Tag Archives: Great War


The following article detailing the family history of the Day family in High Brooms and the surrounding area was written and supplied by Edward James Gilbert from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

Date: July 8, 2014


In the 1890’’s William Gilbert Day (1836-1918) operated a greengrocers business at 54 Auckland Road, prior to that he had been a gardener. He and his wife Mary Ann Webb Wyman had three sons and one daughter. One of the sons George James Gilbert Day (1871-1932) had been born in Tunbridge Wells ,and after marrying Mary Jane Matthews in 1893 had 9 children. George and his son in law Joseph William Matthews were living in Southborough in 1901 with the wife and children of George, and at that time George and Joseph both worked for the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company as ‘brick pressers’. By 1911 however, George became a fruit merchant and in 1911 he and his family resided at 41 Holmewood Road, where his wife and sons Frank Gilbert Day( 1895-1918) and George Francis Day (1896-1918) worked as assistants in the family business. Both Frank and George were killed in WW 1 and their names are among the 801 names given on the plaques of the Tunbridge Wells War Memorial. George also had a son Percy Gordon Day(1899-1977) who served in WW1 and lost an eye in combat.

Two of George’s other sons Bertram John Day (1906-1985) and Leonard Aubrey Day (1907-1973) started up Day Bros Dairy in about 1945 with premises in 1953 at 33 Quarry Road, Tunbridge Wells. Although details about this dairy are lacking it appears it was still in business in the 1970’s.This article traces the life and times of members of the Day family in the 19th and 20th centuries.


George was born August 12,1871 in Tunbridge Wells, one of five children born to William Gilbert Day (1836-1918) and Mary Ann Webb Wyman, who was born in 1844. At the time of George’s birth his father was a clog maker,but when George was married in 1893 he was a greengrocer. George was baptised in Tunbridge Wells on April 27,1874.

William Gilbert Day had married Mary Ann Webb Wymann December 5,1858 at Lambeth St John the Evangelist. In 1861 he was living at Aldershot,Surrey. In 1871 he and his wife Mary and children Mary and William were living at 34 Wood Street,Tunbridge Wells, and at that time William was a clog maker.

[insert scanned image of 42 Auckland Rd}

The 1881 census, taken at 42 Auckland Road  (photo opposite) recorded the presence of William Day as the head of the household and working as an under gardener with his year and place of birth given as 1844 “British subject”.Family members who have made recent inquiries about the reference to “British Subject” are of the opinion that William was born in England.  Living with him was his wife Mary, born 1844 in Oxford and their children (1)  Mary Ann Elizabeth Day, born 1865 at Bermondsey (2) William Henry Day,born 1867 at Bermondsey (3) George James Gilbert Day (1871-1832), born in Tunbridge Wells (4) Frederick Charles Day,born 1875 in Tunbridge Wells (5) Ernest Reginald Day, born 1880 in Tunbridge Wells.  It is recorded that this is all the children born to the couple. At the time of this census William’s wife Mary was working as a fruit seller and her daughter Mary was an unemployed domestic servant. The only other working member of the family at that time was their son William Henry Day, but he was given at that time as an unemployed errand boy. The rest of the children were attending school. Today 42 Auckland is a private residence, one of many on the road of modest terrace houses.

The 1891 census taken at 54 Auckland Road recorded the presence of William Day as a greengrocer and his wife Mary. Also present in the home were their children William,George,Frederick and Ernest,who were all working as general labourers. Also present in the home were two boarders. The 1899 commercial directory gave the listing “ William Day, greengrocer, 54 Auckland Road. When contacted about the location of William’s business, Daniel of the High Brooms Historical Society was of the opinion that it was located at 54 Auckland Road, and although just a private residence now,it was back in 1891 his shop, indicating if that is the case that the family were living above the shop.

