Some exciting news to share about Claude Rigby Heenan, a war hero whom I featured in a post earlier this year. He was given the Distinguished Service Order for his services in France during World War 1.
Claude is one of the members of a family I’ve traced back to a London tailor called John Heenan who died in 1813. Two of his sons became lawyers and one, James Heenan established a tobacconist’s business in one of the city’s premier shopping streets.
One of the descendants of this family has been in touch with information and photographs relating to Claude and his family.
Here is Claude as a young man. There is no date on the photograph but I would estimate the boy is about 15 years old. It was taken in a studio in Exeter, Devon – Claude’s parents William and Hannah were living in Bow village in mid Devon at the time of the 1891 census so I think the photograph dates from around that period.
The photographer’s name is shown as C Keeping. There was a Charles Keeping who had a photographer’s studio in Exeter in about 1870, before moving to a number of different places within the West Country. He periodically returned to Exeter – in 1873 he was in a studio at Exe Bridge, in 1883 at Holloway Street and St Sidwells in 1890.
Was the photograph taken to mark a special birthday? Did the family make a special trip to Exeter to attend the photographer’s studio? Questions to which we don’t have answers unfortunately.
I’ve also been given a photograph of Claude’s younger sister Lilian. She was born in Crediton, Devon in 1882. In 1904, at the age of 22 she sailed to Cape Town in South Africa with Claude. He continued to live in South Africa until his death in 1943 but Lilian returned to the UK where she married Charles Edward Wolseley Barratt.
She was a well travelled lady. Here is a photograph of her in later life about to get on a plane from London to Durban (a long and arduous journey even now).
At the age of 70 she and her husband were on a ship sailing from London to Melbourne with the intention of travelling on to Tasmania. According to her Great Grandson, she had “a wonderful life and had a lot of freedom to do amazing things at that time.”
Lilian died in 1969 in Worthing, Sussex, at the age of 87.