Henry Grey Faber

Henry Grey Faber was the husband of my great aunt Dorothy (my grandmother’s sister). Dorothy was Henry’s second wife and the couple were married at  Holy Trinity Church, Micklegate, York in 1960. They had no children but I understand from my father that Henry had a daughter from a previous marriage.

I remember my great aunt, corresponded with her over many years and met her on several occasions but I never met Henry – he died before I was born. My dad tells me Henry was known as Hal and that he worked as a solicitor. I have been able to confirm this to be correct by looking at census returns and have also found mentions of Henry’s legal career in the Gazette newspaper.

The 1891 census shows a Henry  G Faber was born in Durham in 1887, to Thomas and Ada and there is a younger brother and sister recorded too; aged 14 in 1901, Henry appears to have been a boarder at a school in Harrogate and in 1911, aged 24, he is recorded as being a solicitor, living again with his parents Thomas and Ada and with more sisters and a brother.

I have also located information about Henry in 1939, living with Ellen G Faber (who I presume was his first wife) and Elizabeth H F Faber – her occupation is shown as VAD which I have learned stands for Voluntary Aid Detachment, a voluntary unit of civilians providing nursing care for military personnel in the United Kingdom and various other countries in the British Empire. It would be another 20 years before Henry would marry Dorothy, who was working as a school teacher at the time.

Searching for Henry Grey Faber on the Find My past website, I found details of his service, medals and awards and his first world war record.  Ellen it seems also served in the army as a staff nurse.

Henry served in the 5th Durham Light Infantry and is pictured on the front row of the photo below, second from the right, which shows Officers of the 5th Battalion of The Durham Light Infantry, taken on the eve of the battalion’s departure for France in April 1915.

Officers of the 5th Battalion of The Durham Light Infantry.

The photo is from a collection at Preston Park Museum in Stockton-On-Tees, England.  I first came across the photo on the Flickr page of Steve Heimerle who also has an interest in the 5th Battalion.

Interestingly, on the ground, far right, a second man, Second-Lieutenant E W Faber is named. On checking the 1901 census on the Find My Past website, I located an Edward W Faber, aged 6, born in Eaglescliife, Durham in 1895 – he is recorded as being the son of Charles (a solicitor born in Stockton) and Edith Faber.  On the 1901 census, I again located a Edward W Faber, aged 16 living with Charles and Edith and a brother, aged nine called Charles, with the middle name of Grey, the same as Henry.

Jo Faulkner worked for a time at Preston Hall Museum in Stockton on Tees and advised me that ‘Colonel Faber was a senior officer in the Durham Light Infantry. Colonel G O Spence who is also in the photograph was a prolific collector of arms and armor and bequeathed his collection to Stockton Council, it is in the Preston Hall Museum collection. I also remember that Colonel Faber donated a few objects, one of them being a Georgian sedan chair. I did look after the collections at this museum but no longer work there so I am unable to check the details for you. After WW1 Spence lived in a house built at Far End Farm near Yarm and Faber lived at Worsall Grove, which was just a little further along the road towards Worsall, so I think they remained friends. My great grandparents lived on the neighbouring farm ‘Morley Carr’. My great uncle (born 1931) says that when he was a small boy at Worsall school Colonel Faber would have all the children doing drill outside. Yes, I believe Faber was a partner in a solicitors practice, I’ve come across his name in local history studies from time to time.’

Durham County Record Office seem to hold information about both Henry and Edward,  including a copy letter from Second Lieutenant H. [sic] Faber, The Cottage, Eaglescliffe, describing how he was wounded in Belgium and how his life was saved by a cigarette case; a newspaper cutting concerning a silver cigarette box and hair brushes, formerly belonging to Lieutenant Faber of The Durham Light Infantry; notes compiled by the son of Lieutenant E W Faber, concerning his late father’s military career, and his connection with Corporal Pennock, and Colonel H Faber.  This information is referenced on the Durham County Record Office website below.

Chris Young at Stockton on Tees Council also provided information about Henry, including the photo below which is dated 1919 and references to H G Faber and E W Faber which appear in a book about the Durham Light Infantry.

Henry Grey Faber and the 5th battalion 1919.

I have also found online images showing the sword of Captain H G Faber, described as ‘The sword of Captain H G Faber of the 5th Battalion, who departed for France in 1915. He was present at the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915, The Somme 1916, Arras and Passchendaele in 1917. Became a Major in 1918. Blade of 32 1/4 inches engraved with Family Crest and H.G.F., Royal Arms, Crowned ER VII, foliage and retailer – Samuel Brothers, and back edge with – London Made and numbered 1115. Plated hilt with Crowned ER VII and wire bound fishskin grip complete. Sword bag marked with H.G. Faber, Norton-On-Tees, 10th Oct 1906.’

The seller of the sword explained the reference to 1897 is the pattern of the sword, which is when this style of sword and hilt started to be used and is still used today. The images of the sword on this website, are used with the permission of Jemswords.

Although the Faber family are not direct ancestors, I am very interested to learn more about them.  I have never come across anyone with the name Faber but am aware of Faber and Faber books and Faber Castell pencil manufacturers and I have found many people with the surname in Stockton-on-Tees during my research.

Information about the origin of the Faber surname can be found on the Ancestry.co.uk website.

I am also very interested in the name Grey, which appears to have been used as a middle name by many people with the surname Faber, both male and female, including Henry and Edward, largely in Stockton on Tees. However, I have also found the name connected to  Dorset, London, Middlesex and Essex and would very much like to know more about this.

Further information

Further information about the Durham Light Infantry and about Durham during the war can be found below.

More photos

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