When I volunteered to research the life of John Shoveller for the Boys on the Plaque project, I thought it would be easy. I had already come across a 5 year old Doris Shoveller, living in Brighton with Mark Pimm (another of the men I had researched) at the time of the 1911 census. I assumed that Mark and his wife Elizabeth knew his parents and had taken poor Doris under their wing while her father, William Henry Shoveller, was in Parkhurst prison and her mother, Caroline, was working as a housemaid in a London hotel. And post-war, Mark and Elizabeth Pimm lived in 103a Albion Hill, close neighbours to a John Shoveller and, later, Frederick Shoveller.
When I volunteered to research the life of John Shoveller for the Boys on the Plaque project, I thought it would be easy.
But, despite exhaustive research into members of the Shoveller family, I have been unable to find any John Shoveller who might match the one listed on the plaque – in particular, one with a military career during World War 1 and a link to Brighton. I have found John Shovellers who were a dental surgeon, a worker in a paper mill, a civil servant, a corn merchant … They have lived in Kent, Hampshire and London but rarely in Sussex. I have trawled through many name variants – either mis-transcriptions in Ancestry or Find My Past or misspellings or deliberate changes by family members. All these have appeared in my research – Shoveller, Shoveler, Shovelar, Shovelier, Shovlar, Shoular, Shoolar, Shoveller Walker, and Walker.
The Walker connection made the task more difficult as there are inevitably more John Walkers than there are John Shovellers but it could be not be ignored as there was a link to the Walkers and Shoveller Walkers through 5 year old Doris. Her grandfather was William Henry Shoveller Walker and her father William Henry Shoveller, also known as William Henry Walker. He had several siblings, some of whom were called Walker (including John Walker, born 1894) and others Shoveller Walker. Although he had been in prison in 1910, William Henry Shoveller served in WW1 in the Royal Sussex Regiment and died in Brighton in 1951. At least two John Walkers also served in the Royal Sussex Regiment but one died in 1916 and not enough is none about the other to make a link to the plaque.
Can anyone help?
So the only John Shoveller I have found to have a link to Brighton and a possible link to the plaque is the one who lived at 104 Albion Hill from around 1920 to 1934, a neighbour to Mark and Elizabeth Pimm. He was possibly married to Mabel Harriett Shoveller (1895-1966) who shared the same address 1925 to 1931 and was possibly related to Frederick L Shoveller who lived at 108a Albion Hill (1947-1951) where a Mrs F L Shoveller lived from around 1958-68. But I have failed to find with any certainty a John Shoveller with a reason to be on the plaque in Fabrica. Can anyone help?
Lyn Turpin (Volunteer Researcher)