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Brother remembered after 60 years
FAMILY GATHERING: Graham Roper can be seen second from right with the drum and his sister June Townsend (nee Roper) is in the centre of the picture with the fluffy white pill-box hat on. This picture was taken around 1945
WHEN Wendy Roper’s grandfather passed away it triggered a string of events that resulted in Wendy discovering a passion for researching her ancestry.
She explains: “My interest in ancestry started when grandad [Fred] passed away.
“Dad [Graham] had grown up thinking that it was just him and his sister June, but not long before grandad passed away he revealed that dad had also had a brother that had been buried in an unmarked grave in Dottery Church.
“After many hours of searching records we found that there had in fact been another child. John David Roper, he was born in 1936 but only survived for two days.
“I think my grandparents found it too difficult to talk about, so for more than 60 years Dad knew nothing of his existence.”
After this, Wendy, who lives in Loders, began to look back into her family tree, which has strong roots in the town and surrounding villages.
Here are her findings so far: “Dad was born at Dottery, Bridport, and is the son of Fred Roper and Elsie (nee Rowe) Fred was also born in Bridport in 1909.
“At the time of Fred and Elsie’s wedding in 1930 Fred was a market gardener living in the Broadoak area and Elsie was a domestic servant, working at 19, Bridport Harbour.”
Fred served in the infantry during the Second World War. At the time he enlisted he was a quarry man. He enlisted in 1948 and his release book can be seen here, pictured below.
Wendy added: “Fred’s father was Francis George Roper born in 1879 and his mother was Mabel Fanny Barrett born in 1883, both also born in Bridport.
“Francis was an agricultural carter in the Broadoak area.
“Francis George Roper was the son of Job Roper but as yet I have no more information on him.
“We think that at some time during Fred’s or Francis’s life they lived with the Chubb family of Broadoak, but we are not sure of the connection.
“Elsie Roper was the daughter of William Rowe and Mary Edwards and came from a large family, her siblings include Charlie Rowe who lived at Salway Ash before his death also Stan, Bet, Gwen and others whose names I don’t know.
“A lot of the Rowe family lived out towards Clapton. One of Dad’s grandparents was the landlord of the Greyhound inn, in Wayford.
“I’m not sure if it was Fred’s parents or Elsie’s. Dad thinks it was probably Elsie’s although he was very young at the time.”
“The wedding photograph pictured shows the marriage of Reg Roper [Fred’s brother] and Bet (maiden name unknown). Behind the groom is Fred Roper and on the grooms side is Fred’s father (Francis George Roper) and mother or step-mother.
“The bridesmaid on Francis’s knee is June Roper (dad’s sister). Bet and Reg Roper had two or three children, Brian and Jillian I know of and possibly a Linda.”