Francis Alfred Peet (1882 – 1960): Home and Family – Part 2:

This post is a continuation from the first blog published in consideration of the home and family life of Francis Alfred Peet.  

In 1924, Peet married Amelia Babb, and the pair later raised two children, Michael F Peet and Mary G Peet. The family resided in the childhood home of Peet.  

The 1939 Wales and England Register 

A large amount of the memoir is based upon Francis’ remembrance of his childhood and young adulthood. He began working as an apprentice carpenter at the age of 14 years old. The idea of work life and the impact that had on Peets’ life is seemingly significant and something which he was extremely fond of and took a great amount of pride in. He followed in the footsteps of his father Peet continued to still work as a carpenter during the outbreak of World War 2 when he was nearing sixty years old, and seemingly from the records meant he had the ability to support his wife and children.  

John Bartholomew described Hertfordshire as “in appearance the co. is hilly, but interspersed with fine pasture lands, arable farms, and picturesque parks and woods”. Francis notes down various fond memories of his childhood including how seemingly tight knit the community was, as within the memoir he takes care in noting down the names of all the workmen from the town, also making a point that “I spent many hours around the Church while it was being restored. They all knew me” (p.5). Later in the memoir, Francis described how his family faced some financial troubles following from his father’s death, as well as how his mother was entitled to the ‘Estate Widows Pension’, however was refused the Parish Relief grant on the basis “that she had £13 in the savings bank” (p.12). Despite this, Peet again highlights the caring nature of the town in which they lived, stating that “many people were very sympathetic and helped her” (p.12) when hearing of his mother’s financial state. This section of the memoir shows the kind-heartedness of Peet as even when remembering his family’s previous money struggles as well as the loss of his father, who was just 39 years old, he continues to write respectfully and as warmly as possible of all members throughout. 

Goldings, Hertford, c. late 19th century 

Peet refers fondly of his family members within his memoir. He highlights his close relationship with his father, of whose career lead he himself followed, in becoming a devoted carpenter for the same business. Despite praising his father’s work thoroughly throughout, Peet never describes his domestic side. Instead, he only considers and reminisces about his mother’s domestic and nurturing side, including taking care of his schooling opportunities. Considering this, he also never tells of his mother’s work life, only mentioning her income through the “Estate Widows Pension” which she received following her husband Harry’s passing – “Mr. Burnside, advised my mother to apply for what was then called Parish Relief” (p.12), which highlights the idea at the time period of women were more inclined and expected to behave in a nurturing manner instead of being motivated to gain their own careers. According to Julie Marie Strange (2013), during the nineteenth century in particular, “fathers were often deployed in such accounts as agents of radicalization, ambition, or models of manhood” (p.273), which highlights the idolisation placed by Peet upon his father and his occupation, and even goes as far as to consider his fondness for his grandfather also. 

Works Cited: 

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. UK, British Army World War I Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: 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: 1901 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.  

General Register Office; United Kingdom; Volume: 5b; Page: 75. Source Information: England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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: 1911 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: 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: 1891 England Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. 

The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1657H. Source Information: 1939 England and Wales Register [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2018. 

Image 1: Hertfordshire Painting. Retrieved at:  [Accessed: 30th April 2021]. 

Image 2: Goldings, Hertford. Retrieved at: [Accessed: 30th April 2021]. 

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