Private Frederick Nott
2nd Bn, Devonshire Regiment
Frederick William Nott was born in the beginning of 1888, the third child to a fishing family from Belle Meadow, Barnstaple – there is no record for his baptism, although other children in the family were baptised at Holy Trinity Church in the town.
Frederick’s father Thomas was a fisherman and his mother Mary Ann was a fish-hawker. Father Thomas drowned in January 1900, leaving 12-year old Frederick as the oldest “man” in the house. Frederick carried on in his father’s footsteps as a fisherman. Life was not easy, and young Frederick had several brushes with the police over illegal fishing.
Frederick married a Braunton girl Mary Ann Rooke in 1909. They had two daughters, Olive Mary that year and Dorothy Georgina in 1911, and two sons, Thomas FR in 1913 and George H in 1915. The young family first lived in Union Street, later moving to 41 Azes Lane.
Frederick enlisted in Barnstaple alongside his brother Alfred and four brothers-in-law and saw considerable service in France and Flanders, where he was wounded in the thigh on July 1st 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. In a letter to his wife Mary, Frederick describes how he was standing by his friend Charley Thurlow, also from Barnstaple, when a shell burst by them. His friend was reported to be killed in action on that day. More about the 2nd Devons and the Somme can be found at this link http://www.pollingerltd.com/bookshop/martin_body/2nd-devons-somme.pdf
At this time Frederick is stated, in another North Devon Journal news item, to have been in hospital at Dorchester. However a few months later he was back in Barnstaple as tragedy struck the family with the death of little George aged 13 months.
In the summer of 1917, Frederick had already been suffering from blood poisoning and had only been out of hospital a fortnight when he was struck down with fatal results – he died of wounds in the arms and the right leg at the General Hospital in Calais on Monday the 13th of August 1917 aged 29. Frederick is buried in Calais Southern Cemetery, plot H, row 2, grave 10.
Frederick’s widow Mary Anne was left with her daughters and surviving son and, in the summer of 1920, re-married to Frederick Barrow. Mary Anne died in Barnstaple in 1938.
Apart from appearing as a witness in a murder trial in 1933 there do not appear to be any other references to Thomas other than his marriage in 1935. Olive and Dorothy grew up to marry and have families and continued to live in Barnstaple, dying in 1989 and 1987 respectively.
Ancestry Library Edition – Census records (available free online in the Local Studies Centre and in any Devon Library)
British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)