Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

During the period from the 1840s to the 1890s there was a boom in building, particularly in the area now known as Buckland when the medieval farming strips were sold off and used for housing. The Farminer family was well placed to take advantage of the development as they were mostly builders and bricklayers, and they lived close by.
The process bagan in the 1850s when Edwin's grandfather Edward Farminer left his native Sussex and moved to Portsmouth with his wife Harriett (nee Gregory) whom he had married in 1850. They had been born in 1824 and 1830 respectively. They were first recorded in Portsmouth at the 1861 census when they were living at 22 Maitland Street, between Staunton Street and Sultan Road in Buckland. They would have been one of the earliest occupants of the house which had only been built in the late 1840s. Arriving in Portsmouth with Edward and Harriett were their two children Louisa (b. 1853) and Edwin (b. 1854).
By 1871 Edward Farminer had established a thriving builder's business employing 17 men and 8 apprentices. The census that year recorded the family at 2 Camilla Terrace on Kingston Road which had probably been built by Farminer. It also listed Edward and Harriett's growing family which then included six more children, Henry William (b. 1859), Mary Ann (b. 1861), Harriett and Caroline (b. 1863), Kate (b. 1867) and Clara (b. 1869). In 1879 Edward died and though it's not known what happened to the business his son Henry William was also described as a builder and may have taken it over. There was also a John Farminer, who was a bricklayer, living close by who may have helped.
The 1881 census records the widow Harriett with six children, including Albert who had been born in 1873, living at 47 Emanuel Street, another recently built house off Commercial Road, north of Sultan Road. In 1883 Henry William married Susan Markham White and together they took a house close by at 39 Emanuel Street. Further moves to 91 Gladstone Street (1901 census) and 70 Meyrick Road (1911 census) followed as the couple built up their family which eventually included seven children, Henry (b. 1884), Gordon (b. 1885), Albert and Victor (b. 1887), Susie (b. 1891), Elsie (b.1893) and finally Edwin Farminer who was born in 1897.
At the outbreak of the Great War Edwin was 17 years old which should have made him too young to enlist but as he joined the 14th Battalion (1st Portsmouth) of the Hampshire Regiment which was formed in September 1914 it's possible that he lied about his age. The battalion did not leave for France until March 1916 but was then pitched straight into the Battles of the Somme. Edwin survived for four months before losing his life in July 1916.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission lists Edwin Farminer, Private (14425), 14th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died, 24/07/1916, aged 19 years. Buried at the Merville Communal Cemetery, (Grave Ref: XI.B.23.). Son of Mr. and Mrs. H. W. Farminer, of 70, Meyrick Rd., Portsmouth.
Edwin Farminer is commemorated on the Cenotaph, Guildhall Square, Portsmouth. He is not listed in "The National Roll of the Great War", Section X. His name also appears on the Buckland United Reformed Church WW1 Memorial, but under the list of those who survived rather than those who died.
Tim Backhouse
January 2015