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St Peter-in-the East Church: John BALAAM (1896–1916)

John Balaam was born in Aldershot, Hampshire in 1896, the son of Thomas George Balaam (born in Liverpool in 1855/6) and Elizabeth Fowell (born in Burslem, Staffordshire in 1860). His parents were married in the West Derby district in the third quarter of 1895 and had the following children:

  • John Balaam (born in Aldershot, Hampshire on 20 November 1896)
  • Elizabeth Balaam (born at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in 1900, reg. second quarter).

At the time of the 1901 census John (4) was living at 12 Ship Street, High Wycombe with his father Thomas (45), who was a road foreman, his mother Elizabeth (35), and his sister Elizabeth (1).

John's father Thomas George Balaam died in High Wycombe the following year at the age of 46.

Near the beginning of 1903 in High Wycombe, John's mother Elizabeth Balaam married her second husband, Walter William Bushnell. He had been born in Headington in 1859/60, and his first wife Sarah Massey had died there in 1897. At the time of the 1901 census Walter was working as a stonemason and lodging in High Wycombe. They had three children, half-siblings to John Balaam:

  • Arthur Ernest Bushnell (born at High Wycombe in 1903, reg. third quarter)
  • Dora Bushnell (born at High Wycombe in 1905, reg. second quarter, and died there in 1908, aged three)
  • Jessie Bushnell (born at High Wycombe in 1907, reg. second quarter, and baptised at St Clement's Church, Oxford on 26 November 1911 when she was five years old).

In early 1904 John's stepfather was appointed a skilled labourer at the Admiralty in London.

By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to Cowley St John parish in Oxford: John Balaam (14) was a kitchen boy, living at 7 Wingfield Street, St Clement's with his sister Elizabeth (12) and their mother Elizabeth Bushnell (49), who was now a charwoman, and her two surviving children from her second marriage, Arthur Ernest Bushnell (7) and Jessie Bushnell (3). John's stepfather Walter William Bushnell (51) and another stonemason from Oxford were boarding at 9 Clifton Place, South Kensington.

By 1914 the family had moved to 10 Princes Street in east Oxford.

By 1916 John appears to have emigrated to Canada, where he worked as a pharmacist, and his sister Elizabeth may have gone with him.

Poppy In the First World War John Balaam served in the 5th Battalion of the Canadian Infantry (Service No. 441352). He was killed in action in Belgium at the age of 19 on 24 April 1916.

He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial (Panel 18-20-26), on the SS Mary & John Church, Cowley Road war memorial, the Canadian Virtual War Memorial, and here on the St Peter-in-the-East Church war memorial, which is now on the wall of Balliol College Archives (the former St Cross Church).


After the war

John's mother

By the mid-1920s his mother Elizabeth Bushnell (formerly Mrs Balaam) was living at 69 Princes Street. Her second husband Walter William Bushnell died in 1927 at the age of 66 and was buried in Rose Hill Cemetery on 19 July. Elizabeth died at the age of 67 in 1932 and was buried with him on 13 October.


See also

© Stephanie Jenkins

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