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Walton Street Methodist Chapel: Reginald Arthur ABRAMS (1888–1917)

Reginald Arthur ABRAMS was born in Oxford on 11 September 1888, the son of Edward Arthur Abrams (born in Oxford in 1857) and Elizabeth Blüring (born in Lambourn, Berkshire in 1860).

His parents were married in the Hungerford district of Berkshire in the third quarter of 1885 and had the following children:

  • Violet Evelyn Maud Abrams (born in Oxford on 12 September 1886)
  • Reginald Arthur Abrams (born in Oxford on 11 September 1888)
  • Beatrice Ivy Abrams (born in Oxford in 1890, reg. Headington District third quarter)
  • Frederick Stanley Abrams (born at 41 Plantation Road, Oxford on 21 August 1895 and baptised at Walton Street Methodist Chapel on 19 September).

At the time of the 1891 census Reginald (2) was paying a visit to a house in Reading with his Wantage-born paternal grandmother Eliza Abrams (73), who described herself as a retired straw-bonnet maker. Meanwhile his parents were back home at 68 Walton Street with his sisters Violet (4) and Beatrice (seven months), plus a clergyman boarder and a servant. Reginald's father (33) was a bookseller's assistant.

By 1895 the family had moved to 41 Plantation Road and were attending Walton Street Methodist Chapel.

From January 1900 Reginald attended the Boys' High School in George Street (Free Scholar Corporation)

In 1901 Reginald (12) was living at 82 Southmoor Road with his father Edward (43), who was still a bookseller's assistant, his mother Elizabeth (40), and his siblings Violet (14), who was a milliner's apprentice, Beatrice (10), and Frederick (5), and his grandmother Eliza Abrams (83).

In July 1903, around the time of his 15th birthday Reginald left the Boys' High School and worked as a junior assistant at the Bodleian Library until 1905.

In 1905 he was appointed a senior assistant (Finance) at the Bodleian, and in May that year at the age of 17, he was also matriculated at the University of Oxford by St Catherine's Society as a non-collegiate student, so he would have continued to live at home. He obtained his BA in 1909, and in 1910 he also acted as assistant librarian at Jesus College.

In 1911 Reginald (22) was still a senior assistant at the Bodleian and living at 82 Southmoor Road with his parents and his sister Beatrice (20), who was a shorthand typist, and brother Frederick (15), who was a gentleman's outfitter's assistant. His sister Violet (24) was a dispenser of medicine to a doctor, and was boarding in Staffordshire at 30 Stockwell Street, Leek.

Poppy Reginald Arthur Abrams, who had served as a cadet in the Officers' Training Corps at Oxford, left his work at the Bodleian in 1915 and volunteered to serve in the First World War. On 4 July 1915 he was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment), and a photograph of him in army uniform can be seen here on the Picture Oxon website. He was wounded on 11 November 1915, and killed in action at Gommecourt in France on 4 March 1917 at the age of 28. According to this page (which includes a burial report with his name), Abrams had been reconnoitring near La Brayelle Farm, and was walking across the open with his batman when a Boche machine gun suddenly opened fire on them at close range, killing them both instantaneously.

Abrams was buried in Foncquevillers Military Cemetery (Grave Ref. II.D.16), and his parents paid for the words SENIOR ASSISTANT AT THE BODLEIAN LIBRARY OXFORD to be added to his headstone.

As well as being remembered on the Walton Street Methodist Chapel war memorial, he is also listed on two other memorials in Oxford: those of the Boys' High School and St Catherine's Society (unattached students). He is also remembered in London on the British Librarians memorial in the British Library.

His effects came to £322 2s. 7d., and his executor was his father, Edward Arthur Abrams, who was still a bookseller's assistant.

After the war

Reginald's parents

Reginald's father Edward Arthur Abrams died at 82 Southmoor Road in 1947 at the age of 89, and his funeral was held at St Michael's Church, Oxford, with the service taken by a Methodist minister. His mother Elizabeth Abrams died in Oxford in 1957 at the age of 97.

Reginald's siblings

  • Violet Evelyn Maud Abrams (born 1886) married John Granville Wadsworth at Ss Philip & James Church in Oxford on 12 July 1919. They do not appear to have had any children. Violet died in the Pontypool district of Gwent near the beginning of 1983, with the year of her birth wrongly recorded as 1887.
  • Beatrice Ivy Abrams (1890) never married. She celebrated her hundredth birthday in 1990 (see Oxford Mail of 1 September 1990, p. 2).
  • Frederick Stanley Abrams (born 1895) married Hilda Hathaway in the Headington registration district in the third quarter of 1921. They had two children in that district: Brian R. Abrams (1929) and Bridget C. Abrams (1931). Frederick died in the Chipping Norton district in 1972.

See also

© Stephanie Jenkins

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