Last week my son was thrilled to come home with this old edition of the Bristol Tune Book which he bought at Acorns Charity Shop. As a brass band player, he was excited by the huge number of tunes and harmonies crammed into its pages.
As a genealogist, I was equally excited, because inside the front cover, I found an inscription. It reads, "Presented to Miss E Frost by the members and friends of the Walcote Chapel as a small token of their appreciation of her services rendered at the harmonium. March 14th 1893."
Of course, I set to work straight away to find out the story behind the inscription.
Lizzie Gertrude Frost was born on 25th March 1870 at Draycote Hill, near Birdingbury, Warwickshire, the youngest child of Josiah Frost, a farmer, tending 230 acres and employing 2 men. Josiah had ten children by his first wife, Sarah Rebecca Newport, but at least three died in infancy. Lizzie's mother was Elizabeth Ann Hitherly Foster, the second of Josiah's three wives. Sadly, Lizzie was the only child born to Elizabeth, who died the following year.
It is probable that by 1874 Josiah and his family had moved to a smaller 130 acre farm in the little village of Frankton, in Warwickshire. Here it was, that Josiah probably met Ann Mander. They married in Leamington in 1874. By now Josiah was 46 and his new wife, Ann, was 41, and there were no more children.
Some time between 1881 and 1891, the family moved 21 miles away to Misterton Lodge, Misterton, Leicestershire. Josiah continued farming, but he was now 63, so he probably relied heavily on his son Frederick, the only son listed with him in the census, and his two farm labourers, Herbert Birt and William Finch.
In the meantime, Josiah's second son, William John Newport Frost, was still farming in Frankton, at Frankton Grounds. Some time between 1891 and 1892 William moved closer to his father, to Cotesbach near Misterton. By October 1892 William had joined Walcote Congregational Chapel, where he preached sermons and led the choir, with his half sister Lizzie accompanying them on the harmonium. Their stepmother Ann helped to look after the floral displays in the chapel. William married his first wife, Catherine White, in Leamington in 1893. Two children were born to William and Catherine in Cotesbach.
In one article, the Leicester Chronicle records that the choir was, "under the leadership of Mr W A Frost, of Misterton Lodge", but I have not found anyone named W A Frost in the family. In other articles only the intial W is used, and I am satified that this was an error.
Some time between 1893 and June 1894, when William hosted a Sunday School outing in Lutterworth, William left Misterton. By 1901, William and his family had settled in Burton Overy, near Leicester.
It may have been the imminent closure of the Chapel for restoration or the departure of her half-brother which prompted Lizzie to leave her position as Walcote's harmonium player. Did she go to Burton Overy with her half-brother? Or did she take a job, or go to stay with another sibling? We may never know. Incredibly, I found an article about the gift on the Bristol Tune Book in the Leicester Chronicle on Saturday 18th March 1893.
A Mr W Frost, presumably William, remained involved with Walcote Choir and Chapel. He was mentioned in October 1894, when he gave an address and led the choir at the Chapel's reopening services in October 1894. Miss E Cooke presided at the harmonium, as she had probably done since Lizzie's departure, or at least since July. Wr W Frost was mentioned again on several occasions between February 1895 and June 1897, when he was the Chapel's treasurer. Was William returning to visit family and maintain his relationship with the Chapel? It does seem likely. Or was this an unknown W Frost?
And what of Lizzie? She married Frank Buswell in Lutterworth in 1899. Frank was a farmer. They had a daughter, Charlotte Hilda Buswell, in 1901. I can find no other children born to Lizzie and Frank. They began their married life at New Hall Farm, Naseby, byt by 1911 they had settled at 58 High Street, Naseby.
Sadly, Lizzie was widowed in 1919 when she was only 49. By 1939 she was living at 121 Northampton Road, with her daughter Charlotte, housekeeping for Donald Wilson Turner, an unmarried bank clerk. During the war Donald was a member of the Auxiliary Fire Service.
In 1946 Charlotte married Donald. Charlotte was 44 when they married, and they had no children, so Lizzie's line ended with her daughter.
Lizzie died on 5th November 1953, and was buried in the Baptist Graveyard in Clipston, Northamptonshire.
I do not know how the Bristol Tune Book spent the next 70 years until it turned up at the Acorns Charity Shop in Tamworth, but for now it has found a new home and is cherished by us.