Sidney was born in 1881, the eighth of the twelve children of George Cowley Martin and Mary Ann Bowcott. He was baptised at St James church, Gloucester on 3 July. The family were living at 26 Wellesley Street and George was a sawyer.
By 1901 Sidney was a shop assistant. He married Rose Beatrice Long on 6 November 1907 at St Luke’s parish church, Gloucester. He was 26 and his occupation was given as grocer.
Rose was 22, the daughter of John Edward Kean Long, a foreman at a timber mill. She was resident at the Robinhood Hotel, Bristol Street, Gloucester. By 1910 John Long was also the publican / license holder of the hotel.
Their daughter Irene Beatrice was baptised at St Luke’s church on 26 February 1908. They were living at the Robinhood Hotel and Sidney was a grocer’s assistant.
Their second daughter, Rose Beatrice was born at the hotel on 1 July 1909. Sadly, Rose died on 7 July from puerperal fever (uterine infection following childbirth). When Rose’s death was registered she was noted as the innkeeper.
And so began a sad and complicated time for Sidney as he was left with a baby and an eighteen month old to raise.
By 1911 the family were spilt up. Sidney, aged 30, widower and shop assistant, was living with his parents, George and Mary Ann, in Tredworth Road.
Irene (named as Reine Beatrice Martin) aged three, was still living at the Robinhood Hotel with her grandfather, John Edward Kean Long, the publican, his son and daughter and three other grandchildren from another branch of John’s family.
Rose, by then 21 months, was living with her aunt and uncle, Nathaniel and Maud Edmunds and their family in Stroud Road, Gloucester. Sadly, Rose died of pneumonia on 8 January 1914, aged just four years old. Her death was registered by her aunt and she was noted as the daughter of Sidney Herbert Martin, a general labourer.
By 1913 Sidney had entered into a relationship with Annie Elizabeth Langford.
Born Annie Eliza Bailey in Swindon in 1874, Annie was the widow of Henry Langford, a wood sawyer who had died in a work place accident in 1911. Annie and Henry had five children and lived at 52 Philip Street.
And so, when Sidney and Annie’s son was born on 23 February 1914, at 52 Philip Street, Sidney was a widower and Annie was a widow. She gave her name as Annie Elizabeth Martin, formerly Bailey but, fortunately for the family historian, they added her actual name to the baby’s, and thus he became Sidney Herbert Langford Martin.
Although it appears as though Annie was married to Sidney, in fact she wasn’t. The marriage wasn’t to take place until later, after World War One. Further evidence that Sidney and Annie were not married came when Sidney enlisted in 1916 and gave his mother’s name as next of kin.
Researching and studying family history will tell us many things about our ancestors and their family, such as who, where and when. Unfortunately, it is singularly unhelpful in answering the question ‘why?’
Why did Sidney and Annie not marry when they were legally free to do so?
Was it Annie or Sidney who held back from committing themselves?
Did Annie prefer to have a child out of wedlock rather than be married, even though she would be the subject of gossip and scandal?
Alas, we will never know the answers.
What is clear is that the years between 1907 and 1914 were turbulent for Sidney, with the joy of his marriage and birth of his daughter Irene, followed just a year later by the birth of his daughter Rose and the death of his wife. And then, just a few years later, the birth of his son just seven weeks after his daughter Rose died. It is impossible to put ourselves in his shoes and know how he was feeling by then but we can’t help wondering.
And then came the outbreak of World War One and Sydney’s service in France.