Occurrence of a somewhat alarming character

When I was little and we lived on Edwin Avenue in Toronto – we are talking kindergarten age – I threw some paint cans into a coal furnace to see what would happen. A licking is what happened. Not recommended. I think I learned that trick from my 1st cousin 3x removed Florence Louisa Jane Chilcott. Here is the story as related by the West Somerset Free Press of 23 Dec 1899.

Spaxton – Explosion

On Tuesday last, an occurrence of a somewhat alarming character took place on premises in pretty close proximity to the water works in this parish, and in the occupation of James Chilcott, labourer, in the employ of Mr. Kidner, of Swang Farm. It appears that during the temporary absence of her mother, Florrie Chilcott, a girl of about eleven years, found some gunpowder in a small tin canister on the mantelpiece and threw a portion of it into the fire. The flash occasioned by the ignition of this seems to have frightened her, and she dropped or threw into the fire the remainder of the gunpowder, which also exploded, the result being that the girl was badly burnt about the face and legs, &c. Two other younger children in the room were also similarly injured. The window was smashed, some of the ceiling injured, and other damage to the room and contents resulted. The girl’s injuries were found to be so severe that it was deemed necessary to remove her at once to the Bridgwater Infirmary, where she was detained, and it is feared that her eyesight may be permanently injured.

Now what the heck was gunpowder doing on the mantle? I don’t know about her eyesight, but Florrie, who was born 6 Oct 1889 at Cannington, Somerset and was the oldest of nine children, was married in 1915 to Frederick G. Short. She died in Somerset in 1973.

Florrie’s parents were James Chilcott (born 1864) and Sarah Type (born 1867). They were married 16 Mar 1889 at St Mary’s in Bridgwater, Somerset.

St Mary Bridgwater
St Mary, Bridgwater, Somerset
Attribution: Robert Cutts, Bristol

In 1940 they celebrated their 51st wedding anniversary as noted in the Taunton Courier and Western Advertiser of 16 Mar 1940.

Sixty-four Years on one Farm
Spaxton Couple’s 51st Wedding Anniversary

Mr. and Mrs. James Chilcott, of 196, Currypool, Spaxton, will celebrate the 51st anniversary of their wedding to-day (Saturday).

Mr. Chilcott is nearly 75, and his wife is two years younger. They were married at St. Mary’s Church, Bridgwater, on March 16th, 1889, by the Rev. W. G. Fitzgerald.

For most of their married life, they lived at Swang Cottage, Charlinch. They are now living with their son Mr. Alfred E. Chilcott at Currypool.

Mr. Chilcott started work at the age of nine, earning 3s for a seven-day week. He was employed as a carter at Swang Farm for no fewer than 64 years, serving under three farmers namely Messrs. Stuckey, Kidner, and W. L. Roe. the present occupier, he worked 26 years.

Mr Chilcott is still hale and hearty. During the past week he has been busy digging his garden. He is found of shooting pigeons &c., and while talking of the war, remarked: “I’ll bet I can carr’ a gun'”

He is able to walk the five and a half miles to Bridgwater in an hour and a quarter, and still does a day’s work for Mr. Roe occasionally.

The Family

Mrs. Chilcott has been bedridden with rheumatism for the past six years. At the time of her marriage, she was in the employ of Mrs. Roe, of Rexworthy, mother of MR. W. L. Roe. Mr. and Mrs. Chilcott had nine children, four sons and five daughters, who were brought up on 10s a week. One son, Mr. Ernest Chilcott, was killed in the Great War while serving with the Coldstream Guards. Another son, Mr. Alfred E. Chilcott, served in the Rifle Brigade during the war, and was awarded the Military Medal for capturing 28 Germans single-handed. He was later commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. Eleven of the 16 grandchildren are living, and tow of the grandsons are serving with the Forces, one with the Canadians.

Western Daily Press 25 January 1917
Western Daily Press 25 Jan 1917

See Alfred Edward Chilcott on Lives of the First World War

UK Army Registers of Soldiers Effects 19011929(1)
Register of Soldiers Effects – Ernest Chilcott

See Sgt. Ernest Charles Chilcott on Lives of the First World War and the Commonwealth War Graves Commison

Ernest was killed in action on 27 Nov 1917 at the Battle of Cambrai – between the Capture of Bourlon Wood (24 Nov 1917) and the Recapture of Gouzeaucourt (29 Nov 1917).

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