Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Bolitho family history in Portsea stretches back to long before the Census records begin which caught them at a midpoint between their humble origins and respected pillars of society.
The 1841 census records Henry Bolitho, great-grandfather to Victor Ayling, a 56 year old shipwright living with his wife Frances at Trafalgar Street, within view of the Dockyard walls. Also in the household was their 20 year old son Henry jnr. who must have already set his sights high by becoming a jeweller. By 1851 Henry snr. had retired but his son was still in the household, building up his jewellers business. In 1853 Henry jnr. married Mary Ann Hall and at around the same time they moved into 30 Queen Street, where Henry set up shop.
Henry and Mary had four children by the time the 1861 census came round - Walter (father of Victor Ayling), Francis, Frances and Emma. By 1871 Henry was describing himself as a goldsmith and Walter was preparing to move the family in a different direction, describing himself as an Attorney's Clerk. By 1881 Walter had completed the transition to Solicitor and was casting his eye around for a suitable marriage, a process frozen in time by the census that year.
Park Farm, Titchfield was then owned by Charles Ayling who controlled hundreds of acres of land and on census day Walter was paying a visit. Subsequent events showed that Walter was not visiting purely for business reasons. Charles had a daughter Julia whom Walter was either courting or wishing to do so but either way they were married in 1882 and shortly after they moved to Walter's new business address at 40 Union Street, Portsea.
By 1891 Walter and Julia had 4 children, Walter, Victor Ayling, Dorothy and Ella, all under 10 years old. The 1901 Census saw the family residing at Anker House in Fareham which may have been a business inspired move or more likely a temporary arrangement as by 1911 they were back in Portsmouth at 14 Lorne Road, Southsea.
In the meantime Victor Ayling had left home and does not feature in the 1911 Census so we do not know whether he had joined the army by then or not. When he did enlist it was a private in the London Regiment before being posted to the Household Battalion who were operating on the Western Front in April 1917 when Victor was killed. He was presumably part of the 9th Division who took Hervin Farm from the Germans on the same day he died.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Second Lieutenant Victor Ayling Bolitho, Household Battalion, died on 09/04/1917, aged 33 years. Buried at Hervin Farm British Cemetery, St. Laurent-Blangy (Grave Ref: C.5.). Son of Walter Henry and Julia Ann Frances Bolitho, of 14, Lorne Rd., Southsea, Portsmouth. Native of Portsmouth.
Victor Bolitho is remembered on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
The firm of solicitors founded by Walter Bolitho survives into the 21st Century, albeit as part of a larger group.
Tim Backhouse
March 2014