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Keeping up with the Joneses on the Isle of Dogs

A couple of weeks ago, I published a book review of “Smith of Lambeth” by David Jones, the book was about David’s early life and his family who were from the Isle of Dogs. David has very kindly sent more information that tells us more about the Joneses life on the Island.

David’s paternal grandfather, Richard Jones, and his parents, brothers and sisters, left their home in Wales in the 1880s and settled on the Island. His grandfather Richard Jones, and two of his brothers, William and Edward soon showed their sporting prowess playing for Millwall Football Club who were then based on the Island. Richard would later play for Manchester City before gaining international honors for Wales.

William Jones

One of stories in the book is about William Jones who after playing for Millwall and Sheppey United, signed for Ryde on the Isle of Wight. In 1899, 25 year old William was playing for Ryde in the Isle of Wight Senior Cup final when in scoring the winning goal, he collided with the goalkeeper and died from the injuries sustained.

A newspaper report from the time gives us more information of the tragic event.

At an inquest held at Ryde, Isle of Wight, on ‘William Jones; the professional football player, who died from injuries received at a match, William Jennings, of Southampton,, the referee, said that Jones was dashing with the ball in front of him for goal wherein Reed, the goalkeeper, ran out to meet the ball. The men collided and fell, Reed’s knee striking Jones, who was picked up in great agony. Reed did not break the rules, and had there been no accident he would not have cautioned him. Other witnesses said they considered the affair quite accidental, It was stated that the post-mortem examination revealed ruptured intestines. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death, and found that no blame attached to any one; They asked the coroner, however, to communicate with the English Football Association, advising .that more stringent be adopted to prevent rough play.

David’s father’s family kept a green grocery shop on Glengall Road in which his paternal grandmother, née Skeels, worked. David’s parents, aunts and uncles, on both sides of my family, were born on the Island as was David in 1934.

David provides more information about his family :

David’s great grandparents, William & Betsy Skeels.

My great grandparents, William & Betsy Skeels. They had 10 children. They lived at 495 Glengall Road, Cubitt Town. They had a greengrocers shop on Glengall Road where my Grandmother, Ada Skeels, and my Dad, Richard William Jones, worked from time to time. They also operated a Fruit & Veg Barrow. William is also reported to have been a fishmonger. One of their sons, Reuben, was killed in World War 1, in 1917.

Ada Skeels is mentioned in an Old Bailey court case from 1900.

19th November 1900

LORENZO MORFINI (33) and GIOVANNI BALDASARI (30) , Unlawfully having counterfeit coin in their possession, with intent to utter it. Other Counts, for attempting to utter, and uttering.

MR. PARTRIDGE Prosecuted, and MESSRS. GEOGHEGAN and SANDS Defended

Baldasari; and the evidence was interpreted.

LUIGI FERANI . I live at 30, Manchester Road, East—I understand English a little—in March I let a second floor back room to the prisoner Baldasari—on September 27th the prisoner Morfini arrived with two portmanteaux, and the two prisoners occupied one room, in which the portmanteaux were till October 14th—on October 15th the police came, and I pointed out to them the room and the portmanteaux.

Cross-examined by MR. SANDS. I keep a boarding-house for Italians, and 10 or 12 live there—Baldasari was one—he went out with an ice-cream barrow—Morfini came as a stranger, but three years ago he had stayed there—Morfini had a friend named Joseppe to see him—he had a fair moustache—I only saw him go out twice—Baldasari came home about 9 p.m.—he went out as usual the morning the police came—I first knew that Morfini was in prison when the police arrested Baldasari.

Cross-examined. There were two single beds in the room—no one but the prisoners used the room—Morfini did a little shoemakers’ work in the house.

ADA SKEELS . I assist my parents in a shop at 85, Glengall Road, Millwall—we keep open all day on Sundays—on Sunday, October 14th, about 8.20 a.m., Baldasari came in for a pennyworth of walnuts—he gave me a penny—he walked away a little distance, and came back and bought another pennyworth of walnuts—he gave me a florin—I gave him 1s. 11d. change—I put the florin in my pocket with two others—I afterwards found one of them was bad—there was another man with him; a shorter man—on October 23rd I picked Baldasari out from 15 or 16 people in the prison yard at Thames Police-court at once.

My parents, Richard William and Ethel Caroline Jones, were married on Christmas Day, 1928, at Christ Church on Manchester Road. A few years back, I visited the church and spoke to Father Tom Pyke. He told me that it was quite common, in those days, for working class people to marry on Christmas Day.

My mother’s family name was Draper. She was one of 11 children, 7 of whom survived to maturity. Her father was an itinerant dock worker, a concertina player, and a heavy drinker. At sometime, he was a soldier, I have a picture of him in uniform, but I don’t know his years of service. He had a violent temper and his children feared him. My Aunt Lily, on the death of her parents, took on the duties of raising the three youngest children. She had to prevent social workers from taking them and putting them in foster homes. She always praised good neighbors for helping her. My mother, and her brothers and sisters, had only warm words for their mother. Both parents died in their 40s.

My fathers family is covered in my book. Apart from the 3 brothers all playing for Millwall, my Uncle Bill played for the reserve team around 1930. He never made the first team.

Among the names often mentioned by parents, uncles and aunts, when talking about their lives on the Island were several Millwall football players. “Tiny Joyce” the Millwall goalkeeper During my Grandfathers playing days. Two 1920s players, Jack Fort and Jack Cock, both capped for England. and Elijah Moore, Millwall’s groundskeeper. They were all family friends. Two boxers were often mentioned, Ernie Jarvis, a flyweight contender, later News of the World boxing reporter, and Teddy Baldock, a claimant to the world bantamweight title. My Aunt Edie remembered him training in the streets and “sparring” with the lamp posts. Teddy was known as the “Pride of Poplar.“

My fathers younger sister, Ada, married Robert Kay, an independent lorry driver. He came from a Catholic family. The nearest catholic school was in Greenwich, so he had to walk through the foot tunnel under the Thames, every morning.

With such a large family, I am sure there are people living on the Island and beyond that have some connection to David’s family.

Many thanks to David for the information.


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