“I am still living in the house in which I was born. I have lived there all the time with the exception of being away in the Army… even then, I was not away from the Green for a longer interval than eight months”.
The 1911 Census
In considering home and family, it is obvious throughout his memoir that both elements of life are very important to Francis. The memoir opens with the strong theme of family being present from the start. He begins by stating that his current home, at the age of 72, is the one in which he has resided in since he was born, as well as where he and his wife Amelia brought up two of their own children. Having never lived other than the one house all his life and always being in the same town, it shows how comfortable he felt in the town, and how much of a homebody Peet was throughout his whole life.
Peet grew up in a household with both his parents, Fredrick Thomas Peet and Rosa Peet, as well as three other siblings, with himself being the eldest. Similarly, to his own immediate family, Peet also describes how his father’s side of the family has always been rather large, with he himself being the middle child of a family of eight siblings; Peet also makes it clear that it was his father who first lived in the family home, having done so since he was a baby. It is obvious that Peet thinks highly of the home as he spends his whole life living there where he eventually brings up his own family later in life. Francis recalls at the start of his memoir of spending a great amount of personal time with his grandmother Martha Cull, following the birth of one of his younger sisters who he also speaks softly and fondly of.
Painting of Hertingfordbury, Hertfordshire – by Spencer Gore.
When thinking about domestic work in relation to his family, Peet only ever discusses his father’s occupation in terms of his immediate family, who was a carpenter, who was employed on the estate working for Mr. C. Godfrey, as a carpenter. Peet also discusses his grandfather’s occupation and work, who had been an apprentice to a painter and plumber. He only writes of his mother in terms of her general life throughout his childhood, and never about her own career, which we then never learn about, and nor of her domestic work around the home. Francis regularly considers his father and the way he lived his life in terms of his career and occupation, and how he looked up to him, as well as actually following in his footsteps, stating that his father “took pride in being as good as town workmen” (4). It was common during the early 1900s for young men to head into a similar job occupation to their fathers, and this is nonetheless the case for Peet too. Following her husband’s death and becoming a widow, the 1901 Census notes down three men who worked on a railway were lodging within the household. This raises question as to whether Rosa did this as a source of income for the household, as Francis was 19 years old at the time his father died. This surprisingly is not mentioned within the memoir.
The 1901 Census
551 PEET, Francis Alfred, ‘Recollections’, TS, pp.19 (c.10,000 words). Brunel University Library.
Bartholomew, John. Grazetteer of the British Isles. GB Historical GIS, History of Hertfordshire. Web Accessed: 9th March, 2021.
Burnett, John ed. Useful Toil: Autobiographies of Working People from the 1820s to the 1920s London: Routledge, 1994.
Ancestry.com. UK, British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: Army Medal Office. WWI Medal Index Cards. In the care of The Western Front Association website.
Class: RG13; Piece: 1304; Folio: 64; Page: 20. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1901 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5b; Page: 75. Source Information: Ancestry.com. England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2010.
Strange, Julie Marie. ‘Fatherhood, furniture and inter-personal dynamics in working-class homes, 1870-1914.’ Urban History 40.22 (2013), pp 271-286
The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Biography, 3 vols (Brighton: Harvester, 1987) 2:657
The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
The National Archives of the UK (TNA); Kew, Surrey, England; Census Returns of England and Wales, 1891; Class: RG12; Piece: 1110; Folio: 135; Page: 14; GSU roll: 6096220. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1891 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.
The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1657H. Source Information: Ancestry.com. 1939 England and Wales Register [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2018.
Image 1: Hertfordshire Painting. Retrieved at: https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/hertingfordbury-hertfordshire-107036/view_as/grid/search/keyword:hertfordshire-the-parish-hertingfordbury/page/1 [Accessed: 30th April 2021].
Image 2: Goldings, Hertford. Retrieved at: https://www.ourhertfordandware.org.uk/content/people/memories-of-19th-century-hertford [Accessed: 30th April 2021].