[insert ‘Mary Jane Matthews)

On December 30,1893 George James Gilbert Day married Mary Jane Matthews (1875-1939) at Southborough. George at that time was a labourer and his father was given as a greengrocer. Mary’s father was a labourer also. Shown opposite is a photo of Mary Jane Matthews.Mary had been born 1875 at Chittem,Wiltshire and died June 1939 in Tunbridge Wells. She was one of seven children born to Frederick William Matthews (1830-1891) and Ann Stokes (1834-1930). In 1881 Mary was living at 48 Lower Village in Bradford On Avon. In 1891 she and her sister Sarah were working as domestic servants in Tunbridge Wells. Mary was a house maid and her sister a cook.

[insert scanned image of 54 Auckland Rd)

The 1901 census, taken at 54 Auckland Road listed William Day born 1843 Cranbrook,woking as a greengrocer on own account at home. Living with him was his wife Mary and two boarders. Sometime between 1901 and 1911 his wife Mary passed away. The 1911 census, taken at 5 Providence Place in Pembury recorded William as a widow, living with John Cheesman (a builder’s labourer) and his family in 4 rooms. William, interestingly , was given as an army pensioner. William died in Pembury in 1918. William Gilbert Day was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery January 5,1918.

The 1901 census, taken at 1 Cambrian Road, Southborough records George James Gilbert Day as the head of the household and working as a brick presser  for the High Brooms Brick & Tile Company. Details about this business can be found in my article ‘Brick Making in Tunbridge Wells’ dated July 18,2012.Livign with George at that time was his wife Mary Jane and their children (1) Frank Gilbert Day (1895-1918) (2) George Francis Day (1896-1918) (3) Percy Gordon Day (1899-1977) (4) Beatrice Mary Eleanor Day (1903-1984).Beatrice was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery April 19,1984.Beatrice had worked with her brothers Bertram and Leonard in their dairy business but never married. She had died as a result of a cerebral vascular accident. See the last section of this article for a photo of her. (5) Cecil James Day (1904-1977).Cecil had been born December 15,1904 in the general shop at 10 Woodbury Terrace in High Brooms. In 1911 he was living with is parent s and siblings at 41 Holmewood Rd, On December 17,1926 he married Elsie May Sivyer (1901-1992) and with her had three daughters,

[insert Cecil James Day’ and ‘Elsie May Sivyer’]

Shown opposite are photos of Cecil and Elsie. Elsie had been born May 29,1901 at 30 Holden Park Road, Southborough, one of two girls born to Walter Sivyer (1861-1925) and Alice Kate Pratt (1873-1947).In 1911 she was living with her parents in Southborough. The couple were married December 1926. She died February 1992 at Maidstone, Kent. Cecil  was cremated at the Kent & Sussex crematorium January 11,1977. (6) Bertram John Day (1906-1985) (7) Leonard Aubrey Day (1907-1973). Also present in the home was Georges son in law Joseph W. Matthews, age 31,born 1870 at Imber, Wiltshire, who was also working as a brick presser.

Not given in the 1901 census was Phyllis Lilian Day born to George and Mary in the 4th qtr of 1905 but who died in the 3rd qtr1906. The couple had one other child, namely Ronald Francis Day(1911-1956).Ronald had been born in the 3rd qtr 1911 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1937 he married Florence M. Gould (1907-1972) and had two daughters with her. The couple were married at the registry office in Tunbridge Wells.  Ronald died in 1956 at Hawkhurst, Kent of a heart attack. His wife Florence died at 32 Park Cottages in Hawkhurst.

[insert scanned image of 41 Holmewood Rd)

The 1911 census, taken at 41 Holmewood Road, Tunbridge Wells, records George James Gilbert Day as a fruit merchant. Living with him was his wife Mary who was assisting her husband in the business. Also present were his sons Frank, George and Percy, who were also assisting their father. The remaining four children were also in the home of 5 rooms.

It is not clear what became of the marriage between George James Gilbert Day and his wife. George died February 24,1932 at Edmonton and no record of his burial could be found in Tunbridge Wells. His wife Mary appears to have continued to live in Tunbridge Wells for she died in the town in January 1939 and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on January 12th.

