Ernest came into my life through a memorial card and three images of his grave. With a little research, I hoped to learn more about his life and share his story with you.
As with all ‘collection feature’ articles; they are never truly finished, but may grow and change as I learn more about available research methods.
Ernest was a country boy, raised in the fields of Derbyshire, before finding love, achieving a very modern job and dying far too young.
Ernest Frost was born in 1897 (baptised on the 5thDecember) in the small village of Rodsley, Derbyshire. As of 2011, the village population was less than 100, but has a long established history and was mentioned in the Doomsday Book.
His family were farm workers, with his father, William Nathanial Frost, recorded as an ‘ordinary agricultural labourer’, and his mother, Elizabeth Bridges, keeping house.
The 1901 census records 3 year old Ernest living at 24 Baileys Close, Rodsley (the address no longer exists) with his parents (both aged 38) and four other siblings.
William Frost (Head) – 38
Elizabeth (Wife) – 38
Mary (Daughter) – 12
George (Son) – 10
Joseph (Son) 8
Elizabeth (Daughter) – 6
And Ernest, who was 3.
On the 1911 census, Ernest was 13 and was no longer living with his family. In fact, all the Frost children had left home and only William and Elizabeth are recorded as living in the house at Bailey’s Close.
Ernest’s days as a scholar had ended, and he was sent out to work.
William’s job had changed slightly, and he was now working as a Garden Labourer, with Elizabeth having no listed profession. However, it is also recorded that of their 5 children, all survived into adulthood.
Today, the only evidence that remains of Ernest’s childhood home are two cottages that now operate as holiday lets. They are attached to Longford Hall farm, which exists as a private residence, with impressive gardens. Considering that the houses were attached, it could be that William’s agricultural background led to more domestic work in the gardens of the hall. The Hall is a 16thcentury stately home, built for the de Longford family and still exists today as a grade II listed private house.
Meanwhile, 13 year old Ernest was residing at the Chadfield household in Rodsley, Ashbourne; a small market town. Here, he worked as a farm hand.
Thomas Chadfield was a farmer who, aged 69, had employed the young Frost.
Also living in the farmhouse at the time was his wife Thomasin (64) with whom he had been married for 42 years, Frank (23) his son, Frances (20) his daughter (both recorded as working on the farm) and a ‘visitor’ John Hind (14).
Although we cannot be sure of how long Ernest spent working on the farm, the Chadfield family continued to work the land until Thomas’ death in 1914 at the age of 72. Buried in the Holy Trinity Churchyard at Yeaveley, he shares the plot with other family members:
Thomas Chadfield, of Rodsley, 17 Jun 1914, 72
Thomasin, wife, 26 Apr 1930, 83
John, son, 26 Feb 1958, 88
Anne Thomasin, daughter,25 Sep 1882 – 8 Jun 1972
The Chadfields were certainly not paupers, and upon Thomas’ death, probate recorded his effects as totalling £2044 9s 2d.
Thomas and Thomasin would have 11 children during their marriage, one of whom, Elsie, would live to the grand age of 105.
During the 14-18 war, I can find no war records for Ernest, so it would be presumed that he remained in England, working the fields around Ashbourne. As most trade routes were compromised during combat, the need to feed the country was greater than ever and skilled farm labourers were often excused from conscription in order to carry on their work.
In 1918, aged 20, he married Frances May Housley (1898-1975) on the 7thAugust – her father was a house painter.
However, Ernest did not remain a farm worker and took up a new profession on the motor buses (joined by his new wife). By the time of his death, he was recorded as working as a motor bus proprietor in Ashbourne. Considering Ashbourne and the surrounding areas were particularly rural – the trolley buses would be the sole realm of the city centre and the tramway was closed in 1927 – such developments would be lucrative. For a boy so used to the country way of life, Ernest was moving with the times!
Peak district buses had been a subject of contention for local councils, who lacked the funds to subsidise their own bus services, but outsourced and granted permits to other private firms. Being a proprietor, Ernest may have been a bus driver, or, more likely, had started his own small business.
According to the research of The Andrews Pages,
‘By 1930 Alfreton Transport Company, Williams, Hands and North Western were operating a service from Cromford, through Matlock Bath and up to the Duke of Wellington. North Western purchased all the bus companies and from 1st October 1933 they were the sole bus company on the route.’
Ernest’s father died in December 1929, as did his grandfather George Frost, aged 88.
However, a few years later, at the age of 32, Ernest died on the 7thApril 1930, without any heirs.
He died at home in Hales Green, a hamlet by the village of Yeaveley in Ashbourne.
Ernest’s cause of death was recorded as:
1 (a) Acute Mania
(b) Lobar Pneumonia (double)
No Phy (No physician present?)
Certified by Ernest A Sadler M.D.
Lobar Pneumonia is a particularly aggressive form of pneumonia, affecting both lobes of the lungs. It is an infection that targets and inflames the air sacs of the lungs, where it multiplies and the lungs fill with ‘purulent material (i.e. pus, fluid etc.) It causes a ‘cough with phlegm or pus, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. A variety of organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi, can cause pneumonia.’Beginning with congestion, the disease typically progress quickly and acutely and remains life threatening to the very young and elderly today.
The diagnosis of ‘acute mania’ is rather more curious. Commonly reported in the deaths of mental health patients in the 19thand early 20thcentury, it is a broad term, applied across several mental and disorientating illnesses. Whether Ernest had indeed suffered from a long-standing mental illness, or the effects of his pneumonia had affected his brain, we can never know. The only sad thing of which we can be sure, was that Ernest’s death was not a peaceful, nor pleasant one.
He was buried at Longford Cemetery on April 10th. And, judging by the wealth of floral tributes, he was greatly missed.
I had great trouble in finding a ‘Longford Cemetery’ as no such place exists under that name. The Church of St Chad has a churchyard and is held within the Longford estate, however a search of online memorial inscriptions yielded no joy. Considering that is the only feasible place for Ernest’s grave, I can only presume him to be here. When travel allows, I will endeavour to find him.
Leaving behind a young widow, Frances stayed in Ashbourne and continued to work in transport; in 1939, she was still recorded as working in Hales Green (48-1) as a Bus and Taxi proprietor. She then found happiness once more and married Ernest Carter (1899-1988), on 5th June 1942.
Ernest was also from a farming background, but was not to spend his life in the fields. According to the records of 1939, it seems that he and Frances were living together, if not close neighbours, appearing directly beside each other in the census. Most other residents of Hales Green were dairy farmers, dairy maids and domestic servants, showing the farming industry to be very much thriving at the time.
Ernest was 42 at the time of marriage and does not appear to have married before. Following their nuptials, Ernest and Frances opened a business named ‘Carters Coaches’ which was operated from their Hales Green cottage. Upon retirement, they later sold the business to a worker named David Glover who subsequently renamed the business ‘Glovers’.A Glovers Coaches still operates in Ashbourne today!
She would not have any children, but died aged 76 in June 1975. Ernest would join her on 6thOctober 1988, both dying in their hometown of Ashbourne.
In searching for Ernest Frost, I knew there would be sadness in his death. But watching his widow Frances find her success and happiness following such a tragedy, was the greatest satisfaction of all.
Images and additional information pertaining to the life of Ernest Carter and the Chadfield family were obtained via Ancestry.co.uk – through the D. Needham and Wheeldon Woodhouse family trees. Information and images are used in good faith, intended for research/appreciation purposes and are not property of this blog.
A recent sale of a Hales Green property (a four bedroom barn conversion) had an asking price of £875,000. The area is now incredibly desirable for its land and views.