Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

The Jerome family had a tradition of service in the Royal Navy for at least two generations before Charles Frances John enlisted in the army. But whether sailors or soldiers, they all lived in Portsmouth.
In the census of 1861 the house at 6 Meadow Street, Landport was occupied by John Jerome, grandfather of of Charles FJ, and his family. John, who was born in Southsea in 1818, was still in the Royal Navy and was married to Elizabeth (b. 1823 in Fareham). They had three children, Ellen (b. 1851), Frederick (b. 1854) and Charles (b. 1858). Charles would later become the father of Charles Frances John.
Sometime in the 1870s Charles snr. joined the Royal Navy and in 1880 he married Mary Ann Witt (b. 1860 in Ringwood). The following year they and their daughter Annie were living as boarders at 25 Balliol Road. Charles was serving as a stoker aboard the Royal Yacht 'Osborne' at this time. By 1891 Charles snr. and Mary had moved to a house of their own at 3 North Street along with three more children, Charles Frances John (b. 1883), Ernest (b. 1890) and Hilda (b. 1891).
The 1901 census shows that Charles snr. had retired from the navy and was living on a pension. The family were living at 109 Brompton Road and another daughter Ethel (b. 1895) had arrived. Charles jnr. was then 18 years of age and working as a Draper's Porter, a job which developed over the next few years into that of a printer in the drapery business at Handley's Department Store. In 1910 he married Charlotte Blastock in Droxford and together they moved into 7 Smith's View, off Cottage Grove, in Southsea. The 1911 census tells us that Charles snr. had obtained a job as a nightwatchman in a 'drapery business'. It seems likely that this was at Handley's and that his son had helped him get it.
Charles Frances John probably enlisted in the army early in the Great War but information about his army service is currently unknown. What is certain is that he fought with the 1st Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment and survived over three years of fighting before being killed.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission list Private CF Jerome (25603), 1st Battalion, Hampshire Regiment, died on 22/04/1918. Buried in Mont-Bernanchon British Cemetery, Gonnehem.
Charles Jerome is also remembered on the Handleys WW1 Memorial (Debenhams) and the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Research Notes
A curious unresolved feature of this history is that in the 1881 census Charles' father Charles Jerome appears twice, once at Balliol Road with his wife and daughter and once on board the Royal Yacht 'Osborne' in Portsmouth Harbour. The only alternative explanation is that of the three men named Charles Jerome, aged around 24 years, in Britain in 1881, two of them were married stokers in the Royal Navy in Portsmouth.
Tim Backhouse
February 2014