Poppy Walter MITCHELL (1897–c.1916) Poppy

William Walter Mitchell (known as Walter) was born in Queen Charlotte’s Hospital in London on 18 September 1897, the son of Albert James Mitchell (baptised on 7 June 1868 at St Luke’s, Southampton) and Catherine Sarah Blake (born in Southwark, Surrey in 1867, registered second quarter). His parents were married in the Wandsworth registration district in the fourth quarter of 1895, and Walter appears to have been their first and only child.

At the time of Walter’s birth his father Albert was a hardware warehouseman living with his wife at 1 Homer Row, Marylebone. It looks as though Walter may have lost his mother within a few months, as the death of a Catherine Mitchell aged 29 was registered in the London City district in the fourth quarter of 1897.

In the same quarter as Catherine Mitchell died, Albert James Mitchell married 16-year-old Florence Ada Turner at West Ham, and the 1901 census shows Albert as manager of the Suffolk Tavern in Poplar. By 1911 he and his wife were living at Prusom Street, Wapping, Albert was a beer retailer, and they had two surviving daughters.

Meanwhile Walter Mitchell was brought up by George & Sarah Burtenshaw in Oxford. In the 1901 census, when he was three, he was named as William and described as the nurse-child of the Burtenshaws, who were then living at 48 Hayfield Road.

Walter appears to have attended SS Philip & James School, as a boy called W. Mitchell was absent (suffering from ringworm) on 8 December 1905, and was commended by the school inspector on 2 July 1906 and again on 2 July 1909.

By the time of the 1911 census Walter (now recorded as Walter, the forename by which he was known) was a 13-year-old schoolboy, still boarding with the Burtenshaws, who had moved to another address in St Margaret’s parish, 82 Kingston Road.

The Burtenshaws

George Burtenshaw, a jobbing gardener, was born in Shoreham, Sussex in c.1851, and Sarah in Deptford, Kent around the same time: they were married in c.1873 and they began their married life in Brighton.

The term “nurse-child” used in 1901 and “boarder” in 1911 suggests that Walter was not related to them. They had five children of their own, three of whom were still alive in 1911. George Burtenshaw is last listed in Kelly’s Directory at 82 Kingston Road in 1921.

At the time of the 1911 census there was also a Miss Hope Mitchell (35), born in Rochdale, living with the Burtenshaws, but the surname is a common one and this is probably a coincidence. She is described as a French student in 1911; ten years earlier in 1901 she had been a high-school mistress in Yorkshire.

Poppy Walter Mitchell is remembered on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church in north Oxford.

St Margaret's Church War Memorial

See also

  • CWGC: [Not identifiable: too many possibilities]
  • Postcard: Kingston Road in 1906 (the house where Walter lived, No. 82, was at the north-west end)

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