No attempt has been made to fully research the Day family but in the next part of this article I refer to three of his sons that served in WW 1 and in the last section I refer to two of his sons and one daughter that were associated with Day Bros. Dairy.


[insert postcard of Tunbridge Wells war memorial}

The three sons of George James Gilbert Day who served in WW 1 were George Francis Day (1896-1918) ; Frank Gilbert Day (1895-1918) and Percy Gordon Day (1899-1977).Details of each of them are given below. George and his brother Frank were both killed in the war in 1918, but Percy survived .The Tunbridge Wells War Memorial on Mount Pleasant Road has a series of brass plaques upon which are the names of 801 men who made the ultimate sacrifice in WW1, as well as the names of those lost in WW II. Last year I undertook a detailed study of the war memorial and provided in an article I wrote about it transcriptions for all the names on these plaques, among which were the transcriptions for George and Frank Day, which I give later. Shown opposite is a postcard by local photographer and postcard printer/publisher Harold Hawtrey Camburn, taken at the time of the unveiling of the memorial.

[insert ‘George Francis Day photo 1 to 3 ‘and ‘Poxieres Memorial’ ]

  • GEORGE FRANCIS DAY (1896-1918)…………George had been born in the 4th qtr of 1896 at Southborough. He had been baptised December 13,1896 in Southborough. In 1911 he was living with his parents at 41 Holmewood Road. Shown opposite is a photo of George. Below is a photo of his death notice; a photo of his medals, which included the British medal, the Victory medal and the 15 Star. The last image in the series is of the Pozieres Memorial. Given here is the transcription I did last year.” G.F. DAY ……….[George Francis]……..George was born in Southborough October 1896 and was a resident of the town before enlisting at Maidstone, Kent. He was a private (#225555) with the 1st Bn attached to the 2nd/4th Bn London Regiment (Royal Fusiliers) who died in France March 21,1918 at age 21. He is recorded at the Pozieres Memorial (panel 85 or 86). He was the son of George James Gilbert Day and Mary Jane Day of 41 Holmewood Rd., Tunbridge Wells. He had formerly been #2596 with the Hurts Cyclist Btn but posted to the 2/4th London Regiment.He is also listed on the plaque at St James Church as George F. Day.   He is also listed on the High Brooms memorial plaque as Private G.F. Day. His brother Frank Gilbert Day was also killed in the war. George was baptised December 13,1896 at Southborough. He was one of 9 children in the family and worked in the family fruit merchant business in 1911 as an assistant in business. His death notice was published in the Tunbridge Wells Advertiser on April 23,1918. The Posieres British Cemetery is enclosed by the POZIERES MEMORIAL, which relates to the period of crisis in March and April 1918 when the Allied Fifth Army was driven back by overwhelming numbers across the former Somme battlefields, and the months that followed before the Advance to Victory, which began on 8 August 1918.The Memorial commemorates over 14,000 casualties of the United Kingdom and 300 of the South African Forces who have no known grave and who died in France during the Fifth Army area retreat on the Somme from 21 March to 7 August 1918.

