Charles Stephen Binley

Name Charles Stephen Binley
Corps Royal Navy,
Service No. M9641, HMS Pembroke1
Date/Place of entry 2 August 1914
Date of death 1958

Charles Stephen Binley was born in 1874, the youngest child of farm labourer Charles Binley and his wife Sarah Charlotte nee Wingell. There were numerous Binley families in Cottingham at this date, all descended from Thomas Binley born in Corby around 1802.

Binley/Bindley was not a common name in Northamptonshire in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The 1777 Militia List shows Robert and George Binley, wheelwrights of Braybrooke, and Thomas Bindley of Desborough; the Desborough list does not include occupations but given the proximity Thomas is likely to be a relative. The name Bingley does not appear at all. 

The Cottingham Binleys’ progenitor was Thomas Binley, who was born in Great Bowden around 1708 and moved to Braybrooke.  There is more information on the family background at provided by Janice Binley, a direct descendant. Janice has generously shared her research with me.

Thomas of Braybrooke’s will shows he was a master carpenter. His six children included the above Robert and George and another son, John born in 1755. The children were baptised privately and some appear to have been at least four years old on the occasion, which suggests the family may have been members of the well-established Baptist chapel in Braybrooke. The chapel is across the road from the parish church and is still in use. There was certainly an active Nonconformist community in Great Bowden. The Victoria County History for Leicestershire patronisingly notes that ‘In 1669 there were reported to be 200 Presbyterians of the better sort at Great Bowden.’  At least two men there were licensed as Presbyterian teachers.

John Binley, Thomas’s eldest son, moved from Braybrooke to Corby where he married Ann Dixon in 1789. His name does not appear in the 1777 Northamptonshire Militia list so he may have been living outside the county, and /or still be an apprentice. In any case, Militia lists did not include all males.

There were seven surviving children of the Binley-Dixon marriage, of whom five are known to have had descendants. The fifth child Thomas was born about 1802 and married Mary Reynolds of Cottingham in 1822. Thomas was described a carpenter and his wife was evidently a woman of stamina as the couple had fifteen children, all but three of whom reached adulthood.  For the next twenty years Thomas was variously listed as a carpenter, joiner and wheelwright and according to the 1841 census was living on Cottingham High Street.

In the summer of that year his business was in difficulties. A newspaper report of 21st August 1841 carried the news that Thomas Binley, wheelwright, had assigned all his personal estate and effects to William Bradshaw of Corby, baker, and John Stiles of Market Harborough, grocer "in trust for the equal benefit of such of the creditors of the said Thomas Binley who shall execute the said indenture within three months of the date thereof." William Bradshaw may have been the father in law of Thomas’s younger brother William, a Corby carpenter.

Whatever ensued - and such mishaps were commonplace for small businesses in the nineteenth century - Thomas continued to work as a wheelwright for the next thirty years living mainly on the High Street until 1871 when he is listed in Blind Lane with two of his unmarried daughters and a granddaughter; his wife Mary had died in 1865. Thomas himself died in 1877.

Some of their children stayed in the village and some moved about. William Reynolds Binley, the eldest, was born in 1823 and remained single, which was probably for the best. As a young man William was a well-known face in court 'well known for his pugnacious disposition’. In 1845 he was before the Bench twice in less than two months for disturbing the peace at the Royal George, along with his brother Thomas, Joseph Panter, Henry West and Henry and John Ward. ‘Among the most violent was William Binley as he threatened to knock his complainants brains out.’ 

Despite being the eldest son William didn’t follow his father’s trade. In 1851 he was still living with his parents and employed as a dealer. His whereabouts over the next twenty years are a mystery but in 1871 he was sharing a railway hut in a shantytown near Blea Moor in Cumbria, one of around seven thousand navvies constructing the Settle-Carlisle line for the Midland Railway Company.  It was brutally hard work in one of the bleakest parts of the country. By no means all the incomers were single men; entire families were camped in huts, many in atrocious conditions. There was a smallpox epidemic which saw off at least eighty people in just one parish. The exact number of navvies who died following accidents or from disease is unknown but will have been high. William was nearly fifty when he worked there and died a few years later. He was buried in Cottingham.

Thomas and Mary’s second son Thomas did become a wheelwright like his father. He married a Gretton girl in 1852 and they later moved to Finedon, where they had two children and several grandchildren. Some of the men were of an age to serve during the war but no identifiable records survive. Thomas died in 1898.

Thomas and Mary’s second youngest son Albert, born in 1821, became a successful tradesman in London. For more information on him and his descendants see the pages for Wilfred Philip Edward Binley and Albert Gear.
The third son was Charles, born in 1827. He was first married to Cottingham girl Mary Ann West in November 1848 but she died four years later; their only child Rebecca died in 1865. Charles’ second wife was Sarah Wingell of Barton Seagrave. Her sister Ann, eighteen years her senior, had married William Tilley in 1838. The Tilleys’ grandchildren included John Alfred and Henry Robinson Dunkley who both died in the war; George Tilley and Arthur Tilley, sons of Mary Catherine’s brother Alfred fought and survived.

Charles and Sarah Binley lived on the High Street next to the Three Horseshoes Inn where they raised six children. Their youngest son Charles Stephen was born in February 1875 and had moved to Kettering by 1891 where he lived with some cousins named Pollard and worked as a heel builder in the shoe trade. Charles Stephen married Elisabeth Bull in 1896 and by 1901 they had two daughters. He was now employed as a shoe pressman, and then in 1911 as the foreman of the boot factory.

