Saturday, 21 July 2012

A Life of Service

Soldier, Fireman, Scout Master - Lewis Charlwood George GARRETT was born 5 months after his father’s death, on this day in 1876. His father, Henry Raikes GARRETT died in Sydney in Feb 1876, aged just 37. His pregnant wife Louisa Jane LEWIS (1845-1917) moved back to Melbourne with her five other children to be closer to her family.
c1887 Lewis Garrett (L) with his cousin
Truda Lewis
The Charlwood part of his name came from Louisa’s older sister Emily’s husband, Charles Joseph CHARLWOOD (grandfather of recently-deceased author, Don Charlwood).

In his later years and after the death of his older brother, Lewis changed his middle name to Raikes – it had been a family tradition for the eldest son to hold the name. This came from Robert RAIKES (1736-1811), the English philanthropist, proprietor of the Gloucester journal and ‘inventor’ of Sunday school. He was Lewis’ great great grandfather. Lewis was the great grandson of two distinguished Naval men, Vice Admiral of the White, Henry GARRETT (1774-1846), and Captain John CLAVELL (1776-1846) who was wounded at the Battle of Trafalgar. I mentioned these ancestors and connections in my blog on 18 July. My grandfather (Lewis’ son) used to tell us stories years ago about these ancestors and we were always pretty sceptical. It wasn’t until much later, and many birth certificates and wills, that the links became clear, and true (unlike many family stories passed down).

Obviously Lewis knew something of this part of his family even though his father came to Australia as a teenager and alone, whereas his mother came as a nine-year-old with her parents and 10 siblings – and that journey is a whole other story!

c1901 a proud member of Thorneycroft's
Mounted Infantry, 'on the cape'
Lewis worked as a solicitor’s clerk for his uncle before going to the Boer War in 1901 as part of Thorneycroft’s Mounted Infantry, ( read more here  ) and was part of the Relief of Ladysmith. My research of this troop is that they saw some of the bloodiest battles, so it was hard to imagine why he would want to sign up for WWI years later. He was at this time deemed to be unsuitable, at 39 years and probably a bit overweight.

In 1905 he married Constance Edith FITTS nee TERRY (1871-1925), a widow with four children. They had four children of their own, the second was my grandfather, John Raikes GARRETT (1908-1992).
In 1906, Lewis began working for the Metropolitan Fire Brigade in Melbourne and St Kilda, a job he held for 33 years until his death in 1939.
He was also quite involved in the early scout movement, and was a scout master.

His wife died when his youngest child was just 12 and the oldest daughter from the first marriage then had a big part in raising the young children. This sister, Dorothy Louise FITTS (married Henderson), Auntie Doff as she was known, was very special to my grandfather, and to us – she was tiny, had a sing song voice and lived to be 98 (1895-1993), still keeping an eye on her little brother, my grandfather.

Lewis (2nd from right) with his wife and family
The three children standing are his step children, and the four
sitting are his, my grandfather is sitting on the right

Fireman, Lewis is front of picture and his son,
my grandfather is just to his right

Scout Master, Lewis is at the right of this picture
some of the scout meetings were held at the fire station

In his older years

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