[insert ‘Frank Gilbert Day’ photo 1 to 3}

  • FRANK GILBERT DAY (1895-1918)……….Frank had been born in the 1st qtr of 1895 in Southborough. He had been baptised in Southborough on April 14,1895. In 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Holmewood Rd,Tunbridge Wells. He was awarded the same medals as his brother George. Shown here are two photos of Frank and one of a document from Frank during Christmas. Also given is a photo of the Pernois British Cemetery at Halloy-les-Pernois. Given here is the transcription I did for him last year. “     G. DAY………..[Frank  Gilbert]……..He is also listed on the plaque at St James Church as Frank G. Day.He is also listed on the High Brooms memorial plaque as Private F.G. Day.In the 1911 census he was living at 41 Holmewood Rd., Tunbridge Wells. He was born at High Brooms, Southborough in the first quarter 1895  and enlisted for service in Tunbridge Wells. He was a Private(#G/3964) with the British Expeditionary Force who died of wounds in France August 14,1918. He is recorded at the Pernois British Cemetery, Halloy-Les-Pernois (III.D.11). He was one of 9 children in the family and his brother George Francis Day was also killed in the war. He and his siblings worked as assistant in business for their father who ran a fruit merchant business in Tunbridge Wells. He was the son of George James Gilbert Day (1871-1932) and Mary Jane Day(nee Matthews 1872-1939). In December 1917 he sent his mother a Christmas Card with his regiment ( 8th Royal Sussex) printed on it.  He had been baptised in Southborough August 14,1895. The Pernois British Cemetery was opened towards the end of April 1918, during the German advance, for burials from No.4 Casualty Clearing Station. The cemetery was closed in August. The cemetery contains 403 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and 17 German war graves.

[insert ‘Percy Gordon Day’ and ‘Cicely Laurel M Hawkins’0

  • PERCY GORDON DAY (1899-1977)……….Percy was born February 4,1899 in Tunbridge Wells and was baptised April 9,1899 at Southborough. In the 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Homewood Rd, Tunbridge Wells. His service records have not survived and therefore it was impossible to establish any reliable details about his military service. Several medal index cards have survived but there was nothing on them to establish which one pertained to him. An attempt was made to determine which regiment he was in from the cap badge in one of his photos (shown opposite) but without success. A request was made for information with a decendent of the Day family who had posted his photos to the family tree but the person did not reply. A note attached to the photos of him state that the image was taken before he lost his eye. All that can be established is that Percy was badly wounded in the war, resulting in the loss of an eye. When this event occurred was not established but it resulted in him being discharged from the army and returned home. Details about his private and working life after the war have not been established except to note that  in the 4th qtr of 1927 he married Cicely(sp) Laurel M.  Hawkins at St Matthews Church, High Brooms. Cicely, who’s name is given also as “Cesily’ on her burial records, was born May 5,1901 in Tunbridge Wells and died  in the 3rd qtr of 1978 at Cambrian Road, Tunbridge Wells. Percy and Cicely are known to have had a daughter Margaret L.R. Day (1928-1997) and probably had other children as well. Percy died in September 1977 in Tunbridge Wells and was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on July 7,1977. Cecily Laurel May Day was buried in the Tunbridge Wells Cemetery on September 20,1978. A descendent of the family offered this information “Percy volunteered after his two  elder brothers George and Frank were already in the army. Both brothers were killed but Percy had shrapnel wounds and lost his eye, My father was his younger brother and said he was never the same when he came home. Before the war he had been a bright lad and worked for the post office after the war he married had a daughter Margaret Day but never worked.”He said he still had shrapnel in his brain which they were unable to move. I don’t think the family believed this but when he was in his 70’s he developed a septic sore on his head and when it discharged out came a piece of shrapnel much to the surprise of the doctor and the family.


The two sons of George James Gilbert Day who started up Day Bros Dairy were Bertram John Day (1906-1985) and Leonard Aubrey Day (1907-1973). Descendants of the Day family report that Bertram and Leonard established their dairy business in 1945 at 33 Quarry Road, in premises that were empty at the time,  and that “ their sister Beatrice worked for them until they sold the dairy when they retired. They used to collect the milk from two farms in Pembury. They had to agree to take all the milk that the farmer produced whether they could sell it or not. Pre WW II Len had a milk round in Tunbridge Wells”. A descendant of the family said they had rounds in Rusthall, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells and Pembury and that they never really used the shop much.

A directory for 1953 gave “ Day Bros, dairymen, 14 Clifton Road, Southborough and 33 Quarry Road, Tunbridge Wells. There is also a directory listing for B.J. Day (Bertram James) at 14 Clifton Road from 1968 to 1970. A relative of the family stated that Bertram lived at 14 Clifton Rd but later moved to Charles Street in Southborough and Leonard lived at 41 Holmewood Rd.