On 2nd August 1914 he joined the Royal Navy where he served ‘on’ Pembroke 1 throughout the war. He was invalided out on 19 November 1919. The Pembroke 1 was a shore establishment accommodating naval personnel, not a ship at sea. Such ‘stone ships’ were given HMS status. The Pembroke 1 naval barracks took its name from the old prison hulks at Chatham, and was situated next to the dockyard. HMS Pembroke has a Facebook page if you want to know more.

Charles Stephen’s surviving naval record is sparse but shows he was an attendant, possibly senior attendant, on a hospital ward. He was five foot nine with brown hair and eyes, and the ‘character and ability’ column records both as ‘very good.’  The reason he was invalided out is horribly scrawled, but looks like something to do with sclerosis. There was an outbreak of Spanish Flu on the Pembroke from mid-1918 during which at least two hundred and forty men died, and there may be a medical link to some forms of sclerosis. In any case Charles Stephen survived. He stayed in Chatham where he and his wife died in 1958 and 1959 respectively.

Charles Stephen had an older brother George whose sons, John Charles Binleyand George William Binleyboth served during the war.  None of his four remaining siblings had any descendants known to have done so. He was also second cousin to Percy and Sidney Binley.

Three of the remaining children of wheelwright Thomas and Mary nee Reynolds married into families connecting them to serving soldiers. Their daughter Sarah married Joseph Tilley and therefore became great aunt to the Dunkley brothers. She and her husband Joseph had a son who died unmarried; they also gave a home to Joseph’s sister Sarah who was described as an imbecile in the census and later died in Northampton Lunatic asylum.
Thomas and Mary’s next daughter Mary married John Cursley, uncle of professional soldier Tom Cursley and great uncle of Arthur Raymond Cursley and Charles Cursley both of whom were killed in action.

Their son Edward married Ann Beesworth and therefore acquired interconnections to not just the Beesworths but to the Crane, Oliver and Booth families all of whom had sons killed in action.

The only other son to have servicemen among his descendants was their twelfth child Lewis, born in 1839. He was also a wheelwright / carpenter. In his youth Lewis seems to have shared the bellicose tendencies of his eldest brother William and duly made an appearance in court a few times for the usual offences – drunk and disorderly at Shaw’s House (a pub), brawling with neighbours Oliver (also a court regular) and Claypole.

Lewis had married Matilda Tansley in November 1862 and had five children. In 1881 he and his son Abraham, together with his younger brother Jeffrey and Jeffrey’s son Lovel were working in the hamlet of Elmers End near Beckenham, then still a small Kent village. There was a lot of work for carpenters and joiners as houses were going up fast; the population of Beckenham shot up from two thousand in 1850 to twenty six thousand in 1900. They were by no means the only men from Northamptonshire to be working there. The Binley males were listed in 1881 in Upper Elmers End road near the Rising Sun pub which they will doubtless have visited (it is still there but scheduled for demolition).

In 1891 Lewis was back in Cottingham, in Water Lane, a couple of doors down from his brother Edward. He and Matilda were still there in 1901 when he was employed as an estate carpenter. He died in 1910, and Matilda in 1919. Their descendants include several servicemen: Sidney George and Percy John Binley, John Frederick Panter, George William Panter, Wallace Edwin Panter, and Ernest Beeby. Matilda’s Tansley servicemen connections included men from the Claypole and Jackson families as well as several of the Tansley clan.
Matilda’s younger sister Caroline Tansley married Lewis Binley’s younger brother Jeffrey. Born in 1842, Jeffrey was a wheelwright and carpenter with business premises on Blind Lane from where he also sold beer. He and Caroline had seven children. The youngest daughter Laura married her relative David Tansley, and their youngest son Jeffrey married his cousin Amy Jackson of Middleton, who in the standard convoluted way was the daughter of John Jackson and Elisabeth nee Tansley, Matilda and Caroline’s sister. Amy was sister of servicemen David Jackson and Arthur Jackson, and aunt to another, Fred Jackson (Fred was also my great uncle but let’s ignore that as this is quite confusing enough already).

The Binley cousins in Corby also produced World War One servicemen, including the only officer I have yet found for these pages. They are William Augustine Roddis, Herbert James Henry Roddis, George Frederick Binley, Bernard Binley, and Percy Augustine Binley. There may be others but records are inconclusive.
By the 1900s there were very few Binleys left in Corby. Thomas of Cottingham’s nephew John was a blacksmith whose daughter Eleanor, born in 1875, was running a bricklaying business in Dag Lane, Corby in 1901. Head of the household, Eleanor was single (she later married) with two young sons and had her brother Alfred and uncle William, both blacksmiths, living with her. The deaths of her sons, Wilfred H.V. Binley and John Stanbury Binley, were recorded in Kettering district in 1918 and 1917 when they were in their late teens. Both would have been eligible for call up but there are no records – did they die following military service or were their deaths from natural causes?

I didn’t research all the descendants of the Braybrooke family, but noticed that one of them was Alfred Binley of Leicester who was killed on 24 Sept 1918. He was a private in the 1/5 Battalion Leicestershire regiment as was John William Dolby Fisher, a nephew of Solomon Fisher of Cottingham, who was killed in action in 1917.