 1910 in Cirencester Glos

Death 25 Dec 1973 in Warwickshire, England, United Kingdom

Reginald Harding Hicks - Thomas Clappen

Reginald Harding Hicks

Doris Emily May Stepp - Thomas Clappen

Doris Emily May Stepp

Benjamin Hicks - Thomas Clappen

Benjamin Hicks

Benjamin and first wife - Thomas Clappen

Benjamin and First Wife

Benjamin and second wife Margaret - Thomas Clappen

Benjamin and Second Wife Margaret 22 August 2008

  • World War 2

1943 Age: 33


Became a prisoner of war of the Japanese and worked on the “Death” Burma railway.

  • WW2 ended

1945 Aug Age: 35

Japanese p.o.w camp.

Was quite ill, had Beri Beri and was sent to Canada to recover before returning to England.

  • Divorce from First Wife

1947 Age: 37

London, England, United Kingdom

Possibly a year or so later. She thought Ben was dead and had two children. His Mother was hard and he never had a chance to even talk to her again.

  • Marriage to Margaret H Skelton

1960 10 Sep Age: 50

Leek Wooton Church Warwicks

Notes by Carol Davies with thanks to Pat Cook February 2015