Herbert and Sabra Silversides – the road to Thame

When we moved to Thame in 2012, I had only just started researching my family. On the Sarginson side I knew that many of my ancestors came from Yorkshire, and more specifically the East Riding. I didn’t expect to find anyone in Oxfordshire, and certainly not in Thame. I have previously written about the origin of the name Silversides, and as I started to research more of my cousins, I came across Herbert Silversides (1882-1955), my second cousin three times removed, who died in Thame.

Herbert was born on 23 March 1882 in Wakefield, Yorkshire to parents Guy Crispin Silversides (1853-1933) and Ellen Butler (1854-1932). Although in the 1891 census his father Guy was a tailor, by 1901 he was the Lodge Keeper at the West Riding County Lunatic Asylum for Paupers at Wakefield. He continued to work there until at least the 1911 census. The asylum was located on the north side of Wakefield as shown in the following OS map extract from 1894.

OS Yorkshire CCLVIII.NE date 1894

The asylum was opened in 1818 and became the Stanley Royd hospital in 1948. It closed in 1995 and has since been converted into residential accommodation. It is now known as Parklands Manor.

So how did Herbert and his wife Sabra Emma Blacker (1881-1972) come to live and die in Thame? Sabra had also been born in Wakefield and they were married on 21 April 1906 in the Primitive Methodist Church, Chapel Street, Blackpool. An extensive report in the Fleetwood Express (25 April 1906) gave an insight into the occasion:

The bridal party consisted of lady and gentleman friends … with the guests, numbering over seventy persons, travelled by special saloon from Wakefield to Blackpool.”

Sabra’s dress was described in some detail and two gifts from the bridegroom specifically mentioned, an exquisite shower bouquet and gold opal brooch. There were six bridesmaids and Herbert’s brother William was his best man. The couple honeymooned in Scarborough and there was a long list of wedding presents which included many doyleys and other items of silver and linen.  

By the 1911 census Herbert and Sabra were living at 53 Jacobs Well Lane in Wakefield with their son Ronald aged one. Herbert was a clerk in the architect’s department of West Riding County Council. It looks like they were regular visitors to Blackpool though. The Fleetwood Chronicle dated 15 March 1912 has an account of Sabra’s brother William Blacker marriage to Molly Brown in the Primitive Methodist Church, Chapel Street, Blackpool. Molly was the daughter of a Blackpool councillor and William’s father Alfred the manager of the Royal Pavilion and a lay preacher at the church. Both families were well known attendees of the church. Sabra was a bridesmaid and Herbert a groomsman.

Herbert and Sabra’s son Ronald died in 1914 in Blackpool. Herbert and Sabra were also in Blackpool in 1916 when the Blackpool Gazette and Herald (11 February 1916) reported that Mrs Blacker and Mrs Herbert Silversides had arranged a concert after a young people’s tea which had been held at the Chapel Street Primitive Methodist School, Blackpool.

Herbert and Sabra were next found in the 1921 census as visitors at a property called Rossendale, Coronation Street, Cleveleys, near Thornton in Lancashire. The head of the household was Andrew Milligan and Sabra’s parents were boarders there. Her father Alfred was described as the cinema manager at the Savoy cinema, Cleveleys. Herbert was chief clerk at Wakefield County Council.

Herbert and Sabra seem to have then moved to the “Holiday Camp”, Rossall Road, Thornton, Lancashire where they were found in the 1923 Electoral Register. However, by 1939 Herbert and Sabra were living at Caradoc, Daws Hill, Wycombe, Buckinghamshire with Herbert described as a wholesale and retail wool dealer. How his change of occupation had come about isn’t clear.

Ancestry’s collection of British Phone Books was an invaluable resource which helped to track down Herbert and Sabra’s movements towards Thame. The 1944 Phone Book records them living in Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire and in 1954 there were two entries. Herbert and Sabra were living at 70 Chilton Road, Long Crendon and had a business called Silver Wools in High Street, Princes Risborough. They had moved inro 18 Croft Road in Thame by 1955; the following is a recent photo of the house:

18 Croft Road, Thame – image by Joan Reid

Herbert died on 23 September 1955 at 18 Croft Road. Sabra was not mentioned in his probate calendar entry and he left effects worth £2594 9s 4d. It seems that Sabra did not stay in the house for long after his death. She had moved into 1 Victoria Mead, Thame by the time the 1959 Phone Book was published. A local resident confirmed that the property was one of a number which had been built in 1958. The following is a recent photo of the house which has had an extension at some point; it would just have been two windows wide when Sabra moved into it.

I Victoria Mead, Thame – image by Joan Reid

Sabra died on 11 January 1972 at 1 Victoria Mead. She left effects to the value of £7550. So far, I’ve not been able to find burial records for either Herbert or Sabra. I also wondered if they continued to worship in a Primitive Methodist chapel. The one in Thame, on the junction between East Street and Park Street, is now a private house, but was once part of the Thame and Watlington Methodist circuit.

Lastly – I would like to know more about all the people mentioned in this blog post. Do contact me if you have any further information which you are willing to share.

Note: the map used in this blog has been reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland under the following creative commons licence https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/ and sourced from the NLS maps site https://maps.nls.uk/.


1921 Census. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

1939 Register. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

Berkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1965. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

Births, marriages and deaths. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

British newspaper collection. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

British Phone Books, 1800-1984. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

Census records. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

County Asylums. https://www.countyasylums.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

Croft Road, Thame image by Joan Reid.

England and Wales, Electoral Registers 1910-1932. https://www.findmypast.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

England and Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

OS Maps. https://maps.nls.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

Redmonds, George. (2015) A Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames. Donington: Shaum Tyas.

Victoria Mead, Thame image by Joan Reid.

West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910. https://www.ancestry.co.uk/ : accessed June 2022.

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