A family descendant offered the following. “Day Bros Daily -they took milk from two farms in Pembury and the bottle washing and filling was out back of the shop in a separate building, with the vans parked at the rear. They had quite a large number of rounds and about three vans. Bert did all the books etc., Eventually they sold out to John Browns Dairies in St Johns Tunbridge Wells, at the time Express dairies were trying to buy up all small dairies and John Browns wanted to make theirs bigger so as not to be taken over. They sold to John Brown’s circa 1970 for a good price as J.B wanted to stop Express Dairies having an outlet in Tunbridge Wells. J.B had a larger organisation in St John’s. Day’s shop & bottling plant was never used by the new owner but became a car hire outlet”.

[insert ‘Beatrice Day’)

Shown opposite is a photo of Beatrice Mary Eleanor Day( 1903-1984) who the family say worked in Day’s Dairy on Quarry Road for her two brothers.

[insert’Leonard Aubrey Day’)

Shown opposite is a photo of Leonard Aubrey Day with a lady (his wife? ) beside one of the company’s milk vans. Leonard had been born December 25,1907 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Holmewood Road and it is stated by family members that he lived at that address his entire life. In 1939 he had a milk round. In 1940 he was in the Royal Army Service Corps and was in the desert. He also saw service in France and Germany. Family members state “He told the Germans to give up their cameras and then the British brought them all home with them” Leonard died at the Kent & Sussex Hospital September 1973 of prostate cancer . He was cremated at the Kent & Sussex crematorium on September 26,1973.

[insert ‘Bertram John Day’)

Shown opposite is a photo of Bertram John Day, who had been born August 5,1906 in Tunbridge Wells. In 1911 he was living with his parents and siblings at 41 Holmewood Road. In December 1939 he married Lillie M. Taylor (1903-1960) at St Matthews Church in High Brooms and with her had a daughter. He was married a second time in 1960. No records were found of the name of his second wife or of any children born to Bernard. At some point in time he left Tunbridge Wells. He died in Eastbourne, Sussex in the 4th qt4r of 1985.His wife Lilly M Day ,who had been born in Tunbridge Wells died 1960 at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London.

Continuing with family history  it is stated by a descendent “ George James Day (1871-1932)…In circa 1904-1907 General Stores,10 Woodbury Terrace, Silverdale Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Cecil James Day, son of George James, was born here in 1904.. George James Day, Cecil’s father, had a general stores here according to the Kelly Commercial Street Directory. He rented the property and bought stock on a weekly basis, many people were doing this at the time. The shop was in a row of town houses. Next door was a greengrocers, the proprietor of which eventually took over both shops in 1907. The number of the shop kept changing. In 1906 it became 128 Silverdale Road and in 1907 it was 142 Silverdale Road, which it remains today. It is now converted back to a house and next door is a pet food store.1908-1909 Fruiterer, Hastings Road, Pembury, Kent. Bo Peep Stores, Pembury, Kent. George owned these stores at one time and sold the business to his brother-in-law, John Cheesman. John is here in 1911.William Gilbert Day (1836-1918) George James father.1893 From his son’s MC: Greengrocer.

According to Sheila, Cecil told her that he thinks he was his grandfather’s favourite. He used to go out with his grandparents in the back of their horse and cart. Sheila does not know who was driving the horse. If WG was discharged from the Army as unfit to do his duties as a Driver, would he now be able to drive a horse and cart or did he teach his wife to drive? Cecil was able to drive the horse, he would sit up front with his granddad. 1891 & 1901 lived at 54 Auckland Road, Tunbridge Wells. Greengrocer own business. Location of shop unknown. 1881, 42 Auckland Road, Tunbridge Wells, William was an under gardener. His wife, Mary Ann was a fish seller. I hope that’s of interest….Ben”.

Edward has been a regular contributor to this site and his detailed research into family history is very much appreciated, hopefully I will be able to add some of the images to compliment the text at at later date.

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